Because I just found out there's a new single player Mechwarrior game coming out. I played soooo much of the old version back in the 90s and it's a shock to see it with these souped up graphics.
It may get a few more tweaks on the way to publication, but this template will remain. I love its simplicity, elegance and adapability. A few colour changes, a couple of smaller images suggestive of the narrative content added to each new title, and you've got a visual brand for a whole series.
The artist, William Heavey, has done a great job. (He's currently working on a cool do over for the Stalin's Hammer collection, too.)
I'll be sending out sample ebooks to the club later today. I'll do the same via Twitter, Facebook etc, but those one's will ship with a pre-order link.
Anybody in the bookclub wanting to get the discount US $2.99 instead of US $5.99 should wait for the launch email.
4 Responses to ‘Cover reveal. A Girl in Time’
Over at Medium. I'm getting tired of hand formatting every paragraph here. Which is a thing.
9 Responses to ‘A Girl in Time. Chapter Three’
In the opening pars of A Girl in Time we learn Cady has scored a free A9 speaker from EA Games. This is it.
It will look cool in the movie.
Also, for those not in the beta read, the second chapter is published below.
2 Responses to ‘Cady's swag’
Georgia had argued that sushi was not a great choice on a cold, wet night in November. She wanted Greek, of course; her last name was Eliadis. But Cady loved sushi. They had hot dishes, too. And BuzzFeed Guy was paying.
“Matt. His name is Matt, not BuzzFeed Guy,” Georgia stage-whispered. He was away from the table when Cady arrived. “And you're going to give him a great interview, because he's going to be my new boyfriend, and he's going to give it to me six ways from Tuesday.”
The restaurant was about ten minutes from being crowded. The seats at the sushi train were all taken, and all but a couple of booths were full. They were in one of the booths, because you never ate from the train unless you wanted to catch an express ride to food poisoning. Four empty beer bottles on their table spoke to how well Georgia and BuzzFeed Guy—Matt—were getting along.
Cady made herself say his name five times so that she wouldn't forget. She would make herself say it at least twice in the first couple of minutes, just to fix it in her memory.
“Stop saying his name,” said Georgia, digging a knuckle into her ribs. “He's mine. You were too late. So don't think you can come in here with your sad little Jessica Jones look and steal my future husband away from me.”
Cady squealed and laughed and tried to slide away from her friend, and completely forgot the name of BuzzFeed Guy when she looked up and found him smiling at the pair of them from the end of the table. He was good-looking. Movie star good-looking. And even though she had promised herself she would remember his name, because that's what grown-ups did, one look at this guy and all rational thought climbed aboard the sushi train and choofed away, possibly never to return.
“Hi, BuzzFeed Guy,” she said.
“Hi, Murder Girl,” he volleyed back, sliding into the booth across from them, carrying three beers.
“Matt,” said Georgia, emphasizing his name, “this is Cadence McCall. Cady, this is Matt Aleveda. He will be your BuzzFeed journalist tonight.”
They shook hands while Cady struggled to think of something to say other than, "Oh my, you're cute." She could see why Georgia wanted to rush him out the door and into bed. All of her strategies for this interview, all of the carefully prepared little pull quotes she had already imagined featuring on the front page of the site between “Tay Tay and Beyonce’s Cage Match” and “37 Pictures of Dogs Who Just Can't Even Anymore” … they all flew right out of her head.
“You want to order?” he asked, saving her from the vast embarrassment of staring at him and saying nothing, just grinning like an idiot.
She nodded and swigged at her beer, mostly to hide behind the bottle for a couple of seconds to regain her balance. She felt Georgia kicking her under the table as if to say, "See, see, I said he was cute."
“I like the hot ones,” she said, before hurrying on. “The hot dishes, I mean.”
A bright hot flush bloomed somewhere beneath her tee shirt and spread to her face. She knew it was coming. Knew it was going to be bad. And that just made it worse.
“That's why we should’ve had Greek,” said Georgia. “Do you like Greek food, Matt?” she asked.
