Changes – This is Me

You may have noticed that I’ve recently changed a few things about my blog lately after being absent for quite a while. Life, as always, is crazy, but I want to share why I’ve decided to make these changes. Let me tell you about me.

I don’t remember learning how to read, it’s just something that has been part of me for as long as I can remember. Books have been such a large part of my life, they make up the core of who I am. I have been writing nearly as long. I dictated my first stories to my mother who kindly wrote them for me and then moved on to writing them myself. There was nothing that I enjoyed more than getting lost in a good book or creating a story.

When I was fifteen, I finished my first novel. With all the brash enthusiasm of teenagers, I sent my book off into the world to be published. I made the mistake of choosing Tate Publishers to send my book to, a company that I later found out did not have a great reputation. After waiting months to hear back and being told repeatedly that everything looked good, I received an email saying that they could publish my book….. for four thousand dollars. I was crushed, naturally, for what teenager has 4k just lying around. Also, at no point was any discussion of payment brought up, so I felt blindsided and betrayed. Looking back now, I know that this was a rather naive way of viewing the world, but it set off events that changed my life for the next fifteen years.

After receiving this email, I swore that I would never show anyone my writing ever again. Again, teenagers are so dramatic! And I was a terribly shy teenager so having summoned the courage to share my writing, this made it’s rejection all the more painful. (I think I had some wild idea of becoming the next J. K. Rowling or Christopher Paolini, an overnight sensation with people begging to read my books. I don’t know, time has passed since then.) From that day forward, I never shared my writing with anyone, not even my family, although thankfully I never stopped writing.

Years passed and I finished high school and then college, before moving into the workforce, landing my dream job as a librarian. Throughout this time, people had told my that my writing was great, although I never showed them the stories that I wrote, just college and workplace assignments. Office politics happened and I ended up quitting my job as a librarian and becoming a full time essential oil wellness advocate for doTERRA essential oils. This allowed me to travel to Guatemala and Nepal as well as meet some incredible people. I know, you’re wondering why I’m telling you this, but it’ll become relevant later, I promise.

Two years ago, in September 2017, I got fed up with living my life in fear. I challenged myself to write a mystery and publish it in time for Halloween. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write the mystery and a six book series popped into my head! And thus, The Seeker Files were born. I did manage to write the first novel in a month and publish it, but I was soooooo burnt out, lol. Since then, I’ve written and published the second book and recently finished writing the third book in the series. (It is now in the editing stages, which I admit takes a bit longer. Editing is not in my wheelhouse, lol). All of this was done under the name Kat Seaholm

Fast forward to May of this year. I am still with doTERRA essential oils and right now, the company is really focused on something called Gallup or Clifton Strengths. If you don’t know what that is, check it out, it is totally amazing and life changing! https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/

I ended up taking the full 34 strengths test and it was life changing for me. It allowed me to see that there was nothing broken or wrong with me, that I was simply being ME. By learning about these strengths and how to use them properly instead of holding me back, it was life changing. It was like finally being able to breathe deeply after holding my breath for all of my life. It give me permission to be me fully, without shame or regret. And this is when I realized, that even though I had published my book, I was still living in fear. I was afraid to put myself out there, fully and totally, was hiding behind a pen name using a plethora of excuses as to why it was a good idea or why people would hate me. And I’m tired of it. So I’m currently working on rebranding everything under my real name.

So goodbye Kat Seaholm. You were good to me, you helped me get past my initial fears and to actually get my work out there. But it’s time to let you go and to step boldly out so people can get to know the real me, with all my quirkiness and rough edges.

Hello! I want to invite you to get to know me, the real me. My name is Katie Holmburg. My mother loves Irish names, so my name originally was going to be Kathleen, but as my middle name is Colleen (I’m the third generation to have Colleen as a middle name and love it), it was decided that Kathleen Colleen was too many een’s so I ended up with Katherine instead. But I am and always will be a Katie, not a Kathy or a Kate or even Kat, but simply Katie.

I turn 30 tomorrow. I know that this is a big milestone for a lot of people, but I am so grateful to be turning 30. I feel like I am just beginning to hit my stride in life, to figure out who I really am.

I am happily single and enjoying life. I have waaaaay too many cats (8) but wouldn’t get rid of a single one. I am about a year away from getting my black belt in International Kenpo Karate Jiu-Jitsu or IKKJ and love being a martial artist. My mom doesn’t understand how it is that her only daughter is the one who took up martial arts or writes murder mysteries instead of one of her three boys, but she loves me anyway.

I love to write and I love to read, but I hate grammar and it hates me back. I still have the first novel I wrote, but it needs a serious overhaul and is NOT a part of The Seeker Files. I’m still figuring out the part of being a writer/publisher/wearer of all hats, but I learn something new everyday. But I know that my characters will always have a story to tell and need someone to tell it, a.k.a. me.

So thank you for being part of my journey so far. And I hope that you continue the journey with me as I continue writing The Seeker Files and discovering Aletta and Lirim’s story. As I discover who I am and share it with the world.

Happy Friday!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEJd2RyGm8Q

This is Me

Featured post

Book Update!

So, exciting news!

I can’t remember if I told you all here, but I’ve been struggling for several months to make any progress at all on Book 4: In Search of Pack. It’s been a total slog, painful to get more than a sentence or two on the page before I abandon it again to try again the next day.

However, since I’ve discovered my true writing style (Discovery Gardener, woot woot!), I’ve been making forward progress again. It’s been a little bit slow, as I’m having to deal with the slow/stilted parts, but I’m finally moving forward with the story and I’m truly curious to discover what Aletta and Lirim have gotten themselves into this time.

If things continue going this well, there might very well be a summertime release in my future. Fingers crossed!

Happy Monday Everyone!

We are strong together!

How I Write

How do I write?

Earlier this week, I shared about how I had found out that I was a discovery writer, about how freeing that was for me. So I thought that I would share a little about how the process looks like and works for me, especially now that I know what my strengths are.

So, before I found out what my writing style, this is what it would look like, especially the past month.

I would sit down, turn on my computer, and pull up my main novel and the fanfiction story that I was working on. I would then also pull up the outline that I had created for both. I’d skim over my outline, maybe changing a couple of words here and there, add a sentence to flesh out something that I’d thought of as I thought over while thinking of the story. And then I’d skim the last, oh, thousand words or so in order to spark the memory of where I’d left the scene. Once I was satisfied that I knew where I was and where I was going, I’d start a new paragraph. But this was a struggle. I’d write a sentence, maybe half a sentence, before going over and fiddling with my music, or checking my email, or facebook. Basically, anything to ignore the flashing cursor that appeared to be mocking me.

Meanwhile, I was inwardly very frustrated, even as I sought to distract myself. I knew where the story was going, what the characters were supposed to be doing, so why weren’t the words coming. I would return to the page and just stare at it, begging for my brain to produce something, anything. But the words simply wouldn’t come. So I would go and journal a little bit or work on a story that was ‘just for me’ and thus I didn’t care about it being perfect or well thought out. I would write anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand words on it and then move on for the day. I’d return to my novel, and still, absolutely nothing. Promising myself that I would get my goal finished tomorrow and make up for today as well. Then I would go and do my daily chores, wishing that I could’ve gotten more done. My frustration and self loathing grew. I am a writer, I have been writing all my life, people enjoy my writing, so why was storytelling so hard and unrewarding for me of late?

Then I learned my writing style. I’m a Discovery Gardener. This means that I have to discover the story alongside my characters. My world and self image of myself as a writer tipped on their side, but I was so tired of being frustrated that I was willing to give it a try. And to be honest, it just felt right.

So here’s how my writing looks like now.

First, I threw away all of my outlines. Every single one. I might’ve heard my characters cheering, but that might’ve just been me, lol. I gave myself 24 hours without writing to allow my brain to clear out and remove all the expectations and must haves. I didn’t HAVE to do anything but go along for the ride.

The next morning, I sat down nervously at the computer. Would this work? Or would it not? Still, I wouldn’t be any worse off than I was before and I would just need to keep looking to find what works for me. I pulled up my novel, the one that I’ve been stonewalled on for the past several months, that would be the best test after all. Having thrown all plans out of the window, I had no idea where it was going. So, taking a depth breath, I quickly skimmed the last paragraph (It wouldn’t do any good to start in a completely random place, lol). And then, I put my hands on the keyboard and started to write. And the words came! It wasn’t the painful task of trying to pull a story from someone. Instead, it was like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a friend and listening to what was going on with their life. It was almost like my character was relieved, like she was saying, ‘Finally! Now that you’re actually listening to me, here’s what happened.’

But not only was I writing again, I was happy. There was no stress, no hiding and avoiding, there were simply words telling the story. Finally, the story reached a natural pause, so I called it good for the day. I was satisfied with the progress that I had made. There were no grand revelations, no great progress, but my characters got to eat a very nice omelet and have an overdue discussion. Not what I expected, but it did move the story forward and gave me a bit more depth of my characters to work with. And it fit, it didn’t have to be forced into the story, it was just naturally part of it. And that’s when I knew, I had found my style and it worked for me.

So here’s what my writing routine looks like now. I sit down eager at my computer and pull up my writing site. I might have a story in mind for the day or I might be following wherever the wind takes me. Then I pull up my top 3-4 stories (Oh, who am I kidding, it’s more like 10-12, those plot bunnies can be vicious) and I skim through them until I find one that sparks my imagination. Then I write on that until I either hit the end of the chapter or reach the point where the story runs out for the moment. Then I’ll repeat the process, until I’ve easily written between 3-5k words on average. Are they all good words? No. Will they all be kept? Again, no. But they are there on the page and I always get to find out something new about my stories and characters.

There’s still a hint of frustration here and there, sometimes I really want to work on one story but another will hijack my attention entirely. And I’m sure that I will run into more roadblocks and obstacles that I currently have no idea exist. But I am happy once again and my stories are moving forward.

So find out what works for you and don’t let anyone tell you that there is a “right” or “wrong” way of doing things. Just do it “YOUR” way.

I would love to hear about your writing styles and routines, what frustrates you or brings you joy.

