Tag Archives: science fiction

There’s No Finish Line by D.H. Aire

No Finish Line
Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash

Over Memorial Day Weekend I was on an online panel as part of Balticon, which was held virtually. The topic of the panel was “There’s No Finish Line.”

I keep thinking about that panel as I continue to feel like I’m living the topic.

You see, I began trying to get published in earnest about ten years ago. It’s not that I hadn’t tried before, but I gave up submitting to forego the pleasure of so many rejection letters.

However, as hurt as those letters left me feeling those many years before, I kept writing, but at that point I was just writing and rewriting for myself. Then, as can happen, well, life happened. I was told I had to grow up and stop this writing stuff. Other obligations in life were far more important—and stopping was killing me inside. Oh, I don’t disagree that priorities need balance, but “growing up” doesn’t mean you should give up doing what you love. No matter if you face rejection even from those closest to you.

I learned something from taking that and fantasy is part of who I am. I had stories I needed to write and share, and I found I couldn’t let that part of me not be expressed.

So, the moment came when my life dramatically changed and I knew it was time to dust off the stories I liked the most and I proofed, edited, wrote and rewrote again. Then, I guess, you could say “I rinsed and repeated.” I began submitting again and this time, well, some editors didn’t send me rejection letters. Oh, plenty of others still did, but, well, those rejections didn’t hurt like they had before. Actually, I think I just didn’t care about the rejections. I just kept writing and started going to science fiction and fantasy conventions, which offered workshops on writing. The editors started liking what they were seeing, I guess–especially the ones who offered me my first book contracts.

Subsequently, I came to the point where going Indy made more sense, which led to my selling enough books and making enough money at it that I qualified to join SFWA, the science fiction and fantasy writers association.

I love aspects of self-publishing, commissioning cover designs, formatting for print,. while other aspects like self-promoting, not so much… Now I’ve 19 books in print. Over the years, I’ve met people who wrote and published one short story or book and stopped. I don’t really understand that. Or, perhaps, I do. Writing’s a business and not exactly profitable—except, well, when it happens to be profitable. But profit’s not everything. There’s something about it that let’s my soul sort of fly on the winds and across the stars. Fine, as an author I’m delusional… but such delusions of life on Mars or among elves really aren’t so bad for a fantasy and sci fi writer..

All I know, is there’s really no finish line.

What gives me hope for a wider readership one day are people telling me how George R.R. Martin would attend some of the conventions I have, participating on panels, and would walk down the halls unrecognized for years and years until everything changed for him. Another author I’ve come to know, who shall remain nameless, sold his first book to a major press after twenty years of publishing short stories and novels and was introduced as a new author by that publisher. He chuckled, telling me how after twenty years he was an overnight success.

Funny thing about that phrase… I watched a biography on A&E about Jeff Dunham. He too became an overnight success after twenty years and shared he was rejected as not yet ready to be on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson eight times. The ninth time he made it and found himself headlining around the country from then on… but that was only a major step toward success for him. Because he was a ventriloquist, Comedy Central wouldn’t offer him a special. They didn’t understand his appeal or that a man with dummies could truly be funny… He decided to pay for producing a special himself (he said it cost him over $100,000) and his business manager had to beg to get Comedy Central to air it. The day after it aired they called and said something was wrong with the ratings. It turned out that his special had the highest ratings they’d ever had.

That didn’t just happen. He did everything he could, practicing his skills for years, writing jokes, being creative—including sculpting his own dummies. What really echoed in me was how he’d built his “overnight success.” Like authors need to, he built a mailing list. He collected the names and addresses of those who came to his shows and when he was returning their area. Today, it’s about building an email mailing list and twitter following, but then it was about sending out postcards when he was going to be performing within 50 miles of where his fans lived, encouraging them to buy tickets and bring their friends. That’s how he built his fan base, so when that Comedy Central special aired, they were watching… Jeff Dunham’s a story teller. I’m a story teller–I just throw the voices on the printed page and have a lot more work to do until I hit that twenty year benchmark hopefully can become an overnight success.

I have to keep telling myself, write, write, edit, rewrite, edit, proof, submit stories, self-publish as I choose, and most of all keep dreaming… telling myself the day will come.

So I promote my books as best I can—while the day job pays the bills, provides the medical insurance, and try to keep balance in my life as best I can.

