Saturday, July 23, 2016


I know y’all think I’ve been slacking again, and I have, but book one has now been reissued, and is back on Amazon and Createspace, and I’m looking for other places to put it as well. The new cover is below.

 However, in the meantime, I’m taking a much needed break and visiting friends in California. I love the pace of life out here, at least in their circle, and I love the fact that even in late June, you can sit outside a good bit of the time. As a native Texan, this is something foreign to me. Late June in Texas is hot, humid, and generally in the middle of an air quality alert, if you are anywhere in the vicinity of a city. 

Digging Up the PastI can breathe, and I can sit outside, what a concept. The best part about traveling, however, is that with any luck, you get to relax, and I have been doing nothing but relaxing. We have been to the movie, to a theater with electric recliners and tray tables with drink holders, to a pasta buffet at one of the local wineries, and tastings at several others. A nearby brewery has BBQ on Friday nights, and today we drove up to Big Trees state park to picnic. 

Photography opportunities are abundant, and the shot of an eagle in the top of a tree today was my most exciting so far.  I also got some lovely shots of Pardee Lake.  Those will all be up on shortly.  

Alas, however, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and after not having to take a single allergy tablet for a week, my allergies awakened immediately on my return, and went immediately to bronchitis.  This is fairly common for me, but it does tend to slow me down.  I have finally recovered, and feel human again, so I’m back to my blog. 

I’ll be putting up more teasers from Reaching for Beyond this summer and fall as I finish getting it ready to go, so please let me know what you think.

Reaching for Beyond excerpt:

So much blood.  All I could see when I first walked into the room was blood.  I was glad I had the paper booties on, but there was no way they could stand up to that much blood. Whether I would ever get all the blood out of my shoes would be a crapshoot, but I wasn’t going to bet on it.  My feet squished when I walked into the room. 

I couldn’t even see the body at first. Even with my shields as tight as I could get them, emotions screamed through the room, and through me.  Rage. Pain. Terror. My hands shook, and I hid them in my pocket. I tried to ground, and when my mind finally began to process the scene, my stomach revolted. I swallowed rapidly to keep from bolting for the door.  My anger increased.

I thought I’d seen some bad scenes, but I was completely unprepared for what I was seeing and feeling. It was beyond anything I could have imagined, and I have a very dark, twisty imagination. I’ve seen some things I would have preferred not to see in this job, but this was in a whole new category.

Even as I pushed past the emotions permeating the room, I could still smell the blood and death, the Lilin and Were. The blood and the darkness were still there. Blood had soaked in to every visible surface in the bedroom, stood in pools on the carpet, and dark energy continued to spread through the place, reaching for me, trying to bathe me in its sliminess. More puddles held the legs of the furniture where the floor and furniture had absorbed all they could. I could barely process the scene. Some things your mind just refuses to accept. This was one of those things.

What was left of the body was lying on the bed in another pool of blood, and that increased my anger. It was hard to tell, but I thought it had been a young woman. She didn’t look much more than twenty, but it was hard to tell with her face distorted by her screams. Her head had fallen back when her throat was torn out, and even though the killer had eventually severed it from the body, the head, still seemed to be leaning back, screaming. Somehow, the killer affixed the head to the headboard.  Her torso was lying in the center of the bed.  I couldn’t really tell what color the spread had been.  It was all dark red now.  Her stomach was ripped open, intestines, and internal organs spilling from it like so much spaghetti. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Re-release of Digging Up the Past

Well, here I am slacking again, but I wanted to make sure I knew what would come next for my books.  Booktrope, my publisher went out of business as of May 31, 2016; however, I re-released Digging Up the Past on June 1, 2016 independently.  This is a new experience for me, and I like to consider all new experiences as adventures.  Whether it is traveling alone to a new place, learning a new skill, or just learning a new way to do something I’ve done before, I think the best way to approach it is as something to look forward to.  

Change is not easy, and very few people like even the idea of getting outside their comfort zone, but firmly believe the only way we can continue to grow is to leave the comfort zone and try something new.  As a result, I have decided to be an indie author, at least for this book, and probably the next one, so I’m looking forward to this new adventure, and I hope you will all join me on the adventure.

Digging Up the Past has a new cover.  My friend Doug Myerscough did the front cover, and I did the back one.  While I love the cover that I had when it was published with Booktrope, I want to save that cover for a later book, and use the new one to celebrate the new publication.
Isn’t it awesome!  

The ancient artifacts really bring out the spirit of the book since the mystery surrounds an artifact missing from an archaeological dig.  When magic returned to the world, with the uprooting of the stones of the Bimini Road, those artifacts that used to be just curiosities, once again became instruments of power, and a spade that grants immortality and the ability to raise the dead is just too great a prize for someone.  

