Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Free story idea – Wild Powers

I have a lot of ideas for stories.  Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all.  I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them.  I’ll just never get a chance to.  So, I give them to the world.  If you can make something of these, go right ahead.  And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.

Wild Powers

I was watching a movie where it was a world much like ours, but there were superheroes.  They had been around for several decades, but the world was still much like ours.  The movie wasn’t that great and my mind was wondering and I started wondering how history would have changed if people with superpowers had been around.  Like, if there had been super strong people who could pick up a rock the size of a bowling ball and throw it a mile that would have changed the course of military tactics.  If the Crusaders had some of these human artillery, could they have kept Jerusalem, altering the history of the Middle East?  Or what if when some European ships arrived at some place to pillage and enslave, a native who could throw fire stepped out and burned their ships to the waterline?  People with superpowers would drastically change history.

So my idea is that around the year 1000, people around the world gained superpowers.  It wasn’t so common like one out of every hundred people, but it wasn’t so rare like one out of every million.  These powers are rather basic: super strength, throwing fire, throwing ice, indestructible skin, and flight.  There may be others, but I haven’t really thought about it.  People only get one, and it usually shows up around puberty. 

At first, people with powers were hunted down and murdered for being demons or dark spirits or whatever.  Some manage to escape and become outlaws.  If they get some followers they may become warlords.  If they are successful warlords, they may carve out their own little kingdom.  And when a powered person becomes king three kingdoms over, you might stop burning yours at the stake so you could have some to defend your kingdom.  Over the centuries, you end up with new kingdoms with powered royalty.  And in Europe – which I know the history of better than other places – Christianity is reworked so that powered people are no longer seen as demons. 

The people at the time don’t understand the genetics of everything, but they quickly find out that if a powered person has a child with an unpowered person, there’s a 50-50 chance the kid will have powers.  But if two powered people have a child, then it’s more like 95%.  And there’s no telling what powers the kid will have: two fliers could have an ice thrower.  So what develops is the powered king has a powered queen so there is a powered heir, but there are also a couple of, usually powered, concubines to give other sons.  All the powered sons get training and equipment and become special forces knights separate from the common, unpowered, foot soldiers.  Powered daughters are married off to form alliances.

So that’s the backstory.  The main story starts in the spring of about 1400 in the middle-south of what would have been France, but is now split up in various new kingdoms.  There is a young woman I’ll call A who I’d prefer to be 18, but would more likely be a historically accurate 15.  She lives on a small farm on the edge of some village.  Her mother died years ago, and her father died over the winter.  She tells the villagers that before he died her father wrote to a cousin four or five villages over to come take over the farm, but he hasn’t shown up yet.

One morning A is going to the field when she finds – what she thinks – is a young man lying in the field who has a long sword cut on his back.  She takes him back to her hut and when she takes his clothes off to clean the wound, she finds that it’s actually a young woman.  This is B, and is about the same age as A.  She wakes up long enough to command A not to tell anyone she is there. 

When B comes to later, she says that since she is powered – she’s a flier – this peasant should just do as she says.  A isn’t thrilled with this, but can’t really do anything.  So they get on each other’s nerves for a couple of days, and then there’s a big storm.  Maybe A finally has enough and goes out, and B follows her.  A tree was blown over, and B sees A just pick it up and toss it.  A is a wild power.  B asks A why she never revealed herself, and A says that her father warned her against being some lord’s broodmare. 

Realizing A isn’t just some peasant, B tells her tale.  She is the princess of some small kingdom.  She was to be married off in some grand alliance, but then her father and brother both became ill and died.  So the crown went to her half-brother from one of her father’s concubines, a guy who had always creeped her out.  We’ll call him D.  D comes to B and says that if they were married, that would secure his position on the throne.  B doesn’t care for this idea, and D flies into a rage, rapes her, and then casually states that he poisoned the king and prince.  So B flees, but D sends other fliers after her.  One attacks her and cuts her, but she managed to stab him in the heart and fly on for another twenty minutes or so.  Her plan is to eventually make it to Sicily, and says that A should come with her.

In this alternate history of Sicily, the warlord who took over the island was a woman.  She was a fire thrower and took part in many battles.  This gave her the idea that men and women – at least powered ones – were more equal than genuinely thought at the time.  Given that the other kingdoms in Italy and around the Mediterranean weren’t too keen on this uppity woman with her radical ideas, Sicily was attacked and invaded several times.  So the Sicilians fortified the island and they really worked on their human artillery to the point any strange ship that got within two miles of the shore would be pelted with fist-sized rocks. 

Over the centuries, a sort of Cold War has settled over Sicily and the nearby kingdoms.  To stay strong, the Sicilians become a big merchant power, with ships trading all sorts of goods all across the Mediterranean.  It has become widely known that any Sicilian ship is bound to take any powered person who asks to Sicily, which has been portrayed as a haven for powered people.

Once B fully heals, she should be able to fly herself and A to the coast, in short hops.  Not knowing exactly where Sicily is, B doesn’t want to fly there, so they’ll have to find a ship.  At first A isn’t all that sure, leaving her home and all that, but B asks what happens when this “cousin” never shows up.  A doesn’t know, and reluctantly agrees to go.

