Recently, guest blogger Sultry Summer wrote about how one of her short stories turned into a series. Know the feeling well. Been there...done that... Sinbad's Last Voyage was intended to be one novel and only one novel, but at the end of it, I left my hero dying from asbestosis, contracted while he was illegally imprisoned by the United Terran Federation. He had nobly returned to Earth to marry Andrea Talltrees, the feisty little Navajo who’s the mother of his child and give the baby his somewhat tarnished name, deciding to live with the woman he loved for the short time he had left instead of dying alone in the Thieves’ Quarter of some distant planet. At the end of the story are the words, “'Till death do us part, my darling--no matter how quickly it comes.


Well…I couldn’t leave it there, could I? So Sinbad returned for another book, and Death departed. (Just to let everyone know he didn’t die, I told myself.) Oh, he has a close call, after all, he does have asbestosis, but fortunately, there’s a brilliant surgeon skilled in just the surgical procedure to save our hero, and save him he does—after blackmailing Andi into sleep with him as his payment. Surprisingly, Sin doesn’t tear the brilliant surgeon limb from limb once he recovers, though he does scare the **** out of him. So, he and Andi and the kids head for Felida to reunite Sin with his estranged Grandfather and that’s that.


Not so. Sin may have promised Andi he’d follow the Straight and Narrow but he didn’t promise he’d stay on it. Book 3 follows his efforts to turn the entire planet of Felida into a giant smuggling operation and the problems he faces when the clan leaders he wants to join him decided to send him their daughter as concubines to seal the deal. While he's dealing with Andi's reaction to that, he's having to admit that his sons are becoming young men who sometimes graze in other men’s pastures and then have to leave home to escape the consequences.


So now we’re moving into Book 4 and I have to face the fact that this is turning into a Family Saga, The Adventures of Sinbad. Sin and Andi are aging, the kids are growing up, getting married—or not—and having children of their own. There’s even a grandchild or two running around, and once in a while, Andi still manages to produce another baby, occasionally with some fireworks, especially since she’s now getting into her fifties. But what can she expect, with a husband just going into his Prime? That’s what she gets for marrying someone who’s part-feline. Things aren’t always Sweetness and Light, however, for there are deaths and tragedies along the way. When the stories started, Sin was a brash and cocky 29-year-old, held by no woman and with nothing to tie him down; now he’s 53, and a grandfather, mated to the same female for 24 years, and a multimillionaire, older but sometimes not any wiser. He’s also in a deadly feud with a fellow smuggler who doesn’t want to return the shipping routes he received when Sin “retired.”


Tsan Hsi’s attacks on Sin’s freighters and eventually bringing his fight to the planet itself means only one thing: he’s going to meet a very angry ex-smuggler in the planet space above Felida and only one man’s going to walk away from that fight, and it may not be the one every one expects. When it happens, Andi finds herself gathering all the courage she can find to face what comes follows…



EXCERPT:


The operations chief hit a pad on the communications panel.


"Trying to hold it steady 'til the men evacuate!" It was an unfamiliar voice filled with anger and undeniable panic. "Damn, he's firing at us again! Can't he see we're unarmed?"


"Can you identify your attacker, Slipstream?"


"Small ship. A darter. Where are those patrol boats?"


"Patrol on the way, Slipstream." The controller in the docking station was calm and quiet compared to the captain's anxiety. "They should reach you in ten minutes."


"Ten minutes'll be too late," the captain went on, voice rising. "He's in pursuit. God! He's picking off the escape pods."


"We've got a visual, Slipstream. Bring it in," came the reply. "We're opening a bay for you."


"No!" Sin stiffened. "The docking stations don't have any defense shields. If they bring that ship inside and it explodes… March, interrupt. Order the Slipstream not to enter the docking bay."

March touched another pad, tapped it twice, and shook his head. "They're not responding."

They could hear the Slipstream being given docking instruction, the captain's reply, and in the background, the sound of a laser's rapid staccato bursts. Outside March's window the high-pitched squeal of the patrollers' take-off rolled up the hill.


"Docking station. We've sustained another hit! I can't believe...he followed us!"


"You're in position, Slipstream. Prepare to dock."


All sound died. Sin ran to the window, March behind him. In the evening sky above Khurda, there was a flash of light like a star going supernova. For just a moment, a stream of sparkles trailed downward as fragments of the docking station fell toward the upper atmosphere and disappeared.


"March, call back the patrollers." Sin turned from the window. "Tell them not to pursue Tsan-Hsi."

Frowning, March tapped the pad and repeated Sin's orders. There was a brief protest from the patrol leader, then an obedient relay of the Pride Chief's words to his men. "Get me an open channel to the Cobra."


"Take me a minute to find his frequency." March bent over the keygrid, tapping in a string of codes. He waited a moment, and then nodded.


"Tsan-Hsi!" Sin directed his voice at the control panel, struggling to contain his anger. "This is Sinbad sh'en Singh. I'm coming after you!"


There was the briefest of silences before the answer came; harsh, with a deep Taunan accent.


"It's taken you long enough, Felidan. I thought I was going to have to demolish your entire fleet." There was a satisfied laugh. "I'll be waiting."


"Alert the hangar." Fangs bared, Sin started from the room. "I want the Mariner-2 ready when I get there." He didn't look back as he said it. As he came into the foyer, he nearly ran into Andi. Allan was with her. She took one look at his face and assumed the worse. Knew she was correct when he brushed past her without stopping.


