Wardbreaker – Chapter 1

You know what time it is? First chapter time. I present chapter 1 of Wardbreaker, the new Lillim Callina prequel.

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Chapter 1

I shut my eyes as I tried to remember exactly what Professor Smathers had taught me about Earth currencies. It wasn’t that it was particularly complicated, it was more that I wasn’t quite sure what they used in America. Was it euros? Dollars? Pounds?

With a surge of confidence, I opened my eyes and shoved the handful of wadded up dollar bills I’d pulled from my pocket across the counter.

The dull-eyed convenience store clerk stared down at my money and heaved a huge sigh out of his lungs that shook his entire body. Oh no, had I chosen wrong? Damn… it was euros they used here. My cheeks burned as I reached into my pouch, wondering if I’d thought to take any. I hadn’t exactly been picky when I’d grabbed the stash from my mother’s purse. For all I knew, none of the money I had would work…

“That’s not enough,” he said, voice half-bored, half-annoyed as he thumbed through the bills. “You’ll need to pay for the stuff in your pockets as well.”

I froze, my body going as still as a rabbit when it smells a predator. I swallowed, my hands clenching and unclenching as I glanced down at the pocket on my sweatshirt. I’d stuffed things in there while I shopped, had I forgotten something? Did he think I was trying to steal?

Slowly, I snaked one hand down to the pocket and reached in, but feeling nothing, I looked up at him, confused.

“I… um… don’t have anything else.” I pointed to the counter where a small carton of chocolate milk, an apple, and a single string cheese sat there like a depressed trio. I’d picked them because out of all the stuff in here, I sort of recognized them as food. Where I came from, we didn’t have brightly colored things in plastic pouches, but we did have cheese, milk, and fruit…

“Look, I saw you put the candy bar in your back pocket. Just take it out and pay for it, or leave it here. I don’t really care what you do, but you can’t have it for free.” The clerk leaned forward, lips in a tight line. His face was pockmarked with acne and his flame-red hair stuck out at impossible angles.

Had I inadvertently taken some candy? My heart started racing as the realization struck me. Had I been so hungry I’d stuck something in my pocket and forgotten? Surely not… Surely I wouldn’t have done something so stupid…

I reached down, rummaging through the pockets of my jeans but came up with only dryer lint and a piece of black string. Finding nothing else, I pulled the pockets inside out so they hung there like pathetic handles. They were so long that if someone wanted, they could grab onto them and steer me around. It didn’t help that the jeans were a size too big. I’d gotten them from a thrift store down the block, and they didn’t fit as well as they could have. Still, anything was better than the skintight leather jumpsuit I’d been wearing when I escaped to Earth. I’d ditched the uniform the first chance I’d gotten.

“I don’t have any candy,” I said, my stomach making that horrible squealing sound that came with hunger. It’d been a while since I’d last eaten. The stuff on the counter would comprise the first meal I’d have in about three days, and I was starting to go a little wiggy. “Can I just please pay for my stuff and leave?”

“No! I saw you take something,” the clerk boomed. His voice was loud enough to make people turn and look at us.

“Then charge me for the candy and let me have my stuff,” I replied, getting annoyed now. Was he trying to fleece me? Over a candy bar?

“It doesn’t work that way, I have to ring something up.” He pointed to the register beside him as though that made everything make sense.

“Is there a problem here?” The voice behind me was so low it made goosebumps rise on my flesh and my stomach drop into my toes. Great, I’d attracted attention. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I eyed the stuff I’d placed on the counter. Could I swipe them and make a run for it? Maybe I should just leave it behind…

Before I could do anything, the clerk glanced behind me, and his eyes got as big as dinner plates. He swallowed hard enough to make his adam’s apple bob up and down beneath the milk-pale flesh of his throat. He slowly put his hands flat on the counter. They were shaking.

“Um… no, sir,” the clerk said, taking my money in one grubby paw and putting it into the register. He scooped up some coins and practically threw them across the counter at me. “Here you go, miss.”

