Saturday, January 26, 2019

Fiction in 50: Icy Fingers

Fiction in 50 is a regular feature in the last week of every month and I invite any interested composers of mini-narrative to join in!

fiction in 50   image Fiction in 50 NEW BUTTON

What is #Fi50? In the words of founder Bruce Gargoyle, "Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!" Pack a beginning, middle and end of story into 50 words or less (bonus points for hitting exactly 50 words).

The rules for participation are simple:

1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less, ideally using the prompt as title or theme or inspiration.
That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule:

2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Ninja Librarian’s post for everyone to enjoy.  
And for those thrill-seekers who really like to go the extra mile (ie: perfectionists):

3. Add the nifty little picture above to your post (credit for which goes entirely to ideflex over at acrossthebored.com) or create your own Fi50 meme pic….
and 4. Link back here so others can jump on the mini-fic bandwagon.
At this time, I haven't been able to find a source for a free linky-list, so it's just comments. I recommend posting your basic blog link below, with the day you post your Fi50 story. You can also add a link in the comments on my story, posted the next-to-last Sunday of the month. Feel free to Tweet using the #Fi50, though I'll not lie: the Ninja Librarian is a lousy tweeter.

I will do my best to visit if you post, but the first half of 2019 I will be away from the computer a lot, so be patient! 

My story follows--the prompt for January is:

Icy Fingers

I can’t manage the ropes with mittens, so I take them off, hurrying to tie the knots that will keep me alive. It’s a race against the cold.

I’m starting to fumble; I can’t feel my hands.

I shudder. The icy fingers I feel on my neck are my own.

###

This one came really fast, maybe the quickest of any I've done. I hope you like it! 
 
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2018
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Book Launch and review: Curved Space to Corsair



draft cover all done 
I am delighted to participate in the launch of the much-anticipated second book in the Viridian System series, Curved Space to Corsair!

Curved Space to Corsair

by Jemima Pett

Book 2 of the Viridian series
genre; science fiction/space opera adventure with some romance.
ebook: 90,000 words; approx 290 pages
paperback: tba

Curved Space to Corsair is the second in the Viridian series, a proposed trilogy. It follows on from the events in The Perihelix, and includes references to events in that book.

Asteroid miners Big Pete and the Swede deserve a holiday with Maggie and Dolores, but the Delta Quadrant is hardly a vacation spot. Pete has kept secret the call from his home planet, Corsair, to rescue them from disaster. He uses the excuse that Dolores is training to become a pilot and needs more space hours, only to send them through a natural wormhole to an uncharted destination.

Meanwhile the Imperium declares war on the Federation, while a little personal business by one of the senators leads him off in the direction of the Viridian System to start a canny land grab.

Excerpt:

“We’ve never been this far out of the galactic plane before. Have we?” Lars Nilsson frowned as he viewed the flight plan displayed in front of the co-pilot.

“I thought we should be away from prying eyes. It’s probably safer than anywhere else.” The co-pilot, Pete Garcia, grinned. The two asteroid miners were enjoying their downtime, but not in their lovely villa on the sun-kissed slopes next to the sea on Sunset Strip. To pass the time while restoration work was being carried out on it, they were playing with their new custom-built space cruiser. It was a far cry from the cramped quarters of their mining craft. All mod cons, a biome to grow fresh vegetables, and two spacious cabins for them to relax with some privacy with their partners.

Pete’s partner, Dolores Azulzambi, studied the console in front of her. The courses Pete was giving her to plan for her pilot training were anything but straightforward. 

“I mean,” Pete continued, “there’s nothing around here for Dolores to bump into when she practices her hops.”

Lars flicked a glance at Dolores, but she was not reacting to Pete’s teasing. She ran through a routine check of her course and systems, and sat back again. “When do you want me to hop, and where to?”

“Try setting a course to go to Balkh from here that swings around the Beehive Cluster.”

“Oooh, Balkh! You mean we can go visit some of those amazing temples they’ve got?” Ancient civilisations had been Dolores’ major, before her planet had been over-run by the Imperium.

“If you pass my test, yes.” Pete grinned, with an evil twinkle in his eye. Lars moved from his seat behind him into the gangway, and opened the locker where the spacesuits were stored.

“What are you doing?” Pete asked.

“Just tidying up. Shall I ask Maggie about lunch? Carry on, Dolores.” Lars went along to the galley smuggling a silver box and two masks in front of him. 

“Okay, Dolores. Have you got your route set?”

Dolores showed him the track she’d laid in, where her waypoints were, and her estimated positions for the start and end of warpshift. 

“Very good. Anything you’re not sure of?”

Dolores looked over her route again. “No, I’m fine.”

She wondered whether there was something about this route Pete wasn’t telling her. The first exercises had been simple point to points; then she’d had to avoid some nova debris. Last time she’d had to navigate by waypoints. Now she was combining these things together. She went over them again, just to make sure.

“Okay, when you’re ready.”

Dolores flicked a comlink: “Prepare for warpshift in ten, nine, eight…” She flicked the comlink off again, since Lars and Pete told her they never bothered to count down out loud. They all did it in their heads instead. Dolores watched the timer hit zero, and held on to her seat, clenching her muscles to keep her stomach stable. The unsettling effect of warpshift turned her inside out, then settled again. Then the cabin lights went red and an emergency klaxon sounded.

“What?” she gasped, as the computer voice said: “Warning, hull breach imminent, warning…” and repeated its message on continuous loop.

“Raise shields!” she ordered, trying to remember the drill she’d repeated during her booklearning.

“Shields inoperative,” the computer responded, while continuing its emergency alarm.

“What? er—all hands to spacesuits!” she ordered.

© J M Pett 2019, Curved Space to Corsair Ch 1

Buying Links:

iTunes, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords
Amazon.com ** Amazon.co.uk ** Amazon.ca ** Amazon.com.au ** Amazon.in
Paperback: tba

About the Author:

Jemima wrote her first book when she was eight years old. She was heavily into world-building, drawing maps, building railway timetables, and dreaming of being a champion show-jumper, until schoolwork got in the way. Then she went down the science path, reading all the scifi in her local library, writing papers, manuals and reports, as well as editing the newsletters for her sports clubs. She changed career aged 42, to a new and exciting cross-cutting science called environmental technology, and worked in energy efficiency and climate change. In her spare time she studied planetary science with the Open University just for fun. A few years on, she was writing stories set on new worlds in distant parts of the galaxy, featuring two guys she’d love to know better, and their women, who seem to be emerging from obscurity into leading characters themselves. Jemima Pett lives in Norfolk, UK, and first started writing fantasy adventures for young teens over ten years ago.
Connect with Jemima Pett:  Blog ** Amazon ** Goodreads ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Pinterest ** Smashwords

author Jemima Pett 

My Review:

Okay, I think I have to declare myself a biased reviewer. After all, I was a beta reader and editor for this book, so I might be a wee bit invested in it :)  But that said, I still love it, and was in fact eagerly awaiting it!

I first fell in love with Big Pete and the Swede in the early flash fiction bits Ms. Pett wrote featuring the miners. I enjoyed the first book in the series in part for that reason, and encouraged the author not to give up when she decided it needed reworking--which resulted in a much stronger story. This second book in the series shows the effects of that hard work, by being a very strong, tight story, with characters who stand out as individuals and feel entirely human (even when they aren't, if you know what I  mean).

The story is complete and stands on its own, but I think it is better to read the books in order, and though this isn't a cliff-hanger at all, I'm eagerly awaiting Book Three.

In summary (since I'm borrowing a computer and need to give it back): this is a strong and original story with interesting and well-developed characters, good intrigue and adventure, and a touch of humor in the right places. There is a bit of space sex, but nothing graphic, so it's suitable for any adult or teen readers.

One last bit of excitement! A Rafflecopter Giveaway!
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Full Disclosure: I read and edited a pre-publication version of this book, and received nothing from the author or the publisher in exchange for my input or my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, January 19, 2019

#fi50 Reminder!

Fiction in 50 is a regular feature in the last week of every month and I invite any interested composers of mini-narrative to join in!

fiction in 50   image Fiction in 50 NEW BUTTON

What is #Fi50? In the words of founder Bruce Gargoyle, "Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!" Pack a beginning, middle and end of story into 50 words or less (bonus points for hitting exactly 50 words).

The rules for participation are simple:

1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less, ideally using the prompt as title or theme or inspiration.
That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule:

2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Ninja Librarian’s post for everyone to enjoy.  
And for those thrill-seekers who really like to go the extra mile (ie: perfectionists):

3. Add the nifty little picture above to your post (credit for which goes entirely to ideflex over at acrossthebored.com) or create your own Fi50 meme pic….
and 4. Link back here so others can jump on the mini-fic bandwagon.
At this time, I haven't been able to find a source for a free linky-list, so it's just comments. I recommend posting your basic blog link below, with the day you post your Fi50 story. You can also add a link in the comments on my story, posted the next-to-last Sunday of the month. Feel free to Tweet using the #Fi50, though I'll not lie: the Ninja Librarian is a lousy tweeter.

