The Approaching Storm (WIP)

With a satisfied exhalation of breath, Laxmi sat beside Anna in the tube’s mouth, her sling of rock tools collected during her climb dumped in a jangling heap behind her, and followed Anna’s gaze out to sea. A hazy mist completely obscured the horizon, sea and sky blended together with no division, but rather a gradient from light grey descending into darkness where the horizon should have been. The distant, tall clouds they noticed earlier had now coalesced into a mass of towering giants, crenellated turrets at their peaks reaching for the heavens, and merging at their base to a solid dark wall. Nearer to hand the sun still sparkled off the sea, all the brighter for the contrasting darkness beyond. A breeze lifted a lock of Laxmi’s hair, and she turned to Anna, frowning.

“Should we be worried about that?”

… Read more at… Stormfront

header image credit: under CC0 public domain

Intrepidly Exploring Inland (WIP)

While I’ve been exploring the jungles of Peru, the stranded astronauts of Aniara have been exploring the jungles and islands of Kepler 62f, fifth planet of a star 1200 light-years distant from Earth. I know you’ve been worried about the fates of Anna, Laxmi, and Jaci, so read on to learn what happens as they press…




It has been a few months since I last published a scene from my serial work-in-progress, The Silence of Ancient Light, so if you’re just joining us on this journey, you might want to start at the beginning. You can find an overview of the chapters and scenes so far at The Silence of Ancient Light.

Speaking of publishing scenes, I have a question for you. Do you find it more effective — are you more drawn in to want to read — if the scene is published as a page, the way I’ve been doing so far, accessible via menu links and so forth, and then announced with blog posts like this one? Or would you rather see the text of the scenes appear directly as blog posts?

There are pros and cons to each approach. Blog posts appear automatically in the WordPress Reader, for instance, and thus if you have a account, it’s possible for you to read the entire scene from your Reader feed without ever having to visit my website. Static pages do not, so you have to click the link in this post to take you there. I notice that I get more visits and likes on blog posts announcing scenes than I do on the scenes themselves, which leads me to believe that many people never follow that link. Pages also do not have a mechanism for assigning categories and tags, so there is less control over search terms and keywords. They may or may not show up as easily in Google searches.

On the other hand, blog posts become ‘lost’ in the blog roll over time, without an easy way to link directly to them with website menus. They can be found via category links, of course, but it would be more difficult for someone who wanted to read all the scenes straight through, in order (do any of you do that?). So, I tend to think of the blog as having a more immediate but short-term advantage, and the page as being more persistent and easier to find in the long-term, at least for someone who knows what they’re looking for.

What do you think?

What about a hybrid approach, posting the scene first in the blog, and then copying it later to a static page? Or would the repetition be a turn-off?

header image credit: user:DasWortgewand / under CC0 1.0

Writing Retreats, Poll Results, and the WIP

First off, the next scene from Chapter 3 is ready for your enjoyment (and your feedback — you’re an alpha reader, remember?). Anna, Laxmi, and Jaci are making the most of their enforced encampment upon an alien tropical beach. Jaci, hindered by a broken leg and thus unable to help with much else, becomes camp cook, and quickly nominates himself “greatest chef on the planet,” based upon a competition involving “every human within a thousand light-years.” Of course, there are only three humans within a thousand light-years…

So, if you’re ready to jump right in:




Meanwhile, in other news, the poll for best scene for an audience reading is still open (see the blog post immediately preceding this one), but results are starting to narrow down to a single choice, with one runner-up. I suppose I should not be surprised that, while one scene is more action-oriented than the other, both involve significant and colorful description of the world around our intrepid explorers, and that seems to be what people are gravitating towards. But, if you haven’t yet, go vote! And then check out the results.

Meanwhile, note to self: use more (or continue using) significant and colorful description of the world around our intrepid explorers!

Abeona in Port Madison
photo by Matt Fraser

Speaking of colorful, I spent the weekend on another mini “retreat,” once again anchored in the middle of Port Madison Bay by myself, for the purpose of some focused writing time. While I didn’t achieve as many total words as I might have hoped, I did produce this latest scene (why haven’t you read it yet?), and had a little fun with dialogue. Do let me know what you think of it, what works and what doesn’t.

