April 17, 2012 — 84 words
We mentioned MERGE over the weekend, and a hearty congrats to the lucky sleuth who found the landing page first. Your Amazon gift card is on the way, in that virtual sorta way.
For the rest of you: get in on the action by visiting the MERGE teaser page. It'll be updating soon with all kinds of cool stuff, so GO THERE NOW!
I mean, if you don't WANT a new iPad, I guess you could skip it...
April 17, 2012 — 536 words
By Guest Author
Last October, Indie Author Stephen Hise launched a new website called Indies Unlimited. The goal of the site is to celebrate, educate, and promote independent authors.
Hise wanted to provide a platform for independent authors to share and exchange ideas, knowledge, expertise and frustrations; and, for readers and reviewers to become exposed to the amazing depth and array of talent in the indie community. “I started Indies Unlimited to showcase the amazing amount of talent in the indie author community. I hope to connect authors with each other and with readers as well,” he explains.
It was an amazing undertaking for one person, yet Hise managed to produce a steady stream of content including interviews, articles, links, video book trailers, contests, reviews, industry news and recommendations.
Today, Indies Unlimited has a staff consisting of multi-national, best-selling and ground-breaking writers able to provide guidance and input to assist less-experienced authors. Hise says, “I have recruited authors and industry experts from different areas of the publishing field to provide insight, expertise, and diverse perspectives on the many facets of writing.” Some of that knowledge is shared every Tuesday with a tutorial on a different subject from back-up tools to building your own bookstore to customizing your Facebook URL and more.
Readers from all over the world have already found their way to Indies Unlimited, where they can sample excerpts of Indie Authors’ books for free, and even engage an author directly in questions and answers through the comments. The “Freebie Friday” feature showcases a large number of free eBooks each week, and draws readers, reviewers and others who enjoy the convenience and variety of free eBooks they find on the site.
“Indies Unlimited offers so much to so many,” says multi-published and award-winning author K.S. Brooks, who acts as the site’s Co-Administrator. “The sharp-witted, fresh content is truly what sets Indies Unlimited apart. It’s always good to be able to laugh when you’re involved in such a competitive industry.”
To learn more about Indies Unlimited, their video can be viewed at http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/02/05/the-indies-unlimited-story/
Authors who’d like to participate are able to submit queries via www.IndiesUnlimited.com/submissions.
Stephen Hise is the Founder and Co-Administrator of Indies Unlimited and author of the novels Upgrade and Bad Book. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his website: http://stephenhise.com/
April 17, 2012 — 295 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
Tears streamed down the thief's cheeks as she sat amidst all her scattered beads. "Babies," she sniffled. "My pretty babies..."
Haglyn rolled her GyroCart away from the wall it had careened into and rubbed her arm gingerly. She plucked a bead off the ground and rolled it in her fingers. "Guess we weren't the first victims."
"I almost feel bad for her," said Milly, lowering the blaster. "All this crying about her babies... Maybe this is the only way she can feed her family. Maybe she needs help."
"According to Overard, all this plastic is worth a lot of money," said Haglyn, "way more than it would cost to pay for food and shelter. Here: feel how dense they are." Haglyn tossed the bead to Milly.
The thief looked up and saw Milly catch the bead. "No!" she shrieked. "Don't hurt my baby!" She started to scramble to her feet, but Milly raised the blaster again. She froze, lips quivering.
Milly frowned and gestured to the scattered beads. "Are these your babies?"
"Precious babies," mumbled the woman. "My pretty babies."
"She's a wacko," said Haglyn. She leaned down to retrieve the pens and sunglasses that the woman had been trying to steal. "I wonder if she was going to turn this stuff into more beads somehow."
The woman stared longingly at the objects in Haglyn's hand. "More beautiful babies..."
"I don't think she even knows this stuff's worth anything," said Haglyn. "We could really use these beads to get the Pelican fixed up."
"Even if she is crazy, I'd feel bad just taking them from her," said Milly.
"Hmm." Haglyn scanned the alleyway. "I've got an idea that might make you feel better about it."
April 15, 2012 — 275 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
Milly skidded to a stop. Haglyn was sitting in her GyroCart, hands held up over her head, trying not to provoke an attack from the thief, who was clutching her blaster in trembling hands. She clearly hadn't anticipated being backed into a corner like this. The thief swept the blaster back and forth, as if unsure which of Milly and Haglyn posed the greater threat.
"Take it easy," growled Haglyn. "Give us our plastic back, and you can go."
"Nuh uh!" said the thief, her voice shaky. "Mine now, belongs to me... Gotta take care of my children. Gotta feed 'em, gotta keep 'em warm and dry. You can't take my babies away from me!"
Milly stepped closer. "We're not trying to—"
"DON'T TAKE MY BABIES!" howled the thief. She jabbed the blaster towards Milly.
Milly's self-preservation reflexes kicked in, and she dove forward behind the nearest cover, which happened to be Haglyn's GyroCart. She stumbled and ran into the back of the cart, causing it to tilt forward, which engaged its engine, which made it shoot quickly forward, startling the thief and bowling her over. The woman hit the wall and dropped the blaster, and her bulky jacket flew open. A shower of plastic beads poured out of the pockets onto the ground.
Milly was the first to recover. She reached down and grabbed the blaster.
The thief sat up dizzily, holding her head, and moaned. When she saw Milly glaring at her from behind the blaster, and the scattered beads all around her, she wrapped her arms around herself and began to cry. "My babies!" she sobbed. "Don't hurt my babies..."
April 14, 2012 — 107 words
Okay, ladies and gents, it's mystery time again! We haven't done this in a while, so I'll make it easy, to get y'all started...
1889 is launching a new series in May.
The series is called MERGE.
We have a secret landing page for the project, with a sign-up form.
I won't tell you where the landing page is.
You have to figure that out for yourself.
The first person to sign up will receive a $10 Amazon or iTunes gift card.
Further instructions will follow.
P.S.: You may want to start using the hashtag #merge1889 now. It may come in handy.
April 13, 2012 — 1,205 words
The afternoon sun was beating down through the the sunroof of Kristen’s Jeep. The suburban streets were quiet, and it felt like they were the only people in the world. Ricky was thankful they weren’t, though. Kira, the girl he loved, was waiting for them at Lake Castaic along with Kristen’s date, Dan.
“You are insane, Kris,” Ricky said, forcing the words through his French-Canadian accent. “I was going to go anyway, you didn’t needs to bring a gun.”
“Oh, please, that rifle’s so old, I doubt it would even fire if it were loaded,” Kristen replied, barely hiding the contempt in her voice. “But, Kira made it sound like you didn’t want to go, so I wanted to make sure she didn’t go through the trouble of setting up everything about this date for nothing. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why she likes you so much.”
He glared at her then, taking loud, deep breaths as his short temper got the better of him. Hitting the car door in frustration, he shouted, “Damn it, she loves me, Kris! And I love her! Why can’t you accept zat?”
The car came to a sudden stop, the girl driving turning to face Ricky eye-to-eye. She had an anger of her own, but it was much better controlled. What she said was as calm as her gray eyes, though no less forceful. “Because I see what you do to her. I’m her roommate and her best friend, so I’m the one she comes to when she’s upset because you’ve had a big fight.” The girl sighed, rubbing her temples. She loathed what she was about to say, but this was her best friend’s unofficial boyfriend. “Yes, she has a lot of fun with you, might even be attracted to you, and I can’t stop that. If you do anything to really hurt her, though, I’ll...”
Ricky turned away before she finished, scoffing. This was why he hadn’t wanted to go on a double date. Having to be with Kristen ruined the whole thing. When Kira had first asked him to go out, he was excited at the prospect of spending some time alone with her. Then she had mentioned it was a double date with Kristen and Dan, causing his excitement to wither. These were people they hung out with all the time, so there wouldn’t be anything special about tonight.
The girl thought about telling Ricky off for his behavior some more, but she decided it wasn’t worth it and continued driving. The rest of the trip was even quieter than it had started out, until they finally pulled into the parking lot for the campgrounds.
“Don’t get out yet,” she said, reaching around into the back while Ricky waited impatiently. Kristen grabbed a bouquet of white tulips off the floor behind her seat, which she had picked from around the neighborhood. She knew it would melt Kira’s heart to get them, and as much as she hated helping Ricky, she wanted to see her friend happy. “Here, give her these.”
