Discovery

New short story “A Sky Full of Stars” lands online today

My new short story ‘A Sky Full of Stars” appears in the anthology “Discovery: QSF’s Second Annual Flash Fiction Contest” which goes on sale today! I’m so excited to be included among such a talented and diverse group of writers. All the stories have an LGBT bent, and run the gamut from platypus shifters to alien slug monsters, from carnival horror stories to haunting tales of ships with souls. There’s definitely something for everyone.

You can purchase online today at the retailers below:

Amazon
Kobo
Mischief Corner Books
All Romance Books

Also available in paperback.

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Busy as bees

After a short drought, I’ve been busy as bees. I recently submitted a 12K short story to Dreamspinner Press for an upcoming anthology and it’s my first foray into the m/m romance genre. This week I’m finishing my entry into a flash fiction contest over at Queer Sci Fi and I’ll be participating in #TwitterFiction Festival at @ewmurks on Twitter. And there’s also a novel, a few more short stories and a collaboration with my friend and fellow author Jeff Adams in the works.

It’s nice to finally be writing again.

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NaNoWriMo Update: Rough First Day on the Road to 5000 Words

Five thousand words in and everything has changed. This is not the story I planned to write, but it’s the story I’m writing right now. My original plan was to pick up where I left off on a previous NaNoWriMo from a few years ago, but I scrapped that idea mere hours before I was set to start. This left a vacuum ultimately filled by 1700 plus words of self-loathing prose, describing in incredible detail everything I had done wrong leading up to NaNoWriMo and that any words on the screen moving forward were not worth the pixels they were painted with.

But the next day I thankfully got over myself. There’d been an idea for a short story tumbling around in my head for months so I decided to re-visit it from a big picture point of view instead of just a few moments in time. As the wheels slowly turned in my brain it snowballed into something bigger and more complex, while maintaining a small, intimate story at its heart. I felt like I was on to something, and it gave me something to write about other than simply tearing myself apart.

So that’s what I wrote on day two, day three, and 300 words into day four. I really think I may be on to something. But the month is long, and there are many more words to write. In the end I hope there will be enough words to wipe out the first 1700 as if they had never been written.

Until the next update….

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Throwback Thursday – Nanowrimo 2014

Five years ago I participated in Nanowrimo which is short for National Novel Writing Month. Every November hundreds of thousands set out to write a novel of 50,000 words or more.  In 2009 I tried and gave up after just 8 days and almost 15,000 words. I didn’t know where to take the story, so I stopped. But now I have a pretty good idea how to proceed so will be participating in Nanowrimo again starting this weekend! Wish me luck! For today’s #throwbackthursday, I have a small sample from that original Nanowrimo effort back in 2009. Enjoy.

Conspiracy

She looked briefly at the empty seat next to her, her hands clenched tightly in her lap. Dr. Hooper had worked so hard to reach this moment, for the both of them, and now he was gone. She knew she would have to carry on for the both of them, it’s what he would have wanted. Their work was too important. She looked over at the faces of her team, some young, some old, but bright and eager, and she knew with their help that they would succeed.

Outside she could hear the steady drone of a helicopter approaching. But then the timber changed, the sound taking on staccato, irregular beat, like an overstressed heart. Everyone began to look each other nervously as the sound grew quickly louder, almost deafening.

The opaque glass canopy that served as the auditorium’s ceiling began to shudder.

The tail rotor crashed through the ceiling first, leaving behind a gaping hole and raining thick chunks of jagged glass down around them. Jessica dropped to her knees immediately covering her face. A few moments later the fuselage of Marine One came down and skated across the length of the ceiling, leaving behind a gash of twisted glass and metal. As the noise from the rotors began to fade a little, Jessica raised her head.

The explosion that followed caused what little glass that was left in the ceiling to come crashing down.

Jessica kept her head down… The last thing she wanted to do was to look up.

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Throwback Thursday – Star Trek: There Be Dragons

Today’s #throwbackthursday  is a little Star Trek fan fiction from my high school days. Enjoy.

Star Trek: There Be Dragons

“HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A DRAGON, MR. SPOCK?”

James T. Kirk let the question hang in the air for a moment, as his first officer studied his cards. Spock had managed a marvelous run over the past half hour and had mostly depleted Kirk’s chips. The captain was desperate. He should never had opened his mouth. Spock, with the deliberate coolness of a practiced card shark, was drilling him into the ground.

“Mr. Spock?” Finally the knife-edge brows appeared above the cards.

“Captain, how can I continue to play with any degree of success as along as you continue this ploy to distract me?” The brows disappeared below the edge of the cards again, almost like magic.

“Is it working?”

“No, Sir.”

A chuckle came from corner. McCoy leaned against the wall casually, observing the game from across the room. McCoy had distanced himself from the captain as his luck had waned.

“Seriously, Mr. Spock. Have you ever seen a dragon before?” Glancing over at the grinning doctor and then back to his captain, Spock laid his cards down and folded his hands over them.

“If you are referring to the V’akvelsksis of Aengameron III-”

“No Mr. Spock, I mean a REAL dragon!” Kirk laid down his own cards and heard Bones pull up a chair.

“A REAL dragon sir. The term dragon is relative, depending exclusively on a culture’s-”

“Don’t you know what a dragon is?” McCoy leaned forward, relishing as always, his chance to upstage the Vulcan. “It’s a giant snake with wings that breathes fire and eats virgins.”

Not one but two brows rose.

