Tag Archive: writers


I wrote this piece for a submission to an anthology that seems stuck in limbo, but I’d thought I’d finally share it. The idea was to write a short story in three parts, but have a different author write each part. The anthology would have 12 stories with 36 authors in all (each author doing a different section of each story).
The first part was a “Grim Future.” The second part was the “The Last 5 minutes of the World.” The third and final part was, “What next?” I submitted a Grim Future. Since it was to be a short story, each section was limited in word count and since I did the first part, it was a chance to do some quick world building. My piece is brief and it moves quickly, but that was sort of the point of the setup to the story. It’s a bit of Sci-Fi and a bit of apocalypse, two of my favorite things to read and write about. Enjoy

 

Grim Future – Sporelings

 

For thousands of years, mankind has been driven by insatiable curiosity to study the great pyramids of Egypt. What secrets hide inside these ancient wonders? Could they hold the key to mankind’s future, or perhaps missing links to the past? The quest continues…

#

 

Present day—El Giza, Egypt— The Great Pyramid

After eleven previous investigations over the past decade, Archaeologist Elliot Gray and his team once again entered the queen’s chamber of the Great Pyramid. This time they were equipped with the excavation robot, SARTI (Standard Archaeological Robotic Technology Inc.). A small remote-controlled robot, SARTI was able to scale narrow shafts and scan targets with infrared and ultrasonic waves.

“Alec,” Elliot said. “The target is above the queen’s chamber. That two-meter slab is where I need the bloody robot.”

Alec Cooper, the team’s chief engineer, tapped on the computer interface. “We’re ready, Elliot.”

SARTI began the ascent.

As the monitors came to life, the team eagerly watched the robot climb to the top of the shaft. A few minutes later, SARTI rotated and began a heat scan.

Twenty minutes passed and a frustrated Elliot glared at Alec. “Oh, for crying out loud, that godforsaken thing is bloody useless. There’s nothing but rock.”

“Hold on,” Alec said. “Give it another few minutes. Let SARTI run the full program.”

The screen went dark. A scan using low-frequency waves began, followed by one with ultrasonic waves.

Elliot watched the screen for a few minutes more, then scowled, impatient with the lack of progress. “Still nothing? How much did the bag of bolts cost us anyway?”

“Bloody hell, Elliot, give it a few minutes, would ya.”

The computer signaled a target, displaying the ultrasonic image of a dark oblong shape in the center. Alec pointed to the monitor. “Look, there, SARTI found something.”

“Brilliant!” Elliot couldn’t turn away from the screen. “Well, get a move on,” he said. “Go! Go! Tell that idiotic robot to bring it here!”

#

Several hours later

Once SARTI had brought the artifact to the queen’s chamber, Alec put on protective gloves and reached inside the specimen tray. Carefully, he picked up the object. “Outstanding,” he said. “It’s a golden scarab. You suppose it’s some type of jewelry?”

Puzzled, Elliot frowned and reached for the scarab. “Jewelry?” he said, “hidden between the queen and king’s chamber. I think not. Look here, there’s something more!” He pressed against the head.

It snapped open.

Elliot’s eyes widened with awe. Darkness rested in his palm, a void, as though he peered straight into a black hole from the deepest space.

“What is it?” Alec asked. “What do you see?”

Elliot didn’t answer. He couldn’t turn away from the darkness inside the scarab. What have we found? he thought, full of wonder. A dark, bottomless, pit … inside a golden scarab? “It can’t be,” whispered.

The scarab began to grow hot in his hand. “Damn!” He dropped it, the palm of his hand blistered.

“What the hell?” Alec said, slowly backing away. His gaze remained locked on the dusting of dark, odorless material rising from the scarab. “You think it could be a type of fungus maybe, or spores?”

“Yes,” Elliot whispered. “Sporlings” The name just came to mind, he couldn’t say why. As he watched, the dark mass pulled into a tight circle, then pulsed. Elliot jumped when the circle loosened and doubled in size above his head. Seconds later it repeated the process. It’s breathing, he thought. But getting bigger on every exhale. The first twinges of unease tickled at his mind.

The sporelings were multiplying at an alarming rate!

“Let’s get out of here!” Alec yelled. “Elliot, we don’t know what it is!” He turned to run from the room, not waiting to see if Elliot followed.

But Elliot hadn’t heard him, too mesmerized by the growing void of darkness above him … so much like the one he’d viewed inside the scarab. A black hole being birthed through a gateway in the ceiling.

Terror struck Elliot at the thought; it tore through his guts, a cramping, almost crippling pain. What if the shroud dropped down and sucked him through?

He didn’t wait around to find out.

Elliot ran.

