I’m still writing the next Space Traipse episode, but I have a lot of stuff taking my time, writing wise. Here’s a sneak peak:

This is the year I launch full-force into self-publishing. I’ve loved my small press publishers, but I find I want to have more control over what I do with my books and series, and self-publishing has come a long way in capabilities and reputation. Like with my Space Traipse stories, I’m ready to have low-pressure fun with my books. If I end up with a hit, that will be a bonus, but for now, I am going to enjoy the ride. 

Soon, I’ll put out a sampler, but the first book I plan on launching is The Old Man and the Void. Basically, Old Man and the Sea set in a black hole! Rob challenged me to write this one, and it was such fun. 

I’ve sent it to an editor (the incomperable Michelle Buckman), and will start the cover art soon. In the meantime, here’s the opening page.

Image result for black hole nasa

A holographic representation of the matter and energy that surrounded the black hole filled the bridge of the Santiago.  Dex Hollister stood in the middle of it, arms poised, feet braced, his moves translated by the ship’s systems into commands.  Around him, the rush of holographic matter played over his skin and the roar of energies toyed with him, teasing him with the weak distress signal he didn’t want and the friend-or-foe signal he’d followed for weeks.  His own body pulsed with adrenalin and anger.

“Vaccing leak!  Where are they, Santiago?”  He leaned forward, willing more speed from his ship.  He felt a prickle on his back, a reminder of what they were leaving behind.  “Where?”

“We’ll catch up,” the ship’s AI, Santiago, replied, its computerized tenor a calm counterpoint to Dex’s gravely rumbling.  “Time dilation is in our favor.”

Dex snarled.  “It’s not them I’m worried about.”

A pocket of pressure and brilliant light approached; he shifted, and the ship narrowly missed the radiation that would have blinded it for precious minutes.  The tickle on his back was fading.  He pulled off his shirt, the better to feel it, and threw the sweaty fabric aside.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a shadow.  “There!”

“I see it.  Brothers in Trade, this is Santiago.  Respond.”

While the AI continued its hails, Dex leaned and twisted, guiding the ship toward the distressed scavenger that had thought to follow him.  “Some rescuers you are,” he growled under his breath.  “Stupid, interfering…”

Santiago, keep away!” the distressed ship called out.  “We are caught in a swarl.  I repeat, we are trapped–”

“Shut up and do what I say, like you should have done in the first place!”  The ship had come into focus–as had the wild current of matter and energy that made the swarl.  The Santiago dove in.  The rush Dex felt became a torrent.  It shoved at him, almost knocking him off his feet, but didn’t break his concentration.

Ahead of them, the large Union ship, Brothers in Trade, bounced and swayed, its engines on full, fighting the gravitational pull of the black hole.

Idiots.  Whatd they teach them nowadays?

He balled his fist, preparing the capture beam.  “Trade, when I tell you, cut engines.”

“Are you mad?  We’ll–”

A burst of static cut off what the Union captain thought they’d do.  Didn’t matter anyway.  Obviously, some greenfoot was in command who didn’t know a swarl from his own backside.  Dex clenched his fist, and then shoved his arm before him, sending the beam toward the trapped ship.  “Cut power, Trade.”

“Capture.”  Santiago reported.  “They are still at full power.”

“Turn off those engines!”  A stream of light and phantom heat flowed to Dex’s right.  He stepped into it, pulling his ship into the hard current of the swarl.