Happy Writing and Happy Wednesday!

We are strong together!

Need… Sleep…

June 2nd

Hello Everyone!

I see that we’ve all made it through the first day of June. After the year that we’ve had so far, that seems to be quite an accomplishment. It’s quite hot where I live, mid-90’s, which is like midsummer heat for our part of the country. Because of this little heat wave, I’m trying to get my sleeping schedule turned around. Usually I’m a night owl and I get going for all my daily chores and stuff about 10-11 in the morning. However, it’s already much too hot by that time, so I’ve been working on getting up at five a.m. this week so I can get all of my farm/outside chores done while it’s still cool.

Because of this, I’m quite a bit sleep deprived and loopy, lol. So, tell me, what are your secrets to getting up early and/or having energy? I need some advice/help here, seriously.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you!

We are strong together!

I am a Gardener

Hey Everyone,

I know that I’ve been rather quiet lately, as happens sometimes. The world has been in turmoil of course, with the pandemic and everything else going on. But I’m not going to discuss that today, as many people, some of the much more qualified than me are already talking about it. But I haven’t been quiet because of that, writing has actually been a great solace to me during these uncertain times. No, I have been quiet because I was deeply unhappy with myself and my writing.

Now, according to my Clifton strengths assessment, I am a person who needs to think things over deeply and process them before I can move forward and share them with other people. And everyone, I highly recommend doing your strengths assessment. I can’t even begin to describe the freedom that knowing my strengths gave me. It let me be free to be who I really am, that I am a uniquely beautiful, strong person, not just some weirdo (although I’m still odd and a nerd, lol. But I’m ok with that 🙂 ). So over the past month, I’ve been digging into why I’m so unhappy with my writing, why there is just no ‘spark’, no joy when I wrote, it was just a slog.

After some discussion with my mom (who is an amazing, incredible woman), she asked me a question that really got me to thinking. I write both fanfiction and original fiction. So why was my fanfiction doing so well while I was struggling so badly with my original fiction? I’ve received good feedback on both, I don’t really spend more time on one versus the other, nor do I make money on either of them (I really need to learn to market myself better so that I can give up my day job, lol). This made me really think, delve deep into all the little subconscious things that we all do on a daily basis

I’ve written all my life, it’s part of my very identity. So why had it become such a joyless slog for me? I had been working really hard to up my game, working on figuring out where my writing and characters were going, creating a road map, if you will. I’d been listening to other writers and joining groups so that I could glean wisdom from those who have gone ahead of me. So why was it getting increasingly hard to put words on paper, to tell the stories that I had started with such joy? Why was I so unhappy with my writing?

I do a lot of my writing on a site called 4thewords. It’s a site that allows me to gamify my writing by battling monsters while I write and encourages me to write at least 444 words daily to keep my streak. Having that streak motivates me to write daily (I can be a very competitive person, lol), which is definitely a good thing. It also helps me connect with a wonderful community of writers worldwide. So two days ago, while I was still mentally grappling with all of this and struggling to write, I went to browse through forums to see what topics people were discussing (Avoiding writing? I would never! I was doing, um, research. Yeah, that’s it, research), and I am so glad that I did.

One of the threads there said “Stop the pantser bashing”. Now, since I identify as a pantser (and since I’m as nosy as a cat some days), I decided to go ahead and click on it. That turned out to be one of the best decisions in my life. It discussed about Architects and Gardeners (think plotters and pantsers, but I like the terms architects and gardeners much better) and their different styles of writing. Now, I had never heard of these terms, but I immediately fell in love with them, as opposed to the much more Americanized plotters and pantsers. To me, architect and gardener implies creation, of things being built and grown, of beauty becoming visible to the rest of the world.

And as I read this thread, something shifted fundamentally in me. There is nothing wrong with being an architect, of having plans and blueprints all laid out and to know how everything goes together. Many writers thrive on this. Some people are even hybrids of the architect and gardener, a simple outline or something that they then allow the story to grow naturally from, a landscape architect, if you will. But in this thread, I learned about gardeners, and more specifically, something that I dubbed Discovery Gardeners. Some writers need to discover the story alongside their characters. They don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen next with the story or characters because their characters ‘Haven’t told them yet!’

Let me tell you, when I read this, I nearly wept. This was me, this nailed the sense of deep unease and dissatisfaction that I had been feeling, why I was not happy. I am a gardener, not an architect. As I sat there, kinda reeling honestly, I realized something. I was the source of my unhappiness. By trying to outline and plan and anticipate my story so I could be more productive, I was killing my productivity entirely. This is especially true with my original fiction. With my fanfiction, I was a lot more easygoing, I would simply sit down and write, see where the story took me. That is, until the past month when I started trying to figure out my story lines more. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that plotting and outlining are bad, they are very useful to many, many writers out there. But for me, that is the worst possible method out there. I need to discover the story alongside my characters, otherwise, my story is dead before it even begins.

