Tag Archives: science fiction

Flashfiction: Number Twenty-Three by Wendy Van Camp

Number Twenty-Three
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Gwendolyn tiptoed down a castle hallway, her flowing blue dress sweeping the floor. Strange white doors were set in the stone walls. Each wore a symbol: letters, numbers, or images.

She touched a glowing symbol.”Twenty-Three.” The door opened. She stepped into a blue light. Was this the answer to her forgotten mystery?

The world disintegrated in a shattering of shards.

Gwendolyn woke in a hospital bed. Her nurse detached the electrodes on her skullcap. “That is not it. We will try again in the morning.”

Would she ever find what they wanted? The nurse killed the lights and left her in darkness.


 

This is a 100-word microfiction written during an annual challenge for my science fiction and fantasy society.  The prompt was virtual reality.  This one bends the line between fantasy and science fiction.  Which genre would you choose for it?

Author Interview: Jennifer Arntson

Author Jennifer Arntson is a dreamer first, a writer second, and a sworn enemy of Caillou forever. Please give her a warm welcome to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jennifer ArntsonA typical day for me starts like any other: I rush kids off to school, feed the dog, and the such, but what happens after that can be just as random to me as it is for anyone else. Sure, I’ve got a laundry list of tasks to be completed, but there are times that list goes untouched because of rain, feral pigs, or the local wandering domesticated dog pack we call ‘the puppy squad.’ Why? Well, I live on 160-acre ranch in southern Texas. Did I start here? Nope. This summer I moved from the Pacific Northwest (Go Hawks!) to follow my dreams. As such, I hunt pecans, pigs, invasive species vegetation, and shade in the triple digit weather.

When and why did you begin writing?

Like so many other authors, I had a dream I couldn’t shake. I never thought it would turn into anything, honestly. Because I’m a list person, I thought if I wrote my ideas down I’d be able to forget about them and go on with my day. As I did, the story flowed from my mind, down my fingers, and into page after page on my computer. My mom called me one afternoon and asked what I was doing, and when I told her, she asked to read it. It wasn’t done of course, but I sent it to her anyway. She called a few hours later and asked, “Where’s the rest of it?” There was no more, though. “Then I’m hanging up. Go write more.” So, I guess you can say my mother made me do it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Oh…the day I held my book in my hands. I still remember the smell of it. You know, that new book smell? It was like that only better. My name on the cover made my head spin. In fact, my husband recorded the moment I opened the proof copy (and posted it online, ergh) and I said, “It’s real.” That’s when I knew. Looking back on the whole experience, I realize I was a writer long before that. The moment I sat down at my computer was when I became a writer. Silly how we need proof.

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

My new release is the fourth book in the Scavenger Girl Series. Each of the novels follows a Scavenger named Una for a single season. She and her family have been convicted by the Authority and forced to live in the fringes of society, and as things change…so does she. When asked to describe the series I tell people it’s as if Twilight and Hunger Games had a baby delivered by Christian Grey, in a hospital run by Quentin Tarantino. While you won’t find vampires, shapeshifters, or child assassins, you will find a world that breaks the boundaries of traditional genres. Full of suspense and mystery, Una’s world is shrouded with classic dystopian elements and of course a bit of romance!

What inspired you to write this book?

At first, I wanted to get it out of my head. Now, it’s as if the characters themselves want their story told. They won’t let me be until I do.

Do you have a specific writing style?

No, not really. My writing style is thinking things up and writing them down. I know I should have something eloquent about which author has inspired me, but that’s like saying which dish made me like the taste of food. All of it, none of it. Honestly, I write what I like to read. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to stay within a single genre.

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

Here’s a secret: This wasn’t the original title! My initial beta readers kept referring to Una as ‘that Scavenger Girl’ and it stuck. Since each book is about a season, we added that. In an effort for people to know what order to read them in, we put roman numerals on the cover and the rest fell together easily.

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

Many people say a person’s future is what they make of it, but that’s not always true. It’s also not the most important thing. Family, honesty, friendships…these are the true treasures worth pursuing.

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

Much of what you’ll read from any author is an amalgamation of their experiences, worldview, and assessment of things happening around them. While Scavenger Girl isn’t about a specific person or place, it is about the spirit and strength that we all share, and the parts of us we try so desperately to hide. I believe what we see in others is a product of their experiences and we judge it through a filter we’ve spent our whole lives creating. Perspective and grace go a long way.

