(I Also Write Children's Books!)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

While We're Waiting

At this point, I don't even know if the book will be published or what I can do about it.  I'm going to have to start using this blog for other stuff besides author news again.

Right now, a couple of friends of mine expressed interest in peeks into Penny's parents' lives, and called Brian a 'precious cinnamon bun.'  So, I wrote his superhero origin story for them.  It is very short.  I'll put it here, rough and unedited!

The Nearly Mad Science building shivered as the metal bench gouged a hole in the off-white stone exterior. A couple of freshly reinstalled bolts came loose, causing the sign over the entrance to lean at an angle.
A young man stuck his head out of the second floor window. “Criminy. Please tell me you're not here to steal the latest shipment. We've barely gotten time to study them. The protein agglutination alone will be useful in a hundred sciences once we map the amino acids.”
Without ever taking her eyes off her opponent, a cream and yellow amazon in glaring pink and purple midriff sweater and shorts shouted, “Criminal plans aborted. This dimwit needs a lesson for insulting me.”
“Me insulting you?! I have an IQ of one hundred sixty seven, you musclebound sugary slattern, and I've had enough of your constantly calling me stupid!” screamed a man in sinister red and black robes with a long beard, a metal-banded staff topped by an unusually large mouse skull painted in yellow and black stripes, and a leatherbound book that floated by his side in its own purple aura.
The man in the window adjusted his glasses. “The young lady's name is Delicious, but I don't know yours, sir? I assume you are also a supervillain?”
Drawing himself up to his full height, fluffy-bearded chin raised in pride, and even floating a couple of inches off the ground, the man in robes pointed an accusing staff at Delicious. “Get used to the name Ethelbert the Eldritch, academic peon. My fame swells every day. And that is not a young anything. She's over fifty years old!”
Smirking, the yellow woman tilted her hips to one side, cupped her hands under her chest, and lifted. “These laugh at your bunk. What student in this college can match Delicious?” They didn't raise, for the same reason she didn't look even half her real age. A candy shell harder than steel does not sag.
The man in the window held his fist to his mouth and coughed, blushing slightly. “Yes. Well.”
“She's a crone! A shriveled, ignorant hag!” screeched Ethelbert. In response, Delicious pulled a tree out of the ground with one hand, lunged forward, and swung it at him. His book swerved between them, and with a deep purple flash he vanished and reappeared on the other side of the cobbled university path.
The tree hit the wall of the building instead, scraping off branches and gouging the surface.
“Please take this somewhere else. Please?” asked the man in the window.
Delicious growled, twirling the tree over her head. Its eighteen inch trunk cut the air with an audible hum. “Here is his offense. Here he came without invite. Here he gave insult.”
“I showed up without invitation?! You sat on that roof eating popcorn and casting aspersions on my intellect during my whole fight with Fantabulosa! I would have won if you weren't so distracting!” Furious, the bearded wizard pointed his staff. A painfully bright flash of yellow flew from the skull at the end, striking Delicious's tree. She twitched sharply, and the tree itself burst into flame.
Twisting the lenses on his glasses, the man in the window leaned out more, revealing his striped tie and white lab coat. “Automatic teleportation and an energy beam. Superb technology. I can see the collateral damage is about to get out of hand. One moment.”
Disappearing into the building, he appeared as promised a second later with a large, cylindrical plastic cooler. Tilting it over, he poured out a glob of white liquid that splashed all over the flaming tree, and Delicious standing below him.
Caught by surprise, the supervillainess scowled up at him as only someone with hair made of candy spikes can. “You have done it now. Your school was irrelevant. Now I level it.”
With that she took a step forward, pulling the tree trunk back, and stumbled, falling onto her back. The thud of her heavy body hitting the dirt resounded around the campus, causing spectating students to retreat a little farther.
The man in the window took the opportunity to pour another cooler of white goo over her.
Sputtering, the supervillainess responded by pulled the tree back and threw it at him.
Tried to throw it at him. Instead of leaving her hand, the top end ripped off, stuck to a column in front of the building's entrance. The rest swung around and smacked into her leg. She shook it, and the trunk snapped in two, one half stuck in her grip and the other to her leg.
