Tag Archives: fiction

Venturing into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

11 May

 I have dipped my toes into the seething, bubbling ocean of digital publishing for the first time. 

I’m a bit lost guys and girls. 

 

My first babies to fly the nest are a couple of shorts I wrote for my masters degree at the university Nottingham – ‘Voodou and the Machine’ and ‘Lab Rats.’ I uploaded them both onto Amazon Kindle as a combined package for the minimum price I was allowed to – $2.99 (£1.80 GBP). I shared my venture on the ol’ Bookface, and one kindly soul agreed to bite and check it out. That’s £1.30 of royalties in the back for Jack. Strange how much that one sale means, you know, that someone actually shelled out some hard-earned cash for some stuff I made up in my head. Feels good, I tell ya. 

At the time of writing – stardate, the 11th May – it’s the only sale i have. That’s because I’ve only done half the work. Writing fiction and getting onto KDP is the first step, but then you’ve market the darn thing. This is where I find myself just treading water. In my professional life I’ve flogged a ton ‘o junk for other folks, but never something of my own creation. 

The ocean stretches far and wide, and all I have this rubber dinghy and a Fischer-Price telescope with which to navigate its choppy waters. It time to learn to ride the waves. 

If there is anybody out there, this is my S.O.S. Let’s ride those waves together. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JDL4B8Y is the golden link. If you like Scifi, Steampunk and the like, with dark tendencies then I’d really appreciate you checking out the free preview to Voudou and the Machine. It’s an attempt at a strong female protagonist from the 1st person, something I don’t feel I’ve seen enough of in the genre. 

 

Have a nice day, WordPressers and let me hear your thoughts! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trifextra Writing Challenge: ‘On the count of three…

14 Oct

“This weekend we are challenging you to write 33 of your own words to build upon the following:

On the count of three…

You can choose to include those words if you want, but they do not count toward the 33 words of your own”.

Challenge accepted.

 

Four,’ said The One.

‘You were supposed to tear its heart out,’ said Void.

‘Its beat is stronger than I,’ said the One. ‘The Music cannot die.’

The Void let loose the bagpipes.

http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/  made me do it.

‘A Thaumaturge In Love: Part One’

1 Oct

A randomly-generated story plot courtesy of http://www.seventhsanctum.com

“This story takes place in a university town on a world artificially created by magic. In it, a pragmatic fire fighter falls madly in love with a nun in love with someone of another species.”

This is Part One. There will be more.

A Thaumaturge in Love

‘Fire! Fire!’ The words shouted by a disembodied voice brought John Steinman running into the cavernous thaumadrome, where his apprentice squad were co-summoning a vectorcraft in which to speed them on their way. Holding out his hands, he shot out purple-red sparks, pooling his mana with theirs to hasten the build.

In less than a minute, the thaumaform was ready to take the fire fighters to the scene of disaster at the Cloister of the Sacred Star. The four-strong crew climbed in to the shiny red airship, cast the necessary runes of protection, and shot away.

John upbraided his apprentices whilst the ship punched through the clouds separating the university students from everybody else. ‘Who is going to explain to me, then, why I find a vectorcraft being summoned in the thaumadrome whilst the alarm is sounding?’

John waited as the three youngsters wilted into their seats, stretching the moment out until somebody broke. Worth Fowler, a pale young man sitting in front with curly brown hair said something like, ‘Mumblemrmbr…Inebriziono…’  Barnabus Brent punched him hard in the ribs.

‘So I’m to assume’ said John, ‘that the future of this nation’s lifeline division has been up all night, drinking potions, smoking scrolls, and having careless, unlicensed sexual relations?’ A telling silence followed. ‘And how is the future of this nation’s lifeline division feeling today?’

An unconvincing chorus of ‘not bad’ formed the reply. Worth was sick into his hands.

‘And where, exactly, are the Noctorum twins? In fact, I don’t even want to know. Not after last time.’

The Cloister was consumed with thick black flame, spilling blood-red thaumasmoke into the burning night sky. Hundreds of fire-fighters were already there, pouring their purple mana into the building, negating the accumulated dark energies that had caused this blaze. John hustled his apprentice squad, the 145th division, to the front.

Various ecclesiastical figures spilled out of the high-vaulted edifice of conjured stained glass and steel, their tall hats clutched in one hand and robes hoiked up with the other as they ran for their lives. One particularly distressed high-priest had been ignited, his vestments billowing around him with the black fire before a trio of fire fighters pinned him down, wrapping him in thaumaphagic foil.

The immense size of the fire was the perfect opportunity for John to teach his apprentices some valuable fundamentals; how to pace yourself, with controlled breathing, pooling your mana accurately with your team, focusing  the mind to keep your energy pure.

Jozy Teaguin showed herself to be the most promising apprentice. The quietest among them, she simply got the job done, maintaining a steady, controlled stream of mana most of the time. Blind in both eyes, Jozy had an intimate knowledge of her surroundings, and had learned to diversify her magical talents to an alarming extent given that she was only 18. Beastlore was her favourite, but John was concerned that some way down the line, this careful, soft-spoken prodigy would come to step on the wrong person’s toes, and things would go badly for her.

John lamented the lost cause that was Barnabas Brent. ‘Barn’ was a giant of a young man, and had picked up the brazen habit of ‘shouting’ his mana; that is, expelling the purple-red magic material through his mouth rather than channelling it properly. A popular practice amongst young lads mostly, ‘shouting’ had the unfortunate side-effect of, over time, turning one’s insides to the consistency of bladderfish stew.

And then there was Worth. Poor, pale little Worth. The first time John Steinman saw Worth he declared, on the spot, that the boy had ‘The inherent magical ability of a soggy bunnysprout.’ Not exactly Lifeline Division material, but Worth had very wealthy parents.

Hours later, architects were hard at work putting the place back together. Spires rose up out of green mana streams, curling upwards into twisting cone shapes, becoming sometimes steel, othertimes glass, with occasional blackbrick. Seeing things being built would always hold a fascination with John. His father had been an architect, and whenever he saw them at work, it always got him to wondering.

As they sat, lunching on a park bench and soaking up the sun only a few lengths away from the steaming cloister, John and the 145th division were approached by a clutch of breathless nuns, clucking with gratitude, compliments, and prayers. There were about eight of them, their faces looking like little white eggs wrapped in blankets.

Wicker-hatch baskets brimming with meats, vegetables, fruits and confections appeared from somewhere in their many layers of habitments and were placed at John’s feet while he sat there feeling absurd and awkward, nodding his head and smiling a whole lot. Barn and Worth both had a bit of a chuckle to themselves at John’s discomfort, but Jozy just nibbled an apple, her mind elsewhere.

John thanked the nuns for their kind words, prayers, and perishable gifts, and replied that the Sisterhood of the Sacred Star would be in his prayers also. John was a religious man himself, up to a point, this being the point at which nobody was looking. He had no real faith in the Great Benevolent Star-King, but figured that, logically, it was only practical to make the occasional sacrifice and supplication just in case he was wrong.  Also, with the way things were these days, it never hurt a man’s prospects in the land of the living to be seen as being conspicuously pious in public. In this way, John had both his immortal soul and corporeal body pretty well covered.

As the nuns eventually bowed their heads and took leave to go off and do their holy duties, one of them hung back just a little longer than the others to sidle up to John and whisper something fleeting into his ear.

Part Two coming soon.

Sleepless – A Waking Nightmare. With Bananaman, a leopard, and Mustaine.

27 Sep

 

I have been depriving myself of sleep lately. Brain say make posty click on Pressword. Better to write for a brief time typing tittle-tattle, than much more time blanking empty MS Word pages, shunning my creative duty like a diseased aunt.

Hence the following.

 

 Sleepless – A Waking Nightmare

 

With hornet-stung eyes I plunge my face into a large plastic bowl of fresh coffee. Burn. Honestly, I feel better now. The shapes are making sense, talking even. Like a chatty leopard.

Wait, I don’t own a leopard. Oh, this is my blanket, it just looks kinda leopardy from where I’m standing…wait, crouching…actually I should just lie here.

There are snakes under my sofa. Ah yes, now I remember. The cobra party, on…I think it was Sunday? No. Not snakes. Amp leads! For the noisings of ill-conceived tequila stunts through electric pickups, with too much…Disdain? Sustain? Mustaine?

Does that make sense to you? Mirror-man has pretty eyes, but an ugly mirror. Get a new mirror and toastie maker! Consciousness streaming wet like mayonnaise angels smeared onto the side of a parallel-parked DeLorean.

Word of the day! – Parallelogram. Lellolellolellogram. The word stretches into the far-flung future like a banananana-man. I remember Banana Man.

Do you?

Make way for Prince Ali!

So tired.

 

Randomly generated writing challenge: A transhumanist flash fiction.

26 Sep

www.seventhsanctum.com

 

 Randomly Generated Writing Challenge

 A neat random generator for writing challenges spat out the following:

“A character will take a bath, and the action has far better results than expected. A character becomes energetic during the story. The story is set during a class/training session. The story takes place a thousand years into the future. During the story, there is a fight.”

Thank you, seventhsanctum. Thank you very much!

 

The New Life of Prof. Marlow

 

The scholars sat at home, each in her own augmented reality sphere, attending the term’s inaugural lecture by Professor Marlow. The day’s subject was to be ‘Life Sciences.

Sophia Bloom sipped a carton of Googlemax as she looked around at the 3,132 other scholars, some of whom were light years away and spoke in a tongue no human mouth could reproduce. Of course, it didn’t matter. That’s what SMARTS were for. Anybody could converse with anybody else.

Sophia switched off her sound filter momentarily, and the rich tableau of multicultural exchange blended together from all directions in an unintelligible mass of opinions and thoughts. Curiosity satisfied, the filter was re-applied and Sophia’s piano concerto playlist resumed.

The lecture space was a digital reconstruction of the ancient Greek amphitheatre at Delphi, a proud proclamation to the United Universe by the Amalgamated University of Earth of its intellectual heritage. Depending on the privacy settings of its user, each Augmented Reality Sphere Interface (ARPI) showed anything from a picture perfect live representation of the entity inside, to an opaque black orb.

Sophia’s ARPI was situated high up in the amphitheatre towards the back, and looking around she could see clusters of black spheres together who were no doubt denizens of particular solar systems or planets. Sophia smiled at this. It was all so tribal, and old-fashioned.

The music faded out, and three bell chimes signified the start of the lecture. The ashen-haired, crooked figure of Professor Agnetta Marlow appeared at the lectern, with a bath. ‘Welcome all,’ she said. ‘As you can see, I have a bathtub here with me.’ Sophia saw the other scholars nodding their heads, affirming this. ‘It contains a quantum nanoid substrate, and has been prepared at unfathomable expense and effort. Now, as you should all know, for the past fifty-nine years I have been developing a cure for everything from acephalous necrostasis to Zanuckian storm-hornet stings.’

Sophia’s family had been killed by Zanuckian storm hornets on a research holiday to the Ypresian nebula nine years ago, which was to provide her with the field experience she needed to meet make the undergraduate academic quota. The event ignited her consuming obsession with reanimation.

Sophia’s father had been an Atomist high priest of the third order, fighting all his life against the reviled ‘cult of morticide,’ and forever preaching on the beauty of death and the Eternal Reward. The crisis of conscience she felt afterwards had never left her.

‘Yet Death,’ continued the professor, ‘invisible; impregnable; stalking; invincible.  Silent, from beyond New Mesopotamia’s rubble, the eternal rest of the lost gender. She hounds us still, she persists. But We resist…’

Sophia knew the words well. Marlow echoed the heretical Sisters of Ouroboros. The professor had always been an outspoken progressionist, but this was blasphemy. Sophie felt a stab of guilt. The scholars linked up to one another, exchanging panicked data packets over the artfully programmed spacetime rifts between the ARPIs.