“Good,” the voice behind me said as I snatched up my groceries and my change and shoved them into the pocket of my sweatshirt. “I’d hate to hear you’re back to picking on young girls again.”

I took a deep breath, not sure what to expect behind me and whirled around to thank the person. Admittedly, part of me wanted to run out of the store as quickly as I could, but that was rude, and if there was one thing my mother had beaten into me, it was good manners.

A guy who looked like he was in his mid-twenties stood there, staring past me at the pimple-faced teen. He was at least six feet tall with a shaved head and skin the color of polished obsidian. Beneath his bomber jacket, he was wearing a long-sleeved, black dress shirt half-tucked into a pair of blue jeans. I could tell it was long-sleeved because as he moved one arm, the sleeve of his jacket slipped down, revealing the cuff of his shirt.

His lips were pulled into a half-snarl that vanished into a sort of part-smile as he glanced from the clerk to me. He raised one enormous hand to his stubble-covered chin and rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger as he appraised at me. It was strange because I could see recognition behind his eyes. Did he know what I was? No, that was impossible…

“Thank you,” I whispered, my voice so quiet, I wasn’t sure he actually heard me say anything. Not waiting for him to respond, I tried to make my way past him toward the doors of the convenience store, but found myself blocked by his linebacker-sized form as he shuffled in front of me. I took a deep breath, trying to stop myself from freaking out. Surely every person on Earth couldn’t be a crazy person who would accost me given the chance? Surely my mother couldn’t be right about that too? On a long enough timeframe she had to be wrong eventually, right?

“Miss, when is the last time you ate something?” he asked as the customer immediately behind him stepped around him and placed her purchases on the counter. She didn’t even so much as look in our direction as the man placed one large hand on my shoulder and ushered me toward the door.

I wasn’t quite sure how he managed it because I was confident I could have stopped him, but the next thing I knew, we were standing outside the Ye Olde Kwik E Mart and staring at the attached gas station. I shot one last, apprehensive look inside the store as the glass doors shut with a whoosh that made me jump.

The man laughed, a low throaty sound that reminded me of a cartoon bullfrog with a top hat. I took a hesitant step away from him, and as I did so, he watched my feet move. The urge to flee rose up inside me, so strong I could barely think past it. Still, he was just some guy. I could handle him. He wouldn’t make me run away…

“Go away!” I said, trying to make my voice sound as tough as I possibly could. “Just because I look like a teenage girl doesn’t mean I won’t knock your block off.”

He raised his hands, face melting into a laugh that made me want to punch him in his stupid bulbous nose. “There, there, miss. I mean no harm. You just look like someone I used to know a long time ago. She’d visit me from time to time, and whenever she came to town, I always took her out for fish tacos.” He stared far off past me as if remembering something and tears tugged at the corners of his eyes. “She hasn’t been by in a while. I heard she died.”

“Is that so?” I growled, suddenly angry though I didn’t know why. Something about the way he spoke tugged at the very far corners of my memory, but when I tried to pull the fragment in for closer examination, it evaporated.

“Yeah, um sorry,” he replied sheepishly. “I guess I got carried away with myself.” He held out his hand to me. “I’m Jean-Luc, but most people call me Luc. I sort of like that. It makes me feel less French.”

“You’re French?” I asked, taking his hand very carefully, and as I did so, a little nip of magic zipped across his skin like a static shock. What the hell was he? Something preternatural for sure, but whatever it was, I’d never felt it, and that was saying something since I’d been trained to fight Earth’s supernatural monsters from birth.

I jerked my hand away and stepped back into a fighting stance, my hands clenched into fists. I called upon my power. It welled up inside me at once, filling my muscles with strength and setting my cells ablaze. If he tried anything, I’d blast him into a smudge on the ground and worry about the consequences afterward.

“I’m not French. I’m named after a starship captain,” he replied, looking at his shoes like they were the most interesting thing in the world. It was strange because his entire confident demeanor seemed to have vanished. “My parents were idiots.” He looked up at me and his smile died on his face. “Um… what are you doing?”

