Thank you so much for reading my second Sanctuary newsletter. This one contains chapter 2 of the Sanctuary Series book 6. I thought it would be a good idea to go a little into my writing process so I can explain why you'll be seeing some inconsistencies coming up.
In writing circles, we often discuss the concepts of plotting vs. pantsing. Plotting is where the author plots out their book before they write it, then fill in the blanks as they go (I'm simplifying these concepts because I could spend all day talking about them and that's not why you're here). Pantsing is the opposite of plotting where the author sits in front of a page and lets the creativity flow, writing whatever comes to them.
I'm a solid mixture of both of these concepts. I try to plot and set the direction of my story ahead of time, but inevitably, I always end up pantsing along the way. For example, for those of you who read Skye's Sanctuary, I had no idea that I would introduce a little girl named Nova into the book. As I was writing the chapter where Skye, Wolfe and the rest of their team were exploring an abandoned city, Nova came out of nowhere. But I love that she did, because she was such a great addition to Skye and Wolfe's family and because it makes sense that there would be many abandoned and lost children in a post-apocalyptic world.
Why am I telling you this? Because when an author writes in a series, they need to try to keep their plot lines nice and tight so inconsistencies don't pop up, or if they do, they're easily resolved. I almost always have inconsistencies when I'm writing in a series and I rely a lot on the help of my editor, proofreader and beta readers to help me catch them. However, as I'm writing and sharing Sheela and Malachi's story one chapter at a time as I go, the inconsistencies won't be smoothed out when you read the chapters in this newsletter. They will be fixed later, in editing.
I've already run into an inconsistency that I'm forced to hit head on. In Skye's Sanctuary, I shared the following passage from Sheela's point of view:
I didn’t meet Malachi until I was charged with unlawful activity and sent to prison. Even then, he rarely spoke. He would come check on the prisoners, stop outside my cell, and watch me. Then, one day, he informed me we were married and I would leave the prison for his home the next day. With the help of my friends, I’d escaped that night and we left the island amid the mainland panic.
I wrote this section before I knew there would be a story for Malachi and Sheela. Had I known, I would have loosely plotted something out and then included the storyline in Skye's Sanctuary. Now that I'm writing their book, the plot is going in a direction that is different from the information in the above passage. Of course Malachi and Sheela will need to talk often since I'm creating their love story. And they will very likely spend more than one night together before Sheela escapes and heads to the Santa Fe Sanctuary where she'll meet Skye and Wolfe.
I hope that these inconsistencies don't ruin the reading experience for anyone. I do try to keep them out of my books, but sometimes they're inevitable and I believe in hitting them head on instead of ignoring them and hoping my readers won't notice. Any issues I run into along the way will be noted and fixed in editing.
I hope you continue to read and enjoy my live writing and releasing of Sanctuary book 6!
She’s even more beautiful up close, this doctor of the underground. Doctor Sheela Summers.
Until today, I’d only seen her from a distance, watching and waiting for her opportunity to steal whatever supplies she needed. She’s been on my radar for a while, but I’ve left her alone for one reason. Curiosity.
She’s a cog in the machine of a functioning underground city that defies the rules of our Sanctuary. They are the rebels. The rejected; barely a step above the zombies. And she is one of the biggest cogs. The Warlord ordered me to take her out. To take out the doctor who is better at caring for the unwashed masses below-ground than our Sanctuary doctors are at patching up my soldiers.
I glance at the woman walking reluctantly at my side. She’s not unwashed. Not only is she not unwashed, but she doesn’t fit any preconceived idea I had of a rebel. She looks as well-dressed as anyone topside, in her faded denims that cling to her ass in a way that makes me want to place my long jacket over her shoulders to shield her from the gaze on my soldiers.
Her top is black and faded, stretching across her bountiful breasts, which are somewhat hidden by a grey patterned scarf. Her boots are battered but clean and her blond hair is piled on top of her head in some kind of messy tower. She would be charming if she wasn’t so efficient at her job.
The Warlord has allowed the underground to thrive unmolested to a certain extent. This is for two reasons. When zombies enter the city, the first place they head is underground. The people who live there are our first line of defense. They keep the zombies from making their way topside and harassing our law-abiding citizens. Second, the underground network comes in handy when there’s unrest in the city over the Warlord’s brutal methods. He has me and my security force raid the underground, drag a few of them topside and show the citizens of our Sanctuary what happens when they disobey the Warlord. It’s brutal, but effective, and the unrest usually dies down immediately after the executions.
I can tell by the way she looks at me that she knows who I am. Good. Then she knows of my reputation, which means she’ll be more likely to settle down to her new role quicker.
“Where are you taking me?” she asks as we approach the platform that will lead us out of the subway tunnels.
I take her arm and help her over the rubble on the stairs. She’s a valuable asset and I don’t want to her fall and injure herself. I ignore the inner voice telling me I’m looking for an excuse to touch the unexpectedly lush woman.
“Prison,” I say.
There’s no point in keeping her destination from her and perhaps knowing will terrify her into compliance.
Apparently she’s more plucky than she looks.
She yanks at her arm and glares at me. “Are you arresting me?”
“On what charges?”
I laugh. On what charges? The woman has been helping the underground for years in her role as doctor. I’ve heard rumours that she’s saved more lives in the years that she’s been active than all the rest of our doctors combined. She’s skilled and she’s innovative. We need her… but she doesn’t need to know that.
“I don’t need a reason to arrest someone in this city,” I tell her.
“I’ve seen your version of law and order, and I can’t say I’m a fan.”
