Category Archives: The Collective

Stories in the Rick Pine universe, home of The Collective

Freebies and Good Deeds

So there is a new bundle out there. Aliens Among Us. I’ve talked about it before, and want to circle back.

My first novel Imposters is in it. Right now, for as long as the bundle runs (couple more weeks), anyone who asks can get a free copy of the short story The Shipwrecked Mermaid, which is a prequel that helped me craft the universe.

You don’t need to read Mermaid to enjoy Imposters, but it gets way more fun when you understand where that Queen of Hearts coffee mug came from. And it helps me to remember that I want to write more stories set in that world, when I have time. And I will.

So forward this note to your friends. Or ping me and I’ll send you a book you can forward on to them. No purchase necessary. I won’t even add you to my mailing list, unless you ask.

You are signed up, right? And read it? I’m always amazed because I tend to give things away for people that read all the way to the bottom, but few people ever actually do. Their loss.

Better news: the charity Dean and Allyson have chosen for this bundle is Able Gamers.

From their website:


We give people with disabilities custom gaming setups including modified controllers and special assistive technology, like devices that let you play with your eyes, so they can have fun with their friends and family. We’re using the power of video games to bring people together, improving quality of life with recreation and rehabilitation.”

We’re Science Fiction fans. That means we tend to be gamers as well. Able Gamers helps make sure everyone gets to play.

So please do your part to help, get ten novels for a great price, and stop by to say hello. Or take this chance to introduce someone else to the fun of some of these great authors I’m in the bundle with.


Have I mentioned how awesome Matt is?

Some of you are probably already aware of this, but it might be news for others.  I have had a number of titles done as audio books available on

So far:

The Science Officer

The Mind Field (SO #2)

The Gilded Cage (SO #3) is now available

The Story Road

The Librarian

and The Collective novel: Imposters.

It is really kinda awesome to be able to reach out to a larger audience of folks, because not everyone who enjoys books is necessarily a reader. Two of my daughters like to fire up the headphones and listen to audio books as they jog/walk to work. Other people are the same way, happily listening on the bus or in the car.

I got amazingly lucky when I first stuck my toe into the water to try doing an audio book. And it got better when Matt decided that he really enjoyed my writing (and most especially Suvi). Matt apparently has a bunch of fans, so you should take a moment and go see what else he’s done. It will be worth your time.


On a related note: in case you missed it, Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) also has audio books available. Most of hers are through Book View Cafe, but she has also started working directly through Audible.

The Popcorn Thief (Franklin #1)

The Soul Thief (Franklin #2)

Paper Mage

Poisoned Pearls (Cassie #1)

Tained Waters (Cassie #2) isn’t an audio book yet, but will be soon. You can find it as a book on Amazon.

Raven And The Dancing Tiger (Shadow Wars #1)

The Guardian Hound (Shadow Wars #2)

War Among the Crocodiles (Shadows Wars #3) isn’t an audio book yet, but will be soon. You can find it as a book on Amazon.

The Clockwork Fairy Kingdom (Clockwork Fairy #1)

The Maker, The Teacher, and the Monster (Clockwork Fairy #2)

Siren’s Call

Zydeco Queen and the Creole Fairy Courts

Baker’s Dozen

If you don’t do audio books yourself, you should forward these links on to your friends that do. We all have friends like that. And, more importantly, these audiobooks represent an investment of time and energy for the folks who create them. They are able to make a living themselves by providing a service. None of these books makes them much money, like for the authors, but each of them is a stream of nickels coming in that gets them closer to the day when they can do this for a living instead of having a day job. (We are all trying to live the dream: writers, copy editors, artists, narrators. Seriously, for those of you old enough to understand the reference, do you really want to go back to the days of instant coffee?)




After waiting so long and staring at that cover sitting on my desk, probably mocking me, Imposters is finally available for sale at all the usual suspects.

A bit of backstory, for those of you not playing along at home: I wrote The Shipwrecked Mermaid for an anthology that came out this last spring (Tales From An Alien Campfire). When writerbrain decided to write something longer, it latched on to Rick Pine and went totally Thriller SF on me.

Both stories are in a new universe, not Alexandria Station, but The Collective. This one is filled with aliens of all flavors, mostly watching us and trying to decide if we are the most dangerous species in the galaxy, or if we might grow up and become good little galactic citizens. There are folks up there that would just as soon wipe us out and keep a perfectly nice planet as real estate to colonize.

