Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Critters!


We went to the Seattle Aquarium Sunday. Fun stuff. Smaller than I expected, but maybe the Camden, New Jersey and Baltimore, Maryland Aquariums are just huge?

Here are some sea monsters for your enjoyment.



I've never seen an octopus this large this close. Pretty neat guy. It was almost like he was walking along the glass with a thousand little suction cup feeties.

This was part of a tank shaped like a arch, where the jellyfish floated up and over your heads. Is that a four leaf clover I see in the little one? Maybe he's a lucky jellyfish?


The Eater of Worlds.

Cow fish. Charming, isn't she?

Not a very good picture, but who doesn't like seahorses? I wanted a picture of the puffer fish more, but he was camera shy.


This might make an excellent torture device, don't you think? I might need to work urchins into my next manuscript...


And for a nice end to the photo montage, a happy sea otter. Of course, this happy face was a result of the fifteen minutes he spent grooming his own hiney while doing barrel rolls over and over so he could still get air whilst cleaning. Don't judge him. I'm sure you'd get bored swimming in the same tank of water with the same three other otters too.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Resident Evil 5

Last Thursday Erik and I picked up the new Resident Evil game for the Xbox. For the record, I suck at every Resident Evil game I’ve ever played. This is mostly a reflection of my need to spend copious amounts of ammo to kill something that would require a single, well placed bullet. RE, and other games like it such as Silent Hill, tend to skimp on the ammo supply, often times leaving the player to fend for themselves with a pocket knife against a horde of nasty creatures. That being said, my gamer ego still took a hit when we knocked the difficulty down from normal to amateur after our first attempt at the opening fight.

This game is not easy. At least not the opening fight. It gives the player no direction at all, and you fight one of the hardest monsters in the first five minutes of the game in a five by five foot building. It took us three tries, two on easy, to finally get through. Apparently, we were supposed to run and not bunker down in the only relatively safe looking place in the scene. I’m still amazed that the opening scene remains one of the hardest parts, even after we’ve almost completed the game.

Once we crossed the Capcom hurdle of “we want to make you feel like you suck so bad you DON’T keep playing our game” things got a little better. By a little better, I mean we had fun because this game is co-op.

Zero Punctuation takes a good look at a lot of the game's problems, actually.
Inventory is tedious, at best. The action event scenes (press this button now) are downright awful. They suffer from unclear directions as much as demands of impossible timing. All our redo’s after the opening stage were because we didn’t mash A quick enough, or didn’t understand that we both had to time our bottom smashing at the exact same nano-milla-second. And each time you fail, you loose whatever ammo you spent when you reload the save file. So screw you dude who decided this was a good idea.

The co-op aspect is a lot of fun, I must say. Since you can only carry a few weapons, we divided them up so we weren’t competing for ammo drops. I took the handgun, shotgun, weak sauce grenade launcher (which I later dumped) and the paralyzing rod. Erik kept the machine gun, rifle, and a rocket launcher (which you can only use once. Lame.) Combat is fun, and the atmosphere is pretty good. Gross monsters, scary jump out moments, and an epic fight where I got to use a flame thrower. Gets pretty intense when you have a horde trying to eat your face. And even more intense when said horde is sporting some machine guns of their own.

Overall advice: only buy this game if you have someone to play it with. Otherwise, I can’t imagine it’s worth the $60. Even then, Left 4 Dead is a lot more fun than this.

Speaking of that game, I hope they get some new mods out soon for Xbox. As Erik asked: "What are they waiting for? I'm ready for them to take my money!"

Dark Book: Day..uh..27?

Yes, I've been slacking something ugly. The last time I wrote was March 27 for a count of 1,790 words.

The weekend of the funeral really threw me for a loop. My mind is settling back down into my writing, and I think that the Dark Book is going to win over my attention. I just don't have a clear enough picture of where I'm going with Becoming Darkness yet. Methinks I need to do some more plotting and planning before I dive in head first. Besides, I just got to spend some time in the head of my story's resident cannibal - a character who wouldn't make an appearance until the end of Becoming Darkness. That and my characters are hanging in a very uncomfortable place of unanswered questions and heavy sedation drugs. If I leave them there too long, I'm afraid I might have a riot on my hands. Well, I guess sedated people can't really riot, per say...

Oh, I do have my first song picked out for the Dark Book.

Falling inside the Black by Skillet.

Lyrics from a cool website I just found:


How cool is this?

I recently started doing some novel swaps with people to try and get, as well as give, feedback to and from other writers. As we all know, no one can catch what you're doing wrong better than another writer. And I've found that doing crits on full manuscripts (vs. a section of a novel or a short story) is really helping me to be more aware of things I do in my own writing, both good and bad.

Tara Maya, a fellow blogger and writer, and I swapped a few weeks ago and just finished reading each other's work. We're still chatting about our stories, but Tara took things a step further and created some mock covers for HOUND. Hotness, yes? I think so. Check them out over at her blog. Thanks Tara!

I've got another swap lined up and my copy edited version of HOUND coming back in the next few weeks. If anyone else is looking for a manuscript exchange say, at beginning of May, shoot me an e-mail.

Setting up this blog has been one of the best thing I've done as a writer. Talk about an easy way to meet up with other writers, and you don't even have to leave your computer! I mean, all we writers do is write, right? I mean, we certainly don't slack off via distractions on the interwebs...

:)~

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bestest Peanut Butter EVAR!

This is perfect in a plastic jar and the inevitable source of jiggly thighs and a tremendous ass. I just can't stop eating it.

Funny thing is, I was shopping for a new jelly to try and some crazy woman in the grocery store was fanatic about this peanut butter. I was intrigued by the prospect of white chocolate peanut butter and also a little scared she might come kill me in my sleep if I didn't buy it.

I think she works for this company, and this stuff is laced with some kind of heavily addictive narcotic.

Ping-ponging

So I went back to the Dark Book this week and knocked out another 2,096 words. I've finished out chapter 17, and I'm moving on to the next series of chaotic events designed to torment my struggling crew of characters.

Tough times up in this here space ship. Don't worry though, things will get better. Maybe? I guess I can't really promise that at this juncture. Hrm.

Anyone find themselves feeling bad for their characters, even when you know it's for the greater good of the story?

Well, if you do, you can always find someone else to suffer for you! Haha! Ask my friend Jenn. After all, she was the one who suggested a certain, innocent character kick off in the first trilogy I ever started writing. (My back burner project, high fantasy, where my first manuscript in the series is 240,000 words. Yikes!) And honestly, the suggestion makes the story (at least in my head) be much more epic (and not just in terms of word count).

