Wishing You Love, Light, and Hope
I wanted to use most of this newsletter to talk about the corona virus. Many of you must be feeling uncertain. I know I am. I did get the message about staying home loud and clear. In truth, Bob and I talked about it, and we cut off all unnecessary trips away from our home a month ago.
I may have mentioned that one of my “side” jobs (except I’m not getting paid, which I suppose makes it a side project) is I’m helping a friend turn out an English translation for a nonfiction book about North Korea. This same friend was stationed in Beijing for 18 months as a photojournalist and correspondent for Finland’s national broadcast system.
Because of chats with Mika and my time with his book, I knew better than to trust anything coming out of China. I assumed things were far worse there than they were letting on, and I planned accordingly on my end.
The worst part about the pandemic has been the lack of data from the U.S. I’ve heard people here in the Eastern Sierra proudly say we have no cases. I call bullshit. We have no idea if we have any cases because we are very late getting on the testing choo-choo. For example, last week, the U.S. tested 77 people—out of a nation of 350 million. By contrast, South Korea is testing 15,000/day and China is testing hundreds of thousands. It’s bad enough here that the Chinese billionaire who runs Alibaba offered us masks and test kits.
I have no idea if the current administration accepted them.
Politics aside, what can each of us do in a time of change and uncertainty?
For starters, exercise common sense, and be selective about what you read. Material from the CDC is trustworthy. So are articles from WHO. The Guardian has done a decent job with news coverage, as has Apple News.
I’ve seen so much misinformation. For example, someone posted a picture of a bottle of swine corona virus vaccine and stated we’ve had a vaccine all along. Apparently, she didn’t get the memo about there being many, many types of corona viruses. COVID-19 is dangerous because it is brand new and none of us has any immunity to it.
Even if you do not get the annual flu vaccine, you still have some immunity because all the seasonal flu viruses have been around for a while. None of us has any immunity to COVID-19. Eventually we will, but not for a few years. The earliest there will be a vaccine is toward the tail end of 2021. And that’s if all the tests pan out and it’s deemed safe for use.
Back when I was a poor graduate student, I planned out menus a month in advance and did my major shopping once a month. It’s not a bad strategy because it cuts down on trips out of the house.
Figure out what you can change and implement those changes.
Ask your company if you can work from home. If they refuse, ask about masks and gloves and other protective gear. If they force you to be front and center in your workplace, they need to provide safety equipment.
Consider taking your kids out of school for the remainder of the school year. Many schools around the country have closed. Virtually all major conventions have been cancelled or postponed. The ski mountain where I live closed, along with 14 other North American resorts owned by the same company.
I know it isn’t convenient, but I am so grateful people are taking this seriously. Our ancestors were flexible. They had to be. They dealt with many types of adversity with a whole lot less in their toolkits than we have.
I’m looking at this as a grand opportunity to cook more, something I enjoy. Going out to eat isn’t safe, nor is ordering from the many delivery services in big urban areas. Who knows who cooked your food? Everyone from the food prep person to the van driver could be infected. Estimates are that 30% of those infected are asymptomatic, which means they can pass the virus to you while remaining untouched by it themselves.
I’m also viewing this as an opportunity to spend more time with my husband, get my house in better order, raise my new puppy, and generally retreat to a simpler time when I provided for more of my needs rather than farming things out.
Instead of pining after what I no longer have, it makes sense to embrace what I do. The number of cases in China is going down because they exercised Draconian measures to control their population. While I do not see that happening here, there will come a time in a few months when it’s safer to venture out than it is now.
Don’t feel bad if you’re in a risk group. The bottom line is no one is safe. I read an interesting comparison between two Chinese healthcare providers, an MD and a nurse. Both were 29 and female, and both got the virus. One lived, the other died. So the odds may be a wee bit worse if you’re over 80, but young people are dying too.
That’s why it’s so important to take steps to protect yourself. It’s not rude to establish an appropriate distance between you and other people. It’s not rude to wear masks and gloves. (You do need N-95 masks, though, and they’ve become tough to get.)
Find things to look forward to each day.
That’s important enough to repeat. Find things to look forward to. Before I fall asleep at night, I think about the coming day and pinpoint parts I’m enthusiastic about.
Our optimism and hope will carry us through.
