THE WORD ON THE .NET

Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Author: T. James (page 1 of 10)

I’m Still Alive – Just Working on Other Things

When I started my latest project I thought I would keep posting regularly on this blog, but alas I haven’t had time to do both. This blog isn’t dead, and new material may surface from time to time, but until Out of the Darkness is complete that’s where I will be committing the bulk of my writing time.

I’m blogging about the progress of the novel; just click on the picture below if you are interested in finding out more:

Out of the Darkness is a science fiction novel set in the Elite: Dangerous universe. Release estimated to be Q2-3, 2014.

Featured Book Giveaway: “Girls & Monsters” by Anne Michaud

Anne Michaud girls and monsters

Girls & Monsters

by Anne Michaud

Release date: Apr 30, 2013

Win a free trade paperback copy of Anne Michaud’s Girls & Monsters a month before it’s released!

THERE’S ONLY ONE WEEK TO GO BEFORE THE GIVEAWAY CLOSES…

***CLICK HERE TO ENTER***

 

This dark but uplifting collection of five Young Adult novellas includes:

Death Song: Liz is in love with Joe, but the monster of the lake has other plans for them.

Black Dog: Scarlet is engaged in a struggle for her sanity, but according to the voice in her head, she may be too late.

A Blue Story: When Katherine’s beloved dog goes missing, she fears her strange new neighbor might be involved.

Dust Bunnies: Christiane faces her childhood arachnophobia and ends up confronting even greater fears in this test of sisterhood.

We Left at Night: Brooke and her family must abandon their home and their lives to make it out of a disease-plagued town overrun by zombies.

 

Girls & Monsters is for everyone who has ever been brave enough to confront their childhood fears…and lived to tell about it.

 

About Anne Michaud

“Anne Michaud is an author of many talents, especially getting distracted by depressing music and dark things. She likes to write and read everyday, and speak of herself in the third person.

Since her Master’s degree in Screenwriting from the University of London, England, Anne has written, directed and produced three short films,  distributed by Ouat! Media in Toronto, Canada. The lyric documentary Worth a Thousand Words (2006) can be seen here.

And then, after hundreds of hours spent on studying and making films, she changed her mind and started writing short stories, novelettes and novels. Some have been published, others will be soon enough.

Keep your eyes open, she’s behind you.”

More information can be found about this monochrome yet colourful French-Canadian and her writing on her blog and her Facebook page. She has also been known to Tweet.

Taking Tea with Mr. Mole: A Nonsense Poem

There once was a vole, a fox, and a mole—daintily tippling tea from cups with filigree—down inside Mole’s burrow.

Said the fox to the mole, “If you are free, can I trouble you for some giblets or possibly steak riblets, to munch on with our tea? It would do much to lessen my sorrow.”

“My apologies dear Fox, for with meat I’m quite lost, but I do have a worm that will make your innards squirm?” said Mole, his voice touched with frost.

“No. I can’t be doing with all that wriggling and jiggling—my insides I don’t want grumbly. But some lovely intestine is really quite fetching and my digestion will not pay the cost.”

“So sorry, Mister Fox, for your cuisinal loss, may hap you will have to go hungry. Now Vole, a question, no, consider this suggestion: would you like some worm pie, garnished atop with toad’s eye?”

“Ah yes, Vole,” said Fox, “you’re a plump fellow, and despite wearing yellow, I think I’d like you for my tumbly.” And quick as a flash he stripped off Vole’s sash, and swallowed Vole whole with a sigh.

Mole’s mouth was agape as Fox reached for his cape. “M…M… Mister V…V…Vole!” he stammered, as his little heart hammered. “Fox, you’ve just eaten my dinner guest!”

“Mole, fear not, for Vole has ended my lack of a small, furry snack, and now I should be going. But I’ll return next Wednesday to this passable assembly—just invite someone else I can digest.”

—♥—

Taking Tea with Mr. Mole, a nonsense poem, copyright © T. James, March, 2013.