Throwback Thursday – Waiting

Today’s #throwbackthursday is from a writing class back in 2005. Enjoy.

Waiting

I pulled out my wallet and thumbed idly through it: twenty-four dollars in cash; a couple of maxed-out credit cards; a family snapshot; a picture of my wife and one each of my two daughters. I dug deeper: old insurance cards, a library card and a receipt from an Italian restaurant down the street. At the bottom was a photo, flipped over, with a message carefully written on the back…

All my love, Mary…

I turned it over. It was an old picture, mostly faded now, but the smile and the dark eyes were unmistakable. I rubbed by finger along the edge, roughened by age and a little bent from sitting in a wallet far too long. It felt a little disrespectful, pulling it out only now, but I held it tightly. After a time, I sat it carefully on the nightstand, propping it up against a small vase of flowers. It seemed to watch over her, fixing those steady dark eyes on her frail body, given volume by the blankets wrapped around her. I glanced down at my watch… it was almost time.]

I reached over and hit the red button. There was a gentle whir of the motor as the camera began to record. I took out the notepad from aside pocket and flipped it open to a page already half-filled with notes and began to write:

9:45pm.
She seems to be resting peacefully now. A sort of calm before the storm she had warned me. Even the monitoring equipment is quiet. I have set up camera and lights and have started recording, not quite certain what to expect. She said there would be rattling and soft groan before it started, and later to keep my head bowed and my eyes closed, no matter what I heard, smelled or felt. She was rather particular on that last point, as if my life might depend on it. I really hadn’t given it any thought until now and it doesn’t give me much comfort.

I put the pen down and stood up. I thought about getting a cold drink from the vending machine in the hallway but didn’t want to take a chance of missing anything. Instead I walked over to the window and looked down into the grounds below. A narrow path cut its way down through the center,lined by street lamps circa 1900. Leaves lined the path and now and then a gust of wind would catch them and spread them about. I opened the window.

A blast of cold air rushed in. I hadn’t realized how warm the room had gotten and the cool night breeze stirred my senses. Suddenly the autumn wind had brought new life into a room where another life was failing. I looked over my shoulder back at her, imagining for a moment that she would look up at me and smile one last time, reach out her hand to hold mine and tell me that everything would turn out alright. It was then that I saw her take her final breath, her chest rising and falling for the last time. The steady hum of the EKG was drowned out by the wind and the rustling of leaves outside.

I almost didn’t hear the rattle.

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Throwback Thursday – The Plague

Going way back in the time machine on this one. This is probably early-mid-80s (high school)… as I’ve got the original dot-matrix printout to prove it! Once again, any and all feed back is welcome. Enjoy.  #throwbackthursday

Plague

We didn’t need a view screen to see what lay before us. Our heading was zero, ninety mark two, toward the great unexplored heart of the Milky Way: the Galactic Core.

Not that we ever had a prayer of reaching it. We were one of seven vessels covering a ninety degree arc across the interior spread of the galaxy. Our mission, simply map space, and more importantly, discover intelligent life.

No. Not just life. Martian probes in the early 21st century confirmed what scientists had hoped all along, simple prehistoric life forms, dormant and frozen beneath the red planet’s polar cap.

And now here we were, hurling ourselves along at a dramatic 3c, looking for bigger and better life. Fat chance. This mission was doomed from the start and about as impossible as catching a meteor with a butterfly net. Operation SWEEP as it has been labeled by the World Space Agency, WSA, owes its thanks to the failed colonization of the solar system (Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa in particular). The expensive project was designed to increase public interest and generate money. Before the decade could end, seven ships were hastily constructed in earth orbit and fitted with the new untried star drives, destination: the center of the galaxy.

It was a beautiful idea, a cosmetic bandage for a floundering space program and world economy. The public ate it up. Money poured in from every direction.

And now here we were. The lucky ones. Fourteen of us, two to a ship. Alone. For God knows how long.

By the way, my name is Joe Trapp. I was born in space, and worked most of my life in space, shuttling asteroid material from the Belt to mineral processing stations. That was until the WSA yanked me, put me through six months of training, another six months in an Esper Coven, doubled my salary, and gave me the impromptu rank of captain. This was all for the media, of course. It wouldn’t do to have an ensign piloting the fastest ship to ever come across man’s assembly lines.

And they called this one the Enterprise, named for the prototype of the first reusable space craft in the late 20th century, and perhaps more significantly, for the ship on a video show in the late 1960’s which inspired interest in space among millions. The name brought a fleeting image of the ship to mind. A swan floating through the currents of space, the engines swept back like wings, poised for flight, glowing, pulsing with power, life.

Better than this hulk it was certain, a pie wedge of a ship with three unsightly holes in the back, spewing behind it a plume of invisible radioactive material. There was nothing graceful about it at all. I doubt it will last as long as the video show, still populating a range of frequencies, its message as relevant as it ever was.

A whistle called across the bridge, indicating the passage of another relativistic hour. My co-pilot, one Alan Drews, looked slowly up from the status console, obviously annoyed. Despite that he and I were of similar backgrounds, nature had been less kind to him. His face was fleshed out, his jowls red and swollen. On his long nose and beneath his greasy mop, was a pair of thick glasses (Drews had refused implants to correct vision problems). It seemed that space travel did not suit him.

“Want me to take care of that?” he asked, or rather wheezed. Drews never resorted to telepathy, and I was glad. It was an intimate, personal experience I didn’t care to share with him.