Tag Archives: Sci-Fi

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I Can’t Let it Go

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At the moment I’m 35k into a YA, military sci-fi series that is going to be awesome!

I wrote 75k earlier this year and have had to ditch most of it.

Why?

Let’s just say I do my very best to tell an amazing story with characters that readers will cheer for. Round 1 of this story this year didn’t fit the bill, so I scratched it.

I’ve come to terms with this…all except for the opening scene. I loved chapter one so much that I tried three different times to keep it, but to no avail.

So I’m going to share it here. That way it will live on. And maybe, in a few months or a year, I’ll read it again and think, “It’s not as good as I remember.”

Then again, maybe I don’t hope that happens.

Here’s the original chapter one for my YA military sci-fi series. Also, a teaser from the cover.

The facility glittered on the surface of the asteroid like a pool of water on rocks. Opaque, hexagon panels interlocked into a dome that rose twenty times Dalen’s height. Inside sat troughs configured in rows and filled with plants of all colors, shapes and sizes. Farming drones moved down the rows, looking for problems and reporting progress.

Dalen sighed and gently pushed away from the apex of the facility. Huge mirrors hung above his head. Beyond that lay the gas giant Tosen, and beyond that, the vast expanse of space. The adventure. The potential. The allure of making a difference.

When he turned back, the dome had receded, and when the tether pulled taut, Dalen realized this was the farthest he’d been away from this place since they’d arrived.

Less than a hundred meters. Pathetic.

A voice came through the system in Dalen’s helmet. “You daydreaming again?” Alarik asked.

Dalen considered giving his friend a rude gesture, but he knew his sister was watching. “Do you have a solution for your little problem?” Dalen asked. “Or do I get to float out here for another hour?”

“Working on it,” Alarik said.

“So two hours?” Dalen asked.

“Genius cannot be rushed,” Alarik said.

He could see the problem—a darkened hexagon of the dome. Alarik and his sister had tried to adjust the reflection from the mirrors. Again. Without getting the okay from the supervisor. They’d gone too far, focused too much light on the dome, and several sections had short-circuited. All but this one had come back online.

Dalen snorted. “I’m going to die out here.”

“We can only hope,” Alarik said.

“Can I have your rock collection?” another voice asked.

“No, Darsi, you can’t,” Dalen said to his little sister. “You don’t treat it with respect.”

“They’re rocks.”

“To the untrained eye.” He checked his oxygen level: only 40% remaining. “You two better hurry. If we don’t get this fixed before the shift change, Rachil’s dad is going to lecture you about trying something without testing it first.” Dalen smirked. “For hours and hours.” He could practically feel the flinch coming from his best friend and his sister.

“Almost there,” Alarik said.

“We did test it,” Darsi muttered.

“Uh-huh. How much longer is this section down for maintenance?” Dalen engaged his thrusters, aiming for the dark hexagon. He imagined landing and pushing off again, using the tether as an anchor, and traveling all the way over and around the other side of the dome, where he could land and do it again. And again.

“Got it,” Darsi said.

“You trying to ram us?” Alarik asked.

Dalen sighed and fired his thrusters again, this time bringing himself to a stop exactly far enough away to be able to reach out and touch the darkened hex.

“Go to the access panel,” Alrik said.

Dalen floated to his left to the seam between two panels. A small metal door just bigger than his hand popped open, revealing an array of lights and buttons. “Now what?”

“Push the red button,” Darsi said.

Dalen scowled at his heavy glove and then back at the buttons. “Hold on.” He made a fist and waited until a cool gel ran down his fingers and encased his hand. A green light lit up on the display on the inside of his helmet and he reached out and tugged his left glove off. The glove swung back and out of the way, the fingers adhering to the sleeve of his suit.

Dalen wiggled his fingers, watching the sleeve. It was so thin he could feel everything—unlike in the heavier gloves. He turned his attention back to the buttons and pressed the red one. “Done.”

“Did another button turn yellow?” Alarik asked.

“Yes.”

“Good. Hold it down until the red button turns green.”

“You seriously can’t do this from in there?” Dalen asked as he followed the instructions.

“Not without leaving a footprint,” Alarik said.

After a few seconds, the once red button became green. “Done,” Dalen said. He eyed the panel. “Nothing’s happening.”

“Patience,” Alarik said.

“Give it a second to reboot,” Darsi said.

A blinking light in Dalen’s helmet caught his eye. “Uh, guys, we don’t have much time. The patrol drone is headed this way.”

