Blazing Blunderbuss by Nix Whittaker

Blazing Blunderbuss by Nix WhittakerHara was shoved out of the tavern. She swore at the men and ducked when they threw her glider at her. It clattered on the cobblestones of the alleyway and she went to see if they had damaged it. The door to the tavern shut and she was left alone in an empty alleyway. She was glad she had convinced them that no matter their desire for her, she would be more trouble than pleasure.

Hara ran her hands over the wooden sides of the glider case. The box was scratched but was still in good shape. A door opened further down the alleyway and two men shoved another man out. He had his hands tied in front of him, so he stumbled and regained his balance.

He turned to the two men and said, “Hey, I’m delicate here. There’s no need to be so shovey and pushy. Remember, I’m just a professor. I don’t have a weapon. I’m not going to hurt you, so you don’t have to be so…so violent. And with all this movement I really don’t want to see my dinner again. No matter how lovely it was.”

He tried to smooth his hair away from his face, but with his hands tied together it was an awkward action. The man looked like a fop and he certainly didn’t fit in with the Roshian commoners who were holding him captive. The Roshians were also armed to the teeth—though being armed was not surprising in a smugglers’ port.

Hara hesitated. She hated fops. They were less than useless. She really shouldn’t get into this. She needed to find a way out of the town and eventually find a permanent berth. She didn’t need to get into fights with random Roshians. She sighed, because she knew it really didn’t matter. She had a thing for trouble, to the point that she wondered some days whether it was hereditary.

Hara called out, “Hey, I don’t think the toff wants to go with you guys!”

All of them turned to her. The prisoner motioned with his tied hands to shoo her away and said, “That is awfully sweet of you to say that, but these guys aren’t about to play nice. Wouldn’t want you to get hurt or anything. As long as they remember I’m delicate, I’ll be fine. Especially if they remember to use silk next time.” He grinned as if it was merely a game of sorts and he wasn’t being kept as a prisoner.

At least he was a decent guy. That made it almost a good idea to help him. Almost. She came closer and dropped her glider on the ground. It would be easier to move without it.

One of the Roshian men said, “Get lost, malenkaya devotshka. This is not your problem.”

Hara replied in Rosh. “I’m afraid I have the bad habit of making things my problem.”

One of the Roshian men held the prisoner so he wouldn’t escape and the other pulled out a large Barker Iron. There were more sophisticated weapons on the market, but it was big enough to put a pretty large hole in her. The Barkers were a favorite of Roshian revolutionaries, to the point that the revolutionaries were called Rosh Barkers after their weapon of choice.

Hara stepped closer. “If you let him go, no one has to be hurt.”

The two Roshian men looked at each other in confusion. The one with the gun turned to her and said, “You do realize there are two of us and only one of you.”

Hara grinned with her hands spread out to appear harmless. “I know. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Maybe if I tie one of my hands behind my back it might even the odds.”

She took another step forward and the men still hadn’t tried anything. Maybe going around as a girl without a disguise was a good idea. If she had been dressed as a boy she would have been attacked already.

Hara waved her hands as she spoke. “I mean, you can’t even call for help. This alleyway is completely deserted. I doubt the people in the tavern will even rouse if they hear a small scuffle out here.”

There, she was close enough. She used the waving of her hands to disguise her movement and took the final step she needed to get close enough to the gun-waving Roshian.

Hara moved fast. Setting her feet apart for stability, she knocked his gun aside and stepped into his guard. She pulled her arm back and slammed the ball of her palm into the man’s throat. He doubled over and she helped him over a little further into her knee. He grunted and slumped to the ground, unconscious.

The other Roshian fumbled for his gun, but his prisoner saw the opportunity for escape and started to struggle. Hara grabbed the Roshian’s gun. She slammed the metal handle on the man’s face and knocked him out.

Now that she had dealt with the Roshians she turned back down the alley and picked up her glider.

The fop followed her and said, “Thank you for that. The rescue I mean.” He waved with his tied hands to indicate the alleyway and the downed men.

Hara shrugged. “You don’t happen to have a spare airship available?”

He shook his head. “I’m looking for one though. We can look for one together.”

