Reunion (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Anna stepped back from Jaci, still holding his arms, and looked into his eyes, smiling into her own. She wasn’t too sure about the beard, but it did give him a rugged mountain man appearance. The babble of avian voices around her rose in volume and pitch, and light feathery touches pressed against her legs. She took a deep breath, broke from Jaci’s gaze, and looked around her.

The small avians, the children, who had accompanied Jaci through the crowd now pressed in close to all three human visitors. The excitement in their demeanor was evident as they hopped from foot to foot and squawked at each other, at Jaci, and at Laxmi and Anna. Jaci laughed, reached a hand down to be taken under a juvenile wing, and gestured to Anna and Laxmi to do the same. Anna hesitated, then reached out her own hand, and quickly she found it tucked in tight between wing and avian body. The small bird-like juvenile squawked and tugged, clearly impatient to lead her somewhere, and she let herself be guided, along with the others, through the crowd and toward the cliff face.

Anna looked back at the pier and the trimaran that had been her home for the past two weeks. The sailors were wasting no time as they loaded bale after bale of fish from belowdecks up onto the pier, and a line of shoreside avians carried the bales toward the waiting cliffside elevators. Standing on the outrigger, gruff and grizzled, his scar bright against his dark feathers, Gamma supervised the operation silently. Perhaps sensing Anna’s gaze, he looked up and caught her eye, but his impassive expression did not alter, and after a moment he returned his attention to his sailors and docksiders.

What lay behind that inscrutable gaze? Anna wished she could have talked with the old bird, but the gulf between them was hardly less than the depths of space between their worlds.

Read more at

Reunion

(1,784 words; 7 min 8 sec reading time)


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After a busy month (some travel involved — see my Instagram feed), I’m back with the next scene, and what’s more, the kickoff to a new chapter. At the end of our last scene, and of Chapter 5, Anna and Laxmi are finally reunited with Jaci, who appears to have been living quite happily among the avian denizens of Kepler 62f. What happened to him in the meantime? What has he learned? They have much to talk about!

The tension for our heroes ratchets down slightly from the past scenes — they need a bit of a break — but they’re not out of the woods yet, nor off the planet, and there are still plenty of surprises in store. For the moment they’re no longer in danger of immediate death, but they still have no idea how they are going to get home.

Jaci also gets a chance to show off a little in this scene. He’s felt a bit like a bump on a log for much of the voyage since arriving in the Kepler 62 system, but now he finally gets to demonstrate why he was picked for this mission in the first place. You’ll see what I mean when you read the scene.

As always, please leave a comment and let me know what you liked and what you didn’t!


header image credit: Johannes Plenio / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Nightwatch (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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That night, Anna could not sleep. Much weighed upon her mind, not least the disturbing death of the avian sailor at the hands — sorry, tentacles — of whatever sea creature it was they had encountered. The mood of the entire crew was obviously somber, their joy at the bounty of the catch shadowed by the loss of their crewmate.

She rolled out of her hammock and found her way up on deck, careful not to disturb the other sleepers. The crew mostly slept the entire night through, more hours than a human required, with just a minimal number on watch to guide the vessel through the dark. Anna supposed they considered fishing strictly a daylight activity, or perhaps they had caught their quota and now just wanted to get home.

She could understand that. She just wanted to get home, too. At this point the mission appeared an abject failure, and living to tell the tale remained her only interest. She knew Laxmi, and Jaci too if he was still alive, might feel otherwise…

Read more at

Nightwatch


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Will Anna, Laxmi, and Jaci ever find their way home? Is Jaci still alive? And what was that tentacled thing?

At least Anna is able to find a few moments of peace and quiet, gazing at the stars, to ponder her fate. Things have been a little hectic lately, after all. It would be easier if she could talk to the avians, but that seems out of reach for the moment. Although there perhaps may be some small amount of understanding….

Readers, I have a question for you. Would you find it helpful if I posted word counts, or the average reading time (or both), for each scene? The scenes have been mostly in the range of 1000 to 2000 words, averaging right in the middle around 1500 words. If you knew in advance that a scene was on the longer side, or shorter, would that make you more or less likely to read it? I realize, if you’ve been following along from the beginning, that you’re probably reading through each scene anyway, so knowing in advance likely won’t make a difference to you, but what do you think it might do for new visitors to the site? Of course, jumping right in at the middle would probably be confusing, so perhaps it really doesn’t matter.

As a for instance, this current scene is 1,093 words (so on the shorter end of the spectrum), and Scrivener, my composition program, tells me it should take 4 minutes and 22 seconds to read (that’s very precise, though not necessarily accurate).

Let me know what you think in the comments. I’m undecided on this idea.

Until next time!

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header image credit: user:7645255 / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

WIP: Lagoon, and Alpha/Beta Readers

Yes, it has been more than 24 hours since I published the latest scene from The Silence of Ancient Light, and yet I’m only now getting around to announcing it! What can I say, I had to run off to watch Solo with my daughter — which I quite enjoyed, thank you very much — but I’m back to do the needful.

And, in the interim, I’ve also done a little cleaning up of the organization of the scenes. After all, that menu was getting long, and unwieldy, especially for those using a smaller laptop (like I do when I’m writing all this). So, astute readers will notice that the scenes are now grouped into chapters, and this latest scene marks the start of Chapter 3. I hope this makes everything a little easier.

Before jumping into it, I want to talk a little about alpha readers and beta readers. The concept of beta readers is pretty familiar to anyone who hangs around writers much, and indeed is drawn directly from the software development world. Beta readers are “average” readers (meaning not usually other writers, nor industry professionals) who agree to read works prior to publication in order to provide feedback to the author for improvement. Typically it’s a nearly-finished work, having gone through a round or two of editing, and the purpose is to gauge emotional impact and determine if scenes and characters are hitting their marks.

Alpha readers, on the other hand, provide the same service, but at a much earlier stage in the process. Works in alpha are usually still first drafts, and thus potentially quite rough, and often alpha reading is done as scenes or chapters are written, so that the ending isn’t necessarily available yet. In “realtime,” in other words.

Does that seem familiar? It should. If you’ve been reading along with my progress here, you’ve been alpha reading.

And I’d really love some feedback. I know it’s rough, and there are plot holes, and technical issues. But there may be more holes and issues than I’m aware of, so I’d love it if you point them out. And I may be hitting the wrong notes with my characterization: is Anna relatable? Is she sympathetic? Is there something she should be more of, or less of, to be a stronger lead character? And what about the others? What about my pacing? Is the tension ok, or too much, or am I putting you to sleep?

If you’ve got suggestions, but are uncomfortable making them publicly, that’s ok. Just hit that “Contact” page and send me a message. But otherwise, feel free to comment right on the pages! My ego won’t be bruised… much. Let’s start a discussion!

And with that, allow me to unveil the latest story development: Anna, Jaci, and Laxmi have crash-landed on the alien world Kepler 62f, and, well, they could really use a break. They won’t get much of one, of course, as they are in pretty dire straits, so they immediately set about determining whether this planet is going to kill them, or sustain them. And… why is the sky green?

 

Lagoon


image credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech