Snippet of April 7 – rough/unedited

Chapter 2
April’s com signaled a priority message. She only had a dozen people on that list. It was Jeff Singh.
“Lunch in the cafeteria in twenty minutes? And some show and tell?” he offered.
April looked at the time in the corner of her screen, 1124, that would get them in just ahead of the mid-day rush. “Yes, don’t be late or there will be a line,” she told him. She realized she hadn’t had her second cup of coffee and poured it in a thermal mug for Jeff.
Jeff wasn’t late, rather he was a few minutes early when he came in the door, carrying a portfolio, and found April waiting for him. There was a line but it was short and moving along.
“Is the minestrone soup any good?” Jeff wondered.
“I had it last week. It’s from a mix, but it wasn’t bad. I think Ruby doctored it up from just the straight out of the bag mix. I’m going to get breakfast though,” April said, “the pancakes with dried banana chips and pecans in them are good. We’ve got some real butter right now too.”
“I’m ready for shell eggs and heaps of bacon,” Jeff admitted. That was shocking. Jeff was usually so indifferent to food that April worried about him eating enough. But he didn’t look thinner when she examined him carefully. He looked good, actually. He hadn’t noticed the covered cup in her hand. Or if he had he didn’t mention it. April set it on his tray.
“It’s not shell eggs and bacon, but that may help your cravings,” April promised. Jeff just raised his eyebrows.
April led Jeff away from the knot of folks who still sat in front of the coffee pots even though they were empty. She knew when he opened the lid how the odor would carry.
Jeff showed restraint, buttering his baguette and tasting his soup before taking a sip from the mug.
“Ahhh… I know you really do love me,” he said.
“I don’t usually carry it outside my place,” April explained. “I don’t want to incite jealousy. But if you come by to visit I’ll make a half pot.”
“We should be getting some more coffee in six months, eight months for sure. It’s going to be Indonesian through Australia. I already have it on the short list after silver wire, medical supplies and some special graphene bonding adhesives,” Jeff said.
“Then I can be a little freer with mine,” April decided, “I mean, if I’m on the distribution list. I’d planned on making mine last a year if I had to.”
“Of course you are going to get some. It gets split six ways,” Jeff revealed.
April didn’t ask who else was getting it. She could guess a couple of them.
“Freight is pretty safe for us to receive, April said, waving at her meal like it was just arrived on the dock, “but what about people? I’m still concerned we’re going to be terribly isolated by this. We were growing and getting good quality people. Who’s going to want to come here if it’s like jail? People want to be able to go off on vacation or visit grandma without sitting out a quarantine.”
“Jon and Doc Lee have been talking to me about that. There was some tech invented before the epidemic that let you sense an infection just hours after exposure. If they can’t find documentation on it I’m going to have some of Chen’s fellows on Earth hunt it down.” Jeff lost his pleasant countenance. “They’ve done marvelous work for us on Earth even as bad as things got there. Worse comes to worse since we know it can be done we just have to re-invent it if it was lost. We’ll be able to stop infected at the lock once we have that system.”
There was something about Jeff’s cold face April had seen before and worried her. “Jeff, are they hunting for who started it? Nobody has plainly said they want to find him or them and press charges. After all the millions hurt surely somebody is looking.”
“Chen’s men knew who conceived it weeks ago. They’ll make sure the people he used to do the technical work can’t do it again,” Jeff promised.
“But they didn’t arrest him?” April asked.
“The Earth governments aren’t even acknowledging this was an engineered disease. The few who suggested that were denounced publically as nut cases and conspiracy theorists. So they’d hardly be looking to arrest someone as criminally responsible even if we offered them up. If they did want them our evidence couldn’t be presented in court,” Jeff said. “That’s the fault of Earth laws and courts, not the quality of the evidence. It was beyond a doubt as they say.”
“You didn’t just kill him, did you?” April asked, concerned.
“You should know better,” Jeff said. He really looked hurt. “Chen’s men held him long enough to question him electronically. They didn’t get rough with him or harm him before they released him. April… Some things are beyond our ability to adequately reward or punish. Not to get all mystical on you, but I honestly doubt he can escape the karma of such a horrible act. Killing him would have been far too quick and easy on him.”
“Thank you, I’m happy to hear that,” April said.
Jeff recapped the mug and proceeded with his meal, as did April. She found the pancakes plenty sweet without syrup. When he was done Jeff finished the coffee last, sipping it reverently. When he was completely finished he pushed the tray to the side, wiped his hands rather thoroughly and opened the portfolio. He smiled, and looked inordinately proud of himself, presenting her with a blank sheet of paper.
“Thank you,” April said, unsure what she was supposed to do with it. She looked at both sides carefully. It was a bit thin for printer paper and white, but not the brilliant white of coated paper, more crème. But it had a slick feel. It seemed to be standard letter size, or close to it.
“It’s not from Earth,” Jeff explained.
That was a big deal. They didn’t have trees or enough rags to waste them on paper. Paper meant sani-wipes and hard print documents, packaging for food and medical items. Her favorite artist, Lindsey, would be very interested in paper April realized, beside the practical items.
“Oh… So what is it? Synthetic fibers? April guessed.
“Soy protein fiber, and a little turnip pulp filler and tiny amounts of soy adhesive and titanium oxide. We can make a soy based ink too,” Jeff said.
“That means we’ll have tofu soon?” April asked. “I’m not a huge fan but it’s pretty good deep fried with a peanut sauce.”
“And soy milk, protein powder to add to other stuff, and some pretty good fake cream cheese. It’s even a good base for some useful industrial glues and plastics,” Jeff added. “The fibers that make paper can make cloth too.”
