Monday, January 5, 2015

Sneak preview of Ch. 5 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Bk 6 of The Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter Five
Shinai
“I challenge,” the voice said, and Emily stopped at the edge of the ring, turning to look over her shoulder. “My choice of weapon is shinai.”
“There is no need,” she said, as she rushed to the center of the ring to kneel at Kano’s feet.
“Do not insult me,” he growled. “You will accept my challenge… unless you think it is beneath you.”
“I would rather be your student, Sensei, than your opponent.”
A moment later, she stood on the side of the ring, as Ishikawa and Lt Otane helped her strap on protective equipment. Shinai are practice swords, made of bamboo strips bound together in a single shaft, lighter than a bokken, and with no edge. But in the heat of competition, an errant blow can still do some damage… and Kano did not look like he meant to tap her lightly.
“You should not have entered the ring,” Lt Otane said. “This could have been avoided if you had just let Sgt Tsukino have his victory.”
“Nonsense,” Ishikawa roared. “Moon behaved like a donkey. He deserved what he got, and she fought brilliantly.”
“What are they saying?” Durant asked from behind Lt Otane.
“Dice thinks I’m a fool, and so does Kiku-san.”
“No, Durantu-san,” Ishikawa said, in the best English he could muster. “I think Tenno-san is awe-inspiring. But she is probably in for a beating.”
“I’m sorry for getting you in to this pickle, LT,” Durant said, after Emily glowered at him.
Pic-kel-u?” Ishikawa said, with one raised eyebrow as he tried to fit his mouth around the word.
“Just like tsukemono,” Lt Otane proposed.
Emily offered an alternative translation: “He means this is a difficult situation.” When Ishikawa still didn’t understand, she said, “I’m screwed.”
“Yes, yes,” Ishikawa said with a big grin. “Screwed.”
“Can you take him?” Oleschenko asked.
“Not if he’s anything like his father,” Emily said. “Besides, kendo is not my best subject.”
“Kano-san was national youth champion as a boy,” Ishikawa said. “He is kyoshi.”
“You knew his father?” Oleschenko said, looking on as Emily tugged on her equipment to get it to fit better. “How is that possible?”
“It’s a long story, sir. Let’s just say it hasn’t put me in Kano’s good books.” 

Sneak Preview of Ch. 4 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Bk 6 of The Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter Four
A Distinguished Personage
In the hot and humid season, merely standing in formation while a party of dignitaries made speeches could be torture. Emily managed to peek over at Oleschenko and Durant, both of whom had begun to sweat through their fatigues. A bit further along the line, she caught a glimpse of Ishikawa in similar straits, but Tsukino and Kano managed to put a brave face on the whole situation, even as the beads formed on their faces. She felt one hanging from her own nose.
“Man, this is interminable,” she muttered. “Why can’t a breeze find us on this infernal base? Is that too much to ask?”
Durant couldn’t suppress a snort at her words, and Oleschenko glowered at the two of them. “Shut it, you two,” he hissed.
Eventually the proceedings on the shaded podium drew to a close, and several well-dressed people made their way across the front of the formation, accompanied by Colonel Kamakura, commander of the first Airborne Brigade. The command to stand “at ease” made its way around and Emily’s platoon assumed a slightly more comfortable posture, feet apart and hands behind their backs.
“The tall one is Mr. Saito,” Oleschenko whispered. “He’s the Deputy Minister of Defense.”
“Who are the other two?” Durant asked.
“I imagine we’ll find out in a moment,” Emily said. She could just make out what they said to Kano’s unit. Praise for their service in the recent evacuations after the typhoon up north, and encouragement for the tournament to be held later that day.
“Thank you, Soga-san,” Kano said with a deep bow.
“Your family must be proud of you achievements, Tsukino-san,” said one of the women, and he bowed deeply in return. “Your predecessors at the Atsuta-jingu will be honored to receive you into their order, once your tour in the Jietai is complete.”
“You are too generous, Heiji-san,” he replied.
“They’re so polite,” Durant whispered, and Oleschenko shushed him.
Mr. Saito said something in a few, clipped Japanese phrases to Capt Oleschenko, and he immediately glanced at Emily, who supplied a translation.
“Thank you, sir,” Oleschenko replied, with a little bow. “We are honored to have the opportunity to serve side by side with the Ground Self Defense Force.”
“We have heard a great deal about you, too, Tenno-san,” the taller woman said.
“This is Heiji Gyoshin, my Industry Liaison,” Mr. Saito said. “And allow me to introduce Soga Jin,” he continued, gesturing to the smaller woman. “She is the Vice President of the Takenouchi Corporation.”
“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Heiji-san,” Emily said. “And I am honored to meet you as well, Soga-san.”
“Your reputation as a martial artist precedes you,” Soga Jin said. “Will you participate in the tournament?”
“Fighting is a man’s game,” Emily said. “We have several very capable fighters, including Durant-san.” She pointed to Durant with a flourish that left him tongue tied, and he bowed nervously. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sneak Preview Ch. 3 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Book 6 of The Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter Three
Camp Narashino
Gaijin kusai,” said Sergeant Tsukino, who the rest of the platoon knew as Moon. With a sneer and a snort, he looked across the table for moral support.
Takeishi Kano, who occasionally let his sergeants call him Tak, glanced at Emily sitting a few seats away, hoping she hadn’t heard, since he knew she’d understand. The third time club-hopping with their American guests in the Roppongi neighborhood of Tokyo had taken a toll on him, too. But he had other concerns.
“Shut it, Sergeant,” he growled.
“C’mon, Lieutenant. How many more hakujin bars do we have to take these guys to?”
“At least it’s not a karaoke bar this time,” Sgt Daisuke Ishikawa offered.
“Tenno, what are they going on about?” Captain Oleschenko asked.
“And do they have to call her that?” Moon said, loud enough to be heard the length of the table. “I mean, what kind of name is that anyway?”
“Sergeant Tsukino thinks we smell bad, sir,” Emily said.
“We smell bad?” Sgt Durant chuckled. “What the hell does he think he smells like?”
“It’s an old prejudice, from the second world war,” she said. “Japanese didn’t eat much meat in those days, and they thought the GI’s smelled strange, you know, like old butter.”
Kano glowered at his men as she spoke. As irritating as he found her presence, having to guard against offending her made it so much worse. She wasn’t responsible for his father’s death, but she damn well reminded him of the infernal code of honor that propelled him to his end. His father had sacrificed himself to protect her, and he’d done it at the behest of the Crown Princess, even though it required accepting a pretended disgrace in order to go undercover… and even now, the Imperial Household still refused to acknowledge him, or to restore his good name.
“Moon, you eat enough meat to smell like a slaughterhouse,” Sgt Ishikawa roared.
“What do you know about it, Dice?” Sgt Tsukino said.
“Only what my nose tells me.”
“What are they saying now?” Durant asked, and then stood up abruptly, sending his chair clattering behind him. “Because if they’re trying to pick a fight…”
“Take it easy, Sarge,” Oleschenko said. “We’re supposed to be cooperating, remember.”
“Oh, and Sergeant Ishikawa doesn’t care for your singing,” Emily added.
Oleschenko glowered at her, and Durant tilted his head as he digested this new information.
“If he thinks he can do any better…” Durant growled, eyes fixed on Ishikawa, and then paused to consider his sentiment. “I seem to recall hearing singing at a bar around the corner on the way over here.”
Both sides stared at each other in cool silence, until Durant turned to Emily and made a face.
“Well, Sensei, are you gonna translate, or what?”
Karaoke bar is not needed,” Ishikawa said, in broken English, before Emily had finished relaying Durant’s challenge. “We can sing right here. Do you know El Paso by the magnificent Marty Robbins?” 

Sneak Preview, Ch. 2 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Book 6 of The Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter Two
Treasonous Whisperings
A Few Weeks Earlier
The drive up from the gate of the Soga Estate took a few minutes, giving Gyoshin Heiji time to reflect on the changing nature of fortune. Well over a thousand years ago, her ancestors broke the power Minoru Soga’s ancestors within the imperial court, and now the old man was willing to form an alliance with her family.
“How ironic,” she said, to no one in particular. “The Taika reforms undid them, and now they are much wealthier than us, who were only cheated of our influence during the Meiji reforms, barely yesterday.”
Of course, by that time scale, yesterday amounted to a century and a half. Exquisite gardens slipped by, tended by squads of men in pale green coveralls. The main house resembled a shrine from one point in the curving approach, but looked more like a castle as the car climbed the final slope. A man wearing gray gloves waited at the door, bowed to her from the waist, and ushered her into a lavishly furnished drawing room. Exquisitely carved wood panels decorated one wall, and a painted screen concealed a small writing table in a far corner. She smoothed out a wrinkle in her skirt, and wondered if her navy blue suit, the standard-issue business attire of a civil servant—albeit a relatively high-level one—really suited the occasion.
“Welcome, Heiji-san,” the old man said from across the room, walking stiffly with a cane. His daughter trailed behind, in a rather non-traditional, silk kimono, which, without an obi sash to bind it all together, resembled more a dressing gown than formal attire.
“I am honored by your invitation, Soga-san,” Gyoshin said, with a little bow that extorted more confusion from her than she’d anticipated. Should she bow to a vanquished enemy of her family, and if so, how low? She supposed he affected the cane in order to excuse himself from bowing as low as his ancestors would have been obliged to do a thousand years earlier. She shook her head and tried to put her grandfather’s preoccupations out of her mind. The Soga clan now held a controlling interest in one of the largest defense contractors, and was among the wealthiest families in Japan, and in her capacity as Industry Liaison for the Deputy Minister of Defense, she worked closely his daughter, who had taken the position of Vice President at Takenouchi Corporation.
“Gyoshin-san,” Jin Soga said. “Thank you for coming. We have much to discuss.”
“I will leave you two to talk. You must forgive an old man his hobbies,” Minoru said, and hobbled off into another room. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sneak Preview: Ch. 1 of GIRL RIDES THE WIND, Bk #6 of the Emily Kane Adventures

