#SampleSunday – Novel Excerpt – Conning the Cons

300fohI’ve been telling you about LET IT SNOW! SEASON’S READINGS FOR A SUPER-COOL YULE, which contains my humorous sf story, “The Pratty Who Saved Chrissmuss”. I also have news about FORCE OF HABIT, the novel that spawned … er, I mean inspired that story.

In FORCE OF HABIT, a teacher on a starship goes out of bounds on shore leave and is mistaken for two different people by two different groups of criminals. She is neither of the people any of them think she is. In this scene, Bel (the teacher) has been caught in one of many lies she’s told in her efforts to talk herself out of trouble.

~   *   ~

“Boys, boys,” said Bel. “Calm down. You’re both wrong.”

The “boys” turned on her with equally malignant snarls. Utrop Ligniss didn’t snarl, though. He just crossed his arms over his chest and smiled. Maybe somebody would have to get smashed, maybe not. Either way, he got paid the same. That was the beauty part of being a strongarm man; you got paid either way.

“I told you,” said Morgan, “what would happen to you, if you lied to me.”

“No, no,” said Bel, spinning another thread, and praying it was strong enough to hold her for awhile. “Only if I weren’t valuable to you, not if I lied. I admit, I did lie, but only to keep down the price of my freedom. You can’t blame me, can you?”

Morgan knew his limits. He knew when he’d been blindfolded and twirled until he didn’t know a donkey’s tail from a doorway, and he knew when it was time to stop being a good sport if he wanted to cop a prize. “Gag her,” he said to Ligniss. “Please, before it’s too late.”

“Shut up,” said Pron. “What are you talking about, woman?”

“I am an agent,” said Bel, “of the Galactic Union Security Caucus.”

“The Security Caucus doesn’t have agents,” said Morgan.

“I’m a secret agent. Naturally, you didn’t know they had secret agents, because if everybody knew about us…”

“You wouldn’t be secret anymore,” said Pron.


“I told you to gag her,” said Morgan. “I warned you, but you wouldn’t listen; oh, no, you wouldn’t listen.”

“Someone on the Grand Council suspects a traitor in their midst and appealed to the Caucus for help. They sent me. Before I came here, I knew nothing of any of you gentlemen, nor the powers behind you, nor the horses you rode in on.”

“The what?”

“Horses,” said Morgan. “They produce what she’s shoveling.”

“Shut up,” said Pron.

~   *   ~

FORCE OF HABIT is (or soon will be) available only through Amazon for Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, here is a link to a page where you can get FREE apps to read Kindle books on a computer, iPad, or any electronic device. Not your shaver, though. At least, I don’t think there’s an app for your shaver. Go look, though; you never know.

If 99 cents is too expensive to suit you, wait until December 20-24, when it will be a free download. Just in time for Christmas!!! Makes a great gift, too!!!!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Have a character attempt to talk himself or herself out of trouble.



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 “#SampleSunday – Novel Excerpt – Conning the Cons

  1. Jane

    December 16, 2012 at 12:01pm

    I just LOVE Llannon-speak. Wait, is that enough letters in LLaannannonn?
    Anyway, ’tis clear you didn’t watch those Abbott and Costello double-speak movies for nothing!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 16, 2012 at 5:17pm

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that Llannonn has a Susquehanna Hat Company Outlet Mall.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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