Category Archives: Books

Power’s Out!

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Don’t stumble around in the dark! Get a copy of Power today! The third book in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series, Power, released today, May 5, 2018.

Karen Diem - Power - Arca Book 3In this book, Zita Garcia is trying to be good and return to her normal, quiet life of extreme sports, secret vigilantism, and scrounging for a paycheck. Unfortunately, nobody told her least favorite supervillains, and now she’s got to stop them before more people die. Even if she doesn’t know what they’re doing, other than it involves Brazil… and dinosaurs?

You can find it at major book retailers including:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Smashwords

To celebrate the release and readers who’ve stuck around for the past couple of books, I’m releasing the ebook at $2.99. After a week or so, the price will go up to $3.99 USD (or equivalent). I have no current plans to put it on sale again this year, though I’ll revisit that decision in the fall.

Paperbacks should be available within a week for $14.99 (or equivalent). I have a copy in my printer ink-stained hands and am checking it now to ensure no errors have crept in and multiplied while I wasn’t looking. As errors do.

Want more information? Check out the full summary, or the first chapter or even two cut scenes on my site.

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Cutting Room Floor – Power 2

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This Power cut scene comes from the second half of the book. It occurs well after the first cut scene. In this one, Zita and friends are traveling. It’s not going as smoothly as they might hope.

Pieces of it appear elsewhere. Be gentle; it’s a first draft, so my editor has never seen it.

Power releases May 5, 2018 at most major book retailers.

Amazon      Kobo      iTunes      Barnes & Noble      Smashwords     Other Stores


A happy dog sticks its head out the window. Image by Andrew Pons.
Happy Dog! Photo by Andrew Pons.

One day later, Zita stared out the back of a tiny Jeep, a piece of military surplus based on the poorly repaired bullet hole near her padding-free seat. She watched terrain inch by, one hand gripping a roll bar as the battered old vehicle bumped and shuddered and whined its way toward a higher elevation. Andy sat very still beside her, masked and silent, his hands clasped tight in his lap and backpacks pinning both his and Zita’s legs. Up front, Wyn laughed, balanced a GPS in her lap, and told jokes with Jerome, who drove.

Slowly.

So slowly that Zita had been fighting the urge for several miles to jump out of the car and jog on ahead. Little more than a one-lane pitted track in the mud, the road wound sluggishly up the base of the tepui. The high straight walls of the tepui rose overhead, reddish sandstone striations peeking out where the dark discoloration of wear and horizontal streaks of green clung grimly to the heights. Drifting mists of thick white and cranky gray clouds hid everything above a certain point, teasing her, and never delivering on a solid view of the top it crowned.

That’d be one sweet climb, she thought, though I doubt any of the others would be up for it, even if we had the time.
Even now, she angled her head out of the side of the Jeep so that the moist wind could caress her face and confirm that they actually crept forward. It also helped her avoid overdosing on the scents in the Jeep: sweat, frustration, DEET, exhaust, and the overpowering eucalyptus of Wyn’s homemade mosquito repellent.

Everywhere the side of the mountain permitted, the tropical rainforest was a brilliant spill of a million shades of color. Tall trees shot upward, supported by thick buttresses of roots, the bark covered by layers of smaller plants. Mosses, lichens, and other epiphytes hid the original colors of the trunks beneath their fuzzy green blanket. Brown leafy detritus on the ground only peeked through gaps in ferns, and flowers and fungi interrupted the endless green with splashes of brilliant red, purple, and yellow. Her mouth watered as she caught a whiff of the chocolate and pineapple of a cupuaçu. Animals peeked out, some shyer than others as they passed, and the distant songs of birds and screeching belches of howler monkeys reminded her that they weren’t alone.

“Hey, do you think that’s worth stopping at?” asked Jerome, pointing at a small wooden sign with neatly printed letters. He slowed the vehicle from a crawl to a pace that would have made most snails sneer in disdain.

