Every year, I’m between a rock and a hard place. I try to release a short story to my mailing list as a thank you and holiday gift at least once a year. The problem, however, is whether to deliver it before the new year so they can have something short and fun to curl up with when they need a break from celebrating, or after the new year when money is typically tight and a free story would be a good way to unwind from all those resolutions.
This year, I came up with a good solution: two stories, Concrete and Quarry. One delivered before the holidays, and the other after. In both, Zita’s trying to live up to her social obligations when something goes wrong (she IS a superhero, after all). Both stories occur between Monster and Toga.
Quarry, released January 2020, covers Zita-as-Arca hanging with a friend not longer after the events of Monster. Here’s the description:
Some people dig up trouble everywhere they go, even when they’re literally in a hole in the ground.
Zita Garcia’s one of them. The part-time superhero has to step up–or climb down–to save the day yet again.
Concrete, released November 2019, covers Zita-as-Zita on yet another successful (-ish? Close enough.) blind date a few days before the events of Toga. Here’s the description:
Never stand between a woman and her snacks. Everything would’ve been fine, if the robbers would’ve left the snacks alone.
Sometimes, a woman has to take action, even if she’s pretending not to be a superpowered vigilante.
Just wait until she tries to attend a party someday. Both stories and their descriptions are listed on the Books page.
Additionally, I’ve added a chronology page to this website so that those who prefer to read their books and stories in order now have a reference without needing to read through the descriptions of each story.
Monster is on the loose! The fourth book in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series released today, May 5, 2019. What happens in this one? Here’s a quick description:
When the authorities abandon the search for a serial killer targeting Zita Garcia’s family, the sometime superhero will do whatever it takes to find him. If finding him means fighting literal monsters, wrangling glitter-obsessed vampires, or going to nightclubs, she’s in, even if the undead and line dances make her skin crawl. She needs to solve this fast—before things go from bad to hearse.
Paperback versions will follow in a few weeks, but I can tell you that the 6×9″ books will have 322 pages filled with adventure, lame jokes, and all the Arca you expect. I’ll comment below when that happens.
To celebrate the release and readers who’ve stuck around for the past three 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 that decision is subject to change.
AND… Super will be on sale for 99 cents USD (or equivalent) in all stores until May 15 for readers who like to start from the origin story and work their way up to the latest adventure. See the Books page for the store links.
NOTE: I am an Amazon affiliate, which means if you purchase an item at Amazon following a link on one of my pages, I may someday receive a few pennies from them.
Heroes & Villains… My goodness, is that a… SECRET PROJECT? WHAT?
Why, yes, yes it is a secret project, if you discount the fact that I told Mr. Diem and my entire newsletter mailing list about it in advance. Anyway, I’m very happy to announce that it’s here!
The Heroes & Villains ten ebook set is now available for purchase at Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo! It includes TEN novels for $2.99 USD (or regional equiv), all of which are full-length novels and the first in their respective series.
Here’s the complete set list in the order they appear in the book. My favorite is obviously my own, but it’s really a great set. Each one has a slightly different take on superheroes, whether it’s dystopian or noir or lighthearted urban fantasy (*cough*) or young adult or … you get the idea. Anyway. I’ve already got my copy. Get yours before it goes away in mid-September.
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.
In 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:
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
If you enjoyed this Power cut scene, the book releases May 5, 2018 at most major book retailers:
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.
These 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:
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.
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.
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:
Super version 2.0 is now available. It’s now stronger than a locomotive–or Super version 1.0, anyway.
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.