A Little Step Before a Leap

The apartment was bigger than it looked in the photos online. Real estate must be cheaper in a small town than in the cities. I didn’t know. I’d never lived anywhere but one big city and apartments were even more expensive than renting a small house. It didn’t make any sense to me, but I guess if you’re willing to pay for the benefit of not having a lawn to mow, someone might as well take your money.

I also wasn’t used to having the super live offsite. Though she wasn’t the super, she was the apartment manager. Or owner. I should get that straight. She and her husband lived down the street in a nice little house by the lake.

“Right up the road if pipes burst or you lock yourself out,” Mrs. Wright had said. Mr. Wright was housebound so she had taken care of our business arrangements.

“Now, there’s lots of young men for neighbors, dear, but they’re polite and well-behaved or I wouldn’t have them. So you just make yourself at home.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Wright. I’m not worried about them.”

One eyebrow twitched, and she smiled.

“No, I supposed you’re not. I’m off, then.”

Maybe her intuition works better than mine. Maybe I was advertising more than I realized.

No young man was getting anywhere near me until my heart grew back in the hole left by the young man I’d just left forever.

This is an excerpt from next year’s romantic mystery Anacrusis.

Graffiti Portals 1

graffiti-1It was one day before her 21st birthday when Leigh Packard walked through the graffiti on the alley wall into a world unlike anything in her remotest imaginings.

Attending UCSD meant she got to leave the harsh winters of Chicago for the sunny warmth of southern California. Not that she couldn’t deal with cold. Growing up in the frozen white north, you acclimatized or you moved to Florida.

Or San Diego.

She’d acclimatized for years. Her childhood and later school years were full of snow and ice. Online friends in warmer places ribbed her about the one-day summer, joked about meeting penguins and polar bears on her daily run, and generally gave her a hard time about the northern winters.

She’d pushed back, defending the place she’d grown up, secretly agreeing with every word they said.

When her parents announced they were selling the house and moving to Florida, and also announced that the profit allowed them to pay for a degree at virtually any university she chose, she jumped at the chance to flee her homeland for warmer climes.

… more … “Graffiti Portals 1”

Jake Calcutta and the Temporal Lisle

Jake Calcutta and the Temporal LisleAll that free space in my brain erupted today.

After spending the morning list all 64 scenes for A Still, Small Voice (14% written!) I sat down this afternoon and slashed the fat grease pencils all over 8 or 9 pages of legal paper and outlined (fanfare!)

Jake Calcutta
and the
Temporal Lisle

I can barely contain myself.

The Rise of Jake Calcutta

jakecalcuttaIdea — blend action/adventure with scifi
Concept — a genetic mutation allows a man to travel through time without the equipment other time-travelers need
Premise — what if a group of researchers discovered that the universal timeline had been corrupted and the only way to restore it was to send a mercenary back to pivotal points of ancient history to fix them — if he wasn’t killed first?

… more … “The Rise of Jake Calcutta”

Through the Fog (Chapter 53)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

By the time Max and Mossie and friends arrived, Siobhan had filled in enough of the gaps to make most of it make some sense.

Patrick, Feany the First, had infiltrated Dubin’s organization a year before. He discovered quickly that Conor Dubin was a man of temperament, and could be closemouthed like a clam with one associate and chatty as a schoolgirl with another. The SDU officer unfortunately hadn’t been interesting enough to Dubin to get him to open up about life, the universe, and other crimes. I guess it’s tough to do an accurate personality profile on someone like that.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 53)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 52)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

When the blow came I wasn’t the only one surprised.

Niall’s fist hit the side of Feany III’s neck with a sound like a handful of meatloaf you threw at the wall. Feany III went down like the meatloaf, and then there was one. Feany the Only must have heard Fearghal behind him; he dodged ever so slightly and caught the ham-sized fist in the side of the head instead of the pressure point on his neck. It was still almost enough; his head rocked, and he shoved backwards into Fearghal. Fearghal went over backwards, and Feany scrambled behind a car.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 52)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 51)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

I looked at what I could see of the glorious old building; the triple nave above us, the square stone columns, arches everywhere. I wanted to take a closer look at the organ; built just before the Great War, it incorporated parts from the original from 1872. I had a quick mental image of being under a pump organ; I was so small that I could only pump one of the pedals; someone else was on the other, and the feet of the players (I use the term loosely) dangled over our heads. I wonder where that was, and if it was even real.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 51)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 50)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

As we slipped down the stairs, I could barely hear the three behind me; Max and his big friends. When we got to street level it was black. Out front it was gently lit, but back here there were no lights but the stars.

