“Well, Sally’s gone, but I’m still here…”

Just an update:  The promo at Smashwords has come to an end.

But do not fear.  My experiment with x free downloads of Solar Wind 1 is still going, so you can still grab a copy of “The Mystery..”, and “The Assassin” (the second book) is still priced at the experimental “Reader sets price”.  So you can, if you feel like it, set the price at $0.

This “Reader sets price” is a puzzler, because it leaves the reader to guess how much $ equivalent of enjoyment they will get out of a book.  It would make more sense to have them first read the book and then decide what it was worth to them.  This is why I have it on the second of the series.

Regardless, enjoy!  And the next post is going to be a normal blog post again.  Promise.

Click here to pop over to Smashwords, to find the series.

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Very nearly ready with “From My Cold Undead Hand”

FMCUH bookseeker image

“From my Cold Undead Hand” by Marie Marshall

is a short, fast-paced YA novel.  The story sprang forth from the writer’s (totally not cold or undead) hand as a result of a challenge set to her by yours truly.  We were commenting on the “Twilight” series (who doesn’t) and both of us were convinced each could write something faster, pithier, something with more gusto than the epic teen/vampire romance series.

The result of this challenge is this story.

Better hold on, crawl in under the blankets and put the Kindle light on.  Don’t read it while you’re alone.  The story is set a few decades in the future, with the protagonist a young girl in high school who does martial arts and knows how to “dock” a vampire.   Her feisty warfare is backed by a “cell” of vampire hunters, and opposed by other young people who seem to be more of the “Twilight” persuasion, idolizing the vampires.

But Chevonne Kusnetsov has more than vampires to fight.  Teenage mood swings, uncertainty about friendships and a very remote relationship to her mother give an ominous background to the plot.  Throughout the book she is in fact discovering herself and her own family’s history, as well as having to get behind what the vampires are planning.  They are organized, far too organized to be mere mindless predators…

You readers, safely under your blankets reading with the Kindle light on – be afraid.  Be very afraid.

For those of you who loved the “Everywhen Angels”:  This one is even better, and the best news is that there may be sequels.

Well done, Marie!

Story Post: From ‘Arcana’ – by gipsika

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Arcana – by gipsika

1

Rain was sheeting down in a never-ending grey haze when Ivy Pennington opened the front door of her 4th level flat to brave another workday. Papers to file, files to study, she thought with irritation. When she’d set out on her career as a young accountant, she’d expected that companies would be a lot more up-to-date where e-filing was concerned. So she had to have the sodding luck to sign up with a store that had apparently never heard of computers yet – and in this day and age! She stepped out into the passage and turned in a fluid movement to close the door, her above-knee navy skirt swishing just a little too flippantly for the gravity of her professional image…

Meow!”

That was when she glanced down. At the toes of her stiletto shoes sat a small, black kitten, staring at her with intent green eyes. The poor little fellow looked bedraggled from the rain. Ivy reached for it, meaning to scratch its ears; it backed away a little before allowing her to touch it.

You poor little thing!” She put her briefcase down and returned inside to pour some milk into a flat tupperware, for lack of a saucer (she didn’t own such old-fashioned things). When she put it down on the floor she realized that the kitten had followed her into the flat.

Ha, flat, she thought sarcastically. This was not a flat. It was a box. The walls were painted ever so tastefully light-grey in keeping with modern interior decorating, and while Ivy subscribed to everything that was fresh and young, somehow the colour grey didn’t seem to make the grade. She wasn’t even allowed to repaint.

Later, she thought impatiently, watching the little fellow – she didn’t even know if it was a tom or a jenny – thirstily lap the milk. Her thoughts were working on hyperdrive now – she was running late. She’d need a place for him to sleep; and he needed to get out, to do his business – that would be a problem, on the fourth floor! And when she came home from work, she’d have to find out where he belonged…

The green eyes lifted to stare at her again, and a tiny pink tongue slipped out and licked a small black nose. There was a lot of milk left in the saucer, but the kitten seemed to have quenched its thirst.

