Don’t Call It a Comeback

It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t blogged in a year.



I’ve actually had a few people inform me that they’ve read THE FOURTH CHANNEL more than once, and a surprising number say they read it on a regular basis. They’re blowing my mind a little bit. To all of you who have stuck with me, checking back periodically to see what the status is on the next Kari Hunter book, thank you. I’m stunned. Flabbergasted. Flummoxed. I honestly thought you would have forgotten about me by now. But you’re still here. Emailing me. Messaging me on Twitter. Facebook. Asking me when I show up at the beauty salon. Even the Real Kari Hunter is standing by, patiently waiting for an update on her fictional doppelgänger.

A lot’s happened in the last four years, and I’m not going to bore you with details. How about the CliffsNotes version instead? Here goes:

There once was a girl who had a day job. She worked too much. One day, she realized her day job had become her life’s priority. That was really dumb. She decided to change it. The end.

Now that I have my priorities in order and my head on straight, I’m left with the even harder part of figuring out the magic formula to my life. Balancing a demanding day job with my writing isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either — obviously, because others have done it. I’m getting there, and I’m making better decisions every day. For starters, I’ve finally decided that I cannot work on the book at home. It’s too distracting there. For years, I fought the good fight, trying a thousand different ways to make that work. It doesn’t. I’m done fighting with it.

So, I now write at WeWork, a coworking space near my house and day job. This place is awesome. It’s basically a gigantic office space where people go to be productive — and they have cold brew coffee on tap. I’ve been spending most evenings and weekends there, finishing up the second Kari Hunter book. It’s been amazing. Basically, I go into one of the “phone booths,” close the door, slap my plot sticky notes on the walls, and go to town.


Where the magic happens.

So, I hear you saying, great, where’s the next Kari Hunter book? Well, a couple of months ago I hired a professional editor and sent her the first half of the book. Or, maybe a little more than the first half. I had languished with this book for so long that I could no longer see the forest for the trees. Was it good? Was it funny? Was it filled with problems? Honestly, I didn’t even know exactly how the damned book ended.

The editor emailed me back within a week. She said she read the book twice — I hadn’t even paid her for work yet, and she read it twice. She said she has a hard time getting hooked on stories but I hooked her with this. And then she said, in the politest terms, that I needed to get off my ass and finish.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Working like a maniac to finish this thing. And it’s going well.

I’m four chapters from the end.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the book will be out in a month. I have to finish it still, and I’ve learned that I’m not someone who can just rip it out without being thoughtful about the whole thing. I’m learning to embrace my thoughtful and planning nature because I really want this book to be good. Still, I’m super excited by where this book is going and I can’t wait to be done.

Thanks for sticking with me and the fictional Kari Hunter. (Although if you felt like sticking with the real one, I’m sure she’d totally appreciate it too.)


I Quit

i_quit_by_lovehurt123-d5go0i8I quit.

I mean that in the past tense, of course. I had quit writing the Kari Hunter book for a few months. I thought about my next steps for a long while, and then told my writing group that the Kari Hunter series was dead. That book and I had tortured each other long enough. The story was wrong in many ways. I felt like every time I tried to fix it I somehow made it worse. I’ve spent more than two years writing it, churning the material over and over in an attempt to complete it, but something about the story was wrong—and I couldn’t put my finger on what. However, I knew that if I continued battling the story in the same way that I had been, I’d burn out completely and stop writing forever. And that thought terrified me. I didn’t want this book—this bizarre comedy that I loved so dearly—to be cause of the birth and death of a hobby that I love.

So, I told my Writing Posse that I was done with Kari Hunter. I was ready to take on a new writing project, starting from scratch on something else. They understood. They encouraged me to forget all about Kari and work on something else. It was decided.

Apparently, a few of you felt differently.

Exactly two weeks later I received an email from one of you asking for an update on the book. Two days after that, a different person sent me a message on Facebook, asking if there was still hope for a sequel. Three days later, someone on Twitter tagged me and my blog, hoping to get an update and a preview of the book.

The timing of all that is pretty stunning, at least to me.

One of my coworkers believes it’s the Universe sending me a message. I don’t subscribe to that particular belief system but I’m easily able to adapt it to my own. Someone is sending me a message, telling me not to stop writing this book. And it isn’t just you guys.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m receiving messages from my Higher Power because this book is going to revolutionize the world. It isn’t. This isn’t some real life version of Bill and Ted where my book elevates humanity to our higher and more enlightened selves and makes everyone be excellent to each other. Not to mention it causes the world to party on, dudes.


What I mean is that I’m pretty stunned to think that my Higher Power believes I shouldn’t give up on my “stupid” writing hobby. Writing is an important part of me and I shouldn’t shut it down. However, I see now that over the last 10 months, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve stopped writing. I’ve been avoiding Kari Hunter because the story was broken and, in a way, it sort of broke me. And because of the halted progress on the book, I’ve avoided my blog, because I didn’t know what to tell you guys.

To be honest, I think this lack of writing has made me a little off-kilter. I just haven’t been myself.

Anyway, the weekend following those three messages, I sat down on the couch with two notebooks, a half-dozen books on novel writing, and my laptop, and I figured out the problems with the new Kari Hunter book and how to fix them. It sucked up my entire weekend, but I did it.

Now, don’t get too excited. It’s going to take me some time to actually implement the fixes, and I have to write the new ending, but, for the first time in a few months, I feel really encouraged. I’ve been working away on the changes and things are going better than expected.

You all have waited a long time for an update, so here’s a little teaser for you. One of my awesome Twitter friends, Amanda Banker, tagged me on a “777” challenge. The idea is to post seven lines from page seven of your latest manuscript, and then tag seven friends to do the same. So here’s a little something from the next Kari Hunter book. Disclaimer: I’ve done this “777” thing once before and I find it impossible to follow the rules. A seven-line excerpt doesn’t stand out well on its own—it lacks context—so I’ve provided a few paragraphs. Second disclaimer: This is the only part of the book that has been seen by the Spouseditor, so anything you read “in the wild” is subject to editorial manhandling later.