Disbelieving, she asked, “Glue? You employ glue? No glue is as strong as me. Hear Delicious scoff.” As predicted, she easily pulled the tree free of one hand with the other, leaving a chunk of torn free wood that she scraped off against her chest. It crumbled, but instead of coming loose tore her shirt apart. Not that it mattered, since the layer of white goop underneath concealed at least as much.
He didn't answer, so she climbed to her feet, to the sound of sod ripping up and sticking to her back. The two halves of trunk touched each other again, ripped into more pieces, and at the momentary jerk she keeled forward onto the path.
Peeling up bricks, one stuck to her face, Delicious rolled over and sat up. She gave the man in the window an amused look. “Inconvenient. Stopping me with a trifle. What is your name, boy?”
“Brian Akk. I'm sorry, but I just don't want the college broken. Can we call a truce, and I'll set you free? You can continue your fight somewhere else. Please, Miss Delicious?”
The candy shelled supervillainess laughed, long and enthusiastic, before settling back into a mere grin. “You delight me so. Delicious shall grant-”
And with that, Ethelbert the Eldritch blasted her with his staff again. And again. And again. Neither the glue nor her impervious surface even turned black, but each shot sent her body twisting and jumping with the shock. Reflexively, she threw a brick at him, but it would not leave her glue covered hand.
Brian gasped. “What are you doing? I thought there was some kind of sportsmanship rule! Misty talks about it all the time!”
“Not for this, Brian-” Delicious managed, before another yellow bolt cut her words off in a strangled yelp.
“That's right! I have the advantage, and I will make this impudent hussy pay for the way she keeps calling me stupid!” shouted Ethelbert.
From the window, Brian pleaded, “Before you do, at least let me examine your technology. It's not like she's going anywhere, and I am in awe. What you're wielding right there puts anything in our collection to shame.”
“Do you think me a fool? I'm not going to surrender my staff.”
Brian shook his head hurriedly. “Oh, no. I just want to take some readings. Those devices are amazing. Beyond amazing. Did you make them yourself?”
Nonplussed, the robed villain stroked his beard. “I certainly did. Are they really that great? And they're not devices, I enchanted them.”
“I don't believe in magic, but you just might convince me!” Brian called back, ducking inside. Seconds later, he burst out the front door, arms full of equipment. Passing by the wheezing Delicious, he trotted in a hurry over to Ethelbert, and dumped it all on the ground. Still bemused, the villain watched until Brian held up a tube made of loosely connected white bands, connected by wires to a chunky but hand portable computer.
“Just fire one of your energy blasts through this? I might be able to base my thesis paper on you,” said Brian Akk, positioning the tube so Ethelbert could point through it.
“Oh. I thought you were a professor,” said Ethelbert, lifting his staff to point down the tube.
“Not yet, but I might be one a lot sooner, thanks to you,” said the brown-haired, bespectacled young man in the lab coat.
“Let your feeble science wonder at the power of my lightning staff, then!” declared the smirking villain. A yellow blast shot through the tube, across campus, and left a smear of black on the far end of the Nearly Mad Science building.
Blinking away the flash, Brian peered at the readout on his computer. “Lightning doesn't look or act like that, but... criminy, you're right. It is lightning. That's fascinating.”
Now Ethelbert really smirked, drawing himself up smugly again. “You scientists think you know everything. True magic defies you.”
Shaking his head, Brian kept peering at the screen, poking buttons with his thumb. “I promise, we only wish we knew everything. An ionized tube to keep the lightning from wandering. What a system. I can't even guess how the staff projects it, or where it gets the electricity. I hate to say, but that may always be beyond my grasp. May I do one more test, sir? If you don't mind?”
“One more, if you're quick. I am watching you, and that oversized hussy you're on good terms with.” Turning, Ethelbert pointed his staff at the groaning Delicious, who groggily experimented with crumbling the bricks stuck to her hands.
Placing the scanning tube on the ground, Brian cupped his hand to his mouth and shouted, “Misty! A gas canister, please? Helium would be best, if you can find it.”
A woman's rich voice echoed out of the second store window. “Like there's anything in your lab I don't know how to get my hands on.”
“Misty, please,” Brian repeated, sounding a bit strained.
