Thursday, December 17, 2009

Free Holiday Read: Christmas at Farhallen

Set in the Starchild universe, several decades before the first book.

Although the long-haul colony freighter had hung within it for approximately seventy-two hours, hyperspace remained a theoretical construct, explainable only through strings of numbers, symbols, and the occasional Greek letter. It would get the ship where it needed to go, but no one on board knew how.

The idea didn’t bother Captain Blake Farhallen. All he needed to know was which button to push and when to push it. After he pushed it, they would theoretically emerge from the wormhole, hyperspace tunnel, or whatever the mathematicians had decided to call the theoretical construct, and end up where they’d intended to go. He hadn’t actually tried it yet, but he had no option other than to assume it would work. Assuming anything else would just be asking for a nervous breakdown.

His carefully calculated attitude of intellectual indifference didn’t stop the rest of the crew from engaging in speculation about the functionality of the phenomenon of hyperspace. The current argument revolved around what the actual, factual calendar date was at the moment. Most importantly, whether or not it was Christmas yet.

Farhallen sprawled in the captain’s chair—not that comfortable a chair for sprawling, to be honest, but he was s sprawler by nature. Lieutenant Pru Holloway had her head bent over a computational pad, poking it rhythmically with a stylus. Bret Diego, the engineer, watched her intently. He’d already done his own calculations, but Pru wanted to run them herself.

“Are you sure that’s right?” Bret asked.

Pru gave him a withering glare. Her distinctly Japanese features and jet-black hair belied her name. “Of course I am. You used the wrong entry formula. It changes the rotational structure of the hyperspace corridor.”

“Huh,” said Bret, thoughtfully scratching a spot on his temple. Pru presented the pad to him with a look of almost menacing glee. “Huh,” said Bret again, and slumped back into his own chair to mumble his way through the numbers.

Pru threw her triumphant look at the captain. He grinned. She was cocky, overconfident, and annoying as all hell, and he had a strange feeling he might marry her after this was all over and they were back on Earth.

“Is it Christmas?” he asked her.

Her glee changed instantly to peeved annoyance. “How the hell should I know?”
Farhallen chuckled and shook his head. “I thought that was the point of the exercise.”

“The point of the exercise,” Bret put in, “was to hand me my ass on a plate.”

“Which I did,” Pru shot back.

“Which you did. However—” He passed the computational pad back to her. From where he sat, Farhallen could see the long, red line of a correction across its flat, black surface. “I screwed it up, you’re right, but you set the median warp factor too high.”

Pru wrinkled her nose so firmly it nearly disappeared into her face. “Dammit. You’re right.”

“I am.” Bret’s voice was bland. “And it’s December twenty-fourth. More or less.”

“Christmas Eve, then.” Farhallen unsprawled a little; the position was starting to strain his back.

“Christmas Eve,” Bret confirmed.

“I never celebrate Christmas,” Pru announced. She was a member of one of the modern Buddhist schools that had never made much sense to Farhallen. Then again, none of the classic Buddhist schools had ever made much sense to him, either.

“No candy canes for you, then,” said Bret. He was imperturbable, or at least Farhallen had never seen him perturbed.

“We should do something.” This was First Officer Melanie Walsh, whom Farhallen had thought was ignoring the shenanigans. “Just a little something. It doesn’t have to be religious.”

“It’s fine with me,” the captain said. “But you’d better hurry. It won’t be Christmas anymore in thirty-six hours.”

“Who said thirty-six hours?” Pru protested.

“I did.” Farhallen pushed up from the captain’s chair and stretched. “I’m the captain. So you officially have a day and a half to make it Christmas.”


The biggest problem with hyperspace, besides its being purely mathematical, was that it was boring.

Farhallen didn’t do well with boring. He was high energy—it was one of the things that had led him to the military in the first place. Having something to do would at least help, even if it was celebrating a holiday that might or might not be relevant.

It also gave him the chance to stroll the halls and act as if he were in charge of something. He hadn’t done anything remotely command-like since they’d entered hyperspace.

They didn’t have much, if anything, that could be pressed into service as Christmas decorations. Not for the first time, he wondered if the mathematical construct of hyperspace might involve some color—maybe even handy shades of red and green. But most experts in how hyperspace might or might not work seemed to agree that looking at it was a bad idea.