One day, one of them goes bug nuts and starts killing humans, convinced he can make humanity a better place if he gets rid of all the criminal deviants. At that point, it’s a race against the clock to stop him, without the Seattle Police Department tumbling to what’s REALLY going on. (Only fools fight in a burning house, if you will.)

Fabulous Publisher Babe really likes the three voicey women in this one: Laurie, Bethany, and Eleanora. I think it turned out really cool. Total thriller pacing, meaning you’ll eat the damned thing like ice cream and hit the bottom of the bowl before you realize it. It is also short for a novel, clocking in around 45k words. (Auberon is 60k. Queen Of The Pirates will be 95k. Science Officer and Mind Field are both 24k for comparison.)

Haven’t figured out where to take the story next. Or rather, have been steadfastly refusing to listen to writerbrain’s suggestions. Got too many other things I owe you folks before I go haring off on other projects. Hopefully. Popcorn Kittens, and all that.

Hope y’all will enjoy it as much to read as I did to write.

Reminder that there’s a section in the middle where we get NC-17 for a few pages, so be prepared, if you bought it for your 13-year-old, to have them come ask some awkward questions. (Or not, if you’ve been doing your job up until now, then they’re just going to ask if it’s really like that, when things get to that point.) But it’s only one scene, only a few pages, and then we’re back to car chases, gun fights , and snark to the explosive ending.

Lemme know what you think.

shade and sweet water,


A Summer Of Fun

Those of you who have been playing along at home are aware that Auberon was the first step of what I plan to be a very busy summer. As of this week (I wasn’t exactly paying attention), Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) put the next piece of the puzzle on the interwebs.

Imposters is now available for pre-order on (so far) Kobo, Amazon, and iTunes.

Some background: Last summer, I was invited to participate in a closed anthology (by invitation only instead of taking submissions), edited by Irene Radford. The story I submitted was The Shipwrecked Mermaid. Last winter, I decided to write a novel (my first, by the way) and decided to write a sequel kind of story to Mermaid, picking up with Rick after he got out of prison and was working to make something useful and positive out of his life.

Unlike Auberon, which is pure military Science Fiction, Imposters if very much a modern/sci-fi thriller kind of story, an action piece on Earth in an entirely different universe, one populated by all manner of interesting alien beings hiding among us, studying us, watching.

More importantly, the material is a bit more, uhm, mature in parts. As in, there is a section in the middle, about five pages long, that is probably not appropriate for your thirteen year old to read.  Your sixteen year old probably knows these things, assuming you’ve been doing your job, but I want to make sure people know going in.

I’ve always said that most of what I write is appropriate for my own target audience, who will be fourteen this year, but that there will be exceptions from time to time. In the case of Rick and Laurie, we have one of the exceptions.

Here there be dragons…


After Imposters, the next major release will be The Story Road, starring Henri Baudin as the man who founded the Republic of Aquitaine, four centuries before Jessica Keller and Auberon. This is another Alexandria Station novella, clocking in at around 25k words, and is the first of an occasional set that will come along as I need them. Need? Yes, need.

The Story Road resulted from a conversation that takes place fairly late in Queen Of The Pirates, the second Jessica Keller novel (which has gone to the printer. YAY), between Jessica and Arnulf Rodriguez, the King Of The Pirates. Arnulf asks her about the Founding Legends of the Republic.

What is a Founding Legend?

In this country, George Washington is a Founding Legend. Ben Franklin, Man of Science. Lafayette. The Battle of Lexington. The Battle of Saratoga. The Battle of Yorktown. Ethan Allen and Green Mountain Boys. These all make up an arc of stories about a supposed rag-tag group of colonists taking on the most powerful empire in history. And beating them.

Henri Baudin will fill the role of George Washington, in this distant future of which I dream. He is a Bard, a musician, a traveler. He does not set out to change the course of human civilization, but kinda stumbles into it. He is helped along by Suvi, marking her return nearly a thousand years after The Librarian.

And yes, I was able to talk Matt Weight  into returning to do the audio book for The Story Road. It should come out at the same time that the ebook and print version do, in late June.


Finally, as I mentioned above, Queen Of The Pirates has gone to the printer. I am assured that it will be coming out the week before Sasquan (the world fantasy con in Spokane in August). I am hard at work on the third book in the initial Jessica Keller trilogy, Last Of The Immortals. (If you’ve been paying attention along the way, you know who the special guest star will be, based on the title alone.) This one will be coming out at the end of October, just in time for OryCon down in Portland, in early November.

Hope you are having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

shade and sweet water…


Are we alone?

