Bil’Tross Cover Art, Blurb, Excerpt, and Preorder Links!

Bil’Tross, the epic conclusion to the Jazz Healy, Reunion Saga, will drop on November 2nd, 2021. Yep, that’s only 4 weeks away! Are you excited? Of course you are, what a silly question to ask.

To get you even more hyped, here’s the cover art, courtesy of the most excellent L.E. Badillo. It’s been a real pleasure watching L.E. bring my cover visions to life across this series. In this cover, we get to see Jazz’s face for the very first time.

Now that you’ve reveled in the cover, how’s about reading a blurb? Yeah? Yeah!

Blurb

Ride the space-lanes beside Jazz Healy in this epic conclusion to the Reunion saga. Accompanied by Rainbow Ninja, Eisner, Xandra, and the Four-One-One, Jazz will battle pirates, crooked information brokers, planetary blockades, familiar faces, and more as she draws ever closer to being reunited with her father.

Will the trials and tribulations, the heartache and the joy, all be worth it in the end? Find out today!

***

So, it’s a lot shorter than my other blurbs (and I’m not totally sold on the second paragraph yet) but I figure if you’ve made it this far you just want a quick summary to assure you there’s gonna be plenty of what you’ve enjoyed from the first three books in this one. Right? Right! What a silly question to ask 😋

That brings us to… dun, dun, dun… brace for impact… The Excerpt…

Hmm, that sounded way more dramatic in my head.

Excerpt

Bil’Tross Chapter 1, Scene 1

Jazz Healy yanked aside the tattered grey curtain to find her path blocked by an overturned crate. She suppressed a sigh. She was deep within He-san Station, picking her way through a seemingly endless maze of shops and homes. Eisner crowded into the makeshift room beside her and tugged the curtain closed, shutting off a tiny yet exorbitantly-priced tech store.

A mound of grubby blankets beside the crate obscured a snoring, gaunt-faced man. Jazz coughed. With a start, the man opened his eyes and heaved himself upright. One of his pupils was cloudy and a ragged scar stretched across his bare torso, running from his left shoulder to the right of his belly button.

“Giggs?” Jazz asked him.

He inclined his head towards the yellow curtain on his other side.

Jazz nodded. “Thanks.”

“Got any spare cash?” the man croaked.

Jazz did, though not in local currency. “Only a couple Commonwealth coins.”

“They’ll do.” A hand holding a chipped plate appeared from within the blankets.

Jazz dug two coins out of a pocket in her cargos and flicked them across. Both bounced off the plate but the man made no move to retrieve them.

“Thank you, kind lady,” he said.

The scent of charred meat and spices tickled Jazz’s nostrils. She edged around the man, left hand resting on the butt of her holstered gun, and dragged the next curtain out of the way. A woman squatted in front of a giant, steaming pot, scraping food into it from a chopping board. Beside the woman, a man in a sweat-stained singlet worked a grill, watched by a pair of spacers in greasy coveralls. They both wore guns on each hip, their caps pulled low over their eyes.

This was a more open area of the station, the ceilings high, the hot air not so close and heavy. Apart from being a neutral zone for all the criminal enterprises in this part of the Independent Fringes, He-san Station also orbited very close to its star. The powers that be didn’t have to keep the temperature quite so warm, of course, but perhaps they liked to remind everybody of the station’s precarious position.

A busy food court operated on Jazz’s left, the center space taken up by benches and tables assembled from leftover pallets and other scraps. Smoky haze made it difficult to take in all the details. Straight ahead and to her right, curtains of varying colors and density covered more passageways, giving no clue as to what lay beyond them.

“I think that guy gave us bum directions,” Eisner said.

Jazz shrugged. “They were about as specific as my request.”

A flash – flashes – of yellow from the crush of people at the far end of the food court caught her attention. The jackets of a group moving through the masses, most everybody giving them space. Jazz squinted, dialed her enhanced optics up a few notches. Each jacket had the same emblem on the upper arm. The outline of a bent-winged fighter, swooping.

The universe stilled, the thudding of Jazz’s heart thunder in her ears. In an instant her mind rewound to when she was sixteen and aboard a commercial freighter above a frontier planet, alongside her father in a similarly smoke-filled corridor. They were exchanging gunfire with a trio who’d hired on as crew but now revealed themselves to be something else entirely. Each of the traitors wore a yellow bandana over the lower half of their face, the outline of a bent-winged fighter, swooping, covering their noses and mouths.

“What is it, Jazz?” Eisner said.

She pointed, unable to turn away. “Proof we’re on the right track.”

Eisner shaded his eyes with a hand, the underarm of his suit jacket wet with sweat. “The yellow guys?”

Jazz nodded.

He took a step forward. “We should introduce ourselves.”

The fear of an abandoned child manifested in Jazz’s gut. She swallowed. “No. That’s going too far back in the history books. Probably not even the same people. The lifespan of a pirate isn’t particularly long.”