Have you lost your mommy then?” asked Ivy. “Did you lose your way? Where are you from?”

Meow,” came the quiet response.

Ivy decided that this couldn’t wait. She took out her smartphone to text her boss – then remembered that the boss only had a landline. With an exasperated grunt she dialled his number.

Oates and Son, how can we help you?” chirped the voice of the chicklet who manned the receptionist desk.

Biljana, please tell Mr Oates I’m only coming in at noon,” said Ivy. “Family crisis.”

Shall I put you through to him, Ivy?”

Those honeyed tones! As though being under twenty gave Biljana a preferred – hmm. Maybe it did, thought Ivy.

No, just relay my message to him please,” she said but realized she was speaking to a line in transit.

Graham Oates; good morning.”

Ivy gnashed her teeth.

Morning, Mr Oates. I have to solve a family crisis this morning, it really can’t wait – so I’ll only be able to come in to work at noon – is that alright?”

There was a heavy sigh.

Oh dear, Miss Pennington. There’s a lot of work. I hope it’s nothing too serious?”

No – that is, not that serious for me, but it might be in future,” she waffled frantically. Just accept it and let me go, boss!

What’s the matter?”

She had so hoped he wouldn’t ask! It was none of his business; but to say that to your boss’s face…

My niece,” she invented. “She’s going to have a baby and she’s still in school. I have to prevent greater disaster.”

A momentary shocked silence, then, “Well, I’ll see you at noon, Miss Pennington. Good luck!”

Thanks!”

Ivy ended the call and stood for a moment, disoriented. How on Earth had that lie slipped off her lips? She was a dead-honest person, she never lied! Well, scrap that good record, she thought acridly. She gazed down at the kitten, unable to understand herself. She wouldn’t have studied financial science if she’d had a dishonest hair – hmm. Maybe she would have, she thought with irony. Maybe, specifically.

Come, baby,” she murmured to the little black cat and scooped him up. He clung to her collar with little claws, his fuzzy baby hair tickling her neck. “Let’s find out where you belong.”

The funniest little sound came from the cat. It sounded like a mini motorbike trying to start its engine. She realized he was learning to purr, and it made her smile. Well, she’d better come up with a good explanation for her boss, backtrack and let him know that it had turned out to be only a scare and that her niece would be staying with her for a while until temperaments had cooled… gosh! She was spinning the lie further! She shook her head at herself, changed her shoes for more comfortable walking pumps, and left the flat – this time with a handbag rather than her briefcase, and the kitten nestling cosily inside on a towel.

It was mid-morning when Ivy sank into a corner seat at a little bistro. She had asked all the neighbours in the flat block, poster, called the SPCA to hear if there had been a call for a missing kitten, and made the round of all the local vets she was aware of.

Apparently the kitty was a tom. She decided to call him Peridot, after the colour of his intent eyes. If he didn’t belong to anyone, she supposed she could keep him. He had been very well-behaved, sleeping quietly in her handbag. At one stage he had started scratching at the towel; at which point she had quickly put him into a flowerbed, where he dutifully did his business and even covered it up. She made a note to get a cat box on her way home, and a bed for him. And of course cat food.

And the call reached her.

Ivy…”

Oh shucks. Here was her own lie, coming back to haunt her! Somehow that bastard of a boss must have investigated with her family…

What’s up, Bonnie?”

Bonnie Pennington, her niece with whom she didn’t have too much contact. Unlike Ivy, Bonnie wasn’t a fiery redhead but a gentle, sweet-natured brunette. The kind of kid one would wish to have. She was fifteen now, and never gave her mother a day of hassle.

That her boss had bothered her niece, irritated Ivy. To cause Bonnie such –

Can I come and stay with you for a while, please?”

Ivy nearly fell off her chair.

No ways! She couldn’t take Bonnie in right now – she’d just adopted a kitten! Argh! What kind of logic was that? But there wasn’t space in her bachelorette box! It was tiny – just a place to crash, until she could afford better!

