How to Survive in a Sci-Fi World – redux

I have been trawling through the archives a little bit recently, primarily to get ideas for a redesign, but also reminding myself that I actually can write, and that I used to kick ARSE at this blogging thing. During the history safari, I rediscovered a gem I originally posted back in 2006. I hate the thought of it languishing, unloved and unread, so in the spirit of all the remakes infecting our cinemas, I have brought it back to life. Slightly tweaked of course, because I would hate to be accused of rehashing content for the sake of it 😛

So without further gilding the lily, I bring you:

HOW TO SURVIVE IN A SCI-FI WORLD

Before we get to the fun stuff, a little background. I love sci-fi and fantasy, and have read and watched far too much over the years (according to friends and family that is. As far as I am concerned, bring it on!) All this has left me with a slightly, um, geeky, outlook on life, and more trivia than you can shake a moderately large stick at.

One thing that you would have to be fairly unperceptive not to have noticed, is the number of cliches that abound in this genre. Whilst watching Alien for the nth time with my brother, he yelled at the screen “don’t you realise, you never go back for the ships cat!” That stuck, and the idea transmogrified into what you see below. Kind of a beginners guide for the first-time heroine (or hero, I’m not picky. All the gender specific nouns I’ve used are interchangeable). Inspired by everything from the “classics” to the slightly more screwball, I hope they strike a cord, and you find at least a few funny. Do let me know, both what you think of these, and if you can think of more.

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99 Reasons Why… you love me as a blogger

99 REASONS WHY cover Remember those choose your own adventure stories from when you were a kid?
Ever wished you had more control over the ending of the story?

Well…

The ever-so-lovely Caroline Smailes has written a rather groovy book called “99 Reasons Why”, which can be purchased through Amazon and through iBooks. There’s no one ending to the story, instead there are nine possible outcomes which you can navigate through your ereading device. Each is different, and each exposes a little more of Kate’s utterly wonky world.

The Kindle edition will present the reader with three questions at Reason 88. These questions are entirely arbitrary, working much like a playground paper fortune-teller, to lead the reader to one of nine possible endings.
The iPad/iPod edition will present the reader with a spinning wheel at Reason 88. The reader will spin the wheel and be offered one of nine possible endings.

But wait, there is more! There are two additional endings. One will be given away online (guess where this post is going?) and the eleventh ending will be auctioned for charity.

Kate isn’t like most 22 year olds. She’s got a job to do for her Uncle Phil. Each day, she spies on The Kevin Keegan Day Nursery across the road from her bedroom window, writing down all of the comings and goings in her notebooks. That’s how she spots her little girl in the pink coat. She likes her, and it isn’t long before Kate asks her mum to steal the girl for her. Plans are made.
But then, quite unexpectedly, Kate flashes her breasts out her bedroom window at the little girl’s father. And that’s the reason why nothing will ever be the same again…

Read after the jump for the extra-special ending, free to you gorgeous Bright Meadow readers because I love you 🙂
And if you’re intrigued by that, why not go and buy the book? (I know I am).

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Haven’s Child

Haven’s child they called me. I was well into learning my letters before I realised that ‘haven’ was not always synonymous with bastard, foundling, unwanted.

I had a roof over my head with the schoolmaster, but I was always aware I was an outsider. A burden. Fortunate not to have been left to starve. By no means would you have called it a home. The local children sometimes deigned to play with me, but I was always picked last for the teams, after even the kid who couldn’t catch or run. There’s a school of thought that says you can’t miss what you’ve never had, but I knew – I knew the way I grew up was different to most others. I knew they would go home at night to parents who loved them. The master never hugged me, but I yearned for some friendly touch.

Not to give the impression I was neglected, or beaten, because I wasn’t. I was treated scrupulously fairly by the school owners who had adopted me as their duty. I was fed, clothed, taught right from wrong, given free run of the town library when it became obvious I hungered for the written word.

But never once was I congratulated for getting good grades. It was just expected off me. There was no one to turn to when the local kids taunted me with names. The good-wives of the district would whisper about me at gatherings, before staring pointedly in my direction.

No one ever told me what I had done to deserve such treatment. Just the act of being left as a mewling bundle in a cradle on the guesthouse doorstep after the travellers had passed through town, was enough to condemn me.

Gypsy-get. I had wanderers-blood in my veins, so there was no point in getting attached to me. One day I’d just be gone, like my people before me. No loyalty to any but my own kind, the gossiping wives would mutter darkly, crossing the street so their darling children would not be polluted by my touch. No matter that I looked like no Traveller ever had, with my thick, curling soft brown hair, honey-pale skin and storm grey eyes. I still looked different to the village stock of tall blondes, and sometimes that was enough.

When they could look past the colour of my skin, there was still the problem of my charity status. Living off the goodness of others endeared me to no one. The stigma was there; haven had been claimed for me. Whilst no one would dare deny the right of all of god’s creations to claim haven, our region had grown apart from following the older ways. Automatic, unthinking hospitality had decreased as the wealth of the area increased. Where once I might have been absorbed whole-heartedly into the community, considered no different than a native child, now I lived on sufferance. I shamed them as I walked among them. And that endeared me to the populous even less.

Everything changed the day the priest drove into town…

The bells

The only sound in the pre-dawn dark was the uneven drag of her footsteps on the ice-hard ground and the ragged huff of her breath as she kept to her punishing pace. Then the soft ring of the monastery bell rang through the frozen air, carrying the long distance across the woods. She stopped and waited, anxiously counting, desperately hoping it was just a call to prayer.

