Really...really? & Chapter 4
Never before has a subsequent book of mine ranked so high so quickly. The Long Goodbye hit #1 in Dystopian in Australia particularly, and it wasn't trailing far behind in other countries as well. I'm awed and grateful to you all! That was completely unexpected. But it shows how beloved Graham's Resolution is and it's not over, it's only taking a sabbatical. 😘 🤗 Thank you!
Besides that...there's a lot of upcoming news. I'm excited, busy and I feel this tremendous energy coming. Fingers crossed it's not another apocalypse 😉
Here are the updates:
Where to find books without Amazon/Kindle
Halloween & the yearly 20BooksVegas Convention
The Drone Keeper - Chapter 4
In the Meantime - Progress Report
Books on Sale
Buddy Book Mentions
Unfortunately due to the exclusivity factor for ebooks, many authors are restricted from selling ebooks on platforms other than Kindle. And for now, that is the only way to make a living as an author. So for those of you who want to read the books but cannot purchase them there, paperbacks are the best alternative. You can get those by request in person, or you can order them online through any independent bookstore. All of my titles are available in the Ingram Sparks Catalog and that's where they order them from. And it's a great way to support your local bookstores. This works internationally as well.
For example, in the United States, you could click the link below and my local independent bookstore's online catalog search for my titles and they will ship you the paperback. That way, they also receive a small payment. This works the same way for other countries. And it really helps support them at the same time.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!
I handed out candy in the same skirt I've worn for the last 20 Halloweens and still love it.
Next week, I'm headed to Vegas to meet up with several authors. Expect a few pics. I'm excited to see Kyla Stone, DJ Cooper, ML Banner and so many more. If you're an author and want to learn more. Here's a link. But never fear…I will be writing and the desert is a perfect backdrop for The Drone Keeper.
Sometimes, while lying in the darkness, Steve really hated people. All of them. They were all full of greed and despair. That’s why a tiny part of him hoped Anabelle really was an AI because, for some reason, people liked her. Which meant he didn’t have to deal with them so much. It was a good arrangement. He liked the arrangement, especially when the shotgun fired because Steve wasn’t fast enough to hit the scramble mode. It was Anabelle that saw the danger coming and, in a microsecond, she enacted a shield. The problem was, he wasn’t sure if she did it to protect the drones or to protect the thugs. Because if there was one thing he didn’t tolerate was anyone touching his drones.
“Take it down,” Steve fumed at the man laughing below like a hyena. “I’m going to kill him.”
“Oh, like I’m going to take it down now. Moving on,” Annabelle said.
He actually stomped his foot against the stone floor. “I mean it, Anabelle. He broke the law.”
“Steve, come on. It’s going to be a long day as it is. Killing him means a lot of extra pixel entries before the end of the day.”
Steve swallowed. “I don’t want him to get away with it. Give me one second with him. You can turn your back if you need to and mute the cameras.”
She huffed. “Are you serious?”
He knew…she knew he was dead serious.
“Okay, but I’m not looking, so I’m not a witness. This happened on my lunch break…and I’m not filling out the incident report.” She hit a key, and one drone appeared unshielded.
At a standoff range, Steve smiled and sent a high-energy laser into the guy’s arm, causing him to drop the weapon.
“Leave Steve. Leave now. I’m detecting a high-level quantum sensor scan.”
He didn’t stick around for another warning and instead sent the swarm on a scramble that met up moments later miles away. Then, quirking up the side of his mouth, he said, “Was it theirs.”
“Doubtful,” she said. “They can’t possess those, especially in Chicago. It’s actually illegal. Unlike the weapons they carried.”
“Wish we could have taken it with us,” Steve said.
She raised an eyebrow but kept typing. “Well, that thug won’t be using that arm for a while.”
“Anything else, or do we report it?”
“Report what?” she said with a blank look.
He smiled and “We’re running late. Let’s get on with it.”
On the twelfth hour, they’d completed another delivery job and then sent the first set of drones back. The previous drones went through decontamination, and then he lit the second wave up. And as they returned, a new storm cloud rose through the empty tiles in the old observatory and into the darkening sky.
“I thought you said it wasn’t going to rain today?” Steve peeked out into the blanketed sky.
“I said it wasn’t going to rain on the missions today. I didn’t say anything about inclement weather locally. Or at least, that’s what I meant to say. It doesn’t affect things.”
Steve looked around and watched as the wind fluttered anything loose outside again. His thought briefly went to Randolph’s visit that morning. Something wasn’t right there, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it then. He would come back to it later.
“We’ll be fine,” Steve said. “Shut the door, please.”
And when she hit the command key, everything inside stilled as the outside kept up its dance with nature.