Why, Bonnie, what’s the matter?”

Well, I’m not sure how it could have happened… there was this boy…”

No, something said inside Ivy, in disbelief. It’s not what I think!

… and … we sort-of fell in love, and we… got together – and… and now…”

…you’re pregnant,” completed Ivy.

No! I mean – yes, but it wasn’t like that! Mom wants to throw me out…”

I’m dreaming, thought Ivy. I’m seriously dreaming.

Come and crawl in with me for a little while,” she offered despite herself. “But Bonnie, there are house rules. Okay? And I have to find us a bigger pad, can’t have you sleeping in the bathtub forever…”

In the bathtub?” squeaked Bonnie, horrified.

Kidding,” said Ivy. “When will you be around?”

After school,” said Bonnie.

Fine.” Ivy hung up and proceeded to stare at the fifth dimension in confusion. Right.

Can I help you, ma’am?”

Oh. She’d been staring at her waiter without realizing it.

The bill please.”

Outside, the rain was still falling persistently.

*

Copyright © gipsika, 2013

This book can be purchased as ebook from:

http://honeymeadbooks.com/book_pages/arcana.html.

The Everywhen Angels: NEW RELEASE AT P”KABOO

NEW RELEASE: The Everywhen Angels

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Late last night we completed everything for the first release of

The Everywhen Angels.

Another intriguing novel by our talented Marie Marshall!

Below an introduction to the YA novel by our partners in Scotland, the Bookseeker Agency.
This precedes another YA novel from the same author, for lovers of paranormal and vampire fiction; we are hoping to bring out “From My Cold Dead Hand” early next year.
Read and enjoy:

News, 10th December 2013

December 10, 2013 by

everywhen_angelsWith a fanfare, we can announce that Marie Marshall‘s new novel aimed at older children and teenagers, The Everywhen Angels, is now published. It tells a story of kids in a comprehensive school on the outskirts of London, who find themselves with strange powers. Perhaps they are the first skirmishers in the great battle of Armageddon – but how would they know?

Despite their visions and their adventures, they have to deal with the normal stuff of teenage life – homework, parents, bullying, dating, not talking to strangers, bereavement and so on. But do they really know what is going on?
Angela, the poet with the questioning mind believes they don’t; hers is the first pair of eyes through which we see the story. Charlie, her boyfriend, is a young man with a vision – but does he really appreciate the trouble he’s in? He tells his story backwards, from the last scene to the first and makes the reader question what is good and what is evil. Ashe is the youngest and smallest of the group – diagnosed with Asperger’s, he is in fact the key to everything. But that isn’t to say his path is easy.
The novel is not just a fantasy adventure. It’s action breaks the rules of time, encompassing murder, a bomb outrage, a flood which engulfs London, and the Battle of Waterloo; it’s themes include guilt, courage, cowardice, and delusion. The author says of it: “I believe children can handle difficult philosophical questions. They can handle stories told in a strange way. Young readers are much more intelligent than adults give them credit for.”
The Everywhen Angels is available direct from P’kaboo publishers in eBook form, with possibly more formats becoming available in due course.

(… Excerpt from the Bookseeker Blog)

The Everywhen Angels is available at the P’kaboo shop in epub and pdf ebook format, and will also be available on Amazon shortly, in Kindle and paperback.

– See more at: http://pkaboonews.blogspot.com/2013/12/new-release-everywhen-angels.html#sthash.Wn1GVnkU.dpuf

The trouble with writing

“This novel is a work of fiction. All characters are fictitious.  Any resemblances to persons, living or not, are purely coincidental.  This book is not suitable for you if

  • your name is any of the following:  Ivy,  Alison, Bonnie, Bex, Jake, Bryan, Marc, Janet, Mr Oates, Biljana, Fareed, Neeva or Dayib
  • you have a niece, aunt, mother, daughter, boyfriend, sister-in-law, wife or husband
  • you are in any way related to the author
  • you are sensitive about religion, politics, sex. language and violence
  • you’re younger than 16 (SLVPR)
  • …  (fill in ad lib)”

Had to happen to me that I’ve just polished and finished a beautiful Nanonovel for Iain’s site (Honeymead Books), edited, cover-designed, ISBN’ed and all, and here I get a blog follower who, herself a sweetie, carries the name of the main villainness?  AAARGH!