Image: “Cup Of Tea With Cheesecake“, courtesy of  Marcus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Guest Post by Michael Brookes: On the Shoulders of Giants

Last year I wrote a post on my blog about why I consider John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ the greatest story ever told. I’m not going to repeat the reasons why here, if you’re interested then please visit http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/paradise-lost-greatest-story-ever-told.html. In today’s guest post I want to examine how this wonderful story influences my own writing and how I stand on the shoulders of giants. Continue reading

Fan Fiction: Evil Plagiarism, or Innocent Homage?

Fan fiction (fanfic)—fans writing fiction based on an author’s book—hit the headlines in 2011 when E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey became a best-selling self-published ebook. The publishing rights were purchased by Random House and the (eventual) trilogy went on to become a mainstream best seller, with the first novel becoming the fastest selling book of all time, outstripping (cough) even Harry Potter. (The series was originally inspired by Stephanie Mayer’s Twilight novels, but later morphed into something quite, well, different.) At the time it was vilified  by “proper” writers and shredded by critics, but the books have sold over 65 millions copies. Fan fiction splits opinion, both of authors and readers, but recently I started a new writing project that has forced me to re-examine mine. Continue reading

Featured Novel: ´Conversations in the Abyss´ by Michael Brookes

This week I’m handing over to Michael Brookes—imagineer of things fantastical and metaphysical. He works far too hard, so show him some love and check out the details of his latest novel below, it’s probably not quite like anything you’ve read before…

‘Conversations in the Abyss’ is the sequel to the 5 star rated supernatural thriller ‘The Cult of Me’

Stealing Lazarus’s miracle gifted him immortality. Combined with his natural ability of invading and controlling people’s minds, this made him one of the most dangerous people on Earth.

But the miracle came with a price. His punishment was to be imprisoned within the walls of an ancient monastery and tormented by an invisible fire that burned his body perpetually. To escape the pain he retreated deep into his own mind.

There he discovers the truth of the universe and that only he can stop the coming Apocalypse.

Buy now from Amazon:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCP08JU/

US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BCP08JU/

About Michael Brookes

Michael Brookes is an Executive Producer with a leading UK games developer. Working in games and writing are two of his life passions and considers himself fortunate to be able to indulge them both. He lives in the east of England, enjoying starry skies in the flattest part of the country. When not working or writing he can sometimes be found sleeping. Which is good as that is where many good ideas come from.

Michael’s Blog: The Cult of Me

Other Books by Michael Brookes

‘The Cult of Me’
For too long he dwelt apart, watched those who passed him by. With his unique abilities he entered their minds and inflicted terrible suffering upon them. They didn’t even know who he was. The game has lasted for years, but now the game has become stale. On an impulse he decides to make a final and very public last stand. After surrendering himself to the police he enacts his plan to seize the prison for his final bloody act. 

There he discovers that he’s not as unique as he once thought.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Cult-Third-Path-ebook/dp/B008O7ZVXW/

‘An Odd Quartet’
A quartet of dark short stories (10,000 words) to thrill and chill.

‘The Yellow Lady’
Grave robbing is a dirty business, in more ways than one. When he disturbs the grave from a childhood scary story he discovers it’s not always treasure to be found.

‘This Empty Place’
At the heat death of the universe, Death contemplates his existence.

‘Forced Entry’
Terrorists seize an average suburban house. A Special Forces hostage rescue team is sent in and encounter more than they were trained for.

‘The Reluctant Demon’
A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.

http://www.amazon.com/An-Odd-Quartet-ebook/dp/B009QJMMPC/

Mind the Mundane: A Guest Post by Steve McHugh

This week I am handing my blog over to the talented and debonair Steve McHugh: writer of paranormal fantasy and breaker of hearts across the internet. Below are his very own words. (You may stroke your screen if that helps you feel closer to him, but salivating over your electronic web device may result in an electric shock that has nothing to do with Steve’s charged personality.) Continue reading

Blog Tour: “Witch Hunt: Of the Blood”

This week I am hosting five, count ‘em, five talented authors as part of the Witch Hunt: Of the Blood book blog tour. Following the success of Devin O’Branagan’s original novel Witch Hunt, they have come together to compile an anthology of five novella-length stories to answer some of reader’s remaining questions and to flesh out Devin’s witchy world.