Chapter One
How did it come to this?
With the inflatable safely stowed among the rocks, and under the flotsam she’d used to conceal them from any planes, or satellites, during the two days they were still out on the open ocean, Emily Kane hauled Sergeant Durant across the beach and into the cover of the forest.
“Damn, you’re heavy, Mick. What the hell have you been eating?”
He groaned back at her, only semi-conscious, and able to help with one leg. Blood oozed from his hip and shoulder, and he winced when she adjusted her grip. Once she’d found him a comfortable spot in some underbrush, beneath a eucalyptus tree, she turned back.
“I don’t like the look of those clouds,” she said, over one shoulder, not expecting a response. “This may not be good enough shelter. I’m going back for the water and bandages, and then we can try to move again.”
“You should’ve left me there,” he croaked as she came within earshot again. “I’m just slowing you down. We both know what they’re after.”
“Are you questioning my command judgment, Sergeant… again?”
Durant nodded, and forced a smile.
“I’m gonna see what there is to eat in this jungle, before the rains come again,” she said. “Hang tight.”
“What’s that stench?” he cried, when she dumped her foraging onto the palm fronds she’d spread out for the purpose.
“That’s the durians. Don’t sniff at ’em. People pay top dollar for these.”
“And the red, hairy things?”
“Rambutans; they’re sweet inside… and I found a few mangoes the birds hadn’t gotten to yet. This place is full of stuff to eat. ”
“You’re quite the outdoorswoman, LT. Where’d you learn all this stuff?”
“My dad. He was always trying to teach me to live off the land.”
“A man after my own heart,” Durant said, with half a mango in his hand, watching Emily carve up one of the durians.
“You say that now, but wait until we’re eating bugs.” When Durant cringed, she said, “Yup, that was my childhood.” 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sneak Peak Short Story, a Preview of The New Series

New release by the Amaterasu Press, a first installment of the post-apocalyptic series, Taking Back Earth. It's available now only on Amazon, and free to Amazon Prime members through the Kindle Unlimited program. It's only ~10 pages long, which isn't much to get for $0.99 (which is the lowest price Amazon allows), so I recommend only getting it through the Kindle Unlimited program, since then it's effectively free to you.


In the jungles of a broken planet, Maia is still haunted by the people she's lost. She can't risk allowing Noah to get close to her... not the way things are. 

When the aliens came they destroyed everything and everyone in their path, and to defeat them, mankind had to make itself into something else... something fiercer, more violent... less human. Rebuilding the planet may require more than just hard work. It may depend on rediscovering what it is to be human. This is Maia's task. 


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Nick Russell's Big Lake free this week (10/6 - 10/10) on Amazon

My friend, Nick Russell's hard-boiled police-thriller Big Lake is free this week on Amazon.

He's a NY Times Bestselling author, and this is the first book in a 5-book series, all wonderful, gripping stories. I highly recommend them all!


When an armored car hijacking leaves two men dead, Arizona Sheriff Jim Weber takes the crime personally, because one of the dead men is his brother-in-law. His hunt for the killers leads him into a world of sordid sex, deceit, and violence, with a suspect list that includes jilted women, a family of anti-government survivalists, and the beautiful wife of the richest man in town. 

With a plot that has more twists and turns than an Arizona mountain road, a cast of characters you won’t soon forget, and a shocking ending that shakes the town of Big Lake to its very foundation, this first book in the Big Lake series will keep you turning pages to the very end!  

One reviewer has referred to the Big Lake mystery series as “Mayberry Meets Twin Peaks." It’s a combination of humor and intrigue that launched author Nick Russell’s first Big Lake book into Amazon’s 100 Top Paid Kindle books for over 78 days!