Yes, manhandling.

Now, without further ado, here’s an excerpt from the coming Kari Hunter book:

– – –

I followed Brad through the steel doors and into a room so saturated in sharp, white light that no shadow existed. The overhead lamps beat down so hard I could feel their heat on my shoulders. I blinked, took a step back, and glanced over at Brad. The light seemed to have the opposite effect on him, but Brad lived for the spotlight. He stood a little straighter and his face relaxed. His cool, blue eyes swept the room quickly, then he shifted his bag on his shoulder and sauntered into the line marked for U.S. Citizens. I set my baggage down behind him but kept my hand resting on the handle.
I looked around. Large, white posters plastered the walls: travel safety, tourism, and, of course, the FBI’s Most Wanted List. The Wanted List took up half of the left wall. It was bigger than the one I had seen at the Quebec airport and most of the names were different. The headshots were life-sized, with names and faces arranged in two rows of five.

I was seventh on the list. That made me a little more wanted in the U.S. than in Canada. My competitive nature kicked in and I had to remind myself that it’s not always good to be number one.
The picture above my name wasn’t a photo, it was an artist’s black and white rendering—the same that I had seen in the Quebec airport. The image looked nothing like me. The face was bloated, with beady eyes, a tiny nose, and a cartoonish line for a mouth, drawn into a sneer. The name was typed in bold, capital letters beneath the picture, with the crime in smaller print. Unlike the poster I had seen in the Quebec airport, this one bore text in English, so I could finally read the caption beneath my alien headshot:


Nothing else. Unlike the other entries, mine didn’t indicate the reasons for my notoriety.
The room was crowded, but no one was looking at the posters or the guards or even at each other. They were staring at the television, at the breaking news feature that I couldn’t hear due to the general buzz of the airport terminal behind me.
Fifteen minutes and two dozen paces later, I found myself standing beneath my entry on the Most Wanted List. Brad’s gaze slid to me, then up to the drawn headshot, then back to me. His eyes pinched shut and he turned away.

Oh no. Was I wrong and there was a resemblance? Maybe there was some likeness that I couldn’t see. Maybe the artist had seen me on a bad hair day. Maybe my ears were bigger than I thought. Maybe my face really was that pudgy. The last few months hadn’t been great and sometimes I stress-eat. Regardless of the inaccurate and ugly drawing, the five minutes that I stood beneath my criminal entry were the longest of my life. I was fidgety. I looked like I was going for a hands-free removal of the world’s biggest wedgie.

– – –

So yeah. There you go. A little snippet of book two.

For those of you who have hung in there, waiting for a new book release, I want to say thank you. I’m thrilled. And shocked. And elated. And baffled. But mostly thrilled. I will see this book through to completion. Thanks for waiting.

I Quit photo courtesy of Deviant Art: Lovehurt123.

The Three-Book Bucket List

I want to write other books. Don’t get me wrong—I love the Kari Hunter series and the world I’ve built. I want to build out this world fully, in more ways than one. At present, I have plans to keep writing Kari books until it’s no longer fun for us all. Then we’ll consider other options. Until then, I have no plans to stop. But that doesn’t mean I don’t dream of writing other books.
In fact, I have a secret “bucket list” of books that I want to write someday.

Hey, it’s a new year—if there’s a better time to share this list, I don’t know when it is!

Someday, I hope to contribute to a major series with an established world.

You’ve probably browsed the science fiction and fantasy section at a bookstore and seen the shelves upon shelves of books belonging to established franchises like Dungeons and Dragons, Halo, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. The books are supplemental entertainment for fans of those series, written by various authors. I dream of becoming one of those authors.
Yes, I know that I would just be one more author contributing to these worlds—I don’t need my name in lights, guys. I just want to contribute to something wonderful.

A series of short stories or novellas set in the Kari Hunter universe that has nothing to do with Kari Hunter.

Don’t get me wrong—I have fun being inside Kari’s head. But since I’m always there, I’d like to write something else in this universe that isn’t knife- and necromancer-centric. Something with mystery and action and humor—you know, all the good stuff. I’ve had a couple of ideas floating around in my head that I’m pretty excited about. If I can figure out a way to write faster and I can work on it without impeding the Kari Hunter series even more, I’ll do it.

A story that pays homage to Support Your Local Sheriff.

It’s no surprise that my all-time favorite flicks are comedies with a smattering of romance and action. If you’ve never seen this 1969 hit featuring James Garner (AKA Rockford) you’re missing out. In this western parody, a stranger visits a rowdy town in the time of the gold rush. Unfortunately, the price of breakfast in the town is just too damn high, so our handsome, macho hero takes the job of sheriff, just for the paycheck. To stay alive and get paid, all he has to do is keep a low profile, but instead he decides to arrest the meanest and dumbest of criminals around—and then he keeps the guy in a jail cell that has no bars.
I won’t spoil how he does it. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

Someday I’ll get around to writing other books, but these are the three that I would most like to have on my writing resume. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Are there books you think I should write that aren’t on the list?

I’m Still Standing (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!)


Last week, I read a blog post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, an established writer whose list of works and accolades is as long as my bucket list. Since writing is her full-time occupation, she’s kept herself informed about the comings and goings of the publishing world for self-published authors and traditionally published authors alike.

Apparently, in 2014, authors did more goings than comings.

According to Rusch, authors have been disappearing from the publishing landscape. Some without so much as a farewell. Others with grand public announcements.

Even self-published authors who had boasted great sales.

Even traditionally published authors who had firmly established themselves in the business.

As Rusch put it, 2014 was the “Year of the Quitter.” Exit Stage Right. Adios, muchachos.