A small metal bottle sailed out of the window, arcing perfectly down into Brian's waiting hand. Adjusting the nozzle until it started to hiss, he suggested, “I can do this while you shock Delicious. A few seconds and I'll be out of your way.”
“Feeble minded mechanists,” Ethelbert muttered, aiming past Brian's helium can, and released a blast of yellow light. This time, yellow turned immediately to blue, and with a screech, the bearded evildoer collapsed.
“That does tend to happen when you can't aim electricity that strong,” commented Brian to the unconscious man. Crouching down, he used his sleeve to pat the smoking embers cold in the man's beard, then checked Ethelbert's neck. “Pulse still steady. Thank goodness. He'll need burn treatment.” Raising his voice, he shouted, “Misty! Call an ambulance, please?”
“Already done, Brian. I know you. In the biblical sense,” said the young woman with the smooth voice, stepping into the Nearly Mad Science building's doorway. Like Delicious, she wore a bare midriff sweater and shorts. Hers hugged curves as dramatic as the villainess's like paint, but with a full compliment of sway and bounce with every step in her high heels. Every inch of fabric gleamed white, not quite blending into her milky skin and luxuriously wavy platinum blonde hair, whose pale color right down to the scalp screamed that she had super powers of her own.
“Misty, please,” said Brian, his cheeks red and his voice rasping.
On the path, the glue-covered villainess turned her grin from her unconscious opponent to the students. “Joyous Delicious, who will honor our bargain if you unstick her.”
Bending down, Brian scooped up the skull-topped staff, and hurried past Delicious into the building. “Remarkably, as sticky as that substance is, it's soluble in water. Can you believe that? We'll have you free in no time. Misty, do you have any change on you?”
“You could search my pockets again,” said his friend, following him inside.
“Are you always like this when there are supervillains around?” the young man asked plaintively.
Her voice echoed out, amused, emphatic, and a little exasperated. “Yes. And give me that. Honestly, Brian, you just saved the school thousands of dollars. Maybe tens of thousands. They won't resent one vending machine.”
Yellow flashed through the door, accompanied by pops, clanks, and a series of thunks. A few seconds later, Brian and Misty walked out the door and down the steps with their arms loaded down with bottles of water.
Delicious extended her arms, turning them over to watch as the glue and everything attached to it melted off when the students poured water over her. “Magnificent brain. This fight was my great pleasure. You have a future.”
“I'm a grad student, Miss Delicious, not a hero,” Brian assured her.
Delicious stood up. Her statuesque, lean muscled, seven foot tall body loomed over him. Her torn clothing remained on the ground with the slowly clumping white goo, and water ran in thin streams down bare curves now less than a foot from Brian's face.
The villainess's arm slipped around his waist, pulling him up off the ground against her. He let out a squeak, eyes wide behind his already magnifying spectacles. “We... ah... our truce?”
Smiling wickedly, her yellow face lowered to his, its wet surface smelling of lemons and cream. “Oh, do not worry. Delicious will not hurt you. My place. This weekend.”
Strident, Misty planted a hand on her hip, and shook an index finger up at the villainess. “What do you think you're doing?”
“Taking him back home. He will thank me afterwards. Big brains are sexy,” she answered, licking her lips.
“Please tell me she's kidding,” begged Brain.
“No, I meant can you at least wait until I get my camera?” complained Misty.
“Please tell me you're kidding,” begged Brian.
Delicious laughed, and touched her nose to the young man's. “Do I seem too stiff? Do not worry-”
And with that, he slipped a little device that was all handle out of his pocket, and jabbed it against Delicious's bare hip. Her hard surface rang like a giant bell, vibrating until she let go of her captive and collapsed onto the path again.
Dusting off his wet coat, he sighed. “Thank goodness we still have that amplified tuning fork. Not much except sonic attacks were going to work against that impervious shell.”
Eyes fluttering, still smiling, Delicious mumbled in a drowsy hush, “Brainy.”
Misty laughed, and handed Brian the skull staff. “Your prize, Brainy.”
“I swear you were going to let her carry me off,” he groused. Holding up the staff, he smiled again, eyes roaming over it in hungry anticipation. “Let me put this in the magnetic pod, and then we can bring my equipment back up.”
Hooking her arm into his, Misty leaned her head on his shoulder, pulling him towards the Nearly Mad Science building's front door. Twirling a pair of brown leather and shiny brass goggles with her other hand, the blonde gave him a wicked grin. “Priorities, Brainy Akk. First, you're going to need a pair of these.”


