Launch Sequence – Chapter 5

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

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FIVE

“Granite Base, this is Alpha-1. Launch Sequence stand-by.”

“Roger Alpha-1. Begin activation sequence.”

I listened to the comm chatter from Launch Control and the pilots while my goggles displayed vast amounts of information. The engine bay information window was bordered in red that turned to yellow as the Icarus’ power plant ramped up for blast-off. There were only two weapons pods, both defensive in nature, though I wondered how effective they would be should we pop out of the mountain only to find a thousand Kai warships waiting for us. I cycled through the acceleration creches, finding my parents’ two rows down from me, both a healthy green.

“Admiral Shaw, we’re cleared for launch,” the pilot’s voice said over the comm. Captain Jun was a female according to the display data next to her name, but she sounded like the gruffest, toughest Marine my brain could imagine.

“Roger that,” my father replied in a tight voice. “Let’s light ‘em up and get the hell off this rock ASAP.”

I turned my attention back to the engineering window. The fusion reactors had been steady at five percent until a few minutes ago when they began to slowly climb into the thirty percent range. I watched, holding my breath involuntarily, as the numbers inched into the low forties, then suddenly ramped up to ninety before leveling off and continuing their journey to one hundred. I expected the ship to vibrate or hum just like in all the movies, but I felt and heard nothing. I wasn’t sure if the gel in my creche was dampening any sensations. I could still hear the muffled noises of the last few sailors climbing into their own creches after securing the rest of the passengers. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

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FOUR

Mom and Dad talked for a while, though not before sending me off to a corner of the room to read. I had finally calmed down enough to begin once again daydreaming of the strange, shiny ship being prepped a dozen meters down the corridor from me. I felt ashamed that I had cried like a baby, but my mother forced me to admit I’d sneaked enough looks at the holos on the Wire to have a terrifying grasp of what the Kai did to their enemies.

Both Mom and Dad admitted to being just as frightened. When I asked how come they didn’t seem scared, my dad looked away when my mom said they had both done their share of crying over the last few years and didn’t have much—if any—tears left in them. The thought of crying so much that I couldn’t cry ever again scared me almost as much as what I’d seen the Kai do to our colonies. The only thing more terrifying, according to Dad, was how once the Wire went dead, truly awful things happened.

There were rumors the aliens harvested humans for food, used them in disturbing genetic experiments, even dissolving every living person in giant vats of acid. The tales that made me shiver were the ones describing how the Kai set everyone on fire.

I’d burned myself with a nanosolder tool when I was eight. It took almost a month for the wound to completely heal, and hurt even with the pain blockers the doctor prescribed. I shivered again at the thought of that kind of pain all over my body. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

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THREE

I tried to raise a single eyebrow again, as this was certainly different than any of the True Responsibilities I’d imagined.

“Hey, good one!” he said with a laugh, and it even made my mom chuckle. “You almost got it.” He changed back to Serious Dad. “Denny, you don’t pay much attention to the news, do you?”

“Not really,” I answered.

Adult news was usually boring unless it had footage from one of the colony worlds under attack, or an important space battle (but those were typically labeled “disasters”). Mom never let me watch any of those news stories, and had done her best to firewall my comm so I couldn’t pull grisly details (and pictures or video) from the Wire. I knew why she didn’t want me to watch them, at least I thought I did, and it had to do with her own experiences in combat.

Mostly, the news always sounded like a bunch of voices all talking at once. Today in blah blah blah, this bad thing happened, a lot more bad stuff happened, here’s the weather and then sports. I did my best to tune it out, but because of my accelerated schooling, thanks to both of my parents being officers in the military, I knew a lot more than most of my peers about what was happening in the galaxy.

I didn’t seek out the news that most adults paid attention to, but I didn’t ignore it either. A lot of the stuff going on around the galaxy made no sense to me for a long time, but I’d learned a lot of “context” (a concept I still struggled with) which made connections between people, places, and events easier to understand. Ever since I found out about Mom and what happened to her at Janus, I paid more attention than ever to any news that entered the small bubble of my world. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 2

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

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TWO

The elevator opened up into a cavern so large I couldn’t see the far wall. Part of what was blocking my view of the other wall was a starship. I didn’t know how I could know that based on the limited section of it that I could see, but inside, I knew. There was an army of men and women in white lab coats scurrying around the ship like ants around their queen. I looked up toward the ceiling, but there didn’t seem to be one. The walls rose straight up until the darkness swallowed everything. The ship didn’t look like any ship I had ever seen before. It wasn’t that it was so alien that I couldn’t have imagined it, but it was just so… different.

