Working Title: Power Multiplied
This Book Is In Development
Essi, an alien from Riverworld, returns to earth with deadly cargo, chased by two gigantic aliens from FireWorld, one a friend and one a vicious killer. Shannon Kendricks must intervene, but her research partner, Juneau, a beluga whale, is missing, someone is out to capture and exploit the whale, and once again Shannon must set out on a dangerous mission.
In this excerpt, Shannon has ingested a deadly virus. Help has been deployed, but she must wait alone in a vast empty place. If you've been exposed to or tested for coronavirus, I imagine the waiting period must feel something like Shannon's: terrible, lonely and helpless. For those of us who are shut in, the isolation may feel much like Shannon's as well. I laugh at myself in this regard, because I am a hermit by nature; some days I really have to work at it to set up dates to see my friends or to plan grocery shop runs. I often go days and days with no human contact. Well then, you may think, staying shut in must be a piece of cake for me. Oddly, not so. I have been feeling more and more stir crazy. And yet, I am conducting my days pretty much as I did before. I have plenty to do. So why these crazy feelings of being cooped up? Psychological, of course. When I knew I could go out, I didn't need to; now that I can't go out, I want to. Ah, the perversity of human nature. Perhaps my conundrum will help inform your reaction to your own stir craziness.
In this excerpt from Power Multiplied, Shannon has suffered serious trauma and regains consciousness. She fights her confusion to try to figure out her situation. She tries hard to work the problem. I am sure that in the current crisis each of you has problems overflowing. Sometimes, in our panic or our anxiety or our depressed moods, we stare at our problems, assign blame for our problems, get upset at our problems, but we forget to work our problems. Working problems can be very efficacious because if we work them hard enough, we forget the panic, the anxiety, the depression: it is a matter of focus. Working a problem is different from taking a stab at a solution or trying the first thing off the top of the head. Working a problem means undertaking an organized effort. It means going with plans B, C or perhaps even D if plan A didn't work. It means concentrating. It means giving up our panic and anxiety for a moment in order to think things through. And that is a good thing.
In this Power Multiplied excerpt [available in 8 days], Shannon juggles two worries--a premonition of disaster and a missing whale. In her anxious calls to the Observation Deck, she has managed to transfer one of her worries to a friend. This is a hazard of our worrying; it's sometimes contagious. Even my cat and dog know something's up when I am over-anxious in my worrying. For me, the cure to excessive worry is two-fold: if I can't do anything about the object of my worry, I simply wait and see. If I can do something, I get off my duff and go into action and I allow the action to satisfy my worrying. Here in Washington, we have had the lion's share of Covid-19 deaths. So my larder is stocked , my hands are frequently washed, and because it is my good fortune to be able to stay home for much of these next weeks, I shall do so. And I allow myself to feel much better now that I have done and am doing these things. If you are an excessive worrier, don't forget this last step: Permission to let go of the angst while keeping vigilant. It works: even my dog and cat are resting comfortably on various parts of my anatomy today.
Long before Covid-19 hit our radar screens, I placed my character Shannon in Power Multiplied [lauching on the 20th] into virus trouble of her own. Her virus runs more along the lines of ebola than Covid-19's attack on the respiratory system, but in writing the scene, I spent some time pondering how I would feel if I learned I had contracted a deadly virus, just as I wonder now how I would feel if I contracted Covid-19. I live in Washington State, where there have been 11 deaths so far, primarily because the virus swept through a nursing home. Can you imagine how the other residents of the Home must feel? Terrified? Resigned? Stubbornly optimistic that they will not become one of the fallen? I am in the vulnerable demographic; and I am susceptible to respiratory problems. This means to me that if the virus comes to my county or my city, I will be closing my front door and hunkering down with my chocolates and diet Dr. Pepper until the danger is passed. No panic, no fear, but calm deliberation. And if I come down with the thing? I hope I can fight the illness with grace and determination. And live.