“Damn,” Alarik muttered.

“Almost there.”

“If I get caught out here you two are going down with me,” Dalen said.

“You’re not going to get caught,” Darsi said. “Did all of the lights in there just blink?”

“Yes,” Dalen said as he looked from the glimmer to the panel.

“Good, shut it,” Darsi said.

Dalen did so, and the surface beneath him faded from black to opaque. “Looks like it worked.”

“You have to get out of there,” Alarik said.

“You think?” Dalen asked. The drone’s weren’t intelligent. They would stay to the path prescribed, looking for anomalies.

Anomalies like him.

“Can you distract it?” Dalen asked.

“Way ahead of you, bro,” Darsi said.

“Get to the other side,” Alarik said. “We’ll draw it away.”

“What if it doesn’t take the bait?” Dalen asked.

“We all got into a lot of trouble,” Alarik said.

Alarik was already on thin ice for hacking into the educational system and changing the graduation tests. The ironic part was that he had made the tests more, not less, difficult. Still, the teachers hadn’t liked it much. Darsi wasn’t even supposed to be working in the network yet; she was only fourteen. She was supposed to be babying plants, not playing with computers that were powerful enough to take out whole facilities.

And Dalen didn’t want to endure another of his dad’s lectures about his position in the colony or how it looked when he got into trouble. Oh, and when was Dalen going to give into his fate and become a farmer?

No, Dalen did not want to have that argument again.

Dalen checked is oxygen. Down to 35%. Plenty of oxygen. Not much time until the drone spotted him. Dalen slipped is fingers beneath the surface of a metal rung—the gel keeping the biting cold from his skin—and flicked his eyes on the display inside his helmet to disconnect his line from the top of the dome.

“What are you doing?” Darsi asked in a panicked voice.

“Relax,” Dalen said. “It might see the tether up there. I’m just going to move it.”

“If you float away we’re not coming after you,” Alarik said.

“And here I thought we were friends.” Dalen waited for the tether to recede into his suit before he climbed toward the surface.

He could activate his boots and walk, but it would take longer, and he only had to go a few panels before the next tether point.

All those hours of cleaning the domes from the outside was coming in handy.

There was always a certain rush that came with being untethered in space. Dalen knew Alarik was all talk, and if for some reason Dalen floated away his friend would find a away to get him back. So unless Dalen decided to run head first into another asteroid, or one of the mirrors, it was likely he wouldn’t die.

However, just the thought of floating alone out there caused a thrill of adrenaline to run down his spine. Quickly followed by an ice dread of fear. Space was the most unforgiving environment in the universe. Nothing survived.

Dalen shoved the fingers of his gloved hand clumsily under the next handhold and leveraged himself along the seam.

“Hurry,” Alarik said.

“Yeah, yeah.” Dalen checked on the drone. So far it hadn’t varied from its route.

Dalen reached for the next hold with his geled hand. As soon as his fingers grasped the hold, he tried to pull his other hand free.

The fingers of the glove wouldn’t come out. Like when the older kids at school used to have the younger kids put their hands into a bottle to get something out, then when they made a fist they were unable to get their hand free.

“Stupid thing,” Dalen said. He should have taken the time to gel his other hand.

“What’s wrong?” Darsi asked.

“Nothing,” Dalen muttered as he braced his feet on the seam and tugged.

This time the fingers came free, but the momentum of his yank threw him around to his back, pivoting from his gelled hand.

He hit the panel with a grunt.

“Was that you?” Alarik asked.

“Maybe,” Dalen said. He pulled himself back. Now he didn’t have time to gel his other hand, so he used a single finger to hold in as he moved down three more handholds and then over two. “Where’s that distraction?” He settled in front of the outlet and blinked his tether to life. It uncoiled from his suit and attached itself. Dalen always imagined a click, but in space there was no sound.

“Ten seconds,” Darsi said.

The drone might spot him before that. Only one thing to do. Dalen grinned. He took a deep breath, imagined the curve of the dome, calculated the number of panels he had to get past, assigned that much strap to his tether and pushed off.

Instead of gently pushing away from the dome, he rocketed back. It took an agonizing three seconds before the cable pulled tight and whipped him back.

For those seconds, Dalen imagined air rustling through his hair. His grin grew wider when he found himself moving toward his intended destination. The panels got closer. Ten meters. Five. Two.

