January 20th, 2017

What Are You Working On? WITS Readers Share!

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We’ve been working hard on resolutions, butt-in-chair, at the gym.

Let’s reward ourselves with some FUN!

Share a favorite paragraph of your current WIP (work-in-progress) in the comments. Give us your title and genre, then your paragraph.

Feel free comment on others’ as well!

 

Here’s Mine:

Hand-Me-Down Dreams, a WF with Romantic Elements:

Carly’s truck has broken down, and Quad Reynolds stops.

Now, the Reynolds’ aren’t among Unforgiven’s best and brightest, and given a population of 1,500, that’s not a high bar to meet. Quad was the first of his clan to get a high school diploma, mostly thanks to kind and long-suffering teachers, passing him along year to year like a white elephant gift.  People can’t help what they’re born with (or without), but Quad has had a thing for me since third grade. He’s also got dandruff so bad his eyebrows flake, making him downright distracting to talk to. I stuff my hands in my back pockets and walk up to the window. “I broke down. Can you give me a lift to town?”

Can’t wait to see samples of your writing!

*     *     *     *


ktbrShared blood defines a family.
Spilled blood can too.
Harlie Cooper raised her sister, Angel, even before their mother died. When their guardian is killed in a fire, rather than be separated by Social Services, they run. Life in off the grid in L.A. isn’t easy, but worse, there’s something wrong with Angel.

Harlie walks in to find their apartment scattered with
shattered and glass and Angel, a bloody rag doll in a corner. The doctor orders institutionalization in a state facility. Harlie’s not leaving her sister in that human warehouse. But something better takes money. Lots of it.

When a rep from the Pro Bull Riding Circuit suggests she train as a bullfighter, rescuing downed cowboys from their rampaging charges, she can’t let the fact that she’d be the first woman to attempt this stop her. Angel is depending on her.

It’s not just the danger and taking on a man’s career that challenges Harlie. She must learn to trust—her partner and herself, and learn to let go of what’s not hers to save.

A story of family and friendship, trust and truth.

Buy on Amazon / Buy on B&N / Buy on itunes

97 comments to What Are You Working On? WITS Readers Share!

  • AS LOVELY AS A LIE, romantic suspense, by Pamela S. Wight (W.I.P.)— Bea opened the front door when a car honked outside. She wasn’t expecting anyone. The idea of a day and a half with no plans spread itself in front of Bea like a warm chocolate brownie. On vanilla ice cream.

    But stepping out of the honking car was a tall sturdy man with a bottle of wine in one hand, a bouquet of peach roses in the other.

    Damn. Stephen.

    Bea tamped down her irritation with a shiver of surprise. She thought she liked Stephen. What was there not to like? Suave, successful, good sense of humor.

    Bea’s reverie ended as Stephen ambled up the sidewalk, handed her the flowers, and asked, “Any plans today?”

    Bea didn’t even pause. “Well, actually, yes. I wish you’d called.”

    The former college basketball player and now airline captain acted as if she hadn’t said a word. “I heard through the grapevine that you’re free this weekend. So, I made the executive decision to sweep you off your feet: a picnic at Great Book, hence the wine; bread and cheese in the trunk of the car; and this. Stephen swung out tickets from his pants pocket. “Swan Lake, Boston Ballet, which as far I’m concerned has the greatest troupe in the world, bar none. Tonight. 8 p.m.”

    Caught between a desire to please, and to be pleased, and an enormous disappointment that her quiet plans had swiftly evaporated, Bea realized that she wanted to tell the man to go for a hike.

    Without her.

  • Love that last line! And if she doesn’t want him – I’ll go! 😉

  • You lost me a title – that’s usually the last thing I come up with, but I’m working on a new spinoff series based on my Blackthorne action-adventure-romantic-suspense books. As requested, here’s the first paragraph.

