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This was originally going to be the first book in a new series. For one reason or another, it never happened. Since this book sets up a mystery I’ve given up solving or resolving in any way, I decided not to publish it. But I want to offer it up for free for completion sake. This book is set on Squire’s Isle, so you might find a connection or two to the official stories that will be fun. And even if the series was abandoned, I feel it’s a pretty solid novel on its own. The main story IS resolved, it’s just the overarcing story about Elizabeth that is left open-ended. And you never know, I might bring her back in one way or another.

Get your copy for free from Supposed Crimes’ website or Smashwords!Displaying guardme_blank.jpg

Guard MeDisplaying guardme_blank.jpg

Guard Me Cover



I write a lot of Squire’s Isle stories, mainly because I like using them as little snapshots to check in with the ladies. I don’t want too much drama infringing on their lives. A little drama. The day-to-day stuff. But nothing so big as to require a whole novel. That said, I do still want to write a novel that brings in every one of the islanders. Not a cameo here or a mention there. I want it to be a lesbian Avengers. I want to do an island-wide story that has Nadine, Patricia, Amy, Jill, Miranda, Alex, Kate, Vanessa, Cheryl, Rachel, Nicole, and everyone else.

I had an idea for a novel like that once. It was all plotted out and everything, but there was one huge problem with it: someone died. I didn’t expect it. I stared at the notes for so long trying to convince myself that “Yes, if this story gets written, that scene has to happen.” That person had to die. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that character wasn’t doomed. She wasn’t going to be killed off. It wasn’t about how the audience would react, it wasn’t about being too cowardly to kill off someone I love. It was because that was not how her story ended.

So to save her life, I scrapped the entire thing. That particular story, that chain of events, will never happen to Squire’s Isle. But I still do want to write something big and crossover-ish. I want to use this little town I created to tell a big, fantastic story.

One day I will figure out a story that is true to everyone and true to the island. Until then, it will just have to be my white whale.



Made by Lindsay Mays

Made by Lindsay Mays

Coolest Kickstarter perk ever…? The reward included a custom plush, and I thought who better to request than the original Squire’s Isle resident, Nadine Powell? Nadine wasn’t the first Squire’s Isle character I ever wrote (that honor goes to Amy Wellis), but she was the one who made everything blow up into what it is today. When she was introduced in On the Air I had no idea what sort of world I was building. Now the island feels like home to me, and the people there are precious. I feel like I know them. There’s a reason Nadine’s voice is often the first thing visitors to the island hear. Nadine is the heart and soul of Squire’s Isle, so she definitely deserves this honor.



Earlier today, some author went on a rampage because apparently people were asking when her books were available in a certain country, what order they should be read in, etc. Now I can understand being a little irritated with a barrage of questions that should be answered by a website. But just direct them to your website and move on. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you by raging at them on your Facebook. With Twitter, Facebook, etc, authors are more accessible than ever. That can be a double-edged sword, but it’s also a way to interact with your fans while possibly gaining new ones. I just don’t understand the vitriol directed at people who are just trying to pay you money and enjoy your work in the order it was intended to be read.

So in that vein, I will go ahead and leave this here. If anyone has further questions, ask me. It should be covered by my website or the Supposed Crimes site, but if it isn’t, I won’t grumble and grouse about someone seeking information on how to support my career.

First and foremost, you should check out

Squire’s Isle Guidepost

This covers every Squire’s Isle story I have ever written. 90% of these stories are completely free, and this page lists them in chronological order. If you read enough to have a favorite character, then you can follow that person’s story by reading the list under their name. A few of the links go to my store, and a few of the stories spoil events that happen in the novels, but for the most part it’s just a series of short stories set in a small town with a suspiciously high ratio of lesbian residents. 😉

Secondly, there’s the Underdogs series. This one can get a little complicated, so I understand having a bit of confusion of where the starting point is. I had someone ask me about the reading order just last night, in fact, unrelated to the whole author rant. So, in order:

* Underdogs Volume 1, starting with “Strays”, is where you go first. These stories are free, they all take place before the first novel, and they won’t spoil anything for you.

* Underdogs, the novel. This can be your starting point if you don’t want to start with the shorts. It’s sort of like seeing a movie based on a television show without seeing any episodes beforehand. It’s a standalone story, but if you read the short stories you get a broader idea of who Ari and Dale are before their Big Adventure starts.

* Underdogs Volume 2 picks up where the novel left off and continues the story of Ari and Dale in the months between the first and second novels. Spoils the first novel, obviously, with hints and foreshadowing about things coming up in the second installment.

* Beware of Wolf, the second novel in the series

* Dogs of War, the third novel.

