Thursday, February 28, 2013

First Pages: Jalaya by C.M. Simpson

Jalaya is the fourth and final short story to be found in An Anthology of Battle. It is also available as a stand-alone short story.

Jalaya is a story of family, long-standing love and of sacrifices made for the sake of community, duty and loyalty. It is a story of heroes, fire-fights, wits and courage. And it is the story of a last battle in a ten-year war.

Jalaya is available as part of An Anthology of Battle or as a stand-alone title from Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, iTunes and Nook.

First Pages: Jalaya

Michael looked down at the town in the sand. Red, flat roofs of clay interspersed by the elegant, wooden gables of buildings from northern climes, still stood in a basin of protective hills. From where he stood, the rotting boards were invisible, as was the sand that swirled along the unkempt streets.
He tried to see the town as it had been ten years before. There had been trees standing inside walled islands of stone dotting the center of the main streets, and the sweetly scented jalaya flowered beneath them. There had been window boxes full of color clinging to the walls and the town had been white, the color of snow and light-hearted purity, not red, the color of old blood and war.
Caroline had danced in the streets with him on the first day of the new year, and the unseen rains had made the river roar with pride as it rushed between the white stone walls of the canal. That had been ten years ago when the Scorpions had first attacked, and the town had emptied shortly thereafter.
Caroline’s family had disappeared in the melee, along with his son, but Caroline had refused to grieve them. They were safe, she insisted. His son was safe, but he had to take their daughter. Michael had had no time to argue or grieve and clung to her promise. His son was safe. His daughter would be safe with him, but of his bride-to-be…
Caroline had refused to go. She said she had duties that must be attended. She had asked him to stay. Michael had possessed other duties, other responsibilities that forced him to leave her behind, so she said she would dance the streets on the first day of every new year in his memory. When he had protested that the day was no longer safe, she had promised to dance at night.
Michael had begged her to come with him, to wed him in the desert. Caroline’s eyes had glistened with tears when she said she had to stay, the reasons secret until they married and united as family. She had said she would not take him from his duties, hugged him fiercely tight, and then fled swiftly away.
Caroline would dance again tonight, without his arms to hold her as she wound her way through the streets. She would raise her voice in bittersweet song, her body clad in the white of a bridal gown that had never seen a wedding day. And Michael would watch her from his place upon the hill. 
Once, during all her dancing and serenade, Caroline’s steps would bring her to the edge of the town. She would stretch her arms towards where he sat, folding back towards herself as sh... 


If you would like to read more, Jalaya is available as part of An Anthology of Battle or as a stand-alone title from Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, iTunes and Nook.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Chapters: Dear Tiger by Carlie Simonsen

Carlie Simonsen's Dear Tiger is a young adult science fiction story told in a series of letters written by Simone Michaels. Simone’s parents are exploring another planet and she’s stuck in boarding school when things go terribly wrong. 

“Dear Tiger, this has been the best day ever… but I lie.”

Simone Michaels is in trouble, but she doesn’t know how deep. Her letters to old friend, Tiger, reveal that her parents are missing, and that she is afraid she’ll go missing, too. When her parents’ employer takes her in, and takes care of her education and living arrangements, she is drawn more deeply into the mystery. Simone keeps her secrets as best she can, including the secret of the mysterious box her parents sent before they disappear, but she is just as afraid of opening it, as she is of the company discovering its existence. Does it contain the only clue to what really happened to her parents, or does it contain her doom?

Dear Tiger is the first book in the Letters Across Space series and is now available from Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iTunes and DriveThruFiction.

First Chapter: Dear Tiger 

From: Simone Michaels, Alpha Centauri Home Room, Losandro’s Interstellar Academy, Mail Bag 4029, Galmon Mail Center, Emerald Moon, Tychon

Date: 22 Landing 3049

Dear Tiger

Today was a great day, well, as good as any day gets when I’m stuck here on the moon, and mum and dad are away. I hope the expedition goes well for them, because, once the base camp is set up, I will be able to stay with them form the school break. They write to me often, and I am so looking forward to seeing them again.

Actually, I’m lying. It’s been a terrible day. Mum and dad haven’t written to me for almost three months. Even with the time lag in sending messages, that’s too long—and today, when I was in the middle of a practice test, out headmistress, Mrs Coleman, came to the door and spoke to my English teacher, Mr. Ross. I saw them look at me, and then old Rossy shook his head, and they looked at me again. It was freaky.