In this excerpt, I was playing with the notion of the confusion of a four-way conversation, complicated by the fact that two of the participants, salesti and Roebor, can't be heard by one of the others, Luke. Shannon is caught in the middle, trying to deal with them all. I decided to try this confusing cross-talk after listening to several operas and opera-rooted musical such as The Phantom of the Opera, where cross-singing is a common device. I likely wouldn't have thought of the idea on my own, but I had quite a bit of fun playing with the notion in several conversations in the book. It's fun to experiment in my writing. It's fun to pick up ideas from completely different media. I hope I never run out of fun ideas to try in my writing!
This quote from POWER MULTIPLIED appears in paragraph five of chapter one. Yet I wrote it five years after paragraph one of the same chapter. Why? As I began the sequel to POWER OF THREE, life sucker-punched me and gave me a few swift kicks, as I endured a series of bad, sad happenings. My joy in writing faded along with my joy in general. I had loved writing from an age I could count on my fingers but after college, with a child to raise, I was sidetracked into journalism and then law. I eventually found my way back to writing. I wanted to do that again, but how? Thinking I needed to hit the reset button, I adopted a new puppy, visited my sister for a week and visited a butterfly garden. Moved! Eventually I attended a few online marketing classes, knowing that if I ever wrote again, I'd have to gird my loins for the unfun part of the writing biz. Curiously, these classes provided the boost I needed. Paragraph five of chapter one was born. Perhaps the tedium of learning marketing drove me screaming into the arms of creative endeavor. By whatever magic, the book is now available for pre order and I am back!
This excerpt from POWER MULTIPLIED, available for pre-order now, is from a passage where the heroine is caught in a California wildfire. California has had its share of wildfires in recent years, and now Australia is suffering mightily from terrible conflagrations. Rare animal species may actually go extinct from the blazes themselves, or the starvation and death from thirst that follows. Just today I read about three Americans who died when their air tanker, designed for watering the fires, crashed. I visited Australia some time ago. The people I met were gregarious and friendly and kind. I visited refuges where I could study species of animals that evolved nowhere else than on Australia's isolated continent. My first scuba diving experience ever was in the Great Barrier Reef. It is sometimes hard to feel what strangers far away are feeling in times of disaster. I have never been trapped in fire, but I have, as part of my work at one time, donned a fire helmet and turnouts and experienced a true fire from inside a burning room. I can connect the dots--to the residents of California and Australia, to the poor panicked animals trying to flee the flames. I can see the houses burning, I can smell the smoke. And my heart breaks. Help if you can.
In the accompanying excerpt, Shannon touches a mouse, and it screams. I wrote this scene because I have actually heard a mouse scream. It happened one evening when I was on the floor of my living room keeping my mastiff and my smaller eighty pound dog company. My two cats and two of my daughter's three were hanging out with us close by, also on the floor. All of a sudden I saw a tiny mouse inching its way along the wall. "Oh, honey," I thought, "did you pick the wrong place to come exploring!" Being tender hearted about living creatures, I quietly got up and found a shoe box in which to trap the mouse to set it free outside. As the shoe box came down on the mouse, it screamed--a woman-like high pitched scream. Shocked the socks off me. I proceeded out the door with the little thing, walked over to some bushes, and tipped the box so the mouse could run out. It scuttled a foot or so toward the thick brush, then turned and looked at me. Seriously. Was it mistrust? Gratitude? Curiosity? Wish I knew. The sound itself is no longer strong in my memory but my own utter amazement I remember perfectly. I have never forgotten that little mouse.
POWER MULTIPLIED now sits in the hands of my editor and the cover design is coming together under the talented hand of the artist. My goal is to have it in your hands early next year. It drives me mad when an author leaves loose ends dangling. How awful would it be, for example, to leave the teaser in the excerpt here unexplained? Shannon's question is not answered in book two, but I promise, it shall be answered in book three. My goal is to have book three out a year after book two. Sure, you say; then why does a gap of some years exist between book one and upcoming book two? Life intervened. Life intervening is one way that our goals become sidetracked. During this time I was hurting, physically and mentally. Shannon once said she felt like a tomato at the bottom of a barrel of rocks. I felt pretty much like that. So I think the delay was inevitable. But the important thing was that the goal kept floating around in my mind. I didn't turn loose of it. The old adage applies: Better late than never -- to achieve one's goals. So, whatever your delayed aspirations -- when you are ready: back at it!