“What’s next on the list today,” Steve said, and she gave him a look.
“Are you sure you don’t want to take a break?”
“No. We’ve been through this. I took longer this morning.”
“But your insulin levels.”
“I feel fine.”
“You are fine. I’ve been watching, but that can change quickly, especially if we have another incident like this morning.”
Without emotion, Steve said, “Can we get on with it, or do you want to run a full diagnostic on me now, too. Mother.”
“She ignored him and brought up the next job.”
He read it at the top. His least favorite of jobs.
“Termination? Is this a Company job?”
She read something on the screen. “Yes, I think so.”
“What do you mean, you think so?”
“It’s from a human resource contractor.”
“Tell me he deserves it.”
She shook her head and made her mouth a straight line. “It’s just a termination order. That’s all I see. No explanation of the terms of dissolution.”
“Okay, let’s get this over with.”
While the drones sped around the world to a skyrise in London, Steve walked beside his empty shelves, trailing his fingers over the places where he’d yet to replace his antique book collection. He thought of the old relics, still packed in storage crates in Texas. Like a generation that once read and wrote in cursive, he still read the papers sheets between the covers. His fingers itched to feel them again. His eyes longed for the fading ink.
“We’re here,” she said, knowing he was daydreaming again. She was probably checking his insulin readings at the same time.
“Okay, we’re about to make someone very unhappy.”
“You don’t know that. He might be thrilled. Maybe he wanted termination. Maybe he has a sick parent, or he wants to care for or a child instead of leaving them to the nursery agents.”
Steve looked at the guy’s image. He was balding in unfortunate spots. His skin had that livered yellow tinge indicating he was suffering from air pollution-induced liver toxicity. “I don’t think so. When have they ever been happy for termination?”
Moments later, a drone left the group outside, entered the roof entrance, and stopped in front of an office where a woman with blond hair turned up in a tight bun stood at a control panel. She looked up. Her wireframed glasses held a screen as well. Steve watched as her blue eyes refocused, not on the tiny screen in her glasses but beyond. He’d always found the contact versions more comfortable. However, the thickness still bothered those with sensitive eyes, and her eyes were a shade bluer than the sky on a warm summer day. The sentry drone moved a little closer on his command to get a better look at her irises. She might be wearing colored contacts as well but then backed off quickly when those irises focused on his camera. He realized then that nope, those were her natural eyes. Gorgeous.
“What are you…doing?” Anabelle wanted to know.
“Just thought I…saw something.”
The sentry read the order on the screen projection, and the edges of her full lips turned down quickly, and, in a flash, the show of emotion was gone. Hmm…she’s sympathetic to the mark, he thought.
Then she tilted her head toward a doorway of their termination target. It was as if she’d expected them when these events were usually unannounced so that the employees were not tipped off to sabotage something as they left.
“You like her,” Anabelle teased.
He cleared his throat. “She’s not unattractive if that’s what you mean.”
When they entered the room, the man they were looking for stood in the center. He wore an old-fashioned suit and tie with black lace-up shoes.
“That’s him, but what’s with the get-up?” Anabelle said.
It was a rhetorical question. Steve thought not to answer. Then the drone emitted the recording for termination, and the man did an odd thing.
The man began clapping his hands and blinking his glossy eyes.
“Does that mean he’s happy?” Anabelle whispered.
But Steve was too busy looking around and running scans to make sure there were no weapons deployed to answer.
“You’ve finally done it,” the man said.
“Done what?” Anabelle said.
It was the blond that surprised them from behind with a voice light and airy. “Charles, don’t make it difficult. Please go easy.”
“Oh, I intend to,” he said, and then something rolled out of his suit sleeve into the palm of his hand.
This time, Steve acted first and arrayed the shield blocking the explosive from the woman behind them. But he had no idea if he’d succeeded because the screen immediately when blank.
“What happened? What just happened!” Anabelle yelled.
“Call in. I’ll get to the others inside if I can.”
As Anabelle relayed the damage report, Steve’s heart raced as he reconfigured another drone.
Then he heard Anabelle suck in a breath. “Steve, look.”
Steve’s eyes shot to the screen.
The building they were just in collapsed in a column and landed in a growing pile of rubble as they watched.
“What the hell, Anabelle?”
THIS IS HAPPENING NEXT: SISTERS, THEY WERE NOT, BUT THEY FOUGHT LIKE THEM. SO WHEN OLD WIDOWED NEIGHBORS FOUND THEMSELVES ALONE DURING THE APOCALYPSE, ONE WOULD THINK THEY WOULDN'T LAST LONG. THEY WERE WRONG...
BUDDY BOOK MENTIONS