Archive for the ‘Short Stories & Novelettes’ Category

Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all of my fellow shipmates, grunts, devil dogs, flyboys, etc. for your service and sacrifice! You will always be held with greatest honor in my heart.

So… shame on me–it’s been a LONG time since I last posted anything, and I won’t make excuses for the shameful hiatus but I will say that I have been working diligently on several projects and am in the midst of that good ol’ NaNoWriMo once again. This time I am working on the SHARC story I have been wanting to tackle for a very long time (I came up with the characters when I was sitting at the MEPS station in 1992!). I’ve already written through several short stories that introduce the type of characters, which will be released when NaNo is over and I have the time and the focus to revise them properly. Here, at least, is the working cover:

sharc-phoenix-division

Along with them are one other big project that I started the revision on using Holly Lisle’s “How to Revise Your Novel” course. I ran an old novel through the wringer and when the other two projects are out there, I will be able to do my type-in for that and announce more details the closer it gets to publication. Right now it is called Song & Sigil and it will be part of a steampunk series, Dross Mechanica.

So, back to the writing software…

I hope I can be back before too long!

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Two weeks ago I brought up several stories which I call my favorites, and that naturally brought me to the idea of influence. You hear the phrases bandied about often by any creative types–“I consider such-and-such my greatest influence”, as in “As a composer, I find Mozart and John Williams to be my greatest influences” for an example, or directors cite earlier movies that formed their interest in the silver screen.

Certainly, as a writer, I count many, many authors and stories among my influences. All writers generally do–after all, that initial exposure to tales that transport us to other worlds or realities far from our own personal experiences engender the desire in some readers to craft our own. Fredrik Pohl, Harlan Ellison, Harry Harrison, John Haldeman, Doyle, Tolkien, Lewis, Shakespeare etc. all count high on my list of literary inspirations.

But… what about other influences, such as music? Take my first example, with music above. I frequently listen to music while writing, matching the mood/tone with whatever I am trying to write. Umbra (and all of its previous iterations) came flying from my fingertips with an ample dose of Alice in Chains, early Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden pounding in my ears. For my darker fantasy stories like “The Falconer and the Wolf“, one of my favorite bands to get me in the right atmosphere is Dead Can Dance. When sketching notes for The Light of Liberty, I turned to Barry Phillips and his version of “The World Turned Upside Down” along with other American Colonial period tunes.

Are there any more? Of course there are. Many people have incorporated their likes and hobbies into their writing. Some cozy mysteries, for example, are based around knitting. My character Ennid the Havoc and his escapades are influenced by my love of MMA (that’s Mixed Martial Arts for those not yet initiated into its primal awesomeness). My interest in genetics features heavily in Clones are People Two. Even if the things we like aren’t at the forfront, we sometimes insert it in small ways. I love goats (Casey, from Umbra), I think rhinos are awesome and I smith silver (both of which will appear in The Opal Necklace, release date TBD) and I’ve an interest in raptors and falconry.

It’s all very simple–EVERYTHING can be an influence on our creativity, and EVERYTHING should be. It’s from these somewhat disparate ideas and influences that some of our richest “juices” flow.

 

 

I found out through the the grapevine that earlier this week (or was it last week?) we had National Haiku Day. So, I’m a little late to the game, but decided to write a fee in honour of some of my favourite stories.

 

Won the lottery?

Get your Gateway tickets here!

Beware the black holes

 

They must have children

Now my body is not mine own

But saints need their sins

 

Snakebitten, alone

Surviving, rebuild the world

Soon even that fades

 

Hot food and good fights

Okay, maybe my mare too

Watch out for demons!

 

Think you can guess them? (Not that my poems do them justice)–I’ll have the answers next week.

Clones are People Two The Opal Necklace

 

CLONES ARE PEOPLE TWO is on the virtual shelves, at least on Smashwords and Amazon.  Others will be added shortly.

Now that CLONES is out, I have another story which I’ve been planning for NaNoWriMo.  It’s the same basic premise as the novel I had done two years ago for that same organization, but a lot more thought has gone into it, and a whole other subplot which necessitates a major re-write.  I also am planning to have this thing published some time early next year so I can get started on the second Umbra novel.  Please note that this is a “working cover” for The Opal Necklace.

Clones are People Two

The story of a story being born.

