Monthly Archives: September 2012

Excerpt from “A Mote in the Eye” (the sequel to “The Dogs of Cyberwar”)

Here’s an excerpt from my cyberpunk novella A Mote in the Eye, the sequel to The Dogs of Cyberwar.  As I mentioned a few days ago, this is part two and I’m hoping to finish both this and part three in the next month or so.

In this scene, Logan (Connor‘s father) has put Connor in charge of a group of hackers who call themselves the Fianna, after a mythological band of Irish warriors.  (Logan, we’ve discovered, has a bizarre quirk:  he makes everyone who works closely with him take on Irish code names.)  Their goal is to take down B.A.L.O.R., the Artificial Intelligence which monitors the FreeCorp network and destroys anything — or anyone — it considers a threat.    Connor has done some reconnaissance and discovered a backdoor into the network, but he doesn’t like the idea of putting this group of people at risk.

The Fianna had their own small cafeteria off to one side of the “Link Room,” as Finn and his people referred to the computer area.  It was small and almost cozy, with a table just big enough for the ten people in the original group, comfortable padded chairs and warm lighting.  After Connor’s run, he dressed and everybody (including Luis) gathered around the table for real beer and poutine, a French-Canadian dish that was basically potato fries covered in cheese and gravy.  This was more of a Quebec favorite than something common to Vancouver, but Finn had been told that Connor loved it.  It bothered Connor a little to learn that Finn had been briefed in such detail about him, but he let it slide.  It really wasn’t surprising.  And after all, he did love poutine.

“So,” Finn began, after they were all settled, “once we’re inside, what’s our plan of attack?”

Connor wasn’t really sure he liked the idea of a team of people tailing along after him.  It would make it that much harder to stay off B.A.L.O.R.’s radar.  There was also no reason for them to risk their lives, if he could do the job by himself.  “No offense, but I’m used to working alone.”

The expressions on the faces around the table told him immediately that this wasn’t going to fly.  Finn glanced around at his team and then raised his hand.  The air in front of it immediately lit up with a holographic image of a keypad and he tapped out a code with his fingers, each “key” lighting up as he tapped it.  The keypad disappeared and suddenly the room was full of people.  Or rather, holograms of people.  There was a young man sitting in the chair to Connor’s left, which had been empty a second ago, and all of the other “empty” chairs now held ghostly occupants.  They were three-dimensional and moving the way real people did—one was eating from an invisible plate; another was simply grinning and looking around at the others, as if following their conversation; the one nearest Connor was leaning forward, typing something into an invisible keyboard.  One of these holographic ghosts was standing, leaning against the wall and watching the other’s in the room with a cocky expression.  Connor suspected this was because he and Luis were taking up two of the chairs at the table, which would normally be unoccupied.

The only reason three chairs had been available, instead of two, was that Daireann was standing and leaning against the same wall as the hologram.  With the two so near each other, it was impossible to miss the resemblance between them.

“These are the other members of the Fianna,” Finn said quietly.

“That one next to you,” added Goll, in his Québécois accent, “was Aengus.”  He nodded toward the other two sitting at the table.  “Umaill.  And Oisin.  All dead.”

Daireann smiled sadly at the young man standing beside her, reaching out a hand as if to brush his hair out of his eyes, though she couldn’t actually touch him.  “And this is my kid brother, Lughaid.  Louis, outside of here.  He’s still alive.”  She pulled her hand away.  “If you can call it that.”

“B.A.L.O.R. burned them all,” Finn said.  “Lughaid’s still in a coma, but the others all died pretty quickly after their brains were destroyed.”  He waved a hand and the holograms faded away.

Caitlin leaned back in her chair, stretching out her long legs into the chair just vacated by Umaill’s hologram.  She was a rough-looking woman, her head shaved and her bare arms covered in tattoos.  “We owe that fucker.  If Finn thinks you’re good enough to lead us in, well that’s fine.  You seem to know your shit.  But none of us is gonna sit by on the sidelines while you take B.A.L.O.R. down.  We all want a piece of it.”

Connor suppressed a sigh.  “I’m sure you’re all good at what you do, but a large group would leave a bigger digital footprint—”

“We’re all in this together,” Finn interrupted, looking him directly in the eye.  “I’m happy to step aside and let you take charge, but we’re your team.  Unless Logan says otherwise.”