    Bailey Cashman poked at his earwig for the third time in under a minute, as if that would trigger the Go signal. Waiting sucked. Especially when the ground was slimy, half-frozen mud and the icy March wind slithered its way down his neck. He clenched his teeth to keep from shivering, focusing his binocs on the ramshackle structure he and his team had been sent to breach. Intel said his target was inside. Command also said further confirmation was pending. So far, he’d seen nothing. Heard nothing other than the wind creaking the branches of the pine trees surrounding the rundown wooden cabin.
    What more intel did they need? Their target was inside. They were outside. If their job was to extract the target, there seemed to be a major disconnect with that. He’d seen the imagery. One room, the target, female, strapped to a chair, hood over her head. He fought the temptation to break the order to maintain radio silence, to see if the rest of the team knew anything more than he did.

  • WIP title: The Only Home I Know. Women’s fiction.

    Trees in the wild need a plan to survive the winds of fate, like the fluid sensibility of birches that can bend beneath the weight of snow, maples steadied by sap pushing through their growth rings, or oaks whose deep taproots and dense trunks allow them to stand strong. Unable to accept my fate, I was a wild tree stunted indoors, dependent on the care of others. I had become one of my bonsai, my taproot severed, roots bound. Trapped within a protective layer of bark, my stiffened hands grew too clumsy to reach for the help I needed, my brain too petrified to make good decisions. A bonsai knows nothing but stillness in a house without wind. That was my one small comfort. Yet no one—not even my needy children or my determined mother—could really reach me.

  • WIP: Divided Loyalties Historic fiction
    And this was hell. She was sure of it. The moaning and keening of the grieving women. The scent of gunpowder and fire, rot and blood that lingered in the humid air. She thought of her family’s little patch of bright green, bristling with nearly-ripe corn as she looked at this once verdant field, crushed, scorched and blown away. Tiny yellow and white butterflies danced among the wildflowers that had survived. Maureen watched them as they fluttered among flowers she might never have noticed on any other day. She didn’t want to look but she knew she had to.
    Maureen gathered her courage to walk forward and find the truth. Amy and Eliza needed her. They were desperate for news of Robert. She only hoped they wouldn’t find their answer here on the battlefield by Antietam Creek.

    • Fae Rowen

      “flowers she might never have noticed on any other day”–perfect line to let us know the impact on Maureen.

    • Wow, well done, Mary! You’ve used the flowers as a detail against the carnage, like Victor Hugo did, in LeMis: ‘“There were corpses here and there and pools of blood. I remember seeing a butterfly flutter up and down that street. Summer does not abdicate.”

  • MIAMI DAYS, HAVANA NIGHTS by Linda Bennett Pennell, a story of how non-monetary debts can alter the courses of lives told in dual timelines of historical suspense and women’s fiction with romantic elements

    Miami, 1929
    As Sam reached the second floor landing, the sound of running steps ascending behind him echoed in the stairwell. Sam knew those footsteps simply by their sound. He refused to turn around, went to the speakeasy door, and slipped his key into the lock.
    Rebecca grasped his arm. “Please wait. I need to talk to you.”
    “Are you ready to be your own woman? Ready to live your own life?” The words tumbled from him rough, harsh, but he didn’t care.
    “Sam, don’t be like this. I can’t hurt my parents like that. I just can’t. Can’t you leave bootlegging?”
    “I guess I could, but would you really be happy living life on the run? I’ll never be free as long as a gangster wants me working for him. I owe him my life.”
    She leaned into his chest, her shoulders shaking with silent sobs. He didn’t push her away. He didn’t have that much strength. She worked a magic on him that he was powerless to resist. He had learned a lot about life since he was smuggled out of New York and brought to Miami as a dumb kid of seventeen. He had grown up a lot, too. Observing speakeasy customers over the last three years had taught him that women could work all kinds of magic, some of it good, most of it bad. If good and bad witches existed, Rebecca was as good as they got. Her magic, while painful to him, represented nothing but the purest forms of kindness, caring, and love. That made being around her hurt all the more. If she were a conniving bitch like so many women he met, he could easily turn her away. As it stood, all she had to do was look at him to melt his resolve.

