Spooky Halloween Blog Hop

Bats and Moon spooky picture

To celebrate Halloween, I’m posting an exclusive section of Vacant, the fourth Mindspace Investigations novel out December 2nd. One lucky person who comments below (or posts on Twitter including @ahugheswriter so I see you) will receive his/her choice of an audiobook in the series OR an *early* copy of Vacant when I receive it more than two weeks prior to publication date. So you’ll want to make sure to comment or Tweet!

Vacant cover

Make sure to keep reading after the excerpt for a list of other blogs to visit for spooky words and fun giveaways.

Happy Halloween!

Alex

___________

We drove through several streets in Savannah until we ended up at a long concrete box with bars on the window, what looked much more rough than the one and only gun shop and range Cherabino had taken me to a few months ago. One lone street light sputtered overhead, a half-dead biolumescent bush in a median in the cracked parking lot looking like it hadn’t had any water in years.

The sign above the concrete front said Hard Knocks in harsh lettering, with a single painted gun shot hole, with a ragged edge.

Mendez and Jarrod went ahead, to introduce themselves to the gun shop owner; I collected myself, finally getting out once I was sure there was no minds around likely to be an issue for Tommy. The surroundings felt… too empty, actually. Much too empty, though I couldn’t put my finger on any particular reason why.

My feet weren’t used to dress shoes, and so the blisters of the day rubbed as I walked across the parking lot, low-level distracting pain. I’d had to learn to ignore much worse as part of my Guild training, so it wasn’t a deal breaker. But I’d have to peel off the socks and treat the things so they didn’t get infected later.

I felt Tommy’s impatience a step behind me. And a sudden burst of emotion from Jarrod in Mindspace ahead, tamped down all too suddenly. I walked in the front door, which they’d already opened, and saw why.

Lying on the floor was someone I presumed was the gun shop owner, shot in the chest at least twice, blood bloomed on his shirt already drying into that funny brown-red, limps already stiffening in rigor mortis.

“I take it you did not expect a crime scene in here?” I asked Jarrod, blocking Tommy’s view of the scene with my body. Just in time, felt like.

“Hey, I want to see,” he said.

“No you don’t,” I said.

Jarrod sighed, and walked over to the wall where a phone hung.

__________________

Ah, murder and mayhem in the world of telepathy. Gotta love it.

Need more spooky reads & giveaways? Check out my fellow blog hop writers in the list below.

Lisa Alber – a copy of the Kilmoon mystery book and an Irish gift

Heather Webb – signed books or chocolate

Anna Lee Huber – giving away audiobooks for the Lady Darby Mysteries

Jennifer Delamere – advanced copy of “A Bride for the Season”

Kerry Schafer – signed copy of Wakeworld

Stacy Lee – advanced copy of Under the Painted Sky

Janet B Taylor – $15 Amazon gift card and some chocolate goodies

Hazel Gaynor - advanced copy of The Memory of Violets

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Flash Fiction & Giveaway at Books Make Me Happy

bmmhhalloweenflashfictionbanner1

Hi all,

Today I’m participating in Jennifer’s Halloween Flash Fiction event over at Books Make Me Happy. Check it out for a flash fiction story by me and a chance to win a copy of Marked.

Alex

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My New York Adventure

If you’ve been following me on social media, you know that I recently visited New York for ComicCon. Since I’d never been to New York before, that was a little nuts (in a great way). I’d only ever seen the city in television and the movies, and it was both more and less than I was expecting.

I landed in JFK, because what do I know and the flight was cheaper. Then I take a taxi to Times Square. My hotel was supposedly the Times Square South location. One would think it was at Times Square, right? Actually, no, it was ten blocks south in 36th, but that’s another story. So, first foot set in New York, in the middle of the hubbub of Times Square, culture shock in all its loud glory. I get lost. Three times. I finally only make it due to the kindness of a random doorman. (“Are you lost, honey? Can I help you find it?”) Then I make it to the hotel, but it’s the wrong hotel. Time for good directions, deep breathing, and a stop at Olive Garden because they’d actually let me sit down. Then a ten block trek south before I finally find it.

Then ComicCon. With 150,000 people. You know, like this.

ComicCon at the Javits Center. With a LOT of people.