I caught up with them via the ultra-modern medium of email to get a brief inside scoop:

Me: Devin, what was the inspiration for the original Witch Hunt novel, and how did you develop those ideas in your follow up novella, Of The Blood Of Witches?

Devin: I was inspired to write the original Witch Hunt as an exploration of the dangers of religious fanaticism. In my novella Of the Blood of Witches, I further explored that issue via both the witches and their hostility toward Christians because of historical persecutions, and through one of the Christians who reacts with disgust upon discovering the woman he loves is a witch. There is no spirituality within religious fanaticism, which is emotional, judgmental, and self-righteous. It doesn’t matter what one’s religious faith is, if there is hatred, then there is not spirituality.

Me (question put to the other four authors): What aspect of Devin’s writing inspired you to write your novella, and what is the individual spin you’ve put on your story that makes it unique?

K.L. Schwengel: Devin’s tag line sums it up: Art should be fearless. Her approach to writing and to telling her characters’ stories is bold and fearless, and she pulls no punches.

I’m not sure how to answer the second half of this question. I don’t know that I consciously put any kind of spin on my story, outside of my writing voice. I like to keep things tight, and not dive into long descriptions, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks on their own.

Krista Walsh: The subject of the Salem Witch Trials was my first inspiration, but I also appreciated how much Devin included under the surface of the story. Each character was trapped in different ways, which left so much material to work with after her story ended. With the structure I chose for my story, I was able to play with some nightmares and what-if scenarios for Bridget and Rebekah’s characters.

Keri Lake: The women in Devin’s original Witch Hunt novel were strong and nurturing.  I found these traits to be most inspirational for Miranda’s character, a physician in 1918.  I think what makes The Banishing unique is the science that I’ve weaved into the supernatural.

Suzanne Hayes Campbell: Of all of Devin’s books, I think the characters in Witch Hunt were the most fully realized. That made for exciting reading—each chapter became a time capsule in the story of the persecution of a group of people. While the Hawthorne family of characters in each of the historical chapters were different—juxtaposing them with the struggle of the modern Hawthornes held the story together. It was brilliant—and that inspired me. While my novella is much simpler, dealing with one small set of characters in a specific time period. To some degree I did rely on that family struggle as an underlying thread—but in my story it manifests in a single character’s quest to find herself and her place in a world that betrayed her. If I put a “spin” on it, I suppose it was to give her a crisis of faith—in her heritage, her beliefs, and in herself. Ultimately, she comes to know that everything that matters is the same to every people—just clothed in different costumes.

———————

Well, there you have it: fiction writing based on themes with depth and characters that have compelling personal stories to tell. And now your appetite is whetted, here are some more details from Devin:

You’ve closed the cover on Witch Hunt, but the story isn’t over … yet! I’ve handpicked writers to take up my characters’ stories and explore what happens next.

The anthology begins with my own novella about Hawthorne matriarch, Vivian. Vivian and her fellow British witches work together to prevent a Nazi invasion during World War II. Then there is Colonial maiden, Bridget, who struggles with the guilt of failing her family in Salem, 1692. Her younger sister, Prissy, mysteriously disappears and finds another magical world. Julia, torn by family loyalties, love, and her spiritual quest, pays a huge price to continue the bloodline. And Miranda uses her powers against the great influenza outbreak of 1918—but finds the ultimate foe is prejudice against her kind.

Discover what was left out of Witch Hunt and revisit your favorite characters with these exciting novellas. The story isn’t done until the battle’s lost and won.