The young man just pushed them away, rolling his eyes. “I don’t need your ‘elp. I got Kira somezing much better zan flowers.” He patted his pocket, before hurrying out of the car, leaving a frustrated Kristen to follow.
After a short walk, they arrived at the campsite. The sun reflected off the lake, causing it to sparkle. On the picnic table there was a whole meal that Kira had cooked herself, with Kristen’s assistance. She had insisted on doing everything herself to make this date go as well as possible, part of the reason Kristen was so worried about Ricky messing it up. There was also a telescope, as well as a large portable screen and a projector, activities for when the sun set.
Ricky wasn’t really paying attention to any of that, though. The first thing he noticed was Kira. He had never seen her wear a dress before, but she looked amazing in the icy-blue gown she had picked out. It went well with her blonde hair, though he usually didn’t like dyed hair, because it reminded him how some people could change what they didn’t like about themselves, but he couldn’t change how short he was. With the four of them gathered together, he was clearly the shortest despite being the oldest there. Luckily, though, Kira wasn’t more than an inch or two taller. As he approached her, he pulled out his gift: a matching set of bracelets, both engraved with the word “Thank” on the underside.
“Ricky, in English, it’s ‘thanks,’ not ‘thank,’” Kristen tried to correct.
Kira shook her head, though, smiling at Ricky. “That’s the point, Kristen. It’s how he used to say it when we first met. Thank to you too, Ricky.” She gave him a loose hug before slipping the bracelet on. “Now, let’s get to the food before anything else does.”
Dinner was fairly pleasant, much to the surprise of many of the people there. There was some awkward conversation, but the rest was the usual stuff friends would talk about. Ricky thought he was doing quite well at acting friendly consider how much he hadn’t wanted to be there. Just as dinner was ending and he was starting to get comfortable, Kira pulled him aside, wanting to talk to him alone. He went reluctantly, not sure what was so important that he had to delay his dessert. She took him a little ways from the picnic table, where the telescope had been set up on a large blanket.
“Alright, Kira, what is it?” Ricky asked, looking through the telescope.
The girl looked down, playing with her hands nervously. She hadn’t been entirely sure what she was thinking when she brought him here, just that she needed a chance to be alone with him. “I just… we’ve been friends for a while now, and…. Well, I’m not sure h-how I really feel about you. I’ve never even gone on a date before tonight, so I’m not sure if what I feel is what I’m supposed to feel.”
Ricky stared at her. Didn’t she love him as much as he loved her? Sure, she had never said it, but he had always known it. Or thought he did. Before he could say anything, though, Kira was right in front of him, her lips touching his. It was inexperienced, and over before Ricky knew what was going on. Kira got up quickly, face red as she ran back to help Kristen with the dishes.
The young man just stayed there, stunned, but also upset. She had run away before he had a chance to kiss back, to really enjoy it. For being so nice most of the time, he thought, she sure could be selfish.
* * *
Jeremy Quinn is a hobby writer who started with writing FanFiction. Recently, he's been trying to do more original fiction, but hasn't yet found his niche.
April 13, 2012 — 313 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
Milly and Haglyn emptied their purses and pockets to see what plastic objects they might have available for bartering. Milly had a water bottle, and Haglyn found some discarded pens and a forgotten pair of sunglasses in her purse.
"This junk can't actually be worth anything..." said Milly.
"Leave it to me," said Haglyn. "I've got decades of haggling experience from my pawn shop..."
"What?" said Haglyn.
"Your name is Haglyn, and you're good at—"
Haglyn snorted. "Never heard that one before."
Haglyn dumped the plastic objects into her lap and turned her GyroCart towards the front desk. "Hey, Mister Lip Rings," she called, "got any engines for us now?"
Milly saw a rush of movement out of the corner of her eye. A skinny woman in a heavy jacket, her hair braided with dozens of metal bangles, raced up and snatched the plastic trinkets out of Haglyn's lap, then took off running.
"Hey!" shouted Milly.
"Thief!" screamed Haglyn, immediately giving chase. She leaned forward hard, and the GyroCart's electric engine hummed and buzzed with the effort. Haglyn flew out the door and bowled down the street, shouting after the thief at the top of her lungs. The crowded sidewalk parted to let her through.
