The Aberrant Storage Site

green-shed-in-trees

“No,” Major Jennings ordered, “Don’t go near that.”

I stopped, not being one to question, but I ached to know why. The box was covered in vines, surrounded by trees, as if it hadn’t been touched in a long time. If I were going to work at this Aberrant Storage Site (or ASS, as military personnel were inevitably going to dub it), shouldn’t I know what was going on?

I swallowed a bit of fear. “Who’s in charge of this, then?”

“No one,” Jennings answered. “There are reports from 1962 that say some men captured a thing – creature, artifact, it’s not clear – and started doing it’s bidding. Soldiers disappeared, guns were found in strange places, and inscrutable symbols were carved into the sides of the barracks.”

“So?” I asked.

“Eventually, the group of men in charge of the object started bleeding themselves and collecting it in a barrack bathtub. The Base Commander at the time was appalled and put them in prison, but they kept bleeding then used the blood to write strange words all over their cell walls. Orders meant nothing to them, food or friends didn’t either. He ended up having them executed out by the hangar, then burned the corpses off site. They sealed whatever it was in this lead-lined box, and standing orders have been to shoot anyone who gets too close.”

I hadn’t expected something like this. “So, how close do you think the brainwashed soldiers came to fulfilling the thing’s goal?”

Jennings shrugged. “Unclear. It’s even possible they succeeded.” He pulled something out of his pocket. “Werther’s Original?”

Divider

This was written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73. I saw this picture and just couldn’t resist.

 

Master of the Sea

seaside

A slender hand helped him spew water from his lungs.  “It is good you lived, but I’m afraid your countrymen died.”  Her queenly presence was clothed in radiant stones from the ocean, her hair glistened with sea mist.

She had a fin in place of legs and loose webs between long fingers.

“She was a good ship… and my friends were good sailors.” The man shook as tears welled in his eyes.

“Before the storm, you said you were masters of the sea?”

“Why not?  His Majesty’s navy is the world’s finest.”

She flicked her tail and swam away.

***

This was written for the Carrot Ranch prompt, ‘sea mist.’  I thought it was such a calm, poetic prompt, so I had to turn it into something about colonization and naval supremacy.  Mer-folk used to laugh at our clumsy ships, but now the coral and ocean life is dying thanks to climate change, looks like we both lose!

The Steppe Resistance

Retreat was always the deadly part.

The generals had decided that the battle was lost, and I could agree with them.  When I noticed the chariots on our flanks, I knew the Steppe tribesman had us beat.  Their expertise on horseback – how could any man ride like that?! – as well as with the bow made them a fearful power to behold.

I marched with all my power.  My sword was in its sheath so I could go faster, but I didn’t want to leave my cousin Nahim behind.  He moved more slowly as he carried his bow.

An arrow hit me in the leg.  I fell, and the men behind me parted – but not well enough.  A couple tripped while I cried out.  A man on horseback came immediately after.

He aimed between my eyes.

***

This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend writing prompt, ‘Arrow.’  This was also inspired by the Dan Carlin podcast, “Kings of Kings,” which was about ancient middle eastern warfare.  I was impressed at the defensive capabilities of the Steppe tribesmen and their legendary use of cavalry and bows.

Hints for Finishing Your Novel

If you’re struggling to focus or finish a novel, this post is for you.  I have multiple works in progress (which, as I’ve learned in my brief-and-possibly-ill-fated stint on Tumblr, are called WIPs), and often I find it hard to focus on any one of them.  Even so, I’ve succeeded in completing 16 novels, rewriting several of them, and publishing 2 of the shorter (and thus not traditionally publishable) ones on this blog.  It’s definitely possible to have many projects going and still finish a LOT of them.

Here’s some hints to successful multitasking.

Figure Out Your Goals

Just as important as what you’re writing is why you’re writing.

Squidward Life Goals

Add immortality serum and a Bugatti Veyron and we’re all set.

If you are or recently became a full-time writer, your stresses are entirely different from those of a hobby writer.  The benefit you get over the hobby writer is the ability to  hone your craft and improve much more quickly; without dedication to another job or method of making money, you will necessarily mature as a writer.  It also means that you have deadlines and must publish or perish.  For you, motivational articles probably don’t help.  At best, they’ll sound like a Wiki-level expert preaching to the professor.  Some of this article may help you, but most of it you probably already surpassed.

For the rest of you – do you want to publish?  If so, traditionally or self-published?  Do you have a time frame you need to meet, like ‘before I get married’or ‘before I graduate’?  These questions help you set goals.  If you want to publish, you can set goals for when you want or need a chapter done by.  If publishing isn’t in your future, you can set your pace based solely on self-fulfilment.

Once you’ve got a goal, you can break that goal down to steps and finish them.  The smaller the steps, the littler the objects you get to check off your to-do list, the better.

Find Out Where You Slow Down

I have a couple friends who write together.  Their work and ideas are fantastic, top notch, but they have an awful time writing the spaces between the exciting bits. To get around this, they have a process dubbed ‘Tarantinoing’ wherein they go back and fill in the middle parts when they realize they can no longer proceed without them.

For myself, I slow down near the end.  When I realize everything is set up to head to the climax and I kind of know where the story is going, I start thinking about the next project.  The desire to think about something new and creative allures me.

For me and my friends, we have to struggle and push through the hard parts.  Everyone has a beast to tackle in the process, otherwise everyone would do it.  Knowing where you struggle can help you realize when the urge to quit rumbles through and why.  It can also help you form strategies to keep going.

Know When to Quit a Project

Sometimes, you have to know when to put a work down and start another.

bullhorn

There are plenty of reasons, and it’s ok to use any of them.  Some I have used:

  • I need to keep my job.
  • One time, I realized about 60k words in that my story had no plot. It was just an endless pile of worldbuilding. I decided to quit (for now) until I came up with one.
  • I realized a book wasn’t marketable, so I stopped the editing/rewrite process.  I am still very glad I finished this mass of work, and I still think it’s a good story, but why waste my time editing something that no one else will read?
  • I had a trans character and decided it would be impossible to publish OR share with friends OR do right by the trans community.  It frustrated me, so I quit.
  • I once gave up on a story because I didn’t have good villain motivations.

There is only one excuse from you that I will not tolerate from myself or anyone else: quitting because someone tells you it’s bad.  Nothing is bad, just on its way to getting better.  People are mean, so shut out trolls if you must.  Write for your goals, for your enjoyment, and forgive yourself when they’re not met.  If other people make writing less fun, don’t give up writing – find new people.