The end of the vine

Nine years ago an image came to me--a young woman, discharged from a prison for super-criminals, trying to start a new life, and being approached by those who wanted her to use her superpower and return to her own life. That was the start of Mathilda Brandt's story. She was once a rogue Empowered, nick-named vine, because of her affinity for creating mutant blackberry vines. She was captured and sent to Special Corrections at sixteen, paroled at twenty one, and only wanting to take care of her ailing grandmother, Ruth, and her two younger twin sisters. But, the world wouldn't let her. After several tries, I finally wrote the first novel, Empowered: Agent, in 2016, along with the sequel, Empowered: Traitor. In 2017, I published those two novels, along with the third in the series, Empowered: Outlaw. In June 2018, I published Book Four, Empowered: Rebel, thinking at the time that I'd close the series with that novel. Only, truthfully that was not the end of Mat's story. It took longer than I'd planned, but the final novel, Empowered: Hero, is now finished and out in the world. I've learned so much during my time with Mat. I've learned the importance of trusting in your imagination, and in listening to feedback from beta readers and editors, knowing how much to plan ahead of time, and how much run comes to me as I write. (Quite a lot, in fact). Most of all, I learned to listen to Mat, and tell…

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Don’t Panic

"Don't panic" is advice from a favorite book of mine, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and applies doubly so right now, in the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic. We have to be patient, as we stay-at-home, and vigilant. Those who have to go outside to work are all heroes, especially the healthcare workers and first responders, but also the delivery people and grocery and warehouse workers. The least I can do is not panic, and I'm working on that. I even have a new fez to help me stay calm. Words to write by, and words to live by, especially now. I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who, and love the latest Doctor, played by Jodi Whittaker. I love her even more after this short video she did, in character, to comfort us right now. "Brave heart," the Fifth Doctor said, and we all need brave hearts, right now. We can do this. We really are all together, members of the enormous, raucous, strong-willed human family, brilliant in our individual and shared creativeness, passionate, caring, loving, and kindness. It's said that patience is a virtue; right now, it's more than that, it's necessary, as most of us stay at home, and wait for the viral transmission to drop. We can do this. And, even though it feels like we are alone as we do, we are altogether in this. Hang in there, and remember, don't panic.

My first published story

Way back in October 2009, I learned about a new online magazine, Ten Flash Quarterly, which had quarterly themed issues. The one for Winter 2010 was an encounter at a lonely crossroads at dusk. As soon as I read the theme, my subconscious created a story, "Dead Wife Waiting." The editor, K.C. Ball, loved it and it appeared in the January 2010 issue. In honor of the tenth year anniversary of my first published piece, I'm reposting it here. Dead Wife Waiting by Dale Ivan Smith My dead wife waited for me at twilight on the road through the Sky Touch pass. She stood beside the midway marker stone where we first made love ten years ago. Skeletal corpses were strewn across the broken ground to either side of her, all the way to both canyons. That drunken librarian at the tavern back in Bandy had set me on this trail, babbling on about a dead woman with a nasty sword guarding the pass. Mira didn’t look like a corpse. She wore leather pants, the long gray coat I’d given her, and a sword strapped to her side. Her face was scarred, her eyes shadowed. They had been brilliant green in life. Dying hadn’t been easy for her. “Thomas, turn back.” Her words were low, husky. I laid my hand on my six shooter. “Toshi told me you were undead, guarding this pass for Richter.” She lowered her head. “Yes.” I drew my gun. She stepped in front of me.…

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