“You’re some kind of magic user. Whatever you’re trying to do, don’t.” I took a deep breath, and as I exhaled, I held one palm out in front of me, calling upon my magic to make a tiny flame dance on it. The fire was small enough that I wasn’t worried about it showing up on the sensors back home, at least not without someone looking very closely. Thankfully, that was pretty unlikely. It was why I’d chosen this town as my hideout. “Just don’t. Just turn around and walk the hell away from me. This doesn’t have to end with you as a chalk outline on the ground.”

“Miss, I have no idea…” he trailed off as the flame in my hand grew bigger.

“It will take exactly zero effort to toss this fireball at you,” I lied because it would take a lot of energy, especially if I didn’t use any magic words, and since I hadn’t eaten in a few days, the exertion might make me faint, which would be bad. Still, I was betting he didn’t know that. It wasn’t the world’s best bet, per se, but what was that saying about dogs being more scared of you than you are of them? Only I wasn’t sure which of us was the dog in this scenario.

“Okay, look,” he said, holding his hands out palms up. “I know what you are. I know you’re a member of the Dioscuri. Your job is to fight monsters and keep us humans safe, right? Well, I need your help with some vampires before things get out of control. It’s why I followed you from the thrift shop into the gas station convenience store.”

His words shook me to the core. He knew what I was? Impossible… and how the hell had he followed me inside? I’d made sure to look out for anyone. Hell, I’d even woven a tiny spell about myself to warn me of supernatural baddies. The only way it wouldn’t have alerted me to his presence was if he had no magic… but then what had I felt? Was it something residual? Had he just handled a magical object recently… that had been known to happen.

“Lies,” I said, taking a step back from him and willing the fire in my hand to vanish before it could attract attention. Maybe I could run away before he’d catch me and force me to blow up this gas station. Then again, there was always the possibility he could, I don’t know, shape shift into a giant flaming bear and gobble me up. Maybe I should play dead? That works on bears, right?

“I’m a monster hunter,” he said, reaching into his bomber jacket and slowly pulling out a piece of parchment that looked like it had been written a million years ago… and I totally recognized it. What he had in his hand was a writ, and it basically meant he was licensed by my people to hunt down monsters. So he hadn’t been lying about knowing who I was, the jerk. “And I need your help. Please.”

“How’d you get that?” I asked, deciding I needed to run away and find a new town to hold up in. I’d only been on Earth a few days, but if this guy had already identified me, how long could it possibly take for my people to find me? That was something I didn’t want, since they probably wouldn’t be happy I ran away… again. It was too bad because I liked the weather in Orange County, California. Not too hot, not too cold… It was like the Goldilocks of hideaways.

“I applied for it after some vampires killed my friend’s dad. You wouldn’t think you’d need a license to kill the undead, but there you go.” The words came out of his mouth strangely brusque and disconnected, like he hadn’t actually expected to say them out loud. Then again, I doubted monster hunting came up in casual conversation since talking about it with people ‘not in the know’ was pretty much forbidden.

“Uh huh,” I muttered, glancing from the writ to him and back again. Something about this guy was off, I just had no idea what it was, and honestly, I didn’t really want to know. Whatever he was involved in would be trouble, and I’d had enough trouble in my short life to last a couple lifetimes.

Besides, if I helped him, I’d have to use my magic… if I did that, I was sure my people would find me since every time I drew on my power, there’d be a blip on the systems they used back home to track monster activity. If enough blips showed up where there hadn’t previously been any, well, someone would come snooping around. That, I did not want.

“It’s true,” he replied, shoving the writ in his pocket with one hand. “How else would I have gotten it?”

This was an excellent point because writs were magically bound to the owner. If someone else tried to use it, the writ would disintegrate into ash. Damn.

“Who sponsored it?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him as I glanced around. There was no one else here. I could make a break for it and be halfway down the street before he took even two steps. So why hadn’t I run? Why was I even having this conversation?