“I didn’t know you were trying to raise soybeans,” April said.
“There was a special kind that grow very low,” Jeff said. “They don’t need much vertical space so you can space the trays closely. They’re working out nicely.”
“Good. One more thing we don’t have to lift from Earth,” April said. ” Aaron Holtz thinks we’ll make so much of our own goods we may not grow back to the same lift traffic for a few years.”
“The name doesn’t ring a bell,” Jeff admitted.
“Former fund manager from New Zealand,” he writes a couple times a week for What’s Happening, Wiggen’s site,” April said.
“You’re sure it’s hers?” Jeff asked.
“Unless she’s deliberately fronting it for somebody else,” April assured him.
“When it first came out I thought you might be behind it,” Jeff revealed.
“All my other hobbies and time to manage a general news site for Home too?” April objected.
” A lot of the views expressed sounded like yours, and they have avoided gossip from the start. I know how you feel about the gossip boards. But yes, it grew too big and I knew you didn’t have the time to be reviewing and directing that much material,” Jeff said.
“Don’t you think I’d tell you if I had something like that going on?” April asked. Sometimes Jeff didn’t seem very socialized to April. He wasn’t deeply strange like some very smart people could be, but he just lacked – finesse.
Jeff screwed up his face in concentration. “I guess you would, eventually. But just because we do so much together… You aren’t obligated to tell me everything you’re doing. I have no doubt I have no idea about a lot of what Heather is doing at Central. I don’t expect to be told every little thing. If it’s important she’ll get around to telling me.”
That sort of trust was a huge compliment, but April was too much of a snoop. She did want to know what everybody was doing. For the first time she had doubts that was always a good idea. Even worse, April suddenly realized Jeff might not be strange, but simply a better person. It was a disturbing idea. She still wondered how much of ‘every little thing’ Jeff didn’t tell her encompassed. But now April felt just a little pang of guilt for wondering.
“Do you think we need a way to get our own views out,” April asked Jeff.
“The majority of folks seem to want the same things we do. I’ve certainly been happy with most of the votes in the Assembly. If we sponsored a public news site or even write a regular feature then people will start to see us as having an agenda. I don’t think you know how much influence you have, but it’s partly because you aren’t beating a drum constantly. You need to be aware of this. A casual word might have influence you didn’t anticipate or want. Chen has told me he runs into people doing intelligence work who know he has a relationship with us. He said people ask what your views are on matters, assuming he has the inside track on your opinions. ”
“They do? On what? And why would they care? I’m no official, and have no power,” April said.
Jeff looked amused. “Yet you can call Jon up and tell him you want to see him, right now, and you are sitting in his office with Gunny telling him he may have to quarantine the station in the time it takes you to walk over. Do you really think everybody gets treated that way?”
“Jon and I have a special relationship. We formally agreed to be allies back when I wasn’t 14 yet. When I told him about that first USNA spy he had the sense to see I knew what I was talking about. When somebody agrees they are on your side and will watch your back I expect them to mean it.”
“I’m very aware,” Jeff said. “And God help anybody who forgets it or doesn’t mean it. How many young girls do you think would put conditions on helping the head of security and demand he treat you with respect? Much less ask for a formal relationship. Scratch that – Demand a certain relationship. You might be surprised how many people have picked up on that. You have a reputation as being formidable all out of proportion to your age or any official position. Chen gets asked how you will vote on things coming to the Assembly or what you have said about Heather and things at Central. He even gets asked what you say about me. And I don’t just mean the tacky interest some gossip sites have in exactly how we three regard each other. They want to know if you support specific business projects and plans.”
“I’ve never thought to tell Chen what I think!” April said, surprised. “He’s right out on the pointy end of things, or at least his agents are. I try to use what he tells me for our purposes, but I wouldn’t presume to try to tell the fellow doing the dirty work and seeing so much more than me what it all means. I’m sure he has his own firm opinions.”
“I’m sure he does too. But with Chen and you people are aware who works for who. Chen said he always tells them that the information flows from him to you and not the other way. That you hold your cards closely, and he has no idea what you think most of the time. Indeed he often has no idea why you ask certain questions that seem non sequiturs to him. Sometimes it is unexpected and scares the snot out of him when he finds out the answers to these weird questions.
“Like when you called him from the Fox and Hare and asked about the names of Spanish royalty from the ninth century. He kept muttering about that for days – ‘How the hell could she possibly know that?’ – You connect the dots that are not even close to each other, and as an intelligence officer he admires that. If you haven’t noticed – I take it very seriously when you suggest something. For example, it was you who suggested we needed to have our own bank, remember?” Jeff reminded her.
“Yes, thank you, and Heather agreed,” April said, uncomfortable with praise. “Barak is another one you don’t want to ignore,” she said deflecting attention. “He gets sudden insights that amaze me.”
“I agree. Then he irritates me by saying it was obvious,” Jeff said.
“We’ll try to train him out of that,” April decided. Jeff tried to cover his smile, unsuccessfully.
“Thank you for the coffee,” Jeff said quietly, setting the mug back within her reach. That meant he was ready to go, April knew.
“Stop by and visit when you want more,” she suggested.
Jeff looked at her oddly for some reason April didn’t understand, but said, “I will. Sunday?”
“That would be nice. I’ll expect you,” April said.
I wonder how I’m being trained? Jeff thought as he left. But the idea didn’t worry him.