I was really surprised by this news, probably because in 2014 I kept my head in the sand, ostrich-like, working on the second Kari Hunter book. I did that intentionally, because every time I poked my head up long enough to look around, authors were running circles around me, boasting how fast they were publishing, how much money they were making, what new genres were hot and earning them a bazillion dollars. And now I find out most of those people are leaving because they’re fed up with publishing or marketing or the gold rush is over or… I don’t know.

I’m an ostrich, remember? This quitting thing is news to me.

Spiderman Desk Meme

For me, 2014 was the year of getting my sh*t together. I spoke before about how I was working hard on the Kari Hunter book even though I sort of had no idea what I was doing. I backed away from social media and my blog. I went silent on author friends. I started practicing Non-Zero Days.

I suppose I could have talked more about this personal journey, but, quite frankly, you would have found it a very boring read. And for me, well, it would have felt akin to lifting up my skirts and giving you a peek at my unmentionables.

Seriously. I know we’re just talking about writing silly books and it doesn’t seem like a big deal. It should be easy, right? Sure, if I want to keep taking four years to write a single book. (No, thank you.) When it comes to changing habits and life processes, there’s a mental game involved. Suddenly I’m fighting a host of inner demons that tell me to procrastinate or I’ll never be good enough or whatever.

I imagine my inner demons look like this, but with worse hair and, instead of wielding a stick she’s got one of those horrible ergonomic keyboards that take me five minutes of hunt-and-peck just to type the word “Hello!” but it still comes out “Wrph>”

I imagine my inner demons look like this, but with worse hair and, instead of wielding a stick she’s got one of those horrible ergonomic keyboards that take me five minutes of hunt-and-peck just to type the word “Hello!” but it still comes out “Wrph>”

I admit there were times I felt like quitting. It’s been two years and the next book still isn’t finished. The stress of that alone is enormous—because every time I pulled my head up out of the sand to check things out, industry “experts” and “successful” authors were saying I was taking too long to write my books, no one’s going to care if I write anything else, and I shouldn’t even bother at this point.

It’s interesting that lot of those experts and authors have dropped off the face of the earth.

And I’m still here. So are you.

I resolved long ago to march to the beat of my own drum, and not those of authors and industry experts around me. There’s something inside me that makes me want to zig when everyone else zags. But I don’t think that’s bad. In fact, I’m proud to be different. My goal as a writer has never been to make a bazillion dollars or hit bestseller lists. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be sad if that happened, but it’s never been a goal. What I want is to contribute to the urban fantasy genre in a way that makes people take it a lot more seriously than they do now. I want to write really great books—books that also march to the beat of their own drum.

If the standard for 2014 was for writers to quit, I’m glad to be different. And if my readers are still here, maybe it means you’re different too.

A lot of readers have sent me notes, saying you’ll wait for the next book, however long it takes. I want you to know that I truly appreciate it. Now I owe you a story that’s worth the wait.

The “Year of the Quitter?” Not for me. Call it the “Year of the Ostrich” if you will. Head in the sand, working everything out.

2015 shall be the Year of the Drum. Or maybe the year of Stubby.

Happy New Year.

Drum photograph courtesy of ctrl_lost.

The Secret to Being Awesome: Non-Zero Days

Photo courtesy of Fanpop.

I have discovered the secret to being awesome!

Luckily, it’s about as easy as Barney Stinson makes it out to be.

Last year, I confessed that I’d been struggling to develop a process for writing. Since then, I’ve had ups and downs (more downs than ups), trying things that never really stuck. I was looking for a gimmick. A quick fix. A magic bullet.

Of course, there isn’t one. As it turns out, no one can change until they identify the true problem, and then nothing will get better unless they truly want to change. And so I struggled along, trying to be a “real writer,” beating myself up for not being a real writer, and spiraling into frustration and self-loathing.

One night, after I had sat down to write but was totally not doing it because I was surfing Reddit instead, I found a couple of subreddits for getting disciplined. It led me to a highly rated comment that changed my life.

Enter the Non-Zero Day.

It’s like being Bruce Lee, but without the whole “punching people in the face” business.

The comment was in response to someone who thought their life was going nowhere. They lacked motivation and discipline and, worst of all, they stopped caring about themselves entirely. I admit that a part of this comment rang true for me too, but it was the response that got my attention:

“Rule numero uno—there are no more zero days. What’s a zero day? A zero day is when you don’t do a single thing towards whatever dream or goal or want or whatever that you got going on. No more zeros. I’m not saying you gotta bust an essay out everyday, that’s not the point. The point I’m trying to make is that you have to make yourself, promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system. Didn’t do anything all…day and it’s 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non-zero. You feel me? When you’re in the super vortex of being bummed your pattern of behaviour is keeping the vortex going; that’s what you’re used to. Turning into productivity ultimate master of the universe doesn’t happen from the vortex. It happens from a massive string of CONSISTENT NON ZEROS.

That’s rule number one. Do not forget.”

Somehow, it was what I needed to hear. But it didn’t stop there; the writer continued with three more rules and then dangled a carrot:

“There’s so much more when it comes to how to turn non zero days into hugely non zero days, but that’s not your mission right now. Your mission is non zero and forgiveness and favours.”

Hugely non-zero days? Bigger personal accomplishments? Happiness and personal satisfaction?

Finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and not that jerky little leprechaun who bites my ankle when I ask about the treasure?

I had heard these promises before and they all had failed me—but I had nothing left to lose. So, I got to work on my own fledgling non-zero system. I grabbed my whiteboard calendar and identified the top three things that I wanted to work on. My goal was to do at least one of those three things each day and mark them down on my whiteboard. No, I wasn’t perfect about it, but I kept trying. I’ve been doing this for about three months now and something strange is happening:

I’ve been writing nearly every day, making consistent progress on the next book.

I’m starting to dream big—and I’m taking the steps to reach my goals.

Amazing ideas are coming to me—not just about writing, but about life in general. I’m doing new and wild things. Best of all, I’m having bigger non-zero days than when I first started this journey.