“Dirge Meilan,” Luc replied, and everything inside me went sort of cold and empty. Of all the Dioscuri he could have known, why did it have to be her? I swallowed as panic crept down my spine like an icy spider. Was that how he’d recognized me? Was it because I looked so much like Dirge had? No… it had to be something else. Surely, it was something else… but even as I had the thought, I knew it was a lie.

“No…” I muttered, and before I could stop myself, I was sprinting across the parking lot of the gas station as fast as I could. I made it about three feet before a loud honk filled my ears. I glanced toward it in time to see an old brown station wagon plow into me at ten miles an hour. It smacked into my ribs so hard I was reminded of the time I’d been punched in the side by a yeti. My breath exploded from my lips as I flopped sideways onto the concrete. The sound of people shouting filled my ears. The vehicle lurched to a stop as I lay there, struggling to breathe.

It’d hurt less than I’d expected, but then again, when you’re used to getting thrown twenty feet through the air by werewolves, well, what was a car? I tried to move, tried to crawl to my feet but everything was sort of hazy and far off. I shut my eyes, pulling in a deep breath, but when I opened them again, everything was still shaky. That wasn’t good. Maybe I’d been hurt worse than I’d thought.

An old woman with hair the color of fresh snow and glasses that made her eyes appear huge and bug-like hobbled over to me, yammering in some language I didn’t understand. Only… only I couldn’t even hear her voice very well. Her lips were moving… how come I couldn’t hear her?

I was about to ask when hands gripped me under my arms and hauled me to my feet like I weighed nothing, which wasn’t exactly true. I might have only been five feet tall, but I was almost a hundred and twenty pounds of muscle. I tried to kick and fight, but before I could land even a single blow, Luc leaned in close and whispered into my ear.

“Let’s get out of here before the police come,” Luc said, and his voice was warm on my neck. “Something tells me that won’t go well for you.”

He smiled at me as he tucked one arm around my shoulder and began hustling me away from the lady. I wasn’t sure where I was going exactly, but it didn’t matter. He was right. I did not want the police finding me. If they did, they’d want all sorts of thing I wouldn’t be able to give them, like identification and my parents’ phone numbers.

Let’s talk tropes

There’s a book called Evermore by Alyson Noel. It’s basically about a girl who falls in love with an immortal who has pursued her as she keeps getting reincarnated through the ages. I actually came across the book because one of my wife’s students said it was horrible, and I wanted to check it out.

The other day, I read this review of Evermore and sadly, it’s pretty accurate. http://cuddlebuggery.com/blog/2010/08/24/review-evermore-by-alyson-noel/

It, also, pretty much nails all the tropes in YA Urban Fantasy.

So I thought I’d take my own crack at the tropes (not Evermore). Here’s to nothing.

You always have a character with an unusual upbringing. This will have prepared them for their new supernatural world. The main character (MC) will tend not to fit into the normal world and will have capital B baggage. There is a limiting factor to their powers, either they can’t use it for fear of a reprisal (old enemy, etc), they don’t know about it, or they had some traumatic event in their past they need to get over to get back in the game.

Sometimes they’ll have two of these.

Because of their weird upbringing they are some kind of outcast, but their upbringing will help them get welcomed into strange new world with open arms because of powers/expertise/ being born for it.

Their new adventure will force them to deal with people they don’t want to deal with. This is usually done as a way of world building. “Oh I need to see Draco the vampire so we learn x,” and in the process establish vampires live in this world, etc.

There will be some kind of traumatic event that occurs soon after the start of the book, forcing the person to realize they have power or must use their power even though it will cause problems. Usually around some kind of loved one or someone the character was being protected by or protecting.

This will lead to them getting sucked into the adventure where this pattern sort of repeats until the hero overcomes final challenge, while causing enough of “but our victory has costs” to let you lead it into a series. Usually the appearance of the thing they worried about facing because of their powers. This works whether they knew they had them or not. There’s a reason the chosen one is chosen, right?

