Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Excerpt: The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed

by Stephanie Osborn
The Interstellar Woman of Mystery

As my team continues to promote the Displaced Detective series, we go on to an excerpt of book 2, The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed.

Be forewarned: The Arrival and At Speed comprise one story in two volumes. One book in either the science fiction or mystery genres normally averages around 100,000 words. But when the original idea for The Case of the Displaced Detective came to me, I cranked out 215,000 words in two months. And that was just the rough draft. In order to keep it to a manageable size, my publisher, Twilight Times Books, cut the manuscript in half and made two volumes out of it. As it happened, the second story in the series, The Case of the Cosmological Killer, turned out much the same. So the first four books comprise the first two stories. I swear they won't all be like that! In fact, book 5, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, is only one volume.

What's At Speed about? Here's the publicity blurb:

"Aborting one attempt to sabotage Project: Tesseract, Sherlock Holmes — up to speed in his new life and spacetime continuum — and Dr. Skye Chadwick —hyperspatial physicist, Holmes’ new “Watson” — must catch a spy ring when they don’t even know the ring’s goal. Meanwhile Skye recovers from two nigh-fatal gunshot wounds.

"A further complication is their relationship: the ups and downs between the pair are more than occasional clashes of demanding, eccentric personalities. Chadwick is in love with Holmes. Knowing his predilection for eschewing matters of the heart, she struggles to hide it, in order to maintain the friendship they DO have. Holmes also feels attraction — but fights it tooth and nail, refusing to admit it, even to himself. For it is not merely Skye’s work the spies may be after — but her life as well. Having lost Watson to the vagaries of spacetime, could he endure losing another companion?

"Can they work out the intricacies of their relationship? Can they determine why the spy ring is after the tesseract? And — most importantly — can they stop it?"

Chapter 1—Ruminations and Rehabilitations

Skye woke up in a hospital bed on Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs the afternoon following the shooting, which was Saturday. Her chest and belly ached miserably, and there was a taste in her mouth as if all the armies that had ever marched had tramped across her tongue.

"Uhg," she groaned softly, smacking her mouth in disgust.

As sensation and full consciousness slowly returned, a previously unnoticed grip on her fingers tightened, and a familiar, English voice murmured, "Skye?"

"H-holmes? Is that you?" Skye wondered, confused.

"Yes, Skye. I am here."

Through the slits of her barely open eyelids, she saw a dark form loom over her, coming to sit gingerly on the edge of the bed. As her eyes finally responded to her mental command to focus, the form resolved into Holmes, who was now dressed in the RAF uniform he kept in their office. He reached for something beyond her range of sight, then brought his left hand back with a small plastic cup, a straw tucked inside it.

"Here. Sip this." His right hand never let go her own. Skye allowed him to place the straw in her mouth before sipping the cool water.

"Oh, that's better. My mouth tasted nasty."

"That would be the narcotics," he replied, the hint of a smile on his tired face as he returned the cup to the bedside table.

* * *

"Oh." Skye gave him a bleary-eyed scrutiny, and Holmes read it accurately.

"No, my dear. Watson broke me of that habit some years ago, at my own request, I might add. And I must confess, I find this world of yours stimulating enough that I have no interest in such substances, anyway." He allowed the hint of expression to become a full-fledged smile, and he said, "Dear old Watson, it seems, was equally as determined as dear new Skye. But it does mean I have some experience with nasty tastes in one's mouth."

"How bad?" Skye gestured to her bandaged, aching torso.

"Punctured left lung, lacerated spleen." Holmes drew a deep, pained breath. "Considerable blood loss. The spleen was not so damaged as to require complete removal, fortunately. There is speculation it caught a ricochet; the bits of metal pulled out from that organ definitely did not add up to a complete bullet, as opposed to the one in the lung, which emerged intact. But lung and spleen are repaired now, and you are getting blood." He gestured at the IV bags hanging nearby, where a deep-red fluid dribbled through a tube into her arm. "In fact, one of those is mine. They were low on your blood type." Then he quipped, "And relative to some of the people in this age of yours, it seems I am quite the healthy specimen." He paused, becoming very serious. "Skye, I must apologise…I had to break my oath to you."


For more, or to purchase this and more books in the series, go to my website, or look on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Excerpt: The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival

by Stephanie Osborn
Interstellar Woman of Mystery

This week, my publicity team is promoting my Displaced Detective series. It's been described as, "Sherlock Holmes meets the X-Files," and it's a series of hard science fiction mysteries starring none other than Sherlock Holmes and a character of my own creation, Dr. Skye Chadwick.

The Displaced Detective Series is a science fiction mystery series in which the brilliant hyperspatial
physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers that there are alternate realities, and said alternates are often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, is her means of looking in on these continua. In one particular reality, continuum 114, a certain Victorian detective (who, in fact, exists in several continua) was to have died along with his arch-nemesis at the Reichenbach Falls. Knee-jerking, Skye intervenes, rescuing her hero, who inadvertently flies through the tesseract wormhole connecting his universe with ours, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to send Holmes back without causing devastating continuum collapse due to non-uniqueness, he must stay in our world and learn to adapt to the 21st century.