Immortality? Now that’s tempting. Throw in an army of the dead, and hey, any evil overlord would kill for that package.
When the Homeland Security Service’s Department of Unusual Events, or DUE, assigned my partner, Jason, and me to this case, the file said the spade we were looking for was valued at eighteen million dollars and belonged to the Peruvian government. Stolen during shipment from Peru to the local university, the spade, along with a number of the other artifacts uncovered on a dig site in Peru, was scheduled for study here. According to our file, the HSS believed it had been stolen for financial gain or, perhaps, to cause an international incident. Not our usual type of case, but not unheard of either.
What the file didn’t mention was that this wasn’t just any gold spade. This was the Spade of Apocatequil. Peruvian legend has it that where ever Apocatequil stuck this spade in the ground, people sprang up. Now, the spade is believed to grant the holder immortality and the power to raise the dead. Minor omission.
My cover on this assignment was that of a college student. I also worked as a dog walker for the Bradens, who were our primary suspects, so every afternoon, Angel, the Bradens’ German shepherd, and I made the two-block walk to the dog park near the Bradens’ house.
When I pulled in at the house, I could tell no one was home. The Bradens would be at the local dig site until at least dark, getting set for the summer dig, and it wasn’t unusual for Keesha, the Bradens’ daughter, and Mena, the operative from Cerberus Security who’s been acting as her nanny, to be out in the early afternoon. I clipped the leash on Angel and we headed for the park.
Oh, as for why they should be our primary suspects, that’s the easy part. John Braden was the American archaeologist on the Peruvian dig. His wife, Sonya, was the lead anthropologist on that same dig, and that put them at the top of the list of suspects. That placement was further supported by the fact that someone else believed they had the spade. Our file also indicated that things had been stolen from other dig sites when they were in charge. The hard part was that there was no evidence, solid or otherwise, that they took the spade, or that they were involved in any of the other thefts.
I’d gotten to know the Bradens and Mena fairly well, and as an empath, I could tell you that the Bradens were definitely anxious, scared even. The catch is that even with my empathic skill, it’s hard to tell one anxiety from another, and they had a legitimate reason to be anxious. Someone was threatening to kidnap their daughter.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Guest Blog Wesley Britton: New Release The Blood of Balnakin—The Beta-Earth Chronicles: Book Two

Hello fellow readers, Wesley Britton stopping by to talk about my newly published novel, The Blood of Balnakin—The Beta-Earth Chronicles: Book Two.  For Sandi’s blog, I thought I’d talk about a few things I had to consider while writing a sequel.

First, I have to thank two people for helping out. In the debut story, The Blind Alien, I introduced a number of characters in a polygamous family along with issues that I’d have to introduce all over again in book two for readers who might not have read the first book or probably have forgotten what had happened to whom and why and where and when.   It was editor David Menefee who strongly encouraged me to deepen my descriptions of the established cast of characters in the sequel’s introduction, especially just what everyone looked like. In the first chapter of Blood of Balnakin, I also went to great pains to touch on the significant events in The Blind Alien, especially the impact many of these would have in the sequel.    Thus, I tried to make the sequel understandable for readers completely new to the saga.

In particular, in The Blind Alien, the Renbourn family was blamed by an entire country for the devastating explosion in the city of Bergarten which resulted in the deaths of thousands. Because of this, Tribe Renbourn had to flee across the ocean to try to set roots in a new country. But Lorei Cawl Renbourn, a blind prophetess of the goddess Olos, had seen three visions of inevitable events that would ultimately reconcile the family with the country of Balnakin. While Lorei is unhappy about what these three things will mean, The Blood of Balnakin leads to the fulfillment of these visions. Thus, books one and two of the Beta-Earth Chronicles can be seen as two chapters of the same epic.

I must also thank my wife, Betty Britton.  After reading an early draft of book two, she asked, “Don’t these wives ever argue with each other? Don’t they ever play tricks on each other? Don’t the children ever get underfoot?” I can’t emphasize enough the importance of these questions.

For example, I’d spent considerable time dealing with the many pressures the outside world was putting on the family, but I needed to do more with conflicts within the tribe itself. That led to a very important sub-plot where various wives have very different responses to what will take place in the climax. In fact, that conflict becomes one of the most important threads of the tapestry.

I confess, the question about tricks led to one of my favorite chapters in the book.   You’ll read a rather elaborate description of trickery that sets up one of the funniest seduction scenes I could imagine. It’s something of a major surprise for the character you can meet in the attachment to this post.