There will usually be some kind of romantic subplot between the MC and a character who should be badass in their own right so they can take turns saving each other. This may not blossom into full blown romance for many books, or it may change. Usually there will be past history between the MC and the lover.

The MCs will usually want to do good because they are innately good and/or the bad guy is WAY worse than them. Even if the hero is a plain dealing villain, the bad guy is usually worse. It will force your MC to make hard choices, but always for the good of the mission even if its an innately selfish thing.

At the core, these are escapism stories. They take place now because people live in the now and can relate to that easier. They involve people who are insecure about things being the hero because at heart most people are insecure and want to be more than they are.

There, go and be merry!

Spy for the Spiers – Chapter 1

Just got Abby 3, Spy for the Spiers back from the editor. The book will come out on 9/23/15 which, if you didn’t know, is my 1 year anniversary.

Without further ado, here you go. Enjoy.

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Chapter 1

My fist lashed out, slamming into the mechanical werewolf’s face and throwing him backward across the room. He smashed into a thin fiberboard table, shattering it beneath his weight and crashing to the ground in a heap.

Pain shot through my arm even through my padded glove as I wrung my hand out and took a menacing step forward, running one hand through my pink hair to brush it out of my face. The werewolf lay there, sparks shooting from its broken off ear, but it was already starting to move. In another few seconds, it would be on its feet and coming at me like I had a steak in my pocket. How did I know? Because that’s what it had done the last few times I had knocked its block off.

I glanced around the small makeshift apartment and sprinted into the attached kitchenette. The whole place wasn’t very big, leaving me nowhere to hide as the creature got to its feet and took a thundering step toward me. Its metal nails clicked on the cheap, green laminate tile as it eyed me with soulless blinking red eyes.

I jerked open the first drawer but was dismayed to find only plastic bags and tin foil, not a lot of help. I moved to the next drawer, flinging it open as the robot leapt onto of the small countertop, clearing at least three feet of vertical and horizontal distance like it was child’s play, which I guess for a seven foot tall robotic werewolf, it probably was.

This drawer yielded pay dirt. I jerked a huge butcher’s knife free as the creature landed on the floor behind me hard enough to crack the tile. I whirled, ducking as I did so and narrowly avoided a swipe of its metal claws as they cleaved through the air and the microwave to my left.

Sparks showered the creature as I jammed the butcher’s knife into the weak point in the thing’s knee joint. It had taken me several attempts to figure it out, but there was a hydraulic line barely shielded by the metal joints. If you stabbed at the spot hard enough and with the right angle, well…

The leg tore off the creature in a spray of fluid. It toppled forward, still reaching out for me with its claws as I danced backward out of its reach. It hit the ground with a thud and began crawling toward me, gouging into the tile as it came closer inch by inch.

I hopped up onto the counter and leapt down on the other side. I threw one last glance around the room, but spying no more intruders, I made my way to the front door. As I reached out toward it, alarm bells began going off in my head. I threw myself to the side as a shotgun blast ripped apart the cheap wooden door, showering me with fragments of wood and other debris.

I hit the floor so hard, the shock of it ran down my back. The werewolf was already starting to turn itself around, its safety shut offs already cutting off the leak. It wouldn’t be fast, but once it got back to its feet, it’d hop after me.

“Come out with your hands up, Abby,” a voice from outside the apartment called. “If you do, I won’t come in there and shoot you a whole bunch of times. Believe me, I’m looking forward to it, so I’d almost rather you try to escape.”

“Not on your life!” I squealed, but the only reply was condescending laughter. I dropped to my hands and knees, bear crawling toward the window alongside the window. As I did so, bullets tore through the cheap walls, covering me in drywall and paint. The pictures above me shattered. Glass rained down on me as I tucked myself into a ball, hoping desperately to avoid getting sliced into ribbons. It mostly worked.

Unlike last time, no one charged inside. So, they were learning too. A small canister rolled inside and gas began to spew forth from it. Damn. I hated when my adversaries learned from their mistakes too.