“I hope you have the drone’s attention,” Dalen said as he fired his thrusters once, just long enough to slow him so he didn’t crash. When his feet touched down, he activated his boots. His feet held fast, and he took the collision in his knees, wincing as his butt almost touched the dome.

Before he straightened, he commanded his tether to detach and reel in.

He checked the position of the drone. It had paused.

“Don’t see the tether,” he muttered. Dalen ducked down, even though he was on the opposite side of the dome from the drone, and held his breath.

The end of the cord came into sight.

The drone didn’t move.

“Guys?” Dalen asked.

“Trust us,” Alarik said.

Dalen snorted and stayed perfectly still. He glanced at the next tether point and then at the nearest door. He could get to either without too much fuss. If he didn’t have to run.

“As promised,” Darci said.

Sure enough, the blip on Dalen’s scanner moved off toward Dome Two.

“You’re clear.”

“Come on in,” Darsi said as the light above the door below him blinked three times.

Dalen slowly made his way to the base of the dome, then entered the airlock. “Seal it,” he said to Alarik.

“Done.”

It didn’t take long for the small room to fill with atmosphere.

“We’ll met you in the corridor,” Alarik said.

“Got it.” Dalen shrugged out of his suit and put it down the maintenance chute. Unfortunately he didn’t have time for a shower, so he got dressed and emerged into the maintenance area of the dome. The early hour guaranteed that he would be alone. The morning shift didn’t start for an hour.

Familiar scents of metal, plastic, and oil filled the air. Dalen made his way through the tools and machinery to the exit. Even if someone caught him here, he could explain his presence. He’d spent enough time fixing the domes that he may as well be on one of the crews.

Just as he hit the button to open the door, his hand comm chimed. He pulled it out of his pocket as the door slid open. It was a message from Alarik.

“Stay in the maintenance room.”

Dalen glanced up and found a security guard in the corridor. He pressed the reply button in his hand comm and muttered into the device, “You are the worst friend ever.” Then he gave the security guard a lopsided grin. “Hey, how’s it going?”


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Book Reviews: Never Have I Ever Kissed My Brother’s Best Friend and Star Fire

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Book Reviews: Week 3!

More books that have been lurking on my Kindle waiting to be read!

This week’s romance is a Young Adult romance called “Never Have I Ever Kissed My Brother’s Best Friend” by Juliet Bardsley. I picked it up because I’ve been toying with the idea of writing YA sweet and clean romance, and this series has been fairly popular.

This week’s science fiction novel is “Star Fire” by M.R. Fobes. I chose this book because at the end of last year, when I started poking into the science fiction world, it was in the top fifty of several categories on Amazon, and I decided to check it out.

Never Have I Ever Kissed My Brother’s Best Friend

Like I said, this series has been fairly popular, and I wanted to check it out.

First off, it’s short. Like, really short. Even shorter than my Academy books, which are about 25k words.

Because of the length, the story is painfully basic. It was fun to read, but the conflict never felt real to me, and because we all know what’s going to happen in the end of a sweet romance, the lack of convincing danger toward the love story crippled this one a bit.

If you want a really fast, very basic read that might remind you a bit of high school, then this is your book.

Just three stars for this one. I like more than just cute in my stories.

She’s crushed on him for the past six years.
He’s always seen her as his best friend’s little sister.
What happens when they’re forced together?

Gavin Mitchell is a star soccer player, the best looking senior at Cedar Oaks High, and a potential recruit for the college of his dreams. But if Gavin doesn’t raise his English grade, all his plans of playing soccer for his dream school will be crushed. Enter Kenzie Fair, his best friend’s smart little sister.

Mackenzie (Kenzie) Fair has the best friend in the world, an enviable collection of books, and the highest grades in the junior class. But there’s one thing she doesn’t have–Gavin Mitchell–the guy she’s crushed on for forever. The guy she acts like a total spaz around. The guy who also happens to be her brother’s best friend.

When the two are forced to spend time together studying Shakespeare, it’s only a matter of time before Gavin sees Kenzie as more than his best friend’s little sister.

The problem is, she still is. Is it worth risking his lifelong friendship for the chance to date Kenzie?

Star Fire

This is another book that I started and put down a few months ago. I picked it back up this week to finish it.

This is the second military sci-fi book that I’ve picked up that’s not really about space, which continues to surprise me. The story starts out as a space battle, but then everyone crashes and the rest of it takes place on the surface of a planet.

It took a bit for this one to get going, but once it did, and I was invested in the main character, then I was in for the long haul. Good conflicts, good characters, and while I hated the fact that I was right about one of them, I take a sick sort of pleasure in it.