So when you first set your butt in the chair and decide to write Science Fiction ™, this is one of the first questions you have to ask yourself. Are we alone?

In Fantasy, in almost all flavors, the answer is “duh, no.” because you have elves, and dragons, and unicorns, and lycanthropes, and vampires everywhere, even in Urban (modern) Fantasy. In horror, the bad guy is almost always something other than human.

But in Science Fiction, when you get out into space, you have to ask: Is there anyone out there to talk to? If there are no other intelligent species to encounter, why not? Are we unique? Or have the others come and gone and left no trace? (Jack McDevitt does an awesome job, by the way, exploring this topic with his Hutch novels.)

Or perhaps they have not made it up the technology ladder (yet) and are still at some “primitive” level. Thus, the Prime Directive.

But as humans work their way into space, you as the author have to decide what they find out there. If there are other people in space, why have we not encountered them yet?  Perhaps they have their own  Prime Directive that keeps them from letting us know until we’re ready? Thus, the Fermi Paradox.

A theory I share with a buddy of mine got incorporated into the universe of The Collective, containing The Shipwrecked Mermaid and Imposters (so far). They are out there, but consider mankind to be dangerous homicidal lunatics best kept isolated until their either destroy themselves or grow up, if the latter is possible. We are watched. Aliens walk (and swim) among us, but they keep a very low profile and keep everything as secret as possible. Both of the Rick Pine stories that I have written so far explore what happens to that theory when something goes terribly wrong.

At the other end of the spectrum, every day scientists find new theories of how strangely unique our homeworld planet it, compared to other systems we can study, which lends itself to the theory that organized life capable of technology is likely to be fairly rare. Recently, scientists noticed how many really big planets were extremely close to their parent star. Say, Jupiter at Mercury’s orbit. No smaller planets would survive a system like that, unless they ended up as moons of a brown dwarf like Jupiter. Their current theory is that Jupiter swept in at some point and smashed up all the (smaller) big worlds in close, leaving behind just a little rocky mass from which to form four small planets and the asteroid belt.

Similarly, we have a moon that is huge in comparison to the Earth (Charon and Pluto come to mind for a comparison). Etc. Etc. Etc.

So maybe we’re alone in space. Or there are only a few other places where the conditions will be ripe for a technological civilization to occur. And of those, only a few will manage to make it safely off of one planet before disease, bad luck, or atomic weaponry end them as a civilization and possibly as a species.

This is the basis for the Alexandria Station universe. (Science Officer, Mind Field, Librarian, Greater Than The Gods Intended, Auberon, Queen Of The Pirates, etc.) There is nobody else out there.

Eleven thousand years of exploring and humans have found no trace of others. Which is not so say nobody has ever come along. David Drake is an absolute master of throwing in something obviously older than mankind, tucked away in some place where his characters find it, but can’t really explore it, and then never quite remember to come back for it later. (I love finding those Easter eggs in his books.)

We’re only a little over 100,000 years old as a distinct species. On a rock 4,500,000,000 years old in a backwater corner of the galaxy. Maybe we just missed out on someone, only a million years ago, before they came and went. Life has been around on this planet for a very long time, what would it have been like then, if someone else had evolved into the apex species other than humanity?

Perhaps those aliens left us a message out there, as McDevitt likes to explore. Or a building. Or, possibly, the great evil weapon/tool/technology thingee that eventually destroyed them. Think of Fred Saberhagen’s Berserkers, for one example.

That’s what I love about Science Fiction. I can think big thoughts, and then wrap whole story worlds around them. I have Alexandria Station. I have The Collective. I have at least two other universes I want to play in, with their own sets of rules and aliens. (I just need copious amounts of spare time with which to write. Day jobs suck, bubba.)

Because nobody knows. I can’t be wrong. I just have to have an entertaining story in an interesting place. And I get to play. Because only I get to know the truth.

Free books giveaway and stuff

Good News!!!

Audible has given me promo codes to use for free audio book downloads of The Science Officer, The Mind Field, and The Librarian. At the same time, I also have promo codes from iTunes for e-book copies of all three that I can also use for a giveaway.

After consulting with my publisher, the plan is to give away five sets of codes, and let people pick which they would like. Translation: five people will get all three titles, your choice as to which format you prefer when you win.

Because I’m trying to build my newsletter list, I’m going to make you sign up for it to be eligible. (No, the usual things apply: quarterly newsletters only, the list is private, not to be sold later, might be used for more giveaways in the future, etc.) Everyone who signs up for the newsletter after this blog posts will be enrolled in the contest.