I make her feel bad ALL the time about it, even though I haven't written the death yet - meaning, that particular character is still alive. For now. My big plan is to send her any hate mail I ever get regarding the numerous amounts of characters I intentionally to kill, the characters who get themselves killed outside my control, and the characters who decide they need to die even if I'm against the decision.

So as long as I keep up this little delusion, I'm free to be as terrible as I want, right?

*grin*

P.S. Don't worry, I know I have to cut that manuscript down with a chainsaw and a meat grinder. That is the very reason it sits patiently at the back of the line.

Propanda?


So I posted a short blurb about Earth Hour on the website I maintain for the company I work for. Nothing big, just information about what it is and when it happens. So today, I came into work and had a nice little note in my inbox.


Hi Erin,
While Al Gore was inventing the internet, He decided the planet was overheating. This is political propanda with no basis in scientific fact. I am offended that this propaganda is being promoted here where I work.
Respectfully,

(Name Removed)

So...I'm wondering what this guy's beef is with pandas huh? And what, exactly, they have to do with politics?

*chuckle*

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Becoming Darkness: Meet my new WIP

And what a weird little creature it is. As the prequel to the Dark Book, it follows the life of one of my main characters, Archon, from her first waking moments to six years before the Dark Book starts.

So far, this WIP is all over the place. I know part of my inspiration is coming from ENDER'S GAME and ENDER'S SHADOW, in which the main characters are children. I knew when I started plotting out this world that I would spend some time exploring Archon's childhood, but wasn't sure how to approach it.

Apparently, I'm still not. I've started with a diary entry, then back tracked into a weird first person style for Archon's first five years inside a "wet chamber" (which is one of those "grow the baby in a giant tube" thing filled with liquid. How very sci-fi of me, I know). That was chapter one.

I'm working on chapter two now, Archon's first month outside of the wet chamber and into a normal first person mode of writing. I also included a transcript of a conversation between two scientists. I think I'm going to make a point of including something outside of Archon's first person perspective at the start of every chapter - something I also included at the start of each of the three sections of HOUND - and something Card also used in the ENDER books. I've found it to be pretty common in a lot of fiction, so I don't think I'm being a copycat? Hehe. :)

It's a very odd experience so far, so I'm going to guess I'll be bouncing between this WIP and the Dark Book until one or the other is finished. At least until the middle of April, when all my time is going to be devoured by query writing.

Anyway, here's my opening for this new WIP.

My first moment of wakefulness was at the age of three months, nine days and eighteen hours of life. I know this only because a scientist once explained to me the cycle of my embryo in an attempt to better understand my condition. And I remember this because I have never forgotten anything in my life.

Of course, I am hardly unique in this status. I was one of thirty-nine embryos initiated at the same time, for the same purpose. And that remained the only consistency between us as the years continued.

Luneblood, Marsstrain or Earthborn. There were combinations of various percentages, ranging from 100% of any race to the hairline hints of a cross-faction splice. And of these combinations, only Earth and Mars were ever mixed. The Lunarians were always, always pure, because their fragile DNA was violently resistant to change, even as their species dictation the evolutions of humanity through science.

Myself, I contain 89% Marsblood DNA, with the other 11% of Earthstrain inserted to ensure a tendency to lawfulness and highest Perpetuation receptiveness and reaction.

When the doctor asked me about my memories, dating back as far as I was capable of recalling, I asked for the reason.

She said it was a study to determine the mental and personality determents and benefits to having a fetus, and later infant and then child, conscious during early progression within the developmental chambers.

I asked her in return what any of this had to do with clones, such as myself. Where these not the question asked of those with souls?

I received no explanation, though I complied without resistance, just as I was designed to do.

-Archon Valis
Required Journal Entry #563
Year 15

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

150 words = agent?

Check this out. The Knight Agency is having a contest, and the rules are simple: write three sentences (150 words) describing your completed, unpublished manuscript. Top twenty submissions will get feedback, possibly leading to representation.

Now to condense my manuscript into 150 words... Hrm...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rejection: Sericulture

Another helpful letter, along with some advice tagged on the end.

Dear Ms. Anderson --

Thank you very much for sending this our way, but again, we're
declining it for publication.

Your writing continues to intrigue us; you're obviously quite capable
of crafting worthwhile prose, and you play with some potentially
interesting ideas. Unfortunately, this particular story suffered from
a lack of a real plot. It wasn't clear what the story's central
conflict was going to be, and the bulk of it consisted of exposition
detailing a character who we already had a pretty good feel for and a
world that was too familiar to really catch our attention. (The
parallels between this world and the world of the Fallout video games
really are quite striking.)

Also, why did Maybell stab Klaret when Klaret made it very clear that
Maybell was welcome to walk out the door and find her own fate?

If you have anything else that might fit our theme, we remain happy to read it.

Best,
-- Pete Butler
Editor, Triangulation: Dark Glass

PS: At the risk of sounding condescending, have you tried joining a
fiction critique group, either one that meets face-to-face or an
on-line entity like Critters.org? Your work is a mixture of obvious
quality and, to an outside reader (or this small bunch of outside
readers, at least), equally obvious weaknesses. If you have not yet
incorporated peer review into your creative process (or have not found
a batch of good reviewers), we recommend giving it a try. It really
could help you take your fiction to the next level.

It's funny, because all I've been doing with my manuscripts now is seeing crit groups and exchanges, as well as working with an editor to try and perfect it. I think in the excitement of the first letter I received from this anthology, I kind of forget the importance of this step.

My first story, EIDOS, went through a crit group twice. I made a lot of changes, tweaks, etc, and this was the one the editors wrestled with. I was so excited by the feedback they gave me, that I selected my second submission, PROVIDENCE, and sent it off after cleaning it up (typos and the like). The feedback in the rejection for that letter was also amazing, but there was a repeat problem: my world was too big for the structure of a short story. Now, I know other people can write short stories that encompass a monstrous amount of world and complex politics and societies, but for me, longer fiction just works better. I have a lot of trouble restraining myself when I think about a story I want to write.

I think I made the same mistake here, with a different result. SERICULTURE takes place in the same world as HOUND, in the past. Since HOUND is a simple world in comparison to how complex the Dark Book's universe is, I thought that would work in my favor. I had two people give me feedback, but that in itself is not a crit group for sure.

Right now, my head is so much in novel mode, SERICULTURE got the butt end of the stick I think. I was so focused, I think, on having one more shot that I didn't really consider that I might be sending off something incomplete.

It's hard to shift gears between short fiction and a longer piece. And it's funny - I always draw from the world I'm working in when I write short fiction, so far with one exception: SAVAGE. My published short story was its own concept, removed from everything else I was working on. I think that has a lot to do with why it was a success. Granted, Jessari is now an intricate part of the Dark world, but that didn't come until after the short story was written and selected for publication.

Regardless, this is still encouraging.

I am considering working on another piece of quasi-fiction while I work on my WIP, only because it's about this weekend. You know how you watch those movies or read a book, and you stop and think that there is NO WAY IN HELL people REALLY act like that in REAL life? Don't kid yourself, because as soon as you believe it, you'll take a trip to go to a funeral for your grandmother and find out that's YOUR family.

Oi.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New WIP

Since Sunday night I haven't been able to get my idea for a prequel out of my noggin so I can focus on the current WIP instead. I finally gave in yesterday. So I guess I have to put "Becoming Darkness" on my sidebar now.

Impatient bastard. Can't you stories wait your turns!?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How dumb is this...

I just flipped a coin to decide the title of my short story. WTF, perhaps? Don't ask me! I had to lay the smack down on my indecision somehow.

Tails = Sericulture.

I hope fate, and this quarter, knows what it's doing. I need to send this off today or I won't have time to get it in for the deadline. Out it goes!

Has anyone else every done something silly like this for a title, maybe a character name?

Dark Book: Day 16 & and not so good news

words: 0
ABNA: no 1/4 finals for me

No words was a result of stressing over ABNA, having a stomach ache and not being able to play a new mod (Mars, Now!) that I downloaded for Civ IV. I finally gave up on all things computer and watched some Lost and then Total Recall with Erik. At least Arnold could get his ass to Mars even though I could not.

But, the curious guppy could not resist one more computer peek before bed, and discovered no ABNA for me. My guess is that my pitch was the biggest problem, and that my manuscript still needs some editing for typos and the like. I don't think I was really "ready" to submit this year, being that I wrote this manuscript during NaNoWriMo, but it seemed silly to not at least give it a try. I lost nothing but a few hours of sanity yesterday.

Apparently, it's much more difficult to deal with a contest vs. a normal query process. The single, specific date for reckoning was a tad uncomfortable.

So I'll send out my short story today - when I decide the title - and then I'll be taking a bit of a blog/writing hiatus until Monday most likely. My grandmother passed away last night, so I'm flying out Thursday to go to the funeral and spend some time with the family.

Grats to everyone who made it in. I'll do my best to give you all some feedback.

Speaking of feedback, I got some longer and very insightful crits on the Public Slushpile over the last few days. That feedback was probably stuff I needed to hear before I sent my pitch in to ABNA! Hehe. I'm looking forward to doing some more reviews of the new queries, and posting a revision of my own eventually. Though I did promise myself I wasn't revisiting HOUND until April so...

Perhaps I can get some writing done tonight and tomorrow, and there's always the plane and the laptop.

Have a nice week and weekend everyone.

Oh, and I've seen a few people mentioning they were not in the 1/4's but made the top 1 or 2k? How do they know this? My letter was a form rejection.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dark Book: Day 13, 14 & 15, ABNA, Short Stories, Prequels, etc, etc, etc

Day 13: 0 words
Day 14: 1,682 words
Day 15 0 words


Well that's a little sad, but at the same time, more wonderful than the word count suggests. As I posted Saturday, I have left chapter 16 behind me. Longest time it's taken me to write a single chapter for this book yet.

I got some awesome news Sunday night too. My short story SAVAGE, published by Permuted Press in Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror, has been selected to serve as promotional material for the anthology on this website. Now, if that's not made of sexy, I'm not sure what is!

So Erik and I went out for a celebration dinner (corny, I know, but what is life without enjoying the little things?) and while we were waiting for our food I called my mom to share the good news. She's been staying with my grandmother (who, sadly, is struggling with terminal illness) for the last week. I was hoping some good news for a change might make her night better. It did, and then we went on to talk about how grandma was doing. Good some days, bad others, but my mother shared something with me that brought me to tears in the same moment it immersed me in a wonderful feeling of happiness. As it stands, my grandmother is bedridden and has a a hospice nurse coming in every day to help monitor her condition and make her comfortable. Thanks to mom and Aunt Alice, along with support of other family that live in the area, grandma is able to spend her last days at home with her family instead of being forced to go to a nursing home. What my mom told me Sunday night was that the these nurses change often, and every time a new nurse comes to take care of my grandmother she asks them to take out the anthology her granddaughter was published in, and has them read her my short story aloud again. For me, this adds something really special to this piece of fiction, even beyond it being my first published work.

So after some tears, some souvlaki and some Diet Coke, we went home and watched some TV before bed.

This means I had caffeine within two hours of trying to sleep, which is NEVER a good thing.

I read ENDER'S GAME and am now in the middle of ENDER'S SHADOW, both of which are from the perspective of children. Awesome books, both of them, and I picked up the rest of the series to continue with my sci-fi binge. The reason I mention this is because I think it relates to what happened next.

I started thinking about the prequel to the Dark Book. Or, if I don't like the end result of my newest WIP, it might become "book 1" so to speak, meaning the first one I would query with set in this world. Equipped with caffeine, hyperness from good news, and creative energy sparks, sleep was evasive to say the least. I'm not sure how long I was up, but my mind wrote the first few chapters of my "prequel" and decided a few things about how I might structure the book - as in, including tidbits from other characters via journals and military reports, and debating with the idea of having this novel be in 1st person instead of 3rd.

Can you do that? Can you write one book in a series in 1st person, and the others in 3rd? Hmm...I supposed anything is possible if you have a good reason.

And since I was up late considering all these wonderful things, I also hit up ABNA at midnight to see if the quater-finalists are up yet. I am total geek. An excitable geek, which makes everything worse.

AND I'm still trying to make a final call on the title of my short story so I can send it off today to Triangulation: Dark Glass. I got two awesome rejection letters from the editors, so I'm going to try one more shot at it before the deadline closes on March 21st.

I think that's it?

Oh, and it sucks to get new twitter followers when you're watching your inbox like a hawk. I get an automated updates for new follows, so...yeah. Heh.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Title?

So my new short story draws from HOUND IN BLOOD AND BLACK/BLACK AND BLOOD. It's about where the character Heaven came from, which is a brothel of young girls. The girls are called the Dolls of Albis, and are considered a rare finery in a post-apoc world thanks to Klaret's (the matron) hard work. They wear makeup, silken clothes and are educated while the rest of the world is not and does not have these things.

