Category Archives: Books

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 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.

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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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Beta Readers Are Awesome

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I don’t have very many beta readers… but when I do, they are awesome! My beta readers are awesome, in case you missed that point.

They got the latest draft of Super last week. So far, one has completed reading and handed in all their comments, a second will be giving their comments tomorrow, and the third has started and will be done soon.The comments they’ve made so far – and all of them have said a few things – have been invaluable.

So things are steaming along on schedule! Many thanks to my brave beta readers!

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