  1. Well, that was delightful! Kind of makes me wish there were a webcomic. I'm sorry your publisher is being...uh, *no fun,* but this, THIS was fun and I'd love to see more.

    1. I can't draw worth beans, alas. If I could, Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teeth would be a bestselling graphic novel.

    2. Now I'm fantasizing who your steampunk artist should be... hm...

    3. Phil & Kaja Folio - They already Draw Girl Genius, a differant kind of story about a mad scientist just finding out about her powers

  2. Great story. Hope the book issue gets resolved soon.

  3. Ok this story leaves me with so many questions. I crave more. Also, goooo Brainy!

    1. Questions? Really? Nearly Mad Science (the name changes occasionally) is just the college department for trying to reverse engineer mad science into useful scientific discoveries for regular humanity. Since the first book, Brian has declared his passion for that cause. His mad science super power makes him unusually good at it.

      Misty has the goggles ready because she's been trying to get him to accept being a Mad Scientist for years.

      Other than that, this all seems well established. What questions do you have?

    2. (Sorry if I sound grumpy. I'm not.)

    3. Question 1: when did he meet the Audit.
      Question 2: how long did Delicious pursue him?
      2a: did she ever succeed?
      3: did Ethelbert come back.
      4: when did he meet Misty?
      5: now sure if I want to ask why the vibrations made Delicious collapse. It didn’t seem...painful....

    4. 1. Later, while actively performing heroics. They didn't meet in a more personal way until Misty tried to set them up with her usual subtlety. I believe it's Henchman where that story is briefly told.

      2. Who says she's stopped? It was never a priority, never something she would go out of her way for.

      3. That was not the last stand of Ethelbert the Eldritch, but he was not a long lasting villain.

      4. They went to high school together. She started her thieving career around then. Misty was always an early bloomer.

      5. Confusion and vertigo, and she passed out from the former. It was not actually painful. It wasn't as enjoyable as you're hinting. Delicious is just a very cheerful person.

    5. Thanks for the answers.

      I just think it’d be hilarious if a super gadget meant to stop people non lethally wasn’t working like they thought it would.
      “My sonic incapacitator does WHAT??! You know what, just take it, destroy it whatever. I need to get out of town before anybody else finds out what it does. No way will they believe it was unintentional. I’ll be renamed super perv just before an outraged heroine or villainous rips my **** off and feeds it to me!!”

    6. Stuff like that happens ALL. THE. TIME. I'm just not going to include the lewd ones in my books.


    7. Fair enough. Books are great the way they are.

  4. (Haha even if you were grumpy, it'd be well justified. This inexplicable delay would make me grump if I was in your shoes.) This is the first time I've seen Brian outside of the Please Don't Tell My Parents books, so my questions are mostly just nosy ones.

    1) Brian was more than just friends with Misty?! Whoa! (This one is more of a reaction than a question.)

    2) Since Brian was such good friends with Misty, how did he become a hero? He doesn't appear to have superpowered parents. When did he meet Beebee? When did Misty turn heel to face?

    3) Delicious... So she's kinda like a Tootsie Roll pop? Hard on the outside yet soft on the inside? [Further questioning redacted]

    4) Brian has an entire magical staff and still refuses to say the term "magic"? He's pretty dedicated. It makes me wonder if he managed to reverse engineer the staff.

    5) Misty was Brian's lab assistant. Another whoa. Where all has she been? Her life seems to have been quite the adventurous one. Delicious as well... Where is Delicious in present era?

    6) Who captured Misty's heart long enough for Claire to be?

    7) What was Brian's major? Did Beebee go to the same school? Did Misty graduate? What was her major? Did Delicious go to college? Did she also have a degree?

    8) Whatever happened to Ethelbert the Eldritch? Did anyone just call him Ethel for short? Did he quit villainy after his skull staff was taken?

    9) Did either Brian, Beebee, or Misty develop secret lairs?

    10) Refer to Question #1. Mindblown. This man is an OG.

    That's the sum of all the questions floating around in my head. Now I need to make sure I own any purchasable writings I do not yet own, like that anthology I've been wanting. Time to go shopping now. (Please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors in this post. I wrote this all from my phone.)

    1. Heh.

      1) Brian was just friends with Misty. I hope it was obvious to everyone long ago that being friends with Misty comes with an impressive benefits package. And if you didn't take advantage of it, she would just lie and say you did, because that amuses her.

      2) Brian just became a hero stopping two supervillains. It snowballs from there. He met Beebee during his heroing, but it was Misty (friends with both of them) who officially got them together.

      3) Delicious's exterior/interior depends on what kind of candy she becomes every time she molts. I was referring to the shell because that avoids complicated explanations of her strange physiology. Technically, she actually does bend like regular skin, it just requires such great strength that only a few people know. She feels about like a normal person to Bull, for example.

      4) Brian considers whoever refers to the staff as 'magic' as deluded. It's technology produced by a currently unidentified method he is working hard to identify.

      5) Misty was not his lab assistant. She's his friend since high school and was hanging around being enjoyably difficult. It's the Lutra Way. Delicious is semi-retired. She can tell she's pushing 70 even if it's not visible from the outside.

      6) No one ever captured Misty's heart. When she decided to get pregnant, she stepped up her already considerable love life, picking men she felt would provide good genes. She has zero regrets about that strategy, and it's why Claire doesn't know who her father is. The Lutras find even other supers' limited inhibitions adorably quaint.

