5 Sci-Fi Writing Prompts Inspired by The Brainstormer App

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on September 16, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Brainstormer App

As writers, we’re always on the lookout for new story ideas. While it might seem like it at times, there is never going to be a shortage of new story ideas. Ideas can be gleaned from several places – our own lives, books, movies, the news, and nowadays, online. One place I get ideas form is an app called The Brainstormer. The app has three wheels that you spin, and your writing prompt is whatever three areas the wheel lands. The following writing prompts are from The Brainstomer app and have been turned into a Sci-Fi theme.

  1. Unconditional love, Cuban, artist’s studio – This doesn’t sound sci-fi-ish, but consider this: Luisa, the artistic daughter of a famous Cuban scientist, is drawing her dog when she notices something different about him. After some bazaar occurrences that seem centered around her dog, Luisa discovers her father has genetically modified the dog. She loves this dog, who now has superpowers that have gotten out of control, and must find a way to save him.
  2. Rescue of a loved one, naval, kitchen – The alien slave, Kaputch, was quite happy with his life on board the Grupakian space vessel. As a cook, he was very well treated, especially as compared to the other slaves. But when the Grupaks take in more slaves, Kaputch discovers one of them is his sister. Worse, though, he finds out she is to be the sex-slave of the overly fat and disgusting Grupak captain. Somehow, Kaptuch must rescue her from that fate.
  3. Fish out of water, Tibetan, puppet – The year is 2230. The world is dying so the people of Earth have boarded several large space ships in search of a new home. One particular ship houses a hundred or so Tibetan families. Passang is given command of this ship. Once the ship takes off and their space adventure begins, Passang realizes space-life is not what he thought it would be. He’s not prepared to be a leader and soon finds himself as nothing more than a puppet ruler dominated by one of the leading Tibetan families. This dominant family is only interested in their own well-being, and as such, the other people soon find themselves being treated like slaves. Passang must find the confidence and the strength to overpower this family so that he can save his people, and his ship, from their selfish meddling.
  4. Miracle, Klondike, gas station – Life in the Klondike is beautiful, yet cold and unforgiving. Skookum, named from a famous Tagish man who had helped spur the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s, owns a gas station there (the Tagish are a native tribe). Skookum owns a gas station in the area. It’s a rather isolated place, but he gets enough business to survive. Something happens that causes Skookum to nearly die. His death is certain and he prepares for it mentally. But a miracle happens. Little grey beings rescue and heal him (seemingly with magic though they claim it’s science). Skookum wonders whether they are aliens or if they’d always been here.
  5. Mistaken judgement, undead, fruit stand – Salina managed a fruit stand along the highway. Business was slow in this heat. Suddenly, though, a string of cars drove past. At first, they zipped by quickly. But soon, there were so many cars on the road that traffic came at a standstill. Salina was finally able to ask someone what was going on and they told her to run because of the zombie apocalypse. Now Salina had seen enough zombie movies to know they were the undead, they liked to eat the brains or livers of the living, and that they could only be killed if their heads were chopped off. But there was nowhere she could go. When they finally reached her, she realized they weren’t what she thought they’d be. They were just people who needed help. And for some reason, Salina was the perfect person to give them that help. Perhaps they wanted fruit instead of brains?

Let’s see what creative story ideas you can come up with using the Brainstormer App.

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Writing Tips I Learned in English Class

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Can you believe I haven’t taken college level English Composition II yet? I have been working on a finance degree for some time. I finished all my business core classes and all my finance major classes. But I was recently informed that I haven’t yet taken English Composition II, which is part of my general education requirements.

Here are some writing tips I recently came across in my class. These tips can apply no matter what you are writing, whether it be a novel or a formal document.

  • Write the First Draft Quickly – Write the first draft quickly and without thinking too much about spelling, grammar, word choice, and other elements. This is something I learned how to do through the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I must say it’s a very helpful method. It allows ideas to flow and brings out your best creative elements. And it helps you get the writing project done faster. For example, The Dragon Emperor: Book Two of the Dragon Spawn Chronicles, is already written. I wrote it last year during the NaNo Writing Month. It’s not ready for publishing yet because I still need to do the next steps indicated below, but it’s written. Wouldn’t you love to write your novel in 30 days?
  • Develop & Revise – After writing the first draft but before bothering with editing for spelling, grammar, or punctuation, go back over your work. Develop your writing better by restructuring sentences, making better word choices, reorganizing scenes, adding to the work, and taking away elements that don’t work.
  • Edit Last – Leave the detailing task of editing for last. If you do it while you’re writing or while you’re developing, you could be wasting time on things you might end up deleting later.

