Friday, October 28, 2016

Today I am the featured author at Science Fantasy, a group of writers who combine science with fantasy in their stories. Sunday the site will have one chapter for each of my books.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

This is the prequel to Addie's Exile that I wrote for the first lesson in the Iowa course:

Papa’s been exiled. They didn’t even let him come home to say goodbye or get some clothing or food to take with him. He’ll go through the tunnel to the outside elements. Our town’s wall and dome were built to protect us from the heat, the dust, the never-ending wind. Now he’ll have to survive all that. I’m scared for him.

Randa stood in our kitchen. An open-mouthed stare had been fixed on her face since she heard the news. As the eldest at sixteen she’d have to take on even more responsibility for me and little Gan than she has since Mama died two years ago.

What did Papa do? In the past, I’ve struggled to understand why Commander Kenly and his people exiled folks, but now it was Papa, my father. How will we go on without him?

I’ll have to quit school, get a job.” Randa loved learning, wanted to be a teacher someday. Now she’d have to find a way to pay for our food, for the apartment where we lived in the western part of Muralta. The town wasn’t big, maybe four or five square miles, with a section containing the schools, stores and town hall separating west from east. Less than ten thousand people lived here. The illness that took Mama and the baby also killed about a thousand, and Kenly had exiled another few hundred souls.

Food supplies in the market were at their lowest levels ever. The dome was scratched and yellowed over the years. Our neighbor Letta once explained why we couldn’t grow anything. That was one of the times when she brought us ‘leftovers’ from a meal she prepared for herself. “Without enough sunshine and water, nothing can grow in soil that was poor even before. Bert warned them when they put up the dome that the composite of glass and plastic wouldn’t remain completely transparent, but no one listened. He was only one of the laborers.” Her husband also died from the disease that killed Mama. After he died she did mending for anyone who could pay, and even for those who couldn’t. But she’d been exiled six months before Papa.

I could get a job after school,” I told Randa. “We both can so you don’t have to quit.”

And who’ll watch Gan?” She shook her head. “Besides, no one will hire a girl of twelve.”

I frowned with no answer for her. “Do you suppose we should go to the hatch to bring Papa his clothing and such?”

Randa scowled and her voice grew louder. “The Enforcers won’t let us get close enough to him. Besides, he got himself into this.”

Oh, Randa!”

What was he thinking, mouthing off about Kenly. He and Mica Simms. The two of them. They had to know what would happen.” The words rushed out as if a dam broke, not that I’d ever seen a dam. “Did they even think about their families? What we’d do without them to support us?” Her lips trembled as much as the rest of her body.”

I didn’t know what to say, especially since what Papa said about the man who’d taken charge of the town was true.

Why are you two fighting?” Gan ran into the kitchen. He never walked when he could run.

Now that Papa’s gone,” I said, “Randa says she’s quitting school to work.”

Papa’s gone? Why? Where’d he go? When’s he coming back?” His narrow face puckered.

Randa took one look at him and picked him up into her arms. She buried her head in his soft blond curls.


Randa didn’t quit school. She only had another two years to go. Rosa and Luigi hired her to wait tables at their restaurant in the evening. My sister had been right. No one would hire me, so after school everyday I collected Gan from his preschool and took him home with me. Sometimes Randa prepared a meal for us before going to work, but even better were the times she took us with her. Rosa fed us huge bowls of pasta with her special sauce that made Gan mouth and lips all red. I paid for our food by helping Rosa with washing up. So we didn’t starve, but I was teased mercilessly by some of the kids at school ‘cause I didn’t have parents.

Lurie Mills, the daughter of the mayor was especially cruel in her sarcastic tone. “Wearing your sister’s hand-me-downs again?” and “Poor Addie can’t even afford a new notebook.”

About a month after Papa left, the buzz at school was all about his replacement as principal of the secondary school. Kenly appointed Ms. Lee, the cleaning lady, the woman who mopped the bathrooms and gyms at both the primary and secondary schools.


Over the next few months, things only got worse for all of us in the western part of Muralta. Electricity was reduced to five days a week, then four, and finally three. Which meant we had to walk up to the third floor of our apartment building and make sure nothing spoiled in the refrigerator or freezer.

Randa’s shirts and jeans were suddenly very loose on her. Gan was always cranky. Me? I was mostly sad.

Something had to be done. But what could a girl of twelve do that the adults weren’t already doing?

I tried to talk to Rosa about it, but she was always busy cooking. The restaurant always seemed to have plenty of food. I never dared ask where they got it.

One night Rosa sent us down to her basement, even Randa.

I think Commander Kenly and his people are having dinner here tonight,” Randa said as we hid in a storage room amongst huge jars of tomatoes and boxes of pasta.

I’ve never seen so much food.” Gan reached for a jar.

Careful!” Randa stopped him from grabbing it.

This can’t all be from before we stopped getting supplies from outside Muralta.” I studied the neat writing on the nearest bottle. “This says September, 2020. That was only last year.”

Rosa must have tomato plants in her garden.” Randa dismissed what seemed a mystery to me.

I couldn’t let it go. “Billy Tate says the Easties are growing vegetables. How can they with the limited amount of sun and water?” I sat on the cold floor with my back against a wall. “Papa always said they had more access to water than we do.”

And look where it got Papa to say that.”

Randa, all I’m saying is that it’s supposed to be fair.”

Well, life’s not, so live with it.”

I folded my arms. “I wonder if we can find out what it’s like in the East.”

Ask one of your Easty pals at school.”

I’d never told my sister about the way the Easty kids treated the rest of us, and I sure wasn’t going to tell her how few friends I had. I tried to let it drop, but a plan formed in my mind, a way to investigate. The schools, shops and town hall weren’t the only things that separated the two parts of Muralta. Each street and road into the east side had a guard house at the west end so that only those who lived there could pass in. But there might be a few places between streets...I’d have to look. What was the worst that could happen?

Monday, October 10, 2016

I had a busy September, and October is going to be at least as busy.

This week I'm participating in Virtual FantasyCon. My 'booth' today is at

Tomorrow I start an online writing class How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women from the University of Iowa.

Have you ever taken an online course or participated in an online conventions?