“Your call,” Eisner said. He turned to the woman by the pot. “Giggs?”

She stopped stirring for a brief moment to point at a faded orange curtain directly ahead.

Jazz took a deep breath. She needed to focus. She had ventured onto He-san to speak to the famed information broker Durl Giggs. If anybody out here in the Fringes could tell her where her father was now it would be Giggs. And that was what she wanted to know. Dad’s current whereabouts. She couldn’t allow herself to be distracted from that objective, even if the faint – it had been thirteen years since the attack, after all – possibility existed that one or two of those yellow-jacketed thugs shopping for chow down the way had been present at Yeoman’s Harvest.

To give herself an extra moment to clear her head, she opened a comms channel via her neural rig to her ship. “You copy, Xandra?”

“Yeah,” the kid’s voice came back. “What’s wrong?”

“Just checking in.”

“Well, don’t worry about us. We’re fine.”

“Okay.” Jazz cut the connection.

Eisner, hooked into the conversation via his own neurals, grinned. “Cocky one, ain’t she?”

Jazz smiled. “She’s all right.”

She had officially left fourteen-year-old Xandra in charge of both the ship and the other kids: Breem, Khasti, Loom and Maria. Really, though, it was Rainbow Ninja – Jazz’s waist-high, muscular, red-and-black striped cat – who would ensure the youngsters didn’t do anything stupid.

Hopefully. The cat had been a lot less responsible since the arrival of the children.

The man laboring over the grill pointed at them with his spatula and said in thickly accented Trade, “You want special? Best deal on station. Two bowl driski noodle and vegetable, ten klait.”

“Maybe later,” Jazz said. That did sound like a good deal. Ten klait was about what the Commonwealth coins she’d given to the man in the room behind were worth. They wouldn’t have bought a pair of noodles back in Commonwealth space, let alone a full meal for two.

“Sure, sure,” the man said. “Don’t forget, okay? Ten klait, big bowl.”

Setting thoughts of food to one side, Jazz strode towards the faded orange curtain and pushed through it. Her neural rig tingled. Scan shield. Very well-disguised but definitely present.

This might be the place, then.

***

Preorder Link

No point engaging in any more preamble, is there? You want the book, I know you want the book, so where can you preorder the book from?

Here you go: https://books2read.com/biltross

As of posting this, only Kindle and Google are live but as Bil’Tross becomes available at other stores the link above will update.

Don’t delay, preorder Bil’Tross today!

Oh, and if somehow you haven’t read the first three books in the series (yeah, I’m confused as to how that could be possible, too), then you probably want to get started right away. Follow this awesome link to acquire Miltan Epsilon, the first book in the series, free from your bookstore of choice. Free. Did I mention that book 1 is free? No. Well, it’s free. Really, really free.

Also, if you support me on Buy Me a Coffee, I’ll gift you Chak’r’Das, book 2, as a show of appreciation. I’ll do the same if you become an S.C. Mae Book Club Member. If you want to learn more about supporting/membership, head on over to my Buy Me a Coffee page and toggle between Membership and Support on the right-hand side to see how you can support me and what perks membership offers.

Catch you all soon, punks, erm, peeps!

S.C. Mae

Writing Update Mid-August 2021

It’s been a while since I’ve done a writing update post. Last one was mid-Feb which was (counts on fingers) 6 months ago. So, what’ve I been up to, writing-wise, in that time?

Stuff. I’ve been up to stuff. Words and suchlike. Some editing. Some publishing, even.

Big stuff out of the way first because it’s stuff I’ve already posted about plenty. 3 books of the Jazz Healy, Reunion Series have been published. Miltan Epsilon and Chak’r’Das dropped on May 4th, while Garbadon Major charged into the world on August 3rd. Speaking of which, if you haven’t bought Garbadon Major yet, what are ya waiting for? Get on it, already!

Onto the other stuff. On the words front, I’m 76K+ into Spider’s Hub. I gave myself an extension to get it done, seeing as I put it aside for nearly 3 weeks while I did final edits on Garbadon Major. September 1st is the new finish-by date but I’m not sure I’ll be done by then either. Writeometer tells me I need 1,500+ words per day from this point to reach 100K and I’ve also still got half my outline to go! I’ve been doing some rearranging on the fly but I think the draft will finish up around 115-120K.

As a note, when I posted on August 3rd I mentioned I was 58K into Spider’s Hub, which means I’ve added around 18,000 words in just over 2 weeks, which works out to about 1,200 words a day. I’ve picked up steam in the last week or so, which has been good. More on some of the contributing factors to the output increase later in the post.