So I thought I'd give you a taste of the start...


Prologue—Objects, Subjects, and Beginnings

A tall, dark figure, clad in formal Victorian eveningwear, strode briskly down the shadowed street, casually swinging his silver-embellished walking stick. No carriages had passed in the last half-hour, and only one hansom cab had wandered by ten minutes before, its horse’s hollow hoofbeats echoing between the buildings. The gas street-lamps were long since lit, but between them were patches of deep darkness, patches entirely too broad for comfort in these circumstances. Beneath the brim of his silk top hat, eagle-sharp grey eyes darted about, studying the shadows, alert and aware. For well this man knew that danger lurked in the gloom this night, danger peculiar to him alone; and he was alone. So very alone.

But not for long. He was headed to a specific destination. To the one man he knew he could trust, the one man who would stand at his side regardless of danger—for had he not done so, many times before? Was not this the reason for the deep, if largely unspoken, bond of friendship between them?

His friend would help. There was no doubt in his mind on that point. Already today two attempts had been made upon his life, and well did this man need help.

"Not far now," the words breathed past thin, pale lips. "Almost ther—"

The words died on said lips.

A hulking, brutish shadow materialised from the alleyway in front of him. The elegant man in the top hat ducked just in time to avoid the lead-weighted bludgeon that swung through the space his head had occupied fractions of a second before. Instead, the silk hat took the brunt of the blow, flying across the sidewalk and into a puddle in the gutter, its side crushed. Flinging up his cane and grasping each end in his hands, the gentleman dropped into an Oriental horse stance, and prepared to do battle.

"’Ere, now," the other figure said, in a coarse growl. "Hit’s th’ end o’ you, it is. Me superior won’t be ‘arvin’ it, an’ Oi means t’ see ‘e don’t ‘arve ta."

"You can try," the gentleman replied, calm. "But better men than you have tried, and here I stand."

A guttural, angry sound emerged from the assailant, and the cudgel swung again, this time with enough force to crush bone. Deft, the gentleman caught it with the center of his cane, but to his chagrin the walking-stick, his weapon of choice in many a similar street altercation, chose that moment to give up the ghost. It snapped in two, splintering and cracking. He snarled his own irritation, and flung the pieces aside when he realised there was not enough left to use as a decent weapon.

Then he began to flit and weave as the other man smirked and lunged at him, swinging the club repeatedly, as hard as he could. It was a dance of death, and one wrong move by the gentleman would have serious, possibly fatal, consequences.

But the man in the evening dress was not without weapons; no, his best weapons were permanently attached to his person. The alert grey eyes watched, looking for some opening; and when he saw his chance, he struck like lightning. A fist shot out at the loutish face, catching the hit man squarely in the mouth just as he realised his danger and started to shout for help. All that came out was a grunt, however, and the assassin fell to the pavement as if pole-axed, with both lips split.

The gentleman hissed in pain, grabbing his fist with his other hand for a moment to let the worst of the discomfort pass before examining the damage.

"By Jove, he has sharp teeth for such a troglodyte," he murmured, peeling off the ruined black kid glove to expose the bloody knuckles beneath. "Completely through the leather and into the flesh. I shall have to have this disinfected, for certain. No time for that now. Go, man!" He turned swiftly to resume his journey.

A crack resounded from the brownstone close at hand, and the man felt a spray of stone chips strike the side of his face. He flinched, and a sharp curse left his lips. He took to his heels and rounded the corner of the street, then disappeared into shadow.

* * *

Not ten feet away from the gentleman, though invisible to him, an elegant blonde woman in a white lab coat stood between tall, electronic towers. Behind her, concentric rows of computer consoles were manned by two dozen scientists, engineers, and technicians. Surrounding all of them was a huge, domed room carved from solid pink granite.

The woman stood for long minutes, silent, watching.

Finally one of the technicians broke the electronic silence.

"So, Doc, whaddaya think?"

"What do you think, Jim? How were the readings?" The woman turned toward him.

"I’ve got bang-on, Dr. Chadwick," Jim noted, glancing down at his own console, brown eyes darting about as he surveyed his readouts. "But I can’t say for everybody else."

"Rock steady at Timelines," someone else called.

"Sequencing looks good…" another said.

"Software’s running nominally."

"Hardware’s humming right along…"

On it went, from console to console. Finally the woman nodded.

"Perfect," she purred in deep satisfaction. "We’ve got our subject. Page Dr. Hughes and have her come down."

"On it, Doc," Jim grinned, reaching for the phone.

This is book 1 of the series! Four are already published, with more on the way!

For more, or to purchase this and more books in the series, go to my website, or find it on Amazon.

-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another Guest Post by Aaron Paul Lazar, and My Comments and Thoughts On It

This little blog article fascinates me. I'll explain why at the end of the guest post.

-Stephanie Osborn


Word Paintings
by Aaron Paul Lazar

Word paintings are like photographs. The creative wells from which they spring are similar in both writers and photographers.

For example, it takes a special talent to frame a great shot in nature. It’s this same appreciation for the “visual feast” that gives writers the extra perceptive eye they need to describe a scene that breathes life into a story. Of course, all of the senses are employed when constructing a literary scene. Sounds, aromas, and tactile sensations all contribute to setting the scene that creates a unique sense of place. 