The protagonist in both POWER OF THREE and POWER MULTIPLIED, Shannon Kendricks, is badly injured at the beginning of Book Two, and requires casts for her arm and ankle. My plan for a little ongoing dark humor was for Shannon to require multiple re-casts when she gets dunked in the ocean for various dire reasons--until I learned that most casts today are fiberglass and don't break apart when they get wet. Rats! What to do, what to do. I think I have a solution. But that will have to remain a secret for now.
This excerpt from the sequel to POWER OF THREE speaks to the capability of all of us to give voice to our primal fears. Like many people, I always wondered if I would be able to scream if, for example, I was attacked in a parking lot and desperately needed help. I am not a screamer; I don't scream on roller coasters, in scary movies [although I am known to jump about a foot out of my chair on occasion at the sudden fright moment of a good movie], not jumping 20 feet into a lake. But when I went bungee jumping, hurtling head first with great speed toward the hard, hard earth -- yes, then without any volition on my part whatsoever, out came that bellow of fear. I was quite surprised at myself. So. I know whereof I write. What about you? Afraid you might not scream when needed? Ever surprised yourself with a good holler?
As readers, I expect you are aware that authors often make use of the weather to enrich the story. Rain, for example, is used often to signal such things as "trouble brewing" or the opposite, "trouble is going to be washed away." The dark, lightning, thunder type rain might forecast the first, while a light refreshing spring rain might portend the second. In my current work in progress, it is summer in Alaska and I have portrayed it as cool but not cold until now. But in this scene, a seaplane brings Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist, back to Alaska and the weather has changed. [To understand this passage, the reader should know that throughout the book Shannon has hated the infirmary and hospitals with a passion, even though she's forced to spend an unfortunate amount of time in them.] My choice of weather is the drop in temperature. It is now no longer cool but downright freezing. Shannon feels the effects of this weather immediately. I have placed her in these conditions as a hint to the reader that something is coming that will affect her deeply, quickly, and negatively, just like this cold.
You are reading the opening lines to my book, tentatively titled POWER MULTIPLIED, which is the sequel to the first book in this series, POWER OF THREE. When I first created Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist of the series, she was much too much like me, which is to say, dull. Consequently, I decided to give her some skills and traits I wish I had. For example, Shannon has a telepathic bond with a beluga whale. I mean, who wouldn't want that? Right? And another thing -- because of her encounter with aliens and her ability now to harbor other creatures' consciousness in her mind, Shannon enjoys [and, to be fair, suffers from] a greatly increased metabolism. Which means she can eat. Boy can she eat. And she never gains weight. I could volunteer for that duty. What I hope to create in Shannon is a hero whom a reader can, even for a few short hours, inhabit and can really enjoy being. Shannon is just beginning to learn the extent of her talents. What else might she find out about herself?
In this fast-paced science fiction thrill ride, gravely ill Shannon Kendricks, attorney and seaquarium volunteer, must return the alien child Essi to her world, while trying to free a captive beluga Juneau, and combat a pair of ancient aliens set on destroying Earth. Her friends can help, but not everyone will survive. On the upside, with the arrival of the alien child, Shannon’s physical appearance changes dramatically and she now possesses useful, near-magical traits to help her with barriers that appear insurmountable. Will Shannon succeed in her quests before it is too late, or run out of time? Find the answers in POWER OF THREE, a thrilling novel from Cathy Parker.
In this excerpt Shannon is so weary and weak from the presence of aliens, she almost dies. These problems will continue in the sequel, Power Multiplied. There is a saying in the world of magic that no gift comes without a cost. Shannon accrues awesome talents but the source of those skills is killing her. I had occasion to lay still and think about being so powerless not long ago. I fell off my back porch when a rotten railing gave way and I landed on the collapsed wood, breaking a rib. It hurt, but I muddled on through the day and retired to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night with a pain in my torso so sharp I could not move. Couldn't roll, couldn't sit up. I thought then that I might die right there in the bed because the pain was too great to overcome. People would look for me, of course, eventually. But would I die of thirst or starvation first? Possibly. Very terrifying. I eventually shifted just enough to allow me to go back to sleep and in the morning it took everything I had, but I rolled to the edge of the bed and was able to reach my phone. Yay. I would live to write another chapter!
