This month is a snippet from my first novel, Magic Souls, which has received a new cover and a new launch.
It was the morning of the biggest presentation of my legal career, and I spent ten minutes practicing my speech in front of a potted ficus. The bronze faces of the partners stared down at me from the wall, and I tried to imagine my face among them. If my presentation went well, I’d become a mid-level associate at the Hanover Law Firm—the most prestigious law firm in the city—and I’d finally get my own office instead of having to share a cubicle.
I hurried through the hall, swung into the conference room, and discovered that the meeting had begun without me. The partners sat around a long cedar table, watching a plasma TV mounted on the wall. They swiveled their heads toward me.
“You’re late, Bebe,” said Annette Farwell, my arch-nemesis with stilettos and perky breasts. Her designer suit made my blouse and skirt look like consignment items. She wasn’t supposed to be in this meeting. She smirked at me from the head of the table, lacing her fingers together so that everyone could see her glittering maroon nails. “I’ve been working on this case for six months, and I don’t appreciate you interrupting my presentation.”
My PowerPoint slides hovered on the TV screen. Only at the Hanover Law Firm were the partners so busy that they couldn’t tell when attorneys were stealing cases from each other.
I nearly turned green when I saw Tucker Salinas sitting at the table. He looked sexy in his black suit and red tie, and I could smell his lavender cologne across the room. His wavy hair and brown skin made him stick out in the room full of pasty white people like me.
“Wasn’t this your case, Bebe?” he said.
Annette raised her voice to cover mine. “Of course Bebe helped me. When she wasn’t on Facebook, she was wonderful. But time management is her weakness. It’s just like her to be late.”
I wanted to say, I’m late because you rescheduled the meeting without telling me, but what came out was something between a pout and a nervous laugh.
The managing partner shot up. “That’s all I need. It’s a tough decision—both of you do a great job. But on the basis of this case, Annette, we’re going to go ahead and promote you to mid-level associate. Bebe, we’ll discuss your performance at a later date.”
Annette draped her palms over her mouth and sucked in air. “I can’t thank you enough for recognizing my hard work.” She schmoozed around the room, shaking everyone’s hands. The partners ignored me as they filed out, and when I tried to meet Tucker’s eyes, he looked through me, too.
“It’s nothing personal,” Annette said after the last attorney left. She primped her bun with one hand and packed her portfolio with the other. “You’ll get your promotion in due time.”
I blocked the door. “You stole my case.”
“It’s so nice to finally hear you speak. I couldn’t tell if you were shocked, or if you were participating in one of your silent vegan protests again.”
“This is wrong, Annette. You never worked on this case.”
“You shouldn’t have left your computer unlocked.”
“You’re committing fraud.”
“You’re the fraud.” Annette stepped toward me. “And if you think I’m a bitch now,” she said, “I dare you to tell the partners. Then I can tell them how you broke company protocol and kissed Tucker Salinas.”
“How do you know that?”
Sure, I had kissed him. I’d had too many cocktails at happy hour—super embarrassing—but he hadn’t kissed me back.
Annette saw me thinking and laughed. “You know the rules. Any kind of personal contact is grounds for termination. I’ll make you wish that you’d dropped out of law school like you should have, and wonder why you didn’t major in English, spend the rest of your life writing erotica, and contribute to society in some meaningful way other than being a tool for my personal advancement. Go on,” she said, pointing to the door, “tell the partners.”
I didn’t know what to say. Annette pushed me aside and slammed the door behind her, leaving me alone with the lingering smell of cologne, legal pads, and betrayal.
Magic Souls is an interactive urban fantasy styled after Choose Your Own Adventures, but for grown ups with a storyline that changes as you read it. Click here to relive your childhood.
As always, if you’d like to support me, check out my Patreon page.
Fun times this month!
Lots of stuff to discuss, so I’ll jump right into it.
The Galaxy Mavericks series is officially finished. Books 8 & 9 have been published, and all the books are also available in paperback. If you want to grab them, start here.