That being said, the last chapter is a horrible cliff hanger, which made me a little grouchy.  The rest of the series is out, but I’m on to a different book and I may or may not get back to this one.

Four stars for this one, although I’m still cranky about the end.

New from million-copy bestseller M.R. Forbes. One man’s epic story of loyalty, perseverance, and hope in a galaxy at war.

Alliance Navy Commander Grayson Stone is patrolling a nearby space station when a mysterious starship appears. It emerges from a storm of fire, its shields impenetrable, its weapons overwhelming, attacking without provocation and annihilating everything in its path.

While his ship is badly damaged in the assault, Grayson manages to survive. Suddenly trapped behind the front line of the invasion, faced with gut-wrenching choices and near-impossible odds, he’ll do whatever it takes to escape the grasp of the terrifying new enemy.

Because if he fails, humankind will fall.

There you go! Book reviews Week 3!
Tune in next week for more reviews.


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Book Reviews: Finding Jack and The Messenger

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Book Reviews: Week 2!

We had a busy week, and I barely finished the second of these books a few minutes ago. Still, I finished! Yay!

Both of these came from my Kindle collection of books I’ve downloaded and haven’t read.

The first is a sweet romance called Finding Jack. I believe author Sarah Boucher recommended this one to me.

The second is a science fiction novel called The Messenger that I picked up because it has a giant mech in it, and the sci-fi book I’m writing has mechs in it. Sort of. It turns out they are very different than this one.

Finding Jack

I’ve met this author, but I’ve never read any of her work before this.

Honestly, I started this one about six months ago, got less than 20% in, and never finished. The beginning felt both rushed and manic. The dialogue and the story were being thrown in my face at a very fast rate. Plus, I didn’t love the main character.

This might be Melanie’s style, I’m not sure, but I didn’t love it. I also didn’t love the reason they couldn’t be together near the end. (Not a spoiler, we all know it’s coming in a romance book.) The idea was sound, but could have been set up better.

However, I must admit that after that 20% mark I was hooked. The character grew on me, I started liking Jack more, and reading to the end felt effortless. There is plenty of humor in this one, and the end is satisfying. The only bump was as I said above, their reason for breaking up was weak.

I did like this book, and would give it a solid four stars.

Can their online flirtation become something real?

When smart, practical Emily finds herself in the crosshairs of an Internet prankster, her orderly world goes topsy-turvy. Instead of getting mad at the handsome stranger behind the joke, she finds herself drawn to him. But Jack Dobson, though hilarious and thoughtful, has a lot of secrets. Despite her growing feelings for her new and unexpected long-distance friend, his biggest secret of all might be the one that breaks the spell they’ve been weaving around each other.

The Messenger

This book looks like a young adult book, which is why I picked it up, but it’s not. It’s fine for YA readers, if they’re okay with a little bit of swearing and gore. Oh, and space battles.

One of the authors is J.N. Chaney. I tried to read his Renegade Star series and barely made it through the first book. The main character was a whiner and a jerk, two things I hate, so I only picked this one up because there is a co-author.

Unfortunately, my author brain had an easy time picking this story apart. The beginning is so cliché I literally rolled my eyes. Picture this: A down-and-out courier, in debt, had to dump their last shipment, in desperate need of a job, and then finds the job that will take him from being a bit of a scoundrel to a man willing to sacrifice his life for the galaxy.

Sound familiar? The authors set this up quickly, then went on to the rest of the story.

Which felt like a cross between a leveling up video game and Voltron.

I didn’t hate the main character, but he was kind of bland. A little snarky, a little brave, but nothing really interesting. Until he stumbles onto a giant mech suit and becomes, the Messenger. The champion for good against the Golden…things.

Don’t get me wrong, I like chosen one stories, but didn’t love this one. This first book felt like 100% set up, not an actual story, and I skimmed the last quarter of it. I never meshed with the characters or the premise of the story, and considering it didn’t grab my attention, I probably won’t read any more in the series.

Three stars.

Dash never asked to be a mech pilot, but fate has other plans.

On the run and out of chances, he guides his ship and crew into the heart of a relic older than the galaxy itself—and find himself on the edge of an eternal war he never knew existed.

The relic is a mech, lost to history and forgotten by all who remain. Built by an ancient race to be the ultimate weapon, the machine is capable of unspeakable destruction, and its discovery could unhinge the balance of power throughout known space.