It wouldn’t have been so bad except that Rossy asked me to stay back after class.

He said I had to see Mrs. Coleman after lunch.

I’m so nervous, Tiges. I keep trying to think of something that I might have done to get into trouble, except that I know that it’s nothing I’ve done. You see, in the dorm we draw straws to see who has to go and spy on the mail room at recess, and today it was me, and today I saw a really big parcel come in.

I could have ignored it, except that it was put in my home room’s mail basket, and I knew I’d cop rays if I didn’t find out who it was addressed to. I waited until the sorters had gone. You know how they stop for a short break about ten minutes after we do. When they’d all left, I raced up to the basket and took a quick peek at the parcel.

I got all kinds of goosebumps when I saw it was addressed to me.

I don’t think it’s from mum and dad; the packaging is too official. It frightens me. You see, Tiges, it’s happened before. Kids receive official-looking packages, and then they disappear. Their stuff gets taken from the dorm, and they’re never heard from again. I don’t want that to happen to me.

I took the parcel, and I hid it in the bottom of my travel trunk, at the back of my locker. I figured if no one knew I’d received it, then no one would want to make me disappear. I really don’t want to disappear, Tiges.

I like it here. It’s been hard to be away from mum and dad for so long, but it’s been better than being dragged from one frontier world to another with only the computer for a teacher, and whatever whacky life-forms living on the planet for friends. It’s not as good as seeing new places all the time, but at least I’ve got real friends now, and in some ways that’s better.

I know you didn’t like it here, but that’s where we’re different. You like the whacky life-forms, and the computer teachers, and no one interrupting you. I like meeting people, and getting to know them a bit better, which is why I’m so scared of what that package might mean.

I don’t want to move again. I don’t want to leave all my friends behind.

I don’t want anything to have happened to my mum and dad.

And, Tiges, I’m afraid that something bad has happened to them. I’m afraid that this parcel carries some really bad news.

Oops, gotta go. There’s a prefect at the door.

I’ll write you again soon, Tiges.




If you would like to read more, Dear Tiger is now available from Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iTunes and DriveThruFiction.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Release: A Battle of Minds by C.M. Simpson

Danzer is a VR combat star. Unfortunately, somebody wants him dead. Is it a private vendetta from someone he’s defeated, a disgruntled fan, or someone else entirely. Whoever they are, their poetry stinks, but its meaning is clear. Security personnel for the VR games insist on overseeing the match between him and his most dangerous opponent, but no one knows if it will be enough. Will Security succeed in their intervention, or will their efforts result in more than Danzer losing their lives?

A Battle of Minds is a speculative science fiction short story about what the world of virtual gaming might be like. It is available from Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, Amazon, Nook and Kobo. It will one day be incorporated into An Anthology of Minds.

Monday, February 25, 2013

First Pages: Jacob's Vision by C.M. Simpson

Jacob’s Vision is the third short story to be found in An Anthology of Battle. It is also available as a stand-alone short story.

Erin writes of her earthbound memories of an interplanetary war, of the fate of a war hero, and of the start of re-building.

Jacob's Vision is available in An Anthology of Battle or as a stand-alone title at Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, iTunes and Nook.

First Pages: Jacob's Vision

The hill, with its footing of green-studded black, was the same as I remembered it. I stood at the top of the ridge looking out, seeing the city ruins, imagining the glow from its center at night.
I’d seen the ruins, and watched that glow before—with Jacob. It had always been his dream that we would return, that the beacon he had set would bring rescue, or aid in the rebuilding he had envisioned.
Sighing, I settled myself at the foot of one of the scarred and blackened statues, and set my notecase beside me. I took the hardbound notebook from the case, opened it and continued writing.
I had been telling of my fifth week with the Wanderers. It had been two days before I’d begun to seek Jacob’s vision in earnest, and it had been near dusk.
With another sigh, I lifted my pen to continue my recollections where I’d left them the night before.

*   *   *

It was close to dusk when we met and I looked from one face to the other. “We need to find out what’s in them?”
Kurt nodded.
I scanned their faces again. Ilya with one arm in dirt-encrusted bandages; Padraig, leg splinted from thigh to heel; and Allie whose bloused shirt hid the strapping across her ribs. They all watched me in return.
“All right,” I said. “I’ll go.”


Jacob's Vision is available in An Anthology of Battle or as a stand-alone title at Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, iTunes and Nook.