Archive for writer

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.

Do You Really Have to Kill Your Darlings?

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Stephen King Kill Your Darlings

First of all, what are darlings? To writers, the term is used when referencing a piece of the story or a character that the author loves but really has little to do with the story itself. The advice you’ll hear from many writing experts is that you need to kill them, murder them, or to put it simply, get rid of them. Take them out of your story.

Eliminate or Change?

The problem I’ve encountered more than once is the assumption that they always have to be killed or gotten rid of. This is not always true. After all, if you as the writer love some element of your work, why should you get rid of it? For example, you really love a certain character but he or she doesn’t really add value to the story. How about changing your story or your character a bit so that they do add value to the story?

Moana’s Hei Hei Changed

I read that when Hei Hei the rooster was originally written in the story of Moana, he was a cranky and proud rooster ( But his part in the story really had no purpose other than to be annoying. So the writers had to rewrite him or he’d be cut. Hei Hei is a much different rooster now. He’s also a more important element to the story—he’s a source of comical trouble. Perhaps the character in your story won’t need such a dramatic change in character. Maybe he or she just needs a more dramatic part. And if, after trial and error, you just can’t make this character fit into the story, then you can reconsider eliminating them (or save them for another story). The same can be said for certain scenes or other parts that aren’t contributing to the story.

Don’t Force It

You might be told that you shouldn’t try to force it. This could very well be true. So ask yourself why you want to keep this darling in your story. Is it because you worked so hard on it and it seems like a waste to get rid of it? Sorry. This probably isn’t a good enough reason to keep it. Is it because you really like it? If it doesn’t fit in your story, save it for another story. Or is it because you think it’s an important part of the story? If you think it’s important but your professional critiquers doesn’t, try to figure out why. Then consider changing things so they see the importance too.


As a writer, we need to be willing to listen to the advice of a professional writer. We need to be willing to make changes to our stories in order to make them better. If you really want your story to shine, if you really want people to love your story as much as you do, you need to listen to and learn from your betters.

You are the Writer

Ultimately, though, it’s your story. Don’t let a strong critique force you into doing something you don’t want to do. Don’t be pressured or let your critiquer make you feel stupid when you say you don’t want to change this or that and the critiquer responds, “Ugh. This is why I hate little darlings.”

Consider All Your Options

There is nothing wrong with keeping something or some character you love in your story. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the story to end a certain way because you plan on writing a sequel. If the person or persons critiquing your story think a certain element or a certain character is useless and should be gotten rid of, consider their advice seriously. But consider all your options. There’s more than one way to do something.

Get Multiple Critiques

It also helps to get the advice of more than one professional writer. This way if everyone is saying the same thing, you know the critique is valid and not just an opinion. Critiques are invaluable in that they can help you become a better writer. But the line between critique and opinion can sometimes be blurred.

What are your feelings or opinions on “darlings”?

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch12

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 12

(I’ve been working on this sci-fi novella all through November for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNo at Athough I’m posting this chapter late in the month, I have finished writing all of part two of this story. You won’t see all of the, though, for several months. You will continue to see a post every Saturday. Each post is the unedited version. My hope is to get editing done behind the scenes and have a select few people do reviews for story and writing improvement. If you are a science fiction fanatic and would like to give me a hand, either continue to check by every Saturday and leave comments or email me for the story in its entirety.)

Devon stood in a solid stance with his hands clasped behind his back as he discreetly surveyed the scene before him. He was careful to stand along the edge of the laser room so as not to be noticed. Devon was no fool. If the men knew he was watching, they’d pretend to work harder. And he wanted to see how they behaved in ordinary circumstances.

Except for the guards standing on the outer edges of the room, everyone seemed to be doing something. The tall skinny Tredon man barely thought of as a warrior emphatically jabbed his finger at something on the laser. Devon didn’t have a good view, but he knew Jako was standing over someone. And his erratic gestures suggested he was yelling at them too.

Devon ground his teeth. He was tempted to go tell whoever Jako was talking to that they’d better do as they were told. They’d taken more than enough time to do this job as it was.

When Jako stomped off, Devon’s lips twisted in disgust. The person he had been berating was the Alliance woman. Devon never understood why the Alliance worked so closely with their women. He found it laughable that she had been a part of the firefight on Thendi.

Women could be a huge distraction. Devon kept his put away and only went to see them when his work was caught up and he was feeling lusty. He almost hadn’t allowed this Alliance woman to work on this project. But the documentation Terk had found on her said she was an expert with laser technology.

Devon wasn’t so ignorant as to assume women weren’t as intelligent as men. He knew they could be. He preferred mating with intelligent women, in fact. It helped improve the chances his sons would be intelligent. Devon did believe, however, that women should only serve a limited purpose.

Devon glanced over to where Jori was working. The boy’s brow was furrowed as if in concentration as he fiddled with something on the laser. Jori was diligent and Devon had no doubt that the boy’s claim of being more intelligent than Jako was true. But while Jako was physically weak, Jori was deliberately weak.

Devon felt a stab of a headache and realized he was clenching his jaw too tightly. Why in the hell does that boy have to be so cowardly? Jori was highly intelligent and very talented in martial skills for a boy his age. But his adamant refusal to engage in torture irked Devon to no end. He should have gone through with his threat to send Jori to the gallery along with the Alliance crewmembers, but the little shit had made a good point about counter-productivity.

Devon desperately needed get this laser working, and the sooner the better. It had been decades since his father had lost the Pentam system, but it had also been decades since Devon vowed to get it back.

