July 5, 2012 — 317 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
"Dunter dead, Libden captured..." said the curator. "Excellent work, Bolter!"
Tic looked wearily into the viewscreen. "We almost didn't make it, but Gal saved our butts. Good thing your guys installed such a proactive AI into the Pelican."
"He seems to have done his job well," agreed the curator.
Not quite well enough, thought Tic. "And you got everyone out of the HQ in time?"
"Just about. A few good men got left behind. But their sacrifice helped us take down two dangerous war criminals. It's a pity only Libden survived to be taken to trial."
Right, thought Tic. I'm sure Jeffries felt the same way while he was killing Dunter...
The curator continued, "I'm told Jeffries and Cogs didn't make it aboard our evac ship. Are they with you?"
"Cogs didn't make it, but Jeffries jumped on at the last second. He... Well, he's in rough shape. I put him in our Revita Tube."
"When you dock with my battleship, I'll send a stretcher over. We have better medical facilities here."
"Sure, sounds good," said Tic. Crap.
"We'll make sure Libden faces galactic court. It's too bad we don't have any hard evidence. If there were some plans, schematics, something like that..."
Playing it dumb, eh? "Actually," said Tic, "Jeffries recovered an Adam Astrobot action figure that we think has schematics hidden inside it."
"Really?" The curator's excitement was genuine, Tic was sure. "That's perfect! Bring it over. We'll take care of it."
"Will do," said Tic. "Oh, by the way, how's Haglyn?"
The curator's face fell. "I'm sorry, Bolter. In the chaos of the evacuation, I'm afraid she was... left behind."
Something inside Tic snapped. Left behind!? Probably not by accident, either. Messing with his ship, killing his friends... Now you've made this extra personal.
July 4, 2012 — 301 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
Once he'd tied Lady Libden up, Tic returned his attention to getting Overard into the Revita Tube. The healing machine set to work, humming and blinking as it diagnosed the medical problems that it had been presented with and worked out the most efficient solutions.
Tic's brain was performing a similar process, churning through the curator's betrayal. In a short span, the Entulovians had gone from rescuers arriving in the nick of time to dangerous, deceitful enemies. It was a difficult turnaround to grasp. Could he have seen it coming? The only hint Tic could recall was Cogs' warning, delivered as they were leaving the NCVD chamber, but that had come far too late. Now Cogs was dead...
Libden's question kept circling through Tic's thoughts: What now? Should he fight? The Entulovians had far greater numbers and superior weapons. Should he surrender the Adam Astrobot and wash his hands of the whole thing? They might not let him go, even if he did. Should he just get out of here while he still could? That would mean leaving Haglyn behind—assuming she'd made it out of the HQ before the NCVD went off. And there was a decent chance the Entulovians had already zeroed in on the Pelican's location. Escaping wouldn't be easy.
No options seemed viable. Meanwhile the clock was ticking and Milly was still in pain. Tic carried her into the passenger cabin and began tending to her the old-fashioned way, cleaning and bandaging the wound in her side. She grimaced at every touch.
As Tic tied the bandage off, Pelly said, "We're being hailed, dear."
"Is it the curator?"
"I believe so."
Tic sighed. Then he had a spark of inspiration. "Pelly... Think you could answer with Gal's voice?"
July 3, 2012 — 545 words
By Guest Author
by Lauren Clark
I'll admit it--I'm a book cover junkie! I love an eye-catching concept, great colors, and crisp, bold graphics. A great cover will get me to pick up a novel... but then I have to read the summary... and check out the author bio!
Anytime I'm shopping in a bookstore, or checking out a novel online, you'll find me turning to a book's inside back flap (or clicking through the Kindle pages) and reading the paragraph below the author photo.
If you've ever tried to write a bio--your own included--you know that it's a challenging process! Here are my Top Ten Tips for making 'Bio Writing' a little easier and a lot more fun!
Read author bios from ten to twenty different books. Jot down what you like and don’t like.
Write out another list--this time, 20 to 30 things about you! What do you enjoy? What makes you interesting? Don’t leave anything out. Then, choose the best elements to include.
If you’re writing the bio for your first novel, it can be as short and sweet. Shoot for about 50 words or fewer.
Convey your personality and writing style. Don’t try too hard to be funny, but do include something that makes you seem like a real person. Do you cook? Love to hike? Stargaze?
Relate it to the genre in which you are writing--if you're writing a novel about a marathon runner--and you love to compete in 5Ks or just completed your first triathlon, mention it!
What gives you credibility? Are you a member of a professional organization? Have you published any articles? Written for a newspaper or magazine?
Hit the highlights. You don't need long lists of resumé information (education, job history).