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

I’m a huge fan of fantasy, though I sometimes get bogged down in the details. In the last five years or so I’ve discovered some extremely talented indie authors that dance in multiple genres. They are the ones that gave me a long leash to explore. My love of reading flourished once I started writing. I started eating, breathing and sleeping books. I think the stories that took me out of my daily grind were best. Our world touched with a bit of magic…that’s what I like. Still, I’m looking for fairies (even though I’ve learned they are trouble!)

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

I consider everyone I read to be a mentor. It’s funny…when you’re a writer, you’re not reading only to be entertained or to find an avenue for escape. When I read, I’m actively learning. What do I devour? What makes me wince? Is a turn of phrase they use to provide an essence I find missing in my work? Oh, that word is perfect; I’m going to use it. It is said that art inspires art. I now understand what that means.

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

My husband and I did. We have backgrounds in graphic art and prefer simple statements in creative communication. The standalones that are coming out this year have a bit of a different look, though.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Don’t listen to your doubt. Pay for a good proofreader.
I’ve been lucky to have a huge on-line support group of highly talented people. That has been the best gift, really. Early on I realized there are a lot of people out there willing to take advantage of new writers and the seasoned professionals I met through Facebook groups and the like, made all the difference.

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

I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who has invested in my work. As an author I know I’m asking for two of your most valuable resources: your time and your hard earned money. Because of that, I promise I will always provide you with my very best, and I will never forget that it is because of you that Una lives. Thank you for taking this journey with me!

Season of Atchem Book CoverJennifer Arntson
San Antonio, TX

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Scavenger Girl: Season of Atchem

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Author Interview: Kai Wai Cheah

Author Kai Wai Cheah is Singapore’s first Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer.  I am quite honored to include him among our featured authors here on No Wasted Ink.

Author kai wai cheahI’m a Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer from Singapore, writing under the names Kai Wai Cheah and Kit Sun Cheah. While specializing in fantasy and science fiction, my personal writing preferences lean towards lean, dynamic and authentic, combining the finest traits of modern fiction and pulp stories from the early 20th century. I’m also a member of the PulpRev movement, which seeks to revolutionize fiction by gleaning lessons from the pulp masters of the past. Other than writing, I also enjoy reading, movies and gaming, and practice the Filipino martial art of Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at 12 years old because I was bored.

As a child, I was a bookworm. I routinely devoured books much more advanced for my age. Physics, biology and chemistry encyclopedias; folklore, myths and fairy tales (not the watered-down versions for modern children; but stories of good and evil and horror and bloodshed); books about the military, war, firearms and technology. I started reading adult novels in primary school, and never looked back.

One December morning, I found myself with nothing to do. The Primary School Leaving Examination was over; I was just killing time waiting for the results and my secondary school posting. I’d already read every book I had in the library. I decided I could write a book of my own. I fired up my computer, grabbed research material, and wrote the opening chapter of what would become a 300-page military science fiction epic.

The novel was also utterly terrible, but I kept writing and never looked back.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Shortly after beginning work on my novel, I decided it was something I wanted to do as a career. I began referring to myself as a writer at the age of 13, soon after completing the first draft of my first novel.

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

My latest published novel is titled Hammer of the Witches, the second novel of the Covenant Chronicles. The story follows deniable operator Luke Landon, who is tasked with investigating international vigilante network Hexenhammer to determine if it were responsible for a major terrorist attack on a refugee camp. However, he quickly discovers a conspiracy that will stop at nothing to rule the world. And behind that conspiracy is the Unmaker, a fallen angel who aims to drag all souls into the Void.

The Covenant Chronicles is one part spy thriller, one part dark fantasy, one part military science fiction, set in a world where magic and daimons exist, but not gods… until they awake.

What inspired you to write this book?