This can be shuffled around, of course. If you want to read all the novels and then go back to read the short stories as flashbacks, that’s fine. If you want to read all the short stories before shelling out for the novels, I understand! That’s what they’re there for! There’s a post-Dogs of War story coming out in a short story anthology later this month, and I’ll be linking to that all over the place.

As for my other novels, they’re almost all standalone unless they take place in a specific series. If you read them chronologically you might spot a few Easter Eggs here and there in terms of character cameos, but reading the “wrong” one first shouldn’t affect your enjoyment of any particular book (I will say “The Following Sea” might be good to read before “Chasing Dragons,” even though it’s not part of the Claire Lance series).

Will reading in order increase your enjoyment of a story? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes it all depends on the reader. But if you think it will be a better experience, I’ll do my best to help you get everything lined up.



Ten years ago, I sat in a car waiting to go onboard a ferry wondering, “How can I get out of this?”

I’ve spent the time since asking, “How can I get back?”

 

On July 10, 2004, I was away from home for the first time. I was on a trip to a Stargate convention in Vancouver, and through lots of planning and setups it had been decided that it would be much easier to meet up with friends near Seattle and just drive up rather than dealing with customs at the airport. Crossing the border in a car was, I imagine, infinitely easier than flying, and I’m basing that solely on how long the lines probably would have been. At that point Seattle was just a convenient stepping stone for me. I didn’t give it a second thought. When the people I met up with planned a side trip on the drive up to Canada, THAT was when I started having second thoughts. They wanted to go whale watching, which would have involved being on two boats. I was in no way a fan of that idea, so I spent most of the morning trying to think of ways to get out of it without looking like a dork.

People who have only known me for the past couple of years may be frowning at their screens right now. “You didn’t want to go on a boat? You didn’t care about Seattle?” Yep. I had no interest in Seattle. I actively tried to get out of going to San Juan Island and I only went to save face. If someone had given me the red pill/blue pill option of getting out of it with no stigma, I would have without a doubt stayed on the mainland.

I’m not sure when the shift happened. I think it might have been on the ferry to the island. It was just so beautiful and peaceful, and I remember walking around the ferry deck and just staring at everything. I got so many pictures of that ferry ride that I almost didn’t have enough film for the actual island. We went whale watching, and that might have sealed the deal. I was on a little boat out in the middle of this vast body of water (land was in sight, but I was farther from it than I’d ever been) and there were KILLER WHALES close enough to touch. They were playful buggers, too… they spent most of their time hanging out around another boat. When we turned to go back in they immediately came over and chased us. You could almost hear them saying “Aw, come on, don’t go away! We’ll play with you too!”

Afterward we were waiting for the ferry and I wanted to call my parents with an update. So I had to find a payphone (ten years ago! It’s like the past!). There was one between two restaurants, and I looked out over the harbor while I was talking. That’s the moment I think about when my mind wanders back to that day. I remember standing there in the mid-sixty temperatures (in JULY!) and thinking, “This place is special.” At the time I was setting my original stories around Chicago just because it was Random Midwestern Town. That day I decided I would move my characters to a Pacific Northwest island. Why not? What could it hurt?

To this day, I think the Squire’s Isle setting was a big part of what made On the Air special. It was a fine story and I stand by it, but would it have been as good if it was just some random town? Maybe. But I built up my little island during that story, and I fell in love with it in the process. I fell in love with the idea of this beautiful little paradise tucked away in the corner of the country where one woman took a stand and changed things for everyone who lived there.

Ten years have passed. I was an unpublished author standing on an island en route to a Stargate convention. Now I’m a published author who has an official Stargate SG-1 title to my name. I made the conscious decision to move my characters to Washington State, and when Tello decided they wanted to produce Riley Parra, I couldn’t help but laugh when they said they would be filming it in Chicago (of all my stories, that one has the most Chicago-ish setting). It seems ironic that I made the changes, got to this point, and now I’m back where I began but in a much bigger way. I went to the convention as a fan, and now I’m a tie-in author. I moved my characters away from Chicago to give them life and now a producer wants to bring some of them back. It has a beautiful full circle feel to it.

Ten years ago, I was dragged to an island I didn’t care about. I spent maybe a grand total of four hours there, but in a much more accurate sense, I never really left.

 



My first-ever real fan asked: “December 07- Thoughts on Squire’s Isle in general.” So yay for THAT! I get to babble about Squire’s Isle! It’s like it’s my birthday! Oh, it is my birthday. Bonus!