I loved science fiction, both books and movies, though I hadn’t been allowed to see any of the scarier adult versions. I thought I had an idea of what every ship ever conceived of would or could look like. This one didn’t resemble a rocket, the old NASA space shuttles, nor even the Terran Navy’s almost uncountable variations in ships. It didn’t look like any of the Kai ships I had seen on the news and in documentaries.

As I walked along the new yellow line in the floor that began to glow once we stepped out of the elevator, I tried to figure out where the cockpit was, where the engines were, where the airlock for letting crew members in and out could possibly be on the massive vessel before me. The ship looked like a giant, slightly flattened egg with a polished silver outer hull that returned weird images of us as we walked by it. The reflective surface made me think of a funhouse mirror in the way that it distorted every shape it captured. Twice as we continued toward wherever Mom and the yellow line led us, I noticed that some of the reflections would simply wink out, almost as if we had become vampires for a few seconds. Continue reading

If I Was – or – If I Were? Grammar Lesson!

Right. So. As I’m editing a story tonight, I’ve come across a couple of times where I’ve had to scratch my head and say a sentence out loud. A lot. Why? I’m glad you asked (you didn’t but be a good hostage and pretend I’m important for a moment).

“…a strange foreigner of high birth who threw silver coins around as if he were allergic to them.”

This is one of the sentences in question. If you exchange “was” for “were” in this sentence, it still sounds right. Right? Sort of? And then when you start thinking it does sound correct, you start questioning that. Because “were” starts to sound more correct again.

Okay, maybe I’m the only one with brain damage and has trouble with this. However, I’ve seen this question often, and when Google can autocomplete my query perfectly when I go searching for the answer (remember, English classes were a long time ago for me), I feel better knowing that others have been in this situation.

All of the sites that I respect have the same answer, but since I like Grammar Girl the most, I’ll use hers:

“Believe it or not, verbs have moods just like you do. Yes, before the Internet and before emoticons, somebody already thought it was important to communicate moods. So, like many other languages, English has verbs with moods ranging from commanding to questioning and beyond. The mood of the verb “to be” when you use the phrase “I were” is called the subjunctive mood, and you use it for times when you’re talking about something that isn’t true or you’re being wishful.

This particular piece of confusing English badassery is known as “subjunctive verbs.” It’s badass because it always kicks my ass. Thankfully I have smart editors who, when not laughing at my attempts to relay an intelligible story, make giant, angry red slashes on my manuscripts (or, you know, uses the Track Changes feature in MS Word) when I fail this ongoing test. I’m also bad at using “that” instead of “who.”

There you go, young writers. And old writers like me who forgot most what what I learned in high school and college after banging my head on the desk too many times trying to come up with a plausible storyline that didn’t read like it was written in blue crayon.

PS: If you like Grammar Girl and want her tips to come up first, just make sure you always add “Grammar Girl” to your search. But you knew this already.

Le $.99 / Free Sale (this weekend)

This weekend, I’m offering all of my books at either $.99 or Free @ Amazon!

Angry Sale

Including my latest release “Diabolus”

Speculative Fiction Blog Hop

Hey. So… I’m supposed to tell you something about me, and then tell you to visit some other authors are all vastly superior in writing skill/talent to me (trust me, they are good). Thanks to Cherise Kelley for sending eyeballs this way.

What is “speculative fiction”? Honestly… I have no idea. It seems to be one of those things that are founded in opinion (STAR WARS! NO! STAR TREK! NERD FIGHT!). To me, it’s pretty much everything I write, since I don’t write in the non-fiction genre (yet). I write science fiction, horror, crime fiction, coming of age, humor, fantasy, and even some kid-friendly stories with no *gasp* curse words. Or sex. Or violence. Weird, right?

I’m probably in a lot of trouble with the blog gods because I’m extremely late posting this. The unfortunate clashing of “Diabolus” being released this Friday (putting me in that ugly ‘final edit crunch’ where everyone in the house hates me because I ignore them, and when I am not ignoring them while editing, I’m probably yelling at or to them) and my turn at the blog hop was unexpected. So… blog gods, I’m apologizing up front to hopefully keep my head (or at least my hands, I have to be able to type).

