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Life in the Shadows by Joyce Reynolds-Ward is a Fall Into These Great Reads pick #scifi #giveaway

Title: Life in the Shadows

Author: Joyce Reynolds-Ward

Genre: Science Fiction Cyberpunk

Book Blurb:


Powerful mother.

Powerful daughter. Sarah Stephens and her daughter Diana Landreth run bioremediation companies dependent upon neural nets and nanotechnology to operate complex biobots. Sometimes competitors, sometimes collaborators, while they disagree, they are still mother and daughter. And then the Disruption Machine begins its campaign of devastation. In the process of their collaboration to stop the Disruption Machine, the shadows in their lives force their paths into a dangerous divergence. Sarah chooses politics and power. Diana chooses research and family. What happens when their choices collide?


Someone’s here.

Even before the overhead motion-cued light flicked on, Diana Andrews registered the presence sitting calmly in the darkness, whoever it was breathing lightly and steadily.

Hacked the security sensors—trouble!

She dropped her ski bag and whirled toward the corner where the person was, shaking the highly illegal zapper made by her boyfriend Will Landreth out of her wrist holster, sighting down the barrel toward—her mother.

Sarah Stephens stared steadily back at Diana, legs crossed and hands relaxed on the arms of the old wooden captain’s chair Diana had borrowed from her father.

The other option.

Diana softened, sighed and dropped her hands, flicking the zapper back into its case.

I don’t know which is worse, Mother or a kidnapper.

“I do hope I didn’t see what I thought I saw,” her mother said dryly.

Diana swallowed hard and picked up her ski bag. Sarah Stephens could make trouble for Will if she pushed it. Best to distract her and not fight.

“What are you doing here?” Diana ran her finger down the bag’s seam and started dragging out her wet equipment. It had been a thoroughly mucky day on the slopes, temperatures barely above freezing, fog and mist and gloppy sticky snow that grabbed skis and snowboards.

But glorious nonetheless, because days like this were when she could meet Will with little risk.

“You’ve been out late, for conditions like they are today.” Sarah steepled her fingers and touched her index fingers to her lips.

“I’m an adult.” Diana grabbed a towel. As she dried her skis, she laid them on the sawhorses that served her as a waxing station in the condo. “I’ll be at work on time tomorrow. That should be all that matters.”

“You expose yourself needlessly.” Still no emotion in her mother’s voice.

“I had company. I wasn’t alone. I had Security—Brenda, and she brought others—and friends. Zoë Wright. Zoë had her own Security.”

Sadly, she hadn’t much time alone with Will. But given the recent visibility of Stephens Reclamation in the news, bringing Security along not only gave Diana protection from anti-Third Force guerillas seeking to find leverage to blackmail her mother, but provided cover for her time with Will.

“And William Landreth. I warned you about him.” Now the tiniest bit of anger crept into her mother’s voice, a sharp tone matched by a scowl and furrowed brows.

Diana bit her lip to keep from lashing out in response. Anger was the easy way, but it just created more issues with her mother in the long run.

She continued unpacking her gear while she thought about what to say next, stuffing her boots on their dryer and hanging her parka. Then she slipped out of her soaked ski pants, conscious of her mother’s angry glare following her every movement.

How did she find out?

Brenda Garcia and Tony Hernandez were her personal employees, not her mother’s. Still, good as they were, good as Zoë’s Security was, her mother had access to better tech.

Will had warned her this could happen.

When it does, admit it, he had suggested. Don’t risk an incident. We’ll figure something out.

“I saw Will,” she said, keeping her voice low so that the anger choking her own throat wouldn’t betray her emotions. “I’m an adult. He’s not a competitor.”

“Like hell Landreth Technologies isn’t a competitor!” her mother snapped, grabbing the chair arms and sitting stiffly upright. “Your precious wastrel may just be a trust-fund snowboarder, but if you think Parker Landreth isn’t going to pump his son about what he learns from you, you’re an idiot!”

“Will doesn’t talk to his father about us, just like I don’t talk about Landreth Technologies to you,” Diana said flatly.

She pulled off her sweater and sat in another captain’s chair across the room from her mother, forcing herself to relax every inch of her lanky frame in the hard chair. Her base layers gave her little cushioning, but at least she was somewhat warm.

Now if she could only keep cool in the face of her mother’s anger, she’d win this round.

Silence mounted as her mother strode back and forth, back and forth.

What’s got herself worked up so badly this time? Sure, my relationship with Will interferes with her plans to marry me off to one of her allies. But this anger suggests more than that. What the hell happened?

At last Sarah dropped back in the captain’s chair. She mirrored Diana’s pose, leaning back in the chair, resting her hands lightly on the arms, legs stretched out in front of her. Her artificially white hair hadn’t moved a strand during that quick flash of anger and Diana stifled a shudder as the brief wrinkles from Sarah’s scowl unnaturally smoothed themselves out.

What kind of nanos is she playing with now?

“Parker Landreth issued me an ultimatum,” Sarah said, voice almost mechanical. “Get your damn daughter the hell away from my son, or I’ll own Stephens Reclamation.” Her intonation was almost a letter-perfect copy of Parker Landreth’s snarl.

“There’s no grounds for him to be able to do that,” Diana pointed out mildly, mind racing even as she worked to keep her own voice calm. “Will’s an adult.”

“He has a position with Landreth Technologies, and he still has access to his trust fund.”

“So? We’re adults. And that trust fund is tied to Will’s mother, not his father.”

“Parker’s fingered some tech he says you’ve been using, and he wants it back. With penalty compensation.”

“That tech is Will’s own creation, free and clear. I can document it.”

I don’t want that tech mixed up with ours!” Sarah sat up, then visibly forced herself to relax.

“It’s not mixed up with ours. It’s linked to my own project which has nothing to do with Stephens Reclamation!” Diana sat up.

Everything you are doing is tied to my company!” Sarah growled.

Diana took a deep breath. “Not this.”

Buy Links:

What’s your favorite thing about autumn:

I really prefer the cooler weather. The bright colors of the turning leaves, the faint cool damp scent of the earth as we turn toward winter and the chance for growing things to rest and renew themselves. The scurry of high clouds overhead that speak of the season of storms. Time to change pace from the frenzy of summer to a more measured movement to get through the snows of winter. Autumn is the promise of preparing for new beginnings, the foundation for the emergence of new life in the spring. As an October baby, it is my season—and I love it.

What inspired you to write this story:

Shadows is a collection of outtake stories that I wrote after completing the (then) second book of the Netwalk Sequence, Netwalker Uprising. I realized I needed to know more about the backstory of my characters, especially how the relationship between Diana and Sarah went the direction it did.

Giveaway –

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card

Open internationally.

Runs September 1 – 30

Drawing will be held on October 2.

Author Biography:

Joyce Reynolds-Ward has been called "the best writer I've never heard of" by one reviewer. Her work includes themes of high-stakes family and political conflict, digital sentience, personal agency and control, realistic strong women, and (whenever possible) horses, frequently in Pacific Northwest settings. She enjoys mixing up science fiction and fantasy with western themes and stories, as well as romance.

Joyce is a Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off Semifinalist, a Writers of the Future SemiFinalist, and an Anthology Builder Finalist. She is the Secretary of the Northwest Independent Writers Association, a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, and a member of Soroptimists International.

Social Media Links:


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1 Comment

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Sep 20, 2023

Thank you, Joyce, for sharing your book in our Fall Into These Great Reads Bookathon!

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