If you’d like to read a snippet of Book 1 – Honor’s Reserve, check it out here.
I was also invited into a space opera anthology, and I wrote a Devika Sharma short story that serves as a prequel to the GM series. That won’t be available until next 2018, but I figured I’d give you guys something to look forward to! There will be 20+ other space opera short stories in this anthology. You’ll love it.
In other news, my next series will be in the realm of LitRPG. For those who haven’t heard of this genre, it’s basically one that takes place in the realm of a video game.
My existing series, Eaten, is currently being rewritten and will launch probably around the holidays.
New title, new format, etc. Book 1 has already been renovated, with Book 2 to follow this month. I’ll be writing Book 3 over the tail end of the summer/early fall, with new covers in October and the series (hopefully) ready for relaunch by end of the year. The series will be approximately 3-4 titles.
Eaten is a series that hasn’t done terribly well for me, but this was originally conceived to be a video game, so the transition will make sense. I will share snippets from the renovated series in the coming months, and you guys will love it. It will still have all the things that Eaten readers love about it—it’ll just be more cohesive.
I also believe in finishing what I start, so it will be another finished series that future fans read from cover to cover.
My very first novel has received a makeover. Check it out. Many thanks to Lou Harper who helped me out with this. The novel hasn’t changed—just the cover.
So grab it here if you haven’t had a chance to read it.
I am in the process of rebranding my older works, so more to come on this.
In other news, I was interviewed on The Prolific Writer Podcast with Ryan Pelton. Ryan’s a great interviewer–poised, relaxed, and he asked me some questions that I’ve never been asked before.
In this month’s episode of the AskAlli Beginner’s Self-Publishing Salon, my podcast co-host Jay Artale and I discuss all things editing–how to find an editor and how to work wtih one. Great episode, and I get a little feisty near the end!
I haven’t told many people this, but I have just started law school. As if balancing writing, a full-time job, and family weren’t enough…I decide to and throw law school in the mix (while keeping my job, at that).
Why? Because this was a long-term goal for me from the beginning, to do grad school of some kind. The school I picked and the curriculum were right for me. So that will be a fun challenge for me, to keep up my writing while in school.
However, I’m treating this as a non-issue and a non-event because I will continue writing, so don’t worry about that. It’ll take some getting used to, to be sure, but I do well under pressure. I thrive under it, actually.
AND THAT’S IT…
Of course, I invite you to check out my Patreon page if you haven’t already. I would appreciate your support.
Happy reading, and talk to you next month.
New Character Introduction
Ren Flanahey tucked a pile of school books into her backpack.
She joined a stream of children into the dark hallways of Empire Middle School Hive Three Thousand and Two.
The hall sloped upward, and wrapped around in a large circle. The walls were orange and glistening like the walls of a honeycomb.
She walked quietly with the other students, who walked with sullen faces. A drone bot with a television flew overhead, and a teacher’s head appeared on the screen.
“Students, as the weekend approaches, I would like you to take time to appreciate the glory of our empire.”
The drone sped ahead, repeating the message.
“Yes, we celebrate the glory of our empire,” the children said mechanically.
Ren said the words without feeling them, without meaning them, like she had for seventeen years.
Someone nudged Ren.
Her friend, Harlow. Well, more than a friend.
He was built like a young soldier. Bald and tattooed on the face—swirls on his cheeks—he was buff and handsome.
“Spaceship Calc was brutal today,” he said.
“Yeah,” she said, running a hand through her hair.
She had spilled soda on her uniform at lunch, and there was a gruesome stain near her stomach. She turned so that he didn’t see it.
“Glory be to the empire,” Harlow said.
“Glory,” Ren said.
“When is your emergence?” Harlow asked. “I just got mine. I’ve been assigned.”
The time when all of her friends were plucked away, sent onto career tracks in the military, teaching, or science fields. With the hive lottery system, she would never see them again.
