More TTC to start off the New Year right!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday and that you’re all looking toward a bright, new 2018! To kick it off right, I wanted to share another chapter of The Time-Traveler’s Cat!

CHAPTER THREE

Piper rubbed his face, looking at the clock. If it hadn’t been important, the time would have dragged by, but now that it was, it seemed like time was standing still.

He shook his head, blowing a breath between his lips as he looked down at the paper he’d been scribbling on all day. Formulas and graphs filled up the page, with lines crossing out some parts, and pencil-eraser marks nearly wearing holes through the paper.

“Well?” Daniel called, turning in his chair.

Piper shook his head, handing the mess of mathematics to his friend. “I just don’t know what I’m missing,” he said, his throat hoarse with exhaustion.

Daniel took the paper and looked over it, his glasses sliding down his nose as he did so. “Some of this looks like math,” he said slowly. “And some of it looks like you’re crazy.”

Piper scowled as Daniel tossed the paper toward him. “Not helpful,” he snapped, turning the paper over to reveal a blank backside.

“Look, it’s nothing to worry about, okay?” Daniel said, leaning across the cubicle. “Just finish running the wires tonight and we’ll bring the team in tomorrow to review the formulas.” He offered a helpful smile. “You always think best when you’re surrounded by those morons.”

Piper’s lips quirked slightly. “This is true.” He leaned back in his chair. “I still need to tell Charlotte the news.”

Daniel waved his hand as he turned away. “Good luck with that.”

Piper moved to his feet and dug his comm out of his desk drawer. He left their lab and stepped into the hallway, lifting the device to try to get a good signal. Beyond the window at the end of the hallway, Piper could see clouds gathering, lightning illuminating the sky. Tonight would have been a great night to stay in.

He leaned against the wall, scrolling to Charlie’s number. He pressed the call button, holding the phone out in front of him. It rang a few times before she answered, her smile filling the screen.

“Hey there, cutie,” she said teasingly. “Thinking about later?”

Piper felt the tension ease a bit as he returned her grin. “Well, yes and no,” he said slowly. He watched the smile slide from her face.

“What’s up?” she asked.

“Bobby’s making me stay late since I was late this morning,” he said, slumping back against the wall.

Charlie’s face fell and Piper felt his heart twist. “Oh,” she said.

“I’m so sorry, babe,” he said quickly. “I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

Charlie glanced over her shoulder and Piper got a glimpse of the dining room table set with candles and plates, prepared to host a meal. “I guess I’ll put the food in the warmer,” she said, her voice heavy with disappointment.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Piper promised. “I’ll be on the seven o’clock train and home before seven-thirty.”

Charlie nodded as she looked at him. “Okay,” she said. “Just be safe.”

Piper nodded. “I will.” He tried to smile at her. “Can I get a hint at what your surprise is?”

The mischievousness returned to her eyes then. “Nope,” she said, the comm jiggling a bit as she walked into the kitchen. “You’re just going to have to wait.”

Piper sighed in annoyance, even though a grin was on his face. “Fine,” he said. He made a kissy-face at the camera. “I gotta get back to it. I love you.”

Charlie smiled. “Love you too,” she said.

Piper disconnected the call, tucking the comm into his pocket. He turned to go back into the lab, feeling a strange mixture of excitement and irritation. He wanted to go home and eat dinner with his girlfriend. His eyes landed on the machine inside the containment room. He did not want to be here messing with that thing.

He managed to sit still at his desk until the clock struck five. He also managed to keep his mouth shut as Daniel ragged on him on his way out the door. Once he was alone, he looked at his computer, pulling up the design schematics for the machine. He sent the wiring codes to his comm, standing and walking to the refrigerator in the corner.

It was small, but the perfect size for them to throw their lunches and extra sodas in. He popped the top on one, taking a sip and setting the can on his desk as he put his hand on his hip. He glared hard at the machine through the glass.

“This better not take all night,” he said to it.

The machine, of course, didn’t answer, but it looked like it was taunting him as it sat there, shining in the bright laboratory lights.

Finally, Piper knew he had to do the inevitable. He walked toward the door to the containment room, shrugging off his coat and opening the door. He pulled on a different white coat, one that was supposed to be ‘clean’, and headed toward a toolbox nearby. He pulled out the comm, flicking it to make the diagram jump into a hologram.

He set the schematics next to the machine on a work bench and pulled out a tool. His heart was pounding as he stepped inside the door to the machine. It was cool and crisp inside the door as Piper knelt under the dashboard of flickering lights. He found wires that still needed to be connected and run, and he set to work.