I'm considering:

Silken Inferno <-- the idea of beautiful hell, and the girls also spend some time reading Dante's work.

or

Sericulture <-- this a process of making silk where the worms are killed to gather the silk.

I'm leaning toward Sericulture, but I wonder if its too vague. Which one do you guys like?

Then again, if they like the story they can ask for a title change if they don't like the title, right? Or is that only for novel publishing?

Has anyone published short fiction where they've been asked to change the title?

Done chapter 16!

Finally. Yeesh.

Sorry for anyone who was confused by my earlier post, re-post and deletion of said post. Had a crabby morning and took it out on my blog. Then I figured, that might not be the best idea to be all crabby publicly like that. So I made it poof.

Anywho. Anyone else going to do the Public Query Slushpile? Let me know if you do, I'd be happy to offer my 2 cents, whatever it might be worth.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dark Book: Day 12

word count: 200


I've decided 16 is not my lucky number, as it is the chapter I've been writing for the last three days. After my creative explosion settled down, my insane drive has tapered off a little bit. That, and I'm muddling my way through making this chapter tie together, as a number of things are happening at once.

1. person just found out brother did something horrible
2. two people are on their death beds
3. one wakes up, but is not the same anymore (cue ominous music)
4. doctor has a breakthrough
5. angry person is still torturing the prisoner in the other room
6. spaceship is dead in the water

Unlike the section before, where all the chaos was happening with good reason and purpose, I now I have to be more organized and careful. I'm revealing new plot information in what needs to be a semi-convoluted way, going a little into the "science" of my world, and dealing with exhausted, emotionally drained characters who are teetering between what they want to do/instinct says to do and the moral standards they do or do not hold themselves to.

I hope I can waddle through the end of this chapter today.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chronicles of the Calamitous Kitchen: Cheesecake. That is all.


I've been slacking a bit on cooking the last week and a half, so Tuesday I decided it was time to make a return to the kitchen. One word: Cheesecake.


Oreo cookie cheesecake, to be precise.



Here's the monster, complete with choco-topping (ganache). Fatness, do you need it? Good news! YOU CAN HAS!



I learned something new this time in the kitchen. This is a spring form pan, which connected to a thin metal sheet (what the cake is sitting on). Good thing I didn't try to make this thing in a normal pan or I would of ended up with a giant cheesecake muffin thing.



Even though I've been called insane, I'm sticking to my opinion that the choco-topping was too thick. My family will likely disown me when they read this post. The Andersons take chocolate very, very seriously. What can I say? I've always had a fondness for other sweets besides the chocolate. They're lucky there's any chocolate in this cheesecake at all!


Guppy Cooking Tip #22: Sometimes is does matter what pan you use. A wise person checks into these things - or has co-workers versed in such things and have spring form pans at the ready.

Blah.

I need a title for my new short story. I've been thinking about this for three days and still got nuffin.

/pouts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dark Book: Day 10

word count: 4,269


I noticed a pattern in my writing yesterday. While I almost always have a general plot in mind, with specific events decided and character development planned before I start a new story, there seems to always be a large event somewhere near the center of the story that dominates my creative thoughts. As I work up to it, the details come to life and my characters lead me on small tangents as I explore who they are. New, small events pop in, adding depth to the story I already planned to tell.

Then, I finally get to and write the "big scene" I've been imagining for weeks. And after, the flood gates open. After writing a chapter and a half yesterday, I finished the "big scene" (which spanned about three chapters) and wrote a small one after it that cemented what was happening in all the chaos - as in, the clean up after the shit-fan incident. When I finished that, my mind was racing. In about 15 minutes, I panned out all the details of the rest of the book, including some revelations I hadn't planned on which, in fact, answer some hanging questions I had about what exactly was going to happen.

In short, an awesome writing day for me.

Though I am having a small shiver of doubt. In the perfect world, I would hope to write two prequels and two sequels to this manuscript. I'm starting to wonder if this book is the right place to begin the story of this world and if the revelations that will come at the end of this novel will fall short because the history of this world is background and not experienced by the characters. I think these concerns might have to do with a short story I wrote about this world - EIDOS. Writing EIDOS gave me a secure grasp of what happened a hundred years or so before this manuscript, but I wonder if I'm not filling in the reader enough on the secrets I know. I guess we'll see how it looks when I finish it.

With that in mind, I expect the rewrite for this one to be much more consuming than HOUND IN BLOOD AND BLACK has been so far.

Good advice

This post has some great tips on rewriting.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dark Book: Day 9, Word 2003 and Motivation

word count: 2,872

Hory cow. I knocked out an entire chapter, all those words, in under two hours yesterday. I had a creative binge! Dunno what it was, something just clicked, but I think this might be my record. And I don't even want to know how many errors and typos I'm going to be fixing in draft 2. But now is not the time for such evil thoughts!

I have something else much more interesting to talk about. Microsoft Word. Again, and this time I like it. It's really amazing how you can use a program for years and suddenly learn something new and exciting about it. I got my first computer in 8th grade, I think, and I've been using Word/Works since then. I have Office 2003 at work, which is where I discovered this interesting tidbit.

Apparently, Word 2003 tracks the total time you've spent on a document. Now, I don't know the exactly detials, but it appears to track this based on the time the document is open - so if you're sitting there staring at a wall and the doc is open, the clock is counting up. I'm not sure if it takes into account if you have the window selected or not. If I'm wrong about this and anyone knows otherwise, please let me know.

Here's the dialogue box:



This is properties box, but when you access this inside the word doc (as opposed to right clicking on the thumbnail or short cut of a saved file) it adds the tab "statistics." As you can see in the image above, it includes a line names "total editing time."Neat huh? Or not neat, if you don't want to know how long it took you to write your doc...

To access it, go to File > Properties on the task bar on your open file.

Personally, I think this is super cool. Since NaNoWriMo 2008, I've been hyper aware of the time I actually spend writing and being productive vs. just thinking about maybe writing later. Having to output 1,600 words per day for the month of November really showed me how little work it is(barring severe writer's block) to produce this. Since then, I've been working hard to stay on track and make sure I'm dedicating time to writing as often as possible.

I'm lucky that I type fast. On the downside, I never had formal typing lessons and the faster I type the more typos and other errors I make. So, it's good and bad. In most cases, in a good writing mood, I can write 900-1400 words per hour. So, an hour and a half a day, more or less, and I've hit 1,600 words for sure. When do I not have an hour in the day? Never. Sure, I spend time playing video games and watching movies, but there's always room in the day for writing.

