Books 3 and 4—White Mesa!

The post-apocalyptic saga continues with the launch of books 3 and 4 this past week! Even if you haven’t read the first two books yet, you can still enjoy these adventures as Ben and Ricco face their own unique struggles in this harsh world.

(Scroll to the bottom for a peak at Gladiator: Chapter 1! Then find them at your favorite retailer, and in your favorite format!)

Books 3 and 4—White Mesa — Kimia WoodGladiator

Ben McConnell has heard all about the New Republic – the rising city-state that plays fast and loose with the deadly z-germ parasite.

Desperate to know more about their medicine and the program that spreads it, he slips into the city to recover a sample for White Mesa’s doctors.

Tommy Thaxton worries about Ben…but then, he worries about everything. Then Ben is captured, and he finds his concern well-founded.
When the White Mesa security council deems a rescue attempt too risky, it’s up to Tommy and a couple friends to face the dangers of the city and get Ben out.

Can Ben survive the fight ring without stooping to the gangs’ standards?

Will Tommy find a way to get Ben home – before he’s killed by the New Republic’s primitive criminal justice?

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**In case you like paperbacks but want an option other than Amazon!


Renegade — Kimia Wood — White Mesa ChroniclesRenegade

White Mesa seems like a utopia in the midst of a gangland waste.

For Ricco, though, it means rules, chores, and endless lectures on morality from his dad…make that his adoptive dad. After being expelled from the militia and banned from all activities off the family farm, Ricco might only have one choice to make a life of his own: join the New Republic, his homeland’s polar opposite in the city.

How could he imagine the consequences his actions will have for his entire world?

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*Part of Kindle MatchBook: buy a paperback copy, get the Kindle version free!


Gladiator

1–Burglar

The overcast night was dark except for the glow of the New Republic’s border lights, several blocks away. Ben glided from cover to cover down the city street, the echoing of Security patrollers’ boots creating a map of movement in his mind. Up ahead, he spotted the low apartment building he’d been making for, a pool of yellow light marking the torch by the front door.

Ben crept alongside the building, and crouched near a basement window. He could hear a sentry pacing and clearing his throat by the front door.

Inside, the Afflicted workers would be fast asleep in their dormitories, while the few guards watching them would be grouped together playing dice. The medical supplies – the Afflicted’s daily injection – they kept in one of the side rooms.

That much had been easy to learn, especially with the help of Daisy, the girl who lived across from his apartment. She’d been more than willing to show a new immigrant around the New Republic, and had never asked questions about Ben’s eagerness to learn. She did odd jobs and made deliveries for the black market, so her “live and let live” mindset made sense.

Slipping a screw driver out of his pocket, Ben eased it behind the plywood sheet that blocked the ground-level window beside him. It took several moments before it worked free and he leaned it against the wall.

Behind the plywood, two-by-fours spanned the space horizontally. Ben pursed his lips a moment, then rocked back on his hands, gripping the lowest board with his feet.

With a soft crunch, the board yielded. Ben balanced it on his leg for a moment, and pulled it through with his hands, setting it beside the plywood.

For an instant, he thought he detected the thumps of quiet feet on the edge of hearing. It wasn’t the first time tonight, but once again when he scanned his surroundings, he couldn’t pick up any unnatural movement.

Dismissing the sound, Ben rolled onto his stomach and snaked backward. His feet went through the window into the dark space beyond — then his legs, hips, and torso wormed after.

Ben dropped through the opening and crouched against the interior wall, waiting for his eyes to adjust.

He was in the Afflicted barracks – a place his friend Tommy had spent much too much time in. But short of passing alert guards, fences, (sometimes) electrified wire, and raiding the central HQ complex itself, this was his best bet for grabbing a sample of the medicine.

Whatever weird experiment the New Republic was doing with z-germ, Dr. Radcliff and White Mesa needed to know.

