Sunday, April 30, 2017

Z is for Zito #AtoZChallenge

Z is for Zito, from the Viridian System

In a Nutshell: He is one of very few big cheeses in the Viridian System, and part of the organising group (aka Council) on Pleasant Valley.  Basically the six most powerful/rich people get together whenever anything looks like causing trouble that would threaten their own interests.

Biggest secret: where he originally came from. Nobody knows, and he claims to have forgotten: “Most people have changed their identity at least once, so if you know you don’t know, you don’t have to remember a lie.”

Favourite line:  “I can get hold of anything for you except space hardware, and if you want that, I’ll introduce you to someone."

The Viridian System series will be resumed next year:
Book 1 - The Perihelix (an interview with the author about this is here).
Book 2 - Curved Space to Corsair
Book 3 - Zanzibar’s Rings
Sign up for the newsletter for the Viridian System series here.

Check out the Viridian System Sampler - second edition (and update your copy if you bought the first) 


And...We made it! Congratulations on surviving another A to Z Challenge, whether you were blogging or "just" reading (which might be the toughest job of all). Thanks to everyone who has visited and left comments. I appreciate the support.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y is for Yance Milgim of Skunk Corners #AtoZChallenge

Y is for Yance Milgrim of Skunk Corners

In a nutshell: Yance is no kind of student, but he and his twin brother Hank provide Big Al with a different kind of educational challenge.
Biggest secret: He's really smart. He just isn't good at book-learning, unless he can see what it's used for.
Favorite Line: "We'll have to dig like anything to make your tiger pit in one day."

Yance and his twin Hank are in the Skunk Corners school from the beginning, but they move into more important positions in the stories and the town in books 2 and 3. You'll have to read all the way to The Problem With Peggy to learn why they're digging a tiger pit!

The series is The Ninja Librarian, with three books, suitable for ages 8 or 9 and up (way up--adults love the books too!).
The Ninja Librarian is a humorous set of tall tales set in the highly fictional gold-country town of Skunk Corners.  It’s the story of a dusty, tough, unfriendly town that gets a new outlook on life thanks to the advent of the Ninja Librarian—a mild-mannered librarian who offers his wisdom...with a little extra when folks don’t listen.
Amazon Kindle ebook  
Barnes & Noble (Nook or paper)  
When Big Al wakes up one morning and finds the Ninja Librarian has left town, everything seems to go wrong.  And just about the time she’s thinking maybe the town can cope after all, he comes back.  After that, it’s business as usual in Skunk Corners: bad guys, irritated skunks, and crises big and small that require the Librarian’s unique brand of outside-the-box thinking and direct action.
Barnes & Noble paper

Amazon (Kindle)
Smashwords (all ebook formats)
The Ninja Librarian’s back in town, school’s out, and all’s right with the world…or is it? Big Al may be looking forward to spending her time swimming in the creek and wandering the hills, but Peggy’s looking forward to a life of drudgery. If Al can’t find a way to sway her pa, the brightest kid in Skunk Corners is going to take drastic action. With a mystery from the past haunting one of the houses and creating the biggest threat yet to the town, Big Al’s going to be kept busy this summer, and not just with practicing her moves for the Ninja Librarian!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Xavier Xanthum, Space Explorer #AtoZChallenge


X is for Xavier Xanthum, Space Explorer  

In a nutshell: Possibly the most luckless space explorer ever, Xavier specializes in getting into scrapes, and counts on Larry, his ship's computer, to get him out of them.
Biggest Secret: Most of the time, he thinks of Larry as human.

No quote, because you get a whole story! Xavier was invented several years ago to allow me to write a flash fiction for the A to Z Challenge, and he's hung around, with an ever-growing collection of tales of his adventures (see list under Short Stories, above). Today he takes another dive into a voyage of dubious desirability.
I also have a late-breaking reminder that this is #Flashback Friday. I'll consider this a flashback, even though it's a new story, because using Xavier for X is a bit of recycling!

Xavier Xanthum and the X-Galaxy Error

Xavier Xanthum, Space Explorer, leaned back in his command chair and closed his eyes. He had just finished his greatest triumph to date over Larry, the AI who thought he ran the Wanderlust.

