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 long 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 had just 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.
On December 7, 2018, readers opening my newsletter got a copy of my latest free short story, Roses in December. Chronologically, Roses follows Pie and precedes Monster (May 2019). It includes no spoilers, but references information in the Arca novels. Check the sweet cover out!
Unlike the rest of my books and stories, Roses is an Arca World story—it’s in the same world as Arca, but focuses on a character other than Zita. In this case, it’s all about Wyn.
When her aunt with dementia is taken on a disastrous day trip, research librarian Wyn will have to step out of the stacks and get down and dirty to save her.
Even if that means hiking.
This story has no violence or sexual innuendo, though there’s danger, damsels in distress, heroic heroines, and perilous peril. Zita has a cameo, so there is also one Spanish obscenity, free of charge. It touches on adult topics though, so still not a story for children.
Roses is free, but only available to newsletter subscribers, both new and existing. While the December newsletter had the first link to it, the January newsletter will include the link again for those too inundated with holiday sales notices to catch it the first time. Subscribers will also have periodic chances to download all the short stories for free during the year.
Arca World vs. Arca
The Arca series will continue to be my focus. However, since the world isn’t about any one person, however interesting and awesome they consider themselves, my work isn’t either. Arca World stories are about all the other people and events. Many thanks to the readers who wrote in asking for more Wyn—Roses is for you!
So, if you have a favorite you’d like to see more of, let me know. I’m always happy to hear from readers and that character might be the hero or heroine of the next Arca World story.
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 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:
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:
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.