I don’t know how deep into my hole of unhappiness that I would have dug myself if I hadn’t seen that thread. Probably quite deep as I searched and tried increasingly more structured writing methods to fix what was ‘broken’. But I thank God that I saw that post, because it gave me the permission that I needed to be me. Actually, it’s rather funny. I spent most of my teen years telling my mother that I am not and will never be like her. Since then, I have had to take back most of my words, because I am very like my mother, something that I’ve come to be very proud of. But one thing that I always disputed was that I am not a gardener. I do not like gardening, it’s a lot of weeding and planning and dirt from head to toe some days. Once I got over my revelation and sense of rightness, I had to laugh, because I AM a gardener. Well played, mom, well played. It just turns out that I’m a gardener of words rather than plants (I do not have a green thumb, lol).

So, when you write, be yourself. If you are an architect, plot and plan and build your beautiful story according to the structure that you have laid out. If you are a gardener, enjoy the journey alongside your characters as you live your stories. Even if you are somewhere in between and are a landscape architect, as I’m sure that many are, enjoy the process. You are unique and the stories that you tell can never be told by someone else. They are your stories and no one else’s.

So, I’m off to chase butterflies and pick wildflowers and see where my stories take me, because I’m a Discovery Gardener 🙂 I wish you all happiness with your writing and pray that you find your own writing style. We all have a story inside, tell yours in a way that makes you happy, no matter what others think, no matter if they tell you that it’s the wrong way of writing. You are infinitely unique, so your writing is going to be infinitely unique as well.

Happy Writing!

(P.S. If you are curious about 4thewords and want to try it out for yourself, you can get a free month using my code VXKKX33097. There’s a great community there and lots of events and challenges to keep you writing, no matter if you write 5 words a day or 5,000.)

Celebrate Achievements

Something that we don’t do nearly enough of is celebrate our achievements, be they big or little ones. People are amazing and we deserve to celebrate ourselves and others. It can be anything from ‘I did laundry today’ to ‘I ran an Ironman Triathlon’. Let’s celebrate ourselves and others. I want to hear where you won today.

In the spirit of fairness, I’ll go first.

I flew a kite today with my little brother (he’s in his 20’s, lol). It was just a nice moment of being together.

I did a progress check test for my martial arts over Zoom along with the rest of my classmates. It was nice to be part of the community and it helped me see where I was succeeding and what parts were a little bit rough. Another step on the path to black belt, it makes me happy.

This last one’s a bit happy/sad. I finished up my largest Fanfiction, put up the final chapter. This story was my first attempt at dipping my toes into The Hobbit fandom of writing. I did NOT expect how large the story would become, 35 chapters/167k words. There may be a sequel for it someday, there may not, but I’m proud of the story that it became.

Only in My Dreams: https://archiveofourown.org/works/21115682/chapters/50247068

So what’s going on in your life? What achievements have you had happen in your life? Let me know your victories so that I can celebrate them with you!

How do you de-stress?

So what do you do for fun while having to stay at home during this time of corona?

Ok, time to share something cool (and kinda nerdy) about myself. As I’m sure that many of you know, I’m a writer. I write urban fantasy and I have some books published and available for people to read.

But that’s not the cool thing. I write Fanfiction as a way to de-stress. What is fanfiction you ask? That’s where you take a story or character from an already established book (think Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings) and then write a story about it from your own perspective. Don’t like how the story ended? Rewrite it the way that you would’ve liked it to end. Want to explore a character more in-depth? Write a story about them and/or throw them into a totally different situation and try to predict how they react.

This is really fun for me, because it allows me to explore already created characters and worlds, but from my point of view. It’s been a great way to help take my mind away from the craziness that it currently our world. Also, I’ve had several people comment that it helped them de-stress and forget their problems for a little while, which made me very happy.

I mainly write in The Hobbit fandom featuring a female Bilbo Baggins, although someday I may expand beyond that into other fandoms.

Curious? Wanna check it out?

Here’s the link for my largest (currently at about 160k words), most popular fic, a “Fix-it Fic”if you will:

Only in My Dreams:
https://archiveofourown.org/works/21115682/chapters/50247068

And here is the link for a place where my various one shots land. These are story snippets that wouldn’t leave me in peace but didn’t quite have enough material for a full story by itself:

Female Bilbo Oneshots
https://archiveofourown.org/works/22775707/chapters/54423808

So what are you doing to unwind during these trying times? I’d love to hear from you!

It’s Hard

Today is May 12th.

There’s nothing really special about today, it’s just a typical Tuesday, one day in a blur of many more.

But it also means something else to me.

Two months.

That’s what this date means to me. On March 12th, I tested for my Provisional Black Belt at my dojo. Two months ago, I participated in my test and being tired at the end of it, I said brief goodbyes and headed out because I was tired and had a long drive ahead of me. After all, I would see them all next week in our usual classes.

I was wrong.

Next week, my dojo had to close in order to be compliant with Stay at Home orders, because we had a pandemic on our hands that we had no idea how Covid-19 transmission happened or what the symptoms or ultimate outcome of infection was.

Just like that, a large part of my life was gone. And I want it back. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to flatten the curve and get as much information about this disease as the next person. And my dojo did and is doing an excellent job with videos and zoom calls and even one on one video lessons to make sure that our training isn’t interrupted during this time.