Hara picked up her pace as she said, “That’s nice for you. But I think we might be better off on our own.”

She certainly would be better off without a fop following her around. She headed out of the alley and down the street. The fop followed. He worked the knots out of his restraints with his teeth as he skipped to keep up with her.

 

 

 

 

 

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AuThursday – Nix Whittaker

author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in South Africa but because of the violence and political turmoil, my parents moved the whole family to New Zealand. The best move ever. It also helped to broaden my view of the world. I work full time as a high school teacher so a little cliché that the English teacher is writing books.

How do you make time to write?

I’m single without kids so not too hard to find the time. The problem is not to be distracted by everything else in my life. Also, I have trained myself to write anywhere. As part of my job, I’m often lugging around a laptop so I write whenever I have time, a lunch break, waiting for parents at a parent-teacher interview. I think we would be surprised by how much time we waste waiting for something.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes and no. If you have writer’s block it is your brain trying to tell you something is wrong with your story. You have to figure out what is wrong before you can write again. I usually leave things to stew in the back of my mind and start writing short stories while I leave my subconscious to come up with another dilemma for my character instead of getting kidnapped for the sixth time. That is my block at the moment. Out of my 7 books that are published my character getting kidnapped is the number one crisis.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

I write Science Fiction Romance. Though really I consider steampunk to be more fantasy than Science Fiction. I love it because you can deal with serious issues with a lightness to it. I have a lot of discussion about prejudice in all my books but somehow it is easier to write about when people are being prejudiced against dragons.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

I’m an Indie publisher all the way. I didn’t even look at Trad. I’ve had this discussion with fellow authors, some who are exploring both. I like the freedom and the speed that Indie gives me.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?

I can be both. I’m originally an Introvert but since my job literally requires me to be bubbly and outgoing I’ve learned to be the extrovert as well. The skills I’ve learned as an extrovert has given me a thicker skin to criticism so I recommend at least exploring all aspects of yourself and making yourself more flexible.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Give yourself permission to write a bad book. You can always fix it but getting to the end is more important. You can learn so much from writing a book to the finish that it doesn’t matter if it is terrible. You don’t have to know everything when you start.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.nixwhittaker.com

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Nix’s Book, Blazing Blunderbuss. ~Tina

Saturday Excerpt – The Lovers by Irina Shapiro

Echoes book 1 FB“Here’s the prologue from The Lovers.  Just a little something to whet your appetite.”~Irina Shapiro

The darkness was absolute, the interior of the chest smelling rank and damp. Their bodies were pressed together, crammed in an unnatural position, limbs stiff after hours of immobility. At first, there was still hope, but it had run out, as had the air, as the tight-fitting lid prevented even the smallest amount from seeping in. His arms felt like lead, but he gathered what was left of his waning strength and lifted his hand to her face. He didn’t need to see it; her features were burned into his brain, as were those of their child. Please, God, keep the babe safe.

Her skin was still warm, but she was already gone, as surely as he would be in the next few minutes. His lungs were already burning, a sheen of sweat covering his face. He pressed his lips against her unresponsive mouth in a final kiss as a last thought flashed through his dying brain:

It was all worth it.

AuThursday – Irina Shapiro

Irina (400x400) - CopyTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to the US when I was twelve years old.  Unlike many Russian immigrants, I had no trouble adjusting and becoming part of a new culture.  I found it extremely liberating to have choices in what I read and what type of music I could listen to.  My literary interests turned to British history, and it’s still one of my favorite subjects and the background for most of my books.

How do you make time to write?