“If I understand this GPS right, that’s the right direction for the coordinates that were on the professor’s grant application.” Wyn lifted the GPS and poked at a button with a dainty finger.
Jerome steered the tiny rental that direction. “Hope we’re getting close, that last gas station gave us the runaround, and this isn’t nearly as much fun as the movies made it seem.” He grumbled under his breath again about the car.

Having told him once that his aspirations of renting a Hummer with all the options was unrealistic, Zita forbore from mentioning that they were lucky to have found a rental at all, given how far from the cities they were. To be honest, she was thrilled to spend time in the wilds of Brazil, but the others had been less enthused when they had looked up the coordinates. Based on the hand-lettered wood, she mused, the clinic lacks either government or criminal support. In either case, the sign would have been metal, official or otherwise. A medical clinic in the middle of nowhere would have been closed and looted shortly after opening without someone supporting it. “They might know. A medical clinic around here should be plugged into the community since it’s the only care for miles. worse comes to worst, we’ll find an empty building, probably overrun with plants, insects, or squatters. Who knows?” Hope bloomed at another thought. “We should check it out. Even if they’re gone, it’d be a good time for us to switch drivers. I’ll take over. You must be tired, and I’m familiar with driving in South America.” Plus I can actually read any signage, if any appears, and we’ll arrive before we all die of old age and boredom. I can practically hear arthritis creeping in. She flexed her shoulders and hands and squirmed in her seat.

“No. Anyone other than you can drive,” Wyn said. She didn’t even glance up from the GPS.

Jerome declared, “My rental, I drive. I don’t need a rest, though it’d be nice to take a short break from trying to keep on these deer trails.”

“It’s not a deer trail. It was probably originally a road to an illegal mining camp. And I’m an excellent driver. Don’t you remember how well I did when those men were chasing us?” Zita clucked her tongue at Wyn, careful not to inhale too deeply and get another lungful of the choking cloud of eucalyptus scent.

Wyn’s shudder was visible even from the back seat, and her tone was dry when she replied. “That would be why you will not be allowed a turn behind the wheel.”

Jerome snorted. “I’m not letting anyone else drive, especially someone who’s channeling their inner hound dog. Girl, if your tongue comes out and starts flapping in the breeze, I’m going to buy you a collar with a dog tags and engrave Fluffy on it.” He and Wyn both chuckled.

Beside Zita, a small smile touched Andy’s lips before it faded.

“Haters, all of you,” Zita said, though she did not pull her head back in, instead just making a face at the side view mirrors.

“I saw that,” Jerome said.

She rolled her eyes. “I meant you to. Seriously, though, we should go to the medical clinic. If they’re still there, they should know at least a little about everyone in the area. The next town isn’t for miles and any villages not on the map might be no-contact ones and not have the right immunizations to mingle with outsiders.”

Her comments seem to wake Andy from his sulky self-absorption. “Why not?”

Zita sighed. “We’re in—or at least started out in—Roraima, one of the northern Brazilian states. Probably half of that area is national park or indigenous reserves, like the reservations in Arizona in the US. Any temple somebody wanted an archeological expedition to find would probably be in or near those untouched areas since I doubt they’d be digging in a city.”

That got Andy’s attention, and he frowned. “We’re trespassing on someone’s res?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know, but it’s possible. This mountain’s not on the map. Wherever we are, it isn’t Monte Roraima, but it’s close enough that we may have gone over a boundary without knowing it into a reserve or park or even another country. If the clinic can point us where we need to go, we can get off their lands faster.”

The old vehicle groaned as Jerome turned it to struggle up another forgotten road. “Right, then,” Jerome said, “Stick your head back in, Arca, and let’s go see some doctors.”

Wyn nodded. “Maybe we’ll get the GPS working again there.”

Zita snorted and kept her head where it was. “Pray for a miracle, but don’t count on it.”

“You know what would be a miracle? These mosquitoes leaving me alone.” Wyn slapped her arm and scratched. “My spray isn’t as effective as I hoped. I’ll have to make it stronger.”

“It cleared my sinuses for the next year. Any stronger and we’ll all be dropping like flies,” Zita muttered.

