A blog where Stephanie M. Belser test-drives her fictional stories.
Expect the occasional
"stall, spin, crash & burn".

Sunday, April 28, 2019


Not this, by the way:

Being older than dirt, I remember when "brands" were names such as Hershey's, Levi's, Proctor & Gamble, Maytag and so on. But now, a "brand" is everything. The esteemed law firm of Boyd, Dewey, Cheatham & Howe is a brand. And so, it seems, am I.

The "experts" say that a brand should post frequently. I didn't post anything at all in 2018 and this is #3 for 2019.

So I guess I get an "F" for self-promotion. Which, in a way, suits me. I'm from both a time and an area of the country where self-promotion was deemed to be beneath an honest person. Self-promotion was the domain of used-car dealers and storefront loan joints.

Of all the things in life I'm not good at, I can take this one.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Chapter Seven of "The Jamokan Affair"

That's the title that I have settled on, for now.
I followed Sheila Ellis out of Holmes’s office. Ellis was maybe 5’6” and appeared to be Asian. I don’t know the differences between the different nations of East Asia to be able to tell where she or her people were from. Didn’t much care.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Medical,” she said.

And Medical was where we went. They had a nearly-complete copy of my medical record already. I was inspected, injected, detected, infected and made to drink some pretty vile stuff. They ran me through some sort of whole-body scanner. Then it was off to dental, where they fixed two nascent cavities. The tech said that my teeth were discolored enough for the outer worlds, which didn’t sound like a compliment.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Writing Fiction; Social Responsibility or Self-Censorship?

I like to write fiction. For various reasons (health, family, other projects), I haven't been doing a lot of it recently. But I keep thinking of story ideas.

Here's the issue: What if I come up with a great idea, a method of doing X, with "X" being a crime of some nature, that, as far as I know, has not been written about, much less attempted. What if, as I envision it, X all hangs together? It would not be a perfect crime, as in either undetectable or one where the perps cannot be proven to have done the crime.

But it might work, as in the perps would be able to pull it off. Do I write it up and publish it somewhere. Do I have a moral responsibility if somebody takes that idea and tries to use it, not for a story, but for a crime?

I kind of, sort of, think that I do. Which is why I have ideas for stories that will never be hammered out on a keyboard. I might commit them to paper, but in the traditional "ink on paper" sense, not in the "type into a word-processing program" sense. But you, Gentle Reader, will never see them. At least, not from me.

For those are the times that we live in.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


I've got two novels underway. Recently, all I've managed to do is reread and revise what I've done. I'm not making any real headway on either.

On the other hand, it's not as though I've been making any serious money at this.

Anyway, Happy Holidays. And follow the Bangor Rules.

Friday, June 30, 2017

More SF

Points of Impact, the sixth book in the series, can now be pre-ordered.

It's due out in January, so if you haven't read #1 through #5, you have time.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Chapter 6 of "No Working Title Yet"

Well, that's not for certain. I have a couple of titles in mind. In my computer's directory, it's titled "Project 8". Earlier projects include a work that I got about three chapters into and then I lost interest. There are a couple of completed first drafts. One of which I printed out-- the hard copy has enough red marks in it to almost use up an ink pen.

But that's neither here nor there, I guess. So, without further ado:

Chapter Six:

Two hours later, there were scraping noises and a little bit of thumping. The door at the front of the cabin opened and the same woman came out. She went to what I now presumed to be an airlock, opened the inner door and stepped inside. Then she opened the outer door and came back into the cabin.

“Thank you for flying with Fakawi Spacelines, have a nice day, buh-bye,” she said with a grin. Then she went back wherever she had come from.

“Seriously? ‘Fakawi Spacelines’,” I asked, as we went to the lockers to get my baggage.

Amy shrugged. “Spacers are weird. It’s a really boring job, most of the time.”

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Chapter 5 of "No Working Title Yet"

The alarm shrilled at 0230. I felt pretty well rested. I got up, brushed my teeth, made a pass through my hair with an travel brush and got dressed. Everything was packed away five minutes before Amy showed up. She was right on time.

“I imagine that one doesn’t leave tips for housekeeping, here,” I said.

“That’s right. You ready,” she asked.

“Lead on,” I said.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Chapter 4 of "No Working Title Yet"

“Are you hungry,” Amy asked.

“I can eat,” I said.

“OK, then let’s get something,” she said. Still playing Sherpa, she towed my suitcase and laptop bag behind her, as I followed. By my watch, it was well after 2PM. ‘I can eat’ was an understatement.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Chapter 3

I stayed late that evening, finishing up reports and clearing my desk.  Some things I wasn’t able to do, so I just sent them back to my supervisor with a note that he needed to pass them off.  I didn’t tell him anything about my assignment, for if he hadn’t been told by the brass, he didn’t have a need to know.  Compartmentalization is the rule in this game.

When I went home, I packed. Since the sheet had said “light industrial”, I packed a pair of steel-toe  flight deck boots from a job on an aircraft carrier.  Short and long sleeved work shirts, all cut with some extra room. Jeans and work pants.

My personal gun selection was not huge.  If I need something specialized, I normally can draw it from the armory at work or in the field.  In a pocket under the laptop, I stowed a 4” .357 in a holster, along with 50 rounds of heavy magnum rounds, 50 rounds of 9mm hollowpoints, and 20 round of .38 wadcutters.  The 9mm ammo was for a Smith & Wesson Ladysmith, the wadcutters for a Smith & Wesson Airweight.  I dropped in two magazines for the 9mm, two speed loaders for the .357 and a couple of extra speed strips.  Then I packed pens, two small notebooks and a digital camera.