With all that said, I’m nervous to tell you all this because every time I talk about my goals or my new systems, everything falls apart. The reason for this is probably related to what Derek Sivers says in his terrific TED talk Keep Your Goals to Yourself.

The video is short but wonderful, explaining that most people who share their goals experience an emotional fulfillment similar to those who actually achieve their goals. Since they already feel good about sharing, they abandon their goals entirely and never accomplish anything. Ungh! Why had no one told me about this before?

But, hey, it’s a lesson learned and now I can share it with you. Go check out the non-zero post. (One caveat: it contains a little profanity for emphasis and some bad grammar—but his enthusiasm makes up for it.)

Drop that zero, become a hero

Okay, you sat through this whole post, so here’s a little update on the next Kari Hunter book: I’m so excited about this story. I’m nearing the end of a huge revision and will be starting edits soon. I know this is taking a long time, but bear with me. I’m getting better at this whole “authorship” thing, it’s just taking me a little more time and effort than most. It’s taking a little non-zero action.

What do you think about the non-zero day? Leave a comment below and let me know! Continue reading

Ridiculous Fan Fiction: Eureka Part Two!

Eureka Main Street

[spouseditor’s note] Muahaha! Jen is away and I’m posting part two early, just for you!

Read part one first!

“I don’t know about this.” Jack bent at the waist, looking at the thin, silver spacesuit he had wrestled on. He thought he looked like a cheesy extra from Planet of the Apes. “Is this going to protect me from space cooties?”


Jack made a complete turn inside the small, square vestibule and faced Henry, who sat at a console on the other side of a thick pane of protective glass.

“I was kidding about the cooties,” Jack said.

Henry glanced up. “Well I’m not, Jack. Space Cooties are highly contagious.”

Jack opened his mouth to interject, but before he could say anything, Henry continued.

“Now listen, Jack. We’ve sent lots of people to the moon with our Instantaneous Molecular Traveler, and the suit is an integral component. When you arrive at your destination, the suit will put the molecules of your body back together the way they are now so you don’t end up inside-out or with an arm coming out of your forehead.” He pressed another button and the lights glowed a soft blue. “Plus, it will expel your bodily fluids and solids when necessary.”

“My what?!

“That’s why it’ll be a little uncomfortable to sit. When you crouch, the hose will touch your…” Henry gestured with one hand, waving it in the air as if attempting to draw the proper word from the ether. The word must not have materialized because after a moment he shrugged. “You know.”

“No, I don’t know.”

“Come on, Jack. You know what I mean.”

“No, I…” Jack bent slightly at the knees. A hard plastic tube bonked against his buns. He yelped and stood, thrusting his pelvis forward, away from the tube. A cold, plastic cup graced against his nether regions, ready to receive.

Jack yelped and stood straight as an arrow, being careful that his most personal possessions weren’t touching anything. He glared at Henry. “Not cool, man. So now what happens when I have to go? The pee just…” He waved his hands in the air, reflecting light off of the silver gloves and into his eyes.

Henry sighed into the microphone, distorting the speakers. “It just goes out into space.”

Henry punched a few more buttons on the console. The glass beneath Jack’s feet lit up, illuminating a large metal box on the floor before him. A soft whirring filled the room.

“So my poop might make it back to Earth and fall from the sky?”

“No, though it would be convenient for it to burn up in the atmosphere. Unless you expel an object strongly enough to break the moon’s gravity, it will stay up there.”

“That’s not better.”

Henry punched a few more buttons. The whirring grew louder. “So you remember what to do, right?”

Jack nodded at the box on the floor. “Yeah. Get into position and push the giant red button on the side of the box. The gizmo inside will do the rest.”

A low rumbling shook the room. Dust filled the air.

“What was that?” Jack demanded.

“The root must be growing! If we don’t act fast, it’s going to uproot the whole town.”

“Well let’s get going. Beam me up…” His words trailed off as he considered the prospect of his molecules being rearranged. “Scramble me?”

“Exactly. I’m going to send you to our Matter Receiver at Area 1.”

“Like Area 51? Aliens and UFOs and stuff? Am I in danger of a close encounter?”

Henry’s hands paused from their furious button-pushing and his head snapped up. The playful look that usually danced behind his eyes was gone, replaced with a stern glare. “Area 1 is where we made first contact with alien civilizations. Most artifacts present at the meeting were moved to other sites on Earth for study—Areas 2 through 51. The alien ambassador is stationed there and we use the site for ongoing diplomatic relations.”

“That’s so cool!”

“Just don’t touch anything, Jack. You’re only in danger if you come into contact with the artifacts.”

“Why? Will they activate and destroy the earth?” His eyes widened. “Or, I know, it takes control of my body, like a Pod Person!”

“No, it’s because Elvis doesn’t like anyone touching his stuff.”

Jack tried slapping a hand to his forehead, but his hand ricocheted off the plastic helmet, adding to his frustration.

“Seriously, Henry? First poop jokes and now alien Elvis? How ridiculous is this parody going to get?”

“We’re about to find out!” Henry punched a few more buttons on the control panel. “Here we go!”

The blue light intensified to near blinding levels. Jack crossed his arms and hands over his helmet, trying to shield his eyes from the light.

“Are you sure I’ll be okay?” he shouted.

“No. I mean yes. I mean… probably?”


Jack suddenly felt very tingly. He suddenly did not want to go.


The sound faded along with the noise. The tingling stopped. Jack blinked and turned around, trying to adjust to his dim new surroundings.

He stood in a depressed circle on a shiny, cream floor. The ceiling seemed to be covered in the same shiny foil as his spacesuit, though it also had peachy-pink patches that pulsed with a faint glow. The room was too dark too see the walls, but he could make out boxy shapes scattered around the room. He assumed they were some kind of cool alien furniture. At his feet was the silver box that Henry had entrusted to him. As far as Jack could tell, it had also arrived in correct order.