Like all my stories, inspiration came from many sources. The first major source came from the thriller authors I read in my youth: Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Daniel Silva, Greg Hurwitz and Stephen Hunter. Harry Turtledove showed me the possibilities that lay in the genre of alternate history, while Jim Butcher influenced my approach to worldbuilding and writing, and John Ringo introduced me to military science fiction. The physics-based magic of Larry Correia’s Grimnoir trilogy was a significant influence on the magic system of this series — but I also stole ideas from Dishonored, Final Fantasy, and Alan Wake.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style varies a lot. I find that it morphs to fit the kind of story I’m writing. The Covenant Chronicles series trends towards dark and introspective, with bouts of high-octane action; my upcoming A Song of Karma series is a little lighter and contains poetry; another story I’m working on focuses heavily on atmospherics and senses and technology. Other things like structure, dialogue, formatting also morph to fit them.

For the Covenant Chronicles, I’d like to think of it as what would happen if Tom Clancy and Larry Correia collaborated to write a futuristic urban fantasy series with strong espionage and counterterrorism elements.

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

Hexenhammer quite literally means ‘Hammer of the Witches’.

It’s also a reference to how the group (and Luke Landon) sees themselves: a hammer to crush the (metaphorical) witches threatening civilization.

A pity I couldn’t include a literal hammering, but that can wait for Book 4.

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

The entire series is a shadow war between good and evil — but the dividing line between the two quickly becomes blurred. To navigate these treacherous waters, and to keep his soul (and the souls of others) from falling into Hell, Luke Landon must develop a moral compass and stand true to his principles. I would like readers to understand the value of having firm ethical principles, of refusing to compromise with evil, and to understand that all actions have long-term repercussions.

A secondary message is that evil outcomes can arise from actions motivated by good intentions — and that good outcomes can also flow from evil actions.

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

No, but I drew many plot elements and technologies from current affairs and modern-day developments. These include the European migrant crisis, quantum computing, brain implants, fake news, and more.

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

Everyone I mentioned above as inspirations. They bring different strengths to the table: prose, plotting, characters, research, worldbuilding, and more. I study their stories to improve my own.

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

I don’t have any mentors. However, I am studying the business practices of Silver Empire, Chris Kennedy, Nick Cole, and Jason Anspach. Marketing is one of my weaknesses. I think these authors and publishers have an excellent grasp of marketing, and there is much to learn from them in this regard.

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

Scott Vigil. I didn’t select the illustrator; Castalia House did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Don’t stop until you’re done. Then, write some more. This is the secret to achieving your writing goals, whatever they may be.

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

Thank you for reading my books. Please look out for my upcoming stories Hollow City and Dungeon Samurai.

Hammer of the WitchesKai Wai Cheah
Singapore

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Hammer of the Witches

Cover Artist: Scott Vigil
Publisher: Castalia House

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Author Interview: Eileen Sharp

Author Eileen Sharp is a writer of inspiring fantasy who gets to the heart of what makes magic so appealing–the idea that we are extraordinary in some way, waiting to be discovered. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Eileen SharpA well-known psychology professor once said that creative people find their identities later than anyone else. Growing up I lived on both the east and west coasts so I developed a love for moving on and going to new places. It’s not escape exactly, maybe the cousin to escapism. I just really love the feeling that I’m opening a new chapter. After high school, I studied Journalism in college but decided to devote myself to my growing family after I got married. It was a good investment! My children are my best friends now and my grandchildren are these wonderous, funny beings that light my world.

After struggling so much to find my niche in the world I have grown fond of tarot cards, the magic 8-ball, fortune cookies and anything that will tell me my destiny–accuracy is not as important as being entertaining!

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was encouraged by my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Warner. If I finished my work early I was allowed to write short stories and she would give them back to me the next day to tell me how great they were. Who wouldn’t thrive after that kind of affirmation! I’d always loved reading, but after that, I loved writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

From the moment I wrote my first short story in middle school. After that, I paid attention to how stories are told and how many stories surround me every day. I’m a fiction writer but no matter how wild my imagination I’ve always found real life to be much more startling, engaging and unpredictable. If fiction manages to compete with real life then that is quite an accomplishment.

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

Cypher is in a science fiction setting but it’s really about a teenage boy with no memories of his past who doesn’t belong to anyone and has no home to call his own. A family with an only daughter adopts him and he becomes a part of their lives. Although he’s made peace with not having a past when his new family is threatened his ordinary identity begins to crack to reveal an extraordinary secret. It’s the story of a brother and sister and the power of loyalty.

What inspired you to write this book?