Her friend twisted around to glare at her, eyes narrowed. “What was that?”

Eyes wide, Zita plastered on a smile. “Nothing, nothing at all.” She tried to think of a distraction.

The guys were suspiciously silent.

Clacking sounded from the vehicle, followed by a rhythmic click, then a loud hiss filled the air. The Jeep jerked sideways, veering off the road and stopping only when it slammed into a sapling. Thanks to their low speed, however, the impact with the tree barely jolted the occupants.

Unfastening her seat belt, Zita jumped from the now-tilted vehicle and surveyed it. “Everyone okay? Blew the tire,” she announced, stretching her arms while she had the chance. .

Jerome lowered his head to the steering wheel.

“AAA doesn’t come out here, does it?” Wyn fretted.

Zita shrugged. “No big, we push it back onto the road, change the tire, and keep going. Pull out the tree, and black nail polish should hide the scratches in the grill just fine.  Might have to have someone hold it still, though, so it doesn’t slide back down while we’re doing it.” When she went around to the back and pulled off the cover on the spare, she stared at a wooden circle, cut in the shape of a tire.

“That’s not a happy face,” Jerome said, frowning at her.
Dismounting from his side of the car, Andy came to Zita’s side and stopped. “Spare’s missing,” he said.

Jerome’s head thudded as he hit it on the steering wheel.

Wyn made an unhappy sound, her eyes on the muddy gravel road twisting upward. “It’s been hours since we passed anything else. We have to walk to the medical clinic now and wait for a tow truck?”

“Or, someone could push the Jeep there.” Zita looked at Andy.

He groaned. “I hate my life.”


If you’re ready to buy, Power releases May 5, 2018

Amazon      Kobo      iTunes      Barnes & Noble      Smashwords     Other Stores

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Cutting Room Floor – Power

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The following was cut from the first draft of Power, Book 3 in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series. Since it’s a first draft, be gentle. It’s Zita in all her unedited, unrestrained glory. Bits and pieces may get reused in the final book, but not the scene as a whole.

Power releases May 5, 2018 at most major book retailers:

Amazon      Kobo      iTunes      Barnes & Noble      Smashwords     Other Stores


Power Cut Scene 1

When Andy emerged from his bathroom a full half-hour later, he almost seemed like himself in clean jeans, a t-shirt with an equation on it, and sneakers. His raven hair hung down his back in a tidy braid. The surly expression on his face was new, though.

Random Camels - Image by Kawtar Cherkaoui
Random camel pic by Kawtar Cherkaoui

“Ready?” Zita chirped, rocking on her heels.

“I guess.” He gave a half-hearted shrug.

Zita grabbed his arm and teleported.

They reappeared in a basement, one with boxes piled high on most sides, save for where a furnace and an old workbench commandeered space. The musty scents of cardboard and burnt oil were eclipsed by fragrant incense and fresh-cut herbs.

Andy blinked. He stared at the workbench, taking in the red fabric draping it. His eyes moved to the prominently displayed knife (athame, Zita reminded herself), a leather-bound book, and the creamy marble statue of a serene woman next to a half-melted candle. The last seemed to hold his gaze the longest, the stone face smiling back at him as his expression grew more sour. “Zita,” he growled.

She didn’t let him finish. Praying Wyn would be awake and ready to go hiking, she bounded up the stairs.”You better be ready this time,” she bellowed as she opened the door to the main house, “because we’re here and I don’t want to waste any more of the day waiting for you late sleepers!”

He trudged up after her.

If looks truly could inflict damage and if Zita were more sensitive, Andy’s glare might have dented her feelings. ​As it was, she was fine. She said, “We’re taking Wyn’s car. Your beater might not make it to the mountains, and you didn’t want to fly. My bike’s not meant to carry two on long trips comfortably.”

Skepticism ran rampant in his voice. “Wyn is letting you, of all people, borrow her brand new car?”

“What do you mean me–” Zita began.