After Tommy’s mission in the New Republic – and the sorry wreck he’d been upon his return – the security council had ruled further “interference” with the New Republic too risky. But Dr. Radcliff really, really wanted a sample of the Republic’s medicine, Ben and his family had no objections to a covert mission, Ben had gotten a few months’ vacation from the militia (possibly with the help of General Thaxton), and boom – here he was, in the middle of the enemy’s base.

Assessing his surroundings, Ben found himself in a long, narrow room, tables and benches marching down the middle in orderly rows. Perfect for feeding zombies workers, or the guards who baby-sat them.

Ben glided toward a nearby doorway, ears pricked for any sign he’d been noticed. Muttering and clattering came from behind the door. The dice game.

He moved to the other end of the meal room, where a second door opened into a dark hallway. Feeling his way forward, Ben listened some more. Snoring or breathing sounds came from doors on either hand – the zombies.

How like the apartment building where he himself stayed! That had been a cinch to sneak around in, as well.

Halfway down the hall was a door that must be a broom closet of some kind (from the size and position). Pressing his ear to it, Ben could hear no sounds of breathing or shifting in sleep. When he tried the handle, he found it was locked.

Digging in the cargo pocket of his trousers, Ben fished out a long, skinny bit of metal and knelt beside the lock. Mr. Jones had coached him. He closed his eyes to force himself to work by feel. There wasn’t enough light here for his eyes to be any use.

Easy, gentle, twist…click! Ben grinned and tugged at the door, moving slowly to keep the noise down. The door glided open as the whisper of a creak sighed down the hallway.

Ben held his breath, but nothing in the building stirred. Rising, he squeezed himself through the door and blinked around at the new room.

Total darkness filled the internal space. Wishing he had a flashlight from White Mesa, Ben eased the door almost closed and pulled out a legacy lighter that he’d bought from a black marketer at great expense. The expense was because it had several drips of fuel in it still, perhaps scavenged from some abandoned house on the outskirts of the city, or some sealed apartment that had not yet been cracked by raiders.

With a flick of his thumb, light flashed in the room. Fire danced from the end of the lighter, then vanished as Ben let go of the button.

A table stood against the opposite wall. Two steps brought Ben to it. He had seen cabinets underneath it, but he groped on top for a black bag. Holding the lighter in his off hand, he clicked on his light again and poked in the bag, finding several needles, a few damp clothes – and several screw-top glass jars.

Ben grabbed one of these and held it up in his sputtering light. Tommy had described the substance as clear, and this was clear. He didn’t see any other samples of drugs around, and at the very least he could deliver it to a White Mesa scavenge team and come back to the Republic pending further instructions. The militia officers hadn’t sanctioned his mission, but the teams still stopped by at R6 in case he’d left a message or something.

Shoving his light back into his pocket, and securing the vial of drug, Ben slipped back out the door, pausing to lock it again before continuing down the corridor.

The sounds of the night had not changed. The snores and sighs behind the doors in the hallway continued undisturbed. As Ben pulled himself up through the window he’d entered by and slid the plywood back over it, he smiled.

A presence disturbed his senses. His instincts tingling, he whipped around, his back to the wall. A dark shape lunged at him out of the darkness.

Ben blocked, throwing off the attacker’s grab. Having felt roughly where his opponent’s head should be, Ben threw a punch. A loud thump against the pavement assured him he’d connected.

Footsteps surrounded him. Ben abruptly bent over to drop his profile and made a dash down the road toward the fence-line.

He rammed into someone with his shoulder, and someone else grabbed him around the neck. As he was throwing the second person against the wall of the building, the light of lanterns burst around a nearby corner.

Ben staggered and blinked, struggling to focus as dark figures darted around in front of the bright flames. Men – wearing the blue uniforms of the Security – surrounded him, most hefting the unloaded legacy rifles that served them as clubs and symbols of authority.

“You’re under arrest!”

As Ben was just getting his bearings again, one of the Securitymen threw his arms around him, trying to knock him to the ground.