I left my job ten years ago to focus on my autistic son, so I’m a stay-at-home mom.   I’ve always been a morning person, which means that I do my best work at the crack of dawn.  I sit down to write as soon as my son leaves for school and keep at it for at least three hours each day.     Sometimes I’m really not in the mood, or the ideas aren’t flowing, but when I open my manuscript and put my fingers on the keyboard, I instantly get sucked into the story, and the words just come.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I haven’t suffered from any prolonged bouts of writer’s block, but like any writer, I’m afraid of running out of ideas, and I think that one day I will.  We all tend to return to certain themes and time periods in our writing, and eventually, it becomes repetitive and feels regurgitated.  Once I think that that’s beginning to happen, I will either stop writing altogether or maybe switch genres and try my hand at something new.   I like cozy mysteries set in England.  That could be an option.  I could be the next Agatha Christie.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

I write time-travel romance and modern gothic.  I love those genres because I can incorporate my love of history and travel into the narrative, enriching my characters’ experience and broadening their horizons and range of emotion.   Time travel opens up all kinds of new possibilities since my characters can go anywhere, anytime.  I can allow them to come back, or leave them trapped in a time period of my choice and watch them struggle for survival.

And with modern gothic, I can add a supernatural dimension without going full-on paranormal.    For example, the main character in my new series, Echoes from the Past, has the ability to see into the past when holding an object that once belonged to the dead.  As an archeologist and a historian, she finds this gift very useful, if at times frightening and unsettling, because she gets drawn into the stories of the dead and relives their tragedies.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

My newest book, The Lovers (The Echoes from the Past: Book 1) is a Kindle Scout winner and has recently been published by Kindle Press, the new publishing branch of Amazon.   I’m excited to see how it will perform against my self-published books, which I promote regularly.

Are you an Introvert or Extravert?  How does this affect your work?

I think I’m actually a little of both.  I love being around people, socializing, and getting involved, but I also enjoy being alone.  I spend a lot of time in my head, but I’m rarely bored.  I have all these thoughts and ideas that frequently find their way into my stories.  I also quite enjoy doing research.  I’ve learned so many new things since I began writing, and I look forward to learning more.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Just do it, because ultimately, that’s what it all comes down to.  We either do something, or we don’t.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

My advice to aspiring writers is to stick with their projects, get professional, but affordable help, and grow a thick skin.  There will be many people who will criticize their work and hurt their feelings, especially in the beginning.  Bad reviews and cruel comments come with the territory.  If they truly want to succeed, they need to look beyond that and keep moving forward.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

You can find me at www.irinashapiro.com

https://www.facebook.com/IrinaShapiro2/

or on Twitter at Irina Shapiro Author@Irinashapiro2

Writer Wednesday – The Holidays

X-mas WritingI’ve returned from a holiday  in early December and now Christmas is fast approaching.   I’ve gotten most of my shopping done, and need to mail presents.

My goals for the month of December were small.  I knew with NANOWRIMO behind me and Thanksgiving being the sign that Christmas was fast approaching, I would feel the rush of the season.

So I put my submissions to agents on hold until the new year. When I do my goal setting for next year, I’ll review whether I still want an agent or if I want to navigate on my own.  I’ve been slowly writing during the season to maintain momentum.   But if all I do is my Morning Pages, so be it.

I also set a goal to read during the season.   I’m a fairly avid reader anyway, but I wanted to look at the season as well…holidays.  I’d lost my job and I didn’t want to stress about writing when I might be blocked because of stresses I hadn’t anticipated.

My goal – to keep the season simple and enjoyable.

Tina

The Finish Line by Leslie Scott

“Whoo!” I shouted once I was safely back inside, tucked against Jordan. “I haven’t felt this—alive—in a long time.”

“No.” Jordan shook his head when I tried to hand him the money. “Your bet, your win.”

I tucked the bill into my pocket. He was the reason I could feel like this. It was all Jordan’s making, every bit of it. I was happy, free, aroused, and warm.

He was watching me more than he was watching the road, but I didn’t care.

Tension built on adrenaline and arousal filled the air. Making it so thick I had to force my breaths in and out even with the windows down. My skin was sizzling with heat, the faster he drove the hotter I got.

I was on the verge of writhing in the seat when his hand slid up my thigh, a little too high, and back down again. I gasped at the contact. His hand went perfectly still. With my heart pumping fast in my chest, I waited for something, anything. When nothing came, I used my own to guide his hand back up my thigh. I tucked my hair behind my ear and bit my lip against the rush of pleasure.

I turned and pressed myself against him, my lips seeking purchase on the warm skin of his neck.

How could one man be so attractive, so arousing? It had always been like God had made him with special specs for me.