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Born in a century far less progressive than her mind works, Beth ghostwrites fiction during the day and her own work in the cornices of an overactive schedule.

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 15~The Long Way to N’sen

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 15~The Long Way to N’sen published on No Comments on Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 15~The Long Way to N’sen

The water of the tank sent shards of cold through Arekan as chilly as the deeps of space. With a shiver, Arekan realized this compartment had no shielding for the cold of the black, and if he didn’t drown first, he’d die of hypothermia.

The only positive outcome of this disaster was that the chilled water stopped the pain in his seared back end. But that was cold comfort against the two deaths he now faced.

Raised in space, Arekan was no stranger to the extremes of astronautical living, but his adventures on The Rogan pushed him to the limits of his patience. This was the third time this tub threatened his life. The first was his induction in the Heavenly Court when his shipmates tossed him out of an airlock without a spacesuit. The second was when the first mate Grokin whipped him for saving a crew mate’s life against orders, and now this. He had enough. Anger bubbled through him as he resolved to kill the captain. 

Arekan somersaulted in the water to correct his downward trajectory and propel his body with powerful pulls of his arms to the hatch. If he misjudged, he would drown. If he didn’t get out of this water quickly, he’d lose body heat, pass out and then drown.

It’s always good to have options, he thought sarcastically.

His head hit metal, and as a sharp pain seared through him, he gasped. Fortunately, he sucked in air from the pocket of air at the top of the tank.

Not dead yet, you bastards, though Arekan. Above him, heavy footsteps vibrated, and the creak of the hatch signaled someone, probably an Impie pulling it back. When a dim light hit the water, Arekan pushed back into the shadow. A flashlight plunged its beam into the water. Arekan sucked more air and sunk into the water, holding his breath while he watched the beam of light sliced through the darkness in a wavy sword. His lungs begged painfully for another breath, but he hung on even as he shivered in the water. He had to get out of this cold soon, or there would be no reason to.

The light withdrew, leaving only the muddled light seeping into the water from the open hatch.

Arekan’s limbs grew heavy, which was a danger sign in the depths of space or an unheated water tank. He didn’t feel or hear boot falls, and he hoped the Impies had moved on. Willing his limbs to move, he pushed his head out of the water and immediately felt his body hauled out the water and tossed harshly on the deck. Arekan searched the engine room quickly, but Cripin disappeared, and the grate to the ventilation system where he entered the

“Think we found him,” said one Impie. Arekan blinked to clear his vision.

“Could be a stowaway,” said another.

“On this wreck? With those degenerates?” said the other.

“Go tell the lieutenant,” said the first. “He’ll sort it out.”

A rush of fresh energy hit Arekan at this new threat. He sprang to his water-logged feet and smashed the first Impie in the jaw, and the man staggered and fell to the deck. The second leveled an energy weapon at him and fired but missed. This gave Arekan the chance to propel into the man’s knees and sack him. The man’s head hit the deck with a sharp crack, and he lay unmoving. Arekan checked the man’s pulse and found the man’s heartbeat.

Arekan shook his head. He had hoped to wait out the Imperial Navy’s visit in hiding, and now that was impossible. As he shivered again from the chill of his wet clothes, he glanced around the engine room. There was a hatch he hadn’t noticed, so he opened it to and found a storage area, though the light inside didn’t illuminate the space. He heard a familiar hiss, in fact, many hisses. He grabbed the Impie’s flashlight and swept it inside to find a knot of snakelets writhing on each other.

His stomach turned as he stared at the wriggling tangle of vipers he had not seen since he brought them on board. These he had filched from the planet where they picked up the new crew member, Peppen, or Rastan, or whatever the hells his name was. Damned Grokin confiscated the snakelets, and Arekan allowed it because the first mate was the expert on keeping the snakes.

Grokin owned an adult version that he used to keep the crew under control. He used the psychotropic venom of these creatures to addict The Rogan’s men to the snake’s dubious charms. The crew had used the poison on Arekan after Grokin had whipped him nearly to death to keep the pain manageable as he healed. Maybe it was the pain, or perhaps just his individual body chemistry, but he detoxed from the venom once in an experience he never wanted to repeat. The crew member who tended to him most, and the only decent one of the lot, Egrin, warned him that further exposure could addict him irrevocably. But remembering the crazy visions he had while he healed, Arekan reasoned he had a way to make the Impies doubt they had even seen The Rogan at all.

After grabbing the thick gloves he used to push the batteries, he reached into the knot and yanked three snakelets from the pile. Needle-like barbs sliced through the gloves, and when he looked down, he noticed the baby snake had vestigial front legs with sharp claws. Damn, the things stuck like hook-and-loop strips. Behind him, he heard the groans of the two men stirring.