But the longer we have to stay home, the more a little bit of us dies inside. Humans are social creatures, we need other people. And studies have shown that stress and depression can lower our immune system. The longer we have to stay at home and worry about normal or when can we get our jobs again, the weaker our immune systems are getting. Even our exercise is highly limited and regulated, because our gyms and dojos are closed, as well as our parks and open spaces where we could get fresh air and sunshine. Because of this, our chances of getting sick are actually increasing drastically.

I’m not saying that we should go hog wild and disregard everything. But America needs to start opening up again and letting people start resuming our normal lives, even if it is just slowly. Otherwise, we’re going to have a pandemic of a different sorts on our hands. One of suicides from depression and the inability to pay bills or feed our children. One of deaths from domestic violence where family members cannot get away from their abusers. One of deaths from strokes and heart attacks of people too scared to go to the hospital because they know that they will be locked away from their loved ones.

I know that some of you will hate me and say that I’m just willing to let people die from Covid. That’s not the truth. Every death breaks my heart. But neither am I willing to pretend that this pandemic isn’t costing innocent lives in other ways as well.

Let’s work together to find a solution and work towards a brighter, stronger future. Let’s be the beautiful, strong country that I know we are.

We are strong together!

It’s Friday Night!

So it’s Friday night, also known as the start of the weekend.

However, the world has changed. Due to Covid-19, things are no longer what they once were. Instead of going to see a movie or get a dinner with friends, we’re told to stay at home and social distance from each other.

So tonight, I’ll be attending a virtual karate class for half an hour and then I’ll probably settle in and write some more. Then, if I hit my writing goals by a reasonable time, I’ll go wild and treat myself with a book that I’ve been wanting to read as I’m rereading the series since the newest book came out and so that I can be ready when the latest book comes out in November of this year (The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. A mature read but I love her depth of world building.)

So what are you doing this Friday night in a world that is different from just a few months ago? I’m honestly curious. And would you have gone out before on a Friday night or typically stayed in?

Happy Friday!

Extras:

Here’s a snippet from my writing today on Book 4: In Search of Pack:

Spreading her magic out to about fifteen feet around her in all directions, she made sure that she lessened the signature so that it was nearly undetectable. Only a very, very strong sensitive or someone looking for it specifically would be able to find it. Then she started working her way towards the warehouse complex. She made sure to keep her walk a mixture of determination and insecurity. She was a good girl, so what was she even thinking going to this place. But she really needed this place, needed it badly enough to through a lifetime of morals and scruples away to come seeking it. What then, could she need so badly?

She passed some of the lookouts and knew that she was heading in the right direction, although she pretended to be oblivious of their presence. They were doing their best to blend into the scenery and her looking at them would’ve raised some serious alarm bells. Nope, not what she wanted to do. So instead she monitored each on until she was out of range, making sure that she glanced around enough for an average person outside of their comfort zone.

As she walked, she found herself relaxing into the persona, almost as if it was another role that she had picked up. This was familiar, this was something that she could do. Just sitting around had driven her up the wall. So even without backup, someone out there who wanted to kidnap her and find something, and her leg sore and achy, she felt more herself than she had in days.

(c) Katie Holmburg

(There is no guarantee that this will make it into the final cut of the book, but it’s always fun to share tidbits. Let me know what you think.)

Here’s another fanfiction of mine, a one shot from The Hobbit with a female Bilbo lead

Dealing with Dragons

https://archiveofourown.org/works/23138608

Happy Friday! We are strong together!

Happy Birthday + Bonus Content

One of the most amazing women I know has a birthday today. A U.S. Veteran and one of the sweetest, kindest women that I have ever met, Patti has supported me and my writing wholeheartedly from the very beginning.

I wanted to do a little something extra special for her as a thank you, especially in these trying times when friends and family can seem so far away.

So this bonus scene is just for her.

Happy Birthday!!

The Shortest Partnership Yet

In Search of Justice

Chapter 3, pg. 46

He had sighed internally, expecting this to be the shortest partnership yet, beating the one that had only lasted for twelve hours.

This is a short scene detailing the partnership between Lirim and another agent that lasted only 12 hours. This scene occurs shortly before Aletta joins HSI.

Lirim entered HSI early as was his want, enjoying the quiet of the office before it came alive with agents and office gossip. While the gossip was often amusing, for some reason most of the other agents seemed intimidated by him. He didn’t know why, he always made sure to treat his fellow agents with respect and courtesy, although usually he needed his solitude at the end of the day and often declined their invitations to go out drinking. Still, he did his utmost to pull his fair share of the caseloads and watch out for his fellow agents.

Making his way over to the desk, he was pleased to see a file waiting on his desk. He had wrapped up the last of his active investigations the night before and was only waiting on confirmation of a few things on the other two cases. Setting his bag in his chair, he picked up the file and started reading as he made his way over to coffee station. Pleased to see that the pot was fresh, he poured himself a mug without stopping his skimming.

Taking a sip of coffee, he frowned as he continued to skim. This seemed to be a fairly cut and dried case, a bonded criminal had failed to appear at his court day, it should just be a matter of a simple skip trace. So why had they assigned it to him instead of one of the newer agents who needed to build up their experience?