‘This is a lesson you will remember for all time.’ Sophia flinched as the professor, her hero, cast off her coat, revealing herself to the class. ‘When faced with a twenty percent chance at immortality, you immerse yourself in the possibility. Like so.’ Marlow climbed into the bubbling bath of silver substrate, disappearing from sight.

Disturbed, angry and confused scholars all soon discovered that they were in lockdown. United Universe Enforcement had detected a fringe event, making the ARPIs inescapable until the rifts linking them were deemed quantumly stable. Deafening system crash reports littered Sophia’s dashboard, flashing up red, yellow and orange, with giant black exclamation marks.

Sophia flicked her fingers across the menus, attempting to forge a contact, but every ARPI had gone black to minimize tachyon interference. Breathing slowly, deeply, she focused on the bath. It alone was illuminated in the simulated amphitheatre amidst the dark misty mountains of ancient Greece.

The bath foamed with an electrostatic buzz. A silver star-like light grew bright in a broad dome from the epicenter, and then shrank back. A silence settled. Then came the supernova. A goddess was born.

A ghost story set in a vehicle moving down a highway, featuring amnesia.

24 Sep

 

www.terribleminds.com – A second game of aspects.

A great way to randomly generate story conditions of theme, place, and something to be featured.

This is a ghost story set in a vehicle moving down a highway, featuring amnesia.

 Also, www.threewordwednesday.com featuring absolute, fall, and nestle.

 I can be a terribly slow writer, to the extent that this took me about eight hours. I finished at 5:30 a.m. having driven myself mildly mad. Enjoy

 

Jetstar #9

 

The highway stretched away like saltwater taffy, separated tentatively from Earth by 700ft high flexisteel stilts, warped and deformed by the great fireball in the sky, and the colossal star-born babies that cast ponderous shadows over everything.

Jetstar #9 wrestled the single pod mag-lev road-rocket at a whisper below the sound barrier around twist after torturous twist. Like one of the ancient Dali paintings, the road, the landscape, warped as if viewed through concave glass, melting past in a blurred glimpse into absolute madness.

At a distance of 40,075km, the Ramesses XXV Intercontinental Rally was the crowning glory of the Magnetic Levitation Racing calendar, circumnavigating the globe before ending where it began. The champion’s prize is beyond compare. Everybody dreams of life in the colonies, from the lowliest spanner jockey to the salaried programmistas in their silicon halls. However, only a favoured few transcend Earth’s starry dome and make the voyage towards New Mesopotamia. A first class ticket off this choking old ghost planet glitters greater than gold.

The Global Neural Network broadcast the deadly spectacle directly to the synapses of twelve billion citizens, who could pay not to watch, if they chose. This only cost half the price it did to watch.

All had been quiet on the highway, apart from the distorted wails of the star-borns, obsolete weapons of war shunting their dolorous exiled footfalls endlessly through the new desert. The deteriorating mag-lev track shot bright purple sparks in Jetstar’s wake as the road-rocket climbed dizzying vertical inversions at 343 meters per second and corkscrewed upside-down, diverting through illogical reams of split junctions that spaghettied together for miles.

Out of 700,198 pilots, there remained only eight running the highway, and there was only 500km left. Shanghai was already dominating the horizon, bridging earth and sky, glass spires stabbing cerulean clouds. Retinal interface telemetry showed that Shooting Star #13 was making rapid gains. Jetstar’s titanoid exoskeleton sent biofeedback shocks along the left arm to signify a proximity alert. The rains came. Four seconds later, the power died.

With all lights blackened but a single red blinking beacon, the road-rocket coasted briefly on a gentle slowdown before the mag-lev vehicle came to nestle, slotting quietly into the safety guttering. The moonlight gleaming off the pilot’s visor, Jetstar #9 rummaged through the dark, took a small silver bottle out of the emergency compartment, and screwed it open.

The live neural feed of every Earth citizen fizzled out. There would be no spectators here henceforth.

Shooting Star #13

 

Shooting Star #13 woke to the sound of a shattering sound barrier, screaming as he watched impossibly fast-moving vehicles collide into each other as constructions of solid matter, and end up as clouds of vapor and fire. The roar of far distant crowds saturated Star’s neural pathways, as the highway ahead noodled through a series of loops ignorant of conventional physics and common sense.