      7) Nearly Mad Science. It's a subset of Engineering in their world. I haven't decided where Beebee went to college, since that wasn't how they met. She was a math major. As frighteningly intelligent as Delicious is, she has no formal education.

      8) Ethelbert is in jail. That happens a lot more than you would think reading Penny's story.

      9) All three of them.

      10) Getting Misty Lutra into bed was not exactly difficult. If she liked you or was attracted to you, she had no moral or relationship inhibitions. Of course, there were at least ten times as many people who wanted her as she wanted, and ten times as many of those as she had time for. So, there's that. And if you were a man and she actively wanted you? She would get you. Her super power ensured it. There are a loooot of moral issues there, and she never cared about any of them. Like almost all villains, and many heroes, just because she's often a good person doesn't mean she always is.

    2. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! You're awesome! My curiosity is still piqued, but I am now satiated enough to behave as if I'm patient for one hour.* I will look forward to getting Please Don't Tell My Parents You Believe Her (and anything else being written by you tbh).

      * May not necessarily be one consecutive set of sixty minutes

    3. It's fine. There's only so much I'm willing to answer about relationships, but I do like people to understand my characters. In the Mynx's case, that includes her love life. If you get into that, it's important to understand that from her perspective, no one ever got her into bed. She got THEM into bed, and being desired meant she had power over the person who desired her.

    4. Please know that if you ever write a book starring the Mynx, I will buy it faster than you can even say "preorder". (Who am I kidding... This will likely be my reaction to every single ebook that will be released.) I grow attached to your characters and find myself wondering about many of them. It's hard to even have a favorite. I love each member of the Inscrutable Machine. I love Lucyfar. I love Generic Girl. I even have a love/hate thing with Ouroboros. It's like the world you created has an organic life of its own.

      I tried to share the series with my local library, but they will only purchase hard cover books. I intend to donate the paperback series once the final book is released. The world must see all of these characters.

    5. Ha! I appreciate your love of my characters, but I don't think there's any way Mynx will get her own book. There's no way I could keep it family-friendly. It would be a miracle keeping it R rated. In every superhero world there's the Temptress Villainess, and I turn everything up to 11.

    6. Regarding Claire's unknown father.

      Given Misty's paternal selection strategy, lack of inhibitions, and powers, is there a possibility that she could be Penny's half-sister? Or would Misty have excluded Brian from the candidate pool once he and Beebee were a solid couple?

    7. That is a question I don't intend to answer. I warn you, I don't use those to hide 'yes' or 'no', but whole categories I prefer to leave not officially addressed. Feel free to speculate on your own time.

    8. Javahead,
      I just don’t see that as an option. Both girls are too different to be half siblings. Plus the Audit would probably be able to figure out if Brian had slept with someone else during their marriage and I don’t see that ending well.

    9. Actually, I hadn't even considered it until our generous host noted that if a man had even a hint of desire for her she could have him if she wanted him, that she regarded mainstream morality with amusement, and she'd gone for men with the best traits they might pass on to their offspring. And that Brian may have been (probably was, by implication) a former lover.

      Since Misty is still good friends with both Brian and Beebee, and she brought them together, I agree with you that it seems extremely unlikely. But it seemed like the possibility was worth asking about.

  5. Does your publisher have exclusive rights? Vanity Publishing is an option. I also know a few writers who have had similar issues, but I can't remember which is which...I think Fred Perry actually gave one of the stories...Or possibly Aaron Allston which would be unfortunate since he...cannot be contacted. *Moment of peace*

    1. Also, less controversial question? What exactly did the 'Helium', or just Helium, thing DO?

    2. I mean, I get that it caused the lightning to rebound..but why?

    3. Helium is super conductive so I figure it spread the lightning strike and he got caught in the fringes of his lightning attack.

    4. Helium is a very, very bad conductor. But good or bad, the point was to disrupt the slightly electrified tube that the staff makes to direct the lightning bolt. Once that was broken, it did what lightning does - looked for the nearest circuit to the ground. That being the staff and the guy holding it.

  6. Brian Akk was in a regular grad school, roughly at regular grad school age, and he already had his mutant super-brain? If he's in a field where his power gives him supercharged insight, shouldn't he be a prodigy, years younger than his classmates? Or did it kick in just recently at the time of this story?

    1. Good question. He actually did graduate early. He's about 20 there. There's only so much you can compress college credit hours, but it helps if you don't need study time and everything in the labs is totally obvious. And of course he got scholarships.