“My grandmother was Greek,” he said, his smile completely authentic. “She was a cook on a big cattle ranch down in Arizona. That's where she met my granddad. He was a vaquero, a cowboy from Mexico. So yes, I do like Greek food.”
“Then next time we go to Lola, and moneybags here pays.”
“Hey, I don't get paid for another month, you know,” said Cady.
“Okay then. Yanni's, and then Lola.”
“So you haven't made any money off the app yet?” Matt asked. “That seems almost weird. It's been number one for weeks now.”
“It takes a while to confirm the sales,” she said. “Sixty days, usually.”
Talking about her game, Cady started to recover her poise. It was as though the earthquake which had threatened to knock her on her ass stopped, leaving her shaken, but suddenly surefooted. The restaurant was getting noisy as more people came in to take the last seats, and the patrons who were already there raised their voices to talk over each other.
“Do you mind if I ask what sort of a payday you're looking at?”
She didn't mind at all.
“Four and a half million dollars initially. It'll fall away after that, after Murder City drops off the front page and then the best seller lists. But I can probably make do.”
She felt Georgia's foot tapping her ankle again.
What? Was she being a jerk? This was why her friend had come along with her. Cady wasn't always the best judge of what to say in these situations.
“Sweet,” said Matt, clearly impressed. “Explains all the clones.”
“They're garbage apps,” said Cady, and Georgia kicked her. Hard. Matt noticed.
“It's true,” Cady insisted. “They are. And I feel really strongly about this. I spent a long time working on that game. I maxed out my credit cards. Ate grungy rice and fish heads. I slept in a cot in front of my computer. I did the work. It paid off. I'm not going to be modest about it.”
“No reason to be,” Matt said as a waitress appeared to take their order. “If you were a guy, it wouldn't be an issue.”
Georgia dug her fingers into Cady's arm.
“Mine,” she whispered.
Matt reminded them he was picking up the tab, and they over-ordered. Cady doubled up on the tempura seafood platter with an extra serve of Dungeness crab.
“Rice and grungy fish heads, remember?” she said when Georgia gave her The Look.
They discussed the games industry: “Nintendo should just give up on hardware.”
Sushi trains: “Most of the time they're like, “This is what comes back on the train line from the toxic waste factory.”
And the latest superhero movie, another failed Green Lantern reboot. A particular hate-favorite of Cady's.
“The love interest dragged. Again. The super villain was more sentient smog bank than relatable nemesis. Again. And while you have to love the idea of the green man's powers—your flight, your mad awesome combat skills, a workable indestructibility, and that whole of energy-into-mass conversion thing—they just didn't sell me on the Lantern having any chance at kicking Superman's ass, which is the gold standard in these matters. One star. Would not even torrent.”
Matt was recording the conversation by then.
“So, you guys. You're besties, right? Where'd you meet?”
“College. At a self-defense workshop,” said Georgia.
“Seriously. Have you seen the data on campus rape?” said Cady, using a pair of chopsticks to awkwardly move a large piece of fried crab meat into her bowl.
“So you're like unstoppable killing machines of death?” he asked, with poker-faced sincerity.
“Worse,” Georgia answered. “Female game devs.”
“Our superpower is ruining everything,” said Cady.
“So, Georgia, did you help Cady on Murder City?”
“Nope. It's all her own work. She doesn't play well with others.”
“It's true,” said Cady. “I'm just a girl with mad coding skills, but no people skills.”
“And your diagnosis,” Georgia prodded. “Don't be modest. You're a high functioning sociopath too.”
“According to 4Chan.”
Matt took out a Field Notes reporter’s notebook. It looked to be about half full already.
“According to Reddit,” he said, flipping through the pages, “you're an insufferable lesbian, and every boy you ever dated died mysteriously after placing five-star reviews of Murder City in the gaming press.”
“The technical term is ‘corrupt gaming press’.”
“I stand corrected.”
“You're actually sitting down,” Georgia teased. “This is why nobody trusts the media anymore.”
More food arrived. More food than they needed.
The restaurant was uncomfortably hot and noisy with the crowd by then. A family moved into the booth behind Matt, a single dad and three daughters. They looked young, the oldest possibly not even in school yet, and they were hideously excited. Their father looked pained as the girls launched themselves at the moving buffet.
