Merry Christmas and All Other Season’s Greetings

Greetings, all the good people!

I’ll begin with the usual conversation starter – the weather. Winter is finally here, and it feels like a peculiar and unwelcome phenomenon. No snow yet, but the forecast is threatening for the end of the week. It does feel Christmasy though (that’s my little Christmas tree above 👆).

Now, on to the topic of books. First, I’m happy to report that I’m now a member of a book club. Yeah! Ironically, my writing experience has been affecting the way I process the books I read. I can see the writing mechanics and I start analyzing them, and it breaks up the immersion into the story. But it doesn’t spoil it all they way – reading is still fun! Writing, too, but I digress. The book club is a great way to get exposed to literature you otherwise wouldn’t have picked out, and to stay up to date with what’s popular on the reading scene. We have a great moderator who stays in touch with other book clubs and knows interesting pieces to suggest. Some flop, naturally, but others are great. Among the books we read were The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani, Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, all of them fairly well-known. I’m not suggesting you should or shouldn’t read them – book preferences are very personal, but of the three, my favorite was Elizabeth Finch, for multiple reasons including Barnes’ writing style.

Second, a writing update. Sky Song is finished and in review. It was a fun story to write, but not easy, even though I had the concept well rounded-up from the beginning. The book will be available for preorders soon, with a pub date later in January. A cover is in the works as well, and once it’s finalized, I’ll be sharing that too. There are mentions of Simon in there but the book is not about Gemma and him (spoiler alert). Sky Song is Cricket’s journey towards finding happiness with her Rix love interest Lyle. Lyle is not Simon, but I hope you like his as much as, if not more than, the white-haired defender that started the series off with a bang. Here’s an example of Cricket and Lyle’s exploits. What have they been up to?

 Cricket knew with certainty that she didn’t fully believe Lyle, even as she handed him the face shield and overcoat she normally wore at the lab.
  “Why do I need this?”
  “To blend in. Especially the face shield. In case, you know, you get lost in the hospital hallways again.”
  He grunted before putting the protective gear on, complete with the foot coverings and rubber gloves.
  “How do I look?”
  “Like an alien in a hazmat suit.”
  “My favorite style.”
  Like the previous time, they snuck into the lab in between shifts, having arrived at the back of the hospital in a rider that Lyle procured God only knew where. He also drove, which, in retrospect, was another bad idea in a string of bad ideas Lyle somehow convinced her to go along with. He was careful and followed all the driving rules, and still managed to near-wreck them - his spatial orientation was truly deficient, and he had gotten confused by the sensory input from other riders, pedestrians, and even trees.
  Cricket checked the clock as they huddled at the computer terminal.
 “Quick, we don’t have much time.”
 “Don’t you think I remember? You said that thirteen times.”
  Cricket accessed the hospital computer system by entering a security code, then paused. “Where do I go? Patient records?”
  “No, wait.” Up close, she saw his pupils dilate as he scanned the information on screen which must look like mumbo-jumbo to him. “Let’s start with research results. Who’s responsible for the research arm at this place?”
  “The ones that organized the symposium, of course. Dr. Nura and… Dr. Ragberg.”
  “Where do they keep their records?”
  “Here.” She opened up the main file. Her heart sank. “It’s a lot of records.”
  “Check the dates. Aeshac escaped Earth six years ago, so let’s not worry about anything before that.”
  “Six years ago, I came to Meeus. Do you know how I came here?”
  “No, sky song, I don’t.”
  “Simon’s mate Gemma gave me the passage chip he had stolen for her.”
  “Why would she do that?”
  “She wanted to stay with him.”
  “That’s crazy. If it were me, I would’ve taken that passage and hightailed it out of there before Aeshac could say my name. I would’ve run him over while at it.”
  Cricket raised her eyebrows. “That’s why you aren’t his mate.”
  “That’s not the only reason, my hearts. Scroll over here. Open this.”
  “Oops. Access denied.”
  “Of course.”
  He slid two fingers down the shaft of his short boot and pulled out the shiny device. He didn’t do much with it except fitting it flush with the computer’s transmitter.
  “Will it work?” Cricket chewed her lip nervously.
  “Who knows?”
  “Who knows?”
  “Yeah, I was told it’s a bit unreliable, but what do we have to lose?”
  “Lyle, why are we doing this when you know this tool is unreliable?”
  He gave her question a thorough consideration. “There’s always an element of risk. Always. Don't be afraid to take it.” 
  As a reassurance, it was a one out of ten. 
  Something was happening on the screen. At first, the image went all skewy, then blinked out of existence, and then reappeared as normal. 
  Lyle reached over with his gloved hand - the rubber already messed up from his sharp nails - and tapped the folder Cricked hadn’t been able to access a minute ago. It opened without a prompt for a code.
  “What am I looking at?” Cricket asked hesitantly.
  “You tell me, I can’t read your language.”
  “Oh, I forgot.” She scanned the contents. The garbled symbols jumped out at her with zero meaning. “It’s all gibberish. The documents are encrypted.”
  “It’s alright. I’m copying all of it.” 
  “How long will it take?”
  “Not sure.”
  “Lyle, my shift is about to start.”
  “You worry too much. See? This thing isn’t as iffy as I was led to believe.”
  They waited in silence for two minutes, three. Cricket kept her ears open for the sounds of Terrance’s bouncing steps or Salty’s tired shuffle. Each second stretched longer than the previous one, and along with them, her nerves.
  Suddenly, the screen blinked, the machine bleeped and turned off. 
  “Is it finished?” Cricked whispered.
  Lyle calmly reached over and picked up the shiny device, tucking it back into his boot. “I think we just shut down your entire hospital’s system.”
  Cricket’s stomach bottomed out and her heart dropped through. “What are we going to do now?”
  “Get out of here.”
  Grabbing her by the arm, he started for the staircase just as the siren sounded.
  “Oh, my God. Oh, my God,” she kept repeating as they took the stairs two at a time. “We’ll get caught. Oh, my God, what’ll happen?”
  Instead of being annoyed, Lyle was grinning as he turned to her. “What are you chanting? A prayer?”
  “It’s all your fault!” she hissed when they halted in front of the door that opened to the ground floor. Cracking it open a hair, Lyle took in the scene out on the floor. 
  “I have a hunch you don’t have much experience with escaping from tight spots,” he murmured.
  “Your hunch is correct. Because I’m not a thief! And I’m not some freakish paramilitary infiltration soldier!” She was shaking from nerves and adrenaline.
  “Lucky for you, I’m both.” Lyle closed the door.

Sky Song coming January 2023

2 thoughts on “Merry Christmas and All Other Season’s Greetings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: