Cliff Divers (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued…

… at long last!)

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After the meal, the humans bade goodnight to Li-Estl, and Jaci led the women back to his chamber. It was a small, circular room, rough-hewn and low overhead, and lantern-lit like the others they had been in. A pallet of cushions lay on the smooth floor, with a low table and a woven basket beside the pallet. Neatly folded in a pile beside the basket lay the two e-suits retrieved from the boat.

“Welcome to my humble abode. It’s not much, I know, but it’s home, or at least it has been for these past weeks.”

Laxmi looked askance at the single pallet, then at Jaci with a cocked eyebrow. He laughed and reached into the basket, pulling out more cushions.

“Never fear, Laxmi, you won’t be sleeping on cold, hard stone.”

“Oh, I wasn’t worried about that. I was worried about you sleeping on cold, hard stone, not us. However, I see you’re equipped to host visitors.”

Read more at

Cliff Divers

(1,765 words; 7 min 3 sec reading time)

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I know, I know, it has been almost exactly eight months since I last published a (written) scene from the novel. In the interim, I’ve published a few blog posts, I’ve tried my hand at a couple (pre-emptive) audio versions of early scenes (there will be more, for those of you who enjoy that!), but all of that is not the same as new material that continues the story.

So here it is. Eight months have passed since our intrepid explorers sat down with their alien host for a meal. You’d think they’d already be hungry again! But for them, it has been mere moments. They need a place to sleep, and they’ve already heard that tomorrow will be a big day for the Kwakitl community.

And there’s still the mystery of that object in space approaching orbit…


header image credit: user:1980supra / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

The Silence of Ancient Light Goes Audio!

I promised you an audio narration, and the first episode is here! I know it took a little while to get this up, but the learning curve to produce what amounts to a podcast episode was a little steeper than I expected. And, having now recorded, edited, mastered, and published this first episode, I have learned a lot, and I have learned that I have a lot more to learn.

I need to get a lot better at narration, for one thing. I thought I was a pretty good public speaker, but speaking into a microphone while in a small, somewhat sound-deadened room changes almost everything. I also learned a lot about noise floors, and this too is an area I believe I can improve. Indeed, dealing with the noise floor was the major reason this took so long to produce.

I’ll go into more detail in the next post, but some of you want to get right to it, don’t you? So, without further ado, here is a link you can play right from your browser:

Once I feel a bit more polished at audio production, and once at least a few more episodes are ready, I’ll set this up as a proper podcast, one you can load into your favorite podcast player (probably your phone, for most of you). I’ll talk more about how setting up podcasts are a bit different from just linking an audio file on the website, and how setting up a full audiobook is considerably different from creating a podcast (though they all start from the same basic process of recording, editing, mastering, etc).

I’ve also updated the original page with the text to contain this same link. For those of you who’ve misplaced how to navigate to it (hint: it’s all there in the menu at the top of every page!), it’s here: Arrival.

Yes, I know that I need to work on my plosives, and maybe better de-essing. And my breath control. That’s a problem, you know, breathing while a microphone is stuffed in your face. I think mostly I need to learn to relax while narrating, get into the groove that I feel when I’m just reading aloud to someone (or even the groove I found when I did my first — well, so far only — author reading).

Once I have that all down, I’ll redo this episode.

And, oh yeah, keep actually writing more episodes!

Let me know what you think! And, seriously, don’t spare my feelings. I know it’s not full-on Audible Studio quality, so if you have ideas about how I can improve, I’m all ears! So to speak.

Next up: the technical details!


header image credit: Dmitry Demidov / Pexels

Crisis of Confidence

Lately I’ve been suffering from a lack of confidence in my story, and thus in myself as a writer, and it came about not because of any criticism or anything similar that came my way. It came about because of a writing contest, a contest I did not even enter!

How can not entering a contest cause me to lose confidence, you may ask? After all, this was (still is, in fact) a contest that specifically does allow unfinished works, so it would seem like a perfect fit for me, yes?