Larry thinks he knows so much, but I still have the navigational skills to plan a route better than any he proposed! Xavier savored his triumph.

This trip would prove, once and for all, that a human was better than a machine. Larry had laid out a course to Gamelon X, his best effort, but Xavier had found a way that would save two days, making use of a tight passage between two planets. Xavier’s time wasn’t worth much—he didn’t have anything to hurry for—but two days worth of food and fuel was money not spent. Rather, it was food and fuel he could use exploring, in hopes of finding something that would bring in enough cash to buy more supplies and head back out.

Xavier took a minute to savor his triumph, relaxing in his chair with a smile on his face. When he opened his eyes, a pair of disembodied eyeballs hovered in midair in front of him.

“What is it, Larry?” Xavier knew he sounded smug. He had a right to. Larry was just an AI. It wouldn’t even hurt his feelings, because an AI couldn’t have feelings. Xavier closed his eyes again.

“You changed my route, Captain.” The artificial voice sounded hurt. That wasn’t possible.

Xavier opened his eyes enough to squint at the eyeballs again. It was never good when Larry called him “Captain.” Was the AI trying to imply there was something wrong with his calculations?

“I found a way to save us two days.” Xavier sounded defensive even to himself.

“I think that might not be advisable, Captain.”

There he went with the “captain” again. “Oh, yeah? Two days, Larry. That’s a lot of credits worth of fuel. Credits I might spend on some new peripherals for you.” Xavier dangled the suggestion like a bribe.

“Only if we arrive.”

Xavier stiffened. “My calculations are good. Admit it: my human mind can see things your AI can’t.”

Larry was silent a moment, as though he needed time to think out his response. “Very well, Captain. We will take your route.”

“See? Hey, maybe you can learn to be human after all! It takes humanity to admit to making a mistake, right?” That silenced Larry. Xavier knew the AI was trying to be human, though Xavier wasn’t quite sure why. The infinite confidence of the computer seemed a pretty good deal to him.

“Yes,” Larry said eventually. “To err is human.”

Later, Xavier would remember that response as more ambiguous than he heard at the time.

Two days later, Xavier’s route began to fall apart. It wasn’t his fault, of courses. How could he have known that a Vargian fleet was holding maneuvers in what should have been empty space between the twin planets? The Vargians weren’t—currently—at war with the Post-Earth Federation, but that could change. In any case, they were never very friendly to Independents, and Wanderlust was registered as a free-lance explorer. Unfortunately, the space between the planets was narrow, and now it was crowded with Vargians. Xavier and Larry were in agreement that they didn’t want to get too close to the fleet.

Besides, the Vargians were using live ammo in their maneuvers.

Xavier re-routed around the far side of Varga B. He might have asked Larry to do it, but the AI claimed he was experiencing issues and needed to do some self-analysis and repairs. Xavier suspected he was sulking.

“Well, that will cost us one day, but I’m still a day ahead of your plan,” Xavier pointed out.

Larry said nothing.

A day later, Xavier was sweating bullets, his backside welded to the nav chair. Where in the cosmos had that festering asteroid shower come from? Lucky for him he’d recognized the danger in time, but now he had to run the ship manually while he worked his way back out of the danger. There was no question of either turning control over to Larry or of shutting him out. It took both of them to handle a crisis like this.

Xavier handled the controls, dodging the space-debris that Larry scoped for him. They were a good team, and had done it often enough to have it down to an art. The Wanderlust came through without a scratch.

When they were clear, some twenty hours later, Xavier fixed his sleep-deprived gaze on the fuel levels. They’d make it, but it was clear that the fuel he’d expected to save by his better route was long gone. Disgusted, he pushed himself out of the chair.

“Larry? Set a course and get us to Gamelon X. I’m going to bed.”

“Very good, Xavier.”

So Larry had dropped the “captain” bit. That meant Larry figured he’d won. Well, let him. Xavier strapped himself into his bunk and instantly fell asleep.