One thing my instructor said was you don’t have to have a thought before you start. You can simply start writing whatever comes to your mind and ideas will emerge. I think this is true for when you need to generating ideas. But I like to have a well-thought-out plan. I only use the blank-thought-writing when I need an idea. Everyone is different, though. If you can write without a plan and still have all the proper elements of a story, then do so. If not, plan.

Sci Fi Writing Prompt 1 – The Gambling Slug

Posted in Other Stories with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2017 by Dawn Ross

In order to keep growing with my writing skills, I’m trying to do writing prompts again. This sci-fi one was more fun than I thought it would be. It’s not a great story, but I think this short story is entertaining. Let me know what you think.

The Prompt – An intergalactic poker game among five players of different races goes wrong when one is caught cheating. (Inspired by ridethepen.com)

Poker Chips

Barika coughed and waved away a billow of acrid smoke. Xir-bing chuckled derisively and blew another cloud of smoke generated by the cheroot protruding from his grossly wide mouth.

She hated this fat slug with his pallid, glutinous skin and blob-like limbs. Every time he moved, his body made irritating farting noises. The worst part, though, was his condescending attitude—as if slugs had some sort of superiority on the evolutionary scale.

She hated the other three players at the poker table only a little less. Jerut constantly picked at his elephant-like snout and made loud barking noises every time he won. The antennae on Kefer-bobala-or-something-or-other seemed to have a mind of their own as they oscillated this way and that. His temper seemed to oscillate as well. One moment he was chirping happily and the next he was buzzing angrily. Yet his moods seemed to have nothing to do with how his game was going.

And then, of course, there was the long-necked being from the faraway Umbar region. She couldn’t even begin to pronounce his name. It was some sort of odd combination of clicks and whines. People here called him The Braggart because that’s all he did. And it didn’t help that he had valid reasons for it. He was highly intelligent, a great fighter, and one of the best pilots this side of the galaxy.

What she hated more than these oafs, though, was having to play this crater-driven game. It never should have come to this. Never.

She grimaced as she picked up her five cards. One-by-one, she spread them out in a tight fan. Two one-eyed jacks seemed to wink at her. Then a five, a seven, and a ten. Well, at least the jacks gave her hand some promise.

She masked her rising hope as she threw in her bid and discarded two cards, keeping the jacks and the single ten. Keeping a straight face was apparently important in this game. Unintentionally expressing a tell could force a player bankrupt faster than a Mortovodian businessman.

None of the other players had a tell as far as her inexperience could see. At first, she thought Kefer-blah-blah was just trying to throw them off, but betting against his moods did no better than betting on them. Maybe his antennae picked up too many melodrama’s coming in off the entertainment stream.

Jerut scratched his nose this time. Was that a tell? And if so, did it mean he had a good hand or a bad one? His expression gave nothing away.

Craters, she hated this game. Poker was for low-level beings, beings who thought they could actually hit the jackpot through luck and deception.

But she was desperate, and not for the money. There was a whole lot more at stake here than the precious metal that her own people mined in spades. How in the hell did she get herself into this crater-driven mess, anyway?

She scowled over Jerut’s shoulder at her commanding officer who sat at the bar drinking some sort of vaporous liquid. To say Captain Terchini was a pilgarlic was a vast understatement. And it wasn’t just because of his bald head and pungent odor. It was with the way he thought so highly of himself despite being the most pathetic being in the galaxy.

No one took him seriously—that is no one but the league she served. His promotion to captain had to have been an act of pity on their part. After all, if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t have lost the Orb of Sharina to begin with.

That’s what she was playing for—the Orb of Sharina. Xir-bing had it and wouldn’t sell it. The crater-driven slug didn’t need it. It was a worthless trinket to everyone else but the League of Remnants. For the League, it meant the difference between life and death. Yet he refused to sell it to her. And it was all because of Terchini and his pitiful way of trying to strong-arm a creature with more brawn and surprisingly more brains.