“Wyn is not,” the woman in question said, rising from her reclining pose on her scarlet sofa. She set aside her ereader. “One ride with Zita is more than enough for one lifetime. I’m driving, and before you say anything, Zita has convinced me that the hike is to be a… now what was the elegant phrase you used?”

“A badger-free zone? A hike, not an inquisition or a mushy feelings talk, and the definition is left up to me,” Zita said. “I totally bargained with her on your behalf. I think you’ll like the deal I got you. Only a little bit of interrogating on the drive there, and then a nice, stress-free hike with no questions asked. I’m totally playing referee and everything so if she starts to hint around things, I get to stop her from bugging you. Sweet deal, right?”

“Says you,” Wyn mumbled, futzing with boots that looked too new to be comfortable.

Zita frowned at the pristine shoes. “Didn’t you break those in like I suggested?”

Andy said, “I’m out. Take me home.”

“No,” Wyn said. “This is an intervention.”

He turned to Zita, betrayal in his eyes.

She shook her head. “Nope, that was my end of the deal in exchange for the no nagging rules. If you want to go home, you have to fly yourself.”

Andy swore. “If I had known…”

“You wouldn’t have come,” Wyn said, “just as you’ve declined every invitation for the past month and a half. I’m still surprised Zita managed to get you here as it is. What’d she do, hide your video games? Threaten you with some dire annoyance like having to hear that techno-cumbia stuff for five hours straight that she likes?”

Zita coughed, eager to abandon that line of questioning before it came out that she had threatened him with Wyn coming over for a heart-to-heart talk. “Dude, you ditched us after the Water Balloon Death Run 3000 when we had all agreed to go to that all-you-can-eat buffet near the obstacle course. Who does that? It was all-you-can-eat and they had the giant snow crab legs and a sundae bar! It’s inconceivable you would skip it! Just inconceivable!”

“I don’t think that word means what you think… never mind.” Andy shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Wasn’t hungry, and not all of us are slaves to our stomachs. Look, I’m not good company right now anyway–”

“We don’t give a shit about you amusing us. After all, we know you and like you anyway.” Zita shrugged and dismissed his argument with a wave of her hand.

Pinching the bridge of her nose, Wyn shook her head. “What Zita’s saying in her inimitable way is that you don’t have to be anyone but you with us. Yes, I’ll ask you some questions. You don’t have to answer, in part thanks to Zita who made it a condition of her participation in this exercise. We’re your friends, we love you, and we’re going to spend some time together even if you’re miserable.”

“I thought you were supposed to make hanging out with us sound good instead of like a quasi-threat,” Zita said, narrowing her eyes at the other woman.


If you enjoyed this Power cut scene, the book releases May 5, 2018 at most major book retailers:

Amazon      Kobo      iTunes      Barnes & Noble      Smashwords     Other Stores

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Dead Tree Doorstops

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The other day, I noticed that my readers were missing something important… Doorstops!

So of course I leapt into action to help solve this terrible problem! (In actuality, it may have been more of a frantic typing and mousing action, but I digress.)

As a result, both Super and Human are now available in paperback format.
Super and Human paperbacksThese are good-sized 6X9″ paperbacks, light enough to read through comfortably, yet hefty enough to hold open a small, but feisty, door. They’re made with the finest standard paper and are just as huggable and readable as you would expect. Both should be available for order at most major bookstores. Sadly, those bookstores aren’t stocking their physical shelves with my books yet, but one can hope that someday, J.K. Rowling will cede some shelf space in the Fantasy/Science Fiction section to me. For now, the books are $12.99 USD.

You can find them at most major book retailers, including:

Power and other full-length novels in the Arca series will also be available in paperback format around their respective release dates.

NOTE: The Amazon links are affiliate links. I might get a few cents eventually if you purchase something.

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Human Release! ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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What’s the best way to celebrate the famous win of Mexican underdogs against overwhelming forces? For me, it’s to run around like a crazy woman announcing the Human release! In your case, have some awesome Mexican food, relax, and pick up a copy of Human to enjoy while you munch.