It’s due for launch on the 5th of December, together with Douglas Pearce’s “Pourne Identity”.

 Honeymead Books to go live on 5 December!

 

 

Feedback from You

Thank you my blogfriends for the feedback on what you want to experience on a website.

There weren’t terribly many respondents but those who did, gave good feedback.  To summarize:

  • I think we all agree we prefer calm layout to busy.
  • Ease of navigation is a big one
  • Of course there should not be bugs
  • It must load fast
  • It must be logical.

Some went quite a bit further with suggestions and questions.

Kvenna rad asks why I picked 5 sites from a wide variety of industries as examples, and not book sites in specific.  She also included further links; some extremely beautiful.

The answer to her question:

Of course I’m not Bank of England or Mercedes. The reason I picked such wildly divergent sites was to get a general idea of what appeals to people.  Only looking at book sites (Amazon, Goodreads, Lulu.com, Author’s Den, Epub Bud, Leisure Books, Scribd…. the list goes on) gives a very narrow view.  Book sites tend to have something in common, as do artist sites (such as she posted in her comment).

Here is what you’ll find on a standard bookshop site (think, e.g., Amazon):

  • a good search box
  • unbelievable clutter under, over and around the search box.  The clutter consists of links to the 1000 places on the site, and of “also read” suggestions.  The eye moves right past it and zooms in on the search box.  If the search box and the logo were the only things on the home page, it would still be enough, because most people arrive on the site looking for a specific book/product.
  • You do need the logo, because otherwise you can’t be sure you’ve really arrived at Amazon.

We already agree that we hate visual clutter.  A well-designed home page needs a focal point and a little bit of peripheral stuff; and of course the logo so that you know you’re on the right site.

Why is an artist-style layout not enough for P’kaboo?

It would be enough for our author pages (and those will get their overhaul, promise!  The whole concept is being revised.)  But P’kaboo has more than that.  An author page / artist page focuses on one artist’s work.  P’kaboo has multiple functions; so the layout will out of necessity have more links than an artist page.  (Ease of navigation.)

As for the 5 websites I showed:

  • Mercedes:  Love it to bits!  Classy, sleek, expensive look.  Calm and pleasing on the eye; yet enough image to keep it interesting.  

Mercedes, of course, has a completely different function from P’kaboo.  So I can “steal” certain ideas and elements, but the design as a whole would be a mismatch.

  • On the Dot:  Highly functional, organized.  Not as sleek as Mercedes, but the ease of navigation is amazing.  From here, I’ll steal navigational ease.
  • Bank of England: Banksy, boring.  At least it looks better than the ABSA site which is in link overkill and has design cramps.  Money, of course, should be regarded as a boring necessity (the banks would like us to see it that way!).  And a bank has nothing to prove online.  Can you exist without a bank?  Sure…  you can technically also exist without a dentist.
  • w3schools:  Here’s an example of function with practically no form.  The look deceives.  At first glance it looks cluttered; but once you look at the actual links, you realize that ease of navigation is outstanding.   The absence of graphics results in an extremely fast load (it’s usually graphics and fancy scripts that slow down a site while it is loading).  And the actual function of the page (tutorial with live examples) is super.  w3schools exists not to look good itself but to help you make your site look good, and they are absolutely brilliant at it. Ease of navigation is nearly at 100% on w3schools.
  • And then there is Coca-cola.  *SIGH*

Coca-cola is a huge, wealthy company.  It owns nearly all the non-nutritive beverages in the world.  The idea of putting chemicals in water and selling these in 2000 varying shapes, tastes and colours, was a profitable one.