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Will add subscriptions -

I didn’t think about subscriptions to posts as well as comments. The lady doing my site will add that option soon. For those who want the snippets especially as my other post tend to be short.

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New book and updated covers -

Added to the slide show and links to the right…

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I’ll have a new version of April up soon.

April has been edited twice. Not the best job in the world. Now it is being edited to put it on paper. I am going through it myself as I don’t want to need to re-edit it for paper as I had to do Family Law. I’ve learned a few things in the last decade. It will be cleaner. Since it is the first of series and sets the expectations of the reader it seems important to me. I’m not sure I’ll finish it tonight (3/19) but tomorrow for sure and whatever time Amazon takes to digest it. I’ll put a notice on the description blurb and the front page. You can force a reload to your device on your Kindle library page.
After several sets of eyes there were still some extra spaces, misspellings and extra characters. But the main changes are I didn’t punctuate run on quotes correctly before, and I added much attribution of quotes. I greatly reduced he and she, replacing them with proper names. I changed a few names that got garbled. Other than that it’s the same story. There were no entire paragraphs or even sentences removed or replaced. I hope if you re-read it as some do that you like the changes.

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Fixed a few glitches.

“And What Goes Around” has sold very well. I sold 121 books yesterday which is a new one day record for me. So of course I’m very happy.
One reader reported a section showed on his tablet as all in bold. I haven’t been able to reproduce that.
There is a section a bit past the half way point that I put some text in boxes. It looks good in Word – It looks fine in HTML. – And Mobi that Kindle uses messes it up in an assortment of ways. I tried to get it to render 3 times and bought the book myself to make sure it was the same in the bought version as in the previewer. I gave up and removed the boxes.
A couple folks are unhappy with the ending. I felt that a it was dramatic and a better point to cut off than a much more boring recital of how Home slowly got supply restored and were moved to become more independent in food and materials. There is little dramatic conflict there.
It is also smaller. Some of that was I felt good with the ending there. It IS a continuing story – I’m working on #7. And part is my first books in both series are too big for print editions in today’s business climate. Even with Amazon heavily discounting them Paper editions of Family Law have sold poorly.
There is some small resistance to $4.99 since I started out at $2.99. All I can say is I think $2.99 has become the price point where you don’t expect much. You may be pleasantly surprise – or not. I see a lot of shorts and novellas priced at $2.99. That is 50 to 100 pages pieces.
I welcome your discussion of any of it.

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It’s in the machine…

When the maws of Amazon get done crunching it “And What Goes Around” will be published.