It rang a second time, and a third. A fourth.

At seven, she started to re-wrap the scarf around her face and bowed her head back into the wind.

Eight.

Nine.

And it rang on.

At 13 she knew, and all she could do was grasp her walking stick anew and keep going. Step, thump, drag. Step, thump, drag. Step, thump, drag. All she could do was walk and pray for a warm dawn to erase the tracks of her passage. Walk, and pray, and commend to a quick death the souls of those who, even now, were doomed to the inquisitors chair for their unwitting part in her escape.

The pack bounced gently on her back with each tortuous step and reminded her, as she ran the prayer beads through fingers numb with cold and exhaustion, of all that relied on her.

And through the gloom the bells kept ringing.

Fifteen.
Sixteen.

Fort

There’s this place we used to play, my brother and I.
A glorious fort of brambles, in a field of golden green.

There was a place we used to play, my brother and I.
A fairy palace of thorns, in a lake of waving grass.

I remember a place we used to play, my brother and I.
A sanctuary from our childhood, a space away from home.

There’s a place I wish we could find again, my brother and I.
A refuge from our lives now, a haven where we talk.

Spring

Toes in the grass,
Face in the sun.
You can do anything,
Be anyone.

The potential is there, for those
Who might look.
A green shoot from the earth.
A fast flowing brook.

Time to wake from the pall
Winter has cast.
Move onwards my friend,
And reach for the stars.

Name and Shame

There is clearly nothing for it but to name and shame. Time over time, it is made clear to me, that if I don’t have some kind of stick poking me I’m (1) never going to get back into the blogging groove and, perhaps more importantly, (2) I’m never going to knuckle down and finish the story I’ve been yabbering about for so long now.

So here goes.

Words written this week = 300 (total word count = 300 approx).
I’m starting from the beginning again. I’ve written a lot more over the last six months, but it’s all in the way of prep work. There’s nothing like discovering 20,000 words in, that your main character is a douche bag you would cheerfully push off the Clifton Suspension bridge to really put a spanner in the works! Still, at least I’ve worked through that particular problem now.

Because I work best with a deadline, RugbyLass has given me one: she wants to read a first draft (or 80% of one at least) by the end of October. I’ll give it a go… Which means:
Days till the end of October = 50.
Eek! If I’m ball-parking 100K words, that’s 2000 words a day!?!!??!?!?!!! Or if I’m going for 80%, that’s 1,600 words a day. Sigh. I wish I hadn’t just worked that out. So I am perfectly capable of bashing out 5,000 word blog posts in an evening, but doing that night after night? Even if I’m going to settle for giving RugbyLass just half a book, I still need to be spewing out 1,000 words a day. More to the point, those 1,000 words need to be well written words.

I’m stopping working it out now, because it is just depressing me. A little while back, I had a goal of 500 words a day. That seems a little bit more doable? But if I am supposed to be hitting this deadline, what am I doing wasting time blogging?!

Characters in the book who are fully fleshed out with back story = 6.
That is, six I am sure of right now. The way things are going, their back stories are sure to shift some over the coming months. You think you’ve given them cast iron motivation and then, they rebel.

Characters still to fully give a back story to = 4
Though this number will grow I am sure. Characters keep popping in to say “hello!” and never end up leaving, like the house-guests from hell. There’s one in particular who was only meant to be a name in a back story, but all of a sudden I have had to rewrite the entire introduction just to give him a chapter in which to shine. The blonde sod (I love him to bits and pieces, he deserves a book all of his own!)

Characters who have changed their name = 3
And counting. I expect all of them will have changed their name at least once more by the time I’m finished. Right now, our cast of characters includes Ishabel, Thaniel Bengiaric, Pirael Giacomo, Nahen, Jariel, Kriss, Rofan, Kirk and Artosi. There’s more, but they’re the main suspects. Where’s Luk in all of this? He took a swan dive off a high bridge, sorry.

Place names fixed = er, 1.
I have place-holder names for all the main locations, but they are going to need some major tweaking before I am happy. I am fairly fixed on the actual geography though, even going so far as to have drawn a map to help keep it all straight.

Lost siblings to give the plot drive and focus = 1.
I’d be quite happy to have this number at zero, because lost-sibling is a bit of a fantasy cliche, but cliches are cliches for a reason I suppose.

And to have some non-writing counting:

Times got the bus this week = 10.
The aim is for it to be no more than 4. I’ve fallen off the exercise/healthy eating wagon BIG time and I’ve got less than a year till the Big Bruv’s wedding, so it’s time to kick some flabby butt. My flabby butt.

Muffins from the staff canteen had for breakfast = 2.
This should be ZERO (or one at the outside). Followed by…

Flapjacks had from the staff canteen = 3.
This should ALSO be zero (or one if it’s been a really tough week).

Books read this week = 6
Aren’t local libraries just great?

Which brings us to the end of our counting spree. For the purposes of the blog, the ‘week’ will run Friday-Thursday. You can expect one of these recap posts at the end of each week. I’m also going to aim for a few other posts scattered throughout the week. We’ll see what happens. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Bright Meadow just yet, but there’s no denying it is getting harder and harder to stay fresh and interesting. Jump into the comments, peeps, help me bring back the magic! BM was always more than just me – we can’t all have decamped to Twitter!

~Cxxx~