Jeep is here

As you might have guessed by the last five days, it’s time to start telling the story of Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus. I am giving away the first third of the novel, Episode 1: Journey to the Second Planet, to people who have subscribed to my author’s newsletter, the Astor City Beacon. (It’s named after the online newspaper in Myke Phoenix’s hometown.)

Fair warning, it ends with a cliffhanger. What else do you expect from something I just described as “the first third of the novel”? But Episode 2 is coming in a few weeks, and Episode 3 a few weeks after that  — my newsletter subscribers will be the first to know exactly when. 

After that the completed novel will be available as an ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook. This is my first completely new fiction project in almost a decade, so I may as well go all-out.

Jeep Thompson is the daughter of two astrophysicists who led a team that developed The Traveler, a vehicle loosely based on a 1965 Buick Riviera that travels through time, space, and dimensions. Can she figure out how it works in time to save the worlds?

You may have read the first five chapters here, and now pick up the tale as Jeep and Blaine make a narrow escape in the Traveler and run to Venus — no Venus they ever knew — where they meet, well, you’ll see who they meet.

You’re a few clicks away from having the story — starting with this click.

Chapter 5 – The Traveler

Image generated by Midjourney

Jeep and Blaine took the dusty old tarp off, which was more of a task than it sounds. The tarp was tied in the corners — more like lashed — and they needed to find a pair of scissors, then a sharp knife, before they could cut through the ropes that held the plastic covering to the vehicle.

Once they cleared that off, the gleaming black vehicle did resemble something off the highway from a long time ago.

“It really does kind of look like a 1965 Buick Riviera,” Blaine said.

“I didn’t know you knew anything about old cars,” Jeep said.

Blaine smiled his droll smile. “I Googled it.”

Continue reading “Chapter 5 – The Traveler”

Chapter 4 – The mysterious colleague

Jeep’s eyes widened, and even Blaine looked a little taken aback, and Jeep leaned forward and said in a loud whisper, “Oh my gosh, did you help build The Traveler?!”

Now it was the older woman’s turn to widen her eyes, but she quickly narrowed them back to normal, looked both ways and over her shoulder, and said in a low voice, “Your mother should never have told you about that.”

“Well,” Blaine said drolly, because everything Blaine said came out droll, “the thing is sitting under a tarp in Jeep’s garage, so it’s not like some big classified secret.”

“It’s in your garage? Under a tarp? I was told top people were still working on it at an undisclosed location,” Ms. Jacobus said, and then let out a little laugh. “Well, Bev is ‘top people’ if anyone is.”

“But she hasn’t touched it in years,” Jeep said.

“No,” the woman said, and seemed to be looking at something 1,000 miles away, “she wouldn’t, not after losing Tom like that.”

“Like what? I think she was going to tell me when she had the stroke,” the younger woman said urgently. “What happened to my father?”

Continue reading “Chapter 4 – The mysterious colleague”

Chapter 3 – In mourning

[Chapter 1] [Chapter 2]

The funeral home smelled a little too sweet to be a house of death. And it was quiet — almost too quiet, like some stupid old movie full of ridiculous cliches. 

And it made absolutely no sense to be sitting in an uncomfortable chair as people milled around and chuckled at the bulletin board full of old pictures of Mom. Jeep didn’t know most of these people, although some of Mom’s work colleagues were there and some kids from school. Most of them were people Dad and Mom must have known from a long time ago, or her work friends, so it was like being in a room full of strangers who wanted to tell her they knew how she felt.

Everything about the place felt artificial. What was that sweet smell, anyway? It was like some special air manufactured for funeral homes, some sort of chemically induced fresh air that sucked the sound out of the room. It was furnished like a living room from 30 years ago with couches and tables that looked brand new but hopelessly out of style.

And the urn on the table? Wrong, just wrong. That little container of dust wasn’t substantial enough to hold everything that Beverly Thompson was. 

