Sample Sunday – FORCE OF HABIT

The new book is due out in May. I’ve sent in an acceptable final draft, now waiting for Publisher’s edits/proof copy. It’s a cop/sf/farce.

When Bel Schuster goes off limits on the planet Llannonn, all she wants is a breath of fresh air. Instead, she’s kidnapped by a Terran criminal who mistakes her for someone worth a ransom. Gangsters from yet another planet, local law enforcement and highly placed political operatives all get into the act, as a tangle of misunderstanding, miscommunication and mistaken identity land Bel in court, facing what passes for a legal system on Llannonn.

“Remember,” Hessaphess said, “you can rent a room, you can swim, you can zero-gee, you can spend all twelve hours in the bar; but you can’t, under any circumstances, leave the Inn. No exceptions, this means YOU. Understood?”

Everybody nodded. Everybody headed for the bar.

“Ven Hessaphess,” said Bel, putting a hand on one of his right elbows.

“No exceptions,” he repeated.

“No, of course not, certainly not, why, what a thought,” said Bel. “I only wanted to ask if I could buy you a drink.”


“What do you care?”

Wotan Hessaphess had never turned down a free drink in his life. He made his usual acceptance speech: “I’d love it, but I left my moneybelt in my other tunic, so…”

“So you can’t buy a round in return. I understand. Don’t think a thing of it. Listen, I’ve got specie burning a hole in my pedal pushers and nothing much to spend it on. Let’s have a bottle or two, my treat.”

Hessaphess didn’t mind if he did.

It didn’t take Bel long to realize a barrel or two wouldn’t have made any difference. The Engineer became elevated, yes, and told tall tales of engines he had known, interrupting himself with spirited attempts at singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” improvising where memory failed, but he never forgot an order, and he never compromised.

Bel finally gave up. She bought him a final bottle and moved (rather unsteadily) to a dim and distant table, there to brood over the illustrated brochures from the rack in the lobby.

WRITING PROMPT: Is there any place your character considers or has been told is off-limits? Under what circumstances would he/she violate that taboo?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Sample Sunday – FORCE OF HABIT

  1. Enid Wilson

    April 11, 2011 at 4:00am

    Many heroines like to go out for a walk and then got snatched by the baddies. Sometimes I want to smack them on the head.

    Bargain with the Devil

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 11, 2011 at 7:58am

      I know! Especially if they’ve been warned of danger. Bel only meant to step outside for a minute…. Or maybe stroll around the block….

      And, of course, if nothing happened, I would have had to write a different story. lol!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Ciara Knight

    April 11, 2011 at 3:29pm

    He’s a cutie! πŸ™‚

    I’m a fellow A-Z challenger and new follower. πŸ™‚

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 11, 2011 at 4:29pm

      Isn’t he, though? He lives under the front porch. We’ve seen him before, but never on the screen. πŸ™‚

      Following you, too!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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