"Where are you going?" She caught his arm.


Snarling slightly, he slung her hand away. "To end this once and for all."


Following him to the door, she watched him run down the hill with the determined lope of a hunting panther toward the reserve hangars built on the long plain at the foot of the mountain. Behind her Allan appeared, March with him.


In a few minutes, they saw the Mariner-2 streaking into the sky.


"Sin, can you hear me?" March spoke into the hand unit he had brought with him.


"No time to talk, March." Sin seemed to bite off each word as he spoke it.


The little ship rolled away and the Mariner-2 followed, too close to miss when it fired again, too close to be missed if the Cobra fired back. This was one fight Tsan-Hsi had been waiting for, so the Taun didn't try to get away. Sending the ship into an upward arc. he circled, trying to get behind the Mariner-2.


Sin rolled the Thunderbolt, rounding as he squeezed the trigger so the next laser-salvo went into the Cobra's stabilizing fin, spinning the ship into a horizontal roll. Righting itself, it sent a volley back at him. The Mariner-2 shuddered and dipped, one wing-tip disappearing in a shatter of light. The Cobra fired again, bolts of light striking the Thunderbolt's belly. Sin pulled the Mariner-2 into a climb, soaring above the Cobra. She's not responding. I'd forgotten how good he is.


The Mariner-2 jerked as if striking something solid, then flew onward before executing a series of short hiccough-like maneuvers, shaking Sin around in the pilot's seat. It fell into Felida’s upper atmosphere. Must've hit something vital. Be losing power soon. Got to make every strike count. End it.


On the planet far below, everyone had gathered in front of the offices. Word of destruction of the station and the Slipstream had spread. Off-duty pilots, the villagers, and everyone in the Pride House huddled in the courtyard staring upward, straining their eyes to see. Both ships were now close enough to the planet to be visible, two tiny lights in the darkness. Like two stars darting back and forth, with a faint sparkle floating between them as first one, and then, the other fired.

Swerving the Mariner-2, Sin swung it around to face the Cobra. Now the two ships were on a direct line, a collision course. They sped toward each other, neither swerving. Sin pressed the trigger once more, holding it steady to send a series of three bolts at the Cobra.


Tsan-Hsi fired also, swerving his ship...two seconds too late. All three shots hit it dead center. A single scream of rage and disbelief vibrated through March's hand unit before being abruptly cut off. In the blackness of space, something dissolved in a cascade of light.


"Who?" Andi clutched March's arm, fingers digging into his sleeve. "Who was it?"


The hand unit the operations chief carried came to life. "I'm coming in."


Andi looked up again, as if she could actually see the Mariner-2, her gaze locking on the tiny pinpoint. Sin prepared to maneuver his ship to dodge the gracefully floating pieces of metal , all remaining of Tsan-Hsi's darter. Two second later, the last shots fired from the Cobra plowed into the Mariner-2's hull just far enough off-target to miss its reactors and prevent it from exploding, but close enough to disable the ship. There was a collective gasp as they saw the second flash of light.


"Sin!" March spoke into the unit. "What's happened?"


Allan caught Andi as her legs gave way. Held upright by her brother-under-the-law's embrace, she put one hand to her mouth, whimpering softly.


"Controls are out." Then there was nothing, but white noise. Andi began to cry. The light streaked downward. It entered the atmosphere straight as a falling star, a star not burning up but coming closer and closer to the planet.


At the last possible, moment the Mariner-2 swerved and leveled off. It rose above the ground, skimmed the tops of trees, dipped into them, and climbed again, straining to gain speed. Then all power died. For three seconds it floated gracefully, then dropped, plowing nose-first into the mountain's base. Andi screamed. The first explosion rocked the ground, knocking her out of Allan's arms and off her feet...



Sinbad's Triumph is available from Double Dragon Publishing in e-book and trade paperback. http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-848-6

7 comments

  1. Mona Risk // June 26, 2011 at 8:47 PM  

    Hi Toni, your imagination is amazing. It seems that everytime you hit the end on a story, a sequel popped in your mind for the delight of your reader.

  2. Nightingale // June 27, 2011 at 10:52 AM  

    WRiting a series is very daunting -- keeping track of everything! Congrats on your new release and wishing you much success.

  3. Judy // June 27, 2011 at 1:08 PM  

    Toni, I love how you weave stories in such a way that they make a natural series. I love series! And yours sound wonderful! Enjoy them all and your success!

  4. Mary Ricksen // June 27, 2011 at 1:19 PM  

    Toni, I think you should start sending in to the NY publishing companies. You are in a league of your own. I love when a story takes on a mind of it's own.
    All I can think of is Dynasty on steroids, Toni style!

  5. Toni V.S. // June 28, 2011 at 2:12 PM  

    I'd love to send my novels to NY, Mary, but let's be realistic. NY publishers don't accept unagented material and so far I've been turned down by 28 agents. SO I've accepted it ain't gonna happen.

  6. Josie // June 28, 2011 at 3:06 PM  

    Toni,
    As always, I am completely in awe of you and your imagination. There are more than 28 agents out there. Keep submitting until you find the perfect match.

  7. Mary Marvella // June 28, 2011 at 4:54 PM  

    I always enjoy the natural flow of your books. Remember Mondays after weekend of drive-in horror fests?