Alas, as with most contests of this nature, the entry requires a synopsis. Nothing particularly unusual about that, and every writer eventually needs to come to grips with producing the scary synopsis. However, typically for contests, this synopsis is limited to a single page, double-spaced, in 12-point type, with 1″ margins all around. Oh, and the first line really should be a heading stating “Synopsis,” so that’s one less line to work with. That means the synopsis is pretty much limited to somewhere between two-hundred and two-hundred-fity words, which is not a lot.

The typical five-page synopsis written for an agent or editor’s consideration has an opening statement about theme and genre, a closing statement about character arcs, and in between summarizes all the major plot points that impact and influence the main characters.

That’s impossible to do for a novel-length work in two-hundred-fifty words.

So, a one-page contest synopsis should instead focus on theme and how the character’s growth and conclusion illustrate that theme, and that’s about it.

Trust me, while it might be just one-fifth as many words, it is five times harder to write! And to give you an idea of what two-hundred-fifty words looks like, we’re at about three-hundred right here.

Still, this is a very good exercise for any writer to go through, and it should not be impossible. Indeed, it should be mandatory!

But describing how a character’s growth and plot arc illustrates the novel’s theme is difficult to do when you don’t actually yet know how the story ends, or even perhaps what theme you are illustrating, because you’re making the story up as you go, by the seat of your pants, in an episodic nature because you publish each scene online as you write it.

After spending an entire day struggling mightily, and ultimately in vain, with this one-page synopsis, I came to the conclusion that my story has deep structural flaws, because I’m currently unable to figure out how the main character’s plot progression drives, or is driven by, the theme! I’m not even sure if the story has a theme. Surely a contest loser.

I brooded on this for most of this past week, and a couple days ago came very close to stopping all further development of The Silence of Ancient Light and starting over on an entirely new story, one that would not be pantsed, but instead properly and traditionally plotted. Which, interestingly, is what I was trying to do two years ago when I started SoAL as an exercise to distract me from my analysis paralysis of developing a plot.

The good news? After two years of this distraction, I still really do want to go back to that original project. I still think it has fantastic potential, and I now have some better ideas for how to work out the plot roadblocks I had encountered. That project, by the way, was tentatively titled A Drive of Light and Shadow, but I will probably change that (but I love the title, so I’m keeping it, even if it ends up stuck on a different story).

The other good news? After two years, I still think The Silence of Ancient Light has promise, and I still like the story — even if it is devoid of any theme and the main character is flat and without growth. I know some of you are enjoying it, because you have told me so and I trust you when you do, but I also know that not very many people have read it, so the sample size is not large.

So no, I am not discontinuing SoAL, I will continue to churn out (or drizzle out, more likely) episodes for you, and I will try to figure out my own angst along the way. Perhaps I can pass some of that to Anna in the story to amp up the tension, although it’s not as if she doesn’t have enough on her plate to keep her angsty already!

Crisis averted. Though I have decided, for the health of my own stress levels, to pass on the contest this time around.

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For SoAL readers curious about that original story from two years ago, there’s an oblique reference in a casual comment Anna makes to Laxmi in the 2nd scene. Yes, that’s right, these stories take place in the same universe. Can you spot it?

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And for those curious about the contest I almost entered, it’s the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Unpublished contest. The deadline for entries is in about a week, so technically it’s still not too late! But no, I’m not ready, so you go right ahead.


header image credit: user:Free-Photos / Pixabay under Pixabay License

WorkInProgress: Pressure

The 8th installment of my work-in-progress, The Silence of Ancient Light, is ready for your review!

Racing back to their starship with their wounded crewmate, the crew of Aniara find even more trouble when their orbital shuttle is hit and damaged by some sort of weapon. Of course, the alien space station they’ve been investigating has been dead for centuries, so who or what is firing at them remains a mystery. Unable to raise the starship on the radio, and losing engine thrust and cabin pressure, Anna and her crew are forced to take emergency measures. Can they repair the shuttle before their air runs out? Find out!

Read now: Pressure


header image credit: NASA