When I first started to get series about writing, I had one series. It was about a man who… well, he did a whole lot of stuff before I finally settled on the final version of him. He was based in Chicago, for some reason. I’ve never been there but it seemed less exposed than New York City. Seattle wasn’t even on my radar back then. Heck, the entire Pacific Northwest was basically just a nebulous thing on a map that I never really thought about. But then Gatecon (a Stargate SG-1 convention) rolled around, and it just so happened that it was easier to fly into Seattle and get a ride from someone than it was to fly into Vancouver. If I’d had my way I would have just gone straight to Vancouver. I’m sure the trip would have been just as amazing (Teryl Rothery touched my leg when I sat next to her, Amanda Tapping hugged me, JR Bourne remembered how to spell my name between Wednesday and Sunday…) but I wouldn’t call it life-changing the way I do now.

In the midst of arranging to drive up, the people I was with decided to leave early and take a quick detour. I have no idea why. I mostly ignored those plans, but it seems very bizarre that they would add a whole extra day to the itinerary just to go out whale watching. I was very, very against it, mainly because I didn’t like water, I didn’t like boats, I didn’t care about whales. I spent the entire drive to Anacortes trying to think of ways out of it. “I’ll just stay on the mainland, read a book or something, wander around, but their plans meant they would spend almost the entire day on this puny little island. Plus this was 2004, and it was close enough to 9/11 that someone loitering around a transportation hub would not have gone unnoticed. So grudgingly I went.

I don’t know where exactly I fell in love. The ferry? The drive through the woods where we saw signs for roads like “Duck Soup Lane”? The way that guy smirked at me like “This may be a small town, but we still play Pedestrian Bowling” when I got in the way of his truck? I don’t know. Maybe it happened when I was out on the boat and we watched the orcas play coy until the moment we turned to leave and it chased us most of the way back to the harbor. One moment I remember extremely clearly was when I called home from a payphone (yes, a payphone). While it was ringing I looked out and saw the flags waving over the harbor. It was the most beautiful summer day, and the greens were perfectly green, and the blues were perfectly blue. I remember thinking, “This place is gorgeous… I have to write about this…”

The idea of a tiny little small-town island was planted there, but it didn’t get a name until we were driving home from (of all things) my great-grandmother’s funeral. There’s a big giant hill between where we lived and where she was buried. It’s a massive hill, and I have a distinct childhood memory of all our road trips including the plummeting-stomach of a roller coaster when we were on it. I was obviously not feeling very well because… well… funeral… and out of nowhere my Dad (Mr. Know-it-All-and-Make-Up-the-Rest) mentioned it was called Squire’s Hill. I loved the way that sounded, and it melded with the island in my head to become “Squire’s Isle.” In years since I’ve asked for confirmation from Mom (Dad would just lie). She swears that hill doesn’t have a name, and I can find no confirmation of a Squire’s Hill anywhere in Oklahoma. So kismet? Who knows. The name was mine, and it was too perfect not to keep.

So with all of that, Squire’s Isle was still the place Neil Miser would live and work. He was a suicide investigator. People kill themselves without a note, he comes in and figures out why for those left behind. It was a neat idea, but I just couldn’t make it work. His office was over a little place called Coffee Table Books. Yep, Amy was the first Squire’s Isle lady I ever created, and she was a side character in another novel. She was a lesbian, of course, but she was just window dressing to flesh out the town. Then one day I was joking with a friend about a West Wing spinoff (or maybe an uber) about CJ Cregg running a small-town newspaper with Annabeth Schott as her star reporter who accidentally outs herself. That’s right, Nadine and Miranda were born as Allison Janney and Kristen Chenoweth. Eventually the idea evolved and I realized, “Small-town… why not set it on an island? Or SQUIRE’S ISLE?”

I added Amy to tie it into Miser (Sheriff Rucker was also a major character in Miser) and I figured it would be a nice side story when Miser got published. All these years and novels later, Miser is still sitting in a drawer and Squire’s Isle has taken on a life of its own. I seriously wouldn’t have it any other way. I also find it very convenient that I set it in Washington state just early enough to have same-sex marriage become legalized so my characters who were at that point could start pairing off. I never expected to feel the joy I have when I write “Nadine and Miranda Powell” or “Jill and Patricia Hood-Colby.”