He woke up when the first signal came in from the spaceport. Unstrapping, he pushed himself over to the com unit, to run through the formalities for an unscheduled approach. How long had he been out, anyway? He’d have guessed it would take another 17 hours to reach Gamelon X.

“What the devil, Larry?”

“Is there a problem, Xavier?” Larry even managed to infuse a sort of innocence into his tone, a feat that as far as Xavier knew, none of the other AI could manage. The logs showed he’d only been asleep 12 hours, and fuel levels were much better than he’d expected.

“No. No problem. Just a little surprised how quickly we made it here.”

“I found a faster way, and saved a bit of fuel in the bargain. I do hope that was the correct decision?”

Xavier didn’t bother answering. Larry didn’t wait for him.

“Might I respectfully suggest that it is as we agreed…to err is human?”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

W is for Willoughby the Narrator #AtoZChallenge

W is for Willoughby

Who? Willoughby the Narrator!

I'm diverging from my format for a review and a launch-day party, because Jemima Pett's new book is out today! But it's all about Willoughby, so we're sticking with a W character.

Title: Willoughby the Narrator (Princelings of the East, Book 7)
Author: Jemima Pett
Publication info: Princelings Press, 2017. 180 pages.
Source: I cannot say I'm wholly unbiased; I was a proof-reader on this one :) The copy I read was an advance pre-publication proof.

Just where did Willoughby, who first appeared in the Talent Seekers (book 5), learn his ninja skills? How did he come to be a Narrator?  And what happened after he fell from the high tower at Castle Deeping?  Discover Willoughby’s origins, his big secret, and follow his adventures as he travels around, telling stories and acting as an undercover agent for the rich and powerful, as dark deeds start causing big trouble between the rival castles.

As might be expected from a Narrator, Willoughby tells his story with style and panache, starting with his somewhat surprising arrival in the Realms.

Lovers of the series will enjoy this latest tale, but newcomers may find it easier to start with book 1 or book 5. It’s a mystery adventure in a world not quite like ours, suitable for age 11 and upwards.

My Review:
I'll start right off by seconding the publisher's recommendation that new readers not start with this book. In fact, I'll suggest right now that you run out and get books 1-6 of the Princelings series, because things will make more sense that way. Besides, you'll get the fun of being in the know on things that Willoughby is having to figure out the hard way! Not to mention getting to read six really good, fun books.

One highly enjoyable aspect of this book (besides getting the other side of stories from the other books) is Willoughby's "narrations," the stories he tells at some of the castle Narrathons (story-telling entertainments; this is a world without movies or TV). Alert readers will recognize some of the tales, but he has his own take on even the most traditional stories, well suited to the Realms and often with a little different worldview than the originals. I especially love how Willoughby rewrites "The Princess and the Pea."

This book is a bigger and broader tale than the preceding books, and spans the whole time of the series to date, bringing together a lot of threads that might not seem like they are related when you are reading the other books. At times it's a bit cryptic--Willoughby has a limited perspective, and he doesn't know everything that's going on. Sometimes the reader can enjoy knowing what he doesn't, and other times we got a little frustrated with not quite being able to see the whole picture. But that works out right in the end, as much becomes clear that wasn't, and Willoughby moves into position to be (I hope) a bigger player in the final books of the series.

Ms. Pett's writing style is, as always, highly enjoyable and suited for both children and adults. There is no sense of her "writing down" to children, but the story is accessible and there is nothing objectionable for children from about 10 or 11 up. There is some death and a plague, as well as political intrigue, so it may not be suited to younger children, but young readers will appreciate that Willoughby enters the story as a young person trying to find his way in the world.

As I said above, go buy books 1-6 if you haven't already! Read those, and then dive into the backside of many of those stories. Willoughby is striving--and doing a good job of it--to look at all sides of problems, and promoting fairness and equality in the Realms. His example is worth following!