The publishing industry is getting tougher, we all know that. And I'm not getting younger. All of this is why I've gotten back on a hard writing schedule after taking a few months to edit. And, considering all the stories in my head, I'm way behind. ;) At least I won't run out of ideas in the near future.

Now back to weaving around writing roadblocks and dodging tempting distractions. Oh, and doing work, of course. Bills, bills, bills, yo!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dark Book: Day 6, 7, 8 & Watchmen

This weekend I was a slacker.

Day 6: 1,976 words
Day 7 & 8: notta

I finished Chapter 13 and the chaos on Friday. Then I hit a wall, which resulted in no writing the rest of the weekend. I found myself unsure of where to go next. I know where I'm getting to - as in, what will happen in the next few pages - but I'm trying to figure out the connection.

So I went and saw Watchmen. A great movie can get me in a really awesome writing mood. I enjoyed the film, but it was very, very graphic, a warning to anyone considering seeing it. This is a hard R - sex, violence, blood, guts, nekkid blue man with blue penis, etc. It takes a lot to make me cringe, and there were a number of points in this movie when I winced from the sheer intensity of it all. But what I was most impressed with was the fact that the characters (most of which were male) weren't corny!

I don't know what the deal is, but 90% of male villains/dark characters in movies nowadays suck. I'm almost always disappointed by male actors in bad ass roles. Take Christian Bale for example. The Dark Knight and Batman Begins are great movies (Heath Ledger was in that awesome 10% too as the Joker, but you all knew that already), but Bale's "scary" Batman voice is made of retarded. Jackie Earle Haley, on the other hand, does the intense, growly voice the way it should be done. His character Rorshach is amazing. Never once, even with a line of dialogue could have been considered cliche and/or fall short based on the actor's inability to be just that bad-a, Haley pulls it off every single time. I think this dude is one of new favorite actors. He's not the only one either. Billy Crudup - Dr. Manhattan - is also impressive. The other three male leads are awesome as well. Whoever did the casting deserves a cookie. Or like, five dozen cookies.

Anyway, I never got back to writing the whole weekend even though I thought this movie would get me jump started. It did, however, get my mind going and last night (when I was supposed to be sleeping of course at one in the morning. Wtf brain?) I came up with the next step in my story. The foot bridge, if you will, to the next big thing.

I often have trouble with these small jumps because I refuse to write out of order. It's just the way I think. Besides, I get so excited about the big stuff, I fear that I would never be motivated to go back and finish the holes I leave behind. The important stuff that's just boring to write verses a...well, gun fight for example. That, and my characters often add small flavors to the story as I walk with them, which I fear might be lost if I jump around just because I hit a roadblock. Granted this roadblock only lasted two days. Hopefully, I don't get stuck in the bottom of a canyon any time soon.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dark Book: Day 5

word count: 1,521

And where were you when I needed you, 79 words? Psfh. My writing binge abandoned me at the last second, leaving me high and dry on my word count goal of 1,600. I'm still in the middle of chapter 13, which I hope I finished today. My poor characters. Currently, the proverbial shit is hitting the fan, and I just left them there to deal with. Time to go in and fish them out of the mess I've created!

I also need to decide if naming a planet creating machine/station/thing G.O.D. is just too damn corny. I was in a pinch and needed a name so I could keep writing. And while I like it, and it's fun to tinker with all sorts of clever wording around it, I know it's well within the realm of disgustingly cliche. Don't throw pies or something at me please?

That's what G.O.D. created "find and replace" in Word for, cha'know?

Books: Helix and upcoming releases



I finished Helix last night. I bought it Monday with three other sci-fi novels - I figured if I was shifting veins in my writing it might be a good idea to do the same to my reading.


This was an enjoyable read for me. I read it in four days, since I've taken up reading on my lunch breaks, and was hooked the whole time. I think he has a really good example of a strong opening chapter (though the excerpt on the link is not the start of the book, just fyi). My only small complaint was the abrupt ending. I get the idea of mystery and such, the whole giving the reader the freedom to imagine what the future will bring, but I think I would have enjoyed being told a little more of the story first. Otherwise, thumbs up! After I finish the other three books I bought, I might check out some of Eric Brown's other work. Of course, this only works if I read really fast. The next few months are bringing some big book releases (at least for me!).


Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey <-- This cover is so kick ass! I can has?

Namuh's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

God of Clocks by Alan Campbell

Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson


But for now, next on my reading list is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dark Book: Day 4 and #queryfail

Word count : 1,700

Apparently, this scene wants to be longer. I've finished chapter 12, but still have some action to finish out. Seemed like a good place for a break however, so I followed my characters. Right now, they're still well-behaved - no one is deciding they need to die yet or anything. Well, except those who were predetermined to die, of course - so I'm giving them a long leash. Hopefully, I'll finish this sequence of events today. Then it's going to get a little harder. I have to deal with the fallout that comes after chapters 11, 12 and 13.

On another writing related note, today is #queryfail day on twitter. Agents, editors and publishers are sharing the don'ts for submitting queries via twitter. Pretty cool and informative! I've decide I hate everyone who doesn't take the time to read simple instructions. Don't you morons realize your negatively impacting the process for EVERYONE when you are that retarded?

If you can write a book, you can certainly read. Start proving it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dark Book: Day 3

Word count: 2,374

This is getting exciting. The next scene is one I've been seeing in my head since I started this book and very much looking forward to writing. Here's hoping I can put down on paper the intensity I see in my noggin.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chronicles of the Calamitous Kitchen: Fail Soup

So this sucked. I tried making Greek Lemon Chicken Soup and muffed it all up. First, I didn't have quite enough broth. So I added a little water. Second, I used pre-squeezed and bottled lemon juice instead of the real thing. And third, I wasn't really paying attention and ended up adding a bit too much lemon juice. Also, I guess it didn't cook long enough or something. The broth was very thin, and there didn't seem to be enough chicken or rice in it. I wasn't feeling to hot the night I made it, so I guess I only have myself to blame. It was way too potent with the lemon flavor. Erik said it was okay. I hated it. Not going to be doing this one again, that's for sure.


Guppy Cooking Tip #21: Yuck.

Yay Bookshelves!

This photo hardly does them justice, but here are the bookshelves Erik and I got from Ikea on Sunday. They match our desks, and have lots and lots of space for all my massive amounts of crap. The one on the far left is Erik's. We're considering leaving a bottom shelf open for the kitties. But not really.

I'll be sure to post a photo once I've filled them up with all the goodness that is my stuff.