———————

This anthology contains novellas by Devin O’Branagan, Suzanne Hayes Campbell, Keri Lake, K.L. Schwengel, and Krista Walsh.

All five authors of the anthology are available for discussion at Devin’s writers’ forum. This is the link to chat with them: Chat With The Authors!

Witch Hunt: Of the Blood is available in both print and eBook formats and may be found at AmazonB&N, and Smashwords. (Smashwords provides copies compatible with almost all types of eReaders including Sony, Apple, Kobo, etc.) It is also available internationally via Amazon worldwide!

Two of the stories in this anthology are bridges to the upcoming sequel, Witch Hunt: Resistance, which will be released in 2013.

The original Witch Hunt is an international bestseller first published by Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books. It has been translated into German and Turkish and is consistently on the bestseller lists. It is the story of 300+ years in the history of a family of witches, from the time of the Salem trials to a modern-day witch hunt. It begs the question: could it happen again?

Witch Hunt is available as both a paperback and an eBook. It is available at AmazonB&N, and Smashwords.

———————

Devin O’Branagan can be found at: www.DevinWrites.com“Art Must Be Fearless!”

Three Unlikely Members of the Elite Group Known as “Writers”

Today I am hosting three writers as part of Michael Brookes’ Elite: Dangerous author interview series for Frontier. Michael has kindly given me permission to use his interview questions for the sake of consistency, but when I told him who the three writers were and asked if he wanted to host their interviews on his blog he muttered something about, “… unprofessional,” and, “… inappropriate,” and, “… a nightmare for Frontier’s PR department.” Then he said, “No!” quite emphatically.

So, going boldly where no one has gone before, let me introduce my three guest writers who are competing for the Elite: Dangerous game’s writer’s pack to help it to reach its Kickstarter funding goal. Just click on their pictures for their bios:

Dee Pression

Dee Pression

May Nia

May Nia

Nic Histrion

Nic Histrion

1. Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?

Dee Pression: I don’t know why you’re asking. Well you’re probably just trying to be nice, but no one’s going to care about me, so you don’t have to bother.

Nic Histrion: I am a writer—of science fiction of the most sublime kind. I will dazzle and amaze. You can ignore these other two. I’m all you’ll ever need.

May Nia:

IamawriterandIputwordstogetherbecauseIlovewritingWritingisthebestthingever!

Don’tyouthink?FreelyexpressingmyselfisutterjoyTherereallyisnothingbetterthanwriting—

 

2. When did you first start playing Elite and why did you come to love it so much?

Dee Pression: I started playing Elite after waiting for what seemed like forever for the game to load from cassette in the olden days: I was young, naïve, and full of hope.

Then I kept ramming the space stations during docking. When I did dock, the prices of my goods were always higher than I’d bought them for. Pirates kept attacking me, even when I only had two cargo canisters of food on board my ship. The graphics were terrible—just lines—and the sound, don’t get me started on the sound. I never loved it. I just didn’t have any friends so I played Elite.

Nic Histrion: Played? I never played! I lived it and through me Élite lived. It and I were lovers. It seduced me with its graphics, and in return I pleasured it with caresses from my fingers.

May Nia:

Istartedwhentheybroughtoutthecolourfulversionbecauseyouknowcoloursmakemefeelhappy

andIlikethatalltheshipshaddifferentcoloursandtherewasthenoiseofthelasersandthatwasfun

andIlikedtoflynexttoplanetsandthesunsbecausetheyhadlotsofcoloursbutIlikethesunsbestbe

causetheywerethebrightestbutflyingthroughspacewasboringunlessyouwerejumpingorin

hyperspacebecausetheyhadpatternsandyouwentreallyfastandIlikegoingfastand—

 

3. Have you reached “Elite” status in game?

Dee Pression: I’ve never managed to achieve anything, so it was never worth trying. I was proud of reaching “mostly harmless”, even though it took me three years.