Ben threw him off, only to trip over another guard and fall to his knees. Someone held a lamp up in his face, forcing him to squint and blink. Four or five others pounced on him, forcing him to the ground and dragging his arms behind him to bind his wrists.

“Ow! What gives?” Ben cried. Since force wasn’t an option anymore, he’d go for bluffing.

“Don’t you know you’re breaking curfew?” demanded a guard from above his head.

“I couldn’t sleep.”

“Just what were you doing climbing into that building?”

“What building?”

“That one,” answered a Securityman with a captain’s badge. “That we saw you climbing through the window of.”

“Oh, that.” It was time for the cover story, apparently. Tommy and Dr. Radcliff had made sure it was deep enough to be convincing.

“Well, I guess the patrols around here are heavier than I figured,” he chuckled.

“Actually,” muttered one of the guards, “We got a tip.”

A tip? From whom? And about what?

“Hey,” cried one of the Security as they pulled Ben to his feet. “What’s this?”

He unbuttoned the front pocket on Ben’s jacket and pulled out the glass bottle of drug Ben had collected.

The captain’s glare turned ugly. “We’ll see what you have to say about this,” he growled. “Back to HQ.”

The HQ, eh? The infamous inner compound, where – according to Tommy – the Alderman of Security did his mysterious experiments with ferals. What was waiting for Ben now? And how would he get the vial back?

Ben watched the guard hand it to the captain, who pocketed it. Dr. Radcliff needed that sample to find out exactly what the New Republic was doing with their drone program, and what it meant for the number of ferals in the waste.

With Security surrounding him on all sides, they headed toward the middle of the New Republic, and the main government compound. Ben reviewed in his mind what he was to say – Tommy had helped write the cover explanation, so it must be good.

Besides, even if it didn’t work, White Mesa could come get him, as it had come for Tommy. Mr. Grimthorpe and the security council would have conniptions, but whatever. His one worry was what would happen to the drug sample. He needed that, or his mission would be a waste.

Be a Dog Not a Cat

Be a Dog Not a Cat

Dog and cat – the eternal dichotomy of the first world (since we can’t talk about men and women anymore).

There’s an old joke that goes like this:

The dog says, “You feed me; you shelter me; you play with me; you care for me…you must be God!”

The cat says, “You feed me; you shelter me; you play with me; you care for me…I must be God!”

We take an extreme example to make a point – and the point is this: Decide to be the dog. Here’s why… Continue reading

“Twisted Dreams” by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

"Twisted Dreams" by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke — Kimia Wood This short story opens with about as classic a “Sleeping Beauty: Chapter 1” as you could wish, with the interesting trait of being written from the viewpoint of the infant princess being christened (Liesel).

Chapter 2 rips us from the fairy-tale world “played straight” and shoves us into a sci-fi world, in the head of an imprisoned girl who shares the name but none of the memories (apparently) of the Sleeping Beauty princess. Very disorienting, and a little irritating.

While heavy on the romance, this story blends fairy tale, amnesia, high-tech, aliens with super-powers, and faith into an interesting little tale that pulled me in. Continue reading

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018—Stop #9

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018—Stop #9 — Kimia WoodTo celebrate independent Christian authors and the different genres in fiction with the Indie e-Con 2018, please join me in welcoming author Laurie Lucking to the blog!


Hi everyone! Thank you so much to Kimia Wood for hosting me today, and to Kendra E. Ardnek for organizing the 2018 Indie e-Con – I’m thrilled to be a part of it!

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt Stop #9 — Kimia WoodI’m Laurie Lucking, and my writing journey really started with reading. I’ve always adored books, but after creative writing assignments in school went poorly, I decided I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. Instead, I continued reading voraciously and eventually went to law school. But after working as an attorney for several years, my husband and I had our first child, and I became a stay-at-home mom.

After a few months at home with our infant, I found myself in desperate need of a project. The thought “You could write a book” just wouldn’t go away, no matter how many times I reminded myself I wasn’t good at creative writing. So, glancing over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching, I dug out my laptop, opened a blank Word document, and wrote a scene. And LOVED it! Getting to write the story I wanted, at whatever pace I was comfortable with, was such a different experience from school, and soon I couldn’t type fast enough to spill out the characters and landscapes crowding my head.