Worse still, the A.I. inside the machine speaks of an ancient evil that will soon arrive–a race whose power far exceeds anything humanity has ever witnessed.

Only the Messenger can stand against them, the A.I. tells its new pilot. Only you can do what must be done.

There you go. Book Reviews Week 2!

Tune in next week for two more reviews.


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Book Reviews: The Devil Drinks Coffee and Empire of Bones

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Have you ever lost sight of something you love because of what’s right in front of you?

I have.

I’ve been writing full-time for the past 2+ years, and I have to admit—much to my shame—I haven’t been doing a lot of reading in that time.

Instead, I’ve been fighting to get books written and out, as well as marketing and running a business. Who has time for reading??

I do have an Audible account, but since I work from home—so no commute—and can’t exactly listen to someone else’s book while I’m writing my own or doing marketing (I do not have that kind of brain power) I haven’t listened to many books either.

Last week I decided to change that.

I’ve been having a really hard time creating since this whole pandemic started and then the local earthquake we had in March.

I have no groove.

So I thought it might help if I read a few of the books on my Kindle.

You know…the ones I downloaded and haven’t read. Some were on sale, some are from authors I know, and a few are books that simply looked interesting to me.

Wow, I have a lot of books like that on my Kindle.

Last week I dove in. I’ve decided since I write romance and I’m writing a science fiction novel, that I’ll probably read one romance and one sci-fi or fantasy novel a week.

That’s the plan, at least.

These were last week’s victims:

The Devil Drinks Coffee

I actually know the author of this one. She’s hilarious, and bought this book a while ago when she was making a big push to get onto the New York Times Best-Seller list. (Pretty sure she made it, by the way.)

I’m not an authority on cozy mysteries, but I found the plot pretty solid. The main character was hilarious. Her mother more so. The small-town vibe cracked me up.

My only complaint is that the story bounced from thing to thing very quickly. Maybe cozy mysteries are all like that. It made me feel ADHD.

Still, I enjoyed it. Four Stars.

A cow suicide, a revolving door rescue, and the birth of a bright purple pig are starting to make Kate Saxee wonder if taking a job in her small hometown of Branson Falls, Utah, was such a great idea. As The Branson Tribune editor, Kate covers local news, which, more often than not, involves her accident-prone mom. Nothing truly newsworthy has ever happened in the quiet town until local teen Chelsea Bradford turns up dead in a Branson Falls lake.

The police rule Chelsea’s death an accident, but Kate suspects there’s more to the story—and she’s not the only one. Two of Branson’s most eligible bachelors are determined to help her solve the crime—among other things. But the small town social network is faster than Twitter, and gossip about Kate’s love-life is quickly branding her the Branson Falls hussy.

As Kate learns more about Chelsea, she discovers that plenty of people are trying to cover up the real story behind the girl’s death—including Chelsea’s parents. Now Kate has to juggle work, men, her mom’s most recent disaster involving a low-speed John Deere Combine chase on the freeway, and fend off the Mormons heaven-bent on saving her soul—all while solving Chelsea’s murder. Dealing with this is going to require a lot of coffee, chocolate frosted donuts, Neil Diamond’s greatest hits, and a slew of words not on the town approved imitation swear list.

Empire of Bones

I see this series in the top of the sci-fi genre on Amazon a lot, so I decided to try the first one.

Personally, I like a little more action in my military sci-fi. Especially when the book starts out with a mock battle, but doesn’t get back to any kind of action until the finale.

That being said, I did like the characters. Enough so that I might read the second book.

The first 75% of this book was well thought out, if not a bit slow for me. The last 25% was the exciting part, but felt as if the author, like Stephanie Meyer, couldn’t write an action scene to save his life.

The entire finale was basically an outline of what happened. No real character reactions or emotions. I didn’t feel anything while the princess was in worse than mortal danger and her half-brother led the a perilous mission to rescue her. The author really dropped the ball there.

However, as I stated, I like the characters just enough that I’ll probably read book 2. 3 1/2 stars

After a terrible war almost extinguished humanity, the New Terran Empire rises from its own ashes.

Sent on an exploratory mission to the dead worlds of the Old Empire, Commander Jared Mertz sets off into the unknown.

Only the Old Empire isn’t quite dead after all. Evil lurks in the dark.

With everything he holds dear at stake, Jared must fight like never before. Victory means life. Defeat means death. Or worse.

Tune in next week for more reviews!

I need an accountability buddy to keep me on task, and you’re it. Aren’t you lucky?


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