And, to make it easier on me, please send me a contact message indicating that you signed up because of this note and if you prefer audio book or iTunes e-book. If you are already signed up for the newsletter, just send the contact message and I’ll add you to the scientifically-chosen hat I pick winners from. There will only be five winners total, so whatever combination is picked will be sent out, and I will notify winners privately via email.

It is my understanding that the audio-book codes do not expire, but the iTunes ones will go stale after four weeks, so winners will need to use them fairly quickly, or I would say they make good birthday presents (who wants to wait for Christmas, anyway?) (If you really want to use them later, include that in the message and I’ll make sure I actually read your letter before generating iTunes codes.)

And this would be a good time for you, my lovely readers, to speak up. I’ll have more codes in the future for other things, so I can do more interesting giveaways for readers. I might swap promo codes for reviews on various sites. (Just so you know, the number of reviews, by themselves, are a key driver of my visibility on the online stores. Actual rating is a second value, but hopefully I’m writing things you like and would like to see more of, and that’s why you are here and engaged with me.)

Other online book stores besides the big one in Seattle are trying to compete, so they are aggressive in courting authors. I’m happy to pass freebie-things along, but have no idea who wants or needs what. Or what might make readers more likely to be happy and involved. Remember, readers like you are why I’m here. I was just another person stuffing stories into a trunk before the new world of publishing happened.

What would be that thing I might do that would make you do the total-happy-dance?

I am currently planning to publish several more short stories, novellas, and  novels this year (Auberon on May 5, Imposters in late June, more later in the year), so there will be more free swag. And there will be book giveaways on Goodreads coming in April for Auberon, as well, for those people who follow me over there. (hint hint. It is more of a reader-driven site than writer driven, but you can also ask me questions over there and I try to listen to what people say.)

Which brings me to the next bit of news.  Since Auberon is coming out on May 5 (five weeks from now), Awesome Publishing Babe(tm) is going to have a small Release Party for it and for me on Saturday, May 9th. The plan is to have it at the Cupcake Royale on Capital Hill, here in Seattle. People close enough to call this “in the neighborhood” are invited to join us. There will be cupcakes and ice cream and who knows what else.  More info to follow, once she nails it all down and tells me.

I would love to see everyone and meet anyone else who happens to be in the range of my voice. I will also remind everyone again between now and then, on the newsletter scheduled for May 1, and a few social media sites I frequent. Feel free to pass along the news.

Hope all that news helps. I have been a little quiet on the publishing front lately, but that’s because I have a half-dozen or so things that are going to drop before July, plus more fun before WorldCon in August and Orycon in November. (If you’re going to be at either, I look forward to seeing/meeting you there.)




The Shipwrecked Mermaid

Yay, I have a new story coming out.

For those of you paying attention at home, I have written elsewhere about CampCon, the annual summer camping/writing weekend in central Oregon. Last year was my first visit (I’ll be back this year, hopefully).

There were about a dozen writers there, all furiously heads-down generating new stuff. During the weekend, Phyl suggested that we should do an anthology on a theme. Considering the circumstances, the consensus was that everyone would do a science-fictiony kind of story related to camping and wilderness. As I have also mentioned elsewhere, my first two stories were fun and turned out well, but didn’t fit the category. (First attempt turned into Valeriya, which led directly to Tatiyana. Second attempt became The Librarian.)

After a fit of silliness and creativity, I ended up writing a story in a whole new universe. The result is The Shipwrecked Mermaid. It’s a story about an alien scientist, a mermaid, who gets trapped inland by a tsunami and needs help to survive and escape. I’m rather proud of it, and I think it turned out pretty good (IMHO).

I liked this story so much that I took the main character, a convict/chef named Rick Pine, and wrote what will turn into my second novel (due out this summer), called Imposters. (More information about Rick, Imposters, and The Collective when we get closer.)

Back to the Anthology.

Irene Radford is the editor. She is an absolutely wonderful lady and I highly recommend her to anyone who loves fantasy and SF. Because Leah is so well organized on the topic, Ms. Radford asked Knotted Road Press to handle publishing it. All told, there are about a dozen authors represented, and we cover science fiction, fantasy, serious, and silly. Sometimes, all in the same story.

The result is Tales From An Alien Campfire. It will be officially published on Tuesday, but it is already available now here. And apparently already has reviews, but that might be because at least one of Dr. Amy’s friends has already ordered it.