A World’s Eye View – 1

This is a post of the beginning of ‘A World’s Eye View’, a story that I’ve been working at off and on.  It’s somewhat in the vein of the ‘Last Man on Earth’ idea.

Entry 1:

 

I can’t believe what just happened. I can’t believe anyone didn’t try to warn us. The first thing any of us up here had a clue about was when the bombs started landing. There’d be this small flash, and then another. They were always around major cities all over the world, and dust would make everything hazy. We could see the dust, spreading out like a funeral shroud from the impact. Our little telescope showed the mushrooms of atomic blasts growing up and out. No warning, nothing on the news, nothing on the internet. What the hell happened?

 

Roels started screaming when Antwerp was hit. His family was there. Nothing’s there now, and the dust has spread so that the world looks like it’s surrounded by dark streaks that spiral around the planet like ribbons on a maypole. I can’t think about my fiance’ until we know what’s going on, or I’ll lose it too. Worse, we’re trapped up here. Telemetry from home isn’t getting to us. Without it, the capsules here are just inert, with no way to power systems up for launch. The redundancy built in to stop accidental launches keeps us trapped. We don’t have the ability to hack our own systems. None of us is a computer expert. No one answers on the ground. If only the shuttle hadn’t been retired, we could have flown it down somewhere. These Chinese capsules are ground controlled. No flight operators. It’s got emergency controls, but who reads Chinese? None of us. Some of the controls are in English too, just not all of them, and no one here is checked out on them.

 

Talk about big brother. Six of us stuck in a station a little bigger than a eight bedroom house. We have privacy, but no place to go. We can’t leave, and we can’t stay. The air supply is pretty much recyclable. It’s not the problem. It’s heat, and food. The systems could cook us if the cooling systems fail, and without a re-supply, we’re dead when the food runs out. We’re pretty much dead anyways. Right now I’m just numb. Talking this out on the recorder, in case there’s a rescue or expedition here, in the future. God what a delusion. There’s no way we’re ever seeing earth again. It’s got to be a radioactive husk! Whoever’s still alive down there sure can’t help us. None of us had any idea the world was so tense. My god, we just got up here a week ago. We were supposed to run tests for a Mars longevity mission! That’s just ironic! We’re supposed to stay up here without re-supply for the duration of two mars mission flights, plus two weeks for ground exploration. What were people thinking?! -long pause of ten minutes with the sound of quiet sobbing-

 

Six hours ago…

 

David Thompson looked over the charts on his tablet. “Hey Kim? How much ammonia did we get with the last supply? And did you see that babe come up with Vyhovsky yesterday? She was absolutely smoking hot.” Xian-Xing Kim nodded with a smile. “Very pretty. She is .. big star in Bollywood films.” Thompson nodded, then ran his hand through his shock of black hair. “If I wasn’t going to be married when I drop, she would be someone to talk to.” He shook his head. I am so glad she’s only up here for a week. Any longer and we’d all be rioting. I wonder how many suitors she’s got back in India. They must be lined up for blocks. He looked over at Kim again. Short and stocky, with yellow-tan skin and a shock of jet black hair, Kim was the first astronaut from North Korea to the new Cooperative Space Station. Thompson found him to be a competent scientist and very willing to lend a hand whenever needed.

 

Vyhovsky, a Ukrainian, had just come on board to take over day-to-day running of the station. Since Russia had invaded his country years ago, it had been summarily banned from participating in the Space station, and had it’s equipment on the station confiscated. China had stepped in to do the ‘heavy lifting’. The U.S. And others had found it’s space program very inexpensive compared to the Russians. Probably because of the mafia running things for that wanna-be Stalin. I remember the NASA bigwig chewing his moustache because he had to add a ‘ ten-percent convenience tax’ to the cost. I mean really, one ruble in ten to the mob? Mexico isn’t that corrupt.

 

Koll Ingers turned the corner and used handholds to float himself to the galley. Thompson saw him talking with his cell-phone. Probably home to his wife. They’ve been having troubles because of something. Wonder if this is a talk, or something more? Ingers chose that moment to slap the phone into it’s holster. The angry scowl on his features told Thompson that now was not the time to be asking any questions, as the big Swede looked ready to burst. I hope they can get it patched up, but him here and her back in Stockholm is not going to make anything easy. Ingers pulled a pair of energy bars from the galley, then heated them in the microwave. They were supposed to soften and texturize like meat, but Thompson thought it was like chewing warm cardboard. It didn’t taste right and sure didn’t have a meat texture.

 

He turned towards bay three and glided to the air lock. It was time to measure the ammonia levels. Ammonia here was the primary coolant in space. With the station hanging in orbit, and no artmosphere to cut the solar energy, the crew would cook alive without some form of cooling. Water as too volatile. Ammonia happened to be the answer. While there were cameras to check for leaks, Thompson still made the personal spacewalks. The computers were state-of-the-art for fifteen years ago, meaning they were adequate for maintaining the station and running experiments, but not much else. Cameras were set up to cover the panels, but detail was lacking, so a spacewalk was made to check the panels. He had three reservoirs to check, starboard panels, port panels, and station. Even after countless EVA, he still needed help to get into his suit. The entry panels in the back had to be closed properly or he’d leak air and while he had a reserve, a leak could lower his air pressure to where he’d pass out, and possibly asphixiate if rescue wasn’t fast neough. I’m going to enjoy the quiet this time. It’s always awkward meeting the new crew, and that Shukla woman is just too hot to handle. She’ll be one heck of a distraction for the next five days.

