Friday, December 06, 2013

Excerpt: Covert Assignment (and Giveaway)

Elle is ready for graduation and full-fledged adulthood: no more living like the leftover of her parent’s divorce. She’s about to graduate with her degree in Information Science (the 21st century term for Library Science) and has a ten-year plan as well-designed as any model for analyzing metadata: earn her JD/MBA, enjoy a couple of years as a single professional, then marry her college sweetheart, Adam, and start her own family. Yet Elle feels like she returned to an alternate universe her final semester. There are pictures of Adam with a classmate who must be surgically enhanced, but he insists he wants Elle. CIA recruiters show up on campus, and they aren’t just interested in recruiting Elle for future employment: turns out she’s already working for them since they’re funding her thesis. Hot operative Preston Raddick is tasked to work with her. Preston isn’t just hot: he’s hot for Elle, but is he offering happy ever after or happy for right now? A fling with Preston could be the beginning of a new life plan, which is exciting and scary, especially with espionage thrown in. Elle needs a predictive model to tell her which decisions have the greater likelihood for happiness …

As part of the blog tour for Covert Assignment, I have an excerpt from the book:

“That’s the data itself,” Preston said. “So what is metadata?” 

Elle smiled. Lots of people had that question. “Metadata is the information about the information. For example, players have user names. The easiest way to link a player’s information from the game with the message boards and chat is to gather information that is all from the same user name. But sometimes people use different names. So I also tag information by such markers as time of day of play and posting, IP address, similar game strategies: information about the data. That’s the metadata.”

Preston nodded, brow still furrowed as he thought it through. “So by analyzing the metadata, you can group the players.”

He was hot and smart. Elle was impressed; Marni and Tina still got confused about what, exactly, metadata was, despite her repeated explanations over the years. “How do you like my model now?”

Preston’s eyes seemed to pin her in place with a gaze so penetrating it was as if it stripped away the layers and crystallized her thoughts so he could see them. “Very much,” he said with a sly smile. “She’s been good to me. And it’s the hot, one-of-a-kind model that not even our analysts at Langley can duplicate.”

Elle felt herself blush. So annoying. “Well, I understand gamers.” It was as if invisible lasers were beaming out of his eyes, heating her up. “You know, being in college and everything.” Adam was a gamer, but she didn’t want to bring him up right now.

Preston looked amused at her blushing. “I like how you strut your stuff.”

Of course that had her blushing so much she probably looked like she was suffering a coronary. Elle again laughed while trying to think of something to say. All she could come up with was, “So I take it you’re not an analyst?”

She began typing commands into her computer, and he started reviewing whatever he’d been doing as well. “Clandestine Service,” Preston replied. “I use the data you find in the field.”

Clandestine Service. So he was a spy. A super sexy secret spy. Elle managed to block a giggle from escaping but felt her cheeks get warm. She was working with a real live spy. She could see Preston in a tuxedo, doing the tango with some long-limbed woman before stealing state secrets and zooming off in a sleek sports car.

After a while, Preston said, “So if you can put together the right combination of variables, you can predict what will happen.”

“Within a certain degree of accuracy, yes.”

“So what variables would I need to guarantee dinner with you?”

Covert Assignment can be bought from: [Amazon

1 comment:

  1. Ohhh so that's what metadata is! I feel like I can learn a lot of spying skills from this book. Thanks for sharing, Z! And welcome back to the blogging world! :)


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