I’ve just finished up what is supposed to be the final edit of “Diabolus,” but of course I’ll sneak one or two more by Wednesday (and probably two or three in the month after release, because I’m kind of anal like that and hate giving readers another reason to hate me). Now I get to bore you with a lot of long-winded nonsense.

1. What Am I Working On Right Now?

Diabolus is pretty much out the door, which puts me back in the rotation, like I’m a homicide detective and I have to solve how I murdered each semi-finished story waiting to be completed.

I have about 2/3 of Book #1 of a new alien invasion trilogy, and I’ll be using Trevor Smith (artist who designed Diabolus’ cover) again for these books.

Then there’s this “Space Weed” story that you might have read a couple chapters of at this here website. If you are a police officer, there are no illicit narcotics residing within the webserver this site is hosted on.

A few vampire shorts (you might have noticed I hate vampires, werewolves, and zombies… and I mean REALLY hate them, but Garth Wright, a fellow Idaho author, convinced me to write a couple of old-school vamp stories with the kind of weird twists that I enjoy.

And finally… there’s this prequel/sequel that I’m finally ready to work on now that all of these other books are out of the way. “It’s Better This Way” has been my most popular book, by far, to the point I could probably be driving my brand new orange $46,000 Dodge Challenger SRT8 with black racing stripes if I had actually written more in this universe six-plus months ago. Whatever. I do things for the love of the story, not for money.

I mean… money is great. I’d love to have more. But I refuse to write anything just to make a buck off it. I can easily see through the bullshit when I write for money instead of for the story, and since I’m one of the dimmest bulbs there is, I’m convinced everyone else can see through it as well.

2. How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre(s)?

The separation comes from either fresh ideas that I’ve never read before (granted, I’ve read a lot in my forty years, but I’m finding out daily there are thousands of books in my favorite genres that I’ve never even heard of). Or the mash-up of different ideas. “Diabolus” is a good example. I call it my “The Exorcist” meets “The Matrix” meets “Skynet” story. Almost sounds interesting, don’t it? Nah, it ain’t. I wrote it, so I’m a pretty good judge of stuff like that.

I spend a lot of time either cleaning cat litter boxes for my masters (five of them), or vacuuming the floors for my other master (the one with the magic ring that won’t let me have a ninja sword and makes me eat vegetables). During this time, weirdly, I get a lot of dumb / crazy / ridiculous / funny / boring / lame ideas about this or that, and then I’ll spent the rest of my cleaning time piecing together a few scenes in my head to see if it works. If so, it goes in the spiral notebook (to die, mwahahaha). If not, but still might be useful down the road, I email a short synopsis to myself. If not, for sure, then I punch myself in the kidney as hard as I can to warn myself about having ideas that are wastes of time.

3. Why Do I Write What I Write?

Because I’m weird. I have a very strange, vivid, morbid imagination. I’m the product of child neglect + abuse, so I had to keep my mind busy a lot while growing up. Now I write to exorcise a few demons from those days, or because I accidentally drank some lemon-flavored bleach and sort of blacked out for a while, and when I came to, there was this cool idea on my screen / in my notebook.

Mostly I write what I write because I love it. If I don’t love a story, you won’t ever read it. You probably shouldn’t ever read anything I write, but if you think maybe you might want to, I’ll warn you again to avoid at all costs. Seriously. I love my stories, and I’m proud of them. I publish them and hope that others enjoy them, but I’m really not concerned if they do or not. I’m a big boy and I know that not everyone will like everything (or anything) that I write.

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?

Step 1: Do something useful like vacuuming floors, cleaning litter boxes, gardening, etc., with noise-canceling earbuds + very angry, loud, heavy metal blasting into my hear-holes.

Step 2: Come up with really ultra mega super awesome badass idea. Write it down somewhere. WRITE IT DOWN! Sheesh. You always forget, then you bug your wife with the “man, I had a really good story idea but now I can’t remember it!” routine because you DIDN’T WRITE IT DOWN!

Step 3: Take the basic idea, and with my awesome Zebra 402 ball point pen, begin writing what I like to call ‘concept.’ Concept is kind of an outline of sorts, but it’s all condensed like I’m a teenager trying to tell an important story to another teenager. It’s a bit jumbled, but I get all the important plot points down. Names… meh. I make up names when I actually sit down.

Step 4: Write a story from the concept. A 6,000 word concept can net me 100,000+ words in a novel. I’m a blowhard that never shuts up like that. It’s what I do.