So I speak on panels at conventions—even if must be virtually these days, do a talk on science fiction like one I recently did on Zoom, write, rewrite, edit, proof, and repeat. Oh, and the recipe includes promote, promote, seek out a new advance reader while I’m at it—and seek precious reviews. Oh, what the other authors on that panel at Balticon with me included from their own experience — work on more than one project at a time. One book may be with a publisher for months, while another is being written and others already published need to continue to be promoted.

There’s one other thing. The more I write the better I get at it. The characters and stories just keep whispering in my dreams, becoming more real as I write them. Truth be told, those pesky characters keep wanting me to share their tales and won’t let me stop.

Oh, along those lines, I’ve a number of book projects about ready for publication or just launched. I recently published Lessers Not Losers, a Young Adult novel with an unusual take on an origin story for would-be Superheroes, which I hope to become the first book in a trilogy or series.


D.H. Aire likes to blend genres, mixing his science fiction with a touch of fantasy, and especially blending his epic fantasy with a science fiction twist, which has found expression in his writing of his Highmage’s Plight Series and The Hands of the Highmage Series, and the more contemporary Dare2Believe series. He is also the author of the space opera series, Terran Catalyst. His most recently published book includes Nowhere to Go But Mars, a novella, and the forthcoming Knight of the Broken Table. His short stories have appeared in ezines and anthologies.
D.H. Aire is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. To learn more about Lessers Not Losers and his other projects, visit the author’s website, www.dhaire.net, or follow him on Twitter at @dare2believe1 or Dare 2 Believe on Facebook.

Here’s the link to book cover on Amazon:
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/41nYjoMdOhL.jpg

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection by Wendy Van Camp

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection
written and illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

The planets have fascinated humanity since the dawn of time. We’ve looked up into the heavens and wondered what these wandering stars are and why they are different from their more stationary cousins. In modern times, humans have sent probes to all the planets in our solar system, sending back tantalizing views from faraway worlds. The planets are woven into our culture and history. They are signposts of our journey ahead.

This collection of 108 science fiction haiku poems (scifaiku) will take you on a journey of exploration showcasing tiny moments of wonder with each of the planets of our solar system.

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection is nominated for the 2020 Elgin Award for best speculative poetry book of the year.

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Author Interview: T.S. Valmond

Please welcome Author Shelina Valmond to No Wasted Ink.

I’m T.S. Valmond aka Shelina. I grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and have lived in three countries over the last ten years. I currently live in Alberta, Canada with my husband and our dog Cookie. My fandoms are Star Wars, Star Trek, and Firefly. When I’m not traveling in search of a beach somewhere to read, you can usually find me at a coffee shop or home working on my next book.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was four with an active imagination and a cast of invisible characters I spoke to on a regular basis. My teachers often encouraged me to write in school in order to curb my need to talk.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

First in the fourth grade when my teacher Mrs. Ardnt told me I was a writer. Then again when I finished my first Nanowrimo in 2009.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Ensign: A Starship Hope Prequel

It’s the story of how a young ensign comes to terms with her doubts and her father’s legacy to become the woman who’ll guide a remnant of her people to hope.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had the story idea during a 2015 CampNano. Then Discovery came out and I felt it more necessary than ever to have a black female captain and her story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes. I’m not sure how to describe it but readers say things like: “Twisty, surprising, couldn’t put it down, etc.”

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It took a long time, to think of the title. I wanted a prequel to a series I’d already written. It made sense to tell the story of the captain’s past as a lead into the series I want to promote later this year.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, no one’s family is perfect, but they’re yours. Your family is either born or found out of life’s circumstances.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

No, not directly, though it could be argued that each of my characters all have pieces of me. However, in this case, I believe Ensign Dana Pinet’s story is her own.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

The authors who have shaped me are the ones that drew me in with their worlds and characters. I’ve always been someone who picks up Nora Roberts and follows it up with Stephen Donaldson. I’m all over the map when it comes to genres, but the authors that have stuck with me are the ones who create the worlds I most like living in.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

There are so many but I think my current writing partner A.K. Duboff is someone I’ve learned a lot from lately and even before I knew her, I’ve tried to emulate her publishing career.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover of Ensign and the entire series was done by Goerz Designs. I chose him because he’s a newer cover design artist and I wanted to get in before he got too busy and too expensive.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes, WRITE. There are plenty of other things people will tell you to do, but if you haven’t finished your book yet and started publishing then make your writing a priority.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’ll keep writing books as long as you keep reading them. If you love them let me know by sharing them with your friends and leaving reviews and you’ll always get more stories from me.