Monday, October 5, 2015

New Project, Ch. 2

I should have put this up months ago.  My apologies.

Chapter 2

The following morning, I was at my desk, blue-penciling some reports.  Actually, I was using a red ink pen, but you get the idea.  The phone rang, I picked it up.

“This is Rebecca,” I said.

“This is Shirley.  The Boss wants to see you, forthwith.”

“On the way,” I said and hung up.  There is only one ‘Shirley’ in the company, and that’s the boss’s executive assistant.  Everyone other Shirley has to also use their last names.  ‘Forthwith’, a long time ago, was NYPD-speak for ‘right the fuck now’.   It had spread throughout the security industry.

I put on my office blazer and headed for the elevator bank.  The executive offices are on the eighth floor of the office building that THI, Inc. occupies.  I pushed the up button.  When the elevator came, I got on the car, held my fob next to the sensor, and pushed the button for the eighth floor.  Supposedly, if one doesn’t have a need to go to the 8th floor, the elevator won’t go there, but I’ve never tried that out.  They pay me well enough to make me not want to test the boundaries.

The eighth floor was nicer, of course.  The pictures on the wall were either limited-edition photographic prints or real paintings.  The carpeting was of higher grade and the lighting was friendlier.   They weren’t trying to imply that the company was made of low-rent private dicks out of a thirties’ noir flick.  THI was a serious player in the security industry, an industry that had grown dramatically with the influx of homeland-security money following the 9-11 attacks.  I’d been working for them for quite awhile, now.

I came around a corner to where the Boss’s office was.  His name was Samuel Hawkins.  He and his partner had formed the company twenty or so years back, when they combined their practices.  I’d never met the partner.

A secretary was sitting at a desk outside of the office.  I didn’t know her name, but she saw me and picked up her phone to announce me.  She listened, hung up, and told me to take a seat.  Which I did.

Five minutes later, she told me to go in. I did.  The Boss has a corner office, of course, with windows that overlooked the northern Virginia countryside.  There was a slight tint to them from a coating that was both reflective to the outside and shatter-resistant.  Mr. Hawkins stood up from his desk, came around and shook hands.

“Nice to see you, Becca.  You still take a little cream in your coffee,” he asked.

“Sure do, Boss.”

Mr. Hawkins was in his sixties, and, at six feet even, had probably shrunk an inch or two from his prime.  He kept himself in shape and he had a slim automatic pistol on his belt.  It looked like a pre-plastic Smith, but I didn’t ask.  He spun the phone on his desk around, pushed a button, and instructed his secretary to bring both he and I coffee.

“Come, sit,” he said, and motioned me to a corner of his office.  There were three overstuffed brown leather chairs around a low table.  A credenza was alongside the wall, with another phone.  I took a seat and noticed that there was a file folder on the table.

“How’s your hip these days,” he asked.

“OK, mostly,” I said.  “It does a pretty good job of forecasting the weather.”  I had been on a security detail when the escort car that I was riding had been t-boned by a truck to open the ball on an ambush/assassination attempt.  The assassination failed, no thanks to me, for the crash had damn near killed me.

The secretary came in, set up the coffee and, with a nod towards the door from Mr. Hawkins, she left.  I had heard that he, or his executive assistant, rotated his secretaries to prevent additional office politics.

“Would you mind going out for a little field work,” he asked.  “It would be investigative, not protection work.  And there would be travel, within CONUS.”

I sipped some of my coffee.  “Is this an order or an ask?”

“An ask.  Purely voluntary.  You’re medically off field status.”

“Did they say what I’d be investigating, Boss?”

“No.  They’ll fly you to a briefing and then they’ll make their pitch.  You’ll be paid for a week to go hear them out and decide.  Transportation each way.”  He opened the folder, took out a sheet of paper, and handed to me.

The sheet was what was known as the “deal sheet”.  The customer was ETGT&E Enterprises, a Nevada corporation.  They didn’t give the location, but they described it as “mainly indoors, light industrial and associated office, temperate climate.”  There was a notation for a contract bonus, termination fee, and a line that said “no weapons”.

 I glanced at Mr. Hawkins. “What’s this ‘contract bonus’ and ‘termination fee’ mean?”

“It means that they want the option to hire you and they’ll pay us a hefty fee if they do.”

“No guns, huh.”

The Boss smiled.  “You know the company line on that.”

I did.  If the customer wanted us to come unarmed, we brought two guns.  I read further, the duration was up to one month.  That wasn’t a problem.  My bills all came to work.  The arrangement was that on a trip, they’d be paid by the company and then what was personal would be settled up afterwards.  My pay was direct-deposit, my condo fees, mortgage and utilities were on an autopay.

“It says ‘travel TBD’?”

He took out another sheet and handed it to me.  “You’re to be at Signature at Dulles at ten tomorrow.  Come in around eight and park your car here, I’ll have a driver run you out there.”

“So, to sum up: I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, where I’m going or what I’ll be doing when I get there,” I said.

“Pretty much.”

“Normal field rates,” I asked.

The Boss shook his head.  “No, they’re paying extra for giving us the mushroom treatment.  Quadruple the normal rate.”

My eyes probably widened at that.  “I’ll bring an extra gun and body armor.”

“Probably a good idea.” He moved to get out of the chair, and so did I.  “Good luck, Becca,” he said, sticking out his hand.

“Morituri te salutamus,” I said.

“Let’s hope not,” he said.