My thoughts on Squire’s Isle aren’t very complicated. I love it. I know how unrealistic it is, what with a lesbian-heavy population, but I think it’s handwaved enough that it’s a peculiar demographic. I love the interconnected couples, how one person can cross over into another character’s story. They know each other, but they all have their own things going on. It’s a true ensemble where Patricia can hear Nadine on the radio when she stops into Coffee Table Books for a breakfast meeting with Alex Crawford. I would have been overwhelmed by the idea of creating this island from scratch if I’d let myself think too hard about it, but where it is now… I love it, and I’m so proud of it. I really love how the characters surprise me. I wouldn’t have thought of Patricia as the mayor, or thrown Alex and Rachel to the wolves of “taking a break” if that hadn’t been where the story led me. I would never in a million years have decided, “You know what? I’m going to make this relationship polyamorous.” I’ve gotten some credit for making Kate, Amy, and Nicole polyamorous in a realistic fashion but to be honest the first story was mainly “I want to write a threesome.” But the story wouldn’t let me leave it there. I’ve learned to keep out of its way when the story does stuff like that.

If you couldn’t tell (or tl;dr), I’m so proud of this little town, and how it’s given me a rich cast of characters. I posted a story recently about one couple. The first comment pointed out the couple wasn’t a favorite, while the second comment was gleeful because it WAS a favorite couple. I’m really proud of the fact that people have favorites among the Squire’s Isle residents. If you want to reply to this with your favorites, please do! I’m interested to know, and knowing if people want to revisit a couple means I write them faster. ;D

Whatever else I write, I think Squire’s Isle will always be tops in terms of creating something large and fantastic that I’m just thoroughly, utterly proud of having a hand in.



Now that The Rise and Fall of Radiation Canary is out at long last, a certain question might start popping up and I want to address it right out of the gate. That question is…

Which of your universes does this band belong to?

That’s an excellent question, and I’m not just saying so because I asked it to myself. I’m currently writing three different series that exist in their own universes. Squire’s Isle is the main universe. It’s like ours, maybe a bit more fairy-tale, but generally just left of real life. Sure, there’s the occasional ghost and things go a lot better for the characters than they might if they were real. But for the most part, it’s the real world.

Secondly, I have Underdogs. Again, it’s like the real world but with a “secret history” of canidae (thanks to Jo Graham for that phrase!). See, everything about the world is normal except for the fact that werewolves really do exist. Like Squire’s Isle, it exists in the Pacific Northwest, but geography is all they share. Squire’s Isle has no were-people.

Thirdly is the Riley Parra series, which is off in its own little supernatural corner. It’s not entering into this discussion, so I’ll just set them aside for the time being.

Radiation Canary is a band in the real world. No superpowers, no demons or werewolves, just four girls in a band. Patricia and Jill’s son Michael attended a Radiation Canary concert. So case-closed, Radiation Canary is Squire’s Isle, right? Right! But also wrong.

About 3/4 of the way through the book, there’s a brief cameo by a “large dog” that appears backstage at a Canary concert. People who read the short story “Howl at the Moon” will view the scene from another angle and realize that the large dog is none other than Ariadne Willow in her wolf guise, hot on the trail of a case. So that seals the deal. Radiation Canary is an Underdogs story! Right! But also… wrong.

Radiation Canary belongs in both Squire’s Isle and Underdogs universes. I debated this with myself for a while, and I decided that it makes sense for a group as famous as Radiation Canary gets to exist in both universes. After all, they’re not so different… in one, there are werewolves. In the other, not. The universes are alike enough that the formation of Radiation Canary was unaffected. So Ari can attend a Canary concert, and Michael Colby can take his girlfriend to see that same concert, but Ari and Michael will never cross paths. They exist just to the left of each other.

It’s like the Doctor Who episode where he meets Nixon and watches the moon landing. The President and that historic moment are so huge that they happened in both our real world and a world where a Time Lord flies around time and space in a police box.

So to put it simply, no matter what world they were born into, Karen, Lana, Nessa, and Codie were destined to meet up and play music together. They might even exist in the Riley Parra universe, but I doubt Riley listens to them. ::g::

 



If someone asked me which of my novels I’m proudest of, I’d have a hard time choosing. I love them all in different ways, but I suppose the Claire Lance series is up there, along with my first novel (On the Air), the novel that is now being reviewed in Analog (Railroad Spine), and the story that is coming out March 15 (The Rise and Fall of Radiation Canary, mark your calendars!).

I didn’t want to write a novel about someone dealing with being in the closet, and I really didn’t want to write about what happens once she is out. I’ve never done that, I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to do that, so how could I possibly do it justice? But my best friend convinced me to try, and Squire’s Isle was born. Now I have a first novel that I’m proud to be my introduction to the world.

I had no plans whatsoever to write a steampunk novel. I liked the genre, sure, but I didn’t want to deal with such a huge world. But I wrote a snippet, and someone commissioned me to write more. Money? TO WRITE? Hell, yes. Where do I sign up? So I wrote it, and now it’s getting my name out into the ether.