Kefer-blah-blah passed out the next round of cards. She picked up her two, careful not to let the two creatures sitting on either side of her see them.

She unfolded her hand and her heart leapt. It was about time she got a winnable hand. She glanced quickly at the others. Hopefully, none of them noticed the sudden change in her emotions.

Xir-bing bet big. Jerut and the other two folded. It wasn’t the first time the slug had tricked her by placing such a large bet. She glanced over at him and gave him her dirtiest look yet. Her frown had two purposes. One, she wanted him to know how much she despised him. And two, she hoped to throw him off and make him think she had a terrible hand.

He laughed mockingly and threw in five more chips. “Call.”

Craters. She’d been hoping get him to go higher so she could get him to gamble the Orb.

She slapped down her hand. Two jacks and three tens. Xir-bing chuckled again and set down three aces and two twos.

Craters, craters, and more craters! She ground her teeth and swallowed down the bitterness rising from her throat. She hadn’t won a single hand against this slug and his constant smile and mocking noises were grating her nerves.

Something glistened from behind his bulbous ear, something that didn’t have the sheen of a worm to it. Her frown deepened as she stared intently.

The slug’s smile faded. His beady eyes bored into her as if in a challenge. She would have turned away had her curiosity not been so piqued.

“What is that?” she said in an accusatory tone.

“What? Nothing.” The slug’s wide mouth turned down and he squirmed in his seat.

“It is too something.” She stood. “I can see it.”

“No, it’s not! It’s not anything.”

She snatched at it. The slug was surprisingly fast in his attempt to stop her, but not fast enough. The item, whatever it was, came off easily. She stepped back and examined the small metallic thing in her hand.

The Braggart craned his long neck and looked at it too. He blinked his eyes a few times and then jumped to his feet. “It’s a mind-reader!”

“What!” Jerut barked as he slammed his fist down on the table.

Kefer-blah-blah’s buzz ripped through the room. It was so loud that she felt the vibration of it in her bones.

Xir-bing stood and pointed at her with his stubby extremity. “You had it in your hand all along! You only pretended it came from me, like some charlatan magic trick!”

If not for his panic-stricken expression, his accusation might have been believed.

Jerut stood so quickly that his chair fell. “Guards! Guards! Guards!” His words came out in yelps as he waved his hands, or paws, in the air. “Help! We’ve been hoodwinked.”

Xir-bing slid back with his fat stumpy feet. His little round eyes darted around, as though looking for an escape.

“Oh, no you don’t.” The Braggart grabbed Xir-bing’s round slimy arm.

Xir-bing struggled. The Braggart did some fancy move that she didn’t even know was possible. The slug fell to the floor with a big wet thwack.

Guards swooped in and one jabbed his shock-stick into the slug’s gut. Xir-bing howled in a sickly way that sounded like a cross between a crustacean in boiling water and a mastodon in distress.

She smiled. It’s just what the fat slug deserved. But her smile quickly faded. What about the Orb? How would she get it now? Craters.

*****

“Xir-bing!” she said in a sweet sing-song voice. It made her spirits dance to see the fat slug looking so distraught in his metal cage. “Poor little wittle Xir-bing-ling,” she added in mock pity. “Slugs don’t like small spaces, do they?”

Xir-bing’s wide mouth drooped and his bulbous head fell in shame.

A grin stretched across her face. The small space was bad enough but slugs disliked metal even more. It made them slip and slide everywhere no matter what form their wormy bodies tried to contort into.

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you that gambling never pays?” she said in a still-chipper tone as she stepped closer to the cage door. “And neither does cheating?”

“Xylerians don’t have mothers,” he replied in a defeated tone.

“Awe. That’s too bad. I guess you had to learn the hard way, huh?”

Xir-bing’s pallid skin turned red and his beady eyes suddenly flared. “You lost too. There’s no way you can get the Orb now.”

“Isn’t there?” she said in mock concern.

“It’s in my quarters and you can’t get it. It’s mine.”

“Now, now,” she replied as though talking to a naughty child. “That’s no way to talk to someone who has the means to bail you out of here.”

The neckless slug tilted his head in such a way that indicated she had his full attention.

“Remember the amount of Retonian metal I offered you for the Orb earlier?”