Coca-cola was the company who once tried it out whether they could get away without advertising, seeing that everyone knew about them.  A clever thing to consider, because marketing is immensely expensive.  After a week, their sales had dropped so critically that they retook their advertising in full force.  Conclusion:   The company is 100% dependent on its marketing.

With this background, one would have expected something as appealing as Mercedes on their website.  Instead, it is jumbled, confusing and (to my taste) downright ugly.  What?  Can’t they afford designers?  I’m sure designers did this!  It makes it ever more puzzling which market they appeal to.

Sites like Bookseeker and Goodreads are really networking sites, not bookshops.  Their function is to bring people together, to make people stay on their sites longer and interact.  The people who frequent such sites are usually authors looking for agents, agents looking for authors, and reviewers looking for people to offer their services (though what I’ve seen so far of reviewers, they are flooded and don’t need additional networking).

Artist websites and author sites can be very sleek and beautiful; however they don’t tend to be very extensive or deep as the product they are showcasing, is usually a single limited portfolio.  If you are looking for a good illustrator, e.g., or a photographer, you’ll page through their photos, looking at each in detail; as opposed to a bookshop where you’ll visually scan the books and zoom in on the most eye-catching.  Slide shows and “flip-files” (slide shows that you can control with your mouse) are ideal for such showcase sites; we now have a slide show of only our 6 youngest releases on P’kaboo’s home page as the focal point.  (The bookshop is unaltered, as it isn’t that cluttered, the layout is logical and clean and the navigation takes precedence over the visual).

When I write about such things, I also clarify them in my own mind.  Thank you for all your input and discussions, and for the opportunity of exploring the topic.

More stories…

Just a quick update, there are two new shorties up on P’kaboo since the last update, bringing the count of the included ones to 11.  We’ve got 2 more under consideration by another author, and are waiting for another few submissions.

Remember the project is open until beginning of December (around the first week).

If you have some favourites you’d definitely want to see included in the bundle, please post this in the comments.  Similarly, if you know of another author who might want to submit, pls post a link to his/her blog so that we can approach them.

And also enjoy the blurb competition!
Happy reading!

~ gipsika ~

 

How to write a lousy blurb – Competition

I’m the master of lousy blurbs.  😀

I’d like to propose, on this day on which we all are bored enough to blog frantically (as though our children/ ourselvers weren’t writing exams and we weren’t doing frantic end-of-year audits, print runs, Christmas functions and so on), two activities for my beautiful blog readers.  🙂

Activity 1 is the kind bloggers love:

Your call to write critical comments!  Go to town in P’kaboo.net and comment here (on this post) on all the blurbs… let us know which ones are the biggest bloopers, and why.  There are no prizes for this one but it’s fun anyway.

Activity 2:

Try your hand at writing a blurb for the short-stories (they are still in “Freestuff” so now is the moment to read them, before they are published in a collection and made Christmas-present giftable).  The three best blurbs will each be sent a free paperback copy of one of our novels.  Proviso:  They must be good enough to be considered for replacing existing blurbs.

Activity 3:

Alternatively you can send in a deliberately lousy blurb.  The funniest will be posted here.  The prize for the 3 best will be an ebook of your choice, sent to you in pdf format (all e-readers handle pdf alright).

(Hmm.  That’s three activities!  It appears there are three kinds of people – those who can count and those who can’t.)

Submit your blurb to info@pkaboo.net, and write in the subject line, “blurb for…” plus the name of the short-stories.