“Jack, can hear me? I repeat, are your ears still attached to your head, or did they migrate to your elbows?”

Despite being a quarter million miles from Earth, Jack could hear Henry loud and clear, though he could tell their messages were being delayed by a couple of seconds.

“Yeah, I hear you, Henry. My ears are fine.” He paused. “Were they ever in danger of being attached elsewhere?”

“Uh… can’t hear you, Jack. You’re breaking up.”

Jack shook his head. “Whatever.”

Movement from his left startled him. He jerked, trying to face what he imagined would be a slimy, slobbering, toothy, alien menace. Unfortunately, he forgot that his new environment had lower gravity, and the attempt at sudden movement pushed him off the floor and sent him rocketing off to the side.


As he spiraled around in the dark space, he finally came face to face with the alien threat—a furry ball, about the size of a grapefruit, floating by. It ejected a pink gas in order to turn and face him.

The thing had a head. A tiny, furry head with enormous black eyes. It ejected the gas again, propelling the little furball nearer, until it floated just outside of his helmet. It had a mouth. Black, razor-sharp teeth spilled out—so many and so large were the teeth that Jack couldn’t figure out how they all fit inside its mouth. A red tongue spilled out and swiped Jack’s helmet, leaving a trail of mucus that obscured his vision. Jack finally bumped against the room’s wall, stopping his short flight. The thing stopped in front of his helmet and licked him again.

“Uh, thanks,” Jack said. “Good, uh, thing.”

The speakers inside his helmet clicked.

“You’ve got to hurry, Jack. The root’s getting so big that it’s about to take out Cafe Diem. If the town stops getting free cappuccinos, it’s going to be utter bedlam!”

Jack shuddered at the thought. “I’m on it!”

He pushed off from the wall, sending him floating back toward the metal box. The lessened gravity made his movements clumsy and awkward, and instead of landing on his feet as he intended, he smacked head-first into the floor.

“I need to get the hang of this space stuff,” Jack said. He pulled the box upward, lifting it off the floor, then pushed it straight ahead.

“Remember the map I showed you,” Henry said. “There’s only one exit. Take the box down the hall and enter the first floor hatch you see—and hurry. We don’t have much time.”

Jack pushed the box into a narrow hall with a high dome ceiling that was covered in the same silvery stuff. The glowing peach-colored lights seemed stronger here, providing better visibility. The hall was bare and mostly straight, and stretched out such a great distance that he could actually see the curve of the moon. The pink furball floated over Jack’s shoulder and coasted down the hall a few feet, then ejected more gas to stop. The furball turned, tongue lolling from its mouth, waiting for its new friend.

Jack took a tentative step forward, trying to get used to the slow, bouncing movement.

“Awesome,” Jack said to the furball. “I’m moonwalking!”

The furball licked his helmet again in acknowledgement.

He continued down the hall, past overhead hatches and closed side doors. After about fifty feet, he finally came to the floor hatch. At least, he thought it was a hatch. It was a rectangular panel depressed in the floor. The wheel to open the hatch was on the wall next to a black button.

“Henry? Are you there?”

His helmet speakers clicked. This time, they spewed static.

“I’m here,” Henry shouted, “but not for much longer! The root’s out of control. Half the town is trapped up in the air now.”

“I made it to the hatch. There’s a wheel and a button. Which one do I use?”

“You’ll have to speak up! The root has punctured through the Global Dynamics building and the whole building’s coming down around me. You’ve got to get through that hatch or the whole town is finished!”

“Okay,” Jack shouted, “hang on.”

He pushed the button. There was no sound, but he saw the building shake. The pink creature darted away, back down the hall from which it had come. The floor panel began to slide open, exposing an inky black something that should have been nothing. It was definitely something, Jack thought, but disguised as nothing. Whatever it was, Jack thought it was terrible.

His legs flew backward, sucked toward the blackness. Jack screamed. His fingers latched onto the small wheel.

“What’s going on, Jack? You turned the wheel, right? Tell me you didn’t press the alien button. You should never press an unmarked button. Everyone knows that.”

“Now you tell me!”

The metal box spun and was sucked through the hatch. It instantly disappeared.

Jack knew that there was only one way to save Eureka and it involved getting that box back. And the only way he could get that box back was to go through the hatch and face the terrible blackness.

“Hang on, Henry. I’m going in.”

Jack let go of the wheel.
Continue reading

Ridiculous Fan Fiction: Eureka Part One!

EurekaCast_CafeDiem Ding-a-ling-a-ling!

The door to Cafe Diem swung open, ringing the little silver bell hanging from the doorframe. Everyone paused to glance at the uniformed man strolling through the door. He wandered through the collection of round tables scattered around the storefront and sat down at the counter. A plump, curly haired man in an apron materialized—literally, in a dazzling spectacle of lights and smoke—from behind the espresso machine. With one hand he waved away the smoke pouring from his curly hair and with the other he smoothed his apron. As he turned, he noticed the uniformed man staring at him.

“Oh! Hi, Sheriff.”

“Hey Vincent.”

Vincent hustled over to the counter. “I’m so sorry. Have you been waiting long? I was in my infinite pantry getting some voatsiperifery for today’s special.”

Jack Carter stared at Vincent for a long moment, wondering if “voatsiperifery” was actually a food or if Vincent was just toying with him. In the end, he decided not to ask. Jack’s idea of adventurous cuisine was adding hot sauce to his grilled cheese and he didn’t need fancy words jumbling up his go-to menu.

“No problem; I just got here.” He scanned the cafe and nodded at the safe and orderly scene with satisfaction. “Can I get the usual?”

Disdain flickered over Vincent’s face. Jack Carter liked drip coffee. From the local grocery store. Pre-ground beans.

He sighed. “Sure. You want it in a To-Go cup?”

“No, thanks. It’s such a quiet day today. We don’t get a lot of that here in Eureka, so I thought I’d take a little break—”

Before he could finish, a boom filled the air, followed by the grinding of metal and shattering glass.