    • Fae Rowen

      Dual timelines-very interesting concept, Linda. “Non-monetary debts”–never labeled them like this before. Powerful possibilities with this. Good luck.

      • Hi Fae, thank you for your comment. Debts come in all types. Many involve money, but others arise in less well defined forms. The latter are the debts that drive the choices my characters make in both timelines. Their lives unfold in different centuries, but they are linked by a murder that occurred in 1926. And by the way, the murder is historical fact. It’s the characters and their lives that are fiction!

  • THE MEMOIRS OF EVELYN ROSE CAT Evelyn “lyn” Morgan

    Though I did not know it then at three years of age, throughout all my years afterward, whenever I smelled the sharp scent of a lantana bush a scene from the past would come to me. Sharp and clear as a bell tone from the steeple of the local Catholic church.
    “Oh Mr. Baloney, help me over the fence,” I begged. I held up my tiny hands and the want to be where Grandpa and his friend were building the boat filled me. I didn’t know danger kept Mr. DeLauney from doing what I asked.
    I was in the side yard of our house, a tall two story house. Built of cypress lumber, it had faded to a lovely silver gray through the years. Huge live oak trees shaded our house and yard, their shade so deep grass would not grow so the ground was sandy under my feet. Sandy and soft and the toes of my bare feet dug into it while I leaned against the fence and pleaded for help. I had escaped nap time as usual. My mother also napped when she put me down for mine, but though she slept, I seldom did.
    Sometimes when I heard the hammers and the saw as today, I would patter quietly down the stairs and get as close as possible to the activity next door where Mamou and Grandpa lived. Mamou would be at the school teaching, but Grandpa and Mr. Delauney, my best friend’s grandfather, would be building boats. I thought I could help them. The oakum they were plugging into the seams was another smell, harsher than the lantana, but just as special to me.

  • Tracey Kallab

    AMERICAN REFUGEE Tracey Kallab
    WIP: memoir

    I whispered to my husband who was lying in the bed across from me, “I hear them coming.” Our room was still for another minute, but then a rumbling from above got even louder. A distant sound at first, but it quickly became a dangerous roar and soon drowned out all other sounds outside our bedroom window. My four year-old daughter, Ariane, was curled up asleep beside me in the large, double bed. I turned on my side and draped an arm over her. How could I possibly protect her? Although my husband, George, and my six-year old son, Tony, shared the bed right beside us, it seemed much too far away. Then a red blast of light, like a premature sunrise, lit up the room. Unnatural thunder quaked through our bodies. Windows rattled while glass knick-knacks and dishes threatened to crash to the floor. A swift exhalation of wind blew the curtains inward, as though an enormous wolf were trying to blow the house down. When the thundering ceased, a chorus of wailing car alarms and barking dogs took over. A few minutes later everything went quiet as if the city was holding its breath, waiting for the next onslaught. We were in Beirut, Lebanon, a city that was no stranger to assaults.

  • The Reluctant Heir…Historical Romance 1832 Boston
    It was late spring in 1832 when the family received word that James, the eldest son, had gone down on a ship from Boston bound for Paris, France. He had been in the States managing the family holdings and was returning for a rare visit to attend the christening of his sister’s youngest son to whom he would be God Father. Instead of rejoicing in the celebration, the Granger family was now planning a funeral.

    Enjoy

  • The second installment of A Keeper’s Truth. It’s a slow go, but loving the new POV.

    • Fae Rowen

      I used to race cars, Denise, where fast and faster is the creed. But slow isn’t a bad thing when it comes to writing. Glad you’re loving the process.

  • Kathleen Parrish

    Sojourner’s Rising, science fiction/horror. Excerpt from chapter 1.

    Kesslyn pulled off one glove, laid her bare hand on the tablet, braced her gloved hand on Ferin’s shoulder and opened her mind to the past.

