Stop me if you've heard this one. Two assassins walk into a bar...

A Crossover Character Interview between Zima and Charon, two assassins who may be a little to similar for their own health. Also book reviews, BayCon, book lists, and more!

Picture from a restaurant counter of an incredible array of sake bottles. A chef works on the right.
Shibumi. Los Angeles, CA

Speaking of bars, the feature image is from the bar at Shibumi in LA. If you've never been there and you have a few extra bucks burning a hole in your wallet, treat yourself. You won't regret it. And if you like sake, get the sake pairing. Heavenly!

That said, it's nice to be back home in Pacifica. My wife and I have been playing way too much Diablo IV. We're also car shopping for our youngest. His first car! Hopefully we'll lock in on one this week. Car shopping is... draining, especially in this market.

This month's feature is another crossover character interview between two assassins from different books: Zima and Charon. It... didn't go quite like I planned, but nobody died, so I consider it a win. You can find the entire interview below.

For anyone curious, I gathered my May WritingWonders posts into a single blog for easy consumption. Check it out for some provocative Q&A around Enigma (Lost Colonies Book 1), releasing later this year. I'm also participating in June WritingWonders, this time about The Z-Tech Chronicles. It's spoiler free and full of more thought-provoking questions that really help flesh out the series, whether you've read it or not.

New Denver's release is imminent. BayCon attendees (July 1-4) will have first crack at this second installment in the Timeless Keeper Saga, with the general release in early August, so if you're in the Bay Area, stop by and say Hi! I'll be in the dealer's room all four days. That also means the cover reveal is coming soon, so keep a close eye on your inboxes over the next few days for José del Nido's latest art masterpiece.

In this newsletter

  • Crossover Character Interview – Zima and Cappa x Charon
  • Free Books, Sales, and Events
  • Currently Reading
  • Other Authors You Might Like

Crossover Character Interview

Zima and Cappa from The Z-Tech Chronicles interview Charon from Dragon Assassin

Like most interviews, this one went in a completely different direction than I imagined. I'm only glad the two assassins didn't end up killing each other, although they might have if Cappa hadn't stepped in.

Where did things go wrong? Read on.


ZIMA: Welcome to—

CHARON: (reaches for the pistol inside her jacket)

ZIMA: (draws two pistols before Charon can blink) Hold, I am not your enemy. I wish only to talk.

CHARON: Right. How did I get here? Who sent you? Are you Guild?

ZIMA: An inter-dimensional transportation device; Cappa sent me because she believed you would be more willing to speak with someone of your own profession; and no.

CHARON: And what profession is that?

ZIMA: (head-cocks) You do not know?







CAPPA: (walks in and huffs) Egad! Zima, she’s just as infuriatingly tight-lipped as you. Left to your own devices, this would be the most boring interview in history. (Sits across from Charon) Hi, I’m Cappa. You must be Charon. I’m delighted to meet you!


CAPPA: Seriously? How often does one get to speak with a bona fide dragon! Your human form is simply divine, by the—

CHARON: (begins morphing into a blue serpentine dragon)

CAPPA: Whoa, whoa! No need for that, my dear. Besides, you wouldn’t find Zima or me particularly tasty. A little too much iron for your diet, I think.


CAPPA: That… might be the most pathetic roar I’ve ever heard. Or are you trying to speak?


CAPPA: Gee, thanks for clearing that up. (sighs) I never thought I’d resort to this, but… Zima, a little help here?

ZIMA: I suggest an immediate retreat.

CAPPA: Retreat? You?

ZIMA: She appears to be a dragon.

CAPPA: You knew that coming in here!

ZIMA: I acknowledged your claim, but I did not believe it. (edges toward the door) Victory is not assured. Send the creature back. Now.

CHARON: Rawrar?

CAPPA: Sweetie, we don’t speak dragonese, so if you’d like to chat, you’re going to need to change into something less toothy. And if I may suggest… do it slowly. Zima tends to shoot things that startle her. Mark once bought her a jack-in-the-box as a gag gift, and let me tell you, all the king’s horses didn’t have a prayer of putting that poor toy back together.

CHARON: (snorts) (shrinks to human form)

CAPPA: Ah, much better! And might I say… different. Wasn’t your skin a darker color when you arrived?

ZIMA: And your breasts larger.

CAPPA: Zima! Really…

CHARON: This is my native human form. I’m Mongolian by birth.

CAPPA: Well you look lovely regardless of cup size. (glares at Zima) And thank you for opening up. Being an alternate universe, this is a safe space, so you can tell us anything without worry of it slipping out. Okay?

CHARON: Not remotely.

CAPPA: Oh joy, this is going to be one of those interviews. But when life gives you lemons, make limoncello, I always say!

ZIMA: You do not.