For the most part it was pretty mindless, but his fingers were raw from splicing and twisting the copper pieces. He glanced at the clock beyond the room after a while, thankful to see that it was almost time for him to go. He reached for the last green wire, feeling a smirk coming to his face.

It seemed like he’d be home earlier than he thought.

He lifted a pair of pliers and stripped the rubber away, leaving the copper innards bear. He did the same to a black wire, his mind in other places. He was thinking about what Charlie had made for dinner, and what they would get up to afterwards. His brain was on auto-pilot as he pulled the strands together, giving a good twist.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

A siren suddenly began to blare in Piper’s ears, making him drop the pliers and cover his head. He jumped to his feet, fear filling him as he thought back to his uncertainties about the math. He was almost to the door when it suddenly slammed, the dashboard flickering brightly as all the lights turned on.

“Oh, hell no!” Piper yelled, pulling desperately at the door. He knew it had a lock that was trigged from the outside, but none of it should have been functional yet.

“Hello!” he yelled, his voice cracking. “Help!”

The machine suddenly began to vibrate, the sound of motors whirling to speed filling his ears. Piper was yelling curses over the siren as he ran to the dashboard, trying to make heads or tails of the code that was racing across the screen. He pushed buttons, trying to get it to slow down, but it just sped up.

“Come on!” he yelled angrily, slamming his fist on the console. He blinked stupidly when the scrolling stopped, four bright green numbers stuck on the screen.

2028

“What the…?”

The machine suddenly rattled, throwing him backwards, away from the console. A deafening sound filled the machine, like the sound of a gun-shot. Then, just like that, everything was still.

Piper was breathing hard as he stared at the console, wondering what had just happened. He scrambled to his feet when he heard the lock on the door slide open, a hissing sound filling the room. He dashed out, desperate to get away from the damn thing, but unprepared for what awaited him just beyond the door.

As he staggered out into darkness, a cold feeling of dread came over him.

The sky was black. Shadows danced between the trees that surrounded Piper as he dashed through the brush. He could feel brambles and twigs grabbing at him, as if they were gnarly fingers, trying to trap him. Panic was filling him as he struggled through the dense forest. He could smell smoke and he finally caught himself around a tree, turning to look at where he’d come from.

The machine was leaning precariously, sitting in a small crater in the earth. The trees around it had been smashed and broken, and Piper stared at the door. Inside, the lights flashed, the siren still sounding loudly, echoing throughout the forest.

He drew a ragged breath, trying to decide where the hell he was. Had the machine worked? Had his worries about the numbers been accurate?

Piper wiped sweat from his brow. He definitely wasn’t in Crystalline City anymore, and this definitely was not the year 3088. The sky was too clear, and the night air tasted too clean.

A sudden screech made him jump, and he held tighter to the tree he hid against, swinging around. Unfamiliar sounds began to echo through the woods, making Piper tremble. He glanced back at the machine, knowing that he had two options: stay and die, or run and maybe survive. He chose to run.

Dashing like a madman, Piper ran through the tangled mass of trees until his lungs burned and his legs felt like lead weights. It felt like he was running in circles, all of the trees looking the same. Finally, unsure of how long he’d been crashing his way through, Piper staggered toward a fallen tree, collapsing on it.

He was definitely going to be late for dinner.

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Another Sneak Peek!

Hi all,

This week has been really crazy. Some family stuff has come up and made writing difficult. I’m pretty behind on TTTC, but I wanted to share another chapter with you! Enjoy!

CHAPTER TWO

Piper let his head flop onto his desk. The clock had finally struck noon, meaning lunch time, but Piper knew he wouldn’t get away that easily. He’d come sliding in just behind the big bosses, just in time for them to not know he was late. He’d seen the way Bobby glared at him, but there was nothing Bobby could say as they gave the men in suits a tour of the lab and showed them the formulas they were working on.

Piper could tell it was all way over their heads, but they acted impressed, and made sure to shake his hand as they left. Bobby had flitted behind them all the way out, allowing Piper the time to sneak to his desk and crumble into a heap.

“Bro, what the hell happened this morning?” D suddenly appeared over the top of Piper’s cubicle.

Piper sat up quickly, his eyes blazing. “You didn’t remind me they were coming!” he hissed.

Daniel laughed, throwing his hands up. “Should I remind you to wipe your ass too?” he asked. He shook his head. “Come on, man, put a reminder in your comm next time.”