I’ve had a few fits and starts with this story, just like I had for Ennid the Havoc.  You can read about the case of the latter, if so inclined, here. But with the clones story…

I never intentionally got into the idea of clones.  Way back in college, during a biology lab, we took a different approach in that classroom and set up a debate for the ethics surrounding the hot biological topics of the day, including cloning.  I ended up assigned to the pro-cloning side (I didn’t have a choice) but I can’t recall what points I brought up at the time (give me a break, I’m an old woman!) Dolly was still a hot topic, and her birth and subsequent death made for rampant debate.  As for my thoughts on cloning, I’m going to take the road I always take on things like this: Cloning is a tool which can be used or abused, just like cars or firearms or donuts (you know, chocolate-covered ones with the jimmies). It has nothing to do with the item/process itself, and everything to do with the user.  Can cloning be abused? Absolutely. I address that in Clones Are People Two, as one of the underlying themes.  Should it be outlawed?  Not necessarily.  Feminazis would be ecstatic to support it, especially because it would mean that men could become redundant (personally, I REALLY love men, and wouldn’t want to see them phased out) as Dolly’s birth proved you didn’t need sperm to propagate.  It took three mothers, though, if that means anything, one for the nucleus, one for the cells (taken from mammary glands, and the reason Dolly is named Dolly. Read the wiki) and one to carry her and give birth. Should we be cloning left and right without further consideration?  Of course not.  No science should be employed irresponsibly.

But what does this have to do with story?

Well, for one, the topic is OLD (imagine me stating that with my most obnoxious teenage voice talking about someone who is in their early twenties). Possibly everything to do with cloning and the debates about cloning has been done, right?

Not necessarily.

A few years ago I sat in a house empty of almost everything except a wondrous silence, a notebook and a pen.  I don’t know why I began to write about the man who would be Aaron Maxwell Seven-Miller, but I knocked out the entire outline and fleshed out some of the points I wanted to make.  Then, I set it aside.  Would this be interesting enough to anyone?  Probably not, I thought.

Then, one evening, I saw this amazing movie* that just ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped on it and tried to glue it back together and sew my chest shut in several glorious hours.  And one theme was one of identity, who we are, products of fate, of circumstance, of genetics?  The “successful” characters are not simply tied to their destinies, to the “flow” but they are active participants in their own change as human beings.  It answered the nagging question I had of whether or not my own ideas possessed any relevance. Best of all, this story had CLONES undergoing some of the same treatment (except for the last big thing, which I won’t mention here and spoil the movie/novel for you).  My story takes a look at the interrelationship between the clones themselves, as well as the clones with humans.  There will be a few of you who pick up on the discrimination themes as well.

We are always struggling with identity, building character.  We are always given the choice in life to embrace the circumstances and use it as an excuse to stagnate and be victimized, or to crawl out of the hole and become more than the sum of the parts we are handed.  Nor should we immediately judge someone on such a simple basis as their genetics.  Take time to explore their character before you dismiss them on appearances (and just remember, assholes come in all shapes, colors and sizes, too).

And so, Clones Are People Two will be available on Smashwords and Amazon on Halloween (that’s 31 OCT 2014), and most other venues shortly after.

* based on the novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Ennid BotB Cover

Ennid the Havoc in “The Belly of the Beast” – available in multiple formats for your reading pleasure!

Amazon (.MOBI)

Smashwords (Everything Else)

I’m going to start right off by saying I haven’t even purchased the game yet. Do you know why? Because it’s so deliciously yummy looking that there’s NO way I couldn’t head right for the “dessert” of playing for days on end instead if getting my Ennid out on schedule. Brian Fargo, you and your team have outdone yourselves with eye candy alone.

I used to be a huge gamer – addicted. I’ve since weaned myself and haven’t been too excited about anything in the last several years, until I heard about this one. I even dig out my original Wasteland copy just to have the orange cover nearby. And I reread the entire paragraph book again. (I’m going to admit that when I played the game as a kid, over and over, it didn’t take me long to memorize all the correct passwords revealed within it.)

What I’ve decided to do is reward myself only when it’s done. I’ve been waiting for this game for 26 years. (Yeah, I’m old enough to have played the original on its original platform. It’s what sucked me into the genre in the first place, next to The Road Warrior.) So what’s a few more days?

Besides, I have a feeling after playing it for awhile, I’m going to throw a tactical nuke at my schedule to rearrange it for the second Umbra novel, I’ll be too immersed and inspired to let Vera and Shaw and Harris go for long.

Bottom line is, I’m already sold. I’ll add my thoughts later, when I’m playing. If I remember to pull myself away long enough.

I find most sports boring, if not downright abhorrent (people shell out insane funds to watch other people make millions of dollars playing a game).

But… I have a love affair with MMA.

The one thing I truly picked up and retained from my husband, even after the divorce, was an appreciation fighting with the hands and feet using a combination of the bazillion varieties. There’s something very primal and very stirring about watching these sportsman throw down with each other

Very little expensive gear is involved (thin gloves to protect the knuckles, occasional shin guards, a mouth guard for those teeth) and therefore little to stand in the way of every punch and kick thrown (known in the industry as ‘strikes’).  People get hurt.  All of the time.  I was watching during the infamous Silva vs. Weidman rematch -UFC 168, for the belt- when Weidman leg-checked Silva’s strike and it sheared Silva’s tibia. Everyone at the restaurant that night got to see the 18 million replays from EVERY angle showing Anderson Silva’s leg wobbling like it belonged to a rubber doll. I swear, 18 million. Train wreck, folks. Horrifying, but you can’t look away.