CAPPA: Hush. Anyhoo… Charon, tell us more about this shape-shifting ability that seems to thumb its nose at the laws of physics. How does it work? What else can you change into?

CHARON: Is she always this perky?

ZIMA: Yes, and persistent. I have found the best way to quickly end the conversation is to answer her questions as simply as possible.

CAPPA: That’s why you only give me one-word answers? Why didn’t you tell me!

ZIMA: You did not ask.

CAPPA: I… (runs a hand down her face) We’re going to have a long talk about social etiquette later. Charon?

CHARON: Don’t know how it works, except that it takes a lot of energy. The only reason I’m in my natural form right now is because I didn’t have the stamina to change into anything else.

CAPPA: Can you change into animals?

CHARON: Only humans, but almost any human I can imagine.

ZIMA: Males?

CHARON: Only females.

CAPPA: Too bad, that would have been fun!

CHARON: (squirms uncomfortably)

CAPPA: Ahem. So, how about that dragon form? Can you fly? I didn’t see any wings.

CHARON: No, I’m a water dragon. Half-dragon, actually. I swim faster than anything in the sea.

ZIMA: What is the difference between a half-dragon and a full one?

CHARON: Can’t say. Never met a full one, thankfully.

CAPPA: Thankfully? Now we’re getting to the good stuff!

ZIMA: Are they hostile?

CHARON: Yeah, from what my mom told me. I’ve been in hiding since… well, forever. Part of the reason I became…

CAPPA: An assassin?

CHARON: How did you know?

CAPPA: Unless you’re also a quantum physicist, you wouldn’t understand. So how did being a dragon—er, half-dragon, sorry, lead you to Zima’s craft?

CHARON: Might be the same reason as hers.

ZIMA: Exceedingly unlikely.

CHARON: Fair. A hundred and seventy years ago, when I was a child, I—

CAPPA: One hundred and seventy? You don’t look a day over twenty-five!

CHARON: Eh, thanks? Anyway, a… an incident at home led to a few deaths.

ZIMA: By your hand?

CHARON: All but one. I discovered then that my half-dragon nature gave me an advantage, especially back before everyone owned a gun. Assassins are also secretive. So I threw in with the local guild and never looked back.

ZIMA: Do you enjoy it?

CHARON: I’ve become numb to it. People need killing. Bad people. I have the aptitude and need a low-profile income. It works.

ZIMA: (leans forward) Do you enjoy it?

CHARON: I… no, I don’t. If I didn’t have to hide from dragons and humans alike, I might have become a fisherman. Do you enjoy it?

ZIMA: Not anymore.


CAPPA: Okay, getting a little too close to the danger zone there. Let’s pull up before we get sucked into the black hole of Zima’s past. This is about you, Charon! Tell me, do you have a boyfriend?


CAPPA: Girlfriend, then?


CAPPA: Look, please ignore what Zima said about short answers. I want details—especially around this—and I will use every technique in my extensive repertoire to get them. So are we doing this the easy way? Or do I need to get all up in your head like a beekeeper and smoke them out?

ZIMA: She is not our prisoner. If she does not wish to speak on this topic, then we should not force her.

CAPPA: That’s a one-eighty from the girl who pulled a gun on an interviewee who didn’t answer fast enough!

CHARON: I didn’t expound because there’s nothing to tell. I’m not in a relationship. Never been in one before, and never intend to. End of story.

CAPPA: Fine, but dragons do mate, right?

CHARON: Guess so. Mom had me, after all.

CAPPA: And you have working female bits, don’t you?

CHARON: Yeah. So?

CAPPA: So? So? Haven’t they ever tingled or driven you to… I don’t know, do something with someone?

CHARON: (squints) You don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, do you?

ZIMA: She does not.

CAPPA: Of course I do! Or, I’ve read about it, anyway, but that doesn’t matter. What I really want to know is how dragons do it! D-do relationships, that is. As a student of physiology, I know it drives much of what humans do and how they behave. I just can’t understand how you’ve gone almost two centuries without so much as a date!

CHARON: Maybe I’m too young. Maybe that’s a broken part of my half-dragon nature. All I know is that I’m okay on my own, and okay to continue like this. And that it seems to bother you a lot more than it does me.

CAPPA: But… Okay, fine, dash my romantic dragon fantasies against your asexual wall. And no, there’s nothing wrong with that, I just… oh, I was hoping for something juicy. Guess I’ll just have to cling to the “too young” theory and hope you’ll “awaken” sometime in the future.

CHARON: (shrugs)




CAPPA: Crap, now I’m doing it, too.

CHARON: Can I go home? My bath is waiting.

CAPPA: Of course.

CHARON: (disappears in an electric flash)

ZIMA: You did not say goodbye.

CAPPA: She wouldn’t remember it anyway. Do you… really dislike when I try to engage you in conversation?