Jack reconsidered his order. “Actually, a To-Go cup would be great.”

Before he was even out of the cafe with his coffee, his cellphone rang. He shoved open the glass door with his hip and waded into the stream of panicked Eurekans who ran toward the calamity. As he moved with them, he pressed the phone to his ear.

“This is Carter.”

His phone clicked and beeped and then sounded like it was regurgitating its circuitry.

“Sorry,” Jack said, “can you repeat that?”

“It’s Jo—you know, your deputy?”

“Hi, Jo. Sorry, it’s hard to hear out here. What’s up?”

“We’re getting calls at the station about an accident in town. Do you want me to come out and help make arrests? Shoot anyone? Stand around looking incredibly menacing? I’ll take any of those. Or all of them. I love violence.”

“Let’s hold off on the violence until I can figure out what’s happening. I just left Cafe Diem and I’m heading toward the calamity now. Hang on a second.”

He took a sip of coffee, then picked up the pace, ducking through the crowd. He rounded a corner and came to a dead halt. The accident was another twenty feet ahead but he didn’t need to get any closer. He stuck the phone back up against his ear.

“Jo, call Henry and ask him to get his tow truck over here right away.”

“Okay, anything else?”

“Yeah,” he said, gazing at the hole in the middle of the street and the monstrous tree root that had burst up from it, stretching twenty feet high, taking three Smart Cars and a bicyclist with it. The trapped residents hung from the windows of their vehicles or bear-hugged the root for fear of falling, and were screaming for help.

“Call a gardener.”


“This is extraordinary,” Henry said, leaning against his tow truck and tipping his head back to take in the full view. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“You say that every time something crazy happens,” Jack said, “which is three times a week.”

Henry shrugged. “What do you expect? This town is populated with the most brilliant scientific minds in the country. Experiments are bound to go haywire from time to time. You know, the Department of Defense hires only those who are at the tops of their respective fields.” He paused and glanced at Jack. “And, of course, you.”

“Thanks.” Jack pointed up at the stranded victims, who were now being circled by prototype military drones whose weapons had been replaced with coffee and snacks from Cafe Diem. “How are we going to get those people down?”

“Obviously, we’re going to need the leading expert on gravitropism.”

“Right.” Jack’s eyes cut back to Henry. He gagged on the word. “Grapitopimorphicism…”

Henry waved his hands to silence Jack. “Gravitropism, Jack—how plants respond to gravity. NASA’s very interested in it for space travel and possible colonization. I’ll bet someone at Global Dynamics has an answer for this. Have you talked to Allison Blake? As the head of G.D., she can tell you who to call.”

“Thanks Henry.”

“Just let me know when the cars come down and I’ll tow them back to my garage for repairs.” He climbed into his truck and drove away.

Jack pulled out his cell phone and hit the speed dial for Doctor Allison Blake.

“Hey Jack, how are you?”

His heart fluttered in his chest and he forgot what he was doing. “Hi. Fine. How are you? How’s things?” A scream from above brought him back to the present situation. He whirled around and looked up—

One of the stranded victims had received decaf from a military drone instead of regular.

“Listen, Allison, we’ve got a problem here in town. About a half hour ago, a gigantic tree root exploded out of the street and suspended a few people in the air. I need to get them down. Henry suggested that someone at G.D. might be running an experiment with plants and gravity. Gravimojo or something.”

“Gravitropism. Yeah, the government’s very interested in it so we’ve been conducting a lot of experiments lately. We have the leading gravitropism scientist in the world right here in Eureka. I’ll send him over.”

“Thanks, Allison.”

He hung up and turned around. To his surprise, Henry’s tow truck was heading back his way. Jack stepped back, away from the curb, and let him park.

Henry climbed out of his truck, holding a large metal gadget that Jack could only assume was a ray gun. Or maybe it was a space gun. Space ray gun, Jack thought.

“Allison called me,” Henry said. “She says you need me.”

Jack stared at him. “You’re the top scientist on plant gravity? Why didn’t you say so when you were standing here a minute ago?”

“The research is classified, but Allison said it was okay to share it.” He hoisted the ray gun up onto his shoulder. “This is the Gravitoboobulator X-7000. Prototype, of course. It’s leaps and bounds above the X-6000, since it doesn’t turn plants into people-eaters.”

Jack’s eyes cut to the X-7000, then back to Henry. “Uh, yeah. So what does it do now?”

“This machine is the latest in gravitropism technology and can temporarily surround this root with graviphotons that will make it sink back into the earth.”


Henry frowned and repeated, “I’m going to create a repulsive vector force so that the root can float down nice and easy, like a cloud.”

“No, I understand your explanation but… repulse gravity? That doesn’t sound right. I mean, I only have a high school diploma, but that science doesn’t sound right to me.”

“Don’t worry, Jack.” Henry aimed the silver gizmo and pressed a red button near the trigger. The contraption whirred to life and radiated a green aura. “I’m the leading expert in the world!”

“Wait,” Jack said, “it’s getting dark out. Can you even see what you’re aiming at?”

“Trust me. No one’s going to get hurt.” Henry pulled the trigger.

A brilliant green light shined from the contraption, but it launched no projectiles. Instead, a latticed green field enveloped the root. The crowd oohed and aahed.

In the sky, the moon began to glow. Big. Bright. In fact, it looked bigger and brighter than usual. It began to radiate a dull green.

“Hey Henry,” Jack said, “is it just me, or is the moon looking really, really huge tonight?”

“Oh. Um… whoops.”

Jack’s head snapped in Henry’s direction. “Whoops? What do you mean, whoops?”

And then the ground began to shake. A crack broke open at the base of the root and continued upward. As it ran up the root, the crack fractured. Chunks of hard plant fell and crashed onto the pavement, squashing the onlookers. People screamed and scattered. The cars and the bicycle suspended in the air swung violently.