“Yes,” he said warily.

She tittered ironically. “Well, it just so happens that the amount you still owe for bail after all your accounts have been depleted is just half of that amount.”

His wide frown deepened. Apparently, he didn’t like where this was going. She was loving every moment of it.

“Anyway, I figured that if you tell me how to get the Orb, I will pay that amount and get you out of here. That is, of course, once I actually have the Orb in my hand and after you sign a document declaring me the rightful owner.”

Xir-bing’s body pulsed. There was no other word she could think of to describe it. One moment, he seemed to swell like a balloon, and the next he was back to his normal size. She supposed he was probably breathing heavily, but the slug had no nose—at least not a discernable one.

Her heart thumped in her chest as she tried to discern his emotion. Minutes passed, or it seemed like minutes, anyway.

Suddenly, he stood. “You Retonian pirate! You’ll never get that Orb. Never!”

She clenched her teeth. A boiling heat flushed through her body. “Fine.” She turned abruptly as though to leave.

“Wait!” he said with a hint of desperation in his voice.

A smile crept over her lips and she suppressed it before turning slowly back to him. “What?”

The slug pulsated again, but only a few times. “If I tell you how to get the Orb, how do I know you’ll actually bail me out?”

She cocked one of her eyebrows. “You don’t. But what choice do you have? The amount you need is more than you can obtain while sitting in this cell. Your winning personality leaves you with no friends to help you. Either you trust me and hope I keep my promise or you stay here and rot for the fifty days they say it will take for you to make up the rest of your bail money.”

Redness crept into his sickly pale skin again. And he held his breath, or whatever it was he did when he pulsated, so that his glutinous skin stretched to the point where it might pop.

She couldn’t help but to rub in some salt. “By that time, you will be nothing but a shriveled sack of skin.”

He deflated. “Fine. I’ll tell you.”

“Good. I’m glad we can work things out.” She pulled back her shoulders and gave him her best smile. “You realize, though, that if you had just sold me the Orb to begin with, you wouldn’t be in this mess? You’d have more money instead of none.”

His beady eyes turned to the floor.

“Gambling simply doesn’t pay,” she added. “And Retonians always get what they want.”

© September, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Book Cover Design Resources and Tips for Sci-Fi/Fantsay Authors

Posted in Book Art, Miscellaneous, Publishing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Starfire Dragons Book Cover

For the self-publishing author, book cover designing can be tricky. It’s not as simple as finding art online and using it. You have to make sure it’s the right size and you have to pay for use of the image. Nor is it as simple as having a friend drawn and/or design your cover. You have to make sure you leave room for the book title and other factors. The first part of this post gives ideas on where to find book cover designers or buy art already made and for sale. The second part of this post gives you important tips in creating or selecting a design. This entire post is specific to sci-fi and fantasy authors.

Where to find art for your book cover design:

  • Freelance artists – Find a book cover designer on sites like reedsy.com, fiverr.com, and other freelance sites. Keep in mind that though the cost might seem like a bargain, you get what you pay for. Every once in a while, though, you can get both a good price and a great cover.
  • Public domain art – My sci-fi book cover is made partially from public domain images from NASA. You can also find public domain art on Wikimedia Commons, the Library of Congress, and National Archives.
  • Stockphotos – All my fantasy novels used art from a stock photo site. My favorites are Bigstockphoto.com, 123rf.com, shutterstock.com, istockphoto.com. Be sure to read the usage rights on these. Some do not allow for use on book covers. Or if they do allow book cover use, they charge a lot more. Count on spending at least $50 for the image. The average I paid was $100.
  • Online art galleries – Deviantart is my favorite source for finding sci-fi and fantasy artists. If you see art you like, you might be able to buy it outright. Or if you see a style you like, you might be able to commission the artist. Not all artists are book cover designers so you will have to be specific in what size you need and the placement of your title and other text.
  • Contact an art school – Contact the art school’s illustration and design department to see if they are interested in a project. Offer to support the school in some way as a form of payment.
  • Ask a friend – This is what I ended up doing for my first sci-fi novel. If you don’t know an artist, ask your writer friends who they used for their art.

