I’m super excited to be returning to the Austin Film Festival – I used to go every year, but haven’t been since 2016. It is the best place ever for screenwriters, with amazing people all excited about the craft, great food, and panels on film and television.
And to kick it off, I’m excited to share our #CreativeWritingLife #Podcat interview with one of my co-panelists, Philip Balli – he’ll be joining me and Ashley Poprik on the INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING panel, Saturday 10-29 at 3:00 pm.
Come find me in the Driskill, the event’s BBQ, or one of the many networking events.
If you’re into Marines in space kicking butt, I’d like to tell you about the Ascension Gate series. It’s available now on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Here’s the book description:
What starts as a battle between genetically-engineered super soldiers and an elite group of hackers soon unravels conspiracies that threaten to topple world governments.
Our heroes won’t sit by and do nothing, but soon find they’re involved in more than they could have ever imagined. Get ready for an adventure that takes us from space stations and alien tech to a gateway to the stars.
Fans of STARGATE with a hint of BOURNE will feel at home in this 8-book boxset that combines the Biotech Wars into the Ascension Gate series.
This set includes the following books:
Project Destiny Project Exodus Project Ascent Star Forged Star Legacy Star Defenders Star Exiles Star Empires
Kaylin never planned on having to break into her own home.
Then again, she also never planned on getting tossed out of her home and
threatened with death if she ever tried to come back. But fate was a bitch, and
here she was, scouting out the perimeter of the military base where she’d lived
for two long years.
So much had changed since she’d left, but the base still
looked exactly the same. A fifteen-foot wall marked the border of the compound,
stretching around six square acres of wilderness smack-dab in the middle of the
Florida Everglades. Inside was one of the most secure Resistance bases in the
world, outfitted with a cutting-edge blend of human and alien technology that
was supposed to keep any intruder at bay.
“This was a bad idea,” she muttered under her breath.
Her buyer had made it sound so simple: slip into the base,
retrieve an alien medical device that was stored inside, and slip back out.
With some special codes to disable the security system, it’d be a total
cake-walk compared to some of the thieving jobs she’d taken on before.
So far, it’d been just as easy as her buyer had claimed. One
of the gates on the outside perimeter had been left unlocked, and the motion
and heat sensors were dead. When she’d tested the video signal coming from the
security cameras, she’d found the footage was on loop, showing an empty
landscape with nothing but sawgrass and gnarled pines.
But Kaylin still couldn’t shake the anxiety chewing at her
gut. Something was off. It was just too damn easy. The Resistance could be
overly cocky sometimes, but they weren’t sloppy, especially not when it came to
She should turn back. It’d be easy enough—she could just
leave the base the way she’d come, cut off contact with the buyer, and drop the
assignment. Sure, it’d probably damage her reputation on the black market for a
bit, but it was the best option.
Or maybe that was just her guilt talking. No matter how much
the Resistance had screwed her over, she still felt bad stealing from them.
She’d spent two years working as their soldier, and it was hard to shake that
kind of loyalty. Once a Resistance fighter, always a Resistance fighter.
Something brushed against her waist, making her gasp in
surprise. She instinctively reached for the tranquilizer pistol holstered at
her waist, but her hand froze as she spotted Red. Her pet vater lizard had
crept up from behind, his scales camouflaged a mottled green and brown color to
match the grassland Kaylin was crouched in.
The sight of him brought reality crashing back to her. If the
Resistance had their way, Red would be dead. They wanted every single alien
species killed off, even the harmless and innocent ones.
The Resistance might have saved humankind, but they were
hardly a bastion of morality. And they certainly weren’t her masters. Not
“You’re supposed to be on guard,” she muttered at Red.
He snorted softly in response, swishing his tail back and
forth in a signal of boredom.
She shook her head. “I don’t care if you’re bored, you need
to do as you’re told.”
Red made a low grumble in the back of his throat, as if
protesting her stern tone.
Kaylin sighed and rubbed her temples. When she’d first
adopted Red, she’d resisted the urge to talk to him. It made her feel like one
of those crazy old cat ladies who lived alone and only talked to her pets.
But at this point, Kaylin had embraced her life as a crazy
lizard lady. She spoke to her clients and to Red, and she didn’t bother with
anyone else. It just wasn’t safe to have friendly conversations with people.
And besides, humans were totally overrated.
Red reached his nose up and nudged at the treat bag clipped
to Kaylin’s tactical belt, letting out a small, pitiful whimper. At only a year
old, the vater lizard was already getting huge, his body the size of a large
dog and his leathery wings stretching eight feet when they were unfolded. But
he still made sounds that reminded her of a helpless little puppy.
“Shush,” she muttered at him. But there was no way she could
resist the pathetic whimper, and she drew a small piece of carrot out of her
treat bag, tossing it to him.
Red leaped up and snapped the treat out of the air. His jaws easily
crushed it to pieces, reminding her why vater lizards had gained such a
notorious reputation as pit-fighting beasts. Abuse one for long enough, and it
was a seven-foot-long killing machine.
But they weren’t naturally aggressive. Far from it. A well-trained
vater lizard was as smart and docile as a dog, and just as useful.
“Guard,” Kaylin ordered, pointing to the thick grass behind
Red swallowed his treat and rubbed his cheek affectionately
against her thigh, smearing saliva and some stray carrot bits on her pants.
Kaylin shoved his scaly head away, but not before scratching him lightly under
“Go on,” she said.
He gave a quiet, rumbling purr before slinking off into the
tall grass, disappearing with only a slight rustle to mark his passage.
Kaylin turned her attention to the steel door five yards
ahead of her, knowing Red would alert her if anyone tried to approach from
behind. The door should have had a guard with a rifle in front of it, but no
one was there. Once again, it looked like her buyer had come through on his end
of the deal. She had no idea how he’d managed to jack up the base’s security
system so royally, but she suspected it was an inside job.
Kaylin checked the small screen strapped to her wrist—it was
one of her favorite pieces of alien tech, a hypersensitive heat sensor. She had
it programmed to alert her if anything with the temperature of a human body
came within twenty feet of her.
The screen stayed blank, reassuring her that no one was
nearby. The door’s guard was really gone. Kaylin darted to her feet and jogged
to the door, keeping a careful watch on her surroundings.
Thunder rumbled ominously overhead, as if reminding her to
hurry the hell up. Just an hour ago the weather had been perfectly clear, but
now dark clouds blocked out every trace of the blue sky. Kaylin hadn’t planned
for a storm, but she’d make do. After all, that was why her buyer had hired
her—she was known for getting a job done, no matter what got in her way.
She reached the door and crouched in the shadows at its base,
checking her surroundings one more time. The only thing around was the towering
wall and the swamp grass waving wildly in the wind. She let out a low whistle,
and a moment later Red crept up to her side, still perfectly camouflaged.
A bolt of lightning streaked through the air, making Kaylin’s
heart kick. She took a steadying breath and reached into her pocket, drawing
out the data chip her buyer had sent.
This was the real moment of truth. Her buyer had promised the
chip contained a master key that could unlock any door on the base with only a
simple four-digit code. If he was wrong, and she triggered some sort of alarm…
Kaylin shook her head, tossing aside the worry. So far, her
buyer had come through perfectly. She had no reason not to trust him.
Before she could second-guess herself, she pressed the chip
against the surface of the biometric scanner on the door’s lock. A blue light
blinked at the center of the small, silver chip, telling her it was
transferring information into the lock’s internal computer.
Nothing happened. The lock didn’t budge.
“Come on, come on,” Kaylin muttered under her breath. She was
already starting to shift backward, ready to make an escape the moment a guard
The biometric scanner suddenly blinked green. Then a number
pad appeared on the digital screen, and Kaylin hurriedly keyed in the code her
buyer had given her.
A muted thunk came from within the door. Kaylin tried
the handle again, and this time, it opened.
She was in.
She slipped the chip back into her pocket, drew her
tranquilizing pistol from its holster, and looked down at Red.
“You ready?” she asked.
He snorted in response and shifted closer to the door,
preparing to follow her as soon as she slipped through.
“All right then,” she said, cracking open the door. “Let’s do this.”
Missions to alien planets have resulted in interactions with strange beings in the past, but never on this level.
When Marine Corporal Goshawk becomes part of the search team tasked with locating some missing SEALs, he expected action and plenty of it. After all, they had to send in Marines to rescue SEALs. What he didn’t expect was that the mission would completely transform him, body and spirit.
As new threats from strange beings continually challenge the team and their mission rapidly spirals out of control, odd allies emerge in unexpected places. It’s no joyride for Corporal Goshawk and his small fire team, though, because those allies—the very thing that could help them—are driving a wedge between his team and his commanding officer, along with the rest of the Marines.
Will the Corporal and his team find the SEALs and complete the mission? Can they overcome the strange beings that threaten to take over? Or will they go down in flames?
PRIMAL LINK blends the excitement of Starship Troopers and the mystery and exploration of Horizon Zero Dawn to create a space adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
UNEDITED (SPOILER – PROJECT ASCENT IS BOOK 3 IN THE SERIES)
Alicia: Arriving in Washington, D.C.
Flying didn’t take long when in a jet arranged by one of the top U.S. ambassadors. Soon, land was visible and Alicia found herself almost laughing with relief. Everything they had been through to get to this point was coming to a close. All of her work putting together teams of hackers up on Space Station Horus, fighting to break free once she had her husband back, and now the romp from Japan to Italy—it hadn’t been for nothing after all.
Arriving at Washington, D.C. reminded Alicia of Istanbul in that they had done such a great job of keeping the old while building up the new. The Ronald Reagan airport had evolved over the years into this advanced hanger for local aircraft and craft for intercontinental travel, as well as space travel. Its design was reminiscent of a massive traveling bullet, with metal sheeting glimmering in the afternoon sun, sticking out like wings to symbolize motion.
Other craft circled as they waited for clearance to land, so Alicia and her group were able to catch a view of the monuments and D.C. itself. Monuments shone in white, defined by the large groupings of greenery around them, and the White House rose above the city like the fortress it had become after the large uprising that had nearly toppled it and changed the world. Alicia remembered the feeling of terror as she watched the news years ago, still in school, witnessing the militia charging in. It hadn’t lasted long, but the extensive damage and trauma of it all had convinced Washington of the need for better defenses. The Washington Monument had also been taken out by an attack that day—a symbolic gesture—but now rose twice as high, a spiraling tower with colored glass near the top that glimmered in the sun and ensured everyone knew it was there. No longer just a monument, its missiles and radar made it part of the capitol’s defense network. (more…)