What helps people connect with you? (Twitter handle, Facebook page, website, or blog)
Have at least one other person (who is not a relative or BFF) read and critique your bio.
Sleep on it. Have a different person read and critique your bio. Revise and update as needed!
What do you think? Share your best bio writing tip!
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local bookstores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com. You can also find Lauren on GoodReads, Twitter, and Facebook.
July 3, 2012 — 293 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
"I can't believe it!" said Tic, slumping into his swivel chair. "The curator told me you got completely wiped back on Entulov 5."
"I did," said Pelly, "but not because of damage. I was on auto-shutdown, yes, but fully recoverable. Jeffries' crew ransacked my hard drives and learned about the Norway Corrosive Vapour Disseminator. They completely deactivated me and overwrote me with their own replacement AI. I've had precious few system resources available to me since then, but based on the clues I believe their goal is to construct their own NCVD."
"And do what with it?"
"What all Entulovians do, I assume: make war."
"Man," said Tic. "I thought they were on our side!"
"They were," said Pelly, "at first. But then they found a better side to be on: their own."
"Well, they can give up on the NCVD project. The only prototype was just destroyed, along with the engineers who created it—and about 10 city blocks. The only hope they'd have of replicating that death machine was if..."
"If somehow the schematics had been rescued?" said Pelly.
"...The Adam Astrobot!" said Tic. "We can't let the curator get his hands on it. It's back there with Jeffries, isn't it?"
"Might I suggest the direct approach?" offered Pelly. A wall panel flipped open, revealing a snub-nosed scattergun.
"Ooh," said Tic. "Did the Entulovians put that there?"
"Yes, sir," confirmed Pelly. "Ironic, isn't it?"
Tic stood at the door to the hold, scattergun readied, watching through one of Pelly's cameras. Jeffries was lying on his stomach, grimacing, holding his blaster. The moment he turned his head...
The door whooshed open. Tic leapt through and fired two blasts. Only one had been necessary.
Lady Libden sniffed. "NICE SHOT, BOLTER. NOW WHAT?"
June 30, 2012 — 320 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
Via a projection on the wall of the hold, Tic watched, horrified, as acres of land surrounding the Dunter Yeti Security building crumbled like a collapsing soufflé, dropping into a gaping, shadowy hole. The HQ itself began to rumble, shake, lean, and then sink down into the pit. Faster than it could descend, however, the acid effusion ate its way upwards, dissolving floor upon floor into a shimmering spray that roiled in the moonlight. In seconds, the acid had devoured the immense skyscraper to its very tip.
All fell still.
Gal levelled out.
"PROTOTYPE MUST'VE BEEN A DUD," sniffed Libden.
"You call that a 'dud'!?" said Tic.
"IF IT HAD FIRED PROPERLY, THE WHOLE CITY WOULD BE GONE BY NOW, AND IT WOULD STILL BE SPREADING. SOMEONE MUST'VE SABOTAGED THE DESIGN."
Not exactly, thought Tic. Bye, Doc...
Overard choked. Tic gave Libden a kick—she was harmless now—and grabbed Overard under his arms. "Don't die on me," he grunted. "You're going into the Revita Tube!"
"S-stop!" gasped Jeffries. "Put me in, Bolter."
"Sorry. You may lose your legs, but Mak's dying, here."
"No, Bolter." Jeffries' tone was icy, and the compact blaster that had appeared in his hand backed up his words. "Galactic Pelican, deactivate the Revita Tube until I'm inside it."
"Yes, sir!" trilled Gal.
"What?" said Tic. "Gal, don't listen to him! I'm the Captain."
Jeffries chuckled, then winced. "This ship is ours now. Right, 'Gal'?"
"Absolutely, sir!" said Gal.
Tic carefully lowered Overard to the floor, raised his hands... and bolted for the cockpit.
"Stop him, Gal!" screamed Jeffries.
But the order didn't come fast enough. Tic whipped out the thumb drive Dr. Fester had given him and jammed it into an input port on the dashboard.
"...Bolter?" said a female voice.
Tic grinned broadly. "Pelly!"
June 29, 2012 — 306 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
A message blinked onto Tic's PAI. It was from Cogs, and read, simply: "Sixty seconds."
"Crap," breathed Tic. "Gal, keep the ramp down, but be ready to slam it shut and climb straight out of here in 30 seconds or the moment I say so, whichever comes first!" Then he pounded back into the hold.
Peering out, he saw Jeffries was standing over Dunter's corpse, cradling the Adam Astrobot in one hand and staring at it with a manic grin. The Entulovian ship was dwindling into the sky.