    The echo of a child’s giggling delight, of chubby fingers tapping at the brightly colored screen. The wild grief of a young mother clutching child and tablet to her battered, broken ribs. The woman’s body careens through a large room filled with strange metal shapes and narrow cots and the injured. She slams into walls, impaling herself on the medical gear, helpless to protect her patients, her child. Her mind wails into the dark as death sweeps the child from her arms…

    Kesslyn gasped and pulled herself out of the memory, panting hard. She clamped her teeth together, swallowed. Three hundred years dead. No need to mourn that woman, that child – yet her throat ached, her lungs burned, her vision blurred.

  • carrienichols

    WIP is book #2 in my 2 book contract with Harlequin Special Edition

    “If you’re gonna to nag me, you’re gonna have to marry me.” Brody Wilson heaved an exasperated sigh and propped his hands on the polished wooden counter of Loon Lake General Store.
    From the other side, seventy-something Tavie Whatley, pointed a crooked, arthritic finger. “By the old Lord Harry you stood right there—right there on that very spot, Brody Wilson,—and swore to me you’d given up those cancer sticks up.”
    “I did.” Brody slowly blew his breath out between his lips. “I am…I will.”
    “Humph. And don’t think you can flash those pearly whites down at the Pick-N-Save to get those smitten girls to sell you any. I know their mommas.” Tavie sniffed and touched her halo of teased hair as if she’d handed down a pronouncement as momentous as Martin Luther nailing his theses to the door of Castle Church.

  • Beverly Turner

    WIP: Five Words
    Women’s fiction

    Five words. Seventeen letters neatly printed on a single sheet of paper. Lies or truth?

    Anne had taken the most logical action first. And what had she gained? A wasted day, 160 more miles on her tired Toyota and new questions she couldn’t answer. Two days later, have-to-know shouted down don’t-want-to-know.

  • WIP is book #2 in my 3 book series, Shadow Company. Paranormal Romance

    “Morning, Connie. How you been?”
    “Fine.”
    “I dropped by to check on you.”
    “You don’t have to keep coming out here, Logan. Luke’s gone but I’m not. Things will never be the same again, but it doesn’t mean I’m gonna lie down and die too. Want some tea?”
    Logan’s mouth went dry. “No, thanks. Look, I know you can handle yourself. It’s just that…”
    “It’s just that living alone is hard. Don’t you think I know that?” Her hand landed on the counter near the glass filled with ice cubes and no tea.
    There was anger in the thud of flesh against Formica. He got that. The wary steps he took getting to the kitchen counter felt mired in quicksand. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like I was preaching. No need in reminding you of how different things are now.” He gazed out the window at Luke’s fallow cotton fields. “My reasons for coming are selfish.” Dropping his head, he studied the drab woodgrain pattern of the countertop. “This is where he is for me.”

    • Fae Rowen

      If i didn’t know the genre, I’d make up the rest of the story in my head. But the title and the genre offer so much more than my imagination.

  • The Dreamon, a Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy based in a dream world. Since my paragraphs are really short, I just sort of pasted a decent chunk in here.

    I glared at him. “What kind of dream is this? And what kind of rescuer are you? You need to work on your reassurance techniques.”
    “Listen. I’m here to help, but I’m not going to lie to you.”
    “Isn’t there a way you can reassure me without lying?”
    He put a hand on my arm. “All right. I promise that I will do my utmost to get you out of this alive.”
    I stared straight ahead. Dust motes danced in front of my eyes, lit by the shafts of sunlight coming in through the window.
    And then I exploded.
    “ALIVE?!” I shrieked, batting his hand away. “What do you mean alive? This is a dream! People don’t die in their own dreams! People get naked, people have to take tests they’re not ready for, sometimes you breathe underwater, sometimes you have to kiss a boy you don’t really like, but you … always … wake up ALIVE!”

    And scene.

  • Fae Rowen

    Ha, Ellie, my paragraphs are short, too. I think this is the longest paragraph in the whole book. Yours is a great teaser paragraph.