Just exploring loneliness, and what it would be like to not know you are and how love can change everything. No one is so strong that they don’t yearn for a place to belong.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m a concise writer but I also like to reveal honest emotions. I’ve always had a fascination for how different our emotions are in real life than how they are portrayed in most stories. There’s no soaring musical score in the background when your life crumbles or dramatic lighting when you meet your first love but it’s all still so powerful and overwhelming. Some of the most heart-wrenching moments in my life were experienced in complete silence. There were no words. Which isn’t to say I don’t think people talk to each other in those circumstances, but it’s usually not elegant at all. Few people spout poetry in their defining moments unless they’re Churchill or Maya Angelou. The rest of us just blurt things out but we really mean them–deeply. I like to capture the power of that authenticity when I can.

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

It describes Joshua–not only his situation but his secret past.

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

I didn’t write with a message in mind but if there’s a theme it’s that we all need to feel like we belong, and we all feel something when we see loneliness in someone else.

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

They weren’t based on real experiences but maybe similar emotions–hopefully universal ones that most people can relate to. Certainly family ties–that realization you have when you’ve been away from your family for a long time and when you reunite you suddenly realize how much more complete you are with them than you are with anyone else.

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

The most influential writer for me has always been Lloyd Alexander and close behind him is Madeline L’Engle. Lloyd Alexander had such a sweet, gentle warmth in his books–they just radiated wisdom, love and the idea that everyone is extraordinary, no matter who you are. I remember as a thirteen-year-old finishing the last book in the High King series and just laying there on my bed looking up at the ceiling, absolutely dazzled. I still am. I love those books! Madeline L’Engle made me feel the same way. I loved her worlds and her characters and the message. I think really good writing doesn’t intimidate you as a writer it makes you want to join them. If there’s a club for people who can make the world brighter, make someone else feel heroic, then I want to be in it.

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

I think my fellow indie writers are all my mentors because they persevere, they succeed, they keep going. Julianne Whicker, in particular, is my hero. She shares her life and her work and her process and that has really inspired me. I hope to catch up to her someday!

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

I worked with my graphic designer daughter on this cover–she’s got a killer instinct for design and she’s an extraordinarily skilled photographer. It was a really fun collaboration.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yeah, I don’t think I know enough to give anyone else advice but if anyone wants it I would say keep moving forward. The universe can’t open up for you if you don’t give it a try.

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

I love my readers! Thank you for being on this journey with me and I’m so excited for what’s ahead!

CYPHERFINALCOVEREileen Sharp
Idaho Falls, Idaho

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Cypher

Cover Artist: Lindsay Larsen

 

Author Interview: Seth Ring

Author Seth Ring is an up and coming science fiction writer.  I am pleased to feature him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Seth RingMy name is Seth Ring, I’m a writer based out of Pennsylvania, in the USA. I’m married and have two children. No pets right now, though I have ambitions to get a cat. I try to send my wife cute cat pictures whenever I can but no luck so far. I grew up moving around a lot and spent a good amount of the first half of my life overseas, in Ghana, West Africa. I also grew up without a TV, so for entertainment, I read constantly. I have a day job that supports my family and have only recently started releasing my writing into the world for other people.

When I started writing I released all of my stories as serial web novels for people to read for free. Around September of 2018, I transitioned to Patreon where I have a growing community of supporters who are interested in exploring the world of Nova Terra with me and the characters of my books. Rather than wait until my books are completely done, I post as I write to get feedback on how things are going. My patrons also get to contribute to the story by helping me decide how things will turn out.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing about three years ago as a way to help deal with my depression. As much as it might sound like it, I am in no way a tortured artist. Instead, I find that my stories come from a place of joy and deep gratefulness for what I have. The power of a story to transport the reader to a different, magical world is one that I find deeply satisfying. I try, as much as is possible, to produce that in my own writing. Writing, for me, has been a process of showing the hope that I feel. Our world can often look and feel broken, but there is hope in it and I want to share that with other people.

Ever since I was little I’ve loved exploring stories with other people and my writing is really just an extension of that.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer when people started discussing what a character was feeling in a story that I had put out on the internet. I had uploaded it on a whim, not expecting anything in particular, but a number of comments made me realize that the characters were good enough that people were able to invest. If a writer can create a character that people care about, then they are a writer in my head.