Port Madison Morning
photo by Matt Fraser

I’ll be doing more of these!

header image credit: user:ChadoNihi / under CC0 1.0

Audience Reading: Poll

I need your help.

A friend of mine has asked me to give a reading from my work at a function he’s organizing — ok, it’s his birthday party, and he’s a musician, and he plans to have a number of artists perform or present their art. There will be music, there will be poetry… and there will be me, reading a short bit of my science fiction to the audience.

I’ve never given any sort of public reading before, and I admit to a certain amount of nervousness. So, having read what online advice I could glean about such things — thank you, Internet! — it seems that I should try to keep it to about 5 minutes. At a typical audiobook pace of ~150 words per minute, that equates to 800 words. I’m prepared to round up, so I’m looking for a selection from my work-in-progress of roughly a thousand words.

But which thousand words? Obviously, I want it to be strong and captivating, so what does that mean when delivered via spoken word? Too much dialogue, and the audience could get lost in “he said, she said.” Too much description and too little action, and they could fall asleep. How to find the right balance?

Should it come from closer to the beginning of the work, when there is less knowledge assumed on the part of the audience? Or is a later selection ok, and just let unexplained things go?

So here are the five options I’m considering. Which would you pick? (Poll at the end of the list, or feel free to comment!)

  1. Ch.1, Approach
    1. This is the scene where Anna and Laxmi argue about aliens in the exercise room. There are some references in the dialogue to the sociological impacts of advancements in interstellar travel.
    2. 1,146 words
  2. Ch.1, Observatory
    1. Not the whole scene, but from “The observatory was a small transparent blister…” to “we outran our own historical radio waves to get here.”
    2. Here Anna enjoys some rare solitude while looking out at the galaxy and pondering radio signals; she gets a bit philosophical, and there are some nice references to the vastness of interstellar space and speed-of-light travel.
    3. 1,090 words
  3. Ch.2, Reaction
    1. This is a hard-core action scene. The shuttle is disabled and in danger of crashing, and (spoiler alert!) Takashi dies.
    2. 1,331 words; perhaps a bit long, but it’s a fast-paced scene.
  4. Ch.2, Deorbital, excerpt 1
    1. “You want to do what!” to “Yes, that technology.”
      1. Here Anna describes how and why she wants to land on the planet, in the face of insurmountable odds against survival.
      2. 964 words
  5. Ch.2, Deorbital, excerpt 2
    1. “The terminator merged with the eastern horizon behind them,” to “I think my leg’s broken.” (end of scene)
      1. Another action scene, atmospheric entry and crash-landing on the planet.
      2. 1,031 words

header image credit: user:Enokson/ under Creative Commons CC BY-ND-NC 2.0

WIP: Toxicology, & Continuing Chapter 3

Ah, but this has been a tougher month than anticipated, writing-wise. It’s been a good month otherwise, but I have been distracted, and procrastinating, and avoiding, and…

For some reason, I’ve found it hard to get started with this scene. I’ve crash-landed my characters on an alien world, and then… well, what now? Inspiration seemed to be lacking, so I did what any writer would do: anything else but write the scene. I played with Twitter (the bane of productivity!), I wrote 5000 words of advice for my daughter (which she’ll probably never read), I worked, I took a sailing vacation with said daughter…

And, of course, as always happens, when I finally sat down to write it, after a couple hours of staring out the window, once I started to write the words flowed easily. This is pretty common for me, and I hear it’s common for many others, too. I just need to get off my butt and spend more time in front of a screen.

Wait, that’s self-contradictory, isn’t it? If I’m spending more time in front of a screen, it’s probably while sitting on my butt. Hmm, a conundrum.

I’m distracting myself again, without getting to the point. The point, dear reader, is that the much-deferred and delayed scene is finally here. And what’s the first thing that a crew who find themselves marooned on an alien planet, teeming with vegetable life, need to do? Why, they need to run a toxicology report, of course. They need to find out if they can eat said vegetable life without dying horribly.

Good thing Laxmi’s along on this expedition, as she’s a top-notch exobiologist as well as ship’s doctor, and she knows just what to do. And, so will you, once you ride along on her shoulder:



header image credit: user:CHUCKage/ under cc by-nc 2.0