Jeep Thompson’s mom was dead. There. It’s said. She was sick for a long time, made it a little past her high school graduation, and started to tell her daughter the stuff she had been waiting for the right time to tell her, and died just before she told her the most important part. 

Now it was time to say goodbye and all that, with the pomp and circumstance and the solemn looks and the “I’m so sorry for your loss,” yeah, right. At least being cremated means no one was standing around and saying how peaceful her mom looked and all.

Something warm and fuzzy poked her hand, and she looked down to see a German shepherd with that wide-eyed, open-mouthed look dogs get that feels so much like a smile.

“Oh, Blaine,” she said, kneeling and throwing her arms around the dog, which nuzzled her ear.

She held on until she heard a polite cough behind her.

Continue reading “Chapter 3 – In mourning”

Chapter 2 – Mom has a secret

[Here’s Chapter 1]

Jeep never got used to the hospital bed in the living room, against the wall where the Christmas tree stood every December. Mom, who always had been full of life and energy,  had aged daily, it sometimes seemed, until now she looked like a shriveled little imitation of herself lying there, hooked up to monitors with an I.V. inserted in the back of her hand to keep her hydrated or something.

The visiting nurse finished taking Mom’s vital statistics, double-checked the intravenous drip, and smiled blankly at Jeep.

“Sorry to interrupt,” the nurse said, a hand brushing back Mom’s hair. “I’ll be in the kitchen for a while before I have to go, so holler if you need me.”

“Thank you,” Mom said, and after the nurse was out of earshot, added to Jeep, “She’s one of the good ones. I wish they were all like her.”

“She does seem nice,” Jeep said, although she couldn’t really tell the difference between this nurse and any of the others who came to the house twice a day to monitor her mother’s deterioration.

She managed to laugh at one of Jeep’s lame jokes and then something dark seemed to pass over her eyes.

“Honey,” Mom said, “you need to know something, something important.” 

Continue reading “Chapter 2 – Mom has a secret”

Chapter 1 – Once upon a time

Once upon a time in a land not unlike our own, there lived a young woman who wanted to see the stars.

“I gotta tell you, it’s pretty darn boring around here sometimes,” the young woman would say, even though her best friend, Blaine, was a vampire, which would make anyone else’s life interesting.

Blaine wasn’t a dangerous vampire, and that is one of the ways the land where she and Blaine lived WAS unlike our own. In this civilized land, vampires could go to the grocery store and buy pasteurized blood in bottles, some of them flavored with flavors no one ever thought of until they did, some as obvious as cherry vanilla and others not as obvious.

But about the young woman being bored: It was because her mother had been an explorer, although how much of one wasn’t clear until the day they found The Traveler.

“Guinevere,” Mom would say, “this is a vast and wonderful place, and there’s more to reality than these four walls and the sky above.”

And so the young woman wanted to see beyond these four walls and the sky above. That’s where all the trouble began, although years later she would tell people it was also where her real life began.

But she would not ever tell anyone else that her name was Guinevere. The only reason Blaine knew was because he heard Mom call her that once, earning an embarrassed roll of the eyes and a glare that would have made Mom’s blood curdle if it hadn’t made her laugh out loud instead.

Guinevere Prudence Thompson hated her name. Hated it. Never mind that she was named after an Arthurian queen and a Beatles song. 

Continue reading “Chapter 1 – Once upon a time”

Jeep Thompson and the Challenge of Committment

I added 392 words to Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus on Sunday afternoon, 392 words that will anchor the whole story if the exercise was performed properly. The proof in the pudding will be if the story expands to its full length from where it has been mired all these months — or at least expands to further along the path.

Am I stealing time from Jeep and my other fiction projects when I take time for this blog? I don’t think time is the problem as much as commitment. After all, I rose from my sleep when I remembered I haven’t blogged yet today — I can’t remember the last time I rose in the dead of night with an idea about furthering Jeep’s story.

Hmmm. I think I just identified an issue …