My new Snapshot novella, Wrath of Athena: A Snapshot Novella, is now available! It’s out in Kindle format and in print on Amazon. It’s also available in a bunch of formats through Smashwords, and will be out soon for Nook, iPad and pretty much any other e-book format I can think of.
Wrath is a small book in a huge universe. The Snapshot universe features over two dozen continent-sized interacting alternate realities (Snapshots) from the last eighty million years of Earth’s past, but Wrath of Athena focuses on the fate of a fly-by-night petting zoo that does it’s flying by night between Snapshots.
Athena Anders trains the petting zoo’s star attractions: A pair of dog-sized dinosaurs who pick up and repeat human words like sixty pound parrots. When the dinosaurs escape during mating season, Athena and her sometime boyfriend Scott Hardy need to get them back before they destroy the fragile ecology they escaped into.
Here is an excerpt:
June 6, 2007
Athena Anders is the zoo’s veterinarian. Different pay grade. Name of a Greek goddess. Freckles. Flaming red hair and a temper that matches the stereotypes of that hair color. Light skin. An inch taller than me. Fire to my coal (black hair, tan like an Indian in the summer). Yeah, it wasn’t going to work for long, only it did for just over three years, not counting half-a-dozen screaming, dish-hurling break-ups (her hurling china, me ducking) that lasted from three hours to three weeks. Breakup seven was final. I’m not sure how we knew that, but we did.
So Athena and I sat at opposite ends of the break room table in a sweltering warehouse under the hot Madagascar sun, in the humidity and stink, slow-motion bickering in the pointless, biting way only failed long-term relationships produce, while the talent sat between us, probably wishing both of us would shut up.
I mentioned dinosaurs. We had two, from the same dog-sized, dog-smart species, unfortunately a male and a female. Dinosaur chicks are notoriously hard to sex, and James T thought these were both males. A male/female pair is no end of trouble, as you’ll see, but James T was too cheap to get the female neutered and males get fat, mean, and develop urinary tract infections if you trim their family tree. Not great for a petting zoo star attraction.
And the dinosaurs were our star attractions. Our male, Mr. McGuffin, weighed seventy pounds, while Horney Chick, the female, weighed ten pounds less. That’s dog-sized, but they walk upright like an ostrich, and they’re rangy, with eyes about a foot lower than mine and I’m six feet tall. They’re cute. Covered with thick grey down, halfway between baby chick down and hair. Big brown eyes. Faces that always look like they’re smiling, except when they’re snarling, showing sharp land-croc teeth, which doesn’t happen without world-class provocation, not among family, which we definitely were to our pair.
What really made our dinos stars was the mimicry. Small dinos are like parrots, only more so. If they hear it, they’ll repeat it, but only if they feel like it. They mostly feel like repeating stuff if it gets a reaction. Yeah, dinosaurs swear like sailors unless you’re careful around them. Enough twelve-year-olds come through the zoo that we get parents bitching us out because the dinos let rip with some choice phrases.
On a good day, Mr. McGuffin might do a thirty second, pitch-perfect early Elvis, in the voice you would expect from a seventy pound parrot, then sit grooming himself and making car noises for hours while people crowd around him, waiting for him to do Elvis again.
The dinos love Athena. She does a show called Fractured Shakespeare, where the three of them toss random phrases around, mostly Shakespeare. Athena shapes it into a semi-coherent improv routine.
Yep. Red hair, long legs, trim figure and she’s a gifted improv comedian too. So tell me again why I don’t move Heaven and Earth to get back together with her?
Short answer: all that comes with a nitroglycerin temper, unpredictable, uncontrollable and apparently unchangeable. Tragic flaw. Our blow-outs were epic, passionate wobbles between love and loathing, ending in the bedroom almost as often as in us getting as far away from each other as possible. And that last part amplified it all. As long as we stayed with the zoo, there was no way to get far from each other, but neither of us wanted to leave. The zoo was our family—dysfunctional, fly-by-night, but nevertheless family.
Horney Chick goes into heat twice a year, unless something in the current Snapshot’s weather or sun or magnetic field—we’ve never figured out which—triggers it. And, to add major screw-upage to the misery of watching the zoo eat itself broke in the heat and humidity and stink of that Westport warehouse, Athena announced that Horny Chick was in heat. Half an hour later, Ella, James T’s twelve-year-old daughter, came back from a shopping trip and told us that Horny Chick had staged a breakout, taking Mr. McGuffin with her.
Want to find out more about what happens when two dinosaurs and a fiery redhead are turned loose on an unsuspecting and unprepared universe? Read Wrath of Athena: A Snapshot Novella! And if you can’t get enough of the Snapshot universe, check out the full length novel, Snapshot: Power, Sex, & Revenge.