Step 5: PROFIT!
Wait… there’s something missing here. Oh, put it down for a month after finishing the story. Don’t touch it. Write other stuff. Edit other stuff. Watch Game of Thrones in one sitting. Drive wife crazy begging for ninja swords and a guard tower for the back yard (.50cal machine gun too, please!).

After a month, revise it. Slash and burn and mend and heal. Put it down for another week minimum, then edit it one more time. Then send it to some unlucky fool along with a nice fat check and watch them shrivel in misery as they try to edit my gibberish (written in 67 point font with crayons).

Step 6: After editor sends it back with a note to never contact him/her again, along with threatening legal correspondence, possibly even a restraining order (or a doctor bill for eye replacement after gouging theirs out), put it away for another week. Then edit it. Send it to proofer.

Step 7: PROFIT!!!
Wait… grrrrr. Okay. While that editing stuff (whatever that is) goes on, you should be drinking beer and running down squirrels on winding forest roads! Or… having a cover made. That’s what I’d do, anyway. As you can tell, I’m not good at this. Get a good cover. Trust me on this. Never believe anything I say beyond this, but this one thing, trust me. Get a good cover.

Step 8: PROFIT!!!?
Hah! NO! Now time to navigate the Amazon and Smashwords and B&N portals to print my deliciously adverbial trash-fiction. Wait for approval then…

Step 9: Skip step 9, because 9 is better than 8, but not better than 10.

Step 10: PROFIT!!!???
YES! PROFIT!

So… now what?

Now, my little grasshoppers, you must travel beyond my realm, and to a very nice gentleman named “David Pagan.” Here’s a little about him:

By day, Dave is a programmer, or a software engineer for those times when he feels like sounding more important than he really is. He enjoys working on computers and feels fortunate that he’s been able to do it for most of his adult life. When he’s not sitting at a computer earning a living, Dave can usually be found sitting at his computer either writing or blogging. Dave writes mostly horror/dark fiction, though he’s been known to dabble in short fiction on love/romance. He dedicates his blog to his father, who passed away recently, and hopes to someday be as good a storyteller as he was.

You can find out more by visiting David’s blog:
http://www.davidpagan.wordpress.com/

(Right. So. I’m terrible at this, and didn’t actually make it a hyperlink. Never invite me to any social function. I will embarrass you. Badly. And probably ruin it for everyone.)

Writer’s Rant: Judging A Book By Its Cover

So does anyone remember that old sci-fi movie “Ice Pirates”? One of those ‘so bad it’s good’ space comedies?

I’m kinda toying with a ‘pulp’ idea along those lines. Maybe a series of short novellas written in the pulp style but with modern science fiction ideas. Heck, maybe even some horror stuff too. Street gangs.

I can call it “Dollar Fiction” and then give it a subtitle like “Dollar Fiction: Ice Pirates #1” or something. “Dollar Fiction: Some Other Crap Here #3”. Better yet, I’ll deliberately make them all have plain covers that cost me nothing, and in the blurb, it will say something like “Dollar Fiction’s goal is to give you modern pulp at affordable prices. Our secondary goal is to prove that a book should never be judged by its cover.”

Because I’m never going to stop being annoyed that people still judge the contents of a book by what’s on the cover. It’s ridiculous. How the hell did anyone read some boring shit like “A Tale of Two Cities” when the covers were made of stretched leather or whatever DIDN’T have 4-color, hand-drawn, original artwork (or stock photos pasted together with some lettering on them)?

Have you ever seen what a book looked like before some dude (probably a dude in NYC) decided that paperbacks were easy to make and easy to put all kinds of crazy drawings on the cover? Yeah. Books covers were as artistic as a painted wall.
Continue reading

Publishing Shills Still Trying To Convince Us They Are Important

Caught a post on my Tumblr dashboard today. While I appreciate Mr. Green’s passion, I have to call bullshit.

Give a read HERE

My Novella = Gay Agenda/Propaganda?

I guess I’m proud to announce that my first book published is hereby declared ‘gay propaganda’.

I’m going to say, “Good.”

The book of course is NOT gay propaganda, but it does have an LGBT-friendly…story? I don’t know how to explain it. Some of the characters are gay. Like…so what? Because there are gays in this real world, there shouldn’t be gays in fiction / science fiction?

Here’s how I see the world, and in turn, how I write stories: Continue reading