For those contemplating following me on Twitter, I generally don’t tweet links to buy my books other than on a release or sale date. On May 6, I should return to my usual tweet habits.

About HumanHuman by Karen Diem

Death? Acceptable risk. Taxes? No problem. Ancient magical cutlery of mass destruction? Bad, very bad.

Following a brief foray into the world of superpowered vigilantism, extreme sports enthusiast and halfhearted tax preparer, Zita Garcia, wants her old life, her shiny new abilities, and none of the consequences. She’s even willing to hide her powers since the alternative means endangering her family and living life as a literal lab rat.

Unfortunately, villains are searching for the pieces of a decrepit magic dagger, hurting innocents and fueling nasty anti-super protests. Her close friends, who helped before, are barely speaking to her, and one of them stands in the path of the violent hunt for the knife.

Zita better dig out her mask—fast.

Human is the second in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series, and as a movie would be rated “R” for immoderate language, lame sexual innuendo, and comic book violence. While Human can be read as a standalone, it contains minor spoilers for the first book in the series.

Human Release Availability

Human is currently available on Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords and most major book retailers in both ebook and paperback format. To avoid boring people to tears, I’ve only listed the most popular places. If you’d prefer, you can read the first chapter before purchasing.

NOTE: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase from an Amazon link on my site, someday I may earn a few cents from it.

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Surprise Octopus (No Hentai)

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Octopus - An Arca Short Story - By Karen DiemDo you need a little octopus in your life?

Zita did. All she wanted was dinner, but what she got was trouble.

Bite-Sized Stories: Flash Flood 1Octopus is a “flash fiction” (extremely short) story, set after the events of Super. It is not hentai. If you don’t know what hentai is, don’t look it up. Seriously.

What’s more, Octopus is free as part of a flash fiction anthology, Bite-Sized Stories: A Multi-Genre Flash Fiction Anthology (Flash Flood #1)! Since the story collection is multi-genre, it hangs out with everything but erotica in eeny, weeny, polka-dot stories. While weighted heavily toward sci fi, fantasy, and horror, the collection has a couple other genres as well. You can find Bite-Sized Stories at major ebook retailers:

Amazon      iBooks       Kobo      Barnes & Noble     Google Play      Smashwords

NOTE: I am an Amazon affiliate, so if you buy anything from them using the link above, I may someday receive a tiny commission.

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Super Version 2.Oh

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Super version 2.0 is now available. It’s now stronger than a locomotive–or Super version 1.0, anyway.

What changed?

Super Version 2.0 - Arca Book 1 by Karen Diem
The cover image is unchanged, too.

Superficial things, if you’ll pardon the pun. In response to review comments, Super went to a new editor to tighten grammar, exterminate typos (hopefully), and clarify a couple points to make it easier to follow the action and transitions. Plot, characters, fandom references, pacing, and general irreverence remain the same. To accomplish this, length has increased by a thousand words.

Do I need an update?

If you do not yet own the book or purchased it after the update, you will automatically receive the new version after you buy it. Most sites had the new file as of August 13, 2016. Smashwords and 24 Symbols had it as of August 14, 2016.

If you purchased Super version 1.0, I encourage you to update to the new version of the book. It is optional, but the edits were done to improve the reader experience…

How do I update my book?

That depends. Who did you buy it from and what’s your ereader? Here’s brief instructions on how to update:

  • For most retailers, remove (Kobo, Smashwords, etc.) or archive (Nook) the old copy on your ereader, then download a new one from your retailer.
  • Amazon – If you have the auto update option turned on, it will update for you. Otherwise, log on Amazon. Go to Manage your Content and Devices, scroll down to Super, and click Update Available. Click Update. If you don’t see this option, you can try the deletion and re-download method.
  • iBooks (Apple) – Asks you when you open the book or app if you want to update. Go, Apple!

If I missed a retailer, let me know in the comments or via email and I’ll add them to the list.

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Super Release! Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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Super by Karen Diem - Arca Book 1In case you missed the obnoxious shilling on Twitter, the Facebook post, or the newsletter announcement, today we celebrate the Super release as well as the famous win of Mexican underdogs against overwhelming forces. For those contemplating following me on Twitter, on May 6 I will return to my usual tweet habits.