Piper scowled down at his desk, feeling his heart jump into his throat as the lab door slid open. He tried to look busy as Bobby walked into the room.

“Miller!” he barked, causing Piper to jump.

He turned slowly in his chair, forcing a smile. “Yeah, boss?” he asked, trying to play it cool.

“You were late,” Bobby growled, crossing his arms over his rather rotund middle. “That’s the second time this month.”

Piper shrugged. “It happens sometimes, boss,” he said. He knew he’d said the wrong thing when Bobby’s face turned red like the tomatoes he used to look at in books as a kid.

“You’re goddamn lucky you’re so smart, Miller,” Bobby hissed angrily. “Otherwise, I’d have kicked your ass out of here months ago.” He lumbered closer, intimidating as he towered over Piper. He lowered his voice. “You think you’re immune because you’re some sort of prodigy, but three strikes and you’re out, Miller.”

Piper was leaning back in his chair, his eyes focused on Bobby’s face. Truth be told, he didn’t have a lot of respect for the man, but he was scared of him. “Sorry, boss,” he said quietly.

Bobby was scowling darkly as he leaned away. “Youngest scientist in his class,” he muttered to himself. “Still a dumbass.”

Piper’s eyes felt huge as he watched Bobby exit the lab.

“At least he let you off easy,” D said, appearing over the top of Piper’s cubicle timidly.

Piper started to agree with him when the doors suddenly slid open again and Bobby charged back in.

“And one more thing, Miller,” Bobby all but yelled. “You’re staying late tonight!”

Piper caught sight of the maniacal grin on his face as he turned. “Tonight?” he demanded, jumping to his feet. “But, I can’t!”

Bobby waved his hand, silencing him. “You’re working on the machine tonight or you won’t have a job tomorrow, understood?” he barked.

Piper slunk back, knowing Charlie would be furious. “Yes, boss,” he said, letting his hand rest on the top of his desk. Once Bobby vanished for good, he groaned, sinking into his chair and pressing his hands against his face. “She’s gonna kill me.”

Daniel was still barely peeking over the cubicle wall. “Why?” he asked.

Piper rolled his eyes. “It’s our ‘six-month anniversary’,” he said, air-quoting the words.

Daniel suddenly grinned. “Bet she even had something sexy to wear, too,” he said teasingly.

Piper groaned again, leaning back in his chair. “I can’t believe this.”

Daniel leaned his arms against the top of the wall. “Is six months even a thing?” he asked.

Piper shrugged. “Hell if I know,” he snapped. He turned in his chair, looking at a plate-glass wall. Beyond it, a door opened into a room the size of a closet, blinking panels of lights winking back at him. “I just don’t want to be in there with that thing.”

D followed his gaze. “It’s not operational,” he said slowly. “Nothing to worry about.”

Piper gritted his teeth, a bad feeling in his gut. He knew that he should always trust his gut, but this time the need for a job out-weighed the weight in his stomach. “I dunno, D,” he said slowly. “Something’s not right with the numbers.”

Daniel sighed then, swiveling around in his chair. “You and your damn numbers,” he grumbled. He looked up at the clock. “Guess you have five hours to figure it out.”

The Time – Traveler’s Cat

Today I want to share with you guys an excerpt from The Time – Traveler’s Cat! We’re three days into NaNoWriMo and I’d have to say it’s going great! I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you’re doing so far!

PROLOGUE

The sky was black. Shadows danced between the trees that surrounded Piper as he dashed through the brush. He could feel brambles and twigs grabbing at him, as if they were gnarly fingers, trying to trap him. Panic was filling him as he struggled through the dense forest. He could smell smoke and he finally caught himself around a tree, turning to look at where he’d come from.

A tall machine was leaning precariously, sitting in a small crater in the earth. The trees around it had been smashed and broken, and Piper stared at the door. Inside, bright lights flashed, a siren sounding loudly, echoing throughout the forest. The machine didn’t fit at all in the wooded background, and neither did Piper, his white lab coat protecting him against the bitter wind.

He drew a ragged breath, trying to decide where the hell he was. Had his machine worked? He looked around the forest and lifted his eyes to the sky, astounded by the number of stars in the black night.

Piper wiped sweat from his brow. He definitely wasn’t in Crystalline City anymore, and this definitely was not the year 3088.

A sudden screech made him jump, and he held tighter to the tree he hid against, swinging around. Unfamiliar sounds began to echo through the woods, making Piper tremble. He glanced back at the machine, knowing that he had two options: stay and die, or run and maybe survive. He chose to run.