I spent some time in Power of Three and its soon-to-be-released sequel Power Multiplied developing the character of Juneau, based on a beluga I loved named Mauyak. I found a friend of a different species in Borneo--an adolescent orangutan in an orphanage deep in the jungle whom I knew for only half an hour, but whose bright personality shone through in moments. She wanted to play and came loping over to me in the ungainly, endearing side-to-side gait of the orangs and gave me a good push. She was only 3 or 4 years old and reached only to my waist--but strong? So much stronger than me she could have ripped me apart. But instead, she leaped into my arms and laughed. Push, leap, laugh. One push ended with me on my tush and that brought the biggest laugh so far--and right back into a hug she jumped. Oof. I was laughing too, and she seemed to delight in that as well. All too soon, my group was leaving the orphanage and I was pinned to the ground with this orang in my lap and no way could I move her aside. She didn't want to go anywhere. I'll never see her again, but I'll never forget her laugh.
In this excerpt from Power of Three, Shannon finally catches on that she has suffered a friendly invasion by an alien child. Shannon's story opens as she cuts off a romantic relationship and feels exhausted after a hard day as a zookeeper's aide. [I know whereof I speak: like the time I broke my nose while shoveling musk ox droppings. . . but that's another story.] Shannon's concerns soon pale when she comprehends that she is only one person in a very large universe. I like to engage in this exercise when something negative happens to me. In the grandest scheme of things, even my worst experiences aren't that big. Knowing this, I find that I can handle the catastrophes a little better; perhaps because I share my woes over the vast nothingness of space and then I see my woes as tiny compared to--wait for it--the end of the world. Conversely, and perhaps paradoxically, when something good happens, I like to experience it deep in my very core, holding it tight, as if nothing in all of creation matters as much as that kernel of joy. Joy is mine to hold close and I needn't dispense it to the stars as I do my grief; I hold it close to my heart. 99 cents.
I've given you this excerpt before but I brought it back so I could tell you about something that happened when I was touring the Tarangire Wildlife Preserve in Tanzania. I happened to be placed in a great group of six strangers who became friends traveling in a big old Land Rover with the best guide ever. He had driven us down to a river to experience being in the midst of a large elephant herd. We came to a dead end--and face to face with a huge bull elephant and three females just as a poor solo male decided to challenge him. [these solo males, alas, are denied any females] So we had front row seats to a brief, loud, tusk-clashing pushing match, which the challenger lost. Then the big bull turned to us, ears flapping, trumpeting, all worked up, as if to say, "You want a piece of me too?" Our guide said, "Don't move, don't make a sound." My heart stopped a beat! That bad boy could have turned our vehicle over and squashed us flat. After several tense minutes, he calmed down and turned away, while we beat a hasty retreat. Sequel coming in March.
In this excerpt from Power of Three, protagonist Shannon reports some of her volunteering duties to her supervisor Becky. As a volunteer zoo keeper's aide some time ago, I also fed the sea otters. The staff at the time let me hand feed them. They would come up to me one at a time and I would hand out their food bits or throw it near them in the water, heaping the rest of the pailful on the shore when they were occupied breaking oyster shells and so forth and I had to leave. They made the most delightful, quiet, little chittering noises when they accepted their food. One otter especially, Homer, seemed to get a kick out of taking my offerings from my hand--so much so that she, being the pickiest eater, often kept coming back for more even though she didn't want the food. After a staff change, I was no longer allowed to hand feed them--too dangerous they said. I missed hearing their tiny noises and the feel of their small paws touching my fingers. So in MY zoo, Shannon was allowed. Hah! 99 cents for this book to January 13.
In Power of Three, one prominent heroine is Independence, Indy for short, the mastiff referred to in this excerpt. I created Indy in honor of Quiddity, my own neapolitan mastiff. Quid was rescued from a puppy mill, a hapless mother, bred repeatedly, left to live in her own filth, skin disorders untreated. She was tasered to take her puppies from her. Due to the property laws at the time, a very real chance existed that her abusive owners would get their adult dogs back. They sued for that right. I had a plan for Quid to have "accidentally" run away and become lost if they won. And if some time later she turned up and I "forgot" to tell those brutal people, well, too bad. They lost. She always had terrible skin problems and deformed feet, among many other medical issues, but she also had plenty of sunshine and hugs. She was sweet and gentle and loving and lived to the ripe old age of ten -- a triumph given her condition. She taught me how to really see an animal. I understand my animal companions better because of her and I understand myself better because I had the privilege of caring for her. I miss her still. 99 cents until Jan. 13.