Purchase Links

iTunes ** B&N ** Kobo
Smashwords ** ** **

About the Author

Jemima wrote her first book when she was eight years old. She was heavily into world-building, drawing maps, building railway timetables, and dreaming of being a champion show-jumper, until schoolwork got in the way and she went down the science path, writing research papers, manuals and reports, as well as editing the newsletters for her sports clubs. Forty years on she started writing stories about her guinea pigs and their adventures in a fantasy world where everything ran on strawberry juice. Eventually the Princelings of the East took shape, originally intended as a trilogy, but the characters just wouldn’t lie down.  The planned ending will now be with book ten.
Meanwhile, Jemima continues to enjoy the company of new guinea pigs in her home in Norfolk, UK. Only Kevin is left of the ones in the stories to date, and he runs their blog ‘George’s Guinea Pig World‘. Check out their posts for the A to Z Challenge, too!

Contact Jemima Pett:  Blog ** Amazon ** Goodreads ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Pinterest ** Smashwords

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V is for Victor #AtoZChallenge


V is for Victor, of the Princelings of the East

In a Nutshell: He runs the Inn of the Seventh Happiness at a major crossroads, but Victor does manage to find some adventures in unexpected places. He's quite a business guru, with an education in business administration, thanks to Lady Nimrod.
Biggest Secret: Why his dad disappeared for the better part of a year.
Favourite line: "When you're busy working on one thing, another part of your brain works away at some other problem."


It’s now 2015.  Victor has grown up, but in spite of his ambitions to be a business guru, he’s still running the Inn of the Seventh Happiness in his spare time.  Fate takes a hand when he visits King Fred of Castle Marsh and is whisked off on a mission to help Sundance and his beautiful accomplice unmask a criminal, and investigate why George has not returned home after his visit to a flying festival. He narrates the particulars of his travels in the Rhinelands, and his quandary when he meets an old friend from a different timeline… Bravo Victor contains a handy chronology of key events in the series to date, as well as a cast of characters.  It’s suitable for budding inventors, politicians, business leaders, entrepreneurs, smugglers and barkeepers!  

Buy Bravo Victor

   at Amazon
   at Smashwords (all formats)
   at B&N for Nook
   on the iBookstore for your iPad
Buy the paperback at and BookDepository 

My review of Bravo Victor is here.
See also this excellent review by children's book writer M. G. King.

Hang in there, A to Zedders! The end is in sight. How are you doing? Are you keeping up with posting? With commenting? I've only been late with one post so far, but can't deny that visiting and commenting have been a little slack.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

U is for the Unnamed Characters #AtoZChallenge

U is for all the Unnamed Characters

Am I cheating? Probably. But Uriah Heep isn't one of my characters, so I'm going to pay homage to the minor characters who don't always even get a name. You've seen them in the movie credits: "Cashier at the 7-Eleven" or "Old Man on Mobility Scooter." They aren't key players, but in books even more than in movies, they may matter.

In The Ninja Librarian, in the chapter, "The Ninja Librarian Takes on a Baby," an old woman appears to provide the key to the appearance of an unattached infant on the library steps. She gives a name to the baby's mother, but has no name herself. She has a personality--one that makes a notorious bully back up--but doesn't stick around to introduce herself.

In Halitor the Hero, Halitor's own parents have no names. Of course, they don't appear in person, but because he is the only character to speak of them, they are merely Ma and Da. On reflection, parents are always in danger of being left nameless. In the Ninja Librarian books, Big Al's father is named only in the final chapters of the final book, and her mother never gets a name. But all these unnamed parents, though not appearing directly in the books, have a key role to play in the formation of the central characters!

So here's a shout-out to the characters with no names. Stick around long enough, and you might get one.

And here's a question for my readers: do you think it's important that characters always get named?

Following the suggestion of fellow blogger and amazing author Jemima Pett, I'm doing a very simple A to Z with characters from my writing and the books of my author friends! I'm just posting a brief profile, sometimes a quote, and the book cover with links. Though you may also see some of my typical reviews (when I feature other peoples’ books) and the usual Friday Flash Fiction.

Monday, April 24, 2017

#AtoZChallenge #TisFor ...Tess Noreen #Fin50

T is for Tess Noreen

In a Nutshell: Tess Noreen is the proprietor of Two-Timin' Tess's Tavern, located in Skunk Corners next door to the bank. She serves food, drink, and a large helping of help to those who need it the worst.
Biggest Secret: Who she's been kissing on the sly.
Favorite Line: "You leave that to me." Often said with a wicked smile.
Since today is also Fiction in 50 day, where we use a prompt from Bruce the Bookshelf Gargoyle to construct a bit of fiction in 50 words. I made mine a little more of a bio of Tess, in keeping with my A to Z project.