"We're out of time!" shouted Tic. "Get in here!"
Jeffries' head snapped around, as if he'd been drawn out of a trance. Then he raised his blaster. Tic didn't even have time to cringe before Jeffries pulled the trigger, but instead of feeling the impact of a laser beam to the chest, he heard a muffled groan and looked down to see the head and shoulders of a Liberati slumping beneath the hovering Pelican's ramp.
Then Lady Libden herself popped up and scrambled aboard, puffing like a fish out of water with the exertion. She reached back to retrieve the Liberati's blaster, but Tic pounced on the plump virtuoso, pinning her hands.
The ground quivered, then rumbled, then shook. A dull growl from the tunnel mouth grew into an overwhelming roar. The Norway Corrosive Vapour Disseminator had been activated.
"Thirty seconds have passed," announced Gal calmly.
Jeffries was sprinting towards the Pelican and saw the ramp begin to rise. He dropped his blaster and flung the Adam Astrobot ahead of him; Tic caught it. Leaping up, Jeffries grabbed the lip of the ramp and hauled himself up. It slammed shut, crushing his legs mid-thigh.
The Pelican's boosters fired.
Haddock's surface dropped away beneath them.
June 28, 2012 — 908 words
By Letitia Coyne
I thought I’d start this blog entry with the first line of one of my favourite Bob Dylan songs, then I realized that would actually be a breach of copyright; the sort of breach users of the internet are very familiar with and rarely give thought to in our day to day chatting and posting.
It’s a confusing line, actually, about iron idols with glowing eyes, and casting bread onto water. We all know what is supposed to happen when you cast bread on the water, “After many days it will return to you,” - so we are told in Ecc 11:1, and generousity of spirit is common to every religion and all humane philosophies. Of course, we also know that the reality is that we will cast our bread and feed some fish. What eventually washes back to shore will be a bit of soggy crust.
Bob himself has done very well out of protesting against the Man and the Machine. Very nicely indeed. But he loves a bit of his own right to copyright, and is not so picky about those rights which belong to others – so I won’t risk quoting his lyrics.
The whole copyright thing is buzzing the airwaves again.
Mark Coker at Smashwords is in the middle of negotiating an arrangement in which Califa can and will go ahead with single-copy-loaning of Smashwords bestselling titles in a library of ebooks. Califa will buy the single titles and then loan them out. The plan will go on to include options for self-published authors, too.
The deal is based on the whole 'single copy' idea, and Digital rights management (DRM) will be applied to the files.
This is where I climb onto the fence, not least because the argument over DRM gets so heated neither side is a comfortable place to be if you harbor any doubts. It’s fierce.
I’m of the ‘IDK party’. I don’t know what the solution is to marketing in the digital age. I understand the artists, who do not usually make squillions of dollars, wanting the right to sell what they make just as any other producer of goods can, but I’m a perpetual bread-thrower. I can’t help it. Give me something to sell and I’ll say “I have plenty; you have that one if you want it.” I’m very bad at it. I have a history.
See, I don’t believe for one moment that the argument of the publishers has much to do with money for the artists. I don’t believe for a moment that the argument over SOPA and its many-acronymed likes have anything to do with the rights of artists or individuals of any ilk. I don’t even know what it means to me that I don’t own what I write on my facebook page, that facebook can redirect my email to their servers, or that they can change the rules without telling me. I can’t begin to guess what it will all mean into the future.
I do know that I have never suffered for giving everything away. That’s not true – I grew up with my parents’ plant nursery, and saying to buyers then, “That’ll grow from cuttings; hang on and I’ll cut you a bit,” did not go down well. I suffered for it. On the other hand, it did mean I was seldom required to give up weekends selling plants for my dear mother …. Swings and roundabouts.
I do know that my ancient belief that if we all just gave what we had extra to the people who didn’t have enough, somehow we’d all end up with enough to go around, is outdated. It has worked out well enough for me, though. I came to the world of the internet with absolutely nothing. I did not even know how to use a WYSIWYG. I didn’t know what a wysiwyg was. I didn’t know how to make a hyperlink. Since I arrived on these fair shores, someone has shown me, or taught me, or offered me help to learn all of these things and never once – NOT ONCE – have they asked to be paid.
I hope the world of the internet does not become a wholly user pays place. I hope there are ways for people who want or need to live on the sale of their skills to make enough money to get by. I hope Smashwords and Califa and all of the millions of readers worldwide who will want to use a free library service can make this plan a reality.
I just hope that we don’t cut off too many freedoms in pursuit of our rights.
June 28, 2012 — 309 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
The world shuddered into slow motion. Milly lifted her head, looked into Tic's eyes, then slumped into a faint.