 

That was early on Saturday. Later the mound of people (seen at the back) covered the entire floor. It was overwhelming. Truly, truly overwhelming. Getting lunch was a little like scaling a high mountain in a thunderstorm. You needed a sherpa to get anywhere in good time.

I was amazed at how friendly the New York geeks were. People would actually talk to you about your favorite fandom in line for coffee, sitting in rest places, even in line for panels. They showed up in costume, they had joyous opinions, and when they heard you didn’t know about the Favorite Thing they were there for, they’d share all the details with you so you could love it too. If New Yorkers are as rude as advertised, I didn’t see it at ComicCon. In fact, they were very warm.

I was on the Doctor Who panel with some amazing folks, and the audience was wonderful too. (You can listen to it in all its glory here at the 6:00 mark thanks to the amazing Anton Strout.) I was also lucky enough to make it to other panels that made me squee in fangirl glee. Also-NASA. And companies in space. In space!

After collapsing into a small puddle at the end of the weekend, I was lucky enough to have lunch with my amazing editor, Rebecca Brewer, who I had also able to hang out with during the con. Rebecca is from Texas, and a total nerd, and it was such a joy to meet her in person. (I will admit to having knit her a hat.) She was kind enough to get me sorted on the subway, otherwise known as the most confusing place in the world, and I was off to see more of New York.

I saw Mood, the Project Runway store that was *way* bigger and more cramped than I ever expected.

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Look at all the fabric. In piles. It takes up FAR more room than walking. Who needs walking?

Also, I went to see The Last Ship, which was really great. Broadway type musical! With cool choreography and a totally unexpected feel. LOVED. My writer brain wants to rewrite the ending though :)

The_Last_Ship_Musical

I met up with friend A.E. Decker to do the grand tour of the city on Tuesday. (9.5 miles of walking. I know because pedometer.) We visited the Obscura shop from Oddities, had astonishing bagels and scones, and saw the Fashion District, the Village, a really cool comic shop with Planet in its title, and many other areas that made me happy. I love that you can walk everywhere in New York, but I dislike that you aren’t really allowed to sit down. Ever. Considering I was toting a 30-pound bag (because visitor), the not sitting thing became a problem!

My all time favorite stop? The amazingness that was Chocolate Moderne, a place on the fifth floor of a nondescript building where you have to tap on an unmarked door to get in. Their chocolate is a spiritual experience.

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Then off to Pennsylvania with my friend, a knitting shop, a vinegar store, and brainstorming for more amazing stories. Then the plane home, happy and exhausted from all the people and all the sights. A wonderful week, but tiring! I needed two days to recover from introvert burnout. So happy though. :)

 

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Too Many Choices

There are two great truths in any life:

  1. Given enough time, resources, and energy, you can do anything.
  2. There will never be enough time, resources, and energy to do everything.

I am running up against the second rule like crazy right now. I have literally a pile of “Someday/Maybe” work and an even bigger pile of work I’d like to do reasonably soon. At last count, I had six projects thought out enough to become good novels, maybe four more still thinking through, an idea for a play, a video game, and a host of short stories, not to mention old projects I could revise and/or finish. The more I train my brain to come up with good stories, the more I come up with good stories. This is a lovely problem to have! But sometimes it’s like trying to drink out of a fire hose. A great novel takes time and focused attention, meaning I have to actively choose not to work on All the Other Things, sigh.

Of course writing isn’t all I do. I’m going to New York ComicCon at the end of the week (if you’re around there, do drop by my Dr. Who panel Sunday to say hi) I’m also working on classes I’ll be teaching in the next few months, and all the host of little business decisions that go along with writing professionally. I’d like to get back to writing short shorts for the email newsletter, for example, and I have a book launch coming up. Not to mention email, which seems to breed like rabbits whenever I leave it alone for very long.

When I worked in marketing, it was a point of professional pride that nothing I was in charge of ever got dropped. I worked in a team of at least four people to make sure that was always true. Now that I’m the one running my own working life, I’m finding out it’s not so easy. For every Thing I choose to do, there is another Thing (or five) that I cannot. Those decisions were always handled by the executive types, or the manager types above me, and I’m starting to appreciate how hard they worked to say no. It is a skill I must master this year, I think. Right now it feels like that impossible yoga pose where you balance on one leg with your knee over your shoulder, but I’ve seen people do that, too. It is not impossible! Or so I tell myself. I can do this.