A day or so later, A is in the field and someone comes to the hut.  B says that she’s a cousin come to visit, but isn’t feeling well.  The man says that he’s the tax collector, and B says that she’ll let A know.  But when A comes back, she says that it’s the wrong time for the tax collector to come around, and figures they are looking for B.  They hurriedly pack some stuff, and start walking to the coast. 

But before they get too far, a couple of fliers bring in D (he has impenetrable skin).  He ignores A and starts monologuing to B.  But after he tells her all the horrific things he – and his henchmen – will do to her, A steps up and just snaps the fliers in half.  B then grabs D and flies him straight up half a mile or so, and then drops him.

The struggle of flying rips open B’s wound, so A carries her through the night to get away from the bloody scene.  Unsure if they’ll be followed, they spend the next several days running at night and hiding by day. 

There is a chance that one rainy day, while hiding in a barn maybe, they snuggle together for warmth, and one thing leads to another.  It’s possible that B – basically destined to just be a concubine – had been instructed on how best to please a man.  And probably instructed on how to please herself once the man was asleep.  Not a necessary part of the story, but you can’t go wrong with lesbians.

Anyway, after a long journey they make it to a harbor and find a Sicilian boat.  At some point on the journey, B realizes that she’s pregnant.  You can go wrong with a pregnant, incest, rape victim, but this might be a necessary part of the story.  I only have like the first half of the story, where it actually goes will depend on who finishes it.

So they get to Sicily and A is sent to train.  I have the image of an old, battered ship sitting in a field somewhere and the trainees are a mile or so from it throwing rocks.  They throw ten rocks, then a bunch of young fliers go in to pick them up and bring them back.  I see two teenage fliers with a harness flying these rocks back as practice for when they’ll fly people.  Once A can hit the ship nine times out of ten, they’ll start working on increasing her range and stuff.

The idea I had is that Sicily isn’t as great as it sounds.  There are still some unpowered people there, but they are a second class citizen and they’re being breed out of existence.  A couple of generations ago, the ruler had the idea of instead of just having powered knights and an unpowered army, what if they had a powered army?  So they bring in any powered person they can, and the idea is that in a decade or so they should have enough to storm the Italian mainland and forge a Sicilian Empire.  Maybe there’s a place in this for a bastard, incest, heir to a small French kingdom?

And that’s my idea.  I’m sure I could think of somewhere to go with this, but the point of these Free Story Ideas is to put them aside and work on things I can actually get to.  One last point I will make is on the issue of how convenient it was for B to land in the field of another powered person.  But what if it wasn’t?  What if, it was more 50-50?  What if there were a lot of powered people out in the country that just didn’t want to deal with all the powered crap, so they stay hidden.  Sometimes, powered parents would still have an unpowered child.  For some families they might still find a role for them, but others might just kick them.  They wander around, maybe settle down, and their grandkids end up as wild powers.  Which might mean that the unpowered foot soldiers the Sicilians expect to fight, won’t be as unpowered as they thought.  Something to think about.  And if you have an answer, then congratulations, you have an idea for a novel, or series of novels.  Get writing.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Moon landing sale!

I am a big supporter of returning to the moon; I think it’s our best way of becoming a spacefaring civilization.  And even though it happened before I was born, I love Apollo 11, even thinking that July 20th should be a holiday.  So to mark this year’s anniversary, I’m having a sale on four of my ebooks.  Two of them deal with the moon, but I’m including the other two as a bonus.  So between Sunday July 18th and Thursday July 22nd, you’ll be able to get the following four ebooks for free.

The Moon Before Mars

 


Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.

A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories

 


Hopefully, in the not too distant future humans will return to the moon. We will build bases and colonies, make farms and factories, and live, love and learn. A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories contains five short stories that are all set upon the moon. They give the tiniest glimpse of the possibilities awaiting us there.

Lonely Phoenix

 


Partway to a new colony world, board member Geoffrey Ames is woken from hibernation by the caretaking crew of the Lucian. They require him to look into the matter of their fellow crewman Morgan Heller. Morgan’s claims – such as being over 1500 years old – would normally land him in the psychiatric ward, except he can back up some of his other claims.

Brain for Rent and other stories

 


Brain for Rent and other stories is a collection of five of my short scifi stories to give a sampling of my writing. The collection includes: “Brain for Rent” about a ne’re-do-well failed writer with a conceptual implant who discusses his work with a young woman thinking of getting an implant herself. “The Demonstration” is about a different young woman wanting to show off her latest body modification. “Self Imprisonment” offers one solution of safe keeping the backup copy of yourself. “The Best Job Ever” is about a necessary – yet unpleasant – human/alien interaction. And the collection ends with “Why Stay?” which explains why, after years of fighting the humans, the robots just deactivate.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Judge a book by its cover

I have an idea for a book app.  Authors upload an image of their book’s cover, and readers get to go through them.  If the reader doesn’t like the cover, they swipe left.  But if they find the cover interesting, they swipe right, which opens up a page with the blurb as well as links to buy it. 