But when he got back to the common room—more like a common closet, since there was barely room for any meaningful congregating—the crew was already busily decorating.

They’d cut red and green paper into garlands and Chinese lamps, draped from corner to corner of the tiny space. Pru was standing on a chair pointing at Bret and the others, barking out orders in her high-pitched, Chihuahua-like voice.

Farhallen grinned. She really was his favorite.

“Mistletoe,” she said. “Mistletoe and oak leaves. That’s traditional and Pagan at the same time.”

Bret nodded and scurried off, presumably to stick a hand out the window and pluck a supply of mistletoe and oak leaves out of the hyperspace navigation wormhole tunnel or whatever it was that surrounded them. Farhallen shook his head. Bret hadn’t even questioned the order.

“How many religions do we need to represent?” Farhallen queried. Eyes turned in his direction; they’d been so involved in watching Pru that they hadn’t even noticed he’d come in. So much for his compelling aura of command.

“All of them,” Pru chirped. It was a sharp-edged, somewhat irritated chirp, like a sparrow being waterboarded.

Farhallen gave her a look meant to be searching, but he was sure it was more besotted than anything else. “There’s only thirty people on the ship, Pru. Maybe six religions represented, tops.”

“We’re an exploratory vessel with long-term goals of colonization,” she countered. “Thus we represent the whole planet Earth and all its varying belief systems.”

He found himself agreeing before he even gave himself a chance to think about it. “You’re absolutely right. Good point.” To his surprise, she gave him a little smile. His heart turned inside-out. God, he was an idiot.

Bret returned, carrying an armful of what looked very much like mistletoe and oak leaves. Farhallen blinked.

“Synthetics,” Bret said by way of useless explanation. “You’d be amazed what you can scare up if you ask nice.”

Farhallen rolled his eyes. This place was a nuthouse. At least at the moment, it wasn’t boring.

And it got suddenly less boring. Abruptly, the ship lurched to the side. It sat at an almost forty-five degree angle for a few seconds, then slowly rotated back into place. Pru fell off her command perch. Farhallen caught her, not sure how he’d managed to get to her before she face-planted into the deck. The pole in the middle of the room, which he now saw was festooned with Stars of David, Wiccan pentangles, and the strange, Ouroboros-like symbol of the nascent Church of Far-Seeing, tipped sideways, as well.

Bret pushed the pole back to a right angle and looked at the captain. “What the hell was that?”

“How the hell should I know?” Farhallen countered. “I’m just the captain.”

Then a high, screeling sound filled the small room, and the baffle plates began to open. A morass of emotion poured through Farhallen, along with an intense flood of adrenaline.

The baffle plates were supposed to stay securely closed, a tenuous but effective barrier between the crew and the poorly defined dangers of hyperspace. They could open automatically, though, if the ship’s hyperspace arc took it close enough to a planet. The ship would then drop out of hyperspace to allow the crew to take readings and make appropriate reports.

All this rushed through his mind as the adrenaline brought him to a high state of alert, then his military training kicked in to bring him back into a slow-moving ocean of calm.

“Turn around.” His voice was dead calm. “Turn around. Don’t look out the window.”

Everyone in the room obeyed immediately. Pru passed him a worried look, biting her lip. Slowly, Farhallen followed his own order. He stood stone-still, fists clenching and unclenching, the sound of the baffle plates opening a harsh, metallic wail behind him.

It took exactly one hundred and seventeen seconds for the baffle plates to fully retract and settle into the locked, open position. It felt like three hours. Farhallen closed his eyes to ride out the wait. Knowing he couldn’t turn around and look made him want to turn around and look. What the hell could be so bad about looking at hyperspace, anyway? It was just math.

He jumped when the baffle plates slammed into the locked position. Pru glanced at him sidelong, and he could see fear in her eyes. He’d never seen fear in Pru’s eyes before.

He swallowed. Heavy silence fell over the room, so thick he could breathe it.

Finally, carefully, he said, “Nobody move. Don’t turn.”

He knew what he was about to do, knew he had to do it, because the captain did these things. The captain took the hits he needed to take, to keep the rest of the crew safe.

“No.” Pru’s protest was so soft it barely stirred the tension-thick air.

Farhallen turned around.