“Choose careful, girls. I only got thirty bucks to get us through. Maybe some avocado rolls?”
Cady was looking directly at him when he spoke, and his eyes locked on hers, his voice trailing away at the end, the three hungry children ignoring him completely. She felt herself blushing again. Without asking Georgia or Matt, she grabbed the plate of hand rolls which had just arrived at their table, stood up, and walked them back to the next booth.
“We over-ordered,” she said. “You should have these.”
The girls fell on the food.
“Rocket ships!” the oldest one cried out.
Their dad started to say, “That won't be necessary—”
But Cady spoke over him.
“Yeah it will. We ordered too much. Chill. It's all good.”
She spotted their waitress a few tables over, and before anyone could stop her, she marched over, pointed out her booth and the family next to it, and explained she would be paying for the little girls and their dad. Satisfied, she returned to Georgia and Matt. He was smiling crookedly at her. Georgia was not smiling at all.
“What?” she asked, slipping back into her booth.
“Nothing,” said Georgia, in a tone of voice that said everything.
“I'm gonna just … go the bathroom,” said Matt.
“What are you doing?” Georgia whispered fiercely when he had excused himself.
The embarrassment Cady felt when the girl's father had caught her looking at him returned, doubled in strength. She dared not look in his direction.
“Shut up,” she said, in as low a voice as she could and still be heard. “I was just helping.”
“You're not,” said Georgia. She flicked her eyes over the back of Matt's seat. The guy was still sitting in the booth, his daughters oblivious to any disturbance in the Force.
But even Cady could tell now there was a great disturbance in the Force. The man was concentrating fiercely on his food, staring at the hand rolls—“rocket ships!”—as if defusing a time bomb. The three girls feasted merrily, but he did not eat at all.
“We'll talk about this later,” said Georgia, “but promise me you won't do anything stupid to look good for Matt again. Anything else,” she added.
Embarrassment threatened to flare into anger then, but Cady got a hold of her temper before it broke free.
“I don't know what you mean,” she said.
“Yes, you do,” Georgia shot back. “You were being selfish in that very special way you have, Cady. When you don't think about anyone else. Just yourself and what's best for you. But I said we'd talk about it later.”
“No, we'll talk about it now.”
Her anger was returning, like a wrestler who had been pinned suddenly finding a way out of the hold down.
“I wasn't being selfish. I was thinking about—”
Georgia leaned right into her personal space.
“You were thinking about how it would look when Matt wrote you up as the most generous girl in the world. But that's not how it will turn out, trust me, because that's not how it is.”
She almost left then.
Almost stormed out into the cold.
She could even see herself slamming her last sixty-three dollars down on the table of the booth next door. And it was only that image, of a crazy woman throwing money and shade at three little girls and their poor single dad which brought her up short.
Maybe she had been a jerk?
Maybe she was insufferable?
Considering the possibility was enough to drain her foul temper. It was like losing herself in the effort of solving a really complex coding problem.
She took a sip of her beer.
“Okay,” she said, quietly, being even more careful not to catch the eye of anyone in the next booth.
Not the children, and certainly not the father she'd probably embarrassed.
“But now I gotta pay for their dinner, too,” she said quietly, knowing Georgia would understand what she meant. Georgia knew her better than she knew herself. “Can I borrow some money? Or do you think we can hit up BuzzFeed Guy for it?”
11 Responses to ‘A Girl in Time. Chapter Two’
In twenty-nine days, she would be rich.
Cady was almost dizzy with the thought, although it might have been sleep deprivation, too. And maybe a little hunger. That was her own fault, she knew, as she leaned forward into the glow of the iMac.
But it didn't matter.
Because in twenty-nine days, she would be rich.
She shivered in the cold. The tiny studio apartment was unheated except for the valiant efforts of a cheap, Chinese fan heater plugged into one of three power boards under her desk. It was also dark, except for the computer screen and the small constellation of status lights on various pieces of equipment.