“Sorry, guys,” said Arekan. He regretted this action because it went against all his father taught Arekan about honor. A fair fight was one thing. This was a dirty trick that could have consequences for these men for the rest of their lives. But he didn’t have time for moral dilemmas. Arekan tossed a serpent on each of the men, and the beasts, alarmed at their rough treatment, struck the Impies. One man moaned with pain, but both passed out again.

Arekan found a pail and dumped a knot of the creatures inside. He peered out of the ruined hatch into the hallway and saw no Imperial Navy personnel with caution. He sucked in a breath and clutching the pail of unhappy snakelets. He opened ventured into the corridor. He made his way to the ladder that brought him to the lower deck.

As soon as his foot hit the lower deck, he heard, “You. Stop.”

Arekan turned to see an Imperial sailor pointing an energy rifle at him. Arekan whipped out a snakelet and tossed it at the Imperial sailor. The man tried to bat it away, but the serpent used its claws to cling to the man before he sunk his fangs into the man’s hand. The sailor cried out as his knees buckled under him, and he fell forward. Arekan snatched the baby snake and returned it to the pail while it spat and hissed at him.

“Yeah, I love you too,” said Arekan sourly.

Arekan wondered how long his luck would hold out. While he got lucky three times, the odds could shatter from his favor to against. Arekan detested suffering the consequences of putting his sword to the law policing the spaceways of Kyn. It was bad enough they could execute him on sight. If he murdered one, they would hound him throughout the Kyn Empire—worse because they would have a name and a face to pursue. It didn’t matter whether it was Arekan Mor’a’stan, Thad Grane, or any other moniker he wore.

It boiled the blood that he faced danger each time he crossed Kyn international boundaries for being born in a family that the government despised. The constant threats to his life, including Cripin’s latest attempt, burned him deep. Every muscle bunched, and his jaw set as he strode through the hallways of the ship with his bucket of dangerous weapons toward the cargo hold. At the hatch, he stopped and peered into the hold. He spotted the Lieutenant and six of his men holding energy rifles to the pirate crew.

“But I tell you,” said the new crew member Rastan, “Peppen is not my name.”

That fool Peppen leaned toward the Lieutenant to talk his way off the ship. The officer scowled at him.

Grokin stepped forward and cuffed the boy who fell on his butt while the Impies rushed toward them both.

“Shut your mouth,” snapped the first mate.

“Aye, boy,” growled Etharin. “Everyone knows on ITU ships, people work under aliases if they care to, and most do.”

With Grokin and Etharin shooting murderous glances at Rastan, the young man slunk back into line with the crew of The Rogan. Arekan noticed Cripin there too, standing still with an unconcerned expression on his face.

“With this last one, all crew accounted for,” said announced an Impie with a compad in hand.

“Not exactly,” said Arekan.

All heads snapped to Arekan, who sprinted into the hold and tossed one handful of snakes after another at the Impies. The serpents’ vestigial claws dug into the soldiers’ uniforms, and their fangs struck. While one man screeched, others swore, and two hopped around trying to rid themselves of the creatures, the men of The Rogan laughed at the Impies predicament. Within minutes, the Imperial military men lay on the floor.

“What the hells,” groaned the Impie lieutenant. He sunk to his knees and his eyes rolled up.

Etharin took two steps to the Lieutenant, grabbed the man’s hair, and jerked the man’s head, forcing him to look at Etharin.

“That’s what you get for messing with my ship,” he said. He pushed, and the man fell backward with his head striking the deck.

Obon, the least dependable of the crew, sprang forward to grab a snakelet wiggling toward a bulkhead seeking a place to hide, but Arekan stepped in and snatched it.

“That’s my property, Obon. And if you touch it, you’ll die.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obon sneered but backed off.

“What about the ones searching the ship?” said Etharin.

“Two in the engine room and one in the main corridor on this deck. All unconscious.”

“Good work, lad. You’ve earned your pay for the week.”

Arekan almost snarled. He had no use for the pirate captain’s praise. Nor did Etharin pay a single crew member until the end of the run, and so far, there was no end in sight.

“Grokin,” said Etharin, “take who you need and drag those Impies into their patrol ship and set them adrift. And then we’ll be underway too. Tinnen, make the engines ready. Cripin, plot a course back into Oshijia. We’ll take the long way to N’sen spaceport.”

Arekan turned to walk out of the hold.

“Where are you going, boy?” said Grokin. “There’s work needs doing.”

“You heard the captain. I’ve done my work for the week. And here.” He set the pail of snakes on the deck and kicked it to Grokin. “Take care of these.”

Arekan strode from the compartment shivering, wet, and sick to his stomach from his dunking in the water tank and the day’s events. Etharin and Cripin planned his death before he set foot on the ship. How creepy was it they chose him based on his looks?

When he reached the crew quarters, he closed the hatch and shoved a piece of metal in the locking mechanism. Then he changed from his sopping clothes to his one other set. He needed sleep, and he’d get it, but he didn’t trust these pirates not to murder him. Arekan grabbed his sword from the pile of clothes on the floor and lay it at his side as he rested his head on his pillow, contemplating his dilemma. His eyes grew heavy, and he decided the problem of Etharin and his murderous crew would wait for another day.

 

The #Writer’s Craft: Word Counts, Story Length & Story Structure

The #Writer’s Craft: Word Counts, Story Length & Story Structure published on 1 Comment on The #Writer’s Craft: Word Counts, Story Length & Story Structure

(Beth Turnage Blog)  I’ve written several posts on Quora on writing and thought I’d curate some here. You can call it laziness, but really it’s a lack of time since ghostwriting is keeping me very busy. Really. 😉

How do word count limitations affect what you can fit into a story?

This is an excellent question, and I thank you for asking it. Now you will get a lesson ripped from the pages of “Beth’s Book on Writing Fiction.” Okay, there is no such book, but you know what I mean. After six years of writing professionally as a ghostwriter and having to render stories according to a client’s word counts, themes, and tropes, I may have an answer for you.

I studied the reviews of the titles for different stories that I wrote for clients and listened to their complaints. And I dug into story structure and pacing to render stories that people find satisfying. I’ve written almost every genre, except horror and a few sub-genres of romance.

Just about every writer will hate me for what you are about to read, because the unwritten rule is, “there are no rules.”Continue reading The #Writer’s Craft: Word Counts, Story Length & Story Structure

The Craft of #Writing: Grabbing the Reader

The Craft of #Writing: Grabbing the Reader published on 1 Comment on The Craft of #Writing: Grabbing the Reader

(Beth Turnage) I’ve written a number of posts on Quora on writing and thought I’d curate some here. You can call it laziness, but really it’s a lack of time, since ghostwriting is keeping me very busy. Really. 😉

When writing, how do you grab your reader’s attention as quickly as possible?

How do I do it?

I bring the reader into the story as quickly as possible. I answer the questions who, what, when, where, why in the first paragraph. This means no long moody passages about the weather or vague impressions about feelings, or any of the awful beginnings that beginning writers are prone to pen.

But I’m not the only one. Plenty of first-rate writers do the same thing and here is an excellent page to see the first sentence of their books:

Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Grabbing the Reader

The #Writer’s Craft: #Edit using #Free SAS #Writing Reviser

The #Writer’s Craft: #Edit using #Free SAS #Writing Reviser published on No Comments on The #Writer’s Craft: #Edit using #Free SAS #Writing Reviser

Writer thinking about editing(Beth Turnage) One gem in Google Apps is the free editing tool g.suite’s SAS Writing Reviser. Designed for school use, there is no reason why you can’t use it for your writing.

Now, I love this thing, not only for its price point but also for the tools it offers, including, and get this, a verb tense analyzer. That is pure gold because if you wanted a similar tool, you must purchase another online tool and pay $30 a month for the privilege of using it. Um, no.

But the caveat with using SAS Writing Reviser is that you must know what you are trying to accomplish with it. Unlike ProWriting Aid that stands over you with its whip and commands you to change this or that, SAS provides few guidelines on where to hit your prose with its editing magic. So let me take you through this lightly and you can explore the rest at your leisure.

First, you must be working in Google Docs. Now, you’re probably working in Word, or good heavens, Scrivener, but save yourself a ton of problems and come over to the side of Light and Goodness now. Continue reading The #Writer’s Craft: #Edit using #Free SAS #Writing Reviser

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 14~The Dead Zone

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 14~The Dead Zone published on No Comments on Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 14~The Dead Zone

“Damned-to-the-seven-hells stupid pirate captain.”

Arekan cursed Etharin while he crawled in the ventilation shafts of The Rogan, a spaceship thirty-years too old, and sixty-years behind in repairs and upgrades. The tub was not fit to sit in, let alone travel the black depths of space. In his short life, nineteen-year-old Arekan Mor’a’stan never thought he’d land on a pirate ship, or as the captain called it, a salvage vessel. Arekan also never imagined he would need to use an alias, or sell his sword skills honed since he could walk to land a berth on the decrepit scow.