Had he turned a few seconds earlier, the results might have been different. As it was, he saw the strange, waving undulations out of the corners of his eyes as they disappeared off the sides of the wide viewscreen. They were green and red but also pastels and grays, like nacre, but overlaid with blood, fire, and thick, heady rain.

There was no describing it, not really. It moved off the edges of his vision, leaving him with the feeling that someone had thrust an eggbeater into his ear and turned it on high.

Everything seemed to dip and sink under him. He thought he staggered, but he didn’t, his feet still anchored firmly to the floor.

Then the colors disappeared, leaving the viewscreen speckled with stars, and the looming, pregnant curve of a blue-green planet.

He stood stock-still, staring at it, his breath suspended.

“Captain…” Pru’s voice, quiet.

He blinked and realized he needed to draw air, and soon. “Turn,” he said, the word barely audible even to himself. “Turn. Look. My God, look.”

He heard them turn behind him, the faint rustle. Pru stood at the corner of his vision, and her shift was a circular movement just to his left. Then the sound of moving bodies was eclipsed by the sound of indrawn breath, as if everyone in the room had gasped simultaneously. Perhaps they had.

It was beautiful. A perfect orb, its curve filling the wide viewscreen. Blue and green, oceans and continents brushed with wisps of white cloud.

They’d all seen Earth from space, and more than once. Looking down on this planet, though, they saw different outlines, a continent with a curve of coastline like a lion’s head, proud and commanding. An ocean so deep green-blue that Farhallen thought it must be deeper than any ocean Earth had ever hosted.

The collective gasp had eased into a reverent silence. They were closer to the planet than he’d ever imagined would be safe for a jump out of hyperspace, but the vagaries of viable jump points weren’t to be questioned, especially if they worked.

He felt as if he could reach out and touch it.

“We’re the first,” said Pru, her voice baby-soft, like a prayer. “The first ever.”

Farhallen smiled. “We are.” Reluctant, he turned away from the beauty of the blue-green orb and faced his small crew. “Merry Christmas.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Special Book for Dog Lovers

I didn't write anything in this heartwarming anthology, but I did copy edits and would like to recommend it to anyone who has a soft spot for pups. Happy Tails Books publishes stories about rescue dogs and adoptions, and donates proceeds to rescue organizations to help homeless pups.

The pit bull anthology has a variety of stories, anecdotes, and even poems about pit bulls who have been rescued sometimes from horrible situations and given loving homes. Happy Tails has books focused on other breeds, as well, and are looking for more stories for future anthologies about different breeds. Take a look at their website, read some previews, and maybe even do some holiday shopping for your favorite pet lover.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday Thirteens

I'm featured in the Thursday Thirteens today at Nina Pierce's blog. Drop by and say hi!

Warning--lots of very pretty but possibly NSFW nekkid dudes. :-)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Video and Some More New Stuff!

First things first:

Here's a new book video for Where There's a Will, which officially arrives in paperback tomorrow, August 5.

To celebrate the book release, I'll be hanging out at the Samhain Cafe. I'll be talking about Where There's a Will, and I'll give away a copy of the book. I'll also be giving away one of these:

This T-shirt features a depiction of Inveraray Castle, which Chloe and Malcolm visit during the book. It's made from a picture I took of the castle when I was visiting Scotland umpteen years ago.

If you don't want to wait for the drawing, or if you'd like to look at the other designs available, check out my new Cafe Press page. I've got a couple of other designs there, also based on some of my personal photos of Scotland.

Hope you enjoy, and I hope to see you at the Samhain Cafe tomorrow!

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's a Party! 8-5-09 at the Samhain Cafe

Apparently I have no ability to keep track of my own release dates. Where There's a Will officially releases on August 5th, not August 25th (it's already selling at, but that's another story). In my defense, I have an email filed away that says 8-25 on it...

In any case, regardless of my authorial confusion (and there's nothing new there, let me tell you), I'll be at the Samhain Cafe group on August 5th talking about my new paperback release. I'll give away some prizes, and I'll be debuting some new things I'm sure you'll all enjoy. So be sure to stop by and say hi on August 5th--next Wednesday--at the Samhain Cafe Yahoo group.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shiny Paperbacks!

My author's copies of Where There's a Will arrived today, and they are very, very pretty! The book's available for preorder at your online bookstore of choice.