In this excerpt Shannon tries to convince herself that her heart is still in her work as an attorney, when in fact it most decidedly isn't. Who needs joy? she asks herself. This might have been me talking. It took me a very long time to find my joy--in the writing of this book and its sequel, and I have more splendid moments to come in the new year as I create the third novel in the trilogy. When I am lost in the story I am bringing to life, hours and hours fly by and I haven't moved from my chair, and don't want to. These are some of the best days of my life. Alas, being an author means I also must be a marketer and I can say without hesitation that marketing brings me no joy at all -- except to tell you that Power of Three is on sale for 99 cents through January 13. I hope it brings you a few hours of pleasure.
Partaking in all of the season's lovely traditions sends forth deep and comforting emotions, mysteriously, from a hidden place deep in the chest. The character Shannon, as you can tell from this excerpt, isn't one for emotional closeness. Something in her past has closed her up. I don't imagine she engages in many happy holiday traditions at this point in her life. My own very best Christmas tradition centered around the flour-covered, kitchen-disaster, full on Christmas cookie bake. Cookies not just for us, but for brimming-over plates for a dozen friends, Yes, a heck of a lot of cookies. And not just one or two kinds, but seven or eight! Half the fun was taking them around to eager recipients--eager because the cookies were good! We knew this because we tasted amply of them first, just to be sure. The primary burden was on my mom in my childhood, and then it was all mine. I still remember sitting in the dark, the room lit only by the lights of the Christmas tree, feeling tired down to the tips of my toes, not getting up any time soon tired, after the last of the plates were delivered and my little girl was in bed. It was great! #holidays #happyholidays #holidayseason #Christmas #Christmascookies #99centbook #.99book
In this excerpt Shannon stops for a moment to enjoy the summer sun. Shannon is good at taking a moment to really see and feel what is around her, even when things are not going at all well. We can see that despite her worries, she did in fact notice that lovely warm breeze. Did that happen to you this year? A moment when, in spite of your worries, or the daily grind, or your health, something -- a beautiful day, a puppy, a song, a mountain, a child, a word -- wriggled its way right up to the front of your awareness? Enjoy it again right now! I hope it happened lots and lots of times, and you can spend time with your memories and be deeply content. And if you can't quite think of one, be especially alert now so that you can find one pleasing moment before the year is over. This is one important reason I wrote Power of Three; I hoped I could give my readers a moment [or a hundred moments] of pleasure when the outside world makes pleasure tough. I've got my fingers crossed for you.
When I first drew the character of Shannon Kendricks for POWER OF THREE: the novel of a whale, a woman, and an alien child, I based her closely on myself. You write what you know, as they say. However, some of the earliest feedback I received on Shannon was that they didn't like her. Yeeouch. So I set about changing many aspects of her. But characters in novels go through their own change and growth by the story's end, and so I kept one aspect of her character - her antipathy to emotional closeness. [yes, based on me] and worked on her emotional growth as one small aspect of the story as the novel progressed. In the exploration of Shannon, I hoped to explore this aspect of my own preference for emotional separation. And, in allowing for Shannon's growing fondness for a variety of people and aliens, I believe I actually changed right along with her. Ironically, as I brought about her change, she brought about mine. In the sequel, POWER MULTIPLIED, Shannon learns the price of emotional closeness. #BlackFriday #BlackFriday19 #BlackFriday2019 #SmallBusinessSatruday #ShopSmall #CyberMonday #CyberMonday19 #CyberMonday2019 #CyberWeek
In this excerpt, Shannon faces the shocking information that she may be dying. To date I have never had to face a terminal medical diagnosis, thank goodness, but I wanted the reader to feel this punch to the gut as real. In my own life experience, I have been in a few tight spots, during which, in retrospect, perhaps I ought to have been a little more in touch with my own mortality, and yet at the time remained unrealistically optimistic about my own invulnerability. But just once I had my doubts. I was on a pretty tame horseback ride when the fellow in front of me lost his water bottle; my horse spooked and took off running in a crazy mindless zigzag up into the hills above the trail. I couldn't bring him under control. Nor could I continue to keep my seat much longer the way he was cutting back and forth. I was going to have to bail and seriously contemplated that I might break my neck. I tried to recapture the icy horror of that thought in writing about Shannon.