    PRISM, YA Science Fiction with Romantic Elements

    Who would pay to kidnap her? O’Neill’s fury fired. She acknowledged the flames, remembering her soldier compound classes not to fight angry. Skin prickling, she gripped the knife her father had taught her to use. Its serrated crystal blade flashed with inner light. Ten to five weren’t good odds, but Solo would help even them. She’d trained him to be her constant companion, her personal bodyguard, when he’d arrived as a cub seven years ago as a peace offering to her father after one of the Earth corporations sent kidnappers to steal her. “Go back to the cesspool you crawled from. Or I can paint the road with your blood.” Her shouted words sounded like an order. “I don’t care which.”

  • CRASHING CHLOE, Short Story, YA contemporary. Chloe’s helping a friend as a magician’s assistant.

    The birthday girl in a princess costume and a slew of kids with cake-plastered faces gathered in the community park pavilion. Our summer heat was nearly unbearable, but the parents were forking out a good bit of money for this gig. Plus, I got to wear a red sequin-and-fringe dress with satin, fingerless gloves. Though not my first choice—I liked the halter and harem pants better—this outfit was a look I rocked more than a halftime show at the Super Bowl.

  • Fae Rowen

    Looks like a fun story, Julie. And guess what? I was a magician’s assistant for a summer. Learned some very cool stuff which I pull out in my classroom occasionally, just to make sure the students listen to me.

  • Linda Lee

    The Depth of the Spirit, Book Two – Faith, Hope, & Love Series. Contemporary romance; spiritual. The male protagonist, Thomas, introducing himself:

    I’m twenty-three years old and I’ve been crippled since I was eighteen—not an easy thing to accept for a guy who was once the star of his high-school basketball team. Yeah, I was tall, dark, and handsome, but I was also kind of shy. Now, I’m just a wise-ass with a chip on my shoulder, rock-hard determination, and a heart made of gravel. I never quite turned to stone.

    (Thanks for letting me post, Laura. Enjoyed all the other excerpts!)

  • Oh, so many things I want to say, but can’t find a place to comment under each author. First, my apologies also being more than a paragraph, but dialogue’s a little different. Lots of backstory to this story. I found my title when I crazily did NaNoWrMo (whatever) and suddenly the title arrived. The earwig got me right away also from Terry’s piece, and I got chilled from the believable setting. Kathryn: “I was a wild tree stunted indoors.” Wow. Intense and evocative. Mary – yes! the butterflies are a great contrast to the death and destruction. Made me want to read more about the truth Maureen finds. I better stop here, but the writing from everyone is incredible! What fun!

  • This is from my WIP about a family with an unexpected pregnancy:
    As the games were being played out at the party, Marge sat on her makeshift throne and grew more and more uncomfortable. She felt an odd fluttering from the baby as though it was doing flips inside her. Then she began to get short of breath as the baby kicked like crazy on her diaphragm. It was like having someone play drums down there. It was hard to breathe. She carefully removed her feet from the hassock and gingerly stood up. The baby re-positioned itself, and Marge lightly ran her left hand over her baby bump –suddenly stopping when she felt an unusual projection of a baby-sized elbow sticking outward from her belly.
    “Oh!” exclaimed Marge. Twenty some faces turned towards her. She blushed. “Baby Katherine’s elbow!” In explanation, she lifted her maternity top so all could see the tiny elbow jutting out from its womb. There was at once a clattering of voices.
    “Oh, that’s so sweet!”
    “Oh, my goodness, what is that?”
    “I think … it’s an elbow. Is it?” Another voiced chimed.
    “Good God, It’s trying to get out!”
    And lastly in a very disgusted voice across the room came. “That’s creepy! Gross! Stick it back in!”

  • Thank you for these tantalizing tales and the opportunity to share.