Several other competitors bifurcated themselves on violently sudden forks in the track, others would spin out, fly off, and fall until they became tiny dots in the sands far below the stilted speedway. All the while, Star’s screams swung from guttural and incoherent, to fervent proclamations of every single curse word in the universal tongue, as his arms somehow autopiloted him from one powersuit-wetting near-death experience to another.

He yelled for help. When that failed he screamed for mercy. The synapse connection crackled in his brain, and the final sounds of dying pilots came through.

Many hours past. Star could not recall ever operating a super-sonic capsule of swiftly dealt death before. There was nothing in his memory that explained the towering star-children, with their grey, bulbous, rubbery limbs and their total absence of facial features.

In time, Star passed many pilots with his preternatural reflexes at the helm. They appeared to him as various-hued phazarlight blurs, as dark sounds reached Star’s mind from the synaptic nanoids resident there. Twenty-eight hours later the rains came, and the track powered down. Whatever brain-tech had tripped and obliterated Star’s memories started opening windows into thoughts which did not belong to him.

The despair of the desert exiles, unknowably old, and composed of loathing, to the background of beating rain on the pilot pod, the wailing wind, the scritch-scratch of something’s claws creeping. Over and over Star kept asking himself, “what were all those people so desperate to get away from?”

There was a flashing red beacon down the highway. Somebody who could help? Or explain? Anybody? Star scrambled at the exit hatch of the road-rocket until he resolved to kick his way out. Once free, hale needled Star’s face like the icy teeth of some dread wraith, the wind roaring the anguish of the deserted dead from the Sorrowsands as he staggered closer to the light.

The whispers deep in his mind, lamenting the lost, louder, angrier than before, brought visions of violence before his eyes, shaking the foundations on which he stood. The highway lurched and teetered as though tossed on the boiling foam of an enraged ocean. .

On hands and knees, Shooting Star #13 found the beacon. It was another mag-lev,  seemingly empty. Alternately pounding on the glass and tearing at his face in desperation and terror, he didn’t hear the footseteps, and he never saw the titanoid exoskeleton reaching out.

Then Star remembered. Why we race. Why he was so good. And why, if the network abandons you on the highway in the middle of the Sorrowsands, you open your emergency silver bottle and you take your poison.

Because you wouldn’t want to live through what happens next.

 

Waiting to Live: My first ‘Inspiration Monday’ flashfic.

22 Sep
Kobra Kyle sat on the windy pierhead, drinking ale and ruminating on cold consequences. Chiquida, his copperplated palm-pilot, had climbed out of his coat pocket and wandered over to a couple of black crested gulls, who were fighting over half a bloatfish.
Daggerhand Dave finally turned up, folded himself into a sitting position beside Kobra and dangled his gimpy legs over the pier.
‘I’ve got fresh juice for you,’ he said.
‘Thanks,’ said Kobra, taking the unspent silver hydropump and screwing it into his rusting wrist socket. The colour from his face melted from red to grey. He opened his eyes.
‘We found her,’ said Daggerhand. The wind whipped his coat into sudden schizoid shapes. Chiquida, the palm-pilot, atomized the fighting gulls with its Gauss magnet. The small red mist of their remains dissipated into the gale.
Kobra Kyle turned to his partner with wide, alert skyblue eyes. ‘How much uptime on a borrowed heart?’ he said. ‘How long?’ Chiquida came over to nuzzle his antenna against his master’s beard, making tinny ‘tweedle’ sounds.
Daggerhand Dave took the other Guardian’s hand in his, and, with a subtle shake of the head said, ‘Kobra, my brother, must you proceed down this path? It is a long afterlife, waiting to live.’

Thank you for reading. I have used all five Inspiration Monday prompts from BeKindRewrite, and it has forced me to write outside the box. Which is great. I hate being inside the box. It’s dark, I can’t stretch my legs, and it’s starting to smell.

If there’s anything you don’t like, please please let me know. Punish me.