He had almost reached his desk again when Cara called, “Agent Bosk. The captain will see you now.”

Lirim sighed internally, although he kept his face impassive. He had the feeling that he knew where this was headed now. Knocking, he waited patiently for Jones to call enter. Once he did, he found his suspicions to be correct as another agent was waiting in the office along with the captain. Jones nodded at the file that Lirim still held, “Good, I see that you’ve already read the file. You’ll be working with Agent Smith on this case. It should be a fairly easy assignment, although the regular police have been having trouble ascertaining his whereabouts. Report back in at the end of the day.”

They both nodded their acknowledgement and Jones dismissed Smith but asked Lirim to stay back so he could have a word. Once the door closed behind the other agent, Lirim said wryly, “I suppose this is where I get the usual lecture not to break the other agent.”

Capt. Jones offered him an apologetic look, “His partner is retiring at the end of the month and Smith’s stated that he prefers to be a part of a team. You were next on the roster of single agents.”

Lirim shrugged, “I understand. I’ll do my best to work with him, you have my word. I swore an oath to serve HSI in any way necessary. I have nothing against being partnered, but other agents seem to find me unsuitable for some reason.”

Jones gave a bark of laughter at that, “You are single minded when you’re on a case. The others tend to find that rather unsettling.”

Lirim didn’t shrug again or sigh, as much as he wanted to. “We deal with dangerous criminals on a daily basis. Anything less than total focus could get someone killed.”

Jones nodded, “You know that and I know that. Most of the agents realize that as well, but they’re just people too. Many haven’t had to deal with the circumstances that forged you, where one wrong move guaranteed that someone would pay for it, most often with their life. So just, be patient. Dismissed.”

Lirim nodded and left the captain’s office. He would do his best, as always, but his hopes weren’t that high. This only increased when he found Smith complaining quietly to an agent about being teamed up with a robot, the other agent nodded sympathetically. Lirim thought about going back to his desk for his coffee, but abandoned it as not worth it, it was probably cold by now anyway.

Instead he made his way over to Smith’s desk, slightly amused by the way that the agent that Smith had been complaining to quickly excused herself. Lirim asked, “Have you looked at the file yet?”

Smith was a genial young man, one of the office favorites, always quick with a grin or funny story. Lirim thought that he was related somehow to Ian in IT, a brother or a cousin, although he couldn’t be completely sure. He grinned now, offering Lirim a quick shrug, “Not yet, just got in when the captain called us in.”

Biting back the words that he wanted to say, Smith had plenty of time to read instead of complaining to another agent, Lirim said instead, “Captain Jones tells me that your partner is retiring at the end of the month.”

Smith nodded, “He’s been doing this for over forty years now, says it’s time to retire before he starts losing his edge.”

Lirim agreed with this way of thinking, “Agent Williams is an incredible agent with an impressive case history. He will be missed at HSI.”

He relaxed slightly, “He’s been a good partner to me, had my back ever since I first joined HSI. I’m sorry to see him go, but he says that I’m seasoned enough that I shouldn’t have a problem working with other agents.”

Lirim nodded gravely, “A high compliment, coming from him. How long will it take you to read the file and be ready to head out?”

Glancing at the clock, Smith nodded, “Give me thirty, that’ll give me a chance to have some coffee and go over the file. Will that work, Agent Bosk?”

Resigning himself to the inevitable delay, Lirim nevertheless forced himself to say politely, “That will work fine. Please, call me Lirim or Bosk. Agent gets old fairly quickly.”

Smith seemed startled by this, but nodded, “Ok, Bosk. You can call me Bill. See ya in thirty.”

Lirim gave him a brief nod and made his way back over to his desk. Trying his coffee, he found that it was lukewarm but still drinkable. He’d drank much worse during. He quickly cut off that thought before it could fully form and glanced over at the coffee station, where Bill and his friends were laughing and chatting. Opening up the file to go over it in much greater detail, Lirim allowed a small sigh to slip out. He had the feeling that this was going to be a long day.

X

It was closer to an hour when they finally managed to leave HSI, Smith reluctantly trailing Lirim out of headquarters. Once they were firmly ensconced in the car, Lirim asked, “Where to?” Although he already had a good idea of where to start, this would help him get a better measure of the other agent. Seemingly better focused now that he wasn’t around the others, Smith flipped open the file and skimmed it.

After a moment, he found the section that he was looking for. “Ah, here we are. I thought that we could go speak with the bail bonds man first, get his take on the perp, then go from there.”

Hiding his wince at the slang, Lirim nodded, “That’s not a bad idea. Are you by any chance related to Ian?”

Bill nodded, “He’s my cousin, why?”

Making a right, Lirim asked, “Think he’d do us a favor and trace the subject’s money transactions? His purchases and spending habits can tell us a lot about a subject.”

Bill grinned at that, pulling out his phone and putting it on speaker, he called Ian. When Ian answered, Bill said, “Hey Ian, can you do me a favor? Agent Bosk and I are on the skip trace case, think you can pull the financials for us?”

Ian scoffed, “Am I a computer wiz or not? What brass did you offend to get stuck with the Ice Man?”

