Sunday, February 23, 2014

Update on Book of The Emily Kane Adventures

I'm working on Book 5 of the Emily Kane series right now. The working title is Girl Takes The Oath. In this installment, Emily has taken Perry and Theo's advice and enrolled in the US Naval Academy. In her third year, she becomes the target of a conspiracy involving an ultra-rightwing party in Japan and militant nationalists in China. She learns that Princess Toshi--who she met at the end of Book 3--is in danger, and the Crown Princess, Masako, sends one of her samurai retainers to watch Emily's back. 

Emily is in her third year, and of course the usual baddies within the Academy (think Tom Brown's School Days) have decided they don't like her. They think they can torment her, but are caught in the jaws of much nastier folks than themselves. She offers advice and instruction to the Academy karate team, but the fact that she refuses to compete in tournaments with them raises a few hackles, but what else can she do, having encountered the nasty side of fighting too often to treat it as a game.

I'll be previewing the cover soon.

Look for Book 5: Girl Takes The Oath this summer in bookstores online and everywhere. 


  1. Any ETA? I just read the rest of the series in a frantic sleepless night!

  2. I am totally writing #5 in fits of sleepless nights! I expect to complete the draft in the next two weeks--then it's off to the editors, proofreaders and betas. If all goes well, it'll be out by the end of May, and if all goes even better, maybe sooner!

    I am having so much fun writing this one! I hope you have as much fun reading it.

  3. I thought that book 4 was very good, however I was just getting into the groove when it was finished!

    I am a little bit disappointed in that she's in her third year at the Naval Academy. I cut my teeth on military sci-fi coming of age stories where there is a more exposure to the whole academy introduction and military culture-change/shock. Since the Naval Academy was mentioned in book 1 I kept blazing through the stories to get to the part where she gets there.

    One thing that I thought would have been a natural step in the story line was having Connie teach Em some trade craft (spy stuff). I think there was a part where Connie wanted to repay Em for saving her life/sparing her life, and I thought "teach her trade craft so that she can better survive."

    I'm very glad that you had the back story on how shes good at being sneaky, and had primitive survival skills. Some authors (particularly in the YA genres) sort of gloss over how important training is and don't really explain how the character has skills that don't necessarily match their stereotypical character backgrounds(teenager). That said, I think that you kind of glossed over Em's proficiency riding motorcycles, as AFAIK her father asked her if she could ride and she told him she could figure it out, which she did very quickly. Also you had her get a new driver's license but not a Motorcycle license.

    I know this is essentially a martial arts series of books, and a lot of the genre conventions that martial arts movies have in regards to guns vs melee, however I think you could have extended the genre conventions to throwing knives vs guns at the climatic battle of book 3.

    Also, depending on you view, since she is going to in the military, you may want to explore firearms training with Em, maybe some Zen sharpshooting or something. For reference, if you want to keep the same kind of martial arts feel there is a Steven Segal video on that cop show where he is teaching another cop how to shoot betting and incorporating some martial arts philosophy. FYI firearms training is both easier and harder than what most people think it is.

  4. Thanks for the story ideas, Beau. They sound great. I'm already planning a "Connie" book, which will address some of your concerns about Emily's training. I totally agree with you about the importance of showing what training looks like, and a shooting montage could be wonderful. I can imagine scenes where they go hunting together, but it's really about sniper training and field stripping weapons, etc.

    "My Dad already showed me how to do this, Connie."
    "There's always something more to learn, kiddo."

    In #1-3, I mainly wanted to show how she becomes a sort of survivalist, since that's what her father is worried about--he thinks she may have to "go to ground" as they say in England, and that's more about her state of mind, than it is about whether she has learned about a specific gun. But, you're right, she does need to learn about everything, even take a professional soldier's view of her tools.

    I decided to finesse the motorcycle technicalities, for fear that the paperwork travails might have gotten tedious. But I assumed all along that she already knew how to ride. When her father wonders about it, and she asks about how to clutch, she's really just teasing him--and he deserves it for not having more confidence in her. And when he says "Oh, Lord" he's admitting it. Maybe I should have made that exchange more explicit. I always worry that I'm too ham-handed as a writer, but maybe that scene needs some more pork.

    I feel the same thing about #4--I enjoyed that one maybe more than all the others--though the climax of #3 may have been the most fun to write. I wrote #4 as a short story contribution to an anthology put together by some friends--they actually made me edit, by the end!--and I sort of punched through the word limits as it was. And after the anthology was out there, I realized that it gave me a way to go forward with her story. Now, in hindsight, I can see that it really could be a longer story, maybe even a full-length novel. As it happens, I have several Nepali students, who helped me with local color, naming characters and gang rivalries--Kathmandu changed so much after the fall of the monarchy that it's nothing like it was twenty years ago (sigh)--so I'll need to consult them more extensively now. The only problem is. I don't want to delay #5 & #6 to write it, since I really am in the groove for telling the Princess Toshi story. It's like triage at my place!

  5. I didn't really know how to take the motorcycle scene, because it could be taken both seriously and be taken as her teasing her father. I decided to take it more on the serious side because otherwise I would have figured there would have not been any doubt in her father's mind. I would have figured that some tactical driving with cars and motorcycles would have been covered in her training with her father since he is a chauffeur/bodyguard.

    I think in general having her think about past training with her father/Connie would be good to show how she could be so adept at alluding the bad guys.

    here is that Steven Seagal video clip I was talking about

    You said "as they say in England" So I'm guessing you're in the UK? I'm In the US in Maryland so if you want to bounce some ideas off of me via email your more than welcome. Just let me know what your email is and I'll contact you with mine.

    1. Hi, Beau. It's good to hear from you.

      My wife wishes we were in the UK, London to be specific. But I'm in Santa Fe, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, at ~7500 feet above sea level.

      When I wrote the motorcycle scene, I was thinking that George and Emily were reacting to the ordeal they had just endured. He is overprotective, and she's a little giddy--both common reactions to stress and violence. He reacts by doubting her, and she responds by teasing him. Of course, by the time she takes Wendy for a ride in the mountains, it's clear that she's a fully competent rider, though her skills may have developed in the intervening weeks.

      I'm still thinking about more training scenes as a result of your comments, and especially with firearms skills. Also, I just wrote two scenes in which Emily offers hand-to-hand training at the Academy. In the first case, it's part of a class, and she encounters a good deal of resistance and resentment. In the second case, it's a favor to her roommates, and the scene is played partly for comedy, but also becomes a vehicle for exploring her own spirituality, as well as recriminations for things she's had to do in the past.

      I'm having enormous fun writing this installment, mainly because it allows me to retrieve earlier narrative threads and characters. There are Chinese operatives hunting her, Japanese agents working on both sides, and FBI and DSS Agents investigating her. I may post an excerpt or two here in the next week or so.

  6. Hi, I have loved all 5 books and read all of them many times. I agree with everything written above. I would have liked to see more about her first 2 years at school including how she became such an important member of the 28th. I am looking for information about book 6 and a possible publish date. I cannot wait to find out what happens next in Em's world.

    1. Hi, Naomi.

      I'm glad you've enjoyed the books. I've been thinking about that same thing, and my wife also says I should write a sort of Naval Academy prequel. As it is, I think I have to finish Book 6 first, because I want to complete the Princess Toshi story line. There may be some reminiscences in that book about the first two years at the Academy. But the full treatment will have to wait a little longer.

      I discussed publication dates for Book 6 in my last newsletter, but the gist of it is that I think April is likely, though I'd like to have it out before Christmas. If it's at all possible to have it out earlier, I will do everything I can to make that happen. If you want to be on my mailing list, here's a link: