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Jan 21, 2015

My Workspace

To be completely fair, I don't do the majority of my writing here. I would, if I could. But this is my home writing space.

I thought I'd share it with you today.

3 Things I like:

My inspiration ladder. (Though I do need to change out the string and reorganize it for the new writing schedule) It's great to have images right there that I can look up at to give my eyes a rest while still looking at images that inspire me, writing tips, and little quotes/reminders.

The lamp. It's just a desk lamp I got at target on sale, but it's lovely, and with the addition of a blue lens that can be removed when needed, I can write while Earl's asleep (something that can be difficult in a studio).

The space on this desktop doesn't seem that big.... until you put 900 things on it and still have all that space. Don't get me wrong, you still have to organize it, but I've got three dictionaries, a thesaurus and four other writing books down in the bookshelf underneath (behind the filing cabinet), I've got a run of other reference books behind the magazine file (that holds all my tea stuff), there are two dragons, a bull dog.... and still plenty of space.

3 Things I'd change:

If I was writing at home full time, I'd get a new chair. This one is fine for sitting in, but only so long as you're able to lounge, and that means long writing binges at home are either done in a weird reclined position with my keyboard on my lap, or make my back hurt.

I need an actual mouse pad. The thing you see under my mouse currently is a notebook. It does the job... but the real thing would do it better.

Better storage for my business cards. That cardboard box set up in the corner is the box they came in, and it's the box they've stayed in - even though the thing is under half full by now.

Jan 19, 2015

Scrivener and Me

I bought a new computer in November and downloaded Scrivener almost immediately. While I know I’m not using it to its fullest potential, I am in love with it as a word-processing software.
The only difficulty I’ve found – thus far – is in transferring back and forth between the two computers I work on. The second computer is a PC that I cannot install Scrivener on, even if I wanted to. This means, I wind up doing half my writing in word and pasting it into the scrivener document anyway. (Someday, I’ll be able to write in one place… someday.)

But as a person who loves lists and spreadsheets, Scrivener feels as though it was made for me.

Here are some links I’ve found helpful when it comes to using Scrivener:
How to Use Scrivener to Write a Book
Create a Setting Sketch
8 Reasons to Use Scrivener
Use Scrivener to Edit Your Book
Scrivener for Dummies
 Do you use Scrivener? Have any tips and tricks for me?

Jan 14, 2015

How we got to LCVI

My short story, Safety Zone, is set in a future where colonization of the moon has happened. Let me give you a bit of history on how we got from "now" to Lunar Colony VI.
Toward the end of the twenty-first century, India, China, the United Arab Emirates, and the Democratic Republic of Congo formed an alliance with one goal: Lunar colonies from which to launch extended space travel.
China and India brought their countries' experience with aerospace engineering, the UAE provided funds with the understanding that they would be a large part of the decision making process and oversight, and the DRC  - who joined the other three toward the end - came with the promise of funding, security, and additional man power.
By the mid twenty-second century, they'd created a permanent base of operation on the lunar surface and within sixty years of the first colony's completion, the subsequent colonies and their food production facilities were self sustaining with little to no need for assistance from Earth.

 - The Colonies -

Lunar Colony 0
Current status: Operational

The Dubai of the moon, it is separate from the other colonies and while the second oldest, it is in the best repair. It is a part of the UAE and those who live within its borders are very secretive about its daily operations.

Lunar Colony I
Current status: Decommissioned

The original lunar colony, suffered catastrophic failure nearly three years after construction. Left in ruin, though the rubble was scavenged for parts.

Lunar Colony II
Current status: Operational

Construction began one month after LCI was completed, the colony is extremely utilitarian. Operated mostly by those who have been banned from other colonies but do not wish to return to Earth.
Lunar Colony III
Current status: Inoperable, Partially abandoned

After a terrorist attack from The Face, that destroyed half of the colony's environmental generators, LCIII was crippled and too expensive to repair. It is still used as a storage cache by Lunar Colonies IV and V

Lunar Colony IV
Current status: Operational

Opened on the thirtieth anniversary of LCI's ground breaking, the facility houses 90% of the combined colonies' biological experiments. Superstitious colonists in other colonies refer to it as the Zombielab - though there is no evidence that this name is justified. 

Lunar Colony V
Current status: Operational
Constructed on the dark side of the moon, this colony houses an observatory from which most of the coalition's astromers work from.

Lunar Colony VI
Current status: Operational

Housing mechanical and environmental technologies divisions of the science branches, it is often referred to as the "quiet" colony.

Lunar Colony VII through XII

Current Status: Operational

The newer colonies ( 10-12) cater to tourism more than the sciences.

Jan 13, 2015

Release Day: SAFETY ZONE

Safety Zone

Out Today!

The first of the Lunar Colony VI short stories, comes in at an approximate 7,000-words (and amazon says 22 pages) and throws you right into Nala Klef's life.
It's a quick and fun read. Be on the look out for the rest of the series throughout the year.


Jan 12, 2015

SAFETY ZONE (Lunar Colony VI) - First look

Death lurked around every corner. It hid behind hatches and tapped at the bulkheads in the dark of night. Playing in the vacuum of space, it waited for its next victim.

Most inhabitants of Lunar Colony Six had forgotten that. They hurried through the tubular corridors, ignoring the beautiful, deadly darkness above their head. Only a few still cared about the glimmer of Earthshine.

Nala Klef wasn’t in either of those groups. As maintenance chief, she was hyper-aware of the dangers outside their artificial ecosystem. For the same reason, she was too busy to look to the stars, or watch the transit of the blue and white marble she’d once called home.

Around her, the lighting was dim. She walked along the curved corridor on Tower B’s sixteenth floor and stifled a yawn. Any self-respecting denizen would be asleep by now. She glanced at her watch to confirm and frowned.

Her communicator buzzed against her hip, and she pulled it from its holster. She paused three seconds to decide if she wanted to throw the thing out an airlock instead of answering. The caller ID made up her mind for her. “Glorified Janitor, at your service.”

Another yawn took over. She was a glorified janitor in need of thirty hours of sleep.

You know you’re more than that, right?” Ethan Boudri sounded as tired as she felt. If the time on her watch was right, he was fifteen minutes away from ending a twelve hour shift.

“What’s the job?”

While he grumbled, she glared at her reflection in one of the colony’s few shiny metal walls – tousled box braids in need of a hair tie – poking at the dark circles forming in her deep brown skin. Her bloodshot eyes were a fright and she rummaged the biggest pouch of her bag with her free hand.

“Partner Dendrond has an emergency situation.”

The colony’s Partners had a knack for bringing up a new “emergency situation” at the tail end of her work day. Every day.

“My shift ended hours ago. Two, if we’re being picky about details. So, if this is a real emergency, point me toward the fire. If not, tell Dendrond to stuff it.” After another half minute of searching in her bag, she found her roll of bottles.

“You’re the one who approved time off for Kiln and Sarpo.”

Frowning, she shook her head at her self-inflicted irritation. Both of her techs had legitimate reasons for needing a vacation. She wasn’t going to invalidate one by approving his request and making the other stay behind.

“Are you going to tell me what the situation is? Or do I have to guess?”

She ran her fingers along the bottles’ raised labels as she read them. She sorted through the things she didn’t need: Non-conductive fluid… glue… lubricant… penetrating oil… and snatched up the eye drops. The only downside of the over-worked O2 scrubbers was their efficiency in pulling moisture from the recirculated air.

 Pulling the drops from their slot in the pouch, she double-checked their label. She didn’t want to confuse with the other items in the kit.

“She says she’s got a broken water pipe in her wall. She repeated the words ‘flooded’ and ‘soaked’ ad nauseam as she demanded you come fix it immediately.”

Nala dropped a cold bead of liquid in each eye, blinking as she wiped away the excess.

“It’s not the overtime I mind,” she said.

A trip to Partner Silvia Dendrond’s apartment meant subjecting herself to lewd comments. If she was unlucky, Dendrond would add too-appreciative glances to the list of offenses. And if Nala wasn’t vigilant, the worst of the woman’s tactics would come out to play. It had never worked before, but Dendrond often tried to bully Nala into her specialty sanitation shower.

“Want me to come play chaperone?”

The question dissipated her dread. “Would you, please?”

He laughed, but a yawn stole the last of his mirth.

“Don’t worry about it, Ethan,” she said sweeping a box braid away from her face. “I’ll get in and out as quick as I can and we’ll talk in the morning.”

“Let’s shoot for afternoon. I’m going to want to sleep for a month. Since I can’t do that… I’ll settle for sleeping through the hours most people refer to as morning.”

Boudri cut the comm signal and she made for the lift. Partner Dendrond lived in one of three penthouse apartments in Tower A. There was only one way a normal person could get from B to A.

But Nala wasn’t the average colony resident.

She stepped into the lift and punched the button for descent. Silence accompanied her and she marked the lift’s broken audio transmitter down on her “get around to it” list. Stuffing her pad back in her bag, she leaned against the back wall and closed her eyes. If she wasn’t careful, she’d fall asleep standing.

Her stomach settled with a flip – the only sign the lift had reached its terminus.

The doors opened to the twelfth floor where potted plants shivered in the downdraft of the tower’s aircon. Signs glued to the wall pointed toward the colony’s auxiliary medical facility.

Nala stepped out into the corridor and tapped a finger on the part of the sign she’d painted over years ago. She paused to look out the wide viewport. Gray and pocked, the landscape beyond glittered with the lights of newer colonies. Earth hung overhead, like a ball mid-bounce, threatening to crash down on them.

There was a potential for poetic justice in that - escaping the political minefield of Earth… just to wind up squashed like a bug on the moon.

The thought made her stomach flip again. She moved away from the familiar landscape and slipped through the silent halls trying to drive the memories away.

She passed door after door, the band of light through each one’s center glowing red. Offices locked up tight for the night. This floor held no residential units. The domicile modules had safety codes that kept them four airlocks away from the chemical labs fitted on this level. However, they too would have displayed a lock-light this late into the normal sleep cycle.

Her destination was just around the next curve. It came into view, an oddity among the red glow.

This status indicator band glowed yellow and dark text scrolled over the ribbon of light like the warning tape seen in police dramas of an older Earth. The warning that forbade entry was superfluous; no one could open the environmental doors without a specific code in their station keycard.

Nala had that code.

A quick swipe of her colony identification card, and she was in.

The doors clunked shut behind her and she paused, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness of the skywalk.

The ten meter-long connection between two spires was a shortcut she only used if she had to.

Or if she was in a hurry.

Or if it made her life easier.

Or if she felt like it.

Her boot tread moved the threadbare carpet with each step. Worn to strings, it shifted over the foundation paneling. If the skywalk still functioned in its original capacity, she’d have pulled out her list. As it was, administration had closed off the corridor years ago. Its only remaining function was to provide structural linkage and support for the A and B Towers.

Halfway across, her path illuminated only by the colony’s exterior lights, she paused. Head down, she listened for the sound that had stopped her: the faintest of clicking noises, like electronic components trying to reinitialize.

Silence met her ears.

With a relieved sigh, she continued on. She was being paranoid. Her addled brain was a sure sign of a lack of sleep. Partner Dendrond was likely better off dealing with her alleged leak than having Nala cause a worse problem due to fatigue.

Next, she’d see little green men scaling the walls.

She massaged her cheeks and tried to ignore the prickling feeling that washed over her. A thrum overhead raised her hackles and she swallowed hard, trying to convince herself it was her imagination.

The monitors in the corners above the doors flickered to life, casting an eerie glow into the tube.

Nala stopped dead in her tracks, icy fingers of dread caressing her spine.

 The skywalk’s circuits were non-operational. She’d personally disconnected them three years ago. The screens shouldn’t have had enough reserve power for one to switch on, much less both.

Fuzzing, the screen finally blurred into focus. A gray, lifeless face stared down at her, unseeing. The proverbial man-in-the-moon.

We are The Face.” The words filtered through the skywalk’s speakers as gooseflesh rose on her arms. Her eyes locked on the digitized mouth as it moved in exaggerated enunciation.

The dramatic pause was familiar. It sent a jolt of cold fear and hot adrenaline through her veins. She bolted for the hatch at the opposite end of the skywalk, boots pounding on the deck.

She slid her card through the slot of the electronic lock, twice, a third time.

Nala was familiar with what The Face was – what they did.

Panicked anticipation lanced through her. Nothing happened.

Kicking open the panel below the card reader, she yanked as hard as she could on the emergency door release. The lever came away in her hand and she fell backward. Pain laced through her hip as it connected with the hard floor.

Do not attempt to escape. Our operatives have disabled all methods of egress.” The Face’s focus settled on the middle of the skywalk as its distorted voice echoed around her. “Protocols enacted as this recording initialized. Please remain calm. Attempts at escape or rescue may result in premature detonation of explosive charges. We appreciate your cooperation. The Face does not desire you to meet a cold and airless end as you fall to your death. We expect Senior Partner Schrift will save your many lives in his benevolence.”