She would never see Harlow again.
She knew she shouldn’t have gotten attached. No one got attached. It made life easier when Emergence happened. But she’d done it, and now she felt pain, pain unlike anything she’d ever felt in her life. She wanted to cover her ears, to grab his hand, to run, far, far away, over the top of the hive city and into the flat plains so they could get away, be free, free—free—before the somber reality of adulthood sunk in. The somber reality that she was never free, never would be, and that her life was predestined.
“I ship off tomorrow,” he said.
“Oh,” she said.
They walked outside into the moonlight.
The hive city seemed to swirl up into the stars. The lights of embedded pod homes glittered against the earthen walls. The twin moons, red and yellow, were bright in the gray sky.
A line of pod trams waited. The children lined up and entered. The pods zipped away on circular tracks, upward into the city.
The air was crisp, the moonlight pale on her skin, and the goosebumps on her arms popped up the moment she walked into the night air.
“This is goodbye,” Harlow said. “It’s been great.”
“So you just leave?” she asked.
They walked to a line.
“It’s better this way,” Harlow said. “We’re not even supposed to be dating. Or talking. Glory must first be to the empire.”
“Screw the empire,” she whispered. “What would it be like to live like they do in other galaxies? To be free?”
Harlow shushed her.
“You want to get us killed?”
“You didn’t say that when we were alone yesterday,” she said.
“The military needs me,” Harlow said. “And I have to listen. We all do. Maybe you’ll be chosen and we’ll cross paths in a few decades, Ren.”
She turned away and ignored him.
“Fine,” she said. “Goodbye.”
“Glory be to the empire,” Harlow said.
She didn’t reply.
She didn’t want to say anything.
Her boyfriend of five weeks, who had kissed her already, was leaving.
A drone bot hovered over her and the teacher looked at her.
“Glory be to the empire,” she said reluctantly, and scowling.
When she turned away, Harlow was gone, disappeared into another crowd.
The line thinned out and she approached the pod tram, a silver ball designed for ten.
She climbed onboard with the other sullen children, and she became one of them.
I’ve been bad.
Why? I haven’t done a good job of communicating what’s going on with me.
Historically, I’ve just been terrible at it because:
- I move at the speed of light (seriously) and if I forget to share it right away, it becomes old news.
- I’m an introvert and not used to talking about myself.
But a reader took me to task over this recently, and it made me think about it and how I can let you guys know what’s up with me.
I’ll be doing a once-a-month author update article that will get you up-to-speed with what I’m doing.
I’ll also be doing a separate, once-a-month blog article that will give you a sample chapter from an upcoming work, a glimpse into a new novel I’m researching, depending on what I’m working on and where I am in the process.
Moving forward, you can expect to hear from me on this blog about 1-2 times a month, around the middle and end of the month.
I’m working on Horizon Down, Book 9 in the Galaxy Mavericks series. It’ll be the final one. Kind of bittersweet to finish this series, but it’s one of my best. Check out the covers for Books 8 & 9.
If you haven’t read Galaxy Mavericks, start here.
If you’d like to read some snippets of the series on this blog, start here.
I upgraded my website. It’s a lot more user-friendly and much faster now. A couple things to check out if you haven’t seen them yet:
- $1 Series Starters—a great intro to my work at an awesome price
- Audiobook page—check them out if you’re looking for something to listen to on your next commute.
I started a new podcast. I have joined the Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli), and I am co-hosting the AskAlli Beginners’ Self-Publishing Salon, where I give advice to newer authors who are just starting on their journey.
The podcast is part of Alli’s podcast network, and the other hosts are all movers & shakers. Very humbled to be part of the crew.
I did an author interview. Learn more about me, how I write my books, and how I manage to write 5-7 books per year with a full-time job and a child: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/sunday-self-publishing-success-story-michael-la-ronn/
I am starting law school next month. It’s not writing news, but it’s going to be a big life change for me. So I’ll be talking about that, too.
