Moonrise CH16 – Frustrating Situations

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[1050 words – Inspiration Monday, Three Word Wednesday, Sunday Scribblings 2]

* * *

Major Jacob Globe, who preferred Doctor over Major, watched the live body cam footage from his Special Weapons and Tactics team. The stream wasn’t secured by technology, but by a super whose power involved the electrical manipulation of data. The young girl was one of the notorious and most feared hackers in many years. In a world ruled by information, those that could control those little ones and zeroes controlled it all.

Now that the young woman had been brought into the fold of Globe’s new organization, she was free to tap into her powers. He insisted on a rigorous training schedule to mold her into the perfect stealth hacker. One of his supers implanted memories into her mind that compelled her to be loyal to Globe.

Another super painstakingly hid what was done to the young woman, and yet another made sure she slept peacefully at night, sleeping in a clean room devoid of any electronics or even electricity for that matter.

Globe sighed. He was weary from all the subterfuge, and he hated being constantly reminded that he had to rely on them to move his agenda forward. He was an anxiety hurricane. He rarely referred to his hacker by her old number, 337, but by a name that he liked, and had its history implanted into her mind. Yes, he had great plans for the radiant girl called Sindi.

He had no qualms about using the supers for his own purposes. Still, he wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but the events of the last few days left him a little queasy. He recited the old adage like a mantra: To make an omelet, you had to crack a few eggs.

He smiled. No doubt if Anne were there she would berate him for saying it wrong, or regale him with some long boring story about how the saying had been corrupted over the years and was originally this or that. Globe exhaled. That woman is trying on so many levels, he thought.

He saw the dejected police detective burrow a finger into Batiste’s chest just below the spy cam. Globe smiled at the detective’s response when Batiste slapped the finger away. As Batiste turned to issue orders, Globe pressed a few keys on his keyboard. The screen switched from the operation in Madison Park to the lab hidden under so may layers of concrete, if the world ended tomorrow, the lab and cockroaches would be the only survivors.

The origin of all his newfound success lay on two gurneys. Peter and Kristof were still ensconced in wires, sensors, IVs and other medical apparatus, but the list of those who had access to them kept getting bigger and bigger. Globe sighed again.

Denisha’s pleasant face filled the monitor after Globe entered another key sequence into his keyboard. She wasn’t aware that Globe had extricated himself and the entire organization from the purview of the Army. He was satisfied with that arrangement, even if he had to handle Denisha’s father with kid gloves. He hoped that that leverage was something he didn’t need to use. He rather liked Densha.
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Time Lock, by Christopher L. Bennett

Time Lock

The dedicated agents of the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations have their work cut out for them protecting the course of history from the dangers of time travel. But the galaxy is littered with artifacts that, in the wrong hands, could threaten reality. One of the DTI’s most crucial jobs is to track down these objects and lock them safely away in the Federation’s most secret and secure facility. As it happens, Agent Gariff Lucsly and his supervisor, DTI director Laarin Andos, are charged with handling a mysterious space-time portal device discovered by Starfleet. But this device turns out to be a Trojan horse, linking to a pocket dimension and a dangerous group of raiders determined to steal some of the most powerful temporal artifacts ever known…

Anytime I see a Star Trek story on NetGalley, I request it. Star Trek is my gert lush. (See Sarah, I used your regional British slang!) I usually wait until it’s closer to a book release to read and review, but I needed my Trek fix.

The Good: The regular cast members from the shows have done just about everything under the sun. It’s nice to read a Star Trek story that isn’t the main cast. Sometimes, the limitations of the main characters make for ho-hum stories. It’s refreshing to read new characters in a universe that I’m already familiar with. The author can do pretty much anything they want.

The Bad: This is another of those continuing Star Trek sagas. I think this is the fourth DTI story. There were lots of references to events in what I presume are the first three stories. They’re not required reading, and I was able to follow the story just fine. The villains in this story were one-dimensional and clichéd. That was disappointing.

The Ugly: This is just another Star Trek story. Nothing earth-shattering, which is a common issue with a fifty-year-old franchise. This felt like another TV episode. And why was this story branded DS9? There didn’t seem to be any connection to DS9 at all, except that two of the characters’ first appearance was the time-travelling tribble episode on DS9.

The Final Word: Star Trek fans will enjoy another romp into the franchise universe. This is a 3.5-star read, and I’d be interested in reading the previous DTI stories, and any new ones that happen in the future.