ZIMA: It is uncomfortable, but…

CAPPA: What?

ZIMA: But I believe it would be even less comfortable if you did not try.

CAPPA: Aw, thanks! Actually, I’m glad you said that, because I just bought a new karaoke machine that we can… What are you doing?

ZIMA: Searching for the dimensional activation switch. I prefer to take my chances against the dragon.

CAPPA: You know it doesn’t work that way. Come on, I’ll sing you a few of my favorite songs. We can do a duet!

ZIMA: Charon, if you can hear me, I would like to open an emergency contract on a karaoke machine.

CAPPA: I bet we can also convince Charlie and Mark to sing bass. It’ll be great!

ZIMA: Charon, correction: destroy everything in the vicinity. I shall pay triple the going rate.

CAPPA: Har har. Quit your bellyaching and help me decide what to order from the sushi restaurant. Can’t sing without sushi. And sake! Oh, this will be epic!

ZIMA: (whimpers)


Free Books, Sales, and Events

  • July 1-4 – BayCon 2023: A Night at the Space Opera (Or It Isn’t Over Until the Space Whale Sings). It's almost here! See me and Star Trek's Robert Picardo, along with a host of other artists and authors. I'll be in the dealer's room every day. Waiting. For you.
  • June – Sci Fi and Fantasy Mega Sale. Huge selection of discounted titles. This list has something for everyone, although its seems light on romance (i.e. all the guys have shirts).
  • June – Pride SFF Reads. "Fancy SFF reads for Pride Month?" Sounds like even the list organizer isn't sure, although many of the covers do look fancy. YMMV.

Currently Reading

Gideon the Ninth

I'm 3 chapters in and already I can't say enough good things about this book. I've highlighted more passages so far than I do in the entirety of most other books. Clever writing. Witty dialogue. Snarky female protagonist. Dark humor. Great pacing. Unique setting and storyline. "Not afraid to go there."

I have very high hopes for the rest of the story.

Learn more

Scatter - Pride Month Special

I've read (and written) books with LGBTQ+ content before. Scatter, however, taught me the difference between stories with LGBTQ+ content, and LGBTQ+ stories.

Scatter is first and foremost a lesbian novel. Being my first dip into that pool, I was surprised just how deeply it went. Men may as well not exist in this story. Every woman is model-worthy, unabashedly gay, and probably a superhero or equivalent. The only thought on any woman's mind is other women. Full stop.

In second place comes romance. The story is slice-of-life-ish because it off-cameras action scenes that other superhero novels would focus on (except for their powers, which it explains to the nth degree) in favor of the intimate, everyday moments that build the relationship between protagonists. Being a slice-of-life fan myself, I found this refreshing.

Lastly, it's a superhero novel, for the same reasons mentioned above. That said, superhero fans won't be disappointed by the larger-than-life plots, epic fights, and creative superpowers, just expect to find them squeezed in between the more sentimental scenes.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I gave it 3 stars instead of 4 mostly because it felt unbalanced, which detracted from the immersion, along with some style mechanics that continually took me out of the story. Still recommended if the tropes above are your thing.

Learn more

Other Authors You Might Like

Another Life

Finding out who you were in a previous life sounds like fun until you're forced to grapple with the darkness of the past. Galacia Aguirre is Mediator of Otra Vida, a quasi-utopian city on the shores of a human-made lake in Death Valley. She resolves conflicts within their sustainable money-free society, and keeps the outside world from meddling in their affairs. When a scientific method of uncovering past lives emerges, Galacia learns she's the reincarnation of Thomas Ramsey, leader of the Planet B movement, who eschewed fixing climate change in favor of colonizing another planet. Learning her reincarnation result shakes the foundations of Galacia's identity and her position as Mediator, threatening to undermine the good she's done in this lifetime. Fearing a backlash, she keeps the results secret while dealing with her political rival for Mediator, and outsiders who blame Otra Vida for bombings that Galacia is sure they had nothing to do with. But under the unforgiving sun of Death Valley, secrets have a way of coming to light.

Learn more

My Books

The Z-Tech Chronicles

In the face of a rising, ancient evil, a traumatized San Francisco waitress may be the only thing standing between humanity and oblivion.

The Z-Tech Chronicles is a science fiction / urban fantasy saga that follows Anne Perrin on her journey from a traumatized waitress to becoming more than she ever imagined.

Learn more

Other Books

One Man's Trash – a cozy science fiction romance in the Truck Stop at the Center of the Galaxy universe.

Holtondome (Timeless Keeper Saga Book 1) – A farmer-to-hero science fiction / dystopian adventure set 500 years in the future. Book 2 coming soon!

Dragon Assassin – A steamy contemporary shifter romance adventure. With dragons!