Nic Histrion: Reached Élite status? That implies I was anything less than the best. Élite is a state of mind, a state of being. Élite is everything I am, everything I do. And, Dahling, I mean everything. *winks*

May Nia:

NoInevermadeittoElitebecausetradingwassodullandIcouldn’twaittobuyabeamlasersoIbattled

everyonewithmypulselaserandthatwasfunbecauseitmadecoolnoisesbutthenIdidn’tlikeit

becauseitoverheatedandstoppedfiringquicklywhichgotboringandthenIgotshotandblownupby

theothershipsbutthenitwasfunagain’cosbitsofmyshipwouldflyaroundthescreenwithabig

“boom”noisebuthenitgotboringwaitingtoloadanothergameand—

 

4. What inspired you to start writing?

Dee Pression: Nothing inspires me. I just get so bored and writing is a little better than staring at the wall, or trying to cut my wrists, or taking those pills, or sitting in the car with the engine switched on. I can’t even get that right, they keep finding me.

Nic Histrion: What do you think? You tell me. There must be something about me you find fascinating—everybody does. How could I deprive the world of this? I was born to write, and the world was born to read me.

May Nia:

Forsomereasonpeopledon’thangaroundtolistentomeverymuchIdon’tknowwhybecauseItalk

fastsotheyshouldn’tgetboredbuttheydon’tseemtolikeitanywayandthentheyleavebutwhen

writingIcanputallmythoughtsonthepageandthenIcansharethemwithpeoplewhocanreadmy

bookattheirownslowspeedand—

 

5. You’re gathering funding to secure the writer’s pledge on the Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter – how’s that going? And where can people go to support your effort?

Dee Pression: It’s not, going I mean. Stopped. Dead as a dodo. Kapput. Crapped out. Defunct. Busted. It’s stalled a third of the way there. I don’t know why I even tried. It was bound to fail from the start. Me? Raise thousands online? Everyone’s laughing at me, and who can blame them?

Nic Histrion: I am hurt, wounded by the core, that it has taken more than a day to raise a few thousand pounds. I despair for the future of gaming, literature, and humankind in general. I mean, isn’t it obvious what they are missing out on if this doesn’t get funded?

May Nia:

It’sgoingreallywellIonlyhavetoraiseanother3200whichshouldbeeasyasIhaveafewdaystogo

andthingsalwaysworkoutforthebestdon’ttheyandIknoweveryonewilllovewhatIwriteandpeople

aresogenerousandlovegivingmoneyawayand—

 

6. Do you have a story idea if you’re successful with the pledge? Can you tell us anything about it?

Dee Pression: No, because I’m not going to be successful because nothing ever good happens to me, so what’s the point in thinking of a plot for a story that won’t get backed, won’t get written, and so will never be read? I’ll be penniless, unknown and unacknowledged until I die—I just know it.

Nic Histrion: Ah… You would love me to share all my most intimate secrets, wouldn’t you? Naughty! *winks again*

May Nia:

WhenIheardabouttheEliteKickstarterIstartedtowritestraightawayI’venotsleptsinceIfoundout

overaweekagoandbywritingthroughthenightIgetsloadsdoneandIammoreimaginativebecause

Iseestrangethingsandcoloursandsoundsthatotherpeoplesaytheycan’tseeandIreckonI’m

abouthalfwaythroughbecauseI’vedone400000wordsbutImaytryandwriteaseriesofbooks

beforemyKickstarterfinishesonthe23rdofDecemberandIthinkpeopleliketoreadseries

becausetheycangetmoreintothecharactersand—

 

7. Do you have any other writing that we can read?

Dee Pression: No. Writing is too much like hard work; in fact if I even think about writing I get a headache. I try to do as little as possible—everyone knows it just gives you arthritis, carpel tunnel syndrome, RSI, and migraines, not to mention psychosis and a loss of connection to reality. Who needs all that?!