Dragonbone Chair ebook cover The Dragon and the Lion by Dawn Ross

Tips for making a good book cover design:

  • The image for your book cover design should be large and at least 300 dpi. This will be especially helpful if you plan on printing physical books rather than e-books. This will also be helpful for if you need to crop or re-size the image for other uses. I understand a lot of publishers want the image in .pdf format, but I’ve had no trouble using the .jpg format. You should have no trouble saving it in both formats.
  • The book cover image should have thumbnail appeal. The image can’t be so busy that viewers on a computer screen can’t tell what’s on the cover. I like how the ebook version of Tad Williams’ book The Dragonbone Chair is just a simple sword.
  • The image should be relevant without being cheesy. Again, I reference the cover for The Dragonbone Chair. Its simple design isn’t just easy to see in a thumbnail, it also indicates the book is a fantasy.
  • When combining two different images, make sure they work cohesively together and not cut-and-paste. My cover on The Dragon and the Lion is made from two separate images that I edited so that the color scheme matched and they look like they belong together.
  • Stick to classic fonts. You can be a little creative if you like, but don’t overdo it. And make sure that if you do get a little creative with your font that it is relevant to your book.
  • There should be room in the art for text placement. If you’re cover is of a warrior or something, make sure the book title can be seen without having to cover the warrior’s face or other important elements of the cover.
  • Don’t forget the back cover. If you have art for the back cover, make sure it is simply a continuation of the front cover and doesn’t introduce new elements or styles. Or you can simply use a solid color for the back cover.

That’s all I have for now. Where do you get your book cover art? Do you have any tips for making a good book cover design?

Marketing Ideas to Increase Sales of Your Self-Published Novel

Posted in Marketing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Marketing Increases Sales

I will soon be ready to publish my novel. This will be a great achievement, but it’s just the beginning. If I plan on selling the book, my next step is to market it. If I don’t market my book, no one will know it’s available, which means no one will know how good (or bad) it is. I have to market my novel so that people will know about it and hopefully, be encouraged to buy it.  Below are some ideas I have on how to market a self-published novel.

Keywords & Tags – Make sure that when you set your book up on its self-publishing platform that you use proper keywords and tags to identify your book. If your book is sci-fi, use the keyword sci-fi. Also consider the subgenre. Is it a space opera or is it cyberpunk, time travel, apocalyptic, hard science fiction, or another type of sci-fi subgenre? Is it for children, teens, or adults? Here is a good article about keywords for those of you planning on self-publishing on Amazon or CreateSpace – https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/createspace-kindle-keyword-and-category-tips/

Multiple Publishing Platforms – If you publish your book on Amazon and/or CreateSpace, keep in mind that your book will only be sold on Amazon’s site. If you want your book sold on other sites, then you need to contact those other sites. By the way, if you self-publish on Smashwords, Smashwords automatically offers your book for sale on multiple book sites (as an e-book only, but e-books are currently outselling physical books and this is not likely to change).

Your Own Website – It’s so easy nowadays to set up your own website and/or blog. WordPress, Wix, and others allow you to do it for free. However, building your own website isn’t enough. You have to market it too. For a website, you have to consider SEO marketing. For a blog, you need to post regularly and about topics that would attract visitors who would be interested in your novel.

Social Media – Consider a Facebook fan page for your novel. Consider a Twitter account. Depending on your genre, you may even try Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and others. Just be careful about spamming. You don’t want every single post to be about your novel. For example, sci-fi writers can post about new tech, new sci-fi authors, new tv shows or movies, and so on.

Paid Advertising – Advertise on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Also, consider advertising on book selling sites. Amazon has such a service, as does many other book selling sites.

Local Events – One of my writer friends pays for a booth at local comicon events. Depending on your genre, you may also consider Renaissance festivals, gun shows, home shows, lawn & garden shows, art festivals, and so on. Keep in mind that sometimes booths at these events are rather expensive. I’ve seen booths cost as much as $500 for just a three-day event. It might help to have other paraphernalia for sale. My writer friend also sells t-shirts with art from his book covers on them, mugs, calendars, etc.

Book Signing – Ask your local coffee shops and books stores if you can do a book signing event. Be sure to advertise locally on Facebook groups, radio stations, your town’s website, and wherever else you can think of that would attract people appropriate to your genre.