She’s plucky, I’ll give her that, but a man in my position can’t afford disobedience in his people. She’ll have to be broken before we can put her to use. An unfortunate necessity to my plans.
She shades her eyes as we emerge from the underground tunnels and onto the street. From the look of her, she hasn’t seen daylight in too long. “When were you last topside?”
She bows her head against the glare and says, “A few weeks maybe, I lose track of the time when I’m busy with work.”
It annoys me that she’s not taking better care of herself. That will be the first order I give when I hand her over to the prison for processing. Then I remember, I’m supposed to be breaking her down so I can put her to use in the Sanctuary. We need an intelligent, motivated, and resourceful doctor like her.
Still, as we take the boat from Manhattan over to Rikers, I contemplate and reassess my original plan. Though I haven’t spoken to her until now, she’s been on my radar for a while. The wily doctor who manages to avoid my patrols while working herself to the bone to better the city’s underground.
We call them rebels, but I recognize what they bring to our Sanctuary. Unfortunately, the Warlord is of an older school of thought. He’d been around at the start of our war with the zombies and he’d risen through the ranks of what had once been the United States military to the rank of General. When cities eventually fell to the waves of uncontrolled zombies, he was in the position to take over one of the most populous and strategic cities; New York. He was ruthless in bringing his territory under control. He implemented Draconian measures to ensure his place as leader.
One measure was to declare women chattel. Their subjugation was a form of population control and control in general. By the time I came along, his laws were set in stone and I was the tool he used to keep order as he aged.
Now, he watches his city from high above, like an eagle in his perch, ready to swoop in at any sign of disorder. Though I don’t always agree with him, I can’t argue the effectiveness of his strategies. He’s led our Sanctuary through the worst of the waves of zombie attacks.
I glance at the woman at my side, both soft and resilient, the epitome of fighting for her place in a world where she can easily be lost to the laws governing women. It never bothered me before, but it bothers me now where she’s concerned. I’ve seen countless women come into our Sanctuary and be given to men as gifts, servants, and baby makers. I’ve even helped with the process.
But she’s different. It would be a crime to bury her skills underground and never let them see the light of day. I have to watch my step carefully with this one. Appear to punish her according to the Warlord’s law, while utilizing her for the betterment of our Sanctuary. And, if I’m being honest, I also want to explore whatever it is that draws me to her.
It’s not just sexual, though that’s certainly a part of it. I have willing women at my beck and call. I have access to the Warlord’s harem, which I occasionally take advantage of when I’m feeling the weight of my duties.
Anger surges through me as I imagine the Warlord getting his hands on this one. He would ruin her. His ability to fuck his slaves has long since passed, but he more than makes up for his lack in that area through a vicious pleasure in dominating and torturing his women.
I will have to keep her well out of his sight.
As our boat stops at the Riker’s dock, I hold a hand out to my new captive. She ignores me and attempts to climb out of the boat on her own. I take her hand anyway and pull her up onto the dock, where she stumbles against me. She gasps and pushes back, but I continue to hold her hand, forcing her to walk by my side.
I’d intended to drop her off for processing and then leave, but something about being near her compels me to go in with her. I want to make sure she’s not treated like a common criminal. She’s a criminal according to our laws, but there’s nothing common about her.
I lead her into the main building where there’s a lineup of prisoners being sent through processing. They’ll be charged, sentenced and imprisoned. When one of the prison workers sees me in line, recognizing me as his boss, he approaches. “Can we help you with something, sir?”
I nod toward the doctor. “We’re here for processing.”
“I can take her, sir,” he says, reaching for her arm. “I’m sure you have better things to do.”
I growl and yank her away from him. “No, you will not.”
He looks shaken, and I’m not surprised. When I’m not happy, things tend to end in bloodshed. I have a reputation for killing with very little provocation. It’s a well-earned reputation, but still a reputation nonetheless. It serves me to have the city’s security believe I can go off at any moment.
“I’ll take her in myself,” I grunt.
“Of course,” he says, still somewhat pale, but less concerned for his life. “Right this way, sir.”
He leads us out of the line and we follow him through a set of doors and into the main processing area where we’re taken to a private room. I push my captive into a chair and pace the room, my arms folded over my chest, my eyes on her.
Why am I still here? I have many duties to attend. The Warlord is planning a massive parade in his own honour and I’m expected to handle security. The man’s ego won’t allow him to understand the enormous security risk he’s taking. He believes that he’s beloved throughout his city, when really, he’s feared. And that fear is because of me. If the citizens see him for who he is, they will revolt and I’ll have to step in.
“Why are you here?” the doctor asks curiously, twisting in her seat to look at me.
“You’ve done your job, you’ve arrested me. Don’t you have better things to do than babysit a female rebel?” She sneers the word ‘female’, which means she’s aware of my reputation for arresting women and forcing them into our indenture program.
Not a great way to start a relationship.
I make the decision almost without conscious thought. I’d half fallen for the woman when I’d heard of her reputation. I’d gotten sucked in further when I started watching her, but now? After meeting her in person? I’m intrigued. And I keep the things that intrigue me nearby until I understand what it is about them that captures my interest.
I think I’m going to keep Dr. Sheela Summers. See what this feeling is all about. If I’m wrong and she turns out to be more trouble than she’s worth, I can turn her over to the system and let them put her into one of our programs.
“No, I have nothing better to do,” I say, my lips stretching into a smile for the first time in a long time. She stares at me like I’m a zombie about to take a bite out of her. Good, her fear will keep her from doing something stupid. I may not be quite as ruthless as my reputation implies, but I’m no pushover. Life with me won’t be easy for the beautiful doctor and it’s best if she gets a taste now, before I decide to keep her forever.