2012 EPIC eBook Award Finalist
Re-Published August 2020
Editor's Spring Pick, 2011
Renna has one chance for survival-earning a berth on an intra-planet cargo ship crewed by norms. She can never join another crewkin, those crews who man the long haul ships of space. Crewkin form closed societies, fashioned at birth, meant to live only with each other until death. Renna's crewkin are dead, and she failed in her duty to commit suicide and join them. If she fails aboard a norm ship this time, she may never crew again, and might just as well have died. Crewkin, however, differ from norms, which makes fitting-in near impossible. More importantly, what killed her first ship and crew, travels with her.
From Night Owl Reviews:
This is a highly original story with a likable, if misfit, cast of characters. The story follows the adventures of Renna, a long-haul spacer, who was actually bred and nurtured (if you want to call it that) to be a part of an efficient team of enhanced humans, called Crewkin. Often referred to as Podders, a slang term of disparagement, by others in the space industry, Crewkin are bred and owned by Markham Corporation – an enormous and highly shady operation. I thought the descriptions of this future society were just brilliant — strange, sweeping in scope, and yet, still, utterly believable. The author deftly, and seemingly without effort, created personalities and situations that were so unique but that still easily captured my imagination and held it in thrall. This is a wonderfully powerful novel that is populated with oddball characters I came to care deeply for, as they traveled through space, facing uncertainty and adversity. A journey during which each of them faced some ugly truths that could have easily destroyed them all but which, instead, forged them into a solid, formidable unit.
Science Fiction fans rejoice, for this novel is a solid masterpiece, sure to fire up your imagination and send it hurtling through space on a wondrous ride. Outstanding, Science Fiction as it is meant to be! Read Full Review
Laurie-J, Reviewer for Night Owl Reviews
An excerpt from Crewkin:
Renna felt as lifeless as Sen's cold body on the bed next to her. She packed her possessions in her travel bag with careful precision. They were few enough. Everything else belonged to the ship, or the crewkin as a whole, so reverted to Markham Company. Renna didn't care. She needed no reminders. The vision of the bodies of her kin, removed one after another from this hospital room promised memory enough.
"You can't survive."
The doctor echoed Sen's last warning. A glance showed the doctor, leaning against the door, watching her, waiting. She didn't know his name. He never identified himself. Another anonymous Markham employee, dressed in a Markham medical uniform, as foreign to her as everyone else.
Years of ingrained prohibitions prevented the response screaming inside. She controlled her voice. "You recommend I join Sen, join my crew?" Like you and your staff encouraged her? Helped her? A final joining? Bastard. Renna closed her bag.
Truth struck her. I don't want to. I'm afraid of dying. Coward. She couldn't look at Sen, loyally joined with her dead kin.
"Where will you go? You are genetically unfit to live planet-side and mentally unprepared to interact with another ship's crew. Crewkin are longhaulers, not shortrunners. We recommend a final joining because we know you won't fit in."
Renna looked around the windowless, beige room, now mostly empty with her kin and their hospital beds removed. Only Sen's bed and hers remained. Sleeping alone in a bed had seemed so strange. Perhaps another unspoken means to encourage her kin to their final joining? Although her eyes burned, she held no more tears.
"My problem, doctor." Me, mine, my, such strange pronouns after we, ours, and us—now unimportant, like everything else.
Renna snapped the closures on her bag and turned to the door. He remained, relaxed against the door frame.
"The staff understands your pain, no matter what you think. I've seen kin like you before. You're conditioned to survive within your own society. Believe me, we only want to provide for your needs, for your comfort."
Renna looked away, escaping his gaze. No. Not me. Her kin, her future, her known existence ended with Markham3's failure, yet she refused the doctor's cure. In the awkward silence, she left. He didn't move as she passed. She sidled around him to prevent any touch. He huffed, shaking his head in an unvoiced comment on her defiance.
Trixie's Hot Box
Adult Content Romance
No longer available.
Scent is a powerful substance, more so than many think. Witches, whose bodies host a symbiont, know different. Scents affect pheromones, pheromones affect brain chemistry. Control brain chemistry, and you control what another can sense.
An Excerpt from Trixie's Hot Box:
I walked around the bar to the front door to get a better view, still polishing a glass. The walnut front door was dark, heavy, and thick, the glass-filled two-thirds of the door’s height. With the soft burr of the interior’s equipment, I couldn’t hear anything outside, yet saw, nearly felt, the man’s gaze on me.
Which is crazy. On a bright sunny day like today, no one can see what’s happening inside because of the dark window glass.
A memory not my own flew through my mind. Eva watched two men replace the windows with tinted glass. With her hands on her hips, the feisty former proprietress declared, “That’s the last bar brawl taking place here. It’s nearly the eighties, for heaven’s sake. Time to clean up this old joint.”
She may or may not have been a relative. I don’t know. Except once her memories became mine, I felt her as part of me. Is this feeling wrong? Was my owning Eva’s memories what Nancy resented? This was my first soul collection, so… Je ne sais pas.
“You sure he’s gonna come in here?” Nancy asked.
The stranger moved, turning slightly, permitting me a long look at his face. My starved libido jumped to instant alert. The man possessed wide shoulders, and he was taller and trimmer than I thought. He wore his black hair in a professional cut at a nice run-your-fingers-through length. Deeply tanned skin stretched over exquisitely molded features shiny with sweat. The image might charge anyone’s pump.
As he waved an arm at Juan, I saw sweat lined his shirt, too. “So take off the jacket, you tight-ass moron.” His gaze swung toward the door, his face angry. I almost believed he’d heard me. Although he wore sunglasses, he looked at the front door, perhaps considering what he’d find inside. He couldn’t actually see inside, couldn’t be looking at me.
I finally answered Nancy. “Oh, oui. I’m sure.” Plainclothes—a detective, what could he want?
Juan approached and knocked on the front entrance and called my name. The stranger stood next to him.
I quickly glamoured my appearance. It’s not control of mind or manner. Well, maybe it is more truthful to say it’s not supposed to be mind control, or so Eva says. Glamouring is reading the other person’s body language, sensing their scents, what touches them, what they envision, and manipulating your body movements and their senses to what you wished them to see. My
symbiont manages the rest.
Unlocking the door, I let the men enter. Juan’s anxiety pheromones and heavy sweat hit my senses first, followed by the sweat undertones of the stranger. He wore an unfamiliar cologne or aftershave. It wasn’t a sweet or overpowering scent, smelling more subtle, heavy in sandalwood, spicy; effectively concealing his scent. I couldn’t determine his mood. He didn’t let Juan speak.
“Miss Gregory? I’m Detective Michael Quentas with the St. Louis County Police Department...”