Arekan didn’t want to face the crew or Grokin or Etharin. His stomach rolled queasy cramps, and he had a blazing headache. He stumbled past the entrance to the crews quarters. no occupied the this time of day, but anyone of them was likely to pop in so he couldn’t stay there. He grabbed his blanket and the weak excuse for the pillow from his bunk and staggered down the hallway. He tried the hatches of passenger cabins on either side but found them solidly locked. Finally, a hatch creaked open and Arekan slid his body into the compartment.
He hit the light switch at the compartment’s entrance to find a cabin as wide as the crews quarters. Fuzzily Arekan remembered Grokin had mentioned a torn up recreation room. Apparently he found it. Pieces of furniture lay upside down with the fabric on them cut with deep slashes. Some crew member or members had themselves a hell of a time destroying this place. The compartment was grimy, with the deck and walls smeared with what looked like dark brown of dried blood. But Arekan was rapidly getting accustomed to filth, and he was too tired to care.
Image by Starry Night Graphix
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Oh no. No one actually interviewed me. But over at Fantasy-Writers.org a member posted a thread asking us about how we started as writers and then added a few more questions. It evolved into an interview of sorts so here goes:
1.How did everyone get their start in writing fantasy?
It was a confluence of cultural influences that led me to science fiction and fantasy. When I was eleven Star Trek first hit the small screen. But before that there were a bunch of popular SF themed shows. Land of the Giants, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are two. When I was even younger there was a Saturday morning kid’s show Fireball XL5 about the missions of spaceship Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. The characters were produced through puppetry, and had the cheesiest of production values, (sometimes you saw the wires) but to my five-year old mind it was fascinating.Continue reading Interview with the #Scifi #author
Arekan stared stupidly at the long cylinder of the null space displacement unit that ran through the center of the compartment. Except for a few class tours on his home ship, he’d never seen one. But this piece of equipment as everything else on this tub looked in disrepair. Its paint cracked and peeled along its casing, and the rust brown of corrosion marked the unit’s seams. Arekan grew queasier at witnessing the poor condition of this major aspect of the propulsion system.
The engineer whipped his head toward Arekan and Grokin and frowned. Tinnen was extremely lean and white-haired. A deep scar cut into his cheek running from his ear to his jaw, which deepened with the scowl he gave both men.
“This is who you brought?” said Tinnen incredulously.
Continue Reading–> Chapter Eight~Twice Cursed
Image by Starry Night Graphixs
As a writer.
That’s what you are thinking as you contemplate the editing of your work. It is where you confront your worst fears as you embark on the most dreaded of writer’s chores.
Sometimes my first draft is so utterly cringe worthy, I can hardly bear to read it. “What was I thinking?” I’d tell myself when reading my words. How did I write a sentence that convoluted? Why am I using so many filler words? Can I really not find a different word to use instead of writing it three times in the same paragraph? And why the hell can’t I remember where I should and shouldn’t put commas?
Ack! Argh! Hands in face.Continue reading The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed
Stephen Colbert has a complaint. The the Oxford English Dictionary named “post-truth” its word of the year for 2016. Stephen Colbert said he covered that idea ten years previously in his conlang word “truthiness.”
Now unlike other dictionaries, The Oxford English dictionary doesn’t propose to tell you how to use words. Apparently it gleens new words from a plethora of sources, mostly online, to gather words as people are using them now. Of post-truth The Washington Post says:
Oxford Dictionaries has selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year, after the contentious “Brexit” referendum and an equally divisive U.S. presidential election caused usage of the adjective to skyrocket, according to the Oxford University Press.
Between writing and editing two books for clients this month, I’m taking in gulps the very fun Renegade: The Spiral Wars Book 1 by Joel Shepherd. Except for one thing about Joel’s writing I’m thoroughly enjoying this action-adventure galactic empire space opera.
But the one thing? That’s a killer, something that throws me out of the story every time I hit it. I have to crawl back into the story worse for wear resigned to the fact I’m going to be hit with this land mine again.
And what is it?
Now let me backtrack. I think sentence fragments can be very useful in advancing the narrative. Used properly they are like the bullet points in a memo to focus the reader’s attention on a single thought or emotion for good effect.