I quite like how the story is shaping up. Lincoln Reilly is proving to be an interesting character to write. Now for a quick flashback! When I did first edits on Miltan Epsilon I found that Jazz changed a lot throughout the book. Change is good, of course, we want our characters to grow, but I realized I’d made fundamental changes to her being as I got to know her better through the first draft. Which sounds pretty weird – after all, she’s a fictional character I created – but it’s what happened, and having spoken to plenty of other writers, I don’t think it’s so unusual a process. Anyway, I had to smooth those fundamental changes out to make sure her growth across the series worked (at least I hope I did so🤣) and so readers wouldn’t start scratching their heads midway through the book wondering who this new Jazz was (I hope I managed to do that, too). My point? I’ll probably have to do the same for Lincoln. I wrote Miltan Epsilon over a lot longer period of time than I’m writing Spider’s Hub, which might account for some of the aforementioned, but still, I feel like I’m also getting to know Lincoln in more depth as I write this story.

Also, while I’m planning on writing more novels featuring Lincoln Reilly, I don’t have a set character arc for him. There are elements in place already that will be important on that front but I haven’t mapped out how he’ll develop across the series as I did for Jazz. Which is to say that if he grows as a person in this book it won’t be planned, though it would be a nice surprise!

The supporting cast has been fun to get to know, too. There are several secondary characters who fade in and out throughout the course of the story, though 2 spend a lot more time in the thick of the narration than the others. As well as Lincoln being consistent, I’ll also need to make sure the rest of the cast stay so throughout (or stay consistently inconsistent, for some).

I know I really shouldn’t be thinking ahead to edits just yet but sometimes I can’t help it.

I also mentioned in my last post that I’m dabbling with short fiction again. Now, this will definitely sound contradictory but I decided to do that to increase my output on Spider’s Hub. How will that work, exactly, I hear you asking. After all, won’t the short story words be taking away from the novel words?

Not necessarily. My typical routine is to get up early, write novel words, then do the primary job and get more novel words in where I can. Except I generally find my writing brain is pretty fried come the afternoon, so I get few novel words in. I’ve also been finding that I’m struggling to string together consistent novel output. A good day or two followed by a few poor days. Partly because brain needs time to recover from being fried, perhaps? Recently, I thought why not try some short fiction, stories where I’m not working to an outline or on a self-imposed deadline? That might be invigorating for the ole noggin, right?

So far I’ve found that to be true. I’m not working on short stories every day but I am finding them a nice change of pace, and I do think these little breaks/changes I’m giving my brain are helping me with the novel. I’ve hit my daily 1.5K goal 6 of the past 8 days, for instance, and the 2 days I didn’t I hadn’t planned to. Previously, I’d been hitting my word goal perhaps 1 or maybe 2 days a week and missing badly the rest of the time.

Right now I have 2 short stories on the go. I’m using randomwordgenerator.com to get writing prompts (I’ve always enjoyed being given a set of words and seeing what blossoms from them), with the setting at 3 nouns. I have to use the prompt, even if I don’t much like it at first.

My 2 prompts have been:

  • Development – Mud – Investment
  • Explanation – Memory – Penalty
  • I’m progressing better with the second prompt right now but I’ve got good starts for each (though I have a feeling story #2 might end up being longer instead of shorter). There’s no outline, except what I make in my head. Just writing to see what happens. That means there’s no expectation, either, and no deadline. That’s the thing that’s invigorating me, in my opinion. These are purely for fun. If a story comes out that I like then great, if not, that’s all good, too. And it means I can approach my novels knowing that when they get tough (and they do, quite often) I’ve got other projects I can escape into for an hour or two. It’s like a reset button.

    And that’s where I’m at right now with all the writing stuffs.

    What’s coming up? Well, once I finish the first draft of Spider’s Hub I need to finish the outline for the second Lincoln Reilly novel, and perhaps outline the third. I also need to do final edits on Bil’Tross, which has a release date of November 2nd. My plan is to be mostly through the first draft of the second Lincoln Reilly novel by the end of the year. I’m also hoping to have 5 short stories finished and polished by year-end too. I know I just said I’m writing the shorts for fun only at this point, which is true, but at the same time I’d like to have some stories to share with you over on my Buy Me A Coffee page, and possibly even to sell to some zines, so I’ve given myself a semi-goal.

    Finally, a big THANK-YOU to all who’ve read, rated and reviewed Miltan Epsilon. We’re up to 11 ratings and 3 reviews (all very nice!) on Amazon.com, with an overall rating of 4.5. I haven’t quite got my head around the rating system across the different Amazon stores but I think a few of the ratings on .co.uk and .ca are different from the ones on .com. There are some nice ratings and reviews on Goodreads, too (4.71 overall), and there’ve also been a pair of 5-star ratings on Google Play, which is pretty cool!

    Also, a big SHOUT-OUT to the reader from France who was the first Kindle user to purchase Garbadon Major. You rock! A shout-out, too, to you other fine folk who’ve bought the third book in the Jazz Healy, Reunion Series. Don’t worry, the final book is a ripper (though I am admittedly biased 😋) and will be out before you know it.

    Talk to you all again soon!
    S.C. Mae