And I really did not want to write about musicians. A rock singer, a band, no. I didn’t want to delve into that world of celebrity, I didn’t want to write songs, just no. But then I mentioned it off-handedly to a friend and she didn’t let me forget. She let me put it off, sure, but she never let it slide that the plot bunny was there waiting to be mined. So I finally started writing, mainly so I could show her that I did appreciate her and how much she meant to me. And when I started writing, I couldn’t stop. I ended up with my longest novel (not counting the Riley seasons), and a world as huge and sprawling as Riley or Underdogs. I didn’t want to let them go! And I won’t have to, because the band exists across all my series (they have their own worlds, but celebrity transcends boundaries).

So to Chris, Melissa, and Erin… thank you. Thank you for pushing me to write things I didn’t necessarily want to write. Thank you for believing I COULD write all of these big stories. And thank you for having more faith in my talent than I did.



One of the most-asked questions I get is when my first five (The Five) novels will be available for Kindle/Nook/Kobo/etc. Today I finally have an answer: soon.

Okay, I know that’s the answer I’ve been giving for about two years, but there’s been a shakeup that means this “soon” is different from the “soon” I’ve been giving all that time. P.D. Publishing has made the sad decision to close their doors at the end of 2013, and the majority of this year will be spent tying up loose ends and getting their authors situated. I’ve signed my termination papers with them and I’m effectively no longer a member of the P.D. family.

As an aside, if you want an original paperback copy of one of my P.D. novels, I’d suggest moving quickly. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for a while.

But not forever! Because I’d already found a new home with Supposed Crimes, it was just a matter of shifting boxes from one house to another. The new company is more focused on ebooks than paperbacks, and for good reason. If I wanted to make a numerical comparison between paperback sells versus ebook sales of the same book, it would make the paperback look very, very bad. A few days ago on Amazon, the paperback version of the first Underdogs novel was one million positions higher than the ebook version. The price and the convenience of ebooks has made the race extremely lopsided.

So Supposed Crimes will finally be re-releasing The Five in ebook format. Gemini is already available, and the others (On the Air, World on Fire, Tilting at Windmills and The Following Sea) will follow in short order! In addition, the unreleased novels I had contracted with P.D. Publishing will also be released! That’s Silence Out Loud, Only Flame and Air (Claire Lance 2), Confused by Shadows (Claire Lance 3), Chasing Dragons (Claire Lance 4), and What Matter Wounds? (Claire Lance 5). That’s right, Claire Lance will reach the end of her road at long last! The series was originally written to end in 2012, so hopefully the final novel will come out in 2013. A little late, but better than how it was looking at the end of last year.

As an aside to other P.D. authors who are still looking for a home… please get in touch with Supposed Crimes! The boss wanted to create a P.D. Imprint since the company’s inception, so she’s willing to offer everyone who needs a new publisher a chance to keep their books in print. You can find information about the company here: http://www.supposedcrimes.com/



Well, looks like my Twitter rant about how my career with PD Publishing was over jumped the gun a little. On New Years’ Eve, the ladies revealed that they are shutting their doors in late 2013. Right now they’re just cleaning house a bit, taking care of outstanding contractual issues and finding new homes for their books. Fortunately, I’m able to jump ship onto a completely new boat and land with both feet on Supposed Crimes. The actual changes to me will be minimal. I stopped seeing PD Publishing as a viable home for my writing a while ago, which may sound rude but it’s true. If it wasn’t for Supposed Crimes I would most likely be digging a ditch right now and looking back fondly on my brief time as an award-winning published author. So I will be even more grateful to the SC now than I was in the past.

I’m hopeful about this turn of events. People have been asking me about when my PD novels would be released as ebooks, and it’s been a growing source of frustration for me that I’ve been forced to answer “I don’t know… soon, I hope?” With this turn of events it means that “soon” may actually BE soon. Supposed Crimes has wanted to get the rights to my P.D. novels for a while now, but they couldn’t get an answer one way or the other. Now that they’re closing doors, I have high hopes that we can finally get something worked out so that my Squire’s Isle books like On the Air and Gemini remain in print.

This would also mean that the Claire Lance series – which began in Tilting at Windmills – can finally have the conclusion it deserves. The last four books in the series have been written, they just needed to be put out. Now there’s a chance that will happen.

The downside will be that these will most likely be ebook-only releases (I haven’t talked to Supposed Crimes about this, but it seems plausible). I’m not sure how big of a downside that will be, since we’re having much more success with ebook sales than actual paperback purchases.

The important thing is that these books will be OUT THERE. I can’t wait until Silence Out Loud is finally available, or until the last word in Claire Lance’s adventures is finally read.

I’m very hopeful. I’ll let you know more about this as I get more information from the various people who operate over my head.