Milly tried to keep pace, but the GyroCart was too fast, and the thief had a good head start. Two blocks away, Milly saw the thief turn down an alleyway, with Haglyn zipping around the corner just behind.
Huffing and puffing, Milly made it to the alley, rounded the corner, and jolted to a stop.
The thief was backed into the corner. Her teeth were bared and her metal-laden braids were trembling. She was holding a sleek metal blaster. Her trigger finger twitched.
NOTE: Today's page will be delayed until later this weekend due to unforeseen circumstances.
April 12, 2012 — 1,055 words
By Letitia Coyne
How do you choose your next book?
I never know what I’ll choose. Cover art first, definitely. I’m a sucker for judging a book by its cover. I look at the blurb, never the comments, and then I’ll open at random and start to read. I don’t have to know what’s going on, as long as I want to keep reading.
But I could start out in any section of the bookstore and I’m hopeless with decision making.
Humor is a favorite. Life can be such a bitch; I really like to read stories that make me laugh. It can be hard to know what will work, though. PG Wodehouse and Douglas Adams are always a sure bet, but their backlist has been covered and there’s no chance of any posthumous releases. Terry Pratchett, Stella Gibbons, Oscar Wilde; all done with their careers, sadly. Should I risk a new name? David Sedaris?
I could move to general fiction. A lot to sift through, there, but I like a book that cracks along. I hate bogging down in detail and slogging through looking at page numbers to see if I’m half-way through yet – but then there are slow books like Moby Dick which I love. Some books have such beautiful language it doesn’t seem to matter if the hero spends a chapter and a half just sitting on his porch watching fireflies. How am I ever to know? Covers never warn of a tedious read.
Well drawn characters are a big plus, too, so I look for dialogue. I like people I can like. Or hate. I like people I can feel something for, even if it is strong dislike. And I want to be able to understand them. I don’t want someone who is cruel or kind or bitter if their actions make no sense. I like books with characters that have their motivations examined. Yes. Good, deep, real people moving through a strong storyline.
Storyline - that’s where you have to trust the blurb, isn't it. You have to hope the publisher stayed close to the truth when they chose which highlights to share. I have a friend who goes to the library each fortnight and returns with a stack of books. She complains sometimes that she has read everything she likes the look of. She has to wait for new stock – at a library! And she reads them all. And she remembers what she read! See, I don’t persevere anymore. If I am not enjoying a storyline I put the book aside. Life is too busy. And when I used to keep reading only ‘because I’d started’, I’d forget the details anyway. A good story. Hmm. How do you decide what will be a good story?
Well, fantasy is good. I like a good fantasy, especially if Aragorn is there somewhere. Let’s face it; the slightly disheveled, mounted, sword wielding, enigmatic loner with dark eyes and a hidden past is usually Aragorn in a different skin. He might ride a dragon rather than a horse, but he’s basically a Tolkien hero. And I’m partial to a Conan, too: sweat and muscle on a quest for vengeance with an Amazon at his side. Now suddenly the characters have become less like real people. Okay, so the characters can be stereotypes, as long as they are convincing. And on a really good quest. A quest? So those stories can be a bit formulaic, too, but it should be beautifully written.
One way I’ve tried to reduce the overwhelming choice of covers and genres is to follow authors. There are a few who I’ve loved. I read every Wilbur Smith novel up until The Burning Shore in 1985, then ran out of patience for misogyny and bloodlust. Raymond E Feist, Julian May, Jean M Auel .... Clive Barker is a favorite, except he seems to have said all he has to say about the world, now. He is still writing, but it seems to me to be the same story, repeated. Stephen R Donaldson saddened me by writing the third Covenant Chronicles. That step too far; quit while you are ahead. Or perhaps he is wise and well paid to have written them, and I should simply not have read them. No, not even authors can always be trusted.
You know, I like value for money, too. I always reach for a nice big block of a book. When choosing a book takes me such a long time, I don’t want to be doing it again next week. Books today seem to be afternoon reads. A friend recently commented, ‘What the hell? I just started 'Prince of Thorns', which the whole world is salivating over as the best fantasy book last year, and every chapter is 3-10 pages long. What am I reading, a James Patterson book? This is a fantasy book? Enid Blyton writes longer chapters.’ I’m with her. Soundbites. Books today are all about soundbites. Sketches. Brief encounters. No, I like a brick of a book.