Consider this example from Pirate’s Luck:
Tinnen slapped the button to open the hatch and the air in the small space rushed out in a blast. Obon let go of Arekan and the vacuum of space sucked him into the black. His last look confirmed what he knew. Each man was laughing his head off.
This is an obviously an action scene with events moving quickly. You don’t want to slow the pacing with too much self-reflection but the dire circumstances our hero is in demands one. The one word accomplishes that. Since it doesn’t have a verb it’s a sentence fragment. But it furthers the narrative and allows the reader to get on to the next paragraph with the emotional impact delivered succinctly.
But what I’m seeing in books today is a slapdash application of sentence fragments. Consider this example from Joel’s Renegade.
At the turnover point Erik kicked the shuttle’s tail around and over, still thrusting to slow them while skidding them around onto a new orbit, chasing Fajar Station and Phoenix. Barely fifteen minutes at these velocities, approaching at plus twenty thousand kilometres an hour.
Okay Joel, I’ll bite. Barely fifteen minutes at these velocities, approaching at plus twenty thousand kilometres an hour what? What happens? What are the consequences? Tell me, because I’m just the reader. I’m hanging on your coattails– your creative vision. What is the worst thing that can happen here, because that is what you are alluding to.
But you don’t finish the thought.
Lest you think I’m hammering on an isolated incident there are more, so many more, such as this:
Then past berthing crew at the grapples, and tight space between bulkheads, secured with netting and acceleration slings where marines could ride out manoeuvres while waiting to board a shuttle. He overhanded up the corridor, past zero-G equipment bays and outfitting where a lot of marines’ gear was secured, then finally made the core hatch.
This one is a little more complicated, incorporating a lot more action, but it is still a fragment, and it is still not showing us what Eric is experiencing in this sequence. And I want to know. Here Eric is in the zero g portion of the ship, without the benefit of gravity to get good action from his muscles and it just begs more information. Such as,
“Heart thudding in his chest, he propelled his body with one hard push of his muscles past the berthing crew at the grapples. With a single touch of his hand to the bulkhead he adjusted his course to navigate the tight space of netting and acceleration slings used by the Marines when waiting for deployment to the shuttles. Cursing, wanting to move faster, he overhanded the equally spaced rungs in the bulkhead as his body fought the slowness of muscle movement in zero-g. He picked up speed, and Eric shot past the zero-G equipment bays where the Marines’ secured their gear. Finally he arrived at the core hatch.”
Now you can pare down the words. That’s what editing is for. Action scenes call for as little detail as possible. But that doesn’t mean you resort to sentence fragments to accomplish that.
Because they just don’t work. So stop writing those awful sentences fragments. Verbs and your readers will thank you for it.
P. S. But don’t let the sentence fragments stop you from reading Joel’s book. Otherwise it is a great read.
Image © Joel Shepherd. Use of low resolution images of copyrighted work is permissible for purposes of commentary under US copyright law.
Arekan kicked out his leg and clocked the intruder in the jaw. The man staggered back, sword in hand, but he did not fall. His gaze fixed on Arekan with a murderous expression.
“I’ll kill you,” the pirate growled.
“Better men have tried,” said Arekan with more bravado than he felt. “But you are welcome to give it a go.”
The man’s face turned a beet red as he pushed himself toward Arekan, his sword pointed toward the nineteen year old. As the man’s sword came within Arekan’s reach, the youth stepped to the man’s left, away from the man’s dominant arm, whipped around in a full three hundred and sixty degree turn, and slashed man’s torso. The man halted in his tracks, and then tottered falling to the deck groaning and bleeding. As miserable as the man looked and sounded Arekan could have aimed higher and severed the man’s neck.
Art by Starry Night Graphixs
Let him die.
“He did not just say that,” said Arekan. He knew the first mate was a hard man, but he didn’t think Grokin would be cold hearted enough to let a member of his crew die.
“I’m afraid so,” said Egren. He had pressed a button at his neck on his spacesuit, and Arekan could not hear Grokin. “Our first mate has a ‘let ‘em take prisoners’ policy. It deters those that try to use extortion to get our goods.”
“Creator,” muttered Arekan. He peered out over the edge of the hatch to see Obon clutching the swaying tether. “We need to get him up here.”
“That’s exactly what those pirates want. They’ll be right in back of him to board this ship with us too afraid of killing our own man to do anything about it.”
Image by Starrynight Graphix.