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Pirate’s Luck: Chapter Eight~Twice Cursed

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Pirate's Luck Pain accompanied every movement as Grokin pushed him up the ladder that led to the engine room.

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

#WinterSolstice #Fiction: The Inattentions of Mr. Weatherby

#WinterSolstice #Fiction: The Inattentions of Mr. Weatherby published on No Comments on #WinterSolstice #Fiction: The Inattentions of Mr. Weatherby

Women in LeatherNote: I wrote the following piece for a Fantasy Writer’s.org monthly challenge three years ago. I haven’t found a market for it, so I’m publishing it here for Winter Solstice. There is a little fantasy/science fiction mix here, so bear with me. I’ve always like this story and whenever I read it–well, you’ll see.

THE INATTENTIONS OF MR. WEATHERBY

In advance of the coming cold front, thick flakes swirled and hit the muddy street. Ari’s boots slipped in the mud and the thin coating of melting snow. Her basket in hand, she looked up as the flying ice batted her eyes. She pulled up her scarf over her nose and pushed on, making her way to the little store before her. The storefront was dark, but whether it was because Mr. Weatherby closed the store early, or the sudden storm dampened the light of the sun, she did not know.

She pushed at the door, and it yielded, opening on the slight warmth of an enclosed space holding back the greater cold of the outside world. There was a fireplace off to the left, but it was not lit. The rafters were dark from a lack of light in the shop. She stomped her feet before she entered loosening some of the mud from her boots.\

“Weatherby,” she called.

Typically, there was no answer. She often remarked he was the worst storekeeper ever, but Weatherby would only scoff.

“I’m here, aren’t I? No one else would supply this sad sack little town.”Continue reading #WinterSolstice #Fiction: The Inattentions of Mr. Weatherby

The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed published on No Comments on The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

Editing You suck.

As a writer.

No really.

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

The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance

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Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film Gaslight
Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film Gaslight
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.

Continue reading The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance

Renegade The Spiral Wars Book 1

The art of #writing: stop those awful sentence fragments

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Renegade The Spiral Wars Book 1 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?

Sentence fragments.

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.

Bastards.

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.

Pirate’s Luck–Chapter Seven~Hooked

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Pirate's Luck, sci-fi, adventure, SF, SFF“You’re a damned idiot,” said a familiar voice. “Seven lashes were more than enough and you struck too deep. Now, he’s out of commission for at least a month. What use is he now, eh? I’ll be paying for his upkeep and getting no work out of him.” Arekan placed the complaining voice as Etharin as he came to consciousness face down in a bunk not his own.

“I’m tired of his attitude. He won’t do a damn thing I tell him.” Grokin said belligerently.

“And what about you, eh? You disobeyed my order. Should I give you ten lashes, eh?”

Arekan thought that was a great idea. He’d love to see Grokin get a slice of his own treatment.

“Sorry, sir,” said Grokin. He didn’t sound penitent but Etharin didn’t seem eager to prove a point.

“You damn well better be sorry,” said Etharin. “We are short men as and he is a good blade. We’d be the ones spaced if it wasn’t for him.”

“Aye, sir,” said Grokin. His voice was rough with reluctant agreement.

“When will he wake, you think?”

Click here to continue or start here at the first chapter

Cover art by Starry Night Graphixs.

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