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You'd think that being stronger and tougher than everyone else at Centurion High would go down in the plus column. And it had, as far as the athletic crowd was concerned. Enough that the jocks forgave Penny for her preference to hang out with a small clique notorious for being hardcore board-gamers and role-playing eggheads. But it seemed like a small consolation.
Maybe it's because Penny just wants to be appreciated for her brains rather than her brawn. Or maybe she hangs out with the nerds because of Michael. Michael—her childhood best friend and the boy-next-door—certainly appreciates Penny for her smarts—and maybe, sometimes, she wants him to appreciate her for more than that. Penny's been spending a lot of time with Michael recently, helping him to take up his dead father's superhero identity. Besides, despite Michael being a straight up genius, he's "common sense" challenged.If that wasn't enough, Penny's superhero mother has ramped up her passive-aggressive campaign to convince Penny to take up the mask and start crime fighting; her two younger sibs—almost as strong and tough as Penny—are superhero crazy; a series of mysterious attacks seems to be targeting Penny directly; and her other best friend is dating Michael.
The Red Rook did not leap fully formed from my head, as Penny might say, like Athena from Zeus’ brow (even if there were a few headaches involved). I had a lot of help in bringing RR to it’s present state. I’d like to thank Lane Whittaker for wielding his chisel-and-hammer wit to expose issues (sorry about that visual) from first to beta to post-beta drafts; to Stephanie Feldstein, who pointed out that it was Penny jumping out of the pinata of my mind, not Michael; to John (Chris) Hocking, who was always there as a sounding board; as well as David Cross, Joe Miller, and Jenny Johnson for their heroic beta and post-beta readings.
I’d also like to thank Eric Searleman, Paul Turnbull, Scott Slemmons, and Sherlonya Turner for their encouragement.
A shout-out goes to the Ann Arbor Area Writers Group Tuesday night members for their input: Dave Wanty, Deedra Climer Bass, Drew Pardiac, Cristina Trapani-Scott, Karen Simpson, Kate Stone, Kay Posselt, Robyn Ford, Stephanie Feldstein, Wei (David) Liu, and Yma Johnson.
My gratitude and Olympian-level appreciation goes to my copyeditor for taking on the Augean task of editing this novel.
A big thank you must go to all the fine baristas at Sweetwaters at Plymouth and Green, Ann Arbor, for their valiant attempts to satisfy my Tantulus-like need for caffeine.
Thanks to all the open source and freeware developers, contributors, and other Prometheans, who gave me the tools to support my writing process: 7zip, Calibre, Dia, Eclipse, Firefox, GIMP, Inkscape, LibreOffice, MediaWiki, Notepad++, Scribus, Sigil, WinMerge, and XnView.
Finally, to the KROQ Top 106.7 Hits from 1980-1991, which provided the soundscape-muse while composing The Red Rook.
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