#

In less than a week, Elliot’s sporelings had spread across the planet. It didn’t take long when every time they pulsed, the dark cloud doubled in size, releasing more of their progeny into the air. At the end of the tenth day, the swirling mass floated down and settled into the soil. It attached to all plant life and began to manipulate their basic structure on a cellular level. Fragile flora, green stems, leaves and flowers were transformed, turned black and indestructible. Botanist learned the shiny obsidian material affected every variety: cacti in the hottest desert, worldwide forests and jungles, and algae and seaweed in the deepest oceans.

Nothing was spared.

#

It took only ten days to send the world into chaos. As the plants continued their metamorphosis, they began to pulse, releasing more toxins into the environment. Desperate Scientists searched for ways to combat them, but were defeated at every turn. Volcanoes erupted, earthquakes rumbled, tornadoes and hurricanes wrecked havoc. The land waged war against man, destroying everything in its path.

Cities crumbled.

People died.

Then Botanist learned the new species of obsidian plants absorbed the sun’s energy at fifty times the level of their native species. The added warmth quickly raised surface temperatures. Polar caps melted, but the newly released water evaporated almost immediately—along with the water in every river, lake, and ocean. It soon created a canopy of water in the stratosphere causing a greenhouse effect below. The increased atmospheric pressure made the oxygen and carbon dioxide richer.

But would anyone be left to reap the potential rewards?

 

#

On the twelfth hour of the twelfth day after Elliot released the sporelings, the alien plants reached maturity. Almost as one, the shiny obsidian leaves turned upward toward the heavens and began a rhythmic pulse. The few people still left watched, worried it might be a signal of some kind, a beacon.

But a signal to whom?

Or what? 

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Greetings! I hope you are having a lovely Sunday morning! Here in Long Island, NY the sun is shining, I’ve got a fresh cup of coffee and it looks like it’s going to be a great day! My first book, Silver Icon has been on sale for about a week now at both Amazon and Smashwords and I am so excited! I want to share some information to fellow writers about an awesome tool and web site that can help you with your goals to publish your own work. No, it’s not a publishing company, or any gimmick or trick. Also it’s not a magic wand!  What it is, however is a great place on the web to meet fellow authors and writers, both published and unpublished, and exchange critiques on each other’s work. I am talking about www.critiquecircle.com!

While I believe there is no substitution for professional editing, Critique Circle will come pretty damn close. And for the indie author on a tight budget, the price is right! Critique Circle’s membership is free! The site is a place where writers can post their work and other writers will critique your submissions. You can write critiques for other authors and form crit buddy relationships with many talented people. There is a “donation” method to become a premium member, but all of the main features of submitting and critiquing are available to all members. The premium membership, which is really a donation to keep the site running, gives you a few extra added perks, but is not required to get extreme value out of the site in regard to your work.

Critique Circle

The basic functions of the site include the ability to submit your chapters into one of the various Queues, classified by type of work or genre. The site works on a credit system. When you submit your work, it costs a minimum of three credits. When you write critiques on the work of others, you earn credits, anywhere from half a credit and up depending on the length of your critique. As other writers begin to critique your work, and as you critique other writer’s work, you’ll find buddies that can become regular crit partners! I’ve made several friends in the past two months and regularly write and receive critiques — almost daily. I’m a bit addicted to the site! 🙂

Critique Circle Submit Story

Many other useful features are available on Critique Circle. The site has a novel system, so you can chain your submissions together and crit buddies can follow your novel from start to finish. Authors can add a synopsis for their novel and for each chapter, content advisories for adult or mature stories, outlines for settings, plot and character sketches. The site also has a forum and message system so you can socialize with your fellow writers and crit partners.

Critique Circle Novel System

The credit system is nothing to worry about. I quickly became immersed in several of other author’s works, and in just reading, writing critiques and offering grammar or spelling suggestions, I very quickly grew a nice credit balance, enough to submit many chapters and stories. Since I started using the site, I’ve not ever run out of credits for submissions. I think I am actually critiquing more than I am submitting. I believe the main reason for this is because I am learning so much about writing, prose and style from the stories I read and the critique’s I have given other authors. This exchange from author to author is sharpening my writing skills as well as those of my crit buddies. The forums provide a lot of value too. For example, you can tie your story submissions to a personal forum thread–focused on that story so all your crit partners can collaborate with you and each other.

Critique Circle Forums

In summary; if you are an author on a budget, don’t have access to an editor, or just want to bounce your chapters, stories or other writing pieces off on other people to receive feedback and edit suggestions, Critique Circle’s an awesome web site to do all that! I highly recommend the site to indie authors and would absolutely welcome new critique partners!

For the official “What is Critique Circle About Page,” click here.

Happy Writing!