T.S. Valmond
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Ensign ~ A Starship Hope Prequel

Cover Artist:  Goerz Designs

This book is only available through her mailing list.

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Author Interview: Adric Laser

If a pen is truly more powerful than a sword then it must be the author that can make that statement come to life. It is Author Adric Laser’s goal to spend what’s left of his life bringing about positive change through publications as he helps people gain a better understanding of themselves through stories. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Locke Dauch and I am a science fiction author that likes to publish work using the pen name “Adric Laser.” I’m also a featured author on several popular blogs and an educator with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Western Washington University and a PGCEi from Nottingham University. After a short career in corporate America, I decided it was time to travel and see the world to expand my horizons. As a result, I’ve spent over ten years living in Asia teaching primary and secondary students Science, Maths, History and English. I currently live in Vientiane, Laos and spend my days writing and raising a small kitten.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in my early teens but most of my work remained in notebooks or files that never ended up getting published. I’ve spent the past few years publishing non-fiction books with an aim to help people solve problems in their lives.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It wasn’t until more recently that I decided I wanted to focus my efforts on fiction writing and storytelling. I regret not having pushed myself harder in the past to begin doing this at an earlier age as I find it immensely enjoyable to create the stories that I’ve had the pleasure of working on over the past two years.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

In the past year I’ve been actively working to produce a science fiction series entitled “Dystopity.” This series is authored using the pen name “Adric Laser,” because, well, I just thought it sounded so much cooler than using my actual name! A book I’ve recently authored and published that I’d like to share with you today is entitled “A Rebel Was Born on Horus.”

This is a short novella that is about a military officer named Annabelle that realizes that she may not be cut out for the type of work required enforcing policies she becomes to see as tyrannical. She is forced to make some very tough decisions throughout the course of the story as rebel terrorists occupy her space station with the intent of taking over full control.

You’ll have to read the story to find out if she ultimately becomes successful in wrestling back control of the station and figuring out what role she actually wants to play based on the events that end up taking place on Horus.

What inspired you to write this book?

There is always a lot to be learned from conflict and I thought creating a story about a female officer’s transformation from model cadet to rebel would be quite interesting in the context of a terrorist invasion. Sometimes we can only figure out who we really are when we are put under pressure. Furthermore we don’t always know who we are working with until a situation arises which gives us an opportunity to see how they react. Annabelle is a character I’ve written in to an upcoming novel and I thought it would be interesting for readers to understand what really makes her tick. This novella gives my readers an opportunity to learn about her in more depth and really understand the underlying motivations that drive her actions in the novel set to be released in late 2020.

Do you have a specific writing style?

For my science fiction titles I’ve developed a writing style in which I often remain in 3rd person while sometimes going into 1st person to give the reader a chance to get into the mindset of the characters I’ve created and better understand them. From a lifetime of reading science fiction titles it seems there is no hard and fast rule to writing styles in the genre so I prefer to focus on making sure I’m immersed in the story so I’m better able to immerse my readers in the story as well.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

This book is set on Horus space station. It is a corporate owned station built into a large asteroid. The story is about a transformation that the main character goes through as a direct result of the conflict she faces aboard the station and her difficult decision to abandon the loyalty she once had in her employer.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I suppose it’s a story that asks readers to reflect upon their own lives in a way and ask themselves if they are doing something that benefits them materially at the expense of others. It may make them think about their own loyalties and ask themselves if they are truly on the right side. If not, perhaps it could motivate them to change sides if they felt there was a way to right a wrong or gain integrity and righteousness by making a difficult pivot in their life.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I’m definitely not a stranger to the concept of self-reflection and the experience of remaking myself into what I believe is a better person. As a young adult I realized that I had been quite selfish growing up and wasn’t nearly as respectful as I should have been to the people who have tried to help me. I regretted that fact and resolved to become a teacher in Asia to try to make up for some of my shortcomings growing up by helping others try to avoid some of the same mistakes and pitfalls that I found myself making during my early and late teen years.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

There are definitely too many to name. I remember reading “Of Mice and Men” when I was quite young by John Steinbeck. Something about it mesmerized me. Perhaps because I felt a deep connection and understanding with the crisis, conflict and nature of the characters. The story had a sense of realism to it beyond almost anything I had ever read.