7 Tips for writing a great blurb:

1. Start intriguingly.

2. End by leaving unresolved conflict in the reader.  The more tension, the better.

3. Be specific to the story.

4. Include “hooks” (e.g. shoutlines and questions)

5. Spoiler-alert.  Beware of telling too much.

6. Keep it short – under 30 seconds to read, between 50 and 100 words.  Make every word relevant.

7. Go for the jugular – and leave the reader wondering whether it will be ripped .

(Only)  5 Classic mistakes one can make in blurb-writing:

1.  GIVING THE PLOT AWAY!  This is the biggest and worst mistake, and spoils the book.  You’ve already read the blurb.  Why buy the book?  (Please refrain from using this one in your deliberately lousy blurb entries below, for obvious reasons.)
2. Gushing.  Let the reader discover for himself how riveting this novel is…  (bring that rivet gun…)
3. Clichay.  Nay.  Do refrayn from clichay!  (“Alicia thought she’d never love again.”  …  drip … )
4. Writing too much.  A good blurb catches the reader in 30 seconds or less.  It’s like fly-fishing rather than     angling.  A good blurb creates a hole that needs to be filled.  With more story.
5. Slang.  Yeah.  Consider who buys this book.  It’s rarely the teen addicted to Twitter.  It’s her mother, trying to get her away from Twitter.

I’m sure there are 100’s of further tips for writing a great blurb.  If you’d like to share your tips, post a comment.  If you’d like to try your hand, you know where to go.  Remember, Christmas holidays are coming up and there are fresh crispy novels to be won.

Btw there are certain Freestuff items that will not be included in the short-story collection; they will stay in Freestuff.  See my previous post.

So have fun!  🙂

…gipsika…

Also check:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/112540710/7-tips-for-writing-a-good-blurb-Blurb-competition


Short Story Project and other Submissions

P’kaboo Update:

P’kaboo is inviting two kinds of submissions:
If you have a short story ready, or want to submit something longer, please feel free.

Our short story project is still running:

At first we were only going to leave the stories up in “Freestuff” for a month (to gain a bit of readership for them) but have now extended this to December, by which point the project will close and the stories will be published, first as ebook, and depending on popularity, as a paperback.

This means you still have a month to submit a short story. If you would like to influence us concerning which stories are included in the final collection, please contact us on info@pkaboo.net and voice your opinion.
Point of interest:  Also check out this blog.  Colonialist: Yes, we would like to have your “Fifth Date” as well.  We like it even more than the other two.

Other submissions:

Be aware that your book, if accepted, will undergo the process of editing, layout, and all that goes with publishing. Also be aware that it will first only be made available as ebook and online. Popularity will determine if a South African paperback is produced.

Amazon:

The following titles can now be found on Amazon:

Paper Books

E-Books

  • Lupa by Marie Marshall
  • Forest Circle Quest (of the “Magic Circle” cycle) by Leslie Hyla Winton Noble
  • The Mystery of the Solar Wind,
  • The Assassin,
  • Freedom Fighter (Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of the “Solar Wind” series) by Lyz Russo
  • A Tensional Guitarist (Guitar technique) by Iain Rossouw

 

  • Lupa by Marie Marshall
  • Forest Circle Quest (of the “Magic Circle” cycle) by Leslie Hyla Winton Noble
  • The Mystery of the Solar Wind,
  • The Assassin (Volumes 1 & 2 of the “Solar Wind” series) by Lyz Russo

Go to P’kaboo’s Bookshop to find the Amazon links for these books.

Il y aura… 100 000 links

There’s a gorgeous French chanson called “Il y aura cent-mille chansons” (There shall be 100 000 songs).  I practically remember all the words still from Std 9 (a sure sign I’m getting old).

Anyway I went around checking my links today on the Net – all the places where I dropped off copies of my novels, or left little heaps of articles, or whatever.  And it occurred to me that ever since I deleted my first WordPress blog I haven’t had another “links post”.

Here they are:

“The importance of music in development” in Ezine Articles

Scribd:  “A Pirate Politician”

Author’s Den:  The Mystery of the Solar Wind

Lulu.com  (a very high-quality, reliable service for paperback copies)

P’kaboo (of course)

Epub Bud (free download of “Donegal Trouble” – available at P’kaboo and Lulu as well but over 1000 hits on this site!)