  • From The Wandering Place, a women’s fiction story about aging and Alzheimers:

    As if the word isn’t ugly enough, awkward situations leave us feeling like the world’s biggest losers with no cash prize; we become frumpy, inept, bungling fools. Awkward is giving your parents a silent ride to the courthouse where you’ll sit as enemies on opposite sides of the judge’s bench. Once there, you will offer proofs that the people who gave you birth, taught you to pee in a bowl, held you through thunderstorms, and handed you a moral compass are now unfit to buy a loaf of bread or drive to church without assistance or permission. Awkward is being called to the witness stand to tattle on the people who taught you not to tattle. Awkward is listening to your mother say, “How could you do this to us?” and wondering the same thing. Awkward is studying the faces in the courtroom and knowing that each person experiences a degree of torment at the necessary outcome. The grown children who failed to find a nobler solution. The pastor who can’t find a Scripture passage of comfort. The attorney who’d capably served them in the past, but has nothing to bring to their defense now. The father who can no longer hear, but can sense turmoil in his wife of 65 years, and the mother who prepares for battle, but has been stripped of all weapons. You look to the judge who will do the right thing and break everyone’s heart. Awkward is driving your battered parents home from the courthouse, seeing them comfortably seated in front of the TV, and slipping out the door without saying a word.

  • Fae Rowen

    This must be very difficult to write, Debra. Best wishes with it.

  • Working on a suspense:

    Only one road climbed Blood Mountain to the exclusive Falling Rock Community and its luxury mansions. But Charlotte had no interest in accessing the gated community through the pretty lane lined with oaks and views of manicured lawns and gardens.

    No, the backside view of the swanky neighborhood was where she’d find clues to the ugly mystery of Jenny’s whereabouts.

  • Warrior Girl: Two Guns; The Beginning – A mystery
    A tired, bedraggled waitress arrived. I tried to determine her age but it could be anywhere from thirty to fifty. Her hair was a bright, auburn, ratty mess. Her makeup was garish and heavy with two slashes of flaming red for lips. The uniform she wore paired a miniskirt with a knit top, both two sizes too small. Broad hips and a sagging stomach caused the skirt to ride up perilously in back. Her boobs were one deep waist bend from plopping out of her top.

    “Whaddaya want?” she asked, her voice as raspy as an old chainsaw. Kayla struggled not to gawk; I didn’t bother.

    Haysan opened his mouth to order when the waitress coughed deep, racking coughs that brought up phlegm. Horrified, I was sure she meant to spit it out on the floor. Instead, she swallowed it. My stomach heaved, and I had to look away.

    “Hey, Mabelin, if you’re ready, I want to order,” said Haysan, unfazed by the coughing fit.
    Mabelin cleared her throat and croaked out, “Go,” tablet at the ready.

  • Fae Rowen

    Uck–I sure don’t want to go into this diner anytime soon! You’ve set up an intriguing scene with your characters–and the title.

  • I’m gagging! Which means you got me viscerally, Marilyn! Well done.

  • Merissa Racine

    Okay. here goes. It’s a new story I’m trying to piece together.

    Schwartz lobbed the balled up waxed paper in the direction of the metal trash bin by Palermo’s desk. It landed on the faded linoleum floor. Before he could pick it up his phone rang. He snatched up the receiver. “Detective Schwartz.” His listened for a moment, his green eyes focused on the space between him and his partner. “That’s great.” The smile that started to form on the detective’s lips disappeared. “You’re sure about this?… I know, but I had to ask, didn’t I?… Yes. Can you send it over… The sooner the better… No, I appreciate you getting back to me so quick… Sure, I’ll let him know.” He placed the receiver back in its cradle. “That was Tina.”
    Palermo’s expression brightened at hearing Tina’s name. “What’d she say?”
    “They got a hit on the DNA in the Packford case.”
    “That’s great news.”
    “Nah, not so great, I’m afraid.”
    “Whaddya talking about?”
    “DNA came back with a match to a Daniel Throgmorton. There’s only one small problem.”
    “What’s that?”
    Detective Schwartz threw his pen on the desk and leaned back in his chair. “Daniel Throgmorton is sitting in prison. In Wyoming. For the last ten years.”
    The two men stared at each other.
    “Oh, and one other thing.” Schwartz raised a grey bushy eyebrow. “Tina says to say hi.”