Dark Book: Day 2


Word count: 2,262


Nice. Over my word goal for the day of 1,600. Off to a nice start. Here's hoping I don't get too distracted by the reinstall of Final Fantasy XI - the online RPG that I played from 2002-2007. It's all Erik's fault.


Anyway, things are progressing nicely story wise. I'm on the road to finishing chapter 11, and chapter 12 will contain things epic in nature - aka, a huge, huge plot point. Should be super fun to write. I changed my desktop background to this for inspiration:

Chronicles of the Calamitous Kitchen: Stuffed Chicken Warfare

Since I made the most awesome chicken evar - my Borsin stuffed chicken - I've been trying out some other stuffed chicken recipes. Some have been pretty good, but none as amazing as the first. I think it really comes down to the cheese.


Here is my second stuffed chicken meal. It was a Mediterranean stuffed chicken. No breading this time, just some butter and seasoning on the top. The stuffing was pretty good - cream cheese, dill and garlic. It makes a nice spread for crackers. We put the leftovers on some chips, and I licked the bowl. Yes, I did. Don't give me that look.
I think I actually put a little too much stuffing in though - I know, I know. I'm a dirty, dirty blasphemer. The flavor of the stuff was really good though. And it went well with my leftover orzo pasta salad. Thumbs up for this chicken dish!



The next stuffed chicken I made was just okay. This time, the middle was filled with cream cheese and cheddar cheese, but no other seasoning. It was meh. Too much just cream cheese, and I didn't really dig the cheddar/cream cheese combo. I used the same breading as the Borsin chicken, but added a little extra Parmesan for some extra crunchies. This time, the salad didn't go quite as well. It was also nearing the end of its shelf life, so it got the boot to the trash can after dinner, never to be heard from again. At least until I make another batch. As far as the chicken, so-so with no intentions of making this again - at least not without adding some flare to this mo-fo's middle.



The final stuffed chicken I made was your classic chicken cordon blue. Not too bad. Could have used more Swiss cheese in the middle I thought, but I was having trouble keeping the stuffing in with the toothpicks, so I took some of it out. The mashed potatoes are fake - as in instant - and the sauce was made from the leftover juice in the pan I cooked the chicken in - white wine and bullion granules - with added butter and heavy cream. It was a heavy sauce, but the flavor was light and creamy. Good stuff. I'd make this again for sure.


Guppy Cooking Tip #19: There's no such thing as bad stuffed chicken. There is only good, better, and bestest evar.
Guppy Cooking Tip #20: Stuffed chicken makes you fat. Proceed with caution. You have been warned.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dark Book: Day 1

Updated my tally for the Dark Book today. I finished another chapter, and my brain is slowly getting back in the sci-fi groove. I watched "Final Fantasy: Spirits Within" last night - thus begins the sci-fi movie kick that will continue until I finish writing this novel. Finally, Kumari and the gang are leaving my head and my idle thoughts are turning to Archon and her crew instead. A good sign. And, today is Monday, a new month, and time to keep with my promise to myself.

So, we'll call this Day 1 for the sake of keeping the blog easy to follow. And we'll pretend that chapter 10 - 3,441 words - was finished on March 1. That makes me right on track! Good for me! I'm going to aim for NaNoWriMo pace, which is 1,600 words per day.

So here's my status:

34,620 words, 10 chapters


I also had a piece of the manuscript - the end of chapter five - critiqued over on Authoress' blog last week. I got some great feedback, and had a good time reading and critting other people's work.

The Dark Book: Chapter 1

Hi everyone. This is chapter one of my new manuscript in progress. Feel free to leave comments with your thoughts and feedback. Of course, this is still in the editing process, so if you notice any mistakes, typos, etc please let me know. Feel free to contact me at erineanderson2@gmail.com.Thanks for stopping by!



Chapter 1


The air was stale, carrying a taste of a day old smoke and metal. Smoke, in space. Outside the pinhole window, the stars and blackness laughed. The filters were old here, no doubt predating new regulations and dodging inspection for decades. A rusty hum cantering in the rafters begged the question if the outpost’s guts had ever been cleansed. It was one of the many things that made it an ideal locale. The grit in the air, the texture, was reality, unlike the tasteless vacuum of galactic politics.

Scrapes against the metal bar and chairs against the grated floor, even the hiss of the open and closing airlock door, drew barely a stir from any present. The bar was dim and eyes minded their own concerns.

“Debium flux. Did you hear me?”

Knuckles rapped on the table.

She looked up from across the way, arching a brow over the edge of dusty glass. Her companion rolled her velvet eyes, mercury orbs dancing across the ceiling and all the walls before falling back to her face.

“Archon, really. I’ve been talking about this for ten minutes.” Her mouth frowned as it formed the impatient words, and she indignantly ruffled her blue hair. Her face, impish and stern, was flushed with excitement as much as irritation. “What the shit do you keep me around for?”

“You know, Colt. We all know.” This voice was gentle. The man at the other side of the table ran a finger along the edge of his plate as he spoke.

Colt spun her eyes on him and narrowed them rapidly to slits.

“Do I, Jacob? ‘Cause sometimes I really wonder myself.” Colt sighed and slid the light pad across the table, in front of the silent Archon. “I need another.”

Still mumbling, Colt got to her feet and wove her way through crowded tables towards the center bar. A few barked at her passage, receiving a flick from below Colt’s chin and a well placed middle finger in reply.

“Answering her would require so little effort.” Jacob Gradient leaned his chair back on two pegs, running a hand over the back of his skull. He needed a shave, again, and a bath. Places like this always made him desire nothing more than to scourge the top layer of skin from his body. He turned his dusky eyes on Archon. “So now you’re not even answering me?”

“We don’t need Debium flux. There are enough spare parts in the gut of the Helios for her to arm a damn legion.”

Archon tipped the glass back and poured the murky liquid down. It burned. Outwardly, none were the wiser. She could have been drinking water, not lexium. Lexium made most boys cry and most men used it to clean core drives. She tapped the glass against her bottom lip. To her it was any other liquid.

“They say this new flux can enhance accuracy by over three percent,” he said, reaching out to take the flask of lexium off the table. He knew Archon saw him, but he slipped it into the inner pocket of his trench anyway and folded his arms over his chest. “So it does have some legitimacy.”

Archon turned to face him fully, setting the empty cup in the center of his plate.

“And when have you known me to miss?”

The two watched each other in a short silence until a grin finally tugged at the edge of Jacob’s lips. Her gaze didn’t break or flinch; it simply waited for the truth. Hazel eyes reading everything about him, seeking any tick or hint that might give away a lie or whatever else he might try to contrive. He knew better. Between them there were no secrets, no deceptions. His eyes traced the black line, a subtle imperfection, which marked the iris of her left eye. A few strays of her copper-blonde hair drifted across her cheek. And though he longed to brush them away, he dare not.

“Extremely infrequently, Captain.”

She shrugged her shoulders then, settling her back to the support of the chair.
“We don’t need Debium flux.”

Jacob nodded. The tone finished that conversation.

“At least answer her next time. She’s foaming at the mouth at the prospect of getting to paw Debium technology. I’m sure she’ll sulk for days.” Jacob picked up the light pad, running a finger along the screen. The page turned, sending Debium flux and Colt’s hope away to the ether of the database. The next item, however, paused his hand. He touched his chin instead, his brow creasing. “C-class impulse grenades are on the market now.”

“You seem surprised.” Archon’s eyes were tracing the walls over the room. They would be leaving soon.

“These are dangerous.”

“So is Debium flux.” Archon glanced back at him, her expression disinterested. “Why does it matter? Everything for trade in the ring is dangerous. Everyone who deals in the ring has questionable motives.”

“We should secure them.” Jacob handed her the pad. “The price is still low. They’re fresh. Look.”

Archon took it, giving it a quick glance over. He was, of course, correct. Any military technology, particularly explosives, fetched high prices out here. The grenades were indeed under marked. Someone needed to purge their goods, and quickly.

“Colt would be upset. I just told her no. She’d claim I was playing favorites among the crew.” Archon chuckled.

Jacob was not amused.

“If these get in the wrong hands…”

“You can’t save the universe.” Her voice was sharp and the moment of good humor gone. She tossed the light pad on the table, hard. The image fluttered, blue lines breaking across the screen before the static settled. “That’s not our job.”

“No, it’s not.” Jacob’s cheeks flushed and he ran a hand roughly over the shadow along his jaw. “Not anymore.”

Archon’s top lip twitched with annoyance, but before she could counter his remark, gunfire screamed from the airlock. Her eyes shot to the door, the one way in or out, and she felt the air move against her side as Jacob rose to his feet behind her.

“Still it! All of you, now!”

The owner of the volley bellowed the words, his pair of weapon barrels steaming from the expulsion and grinning red. He was a large man, neck veins bulging from too many adrenaline feeds. Hair-thin metal wires littered his skin, and a sleek casing painted his skull chrome. His companions filtered in strategically, surrounding the room.

Regis Spark was an outer rim locale. The bar was a front of house for the tradings of the ring that went on in the bowels of the station. Before the politicians had resented their reach this far into dead space, the Spark had been military turf. Now, it was a watering hole for those who walked the edge; those who risked traveling in the uncharted zones. Those who didn’t wish regulations and were brave, or foolish, enough to survive without them.

Every face in the room owned a weapon, some sort of gun. Everybody had connections, and people who would come looking for them when they didn’t pay their dues or meet their contract. Everyone had a reason to draw, to fight or even to die.

“Name’s Blister and I’m here for an owing. Stay your seat or die. I’m a Dark.” The man sneered the words, running his fingers along the end of the cannon. “You all know what it means.”

The crowd’s building aggression took a dive at his words. At one specific word: Dark.

Archon looked over her shoulder at Jacob, finding his face pale and drawn. He raised one eyebrow. His expression said no.

As Blister and his men flooded through empty spaces between the tables and chairs, people peeled out of his way. Chairs were overturned in haste, glasses tipped and drinks wasted. Dangerous and armed men scurried from his path like frightened children.

“It’s not worth it.” Jacob exhaled the words slowly.

“What’s not?” Archon followed Blister with her stare, the rest of her frame motionless and tense.

“Getting involved.”

She noticed Colt, a few tables away from the bar. She was short, tiny for the spectrum, but her vibrant hair glowed like a halo in the musty air. She met Archon’s eyes and a devilish smile split her face. Archon gave a single nod, and started to rise.

Archon dusted off her legs, rolling up her left sleeve, then her right. She ran a finger over the inside of each wrist in turn along the metal casings that covered her forearms. An indigo ripple of light danced along their surfaces. Archon flexed her hands and the metal heaved with uncanny fluidity. Jacob sighed, moving as always against her back. His breath was warm on her neck.

“Can we limit the death?”

“Only so much as they allow.”

Archon raised her arms, extending them out forty-five degrees left and right. Two of Blister’s henchman died before they considered death a possibility. They heard the rush, the scream of the Confluence weaponry, as the first charges expelled, before their lights extinguished.


*

[Arvis.]

The voice was hallow and artificial, mimed by glowing words on the center console. The man in the pilot’s seat didn’t move. His right foot, crossed over his right ankle, twitched and the heel of his artillery boots scraped against the console’s metal coating.

[Arvis.]

The flat tone raised a single decibel.

A grumble came from the man, a mingle of protest and negativity. Then the console hummed to life, a sequence of numbers and characters scrolling along the black screen in white text. The ship started sing, the growl of the engine turbines filling the hull.

Arvis jerked up, hands and fingers waltzing over the hologram keys, punching in the override codes that were ingrained in his nature.

“What are you about?” Arvis coughed violently, rubbing a hand over his face to clear the crusts of sleep as his other continued quick work. That was, until the holographic keyboard folded into itself and vanished. “What the…”

Under his beard, Deacon Arvis snarled, red and gray whiskers chaffing his lips at the surge of facial expressions. Most times Arvis was calm and collected; the exception was when someone screwed with his ship.

[The Captain is under fire. I am prepping the Helios for departure.]

Arvis paused and looked thoughtfully at the white text even after the mechanical voice had faded from the air.

“Do you have eyes on?” Arvis leaned back in the pilot’s seat, his seat, massaging his knees with knobby fingers.

[No. Sensory diagnostics only. The Caption did not take visual units.]

“Course not,” Arvis said, and reached for the cup at the edge of the console. He peered in and sighed dejectedly at the bottom of the mug. “Has she returned fire?”

[Her Confluence is currently active.]

“Then what the hell did you wake me up for?” Arvis yawned, squinting his eyes and making the wrinkles marking his features deepen. “Power her down. When Archon is ready to leave, she’ll let us know.”

Arvis got to his feet with a grunt, shaking his leg to try and get the feeling to run all the way down to his toes. It worked, for the most part. He pulled a half-spent cigar out of his jacket pocket and stuffed it between his teeth. He then tucked his hands in his pockets and left the bridge, whistling softly and off-key as he went.