Worse yet, the Kyn Imperial Navy had boarded the barge which put Arekan’s life in danger. Arekan continued to spit venomous words born from the roiling bile in his gut. Etharin illegally recharged ramjet batteries and stored them in the engine room, the energy signatures of which must have attracted the Impies attention. Arekan could not afford this. The Impies would find him on board. As a member of an outlawed Kyn family, the Imperial Navy would automatically kill Arekan as soon as a DNA scan confirmed his identity.

From his perch in the ventilator grate that overlooked the cargo hold, Arekan watched the Impies march onto the metal deck. Their heavy boots rang through the large compartment. A man walked up the line with the swagger of one in command. Arekan couldn’t see because of the angle and the grating the man’s rank on the collar of his dark blue uniform.

“Who’s in charge of this tub!” called the officer.

“I’s is,” said Etharin, who stepped forward from the ragged line of crew. This surprised Arekan who’d only seen the enigmatic ship’s master twice. Once when the captain hired him, and earlier today when he took the new crew member Rastan, AKA Peppen, to the bridge to meet Etharin. Arekan counted the number of heads and found one missing, besides him. He peered through the grate again to find First Mate Grokin, Engineer Tinnen, General Hands Obon and Egrin, the new crewmate, Peppen, and Cook standing in line. They were a foul-looking lot, and they had nasty habits. Arekan also noted Cripin, the navigator, was missing.

Arekan couldn’t worry about Cripin. Job one was to solve the problem of the contraband ramjet batteries. There were a dozen of them in the engine room. They were dangerously close to the null space generator which was the piece of machinery that made space travel to distant stars possible. But in the batteries in their present state were unstable and moving them could blow up the ship.

–> Read More

A Very Special FWO Weird #Christmas

A Very Special FWO Weird #Christmas published on 2 Comments on A Very Special FWO Weird #Christmas

(Beth Turnage Blog)

From time to time at Fantasy Writer dot org we have submission challenges were we challenge each other to submit en massé to one publication to see how we fare. At Christmas, we participate in the Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest,where Craig, the owner of the site, chooses a few winners and a bunch of honorable mentions who record their stories for his podcast. Alas, none of us made the cut this year, but we wanted to record our stories, so I offered to host the recordings. In no particular order, here are flashes of 350 word weird Christmas goodness.

Continue reading A Very Special FWO Weird #Christmas

#NaNoWriMo and a #Free #Writing Tool

#NaNoWriMo and a #Free #Writing Tool published on No Comments on #NaNoWriMo and a #Free #Writing Tool

(Beth Turnage Blog) So you are deep in NaNo and emotions run high. Perhaps you’ve finished a chapter or two, but then the dreaded crash. You know where you are heading but now you’ve become stuck in the mire.

Because I write a lot of novels each year for my clients, I don’t have the time to wallow through the muck. One thing I found helps me move along is this tool.
Continue reading #NaNoWriMo and a #Free #Writing Tool

NaNoWriMo 2019 Project: A Matter Of Time

NaNoWriMo 2019 Project: A Matter Of Time published on No Comments on NaNoWriMo 2019 Project: A Matter Of Time

(Beth Turnage Blog) For my NaNoWriMo project I’ve dusted off an older project, Cassandra Sees: A Matter of Time.

Here is the blurb:

When a Detective Dan Arrington investigating local murders finds a woman who knows more details about them than she should, can he believe she got those details from astrology? Or does her information come from more personal involvement? And why does Cassandra hide from the world in her apartment? What or who is she afraid of?

This project springs from my personal knowledge of Forensic Astrology, theastrology that helps to solve crimes. This is a small specialty within the astrological community due to its complexity. Only a small percentage of astrologers practice Forensic Astrology and no one practices it as I do. You can see the cases on which I’ve speculated on True Crime and Astrology. Okay, it’s been a while since I updated the blog but the articles are still good. I’ve also given a lecture on this subject to the Astrological Society of Connecticut. (Click to read more)

Arekan’s Blog: MORE Laundry Problems

Arekan’s Blog: MORE Laundry Problems published on No Comments on Arekan’s Blog: MORE Laundry Problems

Arekan: So the scribe is still writing the trash that “pays the mortgage” but since it seems to keep her in coffee and milkshakes, I won’t complain too much, though I’ve heard there a bit of clamor for her to finish the Arekan’s War Series.

[scribe, um Beth:] One reader is hardly a clamor.Continue reading Arekan’s Blog: MORE Laundry Problems

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