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

This past December (2018) I released the first book in the Nova Terra series, Nova Terra: Titan. It is part of the GameLit subgenre of Science Fiction and revolves around Xavier Lee, a young man with disabilities who is sent to live inside a virtual reality game called Nova Terra. As with all stories, the main character embarks on a journey of discovery to figure out his place in this world. The game’s setting is fantasy, so it is a fun blend of future tech and swinging swords. In my opinion, the most fun part of the story is the interactions between Thorn and the other players that he meets in Nova Terra.

I am also currently getting close to finishing Book #2 in the series and have already posted up through Chapter #23 on my Patreon. I don’t have a release date for Book #2 yet, but it should be coming out in the spring.

What inspired you to write this book?

A google search. I had been watching a documentary on the strongest men in the world and ran across the name of Robert Wadlow, who is considered the tallest man to have lived. Because of my background, I started wondering how a computer would treat someone that tall in a full-immersion virtual reality game. The rest wrote itself.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I find my descriptions tend to be short and to the point, not littered with extra words. I try, as much as possible, to show that the characters are real people, who react in real ways to their world. Last, I believe strongly that language should be evocative, bringing the feelings of the characters from the page into the mind of the reader.

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

Picking Nova Terra: Titan as my title was not intentional or even particularly well thought out. Instead, I had intended for this book to be a short story and was planning a series about the world that would be written with different main characters. I labeled the original manuscript Nova Terra: Titan to indicate who the main character is. Then, instead of moving on to a different story, my main character kept having more adventures. I plan on keeping the first two words for the next books so they will be titled Nova Terra: [something].

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

If I could convey one thing through my stories, it would be that no matter what your experiences, no matter how dark the world might seem, there is hope. Hope for life, hope for improvement, hope that things can be better. In a way, I feel that books naturally draw us into a different world where we can see the world clearly, where we can see the hope. Often in life, it is really hard to see through the fog created by our experiences and feelings. I just want to reassure my readers that there is life on the other side of that cloud. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl tells us that humans need a purpose to live and that without it we face nothing but oblivion. Hope is the vehicle that carries us from the present toward that purpose.

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

Partially. I wish I could answer with a resounding yes, but sadly, the technology for full-immersion VR does not yet exist. Maybe someday. However, it is important to realize that there is little fundamental difference in the human experience. We all suffer to varying degrees. We all have to deal with disappointment, with broken relationships, with difficult challenges. The emotion that my character’s feel is real in the sense that I have felt it before. I think that is what allows us to resonate with them and to understand their choices.

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

Growing up I read a lot of Louis L’amour and Georgette Heyer, two drastically different writers. Louis L’amour was a pulp western writer who was known for his short, clipped, action-focused writing and the way he showed the character of his heroes and villains rather than telling it. Very different from Louis L’amour, Georgette Heyer wrote the most wonderful Regency Romances. In fact, many credit Heyer for popularizing the genre. Heyer had a particular knack for writing out conversation that revealed the inner workings of her character’s minds without being obvious. Add to that my adoration of G. K. Chesterton’s ability to invoke feeling through language and you have my three biggest influences.

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

Absolutely, though writing is not something that he does full time. My father has always encouraged me to write the truth which was highly influential in how my writing style has developed. We can write difficult things, so long as they are true things. We can show the world for what it is, so long as we do not distort it for our own agenda. We can write about darkness so long as we show that light exists as well.

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

Originally, the cover for my book was put together by someone on one of the sites that I was using to post my book. However, they had used some images that were not available for reuse, so I took the cover to Fiverr and a lovely lady from Germany recreated it for me at a great price.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write every day. Come join the #5amWritersClub on twitter. If you have to work at 5 am, get up an hour earlier. Don’t worry about crafting something perfect, instead, write something silly. Write something that brings a smile to your face. Write something that sparks joy in you. If you enjoy it, you’ll do it. If you enjoy it, someone else will as well. Practice hard, practice often, and as you do your craft will get better and better.

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

I can’t stress how appreciative I am of their continued support. Especially those that have joined me on Patreon to explore Nova Terra. We’re having a lot of fun and it is adding a dimension of enjoyment to my writing that I never imagined could exist when I started writing.

New Terra - Titan Book CoverSeth Ring
Lancaster, PA

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Nova Terra: Titan

Cover Artist: GermanCreative

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