“Henry!” Jack shouted. “Stop!”

“I can’t! The Gravitoboobulator X-7000 isn’t turning off!”

Henry tried pointing the gun away from the root, but its graviphotonic field continued to envelop the root.

“Do something!” he shouted. “I can’t stop the beam!”

Jack grabbed the Gravitoboobulator out of Henry’s hands and slammed it against the curb. The green light wavered. Metal fragments broke off of the gun and flew everywhere. Jack smashed it again. And again. He continued to slam it against the ground until it was nothing but a sad silver nub.

The light finally cut out and the field around the root dissipated. Above, the stranded people stopped swinging and came to a stop as the root stabilized.

Henry glanced down at the destroyed Gravitoboobulator X-7000, then back up at Jack.

“When I said for you to do something, I meant to do one of those heroic sheriff things that saves the day.”

“I did. I destroyed your space ray gun.” Jack smiled. “I was very heroic.”

“That’s not what I meant.” He pointed to the partially flattened remains of two unfortunate onlookers. “We need to take those two to the morgue. Hopefully the coroner will be able to learn a little more about the situation.” Henry paused. “And since the coroner is also me, it’s convenient.”

“Or inconvenient,” Jack said, “because you’re also the town mechanic, the mayor, and the leading expert on plant gravity. When do you have time to do all this stuff? Are you also an expert on time travel?”

“That’s classified, Jack. I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.”

Jack rolled his eyes. “Whatever.” He pointed up at the root. “The root is still there and now the moon’s green. And huge. What’s the deal with the moon? Why’d you shout ‘whoops’?”

Henry threw up his hands in exasperation. “I forgot that tonight is the super moon. There was a stronger supersymmetric interaction, and… well, to put it simply, the Gravitoboobulator X-7000 wasn’t strong enough. The gravitational fields began to pull the tree root apart.”

Jack gave Henry a long look, still clearly not believing his science. “Uh huh. So what do we do?”

“Obviously we need the leading expert on gauge theory as it relates to supermoon gravitation. I’ll go get him.”

Henry climbed back into his tow truck and hit the gas.

A half block away, the truck came to a screeching halt, made a U-turn, and returned to the curb where Jack stood. Henry rolled down the window.

“Lemme guess,” Jack said. “You’re also the expert on supermoons.”

“You guessed right,” Henry said, “and I hope you’re ready for another heroic feat, because we need you to up there and check things out.”

“Up there? Up where?”

Henry pointed his index finger at the sky. “The moon, of course.”

Jack’s face lit up. “Awesome! I always wanted to be an astronaut.” He glanced up at the giant greenish-white orb in the sky, then back at Henry. He jammed his hands into his pockets. “So how do I get there? Do you guys have some kind of exchange program with NASA?”

Henry balked. “A NASA rocket? Jack, this is Eureka. Our brilliant minds wouldn’t stoop so low as to using something as common as a rocket.” He leaned out of the window, close to Jack, as if sharing a secret. “We’ve got something better.”

“Henry, around here, ‘better’ never means better. It means not better.”

“You’re doing it anyway,” Henry said.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will be posted next Sunday!
Continue reading

Breaking Radio Silence

The plot to the second Kari Hunter book.

The plot to the second Kari Hunter book.

You know how it goes: you tell yourself you can skip a week of blogging, then another week goes by. And then the next, and the next… Before you know it, over three months have passed since the last time you said anything.

The scope of blogging for authors has changed anyway, I reasoned. Probably no one’s reading this blog. The first book came out over a year ago, and everyone’s forgotten about it. Right?

And then, on a whim, I popped over to my Amazon author page and realized I had seven comments of people saying they were checking religiously for a new Kari Hunter book, and when is the next one coming out?

And those were just the comments. Who knows how many others are just popping by to check?
So for those of you who are looking for the next Kari Hunter book, here’s the news. (I’ll make this the abbreviated version. Those of you who are curious about the personal and writerly details can check back later.)

Back in December, I posted an update with a plan for the second Kari Hunter book. I explained that I had never come up with a process for writing, so I was feeling my way through the new book, slowly but surely. I even hinted at a timeline, which I really shouldn’t have done. This new book has taken me through some amazing twists and turns. I reached some personal highs and incredibly low lows. I forgot how to write a book. And then I remembered again. I even figured out my own writing process. So that I don’t forget again, and so I can write books a little faster in the future, I documented my process.
Yes. There really is a document. Because that’s what a big nerd I am.

Anyway, I’m still working on the second Kari Hunter book. I’m getting close to finishing the first draft and I’ve never been so excited or scared about the story. It’s going to be a little different than THE FOURTH CHANNEL. It has to be, because I’m no one-trick pony. After the events of the first book conclude, life will never be the same for Kari or her family. Kari will cling to her beliefs as a pacifist in a violent world, and she will come to understand the consequences of her choice. People will die. People will go to jail. Knives will be punished. Legs will be humped. And Moons will take up pole dancing.

To those of you crazy awesome people who keep checking for an update… Thank you. I’m amazed and humbled. The second book is on the way. I’m working as fast as humanly possible to get it completed and in your hands. Stay tuned for more updates. Continue reading

Sci-Fi Pinups: Mr. & Miss January 2014

PinCushionHappy New Year, gang! I’ve returned to trot out a new year of sci-fi and fantasy hotties. If this is your first time joining us, welcome! The Sci-Fi Pinups is the monthly segment where I scar you for life with photos of hot space dudes in metal bikinis, three-breasted Martian hookers, and the Hoff in a Speedo.

Somehow, you guys keep coming back for more eye-searing action. (I’m beginning to worry.)

I hope you’re ready for the new year. We’re going to dive right in with the music edition! This month, we’re featuring the songs you know and wish you could forget love.

Miss January comes to us from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. As soon as you’re in her presence, you won’t be able to help but notice her lips and legs that seem to go for miles. She’s performed for tough audiences on planets everywhere, but currently rocks the house on Tatooine, delighting crime lords, bounty hunters, and scoundrels encased in carbonite.