Nic Histrion: I have worlds of words and a universe of beauty inside me, but I’m going to make you wait to read it, unless you’re nice to me… *raises a seductive eyebrow*

May Nia:

OhlotsandlotsandlotsandIknowyou’llloveitIthinkI’veprobablymanagedabout38novelsthisyear

andIreadreallyfastsoeditingiseasyIjustworrythatIwon’tfindapublisherthatcanprintbooksasfast

asIcanwritethemand—

 

8. What makes the Elite universe so interesting to write a story in?

Dee Pression: Interesting? It’s set in space isn’t it? Space is empty, except for balls of rock and fire, and some gas and dust floating around in it. I know it’s big, but does that make it interesting? Just sounds like there is more of it to bore you, really.

Nic Histrion: I will make the Élite universe interesting! My main character will, of course, be based on me. What could be more interesting than following my adventures? They’ll be so much scandal: the romance and betrayal of star-crossed lovers intertwining against the backdrop of a beautiful of my fashioning. What reader could wish for more?

May Nia:

It’shugeandbigandprettyanditsgotshinyshipsandbrightlasersandstarsthatareprettyandBIG

planetstolandonand—

 

9. Why do you think you can write a great Elite story?

Dee Pression: When I’ve saved enough money, I’ll hire a ghost writer who can do the hard work for me. They graft and I get my name on the cover. Nobody is buying books these days anyway, so I might not bother.

Nic Histrion: Are you trying to wound me? I’m a sensitive soul, so you have to treat me gently! I refuse to debase myself by baring my soul to doubters. If you cannot see my talent, then you are a doubter too. *pouts*

May Nia:

IwritereallylongstoriesandIthinkthosearebetterbecauseyoucansaymoreabouttheplotandthe

charactersandthethemesandaboutlifeandmypacingisexcellentbecauseit’ssofastpeople

won’tgetboredand—

 

10. Do you have anything else you’d like to share with us?

Nic Histrion: After your last question, no. Not until you apologise and make it up to me. You are going to apologise aren’t you? Because you know making it up to me will, well, you know it will be special, don’t you? *raises one eyebrow*

May Nia:

I’vegotlotstoshare!Icantellyouaboutmy38novelsandmyplansformyEliteseriesbecauseI’m

sureyou’dlovetoreadthemallandI’mgoingtosetupafanclubtomakeeveryoneashappyasme

and—

Dee Pression: What, like personal stuff so people can post it all over the internet and laugh at me behind my back? I don’t think so. I don’t like you, or your questions. Now leave me alone.

 ∞

After reading their responses, I think Michael may have been right… but if you want to help a writer who is more serious about their own Kickstarter-funded Elite: Dangerous book, then please click the link below:

Out of the Darkness, An Elite: Dangerous book, by T. James

With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? A Science Fiction Short Story.

This week I promised to put a sample of my science fiction writing online, but things haven’t gone according to plan. Yesterday a WordPress update totaled this blog and it took an afternoon to resurrect it in the form you see here. (Some features are still not functioning properly. My apologies if things aren’t working as they should.) On top of that my son and I now both have stomach flu, which isn’t pretty, but we’ll live.

What won’t happen is me being able to post as much of the SF story as I intended, fit it into the Elite mythos as thoroughly as I wanted to, or edit it as much as I’d like. So, there you go. It’s still in draft stage, and I only have part I even remotely close to completion. Hopefully it will give you some idea about my writing style and what you can expect from Out of the Darkness.

What it is not is an extract from Out of the Darkness. I may rework the scenes/characters below into that story, but I suspect there isn’t enough here to fill a much longer work. Please also note that this work has not been seen or endorsed in any way by Frontier Developments, and Out of the Darkness may be different in style depending on FD’s eventual writing guidelines (which I know nothing of at this time).

With all that said, I hope you enjoy it and would think about contributing to the Out of the Darkness Kickstarter project so I can write a much longer Elite story for you. (Part II of the story below will follow as soon as I can get it done).

I’m Kickstarting Out of the Darkness, an Elite bookhere:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tjameswriter/an-elite-dangerous-book-out-of-the-darkness

Thank you for your support.