So, time to stretch out the mental skills. Time to learn priorities, and do deep thinking about the novel I’ll be drafting in NaNo this year. And time, most of all, to accept that All the Things will not happen at once.

I feel very old, and very limited, all at once.

What about you guys? How do you cope with difficult decisions and juggling too many things? I’d love to hear any tips and tricks you have.

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Great News for My Audiobook Listeners

Most of you already know that my first three Mindspace novels, Clean, Sharp, and Marked, are available as audiobooks through Audible.com. The amazing Daniel May is the narrator, and I couldn’t be more happy with the way he brings Adam to life as a character through his words. There are samples you can play at all three pages–the one for Clean in particular puts chills up my spine. (The links above are affiliate links; if this bothers you just search on Audible directly.) I’m a huge fan of Daniel May’s work, and I keep getting great comments from readers who love the audio just as much as I do.

Audible will also be producing Vacant, Mindspace #4, hopefully to be released on the same day as the print book, and I’m excited to see what they do. Even better, I’m thrilled to announce we’ve just come to an agreement about the two shorter pieces in the world, Rabbit Trick and Payoff. This means that the audio folks will be able to listen to everything that’s out so far in your preferred format. I’ll let you know release dates when I have them, but if everything goes well, we’re hoping to have one of the shorter pieces out before Vacant. Fingers crossed!

Thanks again to all you guys who read (and listen). You guys rock.

Alex

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My DragonCon Schedule

Hi all,

I’m looking forward to seeing you guys at DragonCon this upcoming weekend on Labor Day! For those who are interested, here’s the stuff I’ll be speaking at. Come say hi! :)

——————-

Title: Protagonist Professions in UF

Description: Authors share how the daytime/mundane jobs their characters hold impact their supernatural existence.

Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Chastain ED – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-

Title: Science Fiction 101

Description: A discussion of books and stories that can make for a good grounding in the genre.

Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-

Title: Reading: Alex Hughes

Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: Edgewood – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

(Tentative Panelists: Alex Hughes)

——————-

Title: After the Post-Apocalypse

Description: Post-apocalyptic fiction is popular, but what comes next?

Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-

Title: Autograph Sessions

Time: Sun 10:00 am Location: International Hall South – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)

(Tentative Panelists: Travis Walton, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Milton J Davis, Laurell K. Hamilton, Alex Hughes)

——————-

Title: Supernatural Thrillers: Mystery & Suspense in UF

Description: Authors discuss the importance of the elements of mystery and suspense in their work.

Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: Chastain ED – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)

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Traveling

“We need stories. Stories help us make sense of the world.” – Stephanie, the amazing Sunday lunch speaker at Willamette Writers Convention this year.

 

So I’ve been traveling. Not the simple A to B traveling—no, that would be far too simple. I’ve been traveling between cities for awhile now, short stops with big things happening. First San Diego Comic Con with panels and signings (oh my!), then home for a day or two, then Willamette Writers Convention where I taught a class on POV. Then, of course, a stop with my aunt and uncle, and now in St. Louis for the annual writers retreat I do with my Odyssey folks, the Even Odders. It’s been a whirlwind, to say the least. But some cool stuff sticks out in my mind.

The dinosaurs at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry—the museum had both bones and life-sized moving models that roared and had feathers. Yes, feathers on a dinosaur. Because science and why the hell not.

Thai food for lunch with my uncle, and another Thai lunch with writer friends. Apparently Thai is big in Portland. Also, happy conversations.

Brainstorming sessions galore with writer friends of every stripe. Thrillers and science fiction and writing ideas all alike. Solving creative problems—and I have many.

A kid with a boat in the OMSI boat-building interactive area. He’s going to be an engineer someday, you can tell.

Teaching my first big class to a large audience at Willamette. Got a lot of great feedback and wonderful questions asked of me. Will be doing that again.

Staying up way too late at night getting my handouts done.

Sitting in the exit seat on the airplane with extra legroom reading an Agatha Christie novel.

Sitting in front of a line of people there to get my book at San Diego Comic Con. Blown away to find a fan came out specifically to ask me a question about the series. I’m a real person! I have fans. I must giggle now.

Standing in line to see the Mythbusters’s panel, and finding they were exactly the same in person as they were on TV. A ton of fun in all accounts.