Get Legitimate Reviews – Don’t ask your friends. You need to find the right sources or your reviews will mean nothing. Here is a good article that explains why – https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/when-reader-targeting-goes-wrong/#more-4479.

For legitimate reviews, try contacting websites that sell books to see if they do book reviews or if they know someone who does. Try bloggers who regularly review books of your genre. Be cautious of paying for reviews. Their reviews can come across as being biased. This doesn’t mean that you can’t pay someone for their time, but you will want to check out their previous reviews. If they always give good reviews, then no one will take their review of your novel seriously. You risk a bad review, but if your work is good enough you can balance it out with several legitimate good reviews. Besides, even bad reviews can get you publicity. Do you know how many bad reviews the Gothic horror novelist Stephen King gets? Lots.

I hope this list gives you some ideas on how to market your self-published novel. If you have any other ideas, feel free to share.

New Addition to Part Two, The Dragon Emperor

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2 with tags , , , on July 29, 2017 by Dawn Ross

My content editor said if I have multiple points of view in a novel, the novel needs to begin with the main character who will make the biggest change and face the biggest challenges. Originally, I had my novel begin with Commander J.D. Hapker (or J.T. as he was called in the first draft). Then I decided Captain Robert Arden should start the book. Now that I’ve received this device from my content editor, I am trying to have the book start with Jori. Jori, after all, will face the biggest challenge. And he is the main focus of Part Two. So below is how I plan on starting Part Two. It needs some work, so any advice you have on making it better will be most welcome.

55 Cancri e

After weeks of creeping along like a kabutomushi beetle, the Dragon warship approached Thendi. The deep blue oceans of the planet caressed the edges of large reddish-brown blocks of land. Wisps of clouds dazzled the landscape like coolant on rusted metal. Glistening whiteness nestled the poles like warhead caps.

The planet appeared serene, but its peacefulness was a lie. Its people lived lives nearly as violent as the Tredon warriors, but for a different reason. Beneath the outer surface lay violent clashes of grinding plates. Sometimes their collisions scarred the land with jutting mountains of rubble. And on the other end where the plates slid apart were gashes of red, making the planet appear as though it were a living thing that had been ruthlessly stabbed.

Jori sat at one of the workstations of the Dragon’s bridge. His heart beat dully in his chest as his father’s ship crept onward. The dot of Thendi grew larger and time ticked by like a time bomb in slow-motion.

He wasn’t afraid exactly. Not of battle, anyway. He was a warrior, bred and born. And although he was only ten year-cycles old, he already exceeded the martial abilities of most full-grown warriors. Only his strength limited him. And, in this case, his resolve.

Worry gnawed his innards. Prontaean Alliance ships were undoubtedly protecting the planet. His father had said the Alliance was the enemy, but Jori was beginning to see him for what he was—a predator worse than the blackbeast who stalks the fawn because at least the blackbeast only hunted as a matter of survival.

His father, Emperor Kavak, military ruler of the Tredon-dominated worlds, sat coolly in the throne-like chair at the center of the bridge. He was far from relaxed, though. Jori didn’t need to use his ability to sense emotions to know his father was giddy with anticipation. He saw it on his face—the flared nostrils of his hawk-like nose, the firmness of his angular jaw, and the glittering of his dark eyes.

Terk, Daiichi/First Prince Kavak, Jori’s elder brother, was filled with the same anxiousness, though it was mixed with a hard determination as he manned the tactical station. At fourteen year-cycles, Terk was already nearly as tall as their father. He didn’t yet have a man’s bulk, but he was strong. His black uniform matched his dark hair, both of which seemed almost grey when compared to the darkness of his eyes.

When Terk was happy, which was rare nowadays, his eyes were brown. Today, though, they were like lumps of black tourmaline crystals.

Thendi loomed closer. Jori resisted the urge to squirm in his seat. He didn’t want to be a part of this. His worry wasn’t with the fighting, or even in the prospect of dying. It was in the killing. But he was a warrior and he would help his big brother gain back their father’s favor.

He and Terk had failed badly about two dozenals ago when their mission to the Depnaugh space station lost them their ship, crew, and the perantium device their father had wanted. Terk received the brunt of their punishment because he had been in charge. And while father blamed Terk, Terk blamed Jori. It was Jori, after all, who had manipulated the outcome.

