Ciao, amici! I have an embarrassing story to share. Why would I share something that makes me look bad? Because in hindsight, it’s kind of funny. And it also leads into my surprise. (Although, based on the title of this blog, my news shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone now.)
Not long ago, my publisher asked me about cover images for three upcoming company releases. I’d only edited two of them (I happen to be an editor for my publishing house… long story. Actually, I guess it’s not that long. I both write and edit for them. Now you’re caught up.) In a meeting with the whole company—not a private chat or a memo with a couple of people, but with the ENTIRE staff—I told him I only knew two of the works and couldn’t help with the third.
There was a small pause, then he asked which one I didn’t know, as he thought I’d worked on all of them. I confidently insisted I’d never seen The Scout.
There was a longer pause that time. Then he said, “Staci, you wrote that one.”
You know the shade of red of a ripe raspberry? I’m certain my cheeks were darker.
Go ahead. Laugh at me. I’ll wait.
Here’s the part that made my cheeks go from embarrassed red to frustrated scarlet. In a PRIVATE conversation with me, he told me it was no big deal that I forgot. He said when people write as much and as fast as we do, we’re bound to forget about things we haven’t seen in a while.
Yep. In a private message. Why couldn’t the two be reversed? Or better yet, not have happened to me at all?
But these embarrassing situations led to something good. Namely, the surprise release of another story I wrote.
This is the second time my publisher has released something of mine earlier than I expected. It pays to be ahead of schedule on writing and editing. It means you can slip into empty slots anytime one pops up.
It also means you have to scramble to prepare marketing materials.
I’m not doing the tour-thing for this. It’s a short story, not a novel, and it’s… different than my series.
Were you a fan of Twilight Zone? Do you currently enjoy Black Mirror? If those are your kinds of stories, I’m talking to you.
Let me introduce… The Scout.
The Scout is part of the Invasion Universe. It’s technically even part of the Astral Conspiracy series. But it doesn’t take place in the not-so-distant future. Instead, it takes place in the past. WAY in the past.
Fans of The Gate may not see the immediate relationship between the two works, but I promise you, if you stick with the series, the payoff is worth it. In the meantime, this story reads like a standalone, so it’s the perfect way to dip a toe into the speculative side of the Invasion Universe.
The aliens have landed. The humans are panicking. The scouts have been sent.
J’s mission is clear — find an alien outpost, observe, report back. Simple enough. It’s what he’s trained to do. But he’s always worked with his team, never as a party of one. Now he’s been sent out alone to blindly navigate a dense, dark forest until he finds his target. The dynamics are foreign to him, the stakes never higher. Resources are scarce. Comms are down.
And he’s found the enemy.
J is shocked when everyone’s true allegiances are revealed. And the consequences of betrayal will be deadly.
If you’d like more information, you can find an extended blurb and six teasers at the story’s dedicated page on my site.
And if you’re ready to read it, just click the universal purchase link.
I hope you were as excited (and much less embarrassed) by this surprise release as I was. And if you read it, I look forward to hearing what you think.
Remember, this is a Dark Crossings story—a prequel to The Gate. Regular Astral Conspiracy series releases resume this fall. I’ll keep you posted on those. (I just got edits back today, so book two is around the corner!)
Have a great day, everybody. Arrivederci!