Cable modem. Power boards. Macbook Pro. Mister Coffee. A big ass Beoplay A9 kicking out The Funkoars “What's Your Malfunction?” at half volume.
Still loud enough to shake the building.
It was a gift, the A9. Or maybe a bribe, or some sort of enticement. She wasn't quite sure. But she did know she couldn't afford that level of awesome. Some guy from Electronic Arts had sent it over when the game hit number one on the paid App Store.
And stayed there.
And stayed there.
She rubbed at the gooseflesh on her upper arms, warming herself with the friction and the satisfaction of staring at her Sales and Payments pages on iTunes Connect.
Murder City was still number one.
“Suck on that, Pikachu.” She smiled, and her mouth formed an attractive bow, but there was nobody else in the one-room apartment to see it and smile back.
Cady McCall did not much care, because in twenty-nine days, Tim Cook would back a truckload of money up to her front door, and she would be rich.
She checked her watch, her Dad's old Timex, a wind-up piece of analog history. He'd worn it to the factory every day until he retired. Almost time to get going, but she thought she had just a few minutes to check her reviews. Never read the reviews, they said, and they were right. But most of Cady's, like ninety-five percent of them, were four and five stars. Mostly five. And the gimps giving her the one-star write-ups were universally hilarious. Mouth-breathers, all.
She'd made a Tumblr out of them. It was hugely popular, and the affiliate ads linking to her app on iTunes were unexpectedly lucrative.
Suck on that, gimps.
The Funkoars closed out their rap. They gave up the A9 to Tony Bennett getting his groove on with Michael Bublé, a duet of “Don't Get Around Much Anymore”.
That was the good thing about living alone, one of the many excellent things about living alone. She could play whatever the hell music she wanted, as loud as she liked to play it. And she liked it loud. Her studio was on the top floor of a four story warehouse, an old cotton mill.
Solid brick. Bare wooden floors. Big picture windows overlooking Puget Sound.
Cool, right? But apart from a sweatshop on the ground floor, she was the only occupant. The brickwork badly needed repointing with mortar, the wooden floors were scored and dangerously splintered in places, and you couldn't see out of the windows. They'd been painted over sometime in the 90s. The building was marked for demolition, the whole block for redevelopment, which was how she could afford the space. She had no lease, no security of tenure.
Again, didn't matter.
Her phone chimed. A message from Georgia.
Already here. BuzzFeed guy 2. Where r u?
She quickly sent back a canned response.
On my way!
Cady stood up from the desk, closing the windows on her reviews without bothering to read the new ones, but pausing with her hand hovering over the mouse before logging out of Connect. She couldn't take her eyes off the estimated amount of her first payment.
Georgia responded to her canned reply with an emoji. A skull and a flame.
Die in a fire.
That broke the spell. Cady smiled. She could afford to smile. In twenty-nine days, four and a half million dollars would drop into her bank account. They would probably invite her to WWDC. She might even demo.
The phone rang while she was throwing on a leather jacket and scarf. It was cold outside, and probably wet.
The call came in on her landline, giving her the excuse she needed to bust out an epic eye roll. It would be her mom. Only her mom called her on the landline. She only had the landline because of her parents, who were convinced her Uncle Lenny had died of a brain tumor from his cell phone, which he was always yammering on when he was alive, God rest his soul.
Uncle Lenny also smoked two packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day and liked a shot of rum in his coffee.
He drank a lot of coffee.
Cady totally would have answered the call, but she was running late, and Georgia was half way gone to getting pissed at her. And that was why she had an answering machine anyway, because she just didn't have time, and her parents trusted voicemail about as much as they trusted cell phones not to shoot death rays directly into your head.
And the idea that they might just send a text? You know, something efficient?
Forget about it.
“Hi, Cadence, it's your mom.”
The old familiar voice, a little tinny through the cheap speakers. Cady dropped the volume on Tony and the Boob, but did not make the mistake of picking up. That could delay her by up to half an hour, and she had people waiting.
Better to call back in the morning.
“Your dad clipped another couple of stories for you today. He's sending them in the mail tomorrow.”