NEW BOOKS COMING
- My first book, How to Be Bad, is being rebranded with a new cover and title. Look for it next month’s update.
- My next series will be LitRPG. If you’ve never heard of LitRPG, basically, it’s a story that takes place inside a video game. I won’t say too much about right now other than that I’ll be reimagining my existing Eaten series into this genre. It’ll be awesome, I promise.
See, I wasn’t kidding about having lots of news, was I?
I’ve also revamped my Patreon page for anyone who wants to check it out. I would love any and all support.
Talk to you next month!
The Mavericks Together for the First Time
Keltie Sheffield waited in the airlock as the escape pod cleared the outer doors and the inner airlock doors opened. The escape pod was a circular ball of metal that looked painfully uncomfortable to travel in.
She wrinkled up her nose.
It smelled like space, too. Like burnt rubber and popcorn.
“Smells pretty bad, huh?” she asked.
She turned around. Eddie Puente was at a control panel, entering some commands. He ignored her.
Ever since they had been left alone, he didn’t acknowledge her. He seemed nice enough to start, and they even chatted for an hour. But it must have been something she said, because he stopped talking to her. Like a switch got flipped and she couldn’t figure out why.
He avoided eye contact and acted as if the pod hadn’t even entered the airlock.
The pod touched down on the ground with a clang.
Grayson piloted, and seeing him, she laughed. He was so tall his head was almost touching the ceiling. He was laughing, too.
Devika was frowning. But then again, Keltie had never seen her smile so that was nothing new.
There was someone else with them in the pod, but she couldn’t see who it was.
The pod doors opened, letting out a large whoosh of air.
And then Keltie heard it.
A crazed, revving-like sound.
Keltie ducked as a small black cloud darted over her head. A red eye glinted in the center of the cloud. Seeing it, her heart jumped, sweat beaded on her forehead, and she balled her fist.
“No,” she whispered. And then she yelled, “No!”
A Planet Eater. The alien race that started all of this, the race that killed her best friend before her eyes!
She ripped a crowbar off the wall and banged it as hard as she could.
The alien winced.
“Go away!” she shouted. “Go away!”
She banged the crowbar harder and the Planet Eater flew away, sputtering as if the sound were hurting it.
“Eddie, open the airlock!” she shouted.
Eddie watched with his mouth wide open.
“Eddie!” Keltie said.
The alien sputtered again.
“I’ll do it myself,” Keltie grumbled, running for the airlock controls. “You killed Claire. You’ll pay, I swear to God—”
She heard gunshots in her mind.
Then she was back on Kepler.
In her spacesuit.
People were screaming.
Her best friend, Claire, was running next to her.
Bullets were flying everywhere. Planet Eaters covered the sky like ink.
A hand on her shoulder pulled her from the flashback.
She kept swinging the crowbar, denting the pod.
“Keltie,” someone said.
“Keltie,” the voice said.
The alien retreated to the corner of the airlock, and it shrunk to half of its size.
Someone grabbed her crowbar.
She tightened her grip. But soon the crowbar was gone and it clanged against the floor.
Grayson had grabbed her.
“Keltie, it’s all right,” he said.
“What do you mean it’s all right?” she yelled. “Do you remember what they—”
“He’s not gonna hurt you,” Grayson said.
“He’s telling the truth,” Devika said. “It seems to be docile.”
Keltie shook her head at the alien. She pushed herself away from Grayson.
A petite Asian woman stood behind Devika. The encounter had scared her.
“Hi,” the woman said. “I’m Michiko. And that’s Clark.”
Clark swirled in the corner of the ceiling and hovered under a skylight, almost disappearing in the blackness of space outside.
Keltie backed out of the room. Took one last look at Grayson, Eddie, Devika and Michiko.
She thought she knew these people.
Now they were harboring evil aliens!
It was too much to take. She ran out of the room.
Click here to grab your copy of Planet Eaters. Or, grab the whole series in one click.