Dashing like a madman, Piper ran through the tangled mass of trees until his lungs burned and his legs felt like lead weights. It felt like he was running in circles, all of the trees looking the same. Finally, unsure of how long he’d been crashing his way through, Piper staggered toward a fallen tree, collapsing on it.

He let his head fall into his hands, his breaths haggard and wheezing, tears filling his eyes. How was he going to get out of this?

 

CHAPTER ONE

The smog was heavy today. From the fortieth-floor window, Piper could barely see the lights of the other city buildings. He sighed as he sipped at his drink, grimacing at the taste.

“What the hell is this?” he asked, turning to look at his girlfriend as she flitted around the kitchen.

She paused, her long auburn hair falling over her right shoulder, teased on top and flipped to the side, the left side of her head buzzed in the latest trend. She pinned him with an annoyed look. “I told you, baby,” she said, her voice pitching to an octave that Piper found irritating. “It’s a nutritional shake.”

Piper scowled as he set it down on the coffee table. “What was wrong with plain old coffee?” he griped, walking back into the bedroom. He stood in front of a floor-length mirror, fiddling with his tie. He looked up when Charlie appeared in the mirror behind him.

“Are you excited?” she asked, crossing her arms as she leaned in the doorway.

Piper frowned. “About what?” he asked. He turned when she came closer, wrapping her arms around his neck.

“Tonight is our six-month anniversary,” Charlie said, pouting softly.

“Oh,” Piper said, his brow rising and his eyes becoming distance. On the inside he was kicking himself. Did people really celebrate six months together anymore?

“Don’t worry,” Charlie said, smiling mischievously. “I’ve planned it all out.”

“Oh,” Piper said more confidently, his hands resting on her hips. He watched as she twirled a strand of her hair around her finger.

“I got a little something for later,” she said suggestively.

Piper caught her face in his hands, kissing her gently. “I wish I could stay home and see it,” he said, having a pretty good idea what she was alluding to.

Charlie laughed then, stepping back from his grasp. “You should get going,” she said, nodding toward the TV. “It’s getting late.”

Piper looked at the morning news, scowling. “Shit.” Sports was on. Piper knew if he made it that far into the broadcast, he would miss his train. He grabbed his coat and his shoulder-bag, rushing to the front door. “Bye, babe!” he called as he opened the door.

Charlie poked her head around from the kitchen. “Bye, love you!” she returned as he waved and closed the door. She shook her head and laughed to herself once he was gone. She loved Piper, but he could be so scatter-brained sometimes.

*****

Piper pushed the button quickly to the elevator, sighing impatiently. He knew he was going to miss the train. He didn’t know why he was bothering waiting for the elevator. It was possibly the slowest elevator in Crystalline City, and it had to take him forty-five floors down to the train station.

He turned to look out the hall window, seeing that the smog was thickening beyond the glass. He debated on whether he should try to catch a cab instead, pressing his hand against his forehead. On days like this, when he was scrambling to decide how he could get to work on time, he wondered what it would be like to go outside and walk the few blocks to the building. He knew the idea was ludicrous; the smog was so dense and deadly that anyone in it for more than a minute would develop cancer and other horrible diseases pretty quickly. It was too bad that the city hadn’t finished repairs on the underground walking tunnels yet.

Finally, the stupid elevator dinged, and Piper jumped inside, accepting that he’d just have to wait for the second train and resigning himself to the fact that his boss would tear him a new one. He leaned against the wall as the elevator began its slow crawl downward, rolling his eyes hard every time it stopped to pick up another passenger. To try to keep his head from exploding, he pulled a small device from his pocket, pressing a button on the side to turn it on.

He used his thumb to scroll through it, finding his lab partner’s contact information. He held the phone up, hitting the record button. “Hey Daniel,” he said quietly, trying to ignore the others in the elevator. “I’m going to be late. Try to stall Bobby, alright?”

Once he was done, he hit the send button, a little swoosh confirming that his message had been sent. He drew a slow breath as he leaned against the back of the elevator, knowing there was only so much D could do to keep the Master of Rage busy. And, most likely, it would only make the Rage Monster worse when Piper finally arrived. He figured that, at this point, the only reason he still had a job was because his work was really important.

He was the lead on his team as an astrophysicist. His mother had asked once what he did all day at his job, and the best he could explain to her was that he worked on computers and wrote code, but it was a lot more complicated than that. Piper was the most knowledgeable in his field, and their most recent project was sponsored by The Free People’s Chosen. It used to sound silly and science-fictiony, but now it was really happening – Piper was helping his team build a machine that could travel through space and time.