Bill cleared his throat awkwardly, “Um, Ian?”

They heard a loud sigh from the other end, “I’m on speaker, aren’t I? How many times have I told you not to do that, Bill? My apologies, Agent Bosk.”

Lirim laughed, “I’ve been called worse, but I appreciate your apology. Just Lirim is fine. And in answer to your questions, yes, you are a computer genius. Your skills have pulled me out of tight spots more than once. Also, your cousin and I are working together because I was the next single agent on the roster. I’m looking forward to working with him and seeing if we’re compatible or not.”

Ian laughed at that, “And the others say that you have no sense of humor. Take careful notes, Bill. Finally someone that appreciates my genius. I’ll send the information to you as soon as I have it.” Without bothering to say goodbye, he hung up.

Bill rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, “Ian’s right, he’s told me many times not to have my phone on speaker. Sorry about that.”

Lirim shrugged, “It’s all right. Here’s the bail bonds place. Let’s go.”

X

Their talk with the bondsman didn’t reveal any new information, although it did help HSI’s information about the subject. By the time that they had finished talking, Ian had the financial records forwarded to their phones. Lirim was pleased at that, “Ian works fast. Look through these and see if you can see a pattern or not, I’ll do the same.”

Smith sighed but obediently started going through the list. After going through the list three times, Lirim was certain that he had narrowed the subject’s comfort zone to a five mile radius. When he shared his observation with Smith, Bili just joked and said, “Well, that’s one of the best areas to get a beer. Why are we even going after this guy anyway. So he skipped bail, it’s not like he hurt a super or anything. How is this even HSI’s jurisdiction?”

Lirim took a deep breath before answering, those questions showed how close of attention Smith had actually paid to the folder, “He’s a short range jumper, which makes it hard for the normal PD to pin him down. Not only that, he’s reputed to have a recreational drug habit. Although he’s shown no signs of violence in the past, such things can make the user unpredictable in the extreme. Mix in magic and it could shape up to be a major incident. No, it’s better that HSI handle this quickly and quietly before it becomes an actual situation.”

Smith nodded, “So we’d better use the magic cancelling cuffs then, if we want to hold onto him.” Tucking his phone away, he changed the subject abruptly, “When’s lunch? I skipped breakfast this morning.”

Glancing at the clock, it was barely ten, Lirim’s gut feeling that this partnership wasn’t going to last only grew. He only said calmly though, “Let’s talk to the family first, make sure that he hasn’t bolted there, then we can stop for lunch.”

After several fruitless stops, they finally reached the end of the list of friends and relatives and called a break. Lirim let Smith chose the restaurant, which turned out to be a mistake as their fries were abysmal, their sandwiches only slightly better. Lirim just picked at his food while Bill downed a Monte Cristo sandwich like it was going out of style.

Finally pushing his meal aside as a lost cause and reigning his increasing temper in with both hands, Lirim asked, “What’s our next course of action?”

The red head frowned slightly, “Since he hasn’t been in contact with any of his friends or family, I’m out of ideas for the moment. What do you suggest?”

Relieved, Lirim said firmly, “When under stress, people run back to what is familiar, what is comfortable. His spending habit clearly suggests that he has a very distinctive comfort zone. I suggest we start hunting there, asking questions and making it uncomfortable for him. People there know him. If he’s anywhere in the vicinity, he’ll hear about the agents asking questions about him. It’ll either bring him out into the open or it will send him out of his comfort zone where he’ll start to make mistakes.”

Smith stared at him, his expression wary, “Hunting?”

Lirim shrugged, unwilling to pretty it up by calling it something that it wasn’t. “We are hunting for him, to bring him back in for justice. What would you call it?”

Bill fiddled with his empty drink, “Locating. We’re locating him in order to bring him back for due process.”

Standing, Lirim left a tip on the table. “Hunting, locating, either way we need to get moving. The longer he’s on the run, the harder it will be to find him.”

Smith’s expression was uncertain, but he quickly smoothed it away as he rose and followed after him.

X

It had taken several hours of pounding the pavement before their inquiries finally paid off. One of their last stops, a little dive bar that was dimly lit and filled with people well on their way to being three sheets to the wind despite the fact that it was barely past five o’clock. They were showing the subject’s mug shot to the rather shady bartender when the subject himself shot out of one of the booths and ran through the back.

Immediately abandoning the bartender, they chased after the subject. For a man who was a middle tier accountant, the man was in much better shape than Lirim anticipated. Still, he couldn’t help the small grin that slipped out at they chased after him, the adrenaline and thrill of chase burning away the increasing frustration that he’d felt and being partnered with Smith.

They’d gone several blocks when he tried to escape by climbing up the fire escape of a short two-story building. It was obviously an office building of some sort, the three dumpsters out back filled three quarters of the way with paper waste. That was to their advantage as it meant that the building was most likely empty, most offices emptying out at five.

Lirim reached the ladder a good five strides ahead of Smith and was up the ladder after the subject in mere seconds. He had cleared the ladder and Smith was halfway up when the first shot ran out. Flattening himself to the roof, Lirim pulled out his own gun and called, “Thomas Reynolds! HSI Agent Bosk, cease fire at once and lay down your arms. Right now, your violation is a petty matter, you do not want to add assault of a law officer to it.”