I held my breath and rushed forward toward the far wall and the big window. They probably had it covered, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. I hit it in a dive, spraying glass everywhere as pain exploded through me. Thankfully, my uniform kept most of the glass from slicing me open, but it still hurt to throw myself bodily through it.

The sound of bullets slamming into the ground around me filled my ears as I came to my feet in a roll and sprinted forward, zigging and zagging as best I could. A slug caught me in the shoulder, pitching me hard to the side and nearly making me lose my balance as my left arm fell uselessly to my side. Agony shot through me, but I pushed it down, gritting my teeth as my eyes slowly adjusted to the bright sunlight outside.

A bullet zinged by my head as I flung myself sideways, rolling under a parked car. An army of feet appeared in my vision as I lay there for a split second, catching my breath. I couldn’t make out how many were there, but I was guessing at least six. If I didn’t get out of here quickly, I was done for. I rolled out from beneath the other side of the car and got to my feet as someone pressed a cold steel barrel against the back of my head.

“Don’t move, Abby,” Chuck said, the smirk in his voice distinctive. “You did well, but it’s over now.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, whirling as the words left my mouth. The crack of the gunshot obliterated my hearing, reducing all sound into a muffled fog as I fell to the ground, pain unlike anything I’d ever felt coursing through me and setting every nerve aflame.

I lay there, staring up at the sun, unable to even close my eyes and twitched as electricity coursed through my body. After what felt like ever, Chuck nudged me with the toe of his big black combat boot.

“You need to stop trying to escape a gun to the back of your head,” he said, staring down at me and shaking his head. His piercing blue eyes watched for a moment longer before he squatted down next to me and poked my cheek with the barrel of his weapon. It looked like a gun, but instead of firing bullets, it fired concentrated blasts of electricity that knocked me on my ass for a several minute time span every single time. I was starting to hate it.

“What else would you like me to do?” I mumbled, somewhat surprised I could speak. My body must have been acclimating to the shock of the bullets. I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing.

“Not get a gun stuck against the back of your skull for one,” Chuck said, reaching down and grabbing my wrist like he was going to haul me to my feet, but instead, he dropped it and my arm fell lifelessly to the ground. He smirked. “I guess your mouth recovers before the rest of you. Next time, maybe I’ll shoot you twice.”

“Next time, I’m going to shoot you,” I replied, annoyance filling my voice.

“Abby, we’ve done this exact scenario over fifty times now, and while you’ve gotten pretty good at taking out the werewolf bots, you haven’t managed to take me down once.” He shook his head, smirking. “That’s not counting the other hundreds of scenarios we’ve run. Face it kid, you’re still amateur hour.”

I would have narrowed my eyes at him, and for all I know I had, but it didn’t feel like I had. “Next time I’m going to get you, Chuck.”

He leaned down and kissed me lightly on the forehead in a fatherly sort of way. “I look forward to it,” he replied, getting up. “Then maybe I can get off babysitting detail.” He turned and walked away.

A cadre of soldiers was standing off to the side, watching us. There were twelve in total, and while they weren’t all super soldier quality like Chuck, I had no doubt they were all very good. The sight of them made me want to smile. The first time I’d run through this scenario, there hadn’t been any of them. For the agency to have added additional soldiers, they must have thought I was getting better. Not that Chuck would admit it. He never admitted it when I did well, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure why I cared what he thought. Sure, he was like the big brother I’d never had, but he was part of the agency.

I still wasn’t quite sure why the agency was training me, or why the agency felt the need to use mechanical werewolves and other robotic supernatural creatures, but I knew one thing. I could sure use the training even if I didn’t want to admit it. Besides, it wasn’t like I had a choice.

My father Roberto was still in a coma after being stung by some sort of super bug thing during our attempts to stop the last world takeover. The only thing keeping him alive at this point was the agency, and so far, the only thing they’d wanted in return for rendering aid was for me to accept training.

I was sure sooner or later they were going to want me to do something else, and sadly, I’d probably agree to do it. This was how the agency worked after all. It captured your loved ones and forced you to do their bidding or else. It was only a matter of time before it happened to me. And believe me, the irony was not lost on my teenage brain because I had started off as collateral myself.