The world will look very different a few months from now. Notice I said different. Not better or worse. Change is part of the human condition. To the extent we can embrace it, we will come out the other side in better shape.
I’ve rambled on enough.
I love and appreciate all of you, and I’m wishing you the absolute best as this crisis unfolds. Things will worsen before they improve. Roll with the waves. You can do it!
As always, I love hearing from you.
I have a book in this story bundle, Each tale features strong female leads. Be sure to check it out right here! Pay what you want and load up your e-reader. A percentage of every sale goes to Knitted Knockers, a charity that makes prosthetics for breast cancer survivors.
All story bundles are limited time offers. This one will come down in about 15 days.
The Gatekeeper Series is complete!
Means you can binge-read all three.
Full-length urban fantasies.
Like always, I've tried my best to offer you, my readers, a brand new take on whatever I'm writing about. Cait, my Reaper heroine, runs a private pilot business and, for once, Death is a woman.
Seemed fitting somehow.
If you enjoyed the Charley Davidson and Alex Craft books, you'll inhale Gatekeeper. There may be a fourth book: a spinoff about two of the subsidiary characters. We shall see.
Here's a snippet from Shadow Reaper
The screen on my crappy monitor looked blurrier than usual, but it might have been my vision. No sleep these past few nights had to be taking a toll. I rubbed grit out of my eyes and shut them, promising myself it would only be for a couple of seconds. Then I had to get back to last month’s books.
They weren’t looking good. I’d spent more on mechanic bills and aviation fuel than I’d made. Big surprise. To teach flying, I have to actually be here. Not off chasing Vampires. A sigh started in my chest and burbled out my mouth before I could stop it. Sighing is for wimps.
I’m more of a take-charge type. Or maybe I’m deluding myself.
A pair of ghosts drifted through the far wall, making a beeline right for me. They were on the youngish side, maybe late forties when their lives had been cut out from under them. I’m a Reaper, and souls who have yet to cross are drawn to me like the proverbial moth to a flame. It’s a scent thing, kind of like pheromones, except keyed to crossing the veil rather than for sex.
They say hearing is the last sense to go. Nope. It’s smell.
I stood and flapped my hands at the approaching pair. “Find another Reaper. I’ve been reassigned.”
“But we’re here,” the man protested.
“Here,” the woman echoed.
They were only a few feet away. A closer look revealed bullet holes in both their foreheads. Crap. Had they been victimized by another mass murderer?
“Please,” the man said. “Winnie and me, we—”
“Nope.” I turned both hands palms out. “Determining where you end up is above my pay grade. Sorry you’re dead, but telling me how it happened is a waste of your time.”
At this point, acting as a conduit was simpler than arguing. I covered the remaining distance between us and opened my arms. The duo didn’t require further instructions. They walked into my embrace, first one then the other, more than ready to depart this portion of their existence. As I held them, they passed through me.
My Reaper side channeled the dark forever of death, and a chill I knew all too well shot from my toes to my head. If I’d had any hopes of finishing my bookwork, it just went up in smoke. Or ice chips. Reaping is hard work. There are several of us, but never enough to go around.
I sat back down. Next I pushed the keyboard aside, folded my arms on my dusty desk, and laid my head on top of them. A fifteen-minute nap would do me wonders. Maybe after I finished the books, I’d clean my office. Customers offered pilots latitude when it came to neatness, but I’m not sure I’d climb into an airplane with someone whose workplace looked quite as down-at-the-heels as mine.
Carrick Sky Sports is located in a small Quonset hut right next to the hangar housing my three planes. The hangar was a whole lot cleaner than my digs, but then so were the planes.
I took care of them. They were my babies. Thoughts of airplanes and Vampires and Reaping whirled through my tired brain before I finally nodded off.
A staunch knock startled me so badly, I nearly tumbled out of my chair. It skidded back a few inches, leaving me fighting not to end up on my ass.
“Cait Carrick?” a deep male voice inquired.
I had yet to get a visual on the speaker. At least he wasn’t dead. Their voices lacked resonance.
“Yeah. Um, yes. That would be me.” I stuffed my feet under my body and stood, turning until I faced the single door into my office. I’m tall, so tall I’m used to looking down at everyone, including men, but the dude who stood there was at least six foot four, topping me by a good two inches.