Christopher Bennett

At the age of five and a half, Christopher L. Bennett saw his first episode of Star Trek, believing it to be a show about a strange airplane that only flew at night. As he continued watching, he discovered what those points of light in the sky really were. This awakened a lifelong fascination with space, science and speculative fiction. He devoured Asimov, Clarke, and books on astronomy and physics. He often made up Trek-universe stories set a century after Kirk’s adventures (an idea years ahead of its time), but soon shifted to creating his own original universe. He eventually realized he did this pretty well, and deluded himself into thinking he could make a career out of it. So far, that delusion has been working out for him…

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Days Until Home, a retrospective

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Twenty-one weeks, twenty-one chapters. Three authors in three different time zones. The Days Until Home collaborative web serial ended last week. I asked David and Greg to jot down a few thoughts on the project and I added my own two cents. You know, the standard stuff: what we enjoyed, what vexed us, and how the collaborative process was different than our normal writing process. Since the chapters went David, Greg, Mark, I’ve ordered our responses in the same way.

* * *

I’ve worked on collaborative projects before. Danny McAleese and I started the hit new Choose Your Own Adventure-style series Ultimate Ending, where readers make decisions for the character throughout the book and reach endings based on their decisions. However, the [Ultimate Ending] collaboration is more strategic than tactical: Danny writes a book, then I write a book, alternating back and forth and giving each other feedback and ideas. Aside from beta reading and general criticism, each book is either his or mine.

The collaboration on Days Until Home was an entirely different experience. Alternating chapters is simple enough in concept but adds a new dimension to the writing in a lot of different ways.

First, there was very little outlining. Mark, Greg and I wrote down a super rough idea of things at the start, but it was just a guideline to estimate how long the project would be, as opposed to an outline to follow. I’m normally a big outliner, creating outlines that are dozens of pages long, so this was a new (and fun!) experience for me. Each chapter was written mostly on the fly, seeing where it would take me. Near the end of the project the three of us ran some ideas by one-another a bit more, which was necessary since we were hitting the climax, but most of the book was written more-or-less blind.

Second, the goal of each chapter was slightly different. On normal projects I’m always thinking about what’s next: what’s going to happen next paragraph? Next page? Next chapter? Days Until Home always had a big blank space just ahead, since Mark and Greg would be writing the next two chapters before I had my turn again. So instead of setting up my own plots, I felt like I was playing a game of volleyball, constantly setting the ball so one of them could spike it. I really enjoyed this part of the project because it allowed me to “let things go” that I would otherwise obsess over. Normally I’d be focusing on every little detail to make sure everything is consistent and makes sense, or is perfectly explained. This project allowed me to let go of some of those details, “setting” the ball for Mark or Greg instead.

Finally, the biggest part of this project was not knowing where my writing comrades would take things. I would be brainstorming one thing, and then Mark or Greg would drop a big fat (and awesome) new plot that I’d need to work with. As a writer, this was a fun new challenge. There were times when something they wrote screwed with one of my ideas, and I’m sure there were parts I wrote that messed them up, but that forced us to be more creative and work together.

I had a blast working on this project. Writing once every three weeks helped me avoid writing fatigue, so I was always excited to work on the project when one of my chapters was due. Mark and Greg are great guys who I’d be honored to work with in the future. Check out their other published work if you haven’t already!

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Moonrise CH15 – Takeover

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[1065 words – Prompts: Terribleminds, #3WW, Inspiration Monday, Sunday Scribblings 2 & The Writing Reader]

As Felix backed out of the scene, Massey heard his name being called. He scanned the crowd to find Andy pushing through the journalists, waving his hand at him. Massey cursed under his breath but gestured to the officers to let him under the line.

“I thought I told you to stay in the car and keep an eye on Joaquin.”

“Joaquin’s a big boy he can take care of himself. Besides, I have this.” Andy waved the press pass at his face.

“You do know I can bust you in for impersonating a reporter, right Mr. Kitz?”

Andy smiled at him. “But you won’t, Detective because you need me more than you want to admit. I know you didn’t drag me along all the way here just to sit in a car.”

Massey put his hands akimbo. “How’s that then?”

Andy took a few photos, the eloquent machinations of his camera adding nothing to the scene. He turned to face Massey again. With a nebulous wave of his hand, Andy said, “This is something you don’t see every day. I’m willing to bet that these people will be the first of many innocent casualties. We’re witnessing the uprising of something scarier than a mere civil war Detective, and I have the means to help fight it.”

Massey nodded for him to continue.