With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? Part I.

KerriK stretched, trying to ease the eternal cramp in his muscles. The nyrolon fibres of his flight suit creaked—the inbuilt decontamination enzyme-sheaths too long overworked. The dried sweat had left salts and proteins crystallised in a cocoon-like coating on his skin that cracked whenever he moved. His eye muscles pulled against the encrusted gunk gluing his eyelids together, but nothing happened—he hadn’t been able to sleep for… how long? He pawed at the sticky mess with a stubby gloved finger. The crust came away, tearing several eyelashes with it.

“—.” He tried to swear but the curse stuck in the thickness in his throat. At least he could see again, even if it was only in blurred smudges of colour. Muscles vibrated like torsion cables as he stretched out a trembling hand toward where he remembered the provisions dispenser to be. He stabbed at the phosphorescent green blur and missed. Frakin’ Macruin tub. How am I supposed to fly something built by eight foot squid? Ah! Somewhere inside his sponge-filled skull a neurone fired. He felt down the outside of his left thigh, and found the bottle carefully wedged between two of the pads of the anti-G harness. Come to Daddy! He wrapped the bottle in his gloved fist and, as lovingly as a father holding his newborn for the first time, lifted it to his mouth. The cork had a reassuringly moist, woody smell—there was still some left. He pulled it out with his teeth and let it fall into his lap. The stinging smell of the liquor ploughed furrows up his nostrils and set a neon light show off inside his brain. So much better than that fermented urine from Earth. He tipped the bottle up, and like a babe nursing at a teat, took the tiniest drop onto his tongue. Nothing. His breath caught, heart accelerating until he thought it would jump through his ribcage. Mustn’t panic, there’s still some left. KerriK knew the effects. Complete lucidity, connection to self and everything around you, and no need to sleep. It was incredibly expensive and illegal in every civilised star system. But its unique effect on human brain physiology was the only reason he was still sane—alone in this wreck of a ship.  But to stay sane you needed more… and then still more. He wondered if he could ever be normal again. He’d been on the stuff for three months.

The liquor began to wind tendrils through his thoughts, seeking them out and pulling them into sharper, painful, focus. This was the worst part, but he’d already pushed through it more times than he could count. He had to be quick, before he lost the ability to function. He scrabbled at the cork, catching it in the bulky gloves on the fifth try. He twisted his head sideways, shoved the cork between his teeth and screwed the bottle up onto the cork with both hands. He recognised his  own desperate need to protect the precious contents of the bottle. I’m probably addicted was the last thought he would be able to control for some time.

***

Hunched over the table, the warm numbness filling his head was pleasant; the beginning waves of nausea were not. KerriK had been drinking through the night and now he had no more money for beer to fend off the incoming hangover. This was not going to be a good day.

“KerriK, you pile of shit. I knew I’d find you here.” Like balls of lead being forced through his ears, the words squeezed into his head, crushing it from the inside.

“Whaddya wan’, Shane?” He didn’t open his eyes, even the subdued lighting was enough to drill spikes through the back of his retinas.

Officer Shane to you.” Through the fug of alcohol he was dimly aware of Shane’s fingers weaving between his dreadlocks.

“Piss off. I’m restin’ me head. Stop feelin’ me up, you queer.” His head was yanked up and back. KerriK felt lancing hot pain as several dreads parted from his scalp.

“Frak it! Gerroff!”

“I said Officer Shane.” Shane pushed down, hard, and KerriK saw the table top coming up to meet him. His nose exploded wetly across his face. He screamed and bucked but Shane still held him by whatever was left of his hair. The wild swing he made at Shane’s stomach was batted aside like a child’s. Shane dragged him off the seat, out of the booth, and forced him to kneel. KerriK felt the hardness of a gun barrel pressed against his temple.

“Say it.”

“Say, wha’? Wha’ do yer wan’ me t’ say?” Kerrik’s thoughts circled tighter as panic gripped him. He couldn’t focus.