After a few moments passed, the engines slowed and silenced.


*

Chaos.

After Archon fired her initial attack the room frenzied. Her aim was flawless, cutting down the pair of thugs with liquid precision. They both flew airborne at the contact, one splitting at the midsection after he launched. The other she caught higher and his skull vacated his neck when the Confluence pulse hit. Headless, his body crashed into the far wall, landing next on a table covered with drinks and playing cards. The deck scattered, coated in crimson and dosed in alcohol.

The air around Archon heaved with heat and energy, leaving her drenched in a halo of violet. In each hand was a gun, or at least the shadow of one. Carved from technology and light, in another world it would have looked something like magic. Weapons that appeared to be nothing more than illusion - weightless, chameleon, incorporeal – and were equipped with ammunition that killed. It was Confluence. It was very real and it was dangerous.

Archon lowered her arms slowly, pushing her two palms towards each other. The pair of guns merged into one far less complex. By appearances, an automatic handgun. She looked across the room to her quarry.

Blister, for all his bravado, hesitated a full seven seconds before screaming the call for her death. All around the room, machine guns and pulse rifles unlocked and unsheathed, swinging to face her direction. He screamed the word, kill, which poured from his mouth like molasses. As if caught in a headwind, the patrons scattered far too slowly, some diving under tables as others threw themselves as walls and floors as the attack commenced. The remaining ten men of Blister’s crew sent their loads screaming towards her with enough force to gun down a tank.

As Archon watched, a smile licked her mouth. The bullets fell against her like rain, hammering the air around her with angry persistence. Pulse expulsions seared the oxygen away and blew tables and chairs into splinters and shrapnel. People screamed. People died from the deflection and crossfire. None of it mattered. At the small of her back she felt the pressure of a single hand, and knew death would not touch her.

Confluence. Its uses were numerous, though harboring it was dangerous and complex. Archon was the warrior, her strength tested and tried over the years though battle and war. And while Jacob had never fired a gun in all his life, he had passed through the very same crucible. Around them, Jacob’s manipulation of the Confluence contained and defended, discarding the attacks as if they were little more than drops of water.

Archon took a step forward, knowing her shadow, Jacob, moved with her. The onslaught continued, plastering the space around them with debris. Bullets that hit the walls ricocheted over and over again, blanketing the air in the station with metallic darts. Regis Spark was no floating canteen. The ex-military ark was impervious to anything short of a warhead detonated in its bowels.

She squeezed off two shots, the attack screaming above the cries of people. Beside Blister, his two bodyguards went down, the smaller expulsions from Archon’s Confluence offering a less gruesome display. The tiny beads of energy dove into their chests, exploding their hearts on perfect contact. The larger man fell forward, his rifle sliding useless across the grated floor. The second collapsed backwards, the final spasm of death locking his trigger finger and sending a spew of ammunition forward and up along the ceiling.

Blister had already ducked, snatching one of the round metal tables to serve as an iron parasol. The bullets clinked and rattled against the surface, varnishing the silver circle with divots. When the hail stopped, Blister screamed, the sound choked with rage and fear. He launched his defense at Archon, the table spinning end over end towards her head as she continued to advance.

It hit Jacob’s barrier with an electric crackle, the concrete air shivering. It never threatened to break, dipping slightly inward to absorb the impact, before breaking the table into a thousand tiny pieces. Daggers of tabletop flashed outward like quills, hammering into the surface of the bar and all chairs within range. The dead bodyguards twitched as the collateral pummeled their empty carcasses.

Blister was quick enough to toss up an arm, catching needles that might have otherwise entered his chest and face. He screamed and cursed, pointing his gun with the arm he had left. As Archon let her hands fall to her sides, the Confluence pulsed around her hands, wrists and forearms in vibrant tendrils.

With the room now still, Jacob’s Confluence field settled and faded to invisibility. A bead of sweat ran from his temple, trailing along the curve of his cheek. Blister franticly looked between the two, catching Jacob’s gaze over Archon’s shoulder. Jacob shook his head slowly; the glowing sheen in his eyes was enough show even a fool that the barrier was not down.

Jacob pressed his fingertips on either side of Archon’s spine, feeling the heat from her body even underneath her shirt. She was fine. Confluence caused a drain on the user’s body, but Archon had only fired four shots. He knew this heat came from excitement and adrenaline, not from exertion. He, however, had just deflected the attacks of a dozen men and defensive Confluence was far more taxing than the destructive. Jacob flexed his hands, the Confluence crackling in response along his arms. Inside he chuckled despite his outward void of emotion. A few years ago he wouldn’t have even broken a sweat.

“What the fuck do you want?” Blister growled the words, fighting the tremble that threatened his arm. Around him the room was in tatters, his crew obliterated. Those that weren’t dead were maimed beyond usefulness. His adopted ploy had never inspired such resistance. And Blister, in all his time running around in the ring, had never seen anything like the weaponry this pair toted. He had heard of Confluence – very few in the galaxy hadn’t heard stories – but he, and most others, had never seen it in active form. It was old technology, unpredictable technology. Dangerous technology. When the bitch in front of him still said nothing, his nerves really started to crack.

She looked simple human, old Earth or Mars stem maybe. As far as he could tell there was nothing alien about her, aside from the Confluence that she wielded. Her skin was plain, pale. Her hair was a nondescript cut and uneven, hanging just below her jaw line where it wasn’t tucked behind her ears. She wore causal clothes of mercenary fare; dark pants, heavy boots, a bland tank with a jacket tied around her waist. Beside the weapon, she appeared to be nothing exceeding ordinary. And her companion was no different. They hardly even looked like creditable mercs. Had they approached him for business, Blister would have walked away or shot them and commandeered their craft.

“What…are you?” What left his tongue as a demand, fluttered into a hesitant question. The pair was only a few feet from him. And while Blister did not fear pain, this woman made his insides crawl.

“Dark.”

The word was barely a whisper, a breath escaping past her pale lips in a single, resounding syllable. Blister felt a twinge in his bladder: the urge to urinate himself. For years Blister found marauding as a Dark helpful to his endeavors. The more he used the alias, the more successful he became; people had actually started to believe he was one of them. Now, here, was reality. Reality, cold and devil, at his neck. Blister dropped his gun, a child’s toy in face of this. Take the Confluence away and he would have still been overmatched.

She was not bluffing. She was not lying.

Blister licked his lips, finding them chapped and cold.

“Which one are you?”

The Confluence fired, leaving the question hanging unanswered among the wreckage.