Stay tuned for news about special offers and other fun stuff that will become available as we get closer to the release date. Where There's a Will arrives on August 5.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cure Writer's Block

Or, you know, find a place to dork around when you should be writing... We all need that, right?

Widgets, writing prompts, and other fun stuff to poke your recalcitrant muse with a stick.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Nice-Looking Ebook Reader

With all the brouha about the Kindle, you'd think it was the only e-reader on the market. Fortunately, it's not.

Here's an article about a neat new reader, the Cool-er, produced in the UK. Not only is it slim and handy, it comes in awesome colors! Even purple! If they'd bring the price down just a snudge I'd be sorely tempted...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Beginning of the End for an Institution?

The Adams County, Colorado library system is apparently phasing out the Dewey Decimal System. I don't know whether to be sad or relieved. I never could figure that darn thing out...

Read more here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

More Neat Art

Paper sculpture this time. Really lovely.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Art from Unexpected Places

This artist creates lovely mini-sculptures from Crayons. No, seriously. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

IWOFA Summer Breeze Contest

Check out the new IWOFA Summer Breeze Contest. Over 100 authors and tons of great prizes, including a paperback copy of Earthchild. Check it out here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Cyber Valentine--First Time in Paperback

My Cyber Valentine is now available in paperback through Take a look!

The book has been very slightly revised from the Loose Id electronic version, but not very much, so if you've already read the original version, there's nothing really new here except a shiny paperback...

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Earthchild Now in Paperback!

Earthchild is now available in paperback. Drop by and pick up a copy.
My Bookstore and More
Barnes and Noble

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earthchild Paperback Available for Pre-order

The paperback release of Earthchild is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Could he give up the stars.for her? Taken in as an infant and raised by the primitive, non-human natives of the colony planet Denahault, Noisy Girl has always known she was different. Human settlers initiating peaceful contact confirm it-her true home is a planet called Earth, millions of miles away among the stars. Her search for her heritage leads her to the home of Harrison Fairfax and Trieka Cavendish, and their guest Jeff Anderson, Trieka's former second-in-command. For Jeff, Trieka's offer to captain the legendary ship Starchild is a lifelong dream fulfilled. Then he meets Noisy Girl, an entrancing young woman who speaks only in sign language. She captures his imagination like no other woman ever has, and his efforts to teach her English deepens a relationship he never thought was possible for him. But the claustrophobic, technology-laden atmosphere of Earth traumatizes the gentle Noisy Girl, and suddenly Jeff's choices aren't quite so clear. If he accepts permanent command of Starchild, all hope of happiness with this beguiling woman will be destroyed. Unless a compromise can be found.

Earthchild arrives in paperback on April 28.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Nice Review for Where There's a Will

Another lovely review for Where There's a Will, this time from Joyfully Reviewed.

"Where There’s a Will took me on an enchanting journey to the Highlands of Scotland where humor, history, and romance were deftly spun together to create a story that is simply wonderful. Katriena Knights has created an entire cast of characters that I would love to know in real life and a town that completely endeared itself to me. . .From beginning to end, Where There’s a Will is truly a pleasure to read."—Shayna at Joyfully Reviewed

For the full review, click here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Review for Where There's a Will

A new review for Where There's a Will from Romance Reviews Today.

"If you're in the mood for a light-hearted love story sure to bring a smile to your face, WHERE THERE'S A WILL certainly fits the bill."—Courtney Michelle

Thanks, Courtney, for the great review!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fantasm Awards Nominee--Earthchild

Earthchild has been nominated for a Fantasm Award--not for the book, but for the fantastic cover art.

Congratulations to Dawn Seewer for the nomination. I've loved this cover since I first saw it, and I'm honored to work with Dawn and the other wonderful artists at Samhain.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Review for Where There's a Will

"Where There’s a Will by Katriena Knights is an enjoyable contemporary romance set in the Highlands of Scotland and the author does an outstanding job of describing both the land and people of the area, including the enchanting Scottish accent. ... Ms. Knights created a story with intriguing characters and a unique plot concept revolving around the will stipulations that were so bizarre, I could almost see them happening in real life."--Mystical Nymph at Literary Nymphs

Read the full review here.

Thanks for the great review!