I admit, I don’t really think I met my wife’s desires describing underfoot children.   As you’ll discover, there are so many major characters in Blood of Balnakin, trying to invest many more paragraphs to the next generation could have really muddied up things.  Still, the children of Malcolm Renbourn and his wives take on stronger roles than they had in The Blind Alien and they will come closer to center stage in books three and four.

So, just a few observations about my writing process.  I can add The Blood of Balnakin is packed with surprises in character development, provides many strange new settings, and unfolds in an unique style of story-telling.  Find out more at my website:

Thanks for letting me visit with you a few minutes!

To whet your appetite for the newly arrived The Blood of Balnakin—The Beta-Earth Chronicles: Book Two, I thought I’d share a sample excerpt from the book here.

This passage introduces a major new character in the saga. I hope you’ll want to learn much more about her in BOB!

Kalma: I am daughter of the great city of Bergarten, a city I have known with
pride, shame, and aching womb all my days. In the twenty-five years of my growing
near the three rivers, I thrived in the knowledge my home city was a center of the
world. All around me were the wide, clean walkways leading past gleaming buildings
unlike any in any other city on Olos earth. I knew these flowing streets well, I knew I
was one fleshly part of the best of humanity. My Bergarten was where the future
shaped, where discipline and energy superseded the ways of others tangled in their
tired pasts.
But I also was shaped by a family deeply troubled by the slavery of fellow
Balnakins sharing not our deep, earth-soil colors. I knew well our Sojoa sheets shone
because of the polishings of blues dangled from rooftops or belted to mechanical
ladders. Riding in our trans from one site to another, my Mother often circled her
breasts with single finger loops, signaling gratitude to be blessed each time she
glanced at a sullen blue woman tuning tools, unloading tracs, crawling down into
pipes below ground. Many such women would know spears, children, family not.
Futures not. We whispered our regret. But only whispers, silences, prayers. After all,
without the blues, our greatness possibled not.
Then, my soul ached and more as I was in Bergarten the day the soundless
explosion robbed my city of its heart. I was one of those shoved onto an evacuation
bus at stadsem that cursed day, cramped with students and sweating teachers on the
road north when the catastrophe took away the rooms we sat in but minutes before. I
can name names of many who exist no more. My belly tightens still to think of them.
Had not my Tribe fast boats on the Gell River, two of my Sisters and their children
would also exist no more.
To say more, for years, my family has been a deep part of what I loved most about
Bergarten. For one matter, unlike many, my father, Lius Salk, built his empire of
connections relying not on what he considered a dishonest means of business. That is,
as he rose in the ranks of the shipping company of Mhelapras, he chose not his wives
based on tunic sewings. Instead, each of his five bondings were daughters from the
New Dome Church of No-Stratas founded by the eminent Devlin Joco Llyam. Llyam's
congregation agreed on various principles including the possibility, but rarity of, true
prophecy. We believed Olos was indeed the Mother of All, and that all included all
skins. This meant Olos abhorred slavery. No member of the New Domes associated
with Devlin Llyam could own or deal with the selling of humans. This meant we had
few prosperous, powerful tribes to share worship with. My father looked for wives
with these beliefs knowing they would come from families with these values. He
wanted wives focused on their children. So, each of us grew in a home devoted to our
betterment while my father grew his company in countries stained not by human
bondage. He worked with makers of goods with sellers all over the globe interested in
unique wares from cultures across land and sea. As Father rose to the top of
Mhelapras, we rose with him.
True said, in each family, seeds bear different fruits. My brother Mool became as
interested as my father in the ways of connecting makers with distributors. So, he
established his own healthy branch to the family's growth into the countries south of
the Psam Peninsula, mostly on the continent of Verashush. But my brother Kinn
could find his way not. He became an angry student at the Lipran Stadsem,
graduating just before the news came out that an alien was in the Halls of the great
Bergarten Institute of the Species. Kinn stood in the audience the day Doctor Malcolm
Renbourn reached out to two globes. Later, Kinn raged in father's house the day the
alien snuck across the border into Rhasvi. My father dismayed when Kinn denounced
loud the Lipran authorities for having allowed this escape to happen. Why had any
fool put a Shaprim robe on a blue, why was a creature so obviously defective
contained not here in Bergarten where all the world should come and beg access to
our knowledge? "Olos put her stamp on every Brown," Kin preached, "when she
marked us with her own color, the color of her most fertile land! What is blue but an
empty shade between day and night? Unnatural. Name one other creature sharing
this strange pigment!" He laughed. "And these are creatures to envy, pity not! How
relaxing to have no decisions to make, no will to exercise! We shelter, feed, guide
these off-colors!" My father had known not my brother had changed at the Stadsem.
Into this nest of anti-slavery philosophies, a racist had emerged.
And Kinn became more than that when one-fourth of our city became a dome in
the earth, a gaping hole where once friends and companions lived. One horrible day,
my father's office view overlooked a wound that now defined a culture. Devlin Llyam's
home was but two-lanes away. During the first years after that damnable rip in Olos
appeared, such men and their women grieved in silent wonder. During the same
years, men and women like my brother Kinn spoke often and loud. "I stood there,
right there at the very center of that wound in the Mother! By miracle alone three of
my Sisters survived! But a minute, a moment, our Tribe, too, would have had souls
with bodies not for holy burning!" All Balnakin homes knew the debates. Yes, drain
and bleed Rhasvin coffers for compensation. But compensate who? How can lost
knowledge be re-claimed? Who owned the lost land? They were gone, too. Rebuild?
Build a memorial? Answers were slow. But those like Kin looked for answers not.
Vengeance. Slashing, burning, crushing of all creatures whose skin was brown not.
Consuming, unyielding rage. So, father sent my brother to Alma in the hopes the
distance might calm his angry spear. To live among blues who were slaves not,
Balnakin, Rhasvi not. For a time, we knew not of success in father's dreams. We more
concerned with our world turned upside down.