This is the cover: Andwhatgoesaround

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Unedited snippet of Family Law #3

The scientist whose name was a long genealogy to put Gordon’s true name to shame for length was setting up another ‘burn’. His associates called him Pretty Purple for short. As often happens the nick name embarrassed him, but stuck. His co-workers and friends understood it meant the bioluminescent spots on his hide had a particularly pleasant hue in the purple phase. It also was very appealing to the females of his species. They often gave a little involuntary pink flash of appreciation, which in turn made him flash a little yellow pulse that was the equivalent of a human blush.
It was an honor and the peak of his career to work in the world’s premier materials lab. The only one running three gas chambers protruding through the top of the sky into the heavens. It could be dangerous. Early workers had received some nasty burns trying to observe the electric arc directly. Some got careless about staying wet. Protocol now was for an assistant to count off time and douse the researcher with water at regular intervals. If left to their own devices the researchers tended to be absorbed in their work and lose all track of time. To the point it was a stereotype now.
The chambers were a vast improvement on the previous platforms that were simply a floating collar defining a port on the heavens. For reasons nobody had yet explained sometimes the light from the sun diminished and actual water descended from the heavens. But nasty pure water lacking all the elements of life. Indeed if one stayed in contact too long it irritated the skin. Just one more hazard.
Obviously, if one was running an electric arc to test and alter materials, water falling on the experiment at random from above was disruptive if not catastrophic. The sealed environment had its own challenges. Workers found that the thin substance of the heavens expanded when heated by their experiments. After the first isolation cell burst they invented the pressure relief valve. To avoid a long dangling tube filled with heaven stuff keeping the cell inflated they invented the water lock. Life sustaining water was pumped in between sealing doors that could be opened in sequence to pass traffic while keeping the cell inflated.
To stay wet workers and assistants worked in a pool lowered from the entry door. Even then water slowly lost the ability to sustain life. So time in the bubble was limited. The newest bubble had pumps not only for the water lock, but to exchange water in the bubble for fresh from below. It was exciting to work with the fancy high tech gear every day.
The intense heat of the furnace reduced almost all organisms to the black element of life. That it was also conductive amazed and delighted them. Some substances such as the silty bottom from various sites altered to a hard but brittle substance when heated. Those were not conductors. Other minerals when heated with the black element of life yielded malleable materials. They tended to corrode, but both kinds showed great promise for making things.
Some were quite strong if only they could be made not to corrode away like the prized bright yellow nuggets or the silvery grey found naturally. Pretty Purple had rings of both displayed on his longer tentacles. He was paid pretty well. Other materials showed less promise for now. Some of the yellow deposits from around the deep vents stank so bad when heated that the cell in use had to be abandoned for some days. The researcher doing that burn had to flee and the arc was disconnected remotely at the generators.
Pretty Purple’s older brother held his work in derision. Rippling Dots was his unfortunate childhood name. He no longer had problems controlling his enthusiasm. Indeed he had turned absolutely solemn after being selected to the priesthood for being eldest. He reveled in the privilege of the religious vocation. Pretty Purple was relieved beyond measure that he had escaped it by being younger.
Rippling Dots was currently babbling at him every time they met about strange new lights in the heavens. That they didn’t follow the rules any previous lights did failed to impress Pretty Purple. They were still just lights above the sky. The idea that they had any influence on his life was something he rejected, although he didn’t make too big a point of saying so. The priesthood had many followers and much influence.
When his brother went on a long complicated rant about how his success or failure followed the small moon twenty day cycle or the four hundred day solar cycle, or some multiple or division of them, he just flickered a faint mauve show of interest. Believers saw patterns everywhere whether there really were any or not. There was never any shortage of numbers to apply after all.
The crucible was packed with an interesting green mineral and life stuff. He’d recently been experimenting with adding the salt extracted from the water of life. It would be a tenth day before his assistants got the generators all hooked up and up to temperature. So he left the electrodes unhooked and went off for a midday meal before the day’s burn. There were some red stripe swimmers in the lunch pen yesterday. He hoped maybe a few were left.

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Family Law #3


Got 9K words on it. Looking for a snippet that doesn’t reveal everything…

Oh – I learned to make active links in the posts. WordPress changed it so if you don’t add a title under the link it won’t just use the URL. So you have to enter the URL in both windows. Didn’t used to be that way.

Life is beating the snot out of my cover maker. She just e-mailed me she is probably taking youngest son to emergency for a hurt ankle.

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And What Goes Around

I’ll post this (April #6) as soon as I get a cover out of Sarah Hoyt. I won’t wait for editing as that fellow is back-logged. My copy is getting cleaner. I can re-post it when he gets to it. — Mac’

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Family Law nominated for CLFA Awards…

You’d think somebody would have told me. I went there to vote for Sarah Hoyt’s “A Few Good Men” and my own book title is staring back in my face…

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