So if you know how to make an app, there you go.  Or if this already exists, let me know.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Fourth of July Sale!

For the last several years, I’ve had a free sale for my ebook of political stories, Political Pies, around the Fourth of July.  Normally, I’d just have one ebook free at a time, but last year I started doing big sales with four or five at a time, which seemed to work better.  So here are the four ebooks that will be free to download from Thursday July 1st, through Monday July 5th.  So grab them before you get too drunk.

Political Pies

 


Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into this anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.

The Future is Coming

 


As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

Duty

 


Who cleans up the mess when the time machine malfunctions?

Rise

 


“Rise” is a standalone story set in my Human Republic Universe. The story follows the events after the tragic deaths of the colonists on a small colony in a distant star system.

Writing Newsletter Second Quarter 2021

 

Towards the end of last year, I decided to restart posting a quarterly newsletter.  I unfortunately completely forgot about doing it for the first quarter of this year until about a week into April.  At first I was going to do one – better late than never – but then I realized that I didn’t really have anything to talk about, so there wasn’t much point.

To be honest, there isn’t much to talk about for the first half of this year.  Back in January I posted My writing goals of 2021.  One of my goals was to work on some short stories, and I have finished a rough draft of a story “Being First.” My plan for it is to wait a few months, then go back with fresh eyes and give it a heavy revision, and hopefully by the end of the year start sending it out.  So stay tuned for more on that.

And that’s about it.  I am trying to blog more, but it seems between job work, house work, yard work, garden work, etc. work, I don’t have the energy to write.  I do have some time, but it seems all I can do is just watch YouTube.  Hopefully, I’ll get more done in the next three months.  And I’ll remember to put up a newsletter.

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Image from Pixabay.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Random Writing Tips – Social commentary


I had the idea for this post some time ago, and at first it was going to be pretty lighthearted.  But as I thought about it, it took more and more serious turns, until I wasn’t sure what I was trying to say.  Hopefully, this tenth or so version will make some sense.

We all have ideas on politics, or religion, or whatever, and as writers there is the temptation to use the platform of our writing to spread these ideas, even if they don’t necessarily fit the story.  This is a broad definition of social commentary.  But one person’s social commentary is another person’s ideological screed.  Years ago there was a show coming out that didn’t really look interesting to me.  But then one day Twitter exploded with people talking about an episode and how brave they were to “go there.” So out of curiosity, I started watching the show.  It wasn’t really for me and when I got to “the” episode, I couldn’t even finish it.  Because to me the social commentary felt so ham-fisted that it felt like I was being beat with the whole pig.  Don’t get me wrong, the issue they brought up is important, but it was like going in to have the oil in your car changed only for them to start repainting it.  Yes, it needed done, but it wasn’t what I signed up for today.

Social commentary is great when it works, but it is so easy for it to not work.  And I think the easiest way for it to not work is to try to do too much with it, or to make too big a deal of it.  Stories are like meals.  While some are fine with plain fare, most readers/watchers want their stories seasoned with some clever writing.  And if the writer wishes to garnish it with a bit of social commentary, that’s fine, although some will just push it to the side of the plate.  I think the reason social commentary often has a bit of a negative connotation, is because writers are afraid of being too subtle and their message being missed by the public, so they go superliminal

So if you feel the need to add some social commentary to your writing, remember, it’s best as seasoning.  Some might miss it, but if you add too much, you’ll probably annoy more people, which kind of defeats the purpose.

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Image from Pixabay.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Random Writing Tips – The Memory Sock


How often has this happened to you?  You’ve had a long day at work or dealing with your kids or whatever, and you snuggle down into your blankets, and just as your about to drift off to sleep your brain finally figures out the last puzzle piece that ties your novel together.  Do you assume that the idea is so profound you’ll clearly remember it in the morning, or do you get up, find some paper and a pen, and make a quick note? 

I used to get a lot of story ideas as I was falling asleep or I’d wake up in the middle of the night from a dream that – in my sleep addled state – I thought would make a great story.  For a while I’d grab a notepad I kept by my bed and – in the dark – make marks on the page which I’d hopefully be able to read in the morning.  Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn’t.  But sometimes it worked not because I was able to read what I had written, but because it would remind me that I had had an idea, and that would cause me to remember it.  So I simplified matters and started using a Memory Sock.  This was just an old sock I’d leave lying next to my bed.  If I had an idea, I’d just reach down, feel around on the floor until I found the sock, and just toss it towards the middle of the room.  The next morning I’d get up, find the sock in the middle of the room and that, usually, would jog the memory of the idea.  This whole idea is to use something out of place to force you to remember something.  My current version of the “Memory Sock” is to take the TV remote that is on the stand next to my bed and just set it on the floor. 

The Memory Sock may not work for you, and you may lose an idea for the next, great, American novel, but by not overly disturbing your rest you may get a more restful sleep.  And some days, it’s a tough call and which you’d want more.

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Image from Pixabay.