…where else?   The original site where I uploaded the first 5 unpolished ebooks (classic novice move) was “Bookhabit”.  A sweet site; but they sold out to “Smashwords”, and as I didn’t feel that my words were smashed together, I withdrew from there. They had too many ifs and buts, too.

The amount of page views and downloads surprises me.  It seems as though out of 7 billion people (that is, 7,000,000,000,000 people) there are indeed a coupla thousand who enjoy my style.  It just shows you, there’s a little spot in the sun for each of us…  😀


From:  “The Mystery of the Solar Wind”

Federi moved ahead and into the rigging. Paean stopped. Ha! Gotcha! He was out to expose her fear of heights! The rat!

Come on now,” called the gypsy.

She stared at the wonky structure, the way it swayed slowly with the rise and fall of the swells and laughed cynically. “Kidding!”

Paean, come up! Can only see it from up here.”

Nyet!” said Paean. “Your left foot!”

The entertainer climbed back down.

You’ve never been up there, have you!”

Surprise,” Shawn said softly behind her.

No,” said Paean decisively, drawing herself up to her full, not very tall height with dignity and folding her arms. “And I’m not going to start now! Not every sailor needs to turn into a Great Ape!”

Alright, look here,” said Federi quietly, taking her by the wrist and leading her away from her brothers. “Thing is,” he started.

She stared into those dark hypnotic eyes. “You guys can quit making fun of me right now,” she suggested tightly. “What’s the point anyway?”

Not making fun of you, Paean,” said the Tzigan. He smiled mischievously. “There’s something I want to tell you,” he added under his breath. “Away from that infantile lot!”

Seconds passed. Paean weighed it up. Freezing hells! To hear his secret, she had to go up there! The gypsy’s stare was still locked with hers. Ronan was making loud coughing noises in the background. What was this?

Well, hell with Ro as well! She’d show them! To the speechless amazement of her two brothers, Paean climbed after Federi into the rigging, clinging as it swayed gently with the waves. It wasn’t so bad after all. Her eyes narrowed as she looked up determinedly and slowly clambered all the way into the Crow’s Nest.

Federi was waiting for her with a unique grin of elation.

I knew it! Knew you had it in you!” He was beaming. She grinned back at him, catching her breath. It had been interesting going up. She wasn’t going to think about going down yet. She gripped the rim of the Crow’s Nest and looked at the stars. They were tangibly close from up here.

We did it wrong,” said the gypsy, alarmed. “Oh hell! Federi forgot about lifelines! Little luv, never ever come up here without a line!”

Okay,” said Paean. “Promise. Say, what was that you wanted to tell me?”

Aw,” said Federi with a skew grin, “can’t tell you!”

Hey!” This wasn’t right! “Out with it! Fair’s fair! I’ve already paid the price!”

Federi sighed loudly and rolled his eyes.

Made a bet with your brothers that I’d get you to climb up here,” he admitted.

Aargh! I knew it! You pirate!” She attacked him, pummelling him with her small, bony fists. Federi laughed and caught her by the wrists.

Hey, look! Look up! Aren’t the stars beautiful from up here?”

She wrestled with him, trying to get him to release her. Eventually she gave up and laughed too.

Federi reached up and stretched and picked a star out of the night sky and presented it to her. She gasped. In his hand lay a tiny silver thing on a fishhook.

What’s that?”

The other half. Don’t let Ronan destroy that one too!”

She picked the little transmitter up out of his hand. “What do I do with it?”

I don’t know. Keep it. Put it on your scarf.” He smiled.

Aw, Federi!” She grinned and attached the little piece of equipment without a function to her lime-green scarf. “You’re a hopeless case! All this to win a rotten old bet? You guys woke me up for this? I’ll get you all back when you’re not watching!”

Actually that’s not it.” The Romany got serious again. “Look out there.”

A droning hum carried over across the waves. It had been there before, but Paean only noticed it now.

The Lawnmower’s coming back?”

There was a fight,” said Federi.

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© Lyz Russo, 2008,

Available at P’kaboo Publishers, in paperback or ebook format.