In five minutes we’d be at the church, and I’d either be goading some thug into calling Dubin, or involved in something much, much worse. Siobhan could pretend it was all business; I couldn’t.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 50)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 49)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog


“Hey, you were surprised to see the map there still, right? You think he’s gonna leave it there forever? No, we advance his timeline with audacity.”

“You’re sure he’ll bite?”

“You’ve convinced me.”

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 49)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 48)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

Siobhan’s room was on the ground floor; not directly below Rob’s, but close enough that wireless connections for video worked between them.

She stayed in persona once we were back in the room. I had a harder time with the clothes than the hair; blonde was gonna suit her long before a leather mini would.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 48)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 47)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

The chap behind the bar, whose name should have popped into my head but didn’t, gave me a nod between the heads of hair at the bar. I held up one finger, which he seemed to be expecting, and headed around to the table I’d sat at with Rob and Mossie. It was empty, which was a pleasant surprise, or completely expected—I’d walked past a couple empty tables to get here; most of the patrons were lining the bar where service was faster.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 47)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 46)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

We walked across the gravel of the carport, then across an unkempt grassy area and down concrete steps to a rocky beach. There, over the sound of the waves, Dubin explained his plan.

He had arranged for a professor of Celtic history to ‘find’ the Brendan map and announce it to the world. I was to allow others to comment on its authenticity to see who else might support it. He hinted that some of the supporters might be ‘associates’ of his, but that they would only speak up if no other linguists or historians accepted the map as genuine.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 46)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 45)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

I seemed to have an unerring ability to miss Lochlainn at the office. Lisa was always most apologetic about his occasionally erratic schedule. Not that I minded a nice chat with her, but if Lochlainn and I didn’t get together in person, I wasn’t going to feel completely comfortable entrusting the Gaelige translations of my books to them.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 45)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 44)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

I spent some time wondering how much of this Dubin knew. Was he connected to the publishing house somehow; is that why we were here? Happy coincidence seemed too much to ask. I just couldn’t remember anything specific about Cló Iar-Chonnachta or this part of County Galway to form an opinion.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 44)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 43)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

“I apologize that I can’t provide appropriate sleepwear, nor indeed anything for the morrow, but at the top of the stairs you’ll find a room where you can make yourself comfortable if you like. The larder is also well-stocked, if you have need of anything. I personally do not eat this late in the day, but your digestion may be better than mine.”

I risked the appearance of subordination. “No conversation?”

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 43)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 42)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

Once we were outside the church again and all was securely locked, Dubin muttered something to Feany who walked off southwest down Market, away from the car.

I turned toward Dubin, eyebrows raised. Which, of course, he couldn’t see in the pitch black dark, but he must have heard them creaking, or maybe he just knew I was puzzled.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 42)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 41)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

It was a good one; really it was. At first glance, I’d thought it was genuine, but there was something wrong with the language in the paragraph Brendan had supposedly written in the center. It wasn’t the content; that all matched the time period, his education and mission, all that. But the phrasing and some of the syntax was really sixth, maybe even seventh century.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 41)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 40)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

It’s 85 miles by air from Farranfore to Galway. I assumed Galway, since we headed nearly due north. After a quarter of an hour I could see the few dim lights of Limerick 20 miles to the east. Of course, Sligo would have been exactly the same direction and 60 miles farther; Donegal would have been nearly north and about twice the distance of Galway. But I could feel from the angle of the plane we were already descending after Limerick; if it was the midpoint, we were almost certainly landing in Galway.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 40)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 39)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

At Killorglin we continued on the N70 as I expected; it’s also where the N72 splits off and follows the River Laune down to Killarney, through some of the most beautiful land in Kerry, which is to say, some of the most beautiful land on earth.

At Castlemaine (“There was a wild, colonial boy . . . ” but I heard the Clancy Brothers, not John Wayne) we turned off the main road, right, onto a smudgy little track. I thought things I won’t write down. There’s only one reason to get off the N70 at Castlemaine, and that’s to cross over to Farranfore. Farranfore Airport.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 39)”

Through the Fog (Chapter 38)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

Siobhan was silent for the rest of the half-mile down to the Ring Lyne Pub in Chapeltown. But, once again, it was the comfortable silence we’d found so many times over the past few days. (Few days! It seemed like months.)

Before we entered the light of the pub’s windows, she slipped her hand from mine and stepped into the shadow behind the last house on the left. She gave me a gentle nudge, and disappeared into the blackness.

… more … “Through the Fog (Chapter 38)”