Born to Take Care

I attract strays. Everyone says so, and I reckon they’re right. All these folks in Skunk Corners who need just a little help, and how could I not reach out a hand? It’s the curse—or the blessing—I was born with, that I will try to save them all.

The series is The Ninja Librarian, with three books, suitable for ages 8 or 9 and up (way up--adults love the books too!). And while the narrator is Big Al, there is no question that the star is the Ninja Librarian himself. A mysterious character, he has only a single name--Tom--and has never told Al much of anything about himself, though bits leak through--everyone knows he grew up in the city--some city--and doesn't know country stuff very well. He's quick study, though, and can think of things no one else would dream of. Then he turns around and gets others to think as creatively.
Tess is an important character in all three books, but like Peggy, she really comes into her own in Book 3.
The Ninja Librarian’s back in town, school’s out, and all’s right with the world…or is it? Big Al may be looking forward to spending her time swimming in the creek and wandering the hills, but Peggy’s looking forward to a life of drudgery. If Al can’t find a way to sway her pa, the brightest kid in Skunk Corners is going to take drastic action. With a mystery from the past haunting one of the houses and creating the biggest threat yet to the town, Big Al’s going to be kept busy this summer, and not just with practicing her moves for the Ninja Librarian!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

S is for Simon Sharp #AtoZChallenge

S is for Simon Sharp, of The Camelot Kids by Ben Zackheim

In a nutshell: Simon is a stubborn, independent, resourceful kid -- mostly because his luck runs the gamut. His best days can end up as his worst days. And his closest friends can be his greatest enemies.

His biggest secret is that he's the reincarnation of a Knight of the Round Table.

Favorite line: "How many more surprises does Merlin plan to pull out of his beard?"

I reviewed this one recently, and found it a highly enjoyable read.


 Learn more about Ben and his books on his web page.

Friday, April 21, 2017

R is for Ron Karlson #AtoZChallenge

R is for Ron Karlson of Pismawallops Island

In a nutshell: Ron is chief of police on Pismawallops Island, which means he's pretty much the Law in the Pismawallops PTA mysteries.
Biggest secret: Okay, this is really the worst-kept secret: Ron is madly in love with series narrator JJ MacGregor. And he's stopped keeping it secret.

Since this is Friday, i.e., Flash Fiction day, Ron gets his own story today, not merely a favorite quote.

In the Line of Duty

When his radio disturbed him, Ron Karlson was sitting in his police cruiser staring out to sea and thinking.

“Chief? You out there?” The Pismawallops Island police force, having precisely 2.5 officers, could be informal.

He reached for the handset. “Karlson here.”

“Homer’s lost his car again.” The dispatcher sounded like she was rolling her eyes.

Homer Roller. The biggest disaster ever to grace a cop car. He had a tendency to leave the car in odd places, forget where he’d parked, and hit the panic button, sure the car had been stolen. So far, it hadn’t been, but there was a first time for everything. Ron put the cruiser in gear and backed out of the overlook, not entirely sorry to leave his thoughts.

He picked up the deputy on the side of the road near old Mrs. Halsey’s place.

“Where did you leave it this time?” Ron asked, trying and failing to be patient.

“Right here. Honest, chief. I parked here, and was investigating a disturbance in the woods over there,” he gestured at the opposite side of the road from the ancient farmhouse where Mrs. Halsey refused to be removed. “There were some kids building a treehouse. I was my duty to ensure they weren’t trespassing.” Homer memorized a lot of his dialog in advance.

“Were they?” Ron pretended an interest.

“Naw. They said it was their old man’s property.”

Ron wondered if that were true, but didn’t press. He didn’t really want to know.

“And I came back here, and the car was gone. That’s all I know!”

“You left the keys in it?”

Homer kept his eyes on the floormat. “Yeah.”

