April and a Giveaway

A note from D.M.:

The beginning of April has always signaled Spring to me. It doesn’t matter what the calendar says. We could have snow on the ground, but when I turn the calendar page and see April, I know Spring has finally sprung. A bit of green pokes through the brown grass, the daffodils and tulips send their spears up through the cold ground. April also signaled Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. Not anymore. The season is starting in March now. But I still think about baseball as April arrives.

One of my favorite reasons for living in the Midwest is the changing of seasons. Not every place on this planet has the distinct seasonal changes that we have. What about other planets? The Goldilocks planets (places where it’s “just right” for humans) would have temperate climates as well as seasons. In my science fiction adventure story Rescuing Mara’s Father, the weather changes depending on where the action takes place. Hot days and cool nights are common in arid regions, while the higher into the mountains Mara and her friends travel the colder it gets.

I wrote Rescuing Mara’s Father so my grandkids could read one of my books. Since they’re in middle grades (3rdand 6th grades) they have to grow up before they read my adult books. Still, they are avid readers, as well as Star Wars fans, like their grandmother. I had to set my story on another planet where in order to get off (to search for Mara’s father), almost fifteen-year-old Mara has to pilot a starship. What kid wouldn’t want to do that? Hey, forget kids. I want to pilot a starship. ?

When I was in middle grades, adventure stories were no where near as plentiful as they are today. I’m thrilled that kids have so many choices. Stories that carry them to foreign lands or to alien planets expand their minds while entertaining them. That’s the point of my story. Widening kids’ (and adults’) imagination and entertainment.

The first time D.M. Burton saw Star Wars IV: A New Hope, she was hooked on science fiction and space travel. The Star Trek movies made her want to travel to other planets. Alas, she is still Earth-bound. D.M. and her husband live in Michigan, close to their two children and five grandchildren.

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She writes adult fiction as Diane Burton, where she combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries.


Her father is gone! Taken by the Queen of Compara’s agents. Mara has to rescue him before the Queen tortures and kills him.

Instead of the kind, loving father she’s always known, he’s become demanding, critical, with impossible expectations—not just as Father but also as the only teacher in their frontier outpost. Mara would rather scoop zircan poop than listen to another boring lecture about governments on Central Planets. Give her a starship engine to take apart or, better yet, fly, and she’s happy. Now, he’s gone.

Never mind, they’ve had a rocky road lately.

Never mind, Father promised she could go off planet to Tech Institute next month when she turns fifteen, where she’ll learn to fly starships.

Never mind, she ran away because she’s furious with him because he reneged on that promise. Father is her only parent. She has to save him.

Along with her best friend, eleven-year-old Jako, and his brother 15-year-old Lukus, Mara sets off to find her father. Her mentor, old spaceport mechanic, seems to know why the Queen captured Father. In fact, he seems to know her father well. But, does he tell her everything? Of course not. He dribbles out info like a mush-eating baby. Worse, he indicates he’ll be leaving them soon. And Lukus can’t wait to get off our planet. Mara’s afraid they will all leave, and she’ll be on her own. Despite her fears, Mara has to rescue her father. 


“There you go again.” I ignore Father’s startled look. “Why does everything have to be so hard? You used to make learning fun.”

“You were a child then. You are almost an adult. You must try harder.”

“I do try. It’s boring. Why can’t you teach interesting stuff like Basco does? He doesn’t lecture me. He doesn’t tell me I’m not good enough.”

A pained look crosses Father’s face. “That is different. When you work with him at spaceport, you work with your hands. I am trying to teach you to think, to analyze, to make—”

“What difference does it make now? I’m going to the Tech in three tendays.”

He takes a deep breath. “I know you have been looking forward to going—”

No. He wouldn’t. “Don’t you tell me I can’t go.”

“Excuse me?”

“I mean it.” I fist my hands on my hips. “You are not going to tell me I can’t go. You can’t. I’ll be fifteen in three tendays. I’m going.” We’ve had a lot of arguments, but I’ve never defied him before.

“You may be old enough to enroll in the Institute. You still need parental approval.” He lets that sink in.

I’m stunned speechless. Not for long. “You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t punish me like that.”

“Mara, you must obey me on this. You must stay here. You will pay attention in class. You will apply yourself.”

“Like Perfect Lukus? Maybe you wish he was your son instead of a stupid girl like me.”

His eyes widen. “Mara.”

My eyes burn. I’m going to cry, like a stupid girl. “I can’t believe you would forbid me to go to Tech just because I’m not a perfect student in your stupid class. You don’t love me. I’m probably not even your real kid.”

My words hang between us. My chest heaves. I clench my teeth, so I don’t start bawling. I can’t believe he won’t let me go to Tech. Worse, I can’t believe I blurted out the horrible thought that has been festering in the darkest corner of my mind for several tendays.

I wait for him to tell me I’m wrong. That he does love me. That I am his child.

Father slumps into the chair I abandoned. I’ve never seen such a look on his face. Like he’s been kicked in the stomach by a hican. For a sec, before he sat, I thought I saw something else in his eyes. Guilt? Couldn’t have been. He doesn’t care enough to feel guilty about forbidding me go to Tech.

I’m ashamed of my outburst, ashamed that I revealed my worst fear—the fear that he isn’t my real father. We’ve argued before, but I always kept my fear a secret. Now, he knows. I can’t bear to look at him, to see reproach in his eyes. I race into my bedroom and slam the door. I force myself not to throw myself on my bed and cry.

Instead, I lean against the door and try to control the anger I just spewed in the kitchen, anger still rising up inside me. Anger at myself for letting my temper get the best of me. Anger at Father for not letting me go to Tech. Anger at him for not denying my accusation, for not taking me in his arms and saying, “Of course, I love you. Of course, you are my child.”

Anger at him for not coming after me.

If he did come, he would probably tell me again how I don’t try, how I don’t measure up. I’m not sticking around for another lecture. I grab my jacket. My trousers are heavy, but the shirt won’t be enough in the chilly evening. I search under my bed for my emergency pack—the one Father insists I keep ready at all times, ever since the riots. I grab it and slip out the window. Automatically, I close it behind me so critters can’t get in. I don’t have a plan. I just know I don’t want to see Father for a while.



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