“Say it.”

“Don’t kill me!” I’ll say anythin’, anythin’.” He could barely make out his own words through the sobs, and the blood which filled his mouth.

“You’re a dumb fuck. ‘I’m sorry Officer Shane.’ Say it.”

“I’m s-s-sorry, Officer Shane. Really sorry.”

“Better. Now listen. The Bureau’s called time on your loan, KerriK. Today you’re going to pay them back. Now move.”

***

So Where’s Part II? Reality and My Writing Process

I started writing on Tuesday evening, full of hope, excitement and a plot. This will be easy, I thought: plotted, written and edited in a few days. Easy.

By Wednesday I’d realised that the story wasn’t going to be as short as I’d thought. In fact I was now estimating it was going to be about double the length I’d originally envisaged. (The new estimate: 3000 words.) OK, a bit tougher, but still do-able, I thought. So on Wednesday I posted part I above. I now had hope, more nervous excitement, and a longer plot.

On Thursday I caught stomach flu, from my son who was now off school with, what else, stomach flu. Writing completed on Thursday: next to nothing. I still had some hope, more nervousness, the excitement, and the longer plot unwritten. I would catch up on Friday. Yes.

Friday came, and my boy was better. Hooray! Writing? No. School rules say it’s forty eight hours after the last episode of vomiting before he can go back. So, there’s an active small boy at home who needs looking after. I still have stomach flu. My wife goes out to a party in the evening. My son is in bed. At last I can write! I thought. But I still have stomach flu. My brain feels like dead-lead in a steel box with rocks in it. I wrestle with my plot, thick-headed as I am, and guess what? My ending is rubbish. Deus ex machina is writing jargon for the struggles a character faces being solved by a contrived, heavy-handed intervention from the writer. That’s what I’d done. More thinking, another possible ending. Hope was now fading; the nervousness was increasing; the excitement was still there and the plot was getting longer. Saturday was coming…

It’s Saturday as I write this and I am feeling much better. Hooray! My boy is at home, as is my wife. For reasons best known to them, they like to spend time with me. I can still get some writing done, I think to myself. They go out. I start to think about the story. My second ending is also rubbish. It works, but will actually be pretty dull to read. I think of another ending. This one is better! Yes! It has more drama, a twist, and even some action. I like it. I have a story I can write. I start to write the story. I realise that this more involved ending is going to require a much more substantial back story to support it. I’ve just doubled the length of the story. Again.

So, it’s now Saturday morning and I’m looking at a weekend with the family, which is lovely, but not too great for productivity. I also now need to outline (I do that sometimes now :-) ), write, re-write, and edit a six thousand word (or so) story in less than a week. In all honesty, to polish this so it’s going to be worth reading is going to take longer—this story is unlikely to be finished any time soon. Hope gone, nervousness gone. The excitement is back now I have a decent, longer, plot.

Where does that leave things? It’s a story I intend to finish, and I’ll post it when I think it’s ready. I don’t like to do less than my best. It almost certainly won’t be finished before my Kickstarter project deadline ends on the 23rd of December. So, I’m doing what any decent Kickstarter organiser should do: I’m being honest and up front with my (potential) backers. If, for whatever reason, I can’t deliver I’ll let you know, and give you reasons why. And if my stories get delayed, they do so so I can get them right. It’s up to you if you want to back someone like me, because that’s the way I work: right on time? Not if there’s not enough time to get it right.

If you want to see some finished short fiction follow the link below:

http://thewordonthe.net/category/fiction-2/flash-fiction-fiction-2/

My finished full-length works (both completed in twelve months) are here:

http://writerandauthor.com (“Faye Ling” is me too!)

And if, after all the melodrama you are still interested in funding my project, it’s here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tjameswriter/an-elite-dangerous-book-out-of-the-darkness

 

These are the joys and the realities of the writing life, but I am sorry if any one feels I have let them down.

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