She is…

Sy Snootles
Photo courtesy of Wookiepedia.

…Sy Snootles of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi!

Miss January’s turn-ons include bosses who aren’t strangled to death by chicks in metal bikinis—because how else is she going to get paid? If you take Miss January out on the town, you’d better bring your dancing shoes and be prepared to boogie your buns off.

Just don’t do it over a Rancor pit.

Here’s a clip of Sy doing her thing in Jabba’s palace. The little disco song she sings in the movie is called “Lapti Nek” which means “Work It Out” in Huttese. (Trivia: the song was written by John Williams. Pretty awesome.)

Surprisingly, there’s a lot out on the internet about Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band. The Star Wars universe is vast and incredibly detailed, and Sy has a big back story. So, if you want a little more of Miss January, you’re in luck:

Sy Snootles’ story on Wookiepedia

Some goodies:

Okay, it’s time to stop, collaborate, and introduce Mr. January. When good and evil collide in the middle of his club, he takes to the stage and provides the fighting soundtrack. This performer has mad skills, flaunting his moves, his suit, and his crotch. When he isn’t laying down the beats, he’s a private detective or something. Because if there’s a problem, yo, he’ll solve it. (Yes, I’m ignoring your collective groan.)

He is…

Vanilla Ice & Ninja Turtles

…Vanilla Ice from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Mr. January’s turn-on is hair gel. Lots and lots of hair gel. If you hit the town with Mr. January, avoid flames. Just sayin’. Also, avoid cymbals, because he goes crazy when he hears them.

Okay, I’m done with the puns. Really. Word to your mother.

Here’s Mr. January in action, doing his famous (and cringe-worthy) Ninja Rap from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze:

Of course, if you want a little more Mr. January, you can get it.

  • Here’s a cool Go Ninja Go t-shirt from I really love the RedBubble shirts; I just wish they weren’t so damn expensive. Have realistic prices, RedBubble!
  • Also, I found a simple white Ninja Rap shirt with a cool Asian/martial arts style design. I like this one.
  • [ed: she doesn’t know what it is!]
  • Buzzfeed has a silly article on 10 Epic Moments from the Vanilla Ice Ninja Rap Video.
  • There is, for reasons that escape me, a dedicated website called This site includes step-by-step instructions on how to get down like a ninja turtle. The website’s very cheesy (and from the look of it, incredibly old) but it made me giggle.

Stay tuned for more! In the next couple of weeks I’ll have an update on the next Kari Hunter book, which I am flying through. Very excited about this book, guys.

Subscribe to the site for more! The links are in the sidebar, and you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Pincushion photo courtesy of Steven Depolo. Continue reading

Where In the Hell is the Next Kari Hunter Book?

WindowSeatDecember 4 marked a very important milestone for me: the anniversary of THE FOURTH CHANNEL release.

When I look back on the last year, a scene from the movie “Tin Cup” comes to mind: Kevin Costner plays a golf pro at a small town driving range. When he enters the US Open, the attention causes him to develop a glitch in his swing and he’s completely unable to hit the ball. He manages to hide his problem, but privately he’s having a crisis, trying to fix his swing so he can play. At one point, he’s standing in his RV, decked head to toe in tacky, plastic golfing gimmicks that he once eschewed, when his love interest, played by Rene Russo, walks in and catches him in his most humiliating moment.

This last year has felt a lot like that moment.

When I first wrote THE FOURTH CHANNEL, I had no idea what I was doing. I wrote blogs and entertained my friends with (bad) video game fanfiction. The very first iteration of TFC was well over 200,000 words and had no plot.

I probably shouldn’t admit that, but there you have it.

At the time, all I knew was that I enjoyed writing and I wanted to get better at it. I had no plans to publish, much less tell anyone I was writing a book. I did it for fun. So, as soon as I got within three chapters of the book’s ending, I’d throw away what I had written and start over with a blank page. I rewrote the book about four or five times, just for fun.

If anything, I’ve learned to embrace the concept of a full rewrite.

What I hadn’t figured out was a book-writing process that worked for me. By the time I realized that I wanted to publish TFC, I thought that being able to produce books quickly didn’t matter because no one knew who I was and no one was going to read the book. My plan was simple: publish TFC and then spend as much time as I wanted to figure out the whole “author process” thing. The plan was pretty firm because I only expected 15 people to read TFC.

I got that in the first couple days and then some. I was more than a little surprised.

So, for the past year, I’ve been in this “Tin Cup” mode where I’m trying to act like I’ve got it all together, that I know what I’m doing, and I’m preparing to wow you with a sequel any day now, but behind the scenes I’ve been stressing out and trying every writing gimmick I can find. I’ve asked for advice from all of my writing friends, researched the habits of the pros, and even talked to strangers who are much more prolific than I. I’ve tried every method to write better and faster, no matter how bizarre. (And in case you’re wondering, the “writing in your underwear” thing doesn’t work at all.)

The good news is that I’ve started figuring it out. So, on the one hand, I’m really discouraged that I have no book to show you right now. On the other hand, I’m excited that things are starting to come together at last—and quickly.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks: where in the hell are we with the next Kari Hunter book? In January, the first chapters of the beta edition will start rolling out to my two trusty partners, Angela and Mark. As you know, they also helped me with the first book. We still have a few months before the Spouseditor gets a hold of it, and we’re considering throwing an additional person into the editing mix. I realize that sounds like a lot of work, but I promise we’re getting closer to the finish line.

As for the content of the book, I feel a mixture of excitement and terror. I’m just praying that the wait will be worth it and you’ll love it. I wrote TFC thinking it would be a one-off story that no one would read. And if you’re one of the many people who read TFC and loved it and you’re asking me, “Where in the hell is the next Kari Hunter book?” I thank you. More is coming, I promise. Stay tuned. Continue reading