After many months, those scenes became a young adult fantasy novel, complete with thousands of weasel words, tons of mid-scene point of view changes, and creative dialogue tags a-plenty. But I figured it might be publishable, considering I was a relatively intelligent person and had read a lot of books. (You have my permission to laugh all you want – believe me, I know better now!) I went through several re-writes as rejections trickled in with little nuggets of feedback, but eventually I determined it wasn’t meant to be. I set that manuscript aside with a heavy heart, but fortunately by then a new story was brewing.

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018—Stop #9 — Kimia WoodThis time around, I had more going for me. I had a wonderful critique group, was meeting monthly with a group of writers, and had attended several writing conferences. The new manuscript still needed many rounds of revisions, but my voice was starting to develop and I was breaking far less writing “rules” than before. But while I was continuing to write young adult fantasy, this story had a Christian thread to it, which I knew would limit my publishing options. Thankfully, I learned of a conference called Realm Makers, which is specifically geared toward Christian writers of speculative fiction. I was able to attend in July, 2016, and pitched my story to several agents and editors. One editor clearly connected with my story right away, and soon she was considering my full manuscript. In early 2017, I signed a contract with Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, a small publisher focusing on Christian and clean speculative fiction. And I couldn’t be happier! My debut novel, Common, released this past February, and in March I published a short story titled “Threshold” in the Mythical Doorways anthology put together by the Fellowship of Fantasy. I also have several other stories in the works, including at least two more books in my “Tales of the Mystics” series.

My author brand has become “Fantasy Adventure, Fairy Tale Romance,” which I think describes my writing very well. I love taking inspiration from fairy tales and other classic stories, and everything I write has a blend of fantasy and clean romance. If you want to know more, check out my website, www.laurielucking.com. Also, if you enjoy young adult fantasy and/or science fiction, make sure to stop by my group blog, www.landsuncharted.com. Thanks for reading!


Thank you for stopping by, Mrs. Laurie, and for reminding us all that we don’t start out knowing it all! (And it’s okay to learn as you go!) 😉

Guess what? I’m next on the scavenger trail! Find my post here, courtesy of Kyle Robert Shultz!

For the rest of the scavenger hunt, find the full list of participating blogs right here, or visit this link to start from the beginning!Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018—Stop #9 — Kimia Wood

Don’t forget to enter the Scavenger Hunt giveaway, where you could win:

Ace Carroway 2-Book Set
3 random ebooks from Indie e-Con authors
Cover Design by Alea Harper
Bookshelf Necklace donated by Rachel Rossano

(Please note that the Ace Carroway Paperbacks and the Bookshelf necklace are US only.)

“Kate’s Innocence” by Sarah Holman

"Kate's Innocence" by Sarah Holman — Kimia Wood — innocence Can Kate prove she didn’t bomb her college campus? Can FBI agent Patrick trust God to reveal the truth as he tries to clear Kate?

For this indie Christian book, I’m going to front-load all my complaints, and then focus on what I liked.

That way, it’s like struggling to remove the sticky wax-paper wrapper on a chocolate toffee, then getting to eat the toffee! (I’m sure lots of people compare my reviews to chocolate toffee…) Continue reading

Easter Sunday Song

To the tune of “Doe of the Morning” (as far as you know)

Half the praise team is singing off key.
The director’s trying to pick up the time.
These dumb modern songs that just grab a hymn
And stretch out the chorus with weak-sauce rhymes.

It’s covered by the blood;
It’s covered by the blood.
Compared to what He’s done
The race’s all been run.
It’s covered by the blood of Je-sus!

That “Jesus” can’t be out of his teens.
Y’know, he ain’t shaved in over a week –
And they still had to make up his hair and his face
S
o he looked over thirty, the poor little tyke.