Smith chose that moment to climb up on the roof and Lirim yanked him down just as another shot rang out. Smith cursed and pulled out his own gun as Lirim yelled, “Reynolds, last chance. I won’t give you another.”

Reynolds shouted back, “Why should I give myself up? I don’t want to go to jail.”

Since he had started talking and stopped shooting for the moment, Lirim carefully stood and started moving forward, motioning for Smith to stay behind him. “Reynolds, right now, your crimes are negligible. You allegedly embezzled some money from your company. Even if you are indicted, you probably will not serve jail time but just be ordered to repay what was taken. Now, listen to me. Surrender your weapon and I’ll tell the lawyers that you cooperated. The word of an HSI agent carries weight, as I’m sure you know.”

Lirim swore internally when Reynolds replied. He was obviously impaired and Lirim wondered what sort of drugs he had taken and what the chances were of things getting violent. “You HSI agents. You all think that you’re so high and mighty, think that you’re better than the rest of the world. Well, I am invincible. I’m not scared of you or any other law enforcement officer.” The sneer was blatantly evident, even in his slightly slurred words. “Well, you’re all going to answer to me now and I say that you can die.”

Reynolds stepped out from behind the air conditioning unit that he had been hiding behind, a small submachine gun in his hand. Lirim’s mind instantly switched to the cold calm place, the one that calculated all of the risks and odds of any given situation. Knowing that they were in deep trouble, Lirim knocked Smith’s gun from his hand before pushing him off the roof, the other agent so startled that he didn’t even have time to scream.

Lirim turned his attention back to Reynolds just in time to see the magic glow around him before he jumped the few feet between them, firing as soon as the magic spit him out. Lirim felt burning pain along his right bicep as he threw himself forward, taking Reynolds out at the knees. Ignoring the injury, he’d had worse, they tussled for control of the gun. The drugs had granted Reynolds unnatural strength, negating any natural advantage that Lirim had. Finally Lirim managed to wrench the gun away from him and tossed it over the side.

They struggled all over the roof, Reynolds nearly escaping several times and Lirim hanging on with dogged determination. The struggle only ended when Smith rejoined them on the roof, looking rather disheveled, and hit Reynolds across the head with the butt of his gun, knocking him out cold. As Lirim struggled to catch his breath, Smith ruthlessly cuffed Reynolds, a scowl on his face.

Checking out his bicep, it was just a flesh wound as he’d thought, Lirim offered Bill a smile that was probably a little more wolfish than he intended from the way the other agent inched back slightly. “Thanks.”

Smith just nodded, “No problem. Let’s get him back to HSI and get your arm looked at.”

Lirim shrugged, bending down and hauling the unconscious Reynolds up as well, “I’ve had worse. Good work today, Bill.”

Smith didn’t reply, just took half of the unconscious man’s weight and helped maneuver him down to the street level and over to where the car was waiting.

X

Lirim was shrugging his shirt back on in the infirmary when Capt. Jones found him. Before he could speak, Lirim said tiredly, “Let me guess, Smith doesn’t want to be partnered with me.”

Jones looked at him incredulously, “You threw him off a building, Bosk. Did you really expect him to be happy about it?”

Lirim ran a hand roughly through his hair and sighed, “I knew that he’d land in the dumpster and be fine. Reynolds had a machine gun, what else was I supposed to do?”

Jones turned grim, “According to the doctors, Reynolds was high out of his mind and he’ll be facing serious charges for trying to murder two agents. As soon as he comes down from his little trip, I expect that he’ll be singing like a bird to try and save himself. How badly were you injured?”

Lirim pulled up his sleeve enough that Jones could see the bandage wrapped around his arm, “Thankfully, he was a lousy shot. Just grazed me, only took five stitches. I’ll have some nice bruises tomorrow, but nothing serious. Is Smith ok?”

Jones sighed, “Smith is fine and he’s agreed to not file a complaint as you did indeed save his life. However, he requested a transfer to a satellite branch, one that sees less action and deals with more white collar crimes. I’ve agreed to his request.”

Lirim looked down, shame and tiredness rolling through him. “I am sorry for tossing him off the roof, but my instincts just took over.”

Jones rested a hand lightly on his shoulder, “I know, Bosk. And I think that you took the right course of action. The crime techs said that it was a miracle that you were unhurt as you were and that anyone standing next to you would’ve been killed instantly. Don’t beat yourself up on this one, it’s a win in my book. And hang in there, Bosk. I know that there’s a partner out there who will be just the right fit for you.”

Jones squeezed Lirim’s shoulder lightly before turning and leaving the room. Getting slowly to his feet, Lirim wistfully wished that the captain’s words were true, that there was a person out there who would be willing to give him a true chance at partnership. Little did he know that in less than a month, a fiery, stubborn woman with a caffeine addiction would turn his world upside down and yet save him at the same time. He just had to hold on a little bit longer.

(C) Katie Holmburg – The Seeker Files

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