I will do my best to visit if you post, but the first half of 2019 I will be away from the computer a lot, so be patient! 

The prompt for January is 
Icy Fingers

Knock yourself out and be sure to come link up to my post next week!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Photo Friday—a few from Fjiordland

It’s getting late and I don’t have much wi-fi time left, so I’m going to share just a few photos from my phone—sorry that the good ones aren’t off the camera yet (I haven’t had a chance to either use the laptop or figure out how to load them onto this iPad). My apologies also for the messed-up labeling. If I were better at HTML I could maybe sort it out, but I’m not.

We have been having a pretty good time tramping on the South Island of New Zealand (well, except for Eldest Son, who got sick at the start of our first track, and is only just getting fit again). We were rained/sicked out of our Routeburn Track plan, instead staying 3 days in the same hut while he recovered. But we had a successful venture on the Hollyford Track, involving airplane, feet, and jet boat, followed by a lot more feet :)

Saturday was the scenic highlight so far, for my husband and me, as we chose to return to the Routeburn from the east end, hiking to the high point and back in one very long day (it included about 5 hours of driving, from our previous lodgings and back to the new ones in Queenstown). But the weather was atypically perfect, and the rewards amazing.

And I mustn’t forget that we started with some nice dayhikes at Mt. Cook—already feels like a long time ago.
Mt. Cook from the Sealy Tarns

Erland Falls on the Routeburn Track, 174 meters of crashing water. The spray was drenching!

Howden Lake on the Routeburn Track

These last three are from the Routeburn Harris Saddle dayhike (something like 24 kilometers, and yes, my feet hurt). Because of the trouble I’m having with the iPad and Blogger, and I can’t get the captions in as I’d like, but they all show how amazing the country is, and what sharp relief there is in the landscape!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Writer’s Wednesday: 2018 Year in Review

I should have done this last week, but I didn’t think of it in time (I’m still having issues with editing posts on the iPad; apparently it simply can’t be done—another reason to shift to Wordpress, which I may try to do next month when we are more settled and I have access to the laptop a bit more). In any case, this will help you know I’m still alive out here having a blast in New Zealand. Here’s the view from the Glentanner Motor Camp by Mt. Cook, where I wrote this post on New Year’s Day, following a lovely hike.


First, I want to say that I have at least made a start on a story for the February WEP Challenge, and should be able to handle producing that much.

Now for 2018 in review, as best I can recall:
Published:
—Death By Adverb, #3 in the Pismawallops PTA mystery series
—“The Tide Waits” in Tick Tock, A Stitch in Crime, the 2018 IWSG anthology.

Submissions:
—Two stories, one several times before deciding it wasn’t good enough for the job at hand.

Written:
—15 flash-fiction pieces for the blog (including 3 WEP challenge stories)
—2 longer short-stories for submission
—Drafted Pimawallops PTA mysteries #4, Death By Library
—A lot of photo essays about trips and travel.

Life:
Helped husband retire, quit my job and resigned from the school board, sold house, cut my hair off, did my longest backpacking trip in 30 years, drove across the country, experienced fall and early winter in Maine, and flew to New Zealand.

Whew! With all that, I think I’ll be impressed that I did that much writing, however disappointed I am that I didn’t come close to meeting my goals for submitting short stories.

So—tell me about your 2018!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Photo Friday: Downeast Maine and New Brunswick

One last photo tour from our months in Maine!

In late October we traveled "down east" (or "downeast" as we saw it on some signs) to the coast of Maine, and on up to New Brunswick, Canada. Our main objective was Hopewell Rocks Park, near the top of the Bay of Fundy, and home of some of the highest tides in the world, with a tidal variation of up to 52 feet.

On our way north, we spent the night at Machias, Maine, with visits to Cobscook Bay State Park and the Cutler Coast preserve.
Helen's Diner in Machias had the only moose we saw in Maine. Well, there and LL Bean (equally stuffed).
Morning at the Riverside Inn in Machias. The Machias river is tidal at this point, so we looked across the mudflats to the stream in the middle.
These first 2 photos are shot on my cell phone, which is why the quality isn't sterling.
At Cobscook Bay State Park we found a wonderful campground (closed for the season; this was to become a theme on our trip). Also glacially smoothed volcanic rock and fairly extreme tides, though this was way up an inlet near the mouth of the Bay of Fundy.

From Machias on the way to New Brunswick we stopped on a whim to check out the Cutler Coastal Preserve. We ended up doing a nearly 7-mile hike out to the coast, where the tall tides lapped more volcanic rocks (very different from Acadia, where the rocks were mostly granitic).
The dim line of land in the distance is in Canada--Grand Manan Island
Low tide at Hopewell Rocks was before 8 a.m., so we spent the night in Moncton (because the campgrounds and motels nearer the park were closed for the season) and drove to the park at sunrise. The park was officially closed, with no services, but we were able to walk the beach.
Low tide at the beach ramp.
 We returned in the late afternoon, about an hour past high tide.
The same ramp hours later.
We were definitely of the opinion that low tide was best. On the beach, we were constantly aware that we were way below the tide line, which you can see as the point where the rocks (the "flowerpots") are sharply undercut.
Note my husband in the not-that-far distance beyond the arch.

I'm pretty sure that most of these things were relatives of my troll friend, Gorg (see flash fiction about same, above).
The Adam's apple says Gorg's facing right, which means he has some bushy eyebrows...
As we continued along the coast and around the corner to an inlet, we were struck by the vast expanse of mud--and the canyon carved through it by the stream draining out.
We'd have liked to check out the stream, but the mud flats were... muddy. We stayed on the rocky shore.
A more dramatic high tide/low tide pair, from the viewing platform above (for obvious reasons, I didn't shoot any high-tide photos from the beach).
The flowerpots at low tide. No people around, so no perspective on size. The undercuts are probably 30 feet up.
Same formation about 7 hours later.
The color of the water explains why the Bay of Fundy is also known as "The Chocolate River."
From Hopewell Rocks we drove down the coast to Fundy National Park of Canada, for yet another perspective on the region. We used the last of the afternoon to hike to Dickson Falls, then to explore an area of the coast where there was once a booming mill operation.
Dickson Falls
We also read the weather report, and instead of getting a campsite in the unexpectedly open campground, we opted for the more expensive, but warmer and drier yurt. High winds and heavy rain arrived as forecast, and we considered it money very well spent.
No power or wi-fi, but we were able to work on photo edits for a while before bed.
In the morning, not wanting to schlepp over to the cookhouse in the rain, we ate cold cereal in our yurt, then drove into the nearby town of Alma for a cup of coffee. Once again, we found that most places were closed for the season, but we did get a great cup of coffee and a muffin at the Octopus's Garden, which was not closed for the season. Oh, no. Not at all. It wasn't going to close until the next day.

One aspect of the extreme tides that I hadn't thought about was the effect on the boats in the fishing fleet. In Alma, we spotted how they deal with being left high and dry twice a day.
The fleet at low tide.
A closer look at the underside of the boats:
We did wonder how they manage to get the supports in just the right place. Does someone have to monitor the boat as the tide goes out and it settles into place?
Our final act before leaving for home was one more hike, up in the high part of the park (about 1200' above sea level, as I recall). It was clear up there why the season was winding to a close.
Caribou Bog, with fresh snow, and more falling.
This was the last of our overnight outings in Maine, and the next photo post from the Ninja Librarian will be of New Zealand!

Hope you enjoyed this one, despite the unmerciful length :)
###
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2018
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!







Wednesday, January 2, 2019

IWSG: On the Road




Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to the IWSG page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! If it links to Google+, be sure your blog is listed there. Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.


Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!


January 2 question - What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

Remember, the question is optional!

 
The awesome co-hosts for the January 2 posting of the IWSG are Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!
I'll get to the IWSG question in a minute, but for now, just want to let people know that the Ninja Librarian is pretty much away from civilization at this point, and won't be able to make return visits and comments for a while. Actually, today and tomorrow we are in Te Anua, so I'll try to do some visiting--but we'll be scrambling, getting ready to hike the Routeburn Track. As I've noted elsewhere, the blog will mostly be on a break this month, with something of a return to normal for February and March (and chaos will reign again in April and May, as we'll mostly be on the road during those months, first in New Zealand and then in the US).

Now for the fun stuff--the question of the month!

I love it when people ask me about what I'm working on. It makes me think about the WIP, and it makes me take my work more seriously. Yes, it can be a bit embarrassing if I'm not working, but it's also a motivator.

What I hate is when people ask about what I make at writing. Maybe I'm just embarrassed that I don't usually make enough to pay the power bill (was that Steven King who said that's the marker for being a professional?). Plus, I work hard at remembering that writing is a labor of love, not something I do for the money. 
Or maybe I'm kind of put off by the personal question. After all, I was taught that you don't talk about what you earn, or ask others what they do.

But I'm afraid the bottom line is that I don't like to think about it, because I can't deny that it's a bit of a disappointment to me that I don't earn more.

There. That's my insecure writer truth: I net only a hundred or two a year, and that bums me out when I think about it.