Emailing with my editor from the airport on public WiFi—so totally not a thing in Atlanta.

Meeting so many cool industry people at Willamette, and finding them incredibly helpful and kind. So kind.

Fighting jet lag as a constant companion. Having no solid idea what time it is.

Calls to Sam at strange hours because of the time change.

Talking to writer friends about crazy projects while eating amazing food we cooked ourselves. Wondering what ideas will make it past the chrysalis to the full-blown adult stage. Feeding them good research while I chip away at more creative problems with the help of friends.

Critiquing other writers’ works. Giving feedback.

Sleeping. Thinking and reading. More sleeping. Petting my aunt and uncle’s cats. Riding on airplane after airplane, and sleeping some more.

Typing on the computer, words and more words, and more words. Because being a writer is writing, in the end. Words and more words.

Our lives are diffuse, but our stories are finite. It’s the details we choose to tell ourselves and the meaning that makes the story. For me, today, that’s St. Louis and friends. Tomorrow—or next week, or whenever the story turns—it will be Atlanta and everyday life. At least until DragonCon.

In the meantime, I do need to get my words written.

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Rabbit Trick now $0.99

Hi All,

RabbitTrickCover
Just to let everyone know, I’ve lowered the price of Rabbit Trick, my short story in the Mindspace Investigations series, to just $0.99 on Amazon and Smashwords. The other retailers are in process, but should be at the same level within the week.

Here’s all the info:

 

Synopsis:

OPEN MIND

When the cops call me in the middle of the night, I know it’s bad. One of their own is dead, strangled in her car by a professional killer, and it’s up to me, telepath consultant extraordinaire, to pull the rabbit out of my hat and solve the case. Only this time I’m not so sure I can.

Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino is breathing down my neck. The dead cop’s partner is too. And now, the worst—there was a five-year-old kid in the car, a kid no one can find.

Reviews:

“Great urban fantasy crime story.” Sharon Stogner, I Smell Sheep book blogger

“I love Mindspace–the stories are fantastically fun to read, well-crafted, and well-plotted. They pull you in and keep you engaged from start to finish.” Book Person reviewer

Amazon:

http://amzn.to/1qRLaem

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/415753

Thanks for reading!

Alex

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I’m going to San Diego ComicCon

Hi all,

I have just confirmed my travel plans for San Diego ComicCon at the end of the month! I will be there on Friday and Saturday (July 26th and 27th) and am looking forward to the awesome geekdom, fun costumes, and amazing experience of it all.

I am tentatively scheduled for a panel on Friday (I’ll let you know more details when I can) and will for sure be having a signing at the Penguin Booth (#1028) at 4:00 pm on Saturday. Did I mention there will be copies of Clean available? Rumor is a few might be free, so stop by and send your friends.

This is my very first ComicCon in San Diego, and I’m told it’s a huge one. I’m nervous and excited all at once. Any advice from those who have been before?

Alex

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So I Asked My Readers for Three Words

Early last week, I asked my readers for three words via my email newsletter list. I knew that I owed them short stories, you see, but all of my ideas were turning into longer pieces. What was a girl to do? Well, ask for help of course!

The email newsletter folks responded with over 35 sets of three words for me to play with, and in return I’ll be sending out a new flash short story every Friday for the next two months or so based on those three words. It will be epic.

(If you want to get a copy of the stories, you have to join the newsletter! Either put your information in the form on the right or go here.)

But in the meantime, I had to brag on my newsletter readers. They picked some amazing words. Not to mention sending me to the dictionary! My readers are obviously smart people.

Here’s some words I had to look up:

  • Moribund
  • Psychobabble
  • Perspicacious
  • Omicron
  • Polymorphic
  • Calliope
  • Elephantine
  • Punctilious

Some of my favorites from the rest of the list:

  • Dour
  • Revenge
  • Pineapple
  • Crow’s feather
  • Stave
  • Explosion
  • Hellfire
  • Epiphany
  • Ticklish
  • Ferret
  • Sorcery
  • Laudanum

And the big winner, a word that was not only new to me, but not in the dictionary: amplituhedron, which reader Marcin K. sent. According to him (and Wikipedia), it’s basically a theory of the underlying structure of the quantum universe, a shape to define it like the string in string theory. Quantum physics! I am delighted. Hopefully I can figure out a way to use it in a story.

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