-Nick

To coin a phrase from my video gaming life, when it comes to writing and being an author, I’m a noob.  If you’re not familiar with the term noob, it can be thought of as an antonym for veteran or experienced or possibly even expert. I did not major in English, Literature, Grammar, Journalism or any other potentially related field to what I would expect a full-time writing career would require. I am making this up as I go along, with the help from a lot of people on the Internet. From Googling, to blogging to tweeting to FBing- i.e. via Social Networking and tapping into the minds and worlds of some wonderful people I am starting to figure this all out. I have become acquainted in cyberspace (mind you not face-to-face) with people from all over the world and have gathered some useful tips, sites and tools that hopefully will help me achieve my goals of self-publishing my work. I thought it only natural to share what I have learned along this journey so far and hopefully inspire, educate and help another “noob.” out.

The following is a short list of things, places, sites and tips I have discovered so far. If any of it helps you out, I’d love to hear it.

Book Covers

Book Covers. I didn’t realize how important and how expensive choosing or designing a book cover was until I start shopping for one! I found a few places online where you can tap into royalty-free images and use them for an eBook cover. There are several “Stock Photo” online sources that are good for Independent authors and self-publishers just starting out (like myself) Here are a few notable ones.

123 Royalty Free:  http://www.123rf.com
CanStockPhoto: http://www.canstockphoto.com
Dreamstime: http://www.dreamstime.com
Fotolia:  http://us.fotolia.com

Eye Color Chart

Describing your character’s eyes is important. Getting the color right is important too. There are tons of different resources you can find searching the Internet. Here is my favorite eye chart (http://eyemakeart.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/eye_colour_chart_by_delpigeon.jpg)

Name Generators

Seventh Sanctum is an awesome place if you are looking for a little random name generation. This applies to people, places, things, magic spells, organizations, governments, and whatever else you can think of. There are tons of name generatorslisted on this site.

Seventh Sanctum: http://www.seventhsanctum.com

Text Editors

I’ll assume in this day and age your main writing tool is a computer and not a typewriter. There are so many options to choose from to use a computer and a word processor to write with. I’ll summarize just a few of them here and note my favorite tool.

If you have access to a computer you basically don’t need to spend any money to start writing. The simplest tool you can use is the built-in text editor that comes with any PC running a Microsoft Windows operating system or any Apple computer running Max OS X.

In Windows you have two options. Notepad and Wordpad. Notepad is just a simple no frills text editor. Wordpad is essentially the same thing but it allows you to use basic rich text formatting (to make things bold, italic, centered, etc.) In Mac OSX you have TextEdit. There are also a ton of free programs you can get on the Internet as well. Just perform a google search for “free text editor” and you’ll see what I mean. Or on a Mac just go to the App Store and you’ll find several.

Word processors are the preferred tool for most writers. Modern word processors like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages will give you all of the basics the free text editors do plus a ton more formatting options and a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface. The word processor is pretty much the standard tools of choice. However there are other tools that combine a writer’s goal of producing a well formatted manuscript and ensure proper grammar and error-free spelling and have all the benefits of a full-fledged word processor. There are other choices as mentioned above that you can find on the Internet. My editor of choice is Scrivener.  Basically it’s a full-fledged word processor but it also allows you to create an outline on a “cork board” like canvas. It helps me arrange my thoughts and plot my books before I even write a single line of the story. It also has the ability to compile your work to various formats, like ePUB (for Apple iBooks), .mobi (for Amazon Kindle), .PDF, .RTF, DOC.  It’s available for both Windows and Mac OS X. I prefer the Max OS X version as it has some more features that are not yet implemented in the Windows version.

HTML Editors

When you need to comment online and need a quick HTML editor, here’s an online one that works very well. It’s basic, but gets the job done. When your tags are all formatted correctly, you can just cut and paste! Online HTML Editor: http://www.onlinehtmleditor.net/

If you do not like to work online (i.e require an Internet connection, then you’ll need to download an HTML editor. Again, a good old “google” search will net you several free choices of HTML editors. (CoffeeCup, Bluefish two notable free HTML editors.) There are a bunch of paid choices as well but these tend to get very pricey very quickly as they are geared more toward web development rather than helping bloggers format their posts. Adobe Dreamweaver and Microsoft Visual Web (the evolution of Microsoft Frontpage) come to mind. (As of this writing, Visual Web Developer Express is a free, limited function but very usable offer from Microsoft.)

How many words makes my story a novel?

I am still not 100% sure about this one. There seems to be a lot of different opinions. However I did find a general reference guide that answers this and I think it is a good guideline to follow.

The best answer to this question I found was from author Lee Masterson of South Australia. The summary below is from Lee Masterson article- the full article is here ==>Click here for this article

Writing type Approximate word count (k=1000)
Short Story 1k -7.5k
Novelette  7.5k – 20k
Novella  20k – 50k
Novel  50k – 110k
Epics and Sequels > 110k

That’s all for now!

Well that’s about all of the tips, tools, advice, guides, etc that I have discovered so far. As I discover and use more I’ll update this post. I hope you find the information useful. If you have any questions or comments, please use the comment form here or use the global Contact Nick link at the top of the page.

Happy Writing!

-Nick

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