    • Way to start in the middle of the action, Merissa! In fact, if this was the opener, I’d even move this up: “They got a hit on the DNA in the Packford case.” I was totally in the moment I found out who the DNA match was. Nice job!

    • I liked this. The mix of description and dialogue flowed well, and you introduce a good hook (DNA match with a prison inmate), while simultaneously advancing Schwartz’s relationship with Tina.

  • Beverly Turner

    Laura, Fae and Orly…Thanks so much for the positive feedback on my opening paragraph. I know how important the first paragraph and first page are so I was hoping I had created enough curiousity. Can’t tell you how many times I have opened a book, read the first page and that’s what made me decide whether to buy it or not.

    And Laura, thanks for the post. It was fun to get a glimpse of each person’s WIP.

  • Bartenn

    I try to read your blog as often as I can. So many great ideas. You’ve always something interesting to share. I hope that it’s not to late to jump in and post my first paragraphs, maybe it will motivate me to get to work.

    The cooling breeze from earlier in the evening had stopped, leaving the night air stale and dead. Heat lifted off the streets making the distant moon shimmer. Although he’d jogged less than a mile, sweat dripped down Bishop’s back. At the edge of an asphalt parking lot, he paused.
    The thin soles of his off-duty loafers offered little protection from the scorching concrete. Stepping onto that glistening blacktop would be like walking through burning coals.
    No need to cross the inferno only to discover that he was at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

  • I too don’t have a title at present. This is women’s historical fiction, set around WW2. The scene below is from 1938.

    “You’re not the first, nor will you be the last, I suspect. Anything to help someone away from them Nazi bosch. C’mon now, put your things in that corner. Sorry accommodations isn’t that fancy. Young lady, you come with me and I’ll show you how we cast off. You ready t’ help?”

    He climbed to the bridge with a reluctant Renata following. She had no idea why he wanted her up there and wasn’t especially interested in the boat’s operation, but if it would keep him happy…

    “This here’s the throttle, and here’s the gear shift. The motor’s in neutral right now. Hold on while I cast off.” He moved aft, and Renata watched him loosen three thick ropes mooring the boat, gently rolling in its berth.

    When Guido returned, wiping oily hands on the sides of his red pants, he grinned. “We’re ready now. I’ll take her out into the channel, then you want a turn?”

    Not wanting to appear rude, she nodded and watched. The motor burped and grumbled into gear, enveloping them with fumes and oily smoke. It moved gently from the quay, while Renata hung onto a rail. Once the dockyard was behind them, Guido shifted into forward gear, cranked on the wheel, and turned the bow towards the Adriatic Sea. When he opened up the throttle the boat surged forward, smashing into each wave, slicing through the inky water, sending spray flying over the bridge where Renata and Guido stood.
    He stepped to one side. “Your turn. You take the wheel now.” He smiled, kindness in his rough face. “Here, don’t be afraid. It’s not hard when the weather’s decent, although we may run into a storm.”

  • The Expanding Seas of Earth – Hard SF (An abduction/pre-alien invasion story):

    “Have you seen anything, any clue how we could warn earth?” Maggie asked.

    “Aaahh, yes.” Adele smiled conspiratorially at Blaise. “My husband has thought of two such wonderful plans”

    Blaise sighed dismissively, and turned to Maggie, “I would not myself call them plans. And only if we were very fortunate would one work. If we could get to their communications system – and had time to decipher it – we might send a warning to earth before we were captured. But most likely we would not have time enough. The second has a better chance. If we could get to their engineering, I think we could much easier compromise this ship’s containment fields. They would not have time to react, and earth would know we are here.”

    “But their containment fields – for their power source?”

    “Yes. They control great power. Unleashed, we could paint a bright spot on the night sky. I am sure we are still within the Sol system. We would be seen. Questions asked. This close, it would be known this was not natural – a warning at least that something very dangerous was near.”

    “But we’d be dead. We’d blow up this ship with ourselves onboard. And it could take years before earth found the wreckage and really understood the danger.”

    “Well,” Blaise swirled the wine around in his glass, “it is not a perfect plan.”

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