Another book that left a serious impression on me was Fyodor Dostoevsky. I remember how the book just sucked me into the fearful situation of getting caught as if I was the main character trying to evade capture. It’s a rare gift to be able to connect with someone so well in your writing that they can imagine being in your character’s shoes as if they had been transported to some far off land.

In regard to science fiction, two authors that I really look up to are Orson Scott Card and Larry Niven. Their books have been a huge inspiration in deciding to become a science fiction author and pick up in some ways where they have left off.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I actually designed the cover of the book myself. I’ve spent a lot of time working with designers and I just sort of felt that no matter how much guidance I give them it’s hard to get them to create what I envision for a project. Assuming one of my novellas or novels gets significant traction I may decide to hire professional help and update the cover but for now I’ve received a lot of good feedback based on the presentation of my novellas and don’t have any immediate plans to change any of them.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would say, forget about trying to make people happy and write about topics and stories that you find interesting, exciting and passionate about. Passion can be a very powerful tool for creating literary masterpieces, don’t underestimate it!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I would just like to thank them for taking the time to read one or more of my stories. Time is probably the most precious asset we possess and wasting it is truly a cause for regret. I’ll always write with my readers in mind but I’ll do it in a way in which I feel that my time is being used productively and for a good cause. I write not just for myself but in hopes that the stories I bring to life can have a positive impact on that of my readers.

Adric Laser
Seattle, Washington

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A Rebel Was Born on Horus

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Ten Rules of Time Travel by Ian Lehey

So you wish to include time traveling as part of your story? How hard can it be? Have a nutty scientist or brainy professor come up with a credible time machine, or stumble across one if you want to avoid some of the techy mumbo-jumbo, have them jump backwards or forwards to the time requested by the plot, and then, for the perfect Hollywood ending, everyone jumps back to their timeline and enjoys the cool effects of tweaking history.

Problems deriving from time-travel? There’s nothing so terrible about becoming your own father or mother (or both) that can’t be fixed with some counseling and some good parenting. (I think Douglas Adams said that.) It’s just like wiping a page from a history book and writing it again the way you want it to be, right?

Wrong.

The truth is that when it comes to time travel, the territory becomes rather uncertain if not entirely boggled. Here are ten things you should keep in mind when you start playing around with time.

1. If you are about to leap into the past, then it has already happened.

That’s right. The moment you allow your characters to jump back in time, then the alterations they will apply will already have taken place. This results in our first great dilemma: now that history has changed and the problem solved, what will motivate the heroes to jump back? When the solution is so effective that the problem never existed, who will need to think of a solution? One way to solve this is to conceal the fact that the current state of affairs is, in hindsight, a result of that jump, and that another, far worse, scenario would have ensued from not going back. In other words, the travelers’ motivations are not determined by something that will change, but something they have already changed.

2. Your traveler must, in no way, be connected to the facts he or she is trying to change.

As a collateral point to rule number one, any traveler altering events impacting their own timeline will automatically fail. This is because, by altering time, they will inevitably alter their own memory of what happened, and that will ultimately lead to different decisions the next time around.
“Wait what next time?”, you ask. Well that leads us to:

4. It’s a loop. An infinite one.

Get it?

3. It’s a loop. An infinite one.

A successful leap into the past is one that will always have happened. One in which the traveler will, at a certain point, either devise their own way to travel or be thrown back in time by a series of events which must, always, result in the same outcome. Time will not permit an ever-changing number of different outcomes, it will stabilize into a flow where the jump never happens, or where it does, but always follows the same exact script. The effects of this on the characters can be very dark, or also quite funny. Especially for short jumps. Just like this little joke.

5. Time is memory.

In other words, our only sense for the passing of time is our ability to keep a record of past events. As a result, altering time inevitably alters the record. There are only two ways out of this paradox, in my opinion: One way is based on the theory of alternative universes which is so popular nowadays. In this theory, when you travel in time what you really do is jump to a different reality where what you did has changed history, but you come from a universe where nothing was done, so your memory of that history remained the same. This theory has a few flaws, well pointed out by the Rick & Morty series, including meeting infinite yous intent on changing their histories, and infinite other yous content with their lot and suddenly buggered by all the goddamn people turning up at their door.