“I think you forget about my line of work, Detective. My tracking system is very efficient. Anything out of the ordinary that goes out in this city, any possible supers sighting real or fake, I have photographed, recorded and documented. My network is small, but it’s resourceful and capable of tracking supers. If you were to give me Miles Jensen’s file I might be able to scavenge the SuperHub and find out more about him.”

“Can you tell through your ‘SuperHub’ whether Miles was capable of killing these people?” Massey asked, a small hope rising in his voice.

“There’s a good chance, yes. We’ve written an algorithm that can predict the growth of the supers’ power or the opposite: its decline based on their demonstrations throughout the city. If there’s anything on Miles Jensen in there, it’ll help determine whether he did this or he’s innocent.”

Massey counted the possible entry points to the park. There were too many alleys, too many hidden spots. At this hour in the day it was practically empty save for the poor mothers and their children and the occasional joggers. It would be nearly impossible to find Miles on the tapes. It was possible more witnesses were going to come forth, but that could take days.

“I’ll get you the profile and bring it to your place later today.”

“Detective Massey! Detective Massey!” Frank looked up to see Officer Patterson out of breath rushing to keep up with two suited men leading a small envoy of SWAT officers. They were given space and allowed through the yellow tape and the barricades.
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Joel Cotejar Moonrise art

Hey, Sixteen Sunsets and Moonrise fans! Here is a high-resolution image of the beautiful Joel Cotejar art for Moonrise. The title and frame are removed so you can get your art on. Click on it to embiggen.

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Free book promotion

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Hey everybody! Patty Jansen is running another one of her marvelous promotions, and I’m participating. All my electronic books are either free or 99 cents today and tomorrow. There are a bunch of other free and discounted books available at Patty’s promotional site:
http://pattyjansen.com/promo/?goal=0_5ffb9c2f3f-1f0e6c3884-115830117
The discounted prices for my books are only on Amazon. Click on the promo link for a bunch or stories from some great authors, and click on the works link for amazon links to all my works. Get them and enjoy!

Counterpart, by Hayley Stone

Counterpart

The machines believed their extermination of the human race would be over as quickly as it began. They were wrong. As the war against extinction intensifies, people are beginning to gain the upper hand. Commander Rhona Long understands survival better than most. Killed in combat, she was brought back to life using her DNA, and she’s forged a new, even more powerful identity. Now the leader of the resistance, she’s determined to ensure the machines are shut down for good. But victory is elusive. The machines have a new technology designed to overcome humanity’s most advanced weaponry. Despite Rhona’s peacekeeping efforts, former nations are feuding over resources as old power struggles resurface. Worse, someone inside the resistance is sabotaging the human cause—someone who, from all appearances, seems to be Rhona … or her exact replica.

I knew I wanted to read Counterpart as soon as I finished Machinations. It popped up on NetGalley, and onto my read shelf it went. Usually, I won’t read a story until about 30 – 45 days before its release, but I just had to know how author Hayley Stone was going to continue it.

The Good: And continue it she did. Book one, as with many introductions to a series there had to be a lot of back story so the reader could get down on the sweet, sweet words the author is throwing down. Book two, doesn’t need as much exposition and launches right into the action. The story moves along at a respectable pace, and the ending is mostly satisfying.

The Bad: When will Rhona learn? She makes the same mistakes over and over. The characterization in this book is better on the villain side than book one, but I was disappointed at who the ultimate villain was.

The Ugly: Nothing jumped out at me as monumental or appalling. There was a great conflict that was hinted at and set up for but didn’t materialize. There’s still a chance for this conflict to appear in book three, but I was disappointed that such a juicy plot point was either delayed or ignored. Since I don’t want to spoil anything, I’ll just say that the author missed an excellent opportunity at a piece of commentary about the nature of being human. And a glimpse on human relationships.

The Final Word: Strangely enough, I liked Machinations better than I liked Counterpart, even though I felt that Counterpart was a better story from a technical standpoint. To further embrace the strange, I had rated Machinations 3.5 stars, but I’m giving Counterpart a solid four stars. They’re both decent sci-fi, and you could do much worse for the price point. I’m glad Random House/Hydra has set these novels at a fair price and I encourage sci-fi fans to pick them up. I’m dreading the long wait to get my hands on book three.

Hayley Stone

Hayley Stone has lived her entire life in sunny California, where the weather is usually perfect and nothing as exciting as a robot apocalypse ever happens. When not reading or writing, she freelances as an editor and graphic designer, falls in love with videogame characters, and analyzes buildings for velociraptor entry points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German from California State University, Sacramento.

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http://hnstoneauthor.com/
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