Ron sighed. “So anyone could have taken it. Including one of those kids.”

“I don’t think so. They were little kids. Unless,” Homer conceded, “they had an older brother hiding somewhere. I didn’t hear any cars on the road,” he added before Ron could ask.

Ron drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, thinking. He knew what JJ would say about what he was about to do, but she’d lost the right to nag since she wasn’t talking to him. “We need to go ask Mrs. Halsey about this. She might have seen something.”

Homer turned pale. “The crazy lady? No way!”

“She’s not crazy. She’s old.” And suffering from dementia, which Ron knew very well was next door to crazy, at least by Homer’s standards. Ron wasn’t totally happy going in there himself. Mrs. Halsey had shot at him in the past. “I confiscated her shotgun last spring, so it should be safe.”

Homer sunk low in the seat as his boss drove them into the old woman’s yard.

“Huh. She’s not on the porch. Wonder where…” Ron had a sudden idea where the woman was, and he didn’t like it. They had to be sure, though, so he unbuckled and got out. He couldn’t help it; he twitched a little as he approached the front porch, but no one shot him, even after he hammered on the door.  He turned back to the car, where Homer continued to cower. “I’m going in—welfare check.”

“I’ve got you covered,” Homer quavered.

They needn’t have worried. No one was in the house. His suspicions confirmed, Ron went back out to the car. “I think I know who has your car,” he told Homer.

It took the deputy a minute, but he got it eventually. “Mrs. Halsey?!” His voice broke a little. “She can keep it!”

“No, she can’t,” Ron said, not that either of them needed telling. “She doesn’t have a license anymore.” Which was the least of it. He reached for the radio. “Tacy, we have a problem.”

They eventually found the car—and Mrs. Halsey—at the overlook. There were sometimes teens there necking, but they would have fled, not from the police car, but from Mrs. Halsey. She was in the car, grinning and playing with the lights and siren. Ron was happy to see that she hadn’t figured out how to remove the gun from its locked rack.

Even so, he approached with some caution. “Mrs. Halsey?” he called from a few feet away. She turned to greet him, still smiling. The car had made her happy, which made his task both harder and easier.

“It’s time to let Homer have his car back, Mrs. Halsey,” he said. “I’ll give you a ride home.”

The smile left her face. “I found this car. It’s mine.”

“No, it’s not. That’s not how it works. You know that.”

Her face fell. “I like it.” She showed no signs of moving.

Cursing the woman’s family, who dealt with her increasing dementia by staying as far away as they could, Ron tried another tack. “Come on with me, and you can run the lights and siren on my car, without the trouble of driving.” Creating a minor disturbance on the sparsely inhabited roads between the overlook and the Halsey home was a minor price to pay to get her out of the car.

“I like to drive.”

“Well, yes, but you know, it’s getting dark, and you don’t see so well in the dark. Better to let me drive and you have fun. Besides, the deputy needs the car. His mother’s expecting him home for dinner.”

“Fool kids,” the old woman muttered. Ron wasn’t sure to whom she referred—him, Homer, Homer’s mother, or all of them—but it didn’t matter. She climbed slowly out of the car, and followed him back to his cruiser.

Homer, seeing them coming, bolted. He was in his own car with the doors locked before Ron had helped Mrs. Halsey into the passenger seat. He made sure her seat belt was fastened.

Siren blaring, lights flashing, they headed back to the Halsey home.

The only thing the old woman said the whole way was, “Faster!”

Ron sighed. He liked happy endings.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2017
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

What do you serve when all you have in the freezer is an ice-cold corpse? 

Amazon as Paperback or Kindle.
Smashwords (all ebook formats) 
Barnes and Noble for Nook or paper 
Kobo Store 
Paperbacks also in the Createspace Store! 
Nothing like a corpse to add a little je ne sais quoi to the Senior Prom.
Paperback and Nook from Barnes & Noble
Ebooks from Kobo
Find it at iBooks
Or purchase paperbacks from the Createspace store

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Q is for Queen Kira #AtoZChallenge

Q is for Queen Kira of Castle Marsh

In a nutshell: Queen Kira of Castle Marsh (formerly Princess Kira of Chateau Dimerie); elegant, steady, determined and feisty princess who uses her logical brain as well as her emotional intelligence.  She is the rock on which Castle Marsh’s king (Fred) bases all his good work.  And she’s really nice with it!
Biggest secret: She knows Fred’s brother, Prince Engineer George, loves her too.  There’s nothing so sad as a gentle soul suffering from unrequited love.