Faded Levis encased his long legs. Torn trail runners might have been black once, but they’d faded to gray. A battered leather vest and frayed blue-plaid shirt covered his torso. Fair hair was long enough for him to have gathered it behind his head into a ragged braid. He had an interesting face, all planes and angles with a square chin and sharp cheekbones, but his most unusual feature was his eyes. I suppose they were hazel, but in the light streaming through the door behind him, they glowed like burnished copper.
“Sorry to disturb you.” He grinned rakishly. “I tried knocking softer, but you were really out of it.”
I swallowed back annoyance. I’d be damned if I’d stand here while a total stranger blithely assessed my physical state.
“And you are?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Liam. Liam Hunter.” He glided toward me, hand extended.
Something about him bothered me, but I couldn’t home in on what it was. I tucked my hands behind my back. “Sorry,” I mumbled, “I’ve got grease all over me. What can I do for you?”
“They say you’re the best flight instructor around.” His smile, which had slipped a few notches, bloomed again.
“Who’s they?” I winced. I should just have said “thank you” and let it be.
“Why all the pilots down at The Tailwind.”
It was a small bar and grill at the far end of the airstrip I used. Most days, they served breakfast and lunch. Weekends, they served dinner. While I knew all the local pilots, I wasn’t aware they ever talked up my skills. Most of them were pretty old-school. Chauvinistic enough to believe women belonged in the kitchen—or the bedroom—rather than in an airplane.
I’d dealt with a lot of flak a decade ago when I opened my business. Once the guys figured out I wasn’t a flash in the pan, they dialed back the harassment but never totally accepted me.
What to do about the dude standing three feet away?
He had an expectant look on his face, as if he’d offered up the aeronautical equivalent of “Open Sesame.” If I didn’t have so many unpaid bills, I’d have chased him out of my office. On the other hand, I didn’t want to share a cockpit with someone who started out on the wrong foot by lying to me.
I pushed my shoulders straighter. If I’d gotten any mileage out of my nap, it wasn’t readily apparent. “Um, look, Mr. Hunter—if that’s even your name—the other pilots would never steer business my way. Either you play this again from the top, or we have nothing to talk about.”
His smile developed a definite sheepish cast. “That transparent, huh?”
I nodded and waited, too tired to spar with him. Night would fall soon enough, and then I’d be back to herding Vampires. Death wanted them in Hell, but they were a slimy, sleazy lot with a huge investment in remaining on Earth.
There it was. My problem in a nutshell. Their motivation in staying topside was significantly more pressing than my need to move them across the veil. I’d quit if I could, but Reapers are born into Reaping.
And we live for a very long time.
The thought of chasing down Vampires until the moon fell out of the sky depressed the living fuck out of me.
I started. I hadn’t exactly forgotten Mr. False Name, but he’d moved away from dead-center on my radar. He kicked the door shut. A surge of magic flickered around him, turning the air as blurry as my monitor had been.
“You’re right about me being tired,” I told him. “If you’re about to cut the crap and tell me who you are and why you’re here, we’ll both be money ahead.”
The angles in his face grew more pronounced, his fingers more elongated, the copper cast to his eyes deeper, shinier.
I narrowed my eyes. “Sidhe or Fae. Am I right?”
“Aye, Ms. Carrick. I’m Daoine Sidhe. Liam is a modernization of my name, and my family name is Warwick.” His accent had shifted from pure American to a lilting Irish brogue, or maybe it was Scottish. Never could tell them apart.
Breath hissed through my teeth. At least he’d offered his true name. The teensy jolt I’d gotten from the other one hadn’t bothered me this time. “You scarcely need my airplanes. You can teleport.”
The corners of his generous mouth twisted into a wry expression. “You know about us?”
No point dancing around what I was. I was certain he knew, and my soul-herding skills were why he was here. “I went to Reaper school. We have to get passing grades before Death turns us loose.”
He furled a blond brow. “Fascinating. I had no idea.”
“How about if you tell me why you’re here? Then you can leave. I have work to do.” A quick glance through my single window told me time was about to betray me. Sunset would be in maybe an hour. With it would come the Vampire horde blood-bent on my destruction.
Or my assimilation, to be more precise.
He frowned. “You’re about to have company. I shall return later.”
Before I could tell him not to bother coming back, the place he’d stood was empty. I could still feel the beat of his soul, but damn if he hadn’t vanished before my eyes.....
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