Every image that was ever impressed on my brain ends up in a story. Whether it’s the light dancing through stained-glass windows in a Parisian chapel, curly green-gray lichen covering a boulder at the edge of a pond in Maine, or hoarfrost dangling from a cherry tree branch in January, these images are tucked away in the recesses of my mind. In time, they bubble back, persistently itching, until they are poured onto the page.

If you long to write, if it eats away at you until you are spent after hours of writing, if you ache to join your characters in a daily romp in your parallel universe, this probably sounds familiar. These abundant, precious aspects of life are the sweet fodder for your next story. Soak it all up. And carefully weave them into your next chapter.


The reason this fascinates me is that -- well, you see, my husband Darrell Osborn is an artist. A GOOD artist. You like the covers on my books? Chances are he did those. And that of some other writers at Twilight Times Books. And those of some other books with other publishers. I watch him work and am in awe: how does he do that? How does an image emerge out of nothingness beneath his fingers? Whether those fingers are holding a sketch pen, an airbrush, or a computer mouse, he's just amazing.

Me? I literally can't draw a straight line with a ruler. Oh, I can see it in my head, but I can't get it represented...

...Unless I use words. I like to say that I paint with words. Given that many fans have said reading my books is like watching a movie in their heads, I suppose I do well enough. And yes, Aaron is completely right in that I store away mental images of the places I've been, the things I've seen, and they all become fodder for my writing.

So yeah, Aaron and I must think alike, LOL.

-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More On The Inner Life of Writers: A Guest Post by Aaron Paul Lazar

Since he wrote about the big dream of writers, and the nature of writing success, last week, I thought I'd let Aaron talk a little more about the inner life of authors. Enjoy.

-Stephanie Osborn


Are all Writers Egoists?
by Aaron Paul Lazar 

Writers are terribly self-centered.

Now, don’t get offended. I’m not really talking about all of you. I’m pretty much talking about me.

Strangely enough, I don’t think anyone in my non-writer life would label me an egoist. Or an egotist, for that matter. I had to look up the difference, but there isn’t much of a distinction, as far as I could tell.* Anyway, I can’t picture someone calling me either one of those. At least not to my face.

With my family, colleagues at my day job, and with neighbors and friends, I try to be a good listener. I try to be generous. I take time to be there for them, to encourage them when they’re down, to support them when they’re mourning. I care about family and friends and frequently make sacrifices for them. 

I sound pretty great, don’t I? 

Ahem. Read on.

In my writerly world, I am horrified to admit that I have recently come to learn I’m a HUGE egoist. 

Look at the first few paragraphs in this piece. How many times did I use the word “I?” TWELVE! It’s always all about what I think, or what I noticed, or what I wrote. Isn’t it? (Of course, I guess it might be hard to write about what you think or notice. LOL.)

I started to ponder this recently when I had a confrontation with a friend, and she pointed out to me how much I write about **me**. After a bit of soul searching, I realized she was right.

But it got me to thinking.

I try to be a good guy. I really do. This is in spite of all the stupid things I do, like dribbling my red herbal tea on the new carpet at work yesterday (I spent an hour cleaning it) and consistently forgetting to attach files to emails. If it can be screwed up, I’ll do it. 

So, I’m an egoist and a klutz. 

That’s not all. No. Not only am I all of the above, I’m mean.

REALLY mean.

I am merciless to my characters. I put them through the wringer time and time again, without care for their suffering. I torment them. I make them endure horrible losses. I hurt ANIMALS, for God’s sake. Okay, so I rescue them in the end, but what kind of a jerk does that to poor, defenseless animals?


I suppose we writers can always pretend to sit back and be the philosophical documenter, the great observer, the quintessential Hemmingway-esque witness of life. But however life presents itself - brutal or tender, seedy or majestic - all fiction comes from our inside our own minds. It’s all about how we see it. How we imagine. How we think our characters would feel. 

Isn’t it?

So, how do we compensate for being such egoists?

It’s not as bad as it sounds. It certainly isn’t hopeless, and I’m pretty sure we can redeem ourselves. 

Maybe we can find redemption by setting good examples through our characters' actions while they're in the midst of dashing here or there during the page turning suspense.  One thing I never intended to do with my three mystery series was to teach lessons about nurturing a family, tending to a disabled wife, dealing with trauma or loss, or being a good father or grandfather. Those things just found their way into my books, because my characters do that stuff in their everyday lives. To my surprise, my readers have come back and thanked me for doing just that. It humbles me to think that by including some amusing family scenes in the middle of the mayhem, I might have actually done some good. One fellow actually told me I made him a better dad. And another wrote to say I got him through his chemo. Like I said, it’s all pretty darned humbling.

Can examples like these make up for my weaknesses and faults? For that great big ego? For my incessant ranting about me???

Man. I sure hope so.


–Egoist, noun  1. self-centered or selfish person ( opposed to altruist).  2. an arrogantly conceited person; egotist. 

Egotist, noun

1. a conceited, boastful person.  2. a selfish person; egoist.