In the excerpt here from POWER OF THREE, I am having a little fun with my protagonist, Shannon, who suddenly finds herself extremely hungry and inexplicably craving seafood. The reason for this particular craving soon becomes clear in the novel. I particularly enjoyed placing Shannon at the mercy of her cravings because so many of us do experience such torment. I am a confessed chocoholic and my better self must do real battle with my weakling self when the chocolate longing grabs me. I found it therapeutic to allow Shannon to indulge her cravings without much of a fight. Somebody ought to be able to eat what they long for, even if I often can't, right? How about you? Any particular cravings? Are you, like Shannon, powerless in the face of them, or do you valiantly resist?
In my bio, I mention that I spent time as the Jill of all trades for a small weekly paper. I lived in Baggs, Wyoming, and arrived in the dead of winter. One of my many, many jobs was to drive down to Craig, Colorado once a week to help put the paper to bed and take back copies that were not mailed out for distribution around town. One night as I drove back in a blinding blizzard, I could not see further than my headlights could fight through the white out, which was about ten feet. Crawling along, my whole focus on that small cone of light, I suddenly saw a huge elk step out of nowhere into the headlights. He was magnificent, with a large set of antlers and he seemed twice the side of my little Volkswagen. He paused for just a moment then stepped on out of the light and was swallowed by the white night. It was magical for me. I'll never forget it. Quite unlike the day Shannon is enjoying in this excerpt!
When I created the special telepathic bond between my protagonist Shannon Kendricks and the beluga whale Juneau, I knew one thing. I didn't want a "cute" relationship between a pet-like whale and her 'owner;' I wanted a relationship as it might possibly be between a wild creature and a human. As a result, some of Shannon's understanding of the whale comes through dreams. In this way, Shannon filters the content so that she -- and you the reader -- can understand it, but the underlying experience is the wild creature's. In this excerpt, Shannon dreams of Juneau's capture when she was very young by the people who would place her in captivity. It begins with Juneau's love of the wild and ends with her terror. I can't pretend to really know the mind of a wild animal and I am hoping to help readers see this point too. Shannon stays out of the mind of Juneau to the extent she can precisely because she has experienced its wildness. And she cherishes that unknowable quality in Juneau.
The beluga Juneau in POWER OF THREE is based on a real life beluga Mauyak who once lived at the Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. [Pt. Defiance is nothing like the SeaQuarium in Ocean City of the novel]. I enjoyed the good fortune of being able to work with her and spend time with her long ago now and when she was shipped off to Chicago, where she still lives, I missed her terribly. Still, I was glad for her because she'd had no luck giving birth to healthy surviving babies here, which I believe was very hard on her, while she has had several offspring who survived in Chicago. I was always torn about my experience with her, because it meant so much to me to spend time with her, while I knew in my heart of hearts she should never have been captured in the first place. This is why, in POWER OF THREE, I tried for a compromise idea; where the whales and dolphins could be truly free but able to come in for husbandry and where people could watch and come to know and love them as I did. Has anybody out in Chicago been to see Mauyak lately? How is she doing?
Several important strands woven into Power of Three pop up in this beginning excerpt. First, you can see that Shannon is a loner, and it is not serving her well. Why is this? Will she ever learn how to let people in? Second, you are introduced to Juneau, the beluga whale, who seems to mean more to Shannon than just about anything. What lengths is Shannon willing to go to for this whale? Third, Shannon and Becky are solid friends. If events overtake them that put this friendship to the test, will it stay strong? And last, Shannon and Juneau have just been engulfed by the inexplicable and mysterious. How will they handle this? Will they survive it? Could you?
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