Another way is to have time change from the old reality to the new rewritten one, but slowly. Slowly enough for the transition itself to be noticed and recorded. This is what I did in my short story “Hero of Stolen Time”. In it, the hero Ratscrap is the only one capable of jumping back two years into the past to stop the beginning of a terrible series of Viking incursions. When he fails to do so, partially because Ratscrap is a self-loathing coward, reality slowly begins to shift to a Viking-ridden village where everyone’s soon-to-be alternative is killed. Knowing this, Ratscrap must jump back to preserve his reality as well as his own miserable life.

6. The Bootstrap Paradox.

This theory was described quite beautifully in a Dr. Who episode and went like this:

Imagine your character is a Beethoven fanatic. He packs his collection of sheet music and jumps back to meet the man himself to discuss all things musical. When he finally sees Ludwig, our hero is horrified to discover the great composer doing nothing but sitting on the sofa and scratching his butt. (I think the Doctor put it more elegantly). Panicking, the time traveler shoves all of Beethoven’s sheet music in the loafing musician’s hands and hurriedly leaps back to the present to discover, to his relief, that the great Ludwig still is the world-renown musical genius.

The paradox is this: who composed the music? Our hero would swear it was Beethoven, but Ludwig would say it was a frantic looking man with a funny German accent who made it and gave it to him. You can’t jump back in time and hand J.K. Rowling a copy of Harry Potter. That’s worse than becoming your own parent.

7. I don’t have time for number 7.

8. Beware the uncanny valley. (Yes, there’s one in time travel too)

People who read sci-fi appreciate the imaginative way authors apply their scientific knowledge. A lack of scientific detail will undermine the credibility of your story. When it comes to time and time travel, science itself becomes rather iffy. To put it in other words, there’s a whole lot of fi in the sci already. Some writers will try to compensate this by adding even more details on exploiting naturally occurring nano-wormholes, strings, membranes and that ever-recurring buzzword, the quantum [insert something here]. The result is that, past a certain threshold, the authors themselves get so garbled as to put off even the most hardened geek. Make it scientzy, but don’t overdo it. Sometimes it’s preferable to simplify too much rather than overexplain it. Ratscrap’s time jumping ability, for instance, came from a simple magic potion.

A magic potion? Jeez, who am I trying to fool here? That’s almost as bad as quantum.

9. Forward jumps are ok. Sometimes.

Making your hero jump forward in time is absolutely doable. Unless you have the nerve to also bring them back. In that case, all of the above rules apply again. Knowledge of future events could potentially lead to attempts aimed at altering that future, but in that case, the original future never existed, so why change it? Headaches anyone? (One of Ratscrap’s side effects of time travel was a massive, sentient headache).

10. Alternatives to time travel.

There are a couple of more approachable alternatives to time travel, to avoid headaches, embarrassing family reunions and all that excessive mucking about with quantum and J.K.Rowling.

One way to travel into the past safely is to “tune in” to a past moment. This can be done by sending back a hidden probe, or waiting for when everyone will have a memory chip installed into their brains and simply playback their experience, or even sync present and past atoms to create a replica via, sigh, quantum entanglement. In all three cases, the past cannot be altered but only experienced as a hologram or virtual reality.
Another alternative to changing the past is even simpler. As stated in rule no. 5, time is memory. Do you really need to send your character back in time to hide the fact that they murdered someone? Wouldn’t it be relatively easier to alter everyone’s memory of the event, so that the murder becomes an accident? In this case, the hero’s memory would remain intact, as well as anyone’s they wish to preserve.

These are just ideas, not to be taken as absolute guidelines. Just make sure your plot holds, maybe catch a glimpse of the future to check how readers will respond and you will have seen – are going to have seen…

Truth be told, the hardest thing about writing time travel are the damn tenses.


Ian Lahey, author, dreamer, and Olympic-level binge-watcher, teaches English Language and Literature in Italy. Apart from writing arguably decent fiction, he also cooks with nearly edible results, tinkers with computer graphics, and does quite a lot of gardening, since he needs to replace all the plants he’s inadvertently killed.
https://ilahey.com