For a moment, Connor considered going to his father and demanding that the Fianna be taken off the assignment.  But that would make enemies of them.  If he was ever going to escape from Logan’s grasp, he couldn’t afford to alienate the only group of people in NuadaTech who might potentially be allies.

“All right,” he agreed.  “We’ll do it together.  But we need a plan.”

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Back to Work on “The Dogs of Cyberwar”!

Okay, I’ve finally finished the edits on Book Two of my YA trilogy Dreams of Fire and Gods and it was submitted to my publisher at 1am this morning.

Now I’m going to take a little break from fantasy and try to finish the Dogs of Cyberwar serial.  More than one person has been asking me to do that and it has been ten months since the first book came out.  Not really a long time in traditional publishing, but practically forever in eBook publishing!

My original plan was for Dogs to be a trilogy of novellas, under 20k words each.  (The first was about 17k words.)  I planned on releasing it as a serial, with each one coming out maybe six months after the last.  But that turned out to be a bad idea.  As my publisher explained at a workshop last March, the only way serials really work in the eBook market is if the parts are released very quickly — say one to two months apart.  So it’s far better to write the entire thing before submitting it, so the publisher can space it out accordingly and put a “Coming Soon!” image of the next cover up.

So the plan has changed a bit.  I’m hoping to finish parts 2 and 3 this fall and submit them.  I can’t guarantee what my publisher will do with them, but we’ve discussed releasing all three parts as one eBook.  Perhaps parts 2 and 3 will also be released as novellas — I’m not sure.

Part two (called A Mote in the Eye) is actually one-third to one-half done, depending upon what its final length turns out to be.  I’ll be putting an excerpt up on my blog later this week, once I’ve gone over it to refresh my memory about where I’ve left off.

One final note:  I don’t yet know the name for the trilogy, even though I should have a title for it by now.  The Dogs of Cyberwar (referring to the security force Connor and Luis have to fight in the first novella) is just the name for part one.  Part two is A Mote in the Eye (referring to Connor going up against B.A.L.O.R., who is named after a giant in Celtic mythology with a single giant eye that destroyed everything it looked upon).  I’m not sure about the title for part three yet.

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Great 5-Star Review for “By That Sin Fell the Angels”!

By That Sin Fell the Angels appears to be selling (though I have no idea how well, as of yet) and I’ve gotten a few good ratings over on Goodreads.  But so far, not much feedback.  (Well, somebody did say that the story would stick with them, which is nice.)

So I was delighted last night to discover that author Lou Sylvre had written a long, thoughtful review of the novel on Goodreads!  It was certainly flattering, but more importantly, I was thrilled to see that Lou really connected with the book.  I’ve been very concerned that this novel, in particular, would be a hard sell, not only because of the dark territory I was exploring, but also because of my attempt to get inside the heads of the characters, even when those characters were expressing viewpoints I couldn’t condone.

Here’s an excerpt from Lou’s review that addresses that:

Fessenden has the reader ride along with each of these individuals, all of whom seemed destined to spectacularly crash. Gradually, he shows us the shape of things that can be. This is a slow process that’s beautiful and excruciating and taken in stages like blowing glass or turning wood on a lathe. I constantly found myself thinking, “Oh! I didn’t know that.” Or, “I didn’t expect that!” Or sometimes, “Oh, I should have seen that.” And each time I felt that way, it mirrored a character’s experience.

I appreciate the writer’s skill in realizing these characters. Fessenden used multiple third person points of view, and not at any time are they confused, or blurred. In telling the characters’ truth, he has favored none over the others. Yes, I want Jonah to come out with hope, and no I don’t agree with what Isaac believes. But when I’m reading from Isaac’s point of view, I see Isaac, and I know him as a fellow human; I still don’t agree with him, but I understand him. That’s high accomplishment.

The entire review can be found here.

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I’m Appearing on SJD Peterson’s Blog this Weekend!

I’ve been featured on SJD Peterson‘s blog this weekend!

Okay, she’s actually doing a series of blog entries about returning and first-time authors who will be attending the GayRomLit retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 18-21 this year.  I’m one of the first-timers.

For those of you who haven’t heard about it, GayRomLit is short for Gay Romance Literature and it’s a retreat for authors, readers and publishers of LGBT romance to get together and hobnob for a few days.  I’m looking forward to it!

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