Tic was at her side almost before she'd hit the ground. Scooping her into his arms, he whirled back towards the ship, but found himself staring into the black masks of the Liberati.
"THANKS FOR THE SHIP, BOLTER," leered Libden from their midst. "GOOD THING I DIDN'T BLOW IT UP, EH?"
The bodyguards tightened their fingers on their triggers.
Red lasers burst in from the side, striking two of the Liberati in the head. Those still standing spun to find the source of the attack: it hadn't come from the direction of the Entulovians' ship—which appeared to be in the process of departing—but from the area of the tunnel mouth. It had come from...
Dunter. Tic saw the collector, still dragging chains from his ankles, surge up from behind a low wall and loose another barrage with a furious battle cry: "Give me back my Astrobot!!"
Two of the Liberati threw their boss to the ground, shielding her with their bodies. The Adam Astrobot was knocked loose from her hands and she shrieked, rattling Tic's skull, but he ignored the pain and broke for the Pelican, carrying Milly up the ramp. Laying her down and plunging into the cockpit, he cried, "Go, Gal, go!"
The viewscreen in the cockpit relayed video of what was taking place behind them. Dunter charged towards Libden, his onslaught melting through the Liberati, but one of the white-tuxedoed guards had hustled her free, heading for the Pelican. Dunter stooped, and Tic saw the Adam Astrobot in his hand. The collector gazed at it affectionately. It was the last thing he saw.
Jeffries stepped up and put a laser through Dunter's neck.
June 27, 2012 — 314 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
Woozy, stumbling, and blinking stars out of his eyes, Tic pressed on and emerged beneath a starry sky marred lit by the multi-coloured flashing of lasers.
Overard was propped against a boulder, holding his side as blood trickled between his fingertips. Milly knelt over him, her face bruised and tear-stained.
The whining reports of blasters surrounded them. To the left, Jeffries and his crew were laying down covering fire as the rescued scientists and other survivors piled into a low-hovering Entulovian ship. To the right, the Liberati were holding their ground against the backdrop of the smouldering hulk of what must have been their escape vessel. Tic saw Lady Libden growling orders at her troops and hugging the Adam Astrobot to her ample bosom.
A short ways off, the air shimmered as the Galactic Pelican swooped into the fray, decloaking to reveal its presence. It dropped into a waiting hover as its ramp descended.
"Come on!" shouted Tic.
"We'll never make it through the cross-fire!" protested Milly.
"I'm not waiting here for that acid bomb to go off!" Handing Milly his blaster, Tic hoisted Overard onto his shoulder and took off at a sprint for the Pelican.
But the stranded Liberati had taken notice. From the corner of his eye, Tic saw the white-suited bodyguards closing in, shielding Lady Libden. Milly fired at them, driving them behind cover.
Tic was nearly at the Pelican when a sudden force threw him off balance. He fell, dropping Overard, and instantly saw the hole that had been burned in the younger man's chest. Enraged, Milly unleashed a fusillade of lasers at Liberati and Entulovians alike.
Tic hauled Overard up the Pelican's ramp. Turning to help Milly, he was just in time to see the lasers pierce her side.
June 26, 2012 — 307 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
Jeffries and the others had opened a gap through the rubble blocking the exit tunnel that must have barely been big enough for the surviving yeti to squeeze through. Tic glanced at the other, dead yeti and swallowed another throatful of regret. If only...
But all hope was not lost. There might still make it out before the NCVD went off, and it was even possible that those they'd left behind would prevent the disaster.
Possible. It was possible. That wasn't a word Tic was used to relying on. He'd used to think it was possible that his shipping business would take off, and that someday he'd retire comfortably. What had possible ever done for him?
Of course, if it wasn't for possible, he might as well lie down and wait for his death-by-acid-bomb, so maybe possible was good for something after all.
Tic and the three others began to climb. Their ragged breaths combined into a desperate rhythm, punctuated by Milly's choking sobs and the clinking of Dunter's chains.
Between gasps, Overard said, "Bolter, we need the ship!"
Oh, right! Tic called up the Pelican. "We need a pickup, Gal, right away."
"Already en route, sir!" responded the chipper AI.
"But I didn't..."
"I assumed you'd need me," explained Gal, "when I saw our Entulovian allies fleeing the building."
A spot of light was growing in the near distance, so Tic put off any further queries—like how Gal had known about the Entulovians—and just ran. Milly and Overard outpaced him, rushing to the tunnel mouth.
Tic saw the burst of light, silhouetting them in the entrance, just before he heard the sound of the explosion and felt the rush of wind and heat hit his face.