A pause. Probably waiting to see if Cady picked up. But if she picked up, she'd get in trouble for screening the call, because her mom knew how small the apartment was, and she had no excuse for not answering already. Best to pretend she was already gone.
An almost inaudible sigh.
“You should call your dad, Cadence. He's not been well. I think some days searching the google for stories about you is what gets him out of bed in the mornings. He's very proud of you, darling. You should call.”
She almost picked up then, but Melville started yowling for dinner, and she didn't have time for him either.
“Go catch some rats,” she said, using the toe of her Doc Martens to push the protesting tabby cat out of the front door.
There were always rats. Hence, Melville.
Her mother's voice was lost in the rumble of the heavy steel door sliding in its tracks. The cat looked up at her as if to say, “Well, where's the beef, bitch?”
“Rats,” she said. “I mean it. Earn your keep, pretty boy.”
The landing outside her apartment was dark. The bulb had blown months ago and was too difficult for her to reach. It hung on a wire over the stairwell. She could almost reach it, if she was willing to risk a broken neck. There was no point calling the building owner. They weren't coming out to change a light bulb. She wondered sometimes if they even collected the rent from the account she paid into.
Cady didn't care. She used the flashlight on her iPhone. She juggled the phone and the padlock on her front door with practiced ease.
The cat yowled again, suspecting the worst.
It was even colder in the stairwell. Maybe cold enough to freeze the water in the pipes again.
Four and a half million.
Her boots sounded louder than usual on the concrete steps and she wondered if something about the temperature of near freezing air amplified sound waves. It made sense, but that didn't mean it was right.
She would've made a note to ask Jeremy the next time she saw him. He was a sound engineer at Square Enix. He'd know, and not knowing was bugging her now that she'd thought about it.
She didn't make a note though.
She had the phone in her hand, but only an idiot would hurry down a darkened staircase in an empty building, thumb typing on her phone. For sure she'd trip and break her neck or something and then who’d spend all her money?
The sweatshop was closed up and quiet as she swung around the landing on the first floor. That was unusual. Russians ran that place, and they normally worked those Asian women until late at night, seven days a week. She checked the time on her phone. It was still early, although she was now more than a few minutes late for dinner.
Maybe the Russians had moved on. Maybe Immigration had caught up with the women.
Unlike the question about whether cold air amplified sound waves, the fate of the sweatshop wasn't something likely to keep her up at night. She'd be gone from this dump soon anyway.
Her phone buzzed with another message from Georgia.
BuzzFeed guy is cute! Don't hurry.
That was good then, she thought, as she hit the street and pulled the main door of the building closed behind her. The deadlock engaged with a loud click. She put the phone away and started walking toward the restaurant. It was a couple of blocks away, not long if she hurried. She was trying to kick the habit of staring at a phone while she walked. She'd seen a guy slam into a telephone pole doing that, and in this part of town you needed your wits about you anyway.
“Cady, I don't like you walking the streets at night the way you do,” her mother said pretty much every time they spoke. Another reason for not picking up that call a few minutes earlier. “You live in such a rough part of town, dear.”
And she did, but Cady McCall was not a victim in waiting. She had a can of mace in one pocket of her leather jacket, and she'd packed a small but sturdy LED flashlight in the other. It threw out a wicked bright beam, enough to blind anyone she light-sabered with it. And held in the fist, it made a great improvised weapon. The sort of thing douchebros called a “tactical” piece.
The rain she had feared was less a drizzle than a really heavy mist. She'd be damp, but not soaked, by the time she walked the few blocks to dinner. Cars drove past every minute or so, going in both directions, their headlights lancing into the darkness like searchlights in old war movies.
Some women, and a lot of men, cannot help but look vulnerable when caught on their own. Moving through an empty landscape, they seem to invite threats. Cadence McCall was not like that. She was not overly tall, but long legs and thick hair that fell halfway down her back made her seem taller. She carried herself through the night with a confident stride, her boot heels clicking on the wet sidewalk. It was real confidence, too, not just a show for anybody who might've been watching.
She was somebody who felt at ease on her own.
And anyway, she wasn't worth mugging.
Until her iTunes money dropped, she had sixty-three bucks to her name.