It was still in its infancy, and it had a lot of bugs, but most of the advancements they’d been able to make were because of him. Piper had known from a young age that he was weird; he never saw the lessons in school the way the teacher or the other students did. He used to have bad grades because of it, but, over time, he realized it was a gift. More often that not, Piper saw the solution when everyone else only saw endless questions. He often wondered how he knew what to look for when his co-workers were so stumped.

The elevator finally shuddered to a stop, drawing Piper from his thoughts. He felt anxiety rise in him as the throng of people that had amassed in front of him began to shuffle slowly into the tunnel. He wanted to start elbowing people out of the way, but he clicked the button on his hand-held device, seeing the time. He’d missed the train by five minutes, and it would be another ten before the next one came.

Piper sighed shortly as he plopped on a bench to wait. He unlocked his device to open some sort of bubble-popping game, when it dinged, alerting him that D had responded. He swiped to the message.

Daniel’s face appeared on the screen, his eyes wide and his hair a mess. He normally looked that way, but this felt different. “Dude,” he whispered into the camera. “I can’t do anything for you today. Did you forget that the higher-ups were coming??”

Piper felt his heart sink into his feet, his breath leaving him in a whoosh. His ass was grass.

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo!

So this week I had a spark of insanity…er, inspiration! I’ve decided on my project for this year’s NaNoWriMo!

Time Travelers Cat Cover Small.jpg

Well, what do you guys think??

The synopsis goes something like this, but is subject to change:

The year is 3088. The world has fallen to vermin and disease, cats having been erased from it by a devastating plague. To protect themselves, humanity has encapsulated their cities inside glass bubbles to keep the vermin and diseases out. No one goes beyond the glass walls.

Piper is an astrophycisist. He and his team are trying to find a way to travel faster than the speed of light. The only hope for the remaining population is to escape Earth into the cosmos. One night, while working on his teleportation machine, Piper is involved in an accident. He suddenly finds himself in the year 2023, where there are cats and the internet is obssessed with them!

An unlikely, and occassionaly annoying, partner joins Piper as he struggles to get back to his own time. Mr. Fluffers steals away on Piper’s time-machine. Now the government and secret agencies are after Piper and his lone cat. With his machine confiscated and he and Mr. Fluffers in hiding, Piper must try to get the fuzz-ball back to his own time period to save both their lives.

This is just what I’ve thought about over the last few days. Stories totally have a way of contorting and restructuring themselves as I start to work on them, so this isn’t necessarily the final product. But I think it’s going to be fun!

If you haven’t already, be sure to download your badges for this year’s NaNo, and add me as your writing buddy (cloverfire19)! I’d love to see what everyone is working on this year!!

NaNo-2017-Participant-Badge

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UPDATE ON DAISY:

Daisy is home and is very tired. She had her surgery on Tuesday and, unfortunately, the vet was unable to remove the tumor. It has blood vessels running to it, which makes it a hemorrhage risk. They took a good biopsy and have sent it off to determine what kind of cancer she has and what kind of treatment she will need. We are still asking for support for Daisy’s treatment. If you’d like to make a donation to her care, visit here!

Daisy in Car

Daisy says THANK YOU to everyone for the well-wishes and prayers!

Chasing Our Tails

This week has been incredibly trying, starting with a project that I’ve easily invested 20 hours of work into not wanting to cooperate. Last night by the time I got up from my computer, I just wanted to bang my head on my desk and cry. I’d spent four hours downloading and uploading and trying to learn script just to make this thing work, with nothing to show for it.

Now, as I sit here, I think I may have solved my problem, and I’m praying to all the book-gods to make this solution stick. I also happen to look over at my cat, Toby, and catch him doing this:

Cat GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

And it occurs to me that this is what I’ve felt like I’ve been doing ALL WEEK with this project. And sometimes I feel like I do this with my writing.

Sometimes, particularly when I’m stuck on a plot point, I find myself writing in circles. I want so badly to make this one thing fit. But we can’t do that to ourselves as writers. We need to be more creative than that. Sometimes those things don’t work out because there’s a better, more eloquent solution to what we’re doing.

I’ve often found that once I realize what I’m doing and stop trying to force things, it comes much easier. And, often, the idea is pretty kick-a$$! So don’t paint yourself into a corner with your work. Let it flow like it’s meant to, and don’t stress if you hit a bump. You’ll find a solution to it. We always do 🙂

 

What are some of your “tail-chasing” moments and how did you overcome them?