First discovered in the Princelings and the Pirates, when Fred saves her from being held hostage by the pirate king.  She then has a heart-rending adventure in Princelings and the Lost City, when the victim of kidnap (yet again), but brings her influence to bear on her captors to get them to change.

Excerpt from The Princelings and the Lost City: 

[Princess Kira has been kidnapped by the Queen of Arbor, and now kidnapped again by some rebels causing Arbor trouble]

Princess Kira sat in the entrance to the cave, thinking.  Rosebud and Maisy were sitting a little behind her, chatting quietly together.  They seem to have got over their initial shock and were reliving the day’s events so far, starting with the concert.

Kira’s main thoughts at present were that she knew enough about Arbor’s problems to persuade someone like Lady Nimrod to help solve them.  She also recognised that she didn’t have a complete picture of the situation, and she still didn’t know what Jess’s mission was, or what would happen to her if Jess failed.

What mission would I send Jess on if I were queen of Arbor, she thought.  Why would I need to impersonate a princess in order to carry out the mission?

The main benefits of impersonating a princess, she decided, were to gain access to people that princess knew, and to be able to move around the circles of power in the way that princess did.  So no one would think it in any way peculiar if Princess Kira wanted to visit … whom for help?  Nimrod of course.  She recalled what the Queen had said about her particular attributes.  Access to Lady Nimrod was surely a major benefit of having captured her, rather than another princess, although Lady Nimrod was extraordinarily well travelled and it might be she knew most princesses.  Remembering what Lupin and Fred had said about the princesses whom Lupin had entertained in the process of selecting a bride, it sounded highly likely that Lady Nimrod knew absolutely everyone, Kira thought with a grin.

So if Jess was off to see Lady Nimrod at Buckmore, when would she get there? Well, if Fred stayed at Marsh as long as he had been planning it would be weeks yet, and in any case she would have to persuade him to take her back to Buckmore instead of going straight to Dimerie.  Or she could cut short her trip to Marsh and say she needed to get to Dimerie then go to Buckmore from there, Kira thought.  Probably a better idea.  It would also depend on the opportunities that arose, though.  But it did mean that it was probably at least a week to go till Jess got to speak to Nimrod.  Kira looked out at the young males in the clearing below and the guard dozing in the sunshine.  The girls behind her had also stopped chatting, and were dozing as well.  Well, it was siesta time in Arbor, thought Kira, and the flies did buzz rather soporifically.

Kira spent a few more seconds planning.  She knew the way they had come into the forest from Arbor.  She knew the way from Arbor to the clearing at the end of the tunnel to Seventh Happiness.  She had spotted another track leading off to the west as they had come into the Huguenots’ clearing.  Should she go back the way she had come or trust to luck and take a more direct route back towards Buckmore?  She thought about the distances involved, and decided to do something unexpected.
She slipped out of the cave, avoided the sleeping guard, skirted the clearing, and headed off on the path going west.  She was hidden from the view of the other Huguenots within seconds.

Buy The Princelings and the Lost City

   at AmazonUK
   at Barnes & Noble for Nook
   on the Apple iBookstore
   at Kobo
   and of course in all formats at Smashwords
   links from GoodreadsIAN and Kindleboards
Buy the paperback at or BookDepository or order at your local store

Thanks, Jemima, for sending Queen Kira along to rescue my "Q" day! And here's my 2013 review of Lost City.

I'm doing a very simple A to Z with characters from my writing and the books of my author friends--and Jemima Pett gets the credit for the idea! I'm just posting a brief profile, sometimes a quote, and the book cover with links. Though you may also see some of my typical reviews (when I feature other peoples’ books) and the usual Friday Flash Fiction.