Confrontation (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Avian voices filled the air, a cacophony of alarm. Anna needed no translator to understand the fear in those cries rising up from the beach below. Kwakitl bodies pressed back toward the cliff in their collective alarm to get away from the eight-limbed space-suited visitor, standing on its hovercraft vessel.

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Confrontation

(2,040 words; 8 min 9 sec reading time)

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It has been a busy time over here at Silence Central (heh, see what I did there?), so even though this scene has been ready for two weeks, it has taken me until now to find a moment to post it.

Why so long? Well, for one, we had a major water leak into our condo from the unit upstairs, and so the past week has been spent (once again) living in the wind tunnel of blowers, driers, and dehumidifiers to get all the moisture out of the ceiling and walls. Thankfully, that’s now done. It was nearly impossible to think straight with the constant loud noise and the temperature in the unit rising close to 100° F in the tented off area being worked on, and 85° to 95° in other rooms. Outside of that? It has also been quite the time at work, what with start-of-school and all schooling in my city now being remote. Part of my day job involves helping with that effort, on top of my regular duties.

And, it still takes me from one to two full, solid hours just to paste the scene into a new page in WordPress, format the page to my liking, find and add some artwork, then create all the various links (from the previous scene, from the chapter overview, from the novel overview, from the site menu, plus hints on the homepage that something has been updated), and finally to write this, a blog post about it. Whoever thought it would be so much work just to share?

Nevertheless, I do still enjoy sharing as I go, and I hope you enjoy reading it, too. I’m sure a few of you have been eagerly waiting to find out what will happen next, now that the dreaded Orta have arrived on the scene! Will they be friendly, or hostile? Will they help or hinder Anna’s cause of rescuing herself and her friends from being marooned on this alien planet? What will the suspicious Kwakitl do?

Read on to find out! And as always, drop me a line to let me know what you think, and even what you think should happen next. The conclusion of this story is not yet written, so anything could happen….


header image credit: Udo Reitter / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Visitors (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued…)

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The remainder of the day passed without incident. The guards remained at their post, silent and resolute, completely ignoring any attempt to speak with them. Occasionally others would pass by through the corridor outside, and Anna would catch curious glances into their chamber, but none approached the entrance nor engaged with the guards.

After several hours, with her stomach rumbling, Anna began to wonder if they would simply be left to starve, but just as she determined to speak up, a Kwakitl arrived with a tray of hot food. A quick squawk with the guards, and the Kwakitl was allowed in with the tray. He set the tray down in the center of the chamber without a word and without looking at any of them, and then left.

After eating, they were allowed, one at a time and accompanied by one of the guards, to visit the washroom. For that Anna was thankful.

She did not sleep well that night, turning fitfully on her pallet of cushions while her mind roamed across all that had happened, and all that might be happening at that moment. Who were the new arrivals? Why did the Kwakitl assume culpability or ill intent on the part of the humans? She had no answers for these questions. She rolled over to find Jaci watching her.

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Visitors

(1,388 words; 5 min 33 sec reading time)

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As promised, this scene is ready for you to read less than a week after the previous scene! That might be almost unprecedented for me, eh? Furthermore, I’m already halfway through writing the next scene, so you won’t have very long to wait for that one. And, given that I’m confined to the condo due to my city being totally smoke-filled at the moment, to point of the air being labeled as very hazardous to breathe, I’d say the chances of me completing that scene this weekend, and perhaps even posting it, are pretty good.

On a side note, yeah, things are pretty smoky in Seattle just now. We’re in no actual fire danger, but it’s definitely not good to be outside. The sky looks almost alien, a dirty yellow obscuring smoke and fog — smog — that makes me think we’re on the surface of Venus. Minus the crushing pressure and melting temperature, of course.

On another side note, this is now my second posting using the new WordPress Block Editor. While I can understand why folks who enjoy getting technical with custom CSS code might like it, overall, I feel this has been a reduction in functionality, and it definitely slows down my productive (and increases my frustration!). Many things I used to do quite easily, including inserting images and hyperlinks, are now much more difficult. Unfortunately, switching back to the Classic Editor is no longer an option. I can insert “Classic Blocks” which will emulate that editor’s look and feel for a particular set of paragraphs, but it’s not just the blocks (horrible name, by the way) — the entire editor’s functionality, toolbars, etc, have changed in a way that feels like a regression to me.

Dang it, who moved my cheese!

Ok, whinging and whining over.

So, tell me what you think about the scene! How about the interactions between the characters (there’s definitely some change going on)?


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

Prisoners (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued…)

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The trip back to the main levels of the community, and from there to Jaci’s chamber, proved in Anna’s mind that some emotions transcended species. She certainly had experienced moments that felt more immediately dangerous, but traveling among and thru the angry Kwakitl, especially along the narrow cliffside path with its sheer drop to the lagoon, ranked as one of the more uncomfortable in recent memory. None of the waist-height avians nudged or in any way touched any of the humans, but their lidded gaze and their silence spoke volumes.

Read more at

Prisoners

(1,394 words; 5 min 34 sec reading time)

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When we left our heroes (a month ago!), they had joined in with a community celebration for the Kwakitl who had taken them in, but things ended badly, and they were now held in some suspicion. Read on to find out what the avians do next with our hapless human visitors!

Also, this scene (and the next!) were written while out sailing. Turns out I’m rather productive when at sea! So, the next scene is already written, and it won’t be so long before it’s posted.


header image credit: Pixabay under Pexels License

Breaking Radio Silence

An eerie quiet has filled the halls and chambers over here. Like ancient abandoned alien space stations, orbiting planets no longer bustling and buzzing with technology, the passages have grown musty with disuse, where they aren’t emptied to raw vacuum. Like visiting starships, wounded and crippled, responding to desperate queries with nought but static. Like a city gone silent, cars no longer jamming the freeways, buses running empty, the denizens hiding out in their homes while an unseen killer stalks the streets and marketplaces, ready to take the unwary traveler.

But now it is time to break the silence, to put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard once again, and… voice to microphone? More on this in a moment.

Yes, dear readers, three (!!!) months ago I last wrote on these pages, and then only to speak of my despair, my crisis of confidence. Our world has changed since that last post. Little did most of us realize that just a scant few weeks later we would be living in lockdowns and isolation, quarantining ourselves from friends, families, neighbors, and colleagues in a desperate bid to halt the spread of a novel virus. We have shifted our work patterns — if we still have work — to spend nearly all our time within the confines of our homes. We have become experts at Zoom happy hours, and also grown weary of hours in front of yet another screen, yet another camera, putting on an upbeat attitude and smiling face.

Even when we are healthy, and still employed, it hasn’t always been easy for many of us to remain in a creative headspace. I entered the pandemic lockdown already concerned about the state of my writing, and the additional concern about the health of, well, everyone has not helped. This has not been a productive time for me. At least, not visibly so.

Now, however, we begin to peer out from under our shells, come out from behind our rocks, and tread (carefully! carefully!) across the sands to dip our toes back into the waters of life. We emerge into a changed world, perhaps permanently so, but we are humans, and that means at our core we are adaptable. That is our survival trait. We adapt. And creativity begins to return.

I am ready to write again, my friends. There are three stranded astronauts who need me. They are desperate to find a way off that rock I’ve marooned them on, and without me, they cannot do it. I cannot in all good conscience just leave them there, so I need to write them a way out of their predicament. Well, some of them, anyway. No promises they’re all going to make it!

I am also ready to speak again. I am ready to try my voice at narration. Do you like audiobooks? Do you listen to podcasts? As I write and publish new episodes, I shall also record those episodes, beginning with those already appearing in these pages.

It will be experimental at first. I’ll be learning the ropes of producing podcast-style episodes. It may take a few iterations before it goes smoothly. But for those of you who enjoy listening to stories, and who also hopefully enjoy my stories, this will be for you.

And for me, of course. It’s going to be fun!

And it just may be a trigger to further spark some creativity and break me out of my funk.

It’s time to write. It’s time to read. It’s time to speak.


Image by Pierluigi D’Amelio from Pixabay

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