On November 3, 2017, I released the latest Arca short story, Pie. It’s approximately 11,750 words long and takes a little more serious tone than most of the rest of the series. While it occurs following the events of Power (currently scheduled to release May 2018), Pie does not include any spoilers for the novel, though it does reference events occurring in both Super and Human.
As usual, Zita is a fan of immoderate language, so some cursing is included, free of charge.
Zita Garcia is a superhero with a plan. While on a multi-day road trip to their mother’s home, she’d bring up her brother Quentin’s recent bad behavior, he’d see reason, and everyone would be happy in time for Thanksgiving. Since neither one of them wants to incur their mother’s wrath, he can’t kick her out of the car and she can’t do any spinning drop kicks when he annoys her.
Of course, Zita isn’t known for her diplomacy, so her plan began unraveling even before the teary teenager and the rampaging pink monster showed up.
Good thing she’s got all her wits, and some pie. Or at least the pie.
This free short story is only available to newsletter subscribers, both new and existing. Anyone who joins the newsletter will also receive links to Tourists and Washout, as well as any future freebies, sneak peeks, etc.
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.
“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.
On December 2, 2016, I released the new Arca short story, Tourists. It’s approximately 10,500 words long, and, as usual, includes immoderate language and comic book violence. The events within occur after Human (scheduled for release May 2017), but do not provide major spoilers.
Las Vegas welcomes and flamboyantly entertains millions of tourists annually. It’s famous for it. However, the latest visitors may be more than even Sin City can handle.
To avoid endangering others or revealing their real identities, Zita Garcia and her friends, Andy and Wyn, planned to practice their respective superpowers in an abandoned section of the desert. Visit Las Vegas, a crowded city filled with people with cameras? No way, no matter what Zita’s heard about the buffets.
But when possible aliens invade the infamous Las Vegas Strip, what can Zita and her friends do but rescue the city (and all that food)?
No Elvis impersonators were harmed in the writing of this story.
This free short story is only available to newsletter subscribers, both new and existing. December 2016 subscribers also receive the other newsletter-exclusive short story, Washout.
Zita did. All she wanted was dinner, but what she got was trouble.
Octopus 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:
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.
“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.
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?
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.
I just finished the draft version of the first newsletter subscriber short story. The first subscriber freebie is a quick read, only around 4,000 words, but fun. I’m going to send it to a beta reader, do a round of edits, and hopefully have it ready to send out next week.
With regret, I had to reduce one character’s role – he was fun, but did not add enough to some scenes. He’ll show up more in later books in the series. However, here’s a snippet of a Super cut scene from the first draft. Be gentle.
Warned through their mental link, Wyn had the car ready to go when they piled in.
“My sword is crooked,” Jerome complained, plopping into the front passenger seat. His saber caught the light as he held it up to check it.
“Dude, things we don’t need to know,” Zita said. Leather stuck to her leg through one of the rips in her pants. She declined to think too much about the stupid grin sitting on her face.
Beside her in the cramped backseat of the Porsche, Andy concurred. “I’m with her on that one.” Being thrown through that window had not been kind to his clothing, and he tried to arrange the tatters to conceal more.
Wyn shrugged, both hands on the steering wheel. “Some women like that.” She giggled.
Opening her mouth and then closing it, Zita considered. “I suppose it depends on the angle.”
“The girls are on their own now.” Andy retreated, but not before poking her in the side. His question was silent. Am I flying us home?
A snort came from the front seat. “I meant my saber, perverts.” Jerome’s tone held the laughter his words lacked.
“You should clarify these things,” Wyn teased. “So did you get the notebook?”
His voice glum, Jerome answered first. “No. And I don’t know how much of the computer drive was wiped, but at least I had it deleting the medical files first, so hopefully those are gone.” The big man shifted position, and must have given up his examination of the weapon, as light no longer reflected off the blade.
I’ll get us back to my place once we’re clear of Jerome’s surveillance setup. Zita offered silently.
“It could have been worse,” the witch offered, “at least you destroyed the relevant data. If someone has the notebook, but no data, all they have are some names other sources would have given them anyway. The hospital conflagration destroyed enough that it might be sufficient to keep us from involuntary confinement.” Wyn changed lanes and took a merge onto the Beltway.
He let out a bark of amusement. “Oh, that doesn’t bother me. Plans are just wishful thinking. T-Bird, though, I’m disappointed in you, man. You need to bone up on what a real friend is.”
“What?” Andy asked. “What did I do?” He looked at Zita. OK, but I prefer flying, he sent mentally.
She shrugged. Then we’ll get you out to do that again soon.
The other man sulked, missing the silent byplay. “A real friend would’ve gotten me as soon as the chick fight started, especially once clothing started getting torn off.”