To learn more about the Beta-Earth Chronicles, stop by—

To order The Blood of Balnakin, it’s at:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Riley, the Loner

Whew!  I feel kind of like Ash over there right now. I’m happy to say I have finally realized why Riley’s been resisting as I’ve progressed through Reaching for Beyond.  What I’m not happy to say is it will push back the release for a bit while I do rewrites; however, it will be a much better book for the delay.  The good news is that the work is progressing more rapidly than it has in a while, so it will be coming up soon.

See the problem is that Riley is a loner, and I’ve been trying to force her to be with people most of the time, and it’s apparently been driving her a little batty. I’m looking forward to seeing her individual approach to more of the events in the book.  The rest of the crew is still around, and are big parts of her life, but as you know, and as she reminded me, Riley is well able to take care of herself without being with someone all the time.  

Jason and Cam

She and Jason work together, but they work best when they each pursue their different approaches to each individual case, and then come together to compare notes and bounce ideas off each other, so I’m going to let them take their preferred approach, and see if it doesn’t flow better. 

The relationship between Riley and Cam will change and develop in this book, but I have no idea which direction they will take.  They haven’t let me know yet what they want to do, but I’m sure they will.

Other Characters

Some of the other characters from Digging Up the Past will be in Reaching for Beyond as well, and there will be some new people to meet, but where they will fit into Riley’s life remains to be seen. She tends to try to keep people at arm’s length because people around her often die.

I don’t know why I suddenly failed to listen to her about how she works best, but there it is.  It’s a mistake I will not to make again, but since I tend to try to take control of situations, I can’t make any promises, so I’m sure Riley and I will but heads again before the series is over.  I’m sure the payoff for this conflict will be more interesting books for you, and it will certainly be a wild ride for me, and probably for both of us. Enjoy! 

Reaching for Beyond: Excerpt

Dark energy, dark and somehow slimy energy slithered over my defensive shield and down my spine.  I shuddered.

My stomach churned. The blood and death were bad enough, but the smell of werewolf, and Lilin combined with the dark energy that I couldn’t identify emanating from the house concerned me more than the smell alone. The dark energy seemed to seep through my shields, and the effect it was having on me scared the crap out of me.  I could feel anger rising.

I wished that Sam, the DUE wizard, or my partner, Jason, who wasn’t in town yet, were here, for moral support if nothing else, but maybe by the time I talked to them, I could figure out how to explain it, and even more importantly, maybe I could figure out why it was making me angry. It wasn’t emotional energy. It was just dark. Even so, with my training and shields, it shouldn’t have affected me at all, much less so strongly. The only benefit I could see right now from either my training or my shields was that I realized what it was that was making me angry.  Knowing that helped me know how to push it back and not take it out on the people around me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell exactly why it was making me angry, and it didn’t seem to be connected to the Lilin or Werewolf energy.  It might not have helped if it was connected to one of them, but at least I’d have a place to start.

 “Are you alright?” One of the uniforms asked me. He was young, and probably had never been to a scene like this before. He also looked like he thought I was going to contaminate the crime scene, but I was willing to bet he still hadn’t been inside, and it would probably be best if he didn’t go.

“No. Let’s get this done.” It came out sharper than I intended it, but the anger kept rising, pushing me to lash out. Knowing what was causing it helped some, but the urge to punch someone was increasing. When an empath lashes out, our emotions spill out over everyone. If I wasn’t careful, I could start a brawl at the crime scene. Not particularly helpful when trying to solve a crime and a good way not to be invited back.

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