 

A word from the Author

With the third book being released, I’m certain there are a few wondering what all this is leading to. A snarky author would say, a climactic last book! Well, snarky or not it’s true. At some point in the future, this series will finish up and a new one will begin. I expect this series to be five or six books long. ( I know which the publisher would like  )

As it continues, I will be adding more and more about what’s been going on, and back-linking to the earlier books. There is a reason for everything. The bad guys may seem like they’re not motivated by anything other than being bad, I can tell you that’s not true. Each has a reason that they have behaved the way they have. with only two or three books left, it is now my intention to start pulling back the curtain, and showing you what’s behind it. Not fast, mind you, that would spoil the suspense.

And, to all those that have read these books, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m honored you took a chance on me to entertain you, and I appreciate it so very much that I had the chance to make your reading fun and enjoyable. Now, back to NaNo, and stay tuned for more books, more stories, and more fun!

OFFICIAL RELEASE – BEGUILING WORDS

This is the official release date of Beguiling Words, the latest of the Glass Bottles storyline.  It’s been a great honor to be able to keep writing stories and I want to thank Paper Angel Press for their belief in the story, and Niki Lenhart for the fantastic cover!

To those of you who have read the previous volumes, thank you and I hope this story entertains you as much or more than the others.  See you in NaNoWriMo!  Just look for JDark, no spaces.  That’s me!

Beguiling Words

The manuscript for ‘Beguiling Words’ is now on its electronic way to Paper Angel Press.  I’m excited to have it done, and am waiting already for the edits and suggestions to come back from the editor.  Paper Angel Press has three really good ones; Steve, Kim, and Laureen. If you’ve got a story you want to submit, send on to them. Their link is to your right on the page.  Try it, new stories are always welcome.

 

More on making audio books

Audio books are very good at showing you your strengths and weaknesses.  Listening to the narrator read the words I’ve written shows me where I got on rolls, and everything flowed.  It also shows where I thought I had been on a roll, and how discordant the words sound versus when I wrote them.

Another feature is how much you learn how to LISTEN.  Listening is a nearly lost art I feel.  With the absolute flood of immediate information, people get used to ‘immediate and now’.  Nuances tend to be missed.  In an audio book, you have to listen for those shifts, pay close attention to how the words are spoken as much as why.

Description becomes important here as the setting, the where is as important as the other pieces. A verbal description that is good can help pull the listener into the story and experience, rather than simply hear someone reading the words.

All that feedback is there in the narrator, and it is, to me, so valuable to understand how it sounds, compared to just reading it myself.

The revelations of collaborating on an audio book

One new experience I’ve had since being published, is the creation of an audiobook of ‘Best Intentions’. To say it was a learning experience, catches the essence, but it was way more than that.

One thing I’ve learned is that what sounds great in my head, comes out on audio and my first thought is, “What the hell was I thinking?” There were more than a few places that got past me, the editors, and publisher that the audio found loud and clear. I’d read to myself before, but hearing another person put her words to the book brought out and highlighted every flaw in my writing tenfold.

That gave me new incentive to get it right the first time. And I had to learn how to listen all over again. To hear the mistakes, and mark the places to clean up. The narrator had to put up with my mind erratically catching and missing corrections. I made it a lot harder on her, and everyone involved, than it needed to be.

( more about the experience on the next post )

Writing, and self-exploration

I find that my own mind can completely amaze me/itself at times. With the new story, being called ‘Beguiling Words’ at this time, I had no idea what would happen in the story. That the title seems prophetic I suppose shouldn’t be unexpected, it’s that how appropriate to the story the title is, has surprised me. I guess the unconscious knows more than the conscious does.

I wonder if that qualifies for schizophrenia?

Writing is also a catharsis. It’s a way of letting the imagination loose to explore ideas, and understand better, some things that trouble me. Being able to articulate fears, anxieties, and dislikes on paper is liberating, but at the same time extremely difficult.

Those things, more than most, are what want to remain hidden in the dark recesses. It’s that being able to articulate them, however incompletely, that gives me a chance to grapple with these hangups and, at least in a story, find a way to deal with them.

New Amazon author site, and thoughts on ‘branding’

As stated in the title, I’ve an Amazon author page. It is difficult as all get out to find, unless you use the link here. There are a LOT of J Dark out there, authors, parts of names, etc. One very important part of sales, both books and nearly everything, as sales people will tell you is ‘branding’. What is it that makes you unique, or intriguing. With books, it’s the cover, and your name. Niki has done great things with the cover, but my name isn’t terribly unique. it may be that a pseudonym would help make me and my books easier to find, though I’m not certain what all that would entail.
For those of you curious about the author page, here’s the link:

Interviewing the Father of ‘Building Baby Brother’ part 2

Here is the second half of my interview with Steven Radecki, the author of ‘Building Baby Brother’.

Here’s a question about choosing a topic to write about. Do you feel that a story needs to have relevance in society?

I think that having some kind of social relevance helps to deepen a story. The trick, though, is to do it in such a way that it doesn’t feel preachy or pedantic to the reader. That can turn them off to the message (and story!) very quickly.

Comics are used at times to offer controversial subjects in stories. In ‘Civil War’, the idea of registration comes up. Do you feel ‘Building Baby Brother’ has touched a subject that could become more important as robotics and Artificial Intelligence become more sophisticated?

I think it raises the point that we probably need to re-examine our preconceptions about AI, much of which is driven by popular science fiction films, television, and literature.

It’s been said that all great stories like BBB are built on previous works the writer had read. In that vein, who, influenced your vision of the story?

There are several influences to this story, some of which are even subtly referenced during the course of the story. One of the inspirations that kept coming to my mind as I wrote and edited it was David Gerrold’s When Harlie was One. (I still prefer the original edition. Sorry, David.) Other conscious influences were the movie A.I. and, of course, Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m certain that there were many, many unconscious influences as well, such as Mycroft Holmes from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but none I specifically set out to emulate.

Were there any books that helped solidify your idea, or an author you enjoyed reading that might have given you ideas on style and presentation?

As mentioned in my answer to your previous question, I think David Gerrold with When Harlie was One was a major influence, both thematically and stylistically. Finding the right voice for this story was definitely a challenge—and one of the reasons that I very rarely tell a story from a first-person point-of-view. I felt that this story, though, demanded a first-person narrative perspective. Other than that, I can’t say that any specific storytelling style influenced the one used in this story. I’m not saying that it isn’t there, just like that I don’t recall using any other author’s particular style as an inspiration or template.

Interviewing the Father of ‘Building Baby Brother’

Hello all!

I’m J Dark, author of ‘Best Intentions’, book one of a series I’ve come to call ‘Glass Bottles’.

I’m here to interview the author of a story I really have wanted to see in print since I first critiqued it. That story is ‘Building Baby Brother’ ( BBB ), by Steven Radecki. What we’re going to do today is a little Q&A about his story.  This is a two-part series, with the second portion tomorrow.

I’m really honored to be the one to do this interview. So to jump right in, thank you Steven for sharing your time with the readers.


My first question is probably the one all authors get at least once every time your promoting a book. That question is: Where did you get the idea for BBB?

To be honest, I don’t remember where the actual idea for the plot came from. The story itself started as part of an exercise that, well, kind of got out hand. My son’s charter had planned to sponsor an event to help foster reading and writing skills by asking students and willing family members to write a short story and then read it out loud at this event. Always willing to write, particularly for a good cause such as that one, I started pondering possible story ideas. I knew I wanted something kind of “Twilight Zone”-ish—something short, entertaining, but with a fun twist at the end. From there, the basic concept of the story was born.

Every author develops their stories differently. In your case, did you create an outline first, or just choose a direction, or something else?

I rarely work from an outline for a short story. They are usually based on some concept I want to explore and I kind of see where the characters involved take it. In case, since it was originally only supposed to be 2,000 words, I felt a full-fledged outline might be overkill. As a result, though, the last third or so of the story went a direction that surprised even me.

No story ever flows smoothly as it’s created. What parts, or scenes were the hardest to develop?

I always have trouble with the middle. They say that maintaining the story and pace in the second book of a trilogy is often difficult, and I think the same thing is true about the middle of any story. I usually know how to start my stories and have a pretty good idea how it will end either when I start it or before I get a quarter of the way through it. In this story, probably the most difficult scene was scene with the police because I needed something that would transition the story from its setup to exploring the implications of the actions performed in its first half. I had a really tough time coming up with a scene that would work that would get me to where I wanted the story to go.

Another question I’m sure authors get asked all the time is, what made you decide to be a writer? With all the professions around, why get into writing?

Why not? I’ve always wanted to create—whether it be writing or filmmaking. There’s immensely satisfying about “putting on a show” and presenting it to an audience. With writing, perhaps even more than with filmmaking, you can have full control over your production: all the way from set design, costuming, and casting. Of course, when you sell the movie rights, you tend to lose those.

My last question for this series is, where and when do you like to write? I know that David Weber has said that he prefers the evenings, as it allows him to relax and concentrate. What are your favorite conditions for writing?

Peace and quiet—and good luck getting that! My preferred writing environment is where were I’m unlikely to be interrupted. I prefer to be able to get mentally lost in the world that I’m writing about. I find that the characters tend to be more vivid in my mind and are more to behave as they should so that mostly all I have to do is transcribe as they take whatever action the story requires of them. I’ve written in a lot of places: home, work, coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotel rooms…I’m pretty good at tuning out external distractions. Still, a quiet environment is my preference. Also, I don’t write with music on in the background; I find it too distracting.