Since then, I’d had a whole bunch of super spy skills downloaded into my brain, but I lacked one thing, experience. It was why Chuck had beaten me every single time. He had been around a long time, and despite all my expertise in hand to hand combat, shooting, explosives, and virtually any other skill necessary to become a top agent, his experience was more than enough to trump my abilities. Then again, he was the guy they’d based the superhero Captain America on, so there was that.

As feeling returned to my body, I got slowly to my feet and fought the urge to attack Chuck from behind. It wasn’t because I thought jumping him with his back turned was unfair or unsportsmanlike or anything. It was because the last several times it’d just resulted in me taking an electric blast to the face.

Instead, I put on my big girl pants and walked toward the group of soldiers. They grew silent as I approached, which wasn’t that odd because I had the feeling most of them resented me. After all, they were the best of the best, and I could take on any of them in a fight without even breaking a sweat. Maybe even all of them if I was feeling particularly feisty.

“Hey,” I said, when no one acknowledged me. “What’s next, robot vampires?” I pointed past them toward where technicians were hauling the werewolf out of the house.

“I don’t think you’re ready for vampires yet,” the soldier nearest to me said. He was about my height and even though most of his face was hidden by a black, featureless mask, I got the feeling he was smirking.

“Yeah, it would be kind of hard to stake one through the heart since they’re made of metal and all,” I replied.

Chuck glanced at me and shook his head. “I’m about to dump you back to ninjabots if you keep failing to live for less than ten seconds outside the apartment.”

“If I had a gun, it’d be different,” I replied, giving him the same look I always did. “It’s not fair. I never start these things with a weapon.”

“Here’s a tip, kiddo,” the first soldier said. “Life’s not fair.”

So… news…

I finished Abby 3 a while back. I was going to make a post about it. Didn’t. Sorry. Anyway, it’s with the editor for line editing now, which is the step after developmental editing. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it, and the last third is awesome. But is it too much? I don’t know, time will tell.

That said, I’m about 15k into Wardbreaker, which if you didn’t know, is the Lillim Callina Chronicles prequel. It’s sort of a new book one and it sort of isn’t. The problem is, as I’m writing it, I feel like it’s terrible.

It’s weird because I really enjoyed the first two chapters or so, but I’m worried Lillim fans won’t like this book. I also realized I was writing 2.5k-3k chapters, so even though it’s only what 6 chapters it’s about 15k words. I’m worried the long chapter length will make the book drag.

Part of the reason I wanted to write this book was to iron out some details of Lillim’s world that feel a little overly complicated, but I feel like every time I try to bring in an explanation, it bogs the book down, and I wind up cutting it.

I’m sure I’m just being hyper sensitive… I thought Hardboiled was terrible too.

I think part of my problem with Wardbreaker is that Lillim is too much the reluctant hero. In Kill it with Magic, Lillim is sort of dragged into the story innocuously, but once she’s there, it’s sort of this self-sustaining chemical reaction for the whole book. This happens in pretty much all five of the books. It happens in Abby as well.

Thes doesn’t do that per se, but he sort of does.

In this book, every time I get to that tipping point, the one which would throw Lillim into it whole hog, she somehow goes the other way. Part of it is the way the damn story got set up.

I mean, Lillim comes to earth and she’s this bad ass. She’s looking around and is like why are there so many monsters around, and this hunter is begging her to kill them. And so she does because that’s her job. But at the same time she’s this scared little girl running away from everything she knew. Does she want to get caught? Not really.

She hasn’t reached that whole “I’m going to kick ass and take names” stage yet. She’s still in the “I’m not sure I can do this” stage. It’s the arc of the book, getting her to accept that she is, in fact, badass.

But it’s so boring… By now, Abby would have killed 47 people with a hotdog bun and Thes would have disemboweled a god.

Lillim? Lillim is eating bacon because she’s never done that before… but at least there’s vampires. And mine don’t sparkle.