About Super

Adrenaline junkie and almost-respectable accountant Zita Garcia wouldn’t know a superhero from some dude in his pajamas. As a result, the second-to-last thing she expected was to wake from a spontaneous coma, quarantined, and with super powers she has to hide from everyone, including her family. Now Zita must master her new abilities while dodging kidnappers, evading government inquiries, and finding her missing brother.

The only thing weirder would have been if the blind date preceding the coma had gone well.

Super is the first in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series, and as a movie, would be rated “R” for immoderate language, lame sexual innuendo, and comic book violence. It is approximately 110,700 words, which comes out to about 450 pages in a standard paperback book.

Super Release Availability

Super is currently available on AmazonKoboiTunes, and  Barnes & Noble. Other retailers carrying ebooks may have them too in the next few days. To avoid boring people to tears, I’ve only listed the most popular places. If you’d prefer, you can read the first chapter before purchasing.

 

 

 

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Cutting Room Floor: Super 2

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Pants have proven to be a hot button for some of my beta reviewers, and this Super cut scene got dropped as a result. Two different beta readers informed me that no one as fashionable as Wyn would consider tights or pantyhose a necessity. One even held an informal polling of his female coworkers to support his position. So, the following got cut.

Super Cut Scene 2

“I’ve only one mask and there are three of us, so I need to go alone unless you know a place selling masks at one am,” Zita said, figuring it would end the debate. Pulling the mask from her pocket, she spun it on a finger by the elastic. The small, black plastic mask only covered eyes and maybe cheekbones, but it would work well enough, especially if she used the same face she had used earlier.

Pinning her hair back up with a pencil, Wyn speared her with her gaze. “You’re not going alone. If we have to, I’ll wear the mask and you can go in animal form. We can talk mentally or Andy can go. He’s bulletproof and only needs a way to escape. If you hide nearby, you can teleport the two of you here, and all you need is pantyhose on your head to hide your face. ”

Andy looked between them, and then back at the computer. The sounds of his tapping gained speed and strength. He shook his head.

A woman in tights“I hate not doing anything! And, umm, I don’t have any pantyhose,” Zita admitted. She gathered up leftover food and put it away, the wash of cold from the fridge a welcome respite from the sticky air of her apartment.

When she turned around, the other woman was staring at her, as if she had switched to another language. “How can you not have pantyhose? What do you wear to work?” Wyn said.

“Pants.” Filling a water bottle from the sink, she sipped the lukewarm liquid and planned, checking hydration off the lists of needs to fill.

Wyn made a derisive sound. “All of your pants are sweatpants or cargo pants. How can you not have any pantyhose?” she asked, as if Zita had not just explained.

Remembering their search for clothing to fit her earlier, Zita countered with, “I have exercise pants too! How can you live when only one or two pairs of your pants have pockets?”


What do you think? I’m not a fan personally of them, but I had thought them more of a necessity.

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Super – Free First Chapter Announcement

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This is the official free first chapter announcement for Super. In case you’ve forgotten what that is, here’s the blurb again. For your reading delectation, read the first chapter here!

What’s in the sample?

This sample is the complete, almost-final version of the first chapter of Super, and weighs in at approximately 4,700 words. Should any typos or grammatical problems occur between now and the release date (May 5, I’m looking at you!), those will be fixed in the final version posted at online retailers.

Simply, it introduces Zita Garcia, a bit about her world, and a touch of trouble to start things off right.

How long is Super anyway?

The novel itself is approximately 110,000 words. Samples at online retailers may be longer than this one.

Why the free first chapter announcement hubbub?

I’m excitable that way. Plus, how would you know about it if I didn’t tell you?

A little lop bunny

What goes well with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans?

Main character Zita Garcia would say “pretty much anything.” If you guessed the first chapter of Super, you’re right! Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates it. If you don’t celebrate it, you can still enjoy the sample.

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