It’s covered by the blood;
It’s covered by the blood.
Compared to what He’s done,
The race’s done been run.
It’s covered by the blood of Je-sus!

I just gotta tell you, my hat is the best.
Admire my dress while I stand here and boast.
Say, here comes that snooty Mz. Emily West.
Oh, look at her hat! I hate it the most!

It’s covered by the blood;
Covered by the blood.
Compared to what He’s done,
The race’s all been run.
It’s covered by the blood of Je-sus.

Mom won’t take me to Calvary’s egg hunt,
And Grandma’s burned the Easter Sale ham.
(What’s worse, this piggie was clearly a runt.)
Now Grandpa’s singing that “Just As I Am”.

It’s covered by the blood;
Oh, covered by the blood.
Compared to what He’s done,
The race has done been run.
It’s covered by the blood of Jesus.

“The dumb-ness of God is smarter than men;
“The weakness of God is stronger than men.”
That’s why I bury His Word in my brain;
He’s forging me stronger – again and again.

I’m covered in the blood;
I’m covered by the blood.
Compared to what He’s done,
My race is fully run —
I’m covered in the blood of Jesus.

3 Things Owning a Dog Taught Us

Two years ago, my family got its first dog. 3 Things Owning a Dog Taught UsHe’s a mild-mannered Border Collie with beautiful coloring and a low-maintenance coat – but that just tells you about his outside.

In the course of training him, we didn’t just learn about the way dogs think. We learned several things about human nature, as well.

I Can’t Read Alpha’s Mind

Border Collies are very smart. Too smart, in fact. Because they’re also lazy (like humans) they will try to guess, and “work smarter, not harder”.

When the military tried to train them as tracking dogs, they found that the Border Collies wouldn’t follow the scent. Not because their noses weren’t strong enough. But because they would try to take short-cuts, and guess.

Instead of following the clear scent trail, they would try to “skip ahead” and cut the quarry off – and 50% of the time they’d guess wrong. Continue reading

“Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes” by John Kramp

How to Understand Spiritually Lost People and Give Them Directions to God

"Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes" by John Kramp — Kimia Wood — lost The past year or two have been a period of growth for me. Specifically, God has been prodding me to be more gospel-oriented. While I’ve heard passages such as the “great commission” all my life, it wasn’t until a year-and-a-half ago I realized it could be directed at me. And then, every time I opened the Bible, there it was, staring me in the face: “Share Jesus. Talk about Jesus. Go to those who don’t know Him yet and let them know!”

The trick, as in so much of life, is balance. Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes is all about knocking off the pushy, plastic, tract-dependent type of evangelism and changing our thinking to looking at people as “lost”.

The author calls his new mindset “lostology” (the study of lost-ness and seeking the lost), and uses examples from his own life and the Bible to help us get away from the seminary courses and toward actually reaching out to people around us. Continue reading

“Vessels of Honor” by Virginia Myers

Showing Love to Everyone, from Teen Prostitutes to Legalistic Church-Ladies

"Vessels of Honor" by Virginia Myers — Kimia Wood Father Leffingwell should be retired. After serving the Episcopal church for forty years and losing his beloved wife he “deserves” a rest.

God, however, carries him across the country to Seattle to be temp pastor to a congregation and minister to his son dying of AIDS.

Stated like that it sounds pedestrian enough – but anyone who’s faced the struggle of honoring God in the trenches of life will find this book as captivating and challenging as I did. Continue reading

The Huge Crisis for Christian Romance

The Huge Crisis for Christian Romance

There’s something rotten in Christian fiction. Personally, a romance in a book has to work pretty hard to impress me, but I want to specifically address the authors who claim the name of Christ publicly while including romance in their fiction.

Romance itself is not bad or disrespectful to God; evidence: Ruth, Genesis 24, Ephesians 5 (vs. 25), etc. I’m looking at a few specific issues I’ve noticed in some recent Christian romance novels that I think every sincere follower of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to take seriously. Continue reading