THE WORD ON THE .NET

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

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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.

An “Elite: Dangerous” Book – “Out of the Darkness” (Kickstarter Project Launch)

And so it begins…

Anyone who has been attempting to email me, Tweet me or generally contact me in any way what-so-ever this week will have noticed how anti-social I’ve been. (I’m sure you’re all big enough not to take it personally.) I’ve been consumed, gripped, and generally possessed by a sudden impulse to try my hand at a Kickstarter project: to raise money to purchase the rights to set a science fiction book in the Elite universe.

Writers are always being told they need to find their audience and write about something they are passionate about.  I’ve found both. There’s a community of dedicated fellow fans of Elite and I’ve loved the games for years. It’s a no-brainer for me to have a go at writing a story in the setting but, as usual, there’s a catch: I need to buy the rights to the franchise…

So, if you’re a fan of science-fiction books or an avid gamer, why not come over to Kickstarter and take a look—I tell you a lot more there. There are some rewards on offer too if you want to give me a “kick” by pledging.

Thanks for your support, but the clock is ticking… there is less than two weeks left.

KICKSTARTER LINK: An Elite:Dangerous Book – Out of the Darkness

The money raised also funds the development of the game, so everyone is a winner!

Great Escapes, Volume 1: An Anthology of Poems and Short Stories.

Recently I’ve received some great news: Great Escapes, Volume 1, an anthology of poems and short stories, has reached its funding target on Kickerstarter. Why is this great news? Because I have a poem, Aftermath of a Stormy Night, included in its pages and this will be my first piece of poetry to see print.   There are still five days to go before the Kickstarter appeal closes, so this is your last chance to dive over there and grab yourself a copy and some perks by making a pledge. Yes, I do get royalties, but I also think you’ll find something in it to fire your imagination…

 

If you are interested just click this link to Kickstarter. Enjoy.

Procrastination: The Writer’s Disease. Is There A Cure?

So, I’ve finally been inspired for my new story. Have I made progress? Yes, some, but not as much as I could have done. Halfway through week one I contracted a serious case of procrastination—the writer’s equivalent of cooties. In fact, I doubt any conscientious keyboard-monkey will read this post for fear of catching it, but I hope some are brave enough because I also share the cure that worked for me. Continue reading

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was asked by talented writer of thrillers and paranormal tales, Sandy Coelho, to take part in this blog hop, which started on the She Writes website.

(If you’re an author I tagged for this blog hop, your instructions are at the end of this post.)

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1. What is the working title of your book?

This blog hop caught me at the beginning of the project, so I only have a working title: The Making.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The original idea came from a rough short story I wrote over a year ago, as background and a prequel to the novel I was working on at the time (now on hold, as it needs a full re-write and major fixing). I don’t want to give too much away at this stage, but the central plot arc is based loosely on a story from Greek mythology.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Although inspiration came from the Classics the setting is high fantasy, although elves and dwarves are notable by their absence. (At least at the moment—I’m still planning, so anything could happen.)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Continue reading

Violated

Dark eyes of flint, blue of loss, hazel of new growth broken, avaricious emerald, hopeless grey.
They watched him, held and helpless, suffering the torment of impotence—unable to choose, to act, to change.
Hair flailing to shoulders in tresses, locks, hanks. Falling crimson to earth.
Metallic bands of fear gripped his wrists, ankles, temples.
Livid bruises discolouring the skin where they/he fought. Humiliation running warm and wet down between legs. Tracks of wetness, tracks of red.
Constricted throats filled loud with silent animal cries. Silence: a wall of accusation.

In the icy stillness, still they stared.
Unable to bare their gaze, he opened his eyes.
Through the blur of remorseless tears of sweat, he saw the Governor press the switch.

A flash-fiction/poetry composition © T. James, November, 2012.

The Boob-in-ator (TM): Why Women Think That Men Are Boys Who Never Grew Up

Every so often a mere mortal mind is visited by an idea of such transcendent magnificence its origin can only be extra-spacial.

Let me present the World Premier of The Boob-in-ator™—the twenty first century’s latest and greatest must-have devices—and another reason why women think that men are boys who never grew up…

Continue reading

Guest Post: The Life Of A Writer’s Wife

I thought being married to/a partner of a writer would be an odd experience, and I needed a test subject to confirm my theory. So, without further ado, I’ll hand over to an expert on the subject, and the one person without whom my writing wouldn’t happen – my wife.


Of course, every “writing couple” are as happy as this cheesy 80’s pair.

Continue reading

NEW EBOOK RELEASE: If Your Writing Sucks QUIT, by Faye Ling

For my sins I have been involved with this project for the last six months, and I am pleased to announce it is finally out. Working on this book with Faye has been a unique experience—one I invite readers to sample for themselves—the cover and the description say more than I ever could:

DESCRIPTION

For readers, writers, and all lovers of books: this is an eBook with a deliciously dark sense of humour…

The writing guide “they” never wanted you to read. In If Your Writing Sucks QUIT Faye Ling stabs at the soft underbelly of the writing world. She casts her discerning eye over many of writing and publishing’s little darlings, before breaking their necks and casting them aside like flaccid rag dolls.

With her rapier wit and sardonic put-downs, Faye is cynicism incarnate—she is like no one you have ever read, and may be someone you wish you never had. Whether you laugh or cry will depend on what you’re made of—but however Faye moves you, reading this book will be an experience you will never forget.

* For readers and book-lovers, this eBook offers a peek into the hairy netherworld of writers, writing and publishing.
* For writers, Faye-as-your-guide will either be your clarion call-to-arms and the challenge you have to meet, or she will be the rock of reality that sinks your little dinghy of hope.

Read her and weep—you, your reading/writing, and your will to live may never be the same again.

Please Note: this tome contains over 85 quality colour illustrations and so may take a little longer than your average eBook to download. (Discounts will not be given to those reading in black and white.)

WARNING: You may come across the occasional use of colourful language and vividly descriptive prose.”

Continue reading

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

This week I was supposed to be posting news of my latest eBook, but between Microsoft Word and Amazon Kindle every picture in the document has been reduced to postage stamp size. Now I have to manually fix the problem… which is going to take a while.

Please bear with me if I don’t reply to comments, or visit your blog for a bit – I also have some family commitments so writing and publishing are on hold.

I’ll see you all on the other side. Until then, as Bill and Ted once said, “Be excellent to each other.”

T. James.

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