That is one thing I can decide on the spot, then, at least: length. And reading a section from any part of the book will tell me immediately if I like the style of writing. That’s where I find the longed for immersion in text. Either not seeing the words, only the images the words create, or just as delightful, seeing every word and loving the sounds and the rhythm of every sentence. I can trust the blurb, I hope, to point me toward something original and intriguing. I can scan for dialogue to see if I like the characters and their interactions. And the cover. Always the cover.
That whittles it down to a manageable range to choose from, and all this with the certainty of disappointment. Not because it will necessarily be a bad choice. It might be, but even if it turns out to be brilliant, I’ll come to the end of it and stare at the last pages, wishing more worlds would appear. Then grieve for the lost friends, and pack myself back to the bookstore to start all over again.
And how will I choose my next book?
April 12, 2012 — 287 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
The outside air on Entulov 5 was remarkably clear and clean. The narrow streets were lined with brick buildings, and every person Milly saw seemed to have long hair and at least two conspicuous facial piercings.
Haglyn's new GyroCart didn't attract much attention: the one-wheeled electric vehicle appeared to be fairly popular here, along with various bicycles, tricycles, and even family-oriented septacycles.
Milly consulted her PAI and found a nearby spaceship parts dealer. She and Haglyn navigated their way there and approached the counter.
"We need a new faster-than-light engine for a Gyrian freighter," said Milly.
The cashier, whose lower lip jangled with metal jewelry, stuck his head into the shop area and yelled, "Oi, Bitz. We got any Gyrian FTLs?" Someone mumbled an indistinct response. "Sorry, ladies. We don't usually stock imports."
"Is there anyone around here who does?"
"...Can you suggest anywhere to try?"
"Like I said, we don't usually stock Gyrian."
"Are you saying you do have something?" said Milly.
The man shrugged and started flipping through some paperwork.
Milly's PAI chimed. It was Overard. She stepped away from the counter to answer.
"Hey," said Mak. "Everything going okay out there?"
"The cashier at this parts shop won't tell us whether they have the kind of engine we need," huffed Milly. "Are all Entulovians this rude?"
"Did you show him any money?"
"Entulovians are all about bartering. They want to see your money before they'll deal with you. It's a weird cultural quirk. Oh, and if you're carrying anything made of plastic, show him that. There's no oil in this solar system, so plastic is like gold here."
"Really?" said Milly. "Weird. I'll see what we're carrying."
April 11, 2012 — 301 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
The bustle and hum of the Entulov 5 Central Spaceport seemed almost surreal to Milly as she sat on a crate beside the Galactic Pelican, waiting for the GyroCart she'd ordered for Haglyn to arrive. She'd been through so much insanity recently that she found the idea of normal people going about their normal business difficult to comprehend.
Mak Overard hobbled down Pelly's ramp and sank onto the crate beside Milly.
"Ooorf," he wheezed. "I feel like I'm about to split open..."
Milly shrugged. "I feel mostly better."
"You're pretty tough," said Overard. "I'm exhausted just hobbling down that ramp..."
"Well, as long as you feel well enough to watch Tic and Dr. Fester while Haglyn and I are out," said Milly.
"Don't forget to call me if you have any problems," said Overard. "My company has a small presence here. I might be able to help."
"Thanks," said Milly. "Will you be contacting them to find a way home?"
"Nah," said Mak. "I think I'll stick with you guys."
"Libden blew up my ship!" said Overard. "She's gonna pay."
Milly shrugged. "Fair enough."
A delivery man pulling a large box on a hovering hand-truck stopped outside their docking bay and checked a shiny metal PAI. "Are either of you Ms. Mildred Leon?"
"One of us is," Mak joked. "See if you can guess which."
The delivery man looked back and forth between them, evidently confused. Mak chuckled. The laughter made him double over and go "Ooorf" again.
Milly grabbed the clipboard and signed for the delivery.
Overard helped Milly wheel the GyroCart off the hand-truck and lift Haglyn into it.
"Whee!" said Haglyn, giving it a whirl. The auto-stabilized cart zipped happily back and forth. "Look at me go! Come on, Milly. Let's go shopping."