Terk’s anger made him feel worse than anything his father did. They had been so close once. He missed it. If only things could be the way they used to be before Terk became Daiichi Prince.

To divert father’s wrath, Jori intentionally became more willful and disobedient. It worked. After Jori had received the worst beating of his life, Terk made up with him. It wasn’t the same as when they were younger, but it was enough. Now Jori stood ready to help his brother, who was helping their father kill people who didn’t deserve to be killed.

“I see two Alliance ships, My Lord,” Major Goro at the operations station said.

Jori’s father sat erect. “Zoom in.”

The viewscreen’s image lurched forward. Jori held his breath. It was a Class I Alliance Cruiser, just like the one he’d been on before. But was it the same one? He squinted his eyes, trying to see the identification numbers printed on the hull.

He let out his breath. It was a different Class I Cruiser. Not a warship, technically—the Alliance didn’t have warships—but the most advanced of all Alliance ships, with superior maneuverability and weapons that were nearly a match with the Tredon warships.

The viewscreen lurched again, this time on the other Alliance ship. Jori’s heart skipped a beat. It was the Odyssey, the one ship he was hoping not to see.

Chikusho/Shit! He should have known it would be here. The ship’s captain was no fool. Captain Arden knew what Jori’s father was after. He knew because of what happened after Depnaugh.

Jori’s extremities tingled as his blood went cold. He glanced at the bridge exit, wishing he could leave. The Odyssey was the last ship he wanted to fight. Commander Hapker, his friend, would be on it.

Well, not his friend anymore. Jori had betrayed him. And now Commander Hapker probably hated him.

Jori swallowed down the lump in his throat.

“There’s a third ship,” Major Goro said. “It’s too far to see.”

“We can assume it’s the same type,” his father said. “And we should assume there are more ships nearby. Do a full scan once shields are down.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Tell the Basilisk to get ready.” His father stepped up to the viewscreen and clasped his hands behind his back. They were within firing range of the closest Alliance cruiser and only moments away from the furthest.

Jori glanced at his console. His fingers twitched over the cloaking controls and awaited his father’s command. The pitter-patter of his heart sped up. He was about to betray Hapker again.

Ideas to Motivate Yourself to Write

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on July 22, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Sometimes I just don’t want to write. It’s true. Sometimes it’s because I’m at a point that I hate, such as when it comes to editing. Sometimes it’s because I have writer’s block. And sometimes it’s simply because I have zero motivation to do much of anything. Here are some tips I use to get moving again. You can use them to motivate yourself to write as well:

Take Ten for Writers

Writing Exercises – There are a lot of books and even websites out there that provide writing prompts for you. Try one. They’re not only motivating, but sometimes even inspiring. One of my favorite writing prompt books is shown above. If you don’t want to buy a book, try the story idea generator on SciFiIdeas.com. There are also apps for story ideas that you can get on your phone. I have one called Brainstormer.

Book Perfecting Plot by William Bernhardt

Read a Writing Guide – Sometimes when I review a technical writing book, I’m inspired to write better. I say reviewing because I’ve already read them. But even though I’ve already read them, reviewing them sometimes inspires new ideas or brings back that motivated feeling.

Do an Analytical Review – Don’t just watch a movie or read a book. Analyze it. Ask yourself what it was about the movie or book that made it worthwhile. Did it have good characters? Was the plot intense enough? Which parts were most intense and why? Which parts made you want to go to sleep and why?

black-and-white-music-headphones-life

Let Music Inspire You – I have certain music that I only play when I write. For a while, it was the music from the Lord of the Rings movies. Now it’s the Hobbit movies. Find your musical inspiration.

Nike Just Do It

The Nike Philosophy – Just Do It. No matter how you feel, just sit down and write. Write nonsense if you have to. Don’t think about it. Just do it.

buddha-india-mind-prayer

Meditate – Not in the zoning out way. Think about what you want and why. Something inspired you to start writing. Think back on what that was and try to grab onto that feeling again.

Take a Break – Yes, sometimes the key to writing again is to simply take a break. As much as I love to write, there are times that I hate it. And I’m afraid if I continue to force myself, I will come to hate it even more. So I take a break. Try it for yourself, but don’t let that break last too long.

What do you do to motivate yourself to write?