One of the other reasons I love MMA are the many professionals throughout. I don’t mean professional as in ‘getting paid’ but in ‘I’m going to pummel your ass into a thin red paste, but as soon as that buzzer goes off, I’m going to shake your hand and congratulate you on a good fight’ kind of professional.  What goes on in the Octagon stays in the Octagon. Clay Guida is one of my faves for this reason, and he would definitely be one of the ones I would wish to hang out with. (Some on the other hand, like Nick Diaz, Jason Miller and War Machine are pricks who, inside and outside, either antagonized one another or committed heinous crimes.  Not cool for the sport guys.  Not cool at all.)  I love (to hate) Chael Sonnen only because he’s the sport’s version of the fisherman with tall tales. Instead of letting his own considerable skills speak for themselves (he was one of the few to give the then-undefeated Anderson Silva a run for his money), he goes around touting himself as the actual champion because he almost brought “The Spider” down. (That part is great, too. They all have nicknames.)  Watching Sonnen fight is always a pleasure, because either I get to see him use his amazing fighting prowess and take his opponent down, or I get to watch someone kick his ass.

My other pet peeve is when they brought two women into the fighting (remaining nameless here, as they do not need the publicity).  The idiot who arranged the fights and the producers played up the Reality-TV bullshit drama of it both of as catty bitches who were gonna “kick each others’ ass” truly soured the sport.  Leave that petty crap on Jerry Springer where it belongs.  Now that this TUF crap is out, there are COMPLETELY taking the sport in the wrong direction, selling it on the sex angle instead of a true exposition and merit of their skills.  It will become a farce just as much as women gladiators (the “gladiatrix“) were in Roman times.  Cheap amusement at the expense of the women involved, all the while trying to sell them as legitimate.  It is a true shame, because a lot of the women kick serious ass, but unfortunately the size of their attitudes or how they look in bikinis will completely override any fighting prowess.  Spectacle.

I don’t go to watch all of the fights; that would get far too pricey and I would always be up past my bedtime.  I pick and choose the matches with my faves and occasionally, if none of my guys are going to show up on the card for awhile, I’ll check out some new and interesting faces.

The bottom line is, my interests inform my writing – sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little, but on occasion, the interest itself gives me an idea that Just. Won’t. Leave. Me. Alone.  And so, I must write, in order to get it out there.  And when that idea was Ennid the Havoc, he kept locking me up in a rear naked choke, and I finally tapped out and gave him his stories.

Oh, and Joe Rogan… shut up!

 

A little background information:

Royce Gracie essentially started the UFC as a coming-out party for his new style of fighting, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and it’s been gaining even more momentum.

The top UFC fighter only makes around $1 million a year, and that includes all of the product endorsements.

The octagon was used to differentiate it from all the other martial sports out there, to introduce it as something new and truly unique.

Working on one of my stories much longer than I anticipated, but that dreaded black hole called revision has sucked some of my wordcount into its impossible-to-break grasp.

BUT…

(And anyone who reads knows that the interesting twists come after the word “but”)

I have been working on the blurb. It’s a nice little tool –sorry if the title of this post threw you off– to really hone the story down to its essence.

So I present to you the blurb for your reading pleasure, and certainly, for your tidbits of sage advice:

The world quaked in chaos. Landbound kingdoms waged war over the precious few resources found among the small continents and scattered islands. Pirate fleets swarmed the oceans, pillaging trade vessels and sinking one another as they vied to command the waters. Powers angelic and demonic performed their dances martial just beyond the veil of human sight.

Ennid the Havoc couldn’t care less about any of that.

Three things drove him onward – his mare, his next meal, and his next match. In that order.

He roamed from town to town, sampling the wares and finding someone brave enough to challenge him for the thrill of the fight (and a share of the purse). But when a couple of kids knock him from the saddle and steal K’zirra (that’s the mare), he follows them to a town lacking not only coin enough to buy her back, but nary a young man to fight.

In fact, no young men at all walked among them.

Only when an exotic woman invites Ennid into her world and tasks him with retrieving a rare gemstone does he hope to earn his fortune, buy back his horse and leave the town.

But first… first he must face the Beast.

Oh, and I have updated the cover, again…

Ennid BotB Cover

So… go for it!

Short post here.

Working on The Adventures of Ennid the Havoc: Belly of the Beast. I anticipate unleashing the Beast early next month. I’m also trying to run it through the Smashwords wringer in order to release it to as many platforms as possible for all of my readers.

Back to the keyboard…