It wasn’t for lack of wanting that Devon hadn’t reconquered the Pentam system. It was the damned balance of power Lord Falcorn managed to keep in check. In Devon’s grandfather’s time, the Kavakian Empire reigned supreme. No lowly lord was powerful enough to go against the emperor’s will.

Lord Falcorn, unfortunately, was not so lowly. He was Devon’s most powerful ally and adversary. He was one of the few lords with his own fleet space vessels. He didn’t have as many as Devon, but he had enough. His other military assets were not to be discounted either.

Falcorn acted subservient under Devon’s authority and so long as Falcorn paid his taxes Devon didn’t attempt to dominate the man as he did with other lords. He knew attempting to take the Pentam system would cause their delicate truce to break up in an all-out war. Although Tredon men lived for war, both sides were powerful enough that fighting one another would be a great risk. Devon risked being the cause of the fall of his dynasty while Falcorn risked losing the privileges his current power allowed.

If Devon succeeded in taking the Pentam system, his power would double and Lord Falcorn would be doomed. So it was in the lord’s best interest to keep Devon from succeeding in such a venture. If Devon were to organize his fleet to go after the Pentam system, Falcorn would react in what he considered as self-defense and use the vacuum of Devon’s absence to oust control. If Devon had the laser, though, he could take Pentam with just a few ships instead of his entire fleet. The rest of his fleet would keep Lord Falcorn at bay and Devon would regain the glory his father had lost.

Devon scrutinized each of the Alliance workers. They all appeared to be working, but he had no way of knowing if they were doing anything productive. Jori was supposed to be making sure, but for some reason it was Jako who went around to each of the prisoners.

Jako never looked happy when he inspected the work. But Devon suspected there was an alternative reason as to why. With the way Jako strutted around with his chin held high, it was obvious he was enjoying his current dominant status. No Tredon ever took Jako seriously, but these Alliance men, and woman, had no choice.

Devon glanced at Jori again. His clenched jaw sent another jab of pain to his skull. He wished he could discern if the boy was up to something. But why would he help the Allaince? It made no sense, yet he couldn’t help but wonder whether Jako’s accusations were true. That Jori refused to torture the prisoners did not support Jako’s view. The boy never participated no matter how much Devon tried to bully or force him.

Devon stepped from the corner in a huff. Jako couldn’t be relied upon to give accurate information about Jori. And somehow Devon suspected Terk would protect him. It was time to gather information from other sources.

Devon deliberately walked across the laser room. All the men, including the Alliance crew, stiffened. Their already vigilant guard stances seemed even more attentive. Devon would have smiled, but it would ruin the moment.

One warrior guard did not need to adjust his stance. Jetser was a seasoned warrior, one of the best there was. Sometimes it annoyed Devon that Jetser didn’t seem to fear him. But Jetser always did what he was told and then some. Devon couldn’t complain.

“Come with me,” Devon told the man.

Jetser gave a slight deferential not. “Yes, Your Eminence,” he replied. His face was calm and cool with no hint of worry at being called out by the emperor. If it had been any other man, their face would have turned white.

Devon led Jetser to a private room off from where the laser was being worked on. There was no desk or chair to sit in so Devon and Jetser stood facing one another in the at-ease stance.

“You have heard Jako’s claims. What do you think of them?”

“I think Jako is jealous, my Lord, of your son.”

Devon frowned. “So you believe he is trying to undermine him?” The idea of someone trying to undermine a Kavak chafed him.

“I don’t think he intends it as an affront to you, my Lord.” Jetser must have noticed Devon’s annoyance. “I think he’s worried. Jako’s only redeeming quality is that he knows this stuff better than anyone, or at least he used to. He probably feels Jori’s aptitude will oust him.”

“Hm.” Devon nodded his head. He hadn’t considered that. “So you do not think Jori is helping the prisoners?”

“No, my Lord.”

Devon narrowed his eyes. “You haven’t seen or heard anything that would lead Jako to think he was helping them?”

“Jori is not as impatient with them as Jako is, but he’s not friendly with them in any way.”

“Not impatient, as in, he’d rather help them than motivate them?”

“Jori has never been fond of torturing.”

Devon let out a slight snort. “No doubt a doing of his mother’s. I should have pulled him away from her sooner. The boy is far too womanish.”

“He’s still young, my Lord. Still learning.”

Devon pursed his lips. True. But damn him. It doesn’t look good to have a son who’s so soft. Whatever Jori’s shortcomings, at least Terk made up for them. At the same time, though, Terk was becoming a great warrior, but Jori was already beating him in games of strategy. Neither boy was perfect, but together they damned near were. And they were as close to perfect as Devon was ever likely to get.

He had had other sons once, but they fell markedly short of his expectations and died in some way or another. In a couple of cases, they died at Devon’s own hand.

But Devon couldn’t have any more children. An assassination attempt kept it from happening. The assassin used a poison that corrupted Devon’s DNA. If by some small miracle he did happened to impregnate a woman, the results were mental retardation, deformities, or other unacceptable flaws.

The technology existed to manipulate DNA, but this was universally frowned upon. Generations ago, genetic manipulation was common. But from what Devon had read, the average citizens rallied against the practice with a war that spanned the galaxy.

Despite the limitations of the natural born man, they eventually won. Strict laws against genetic manipulation were passed. After the universal declaration, those born with manipulated DNA were not given the same rights as other citizens. They were practically relegated to the status of slaves.

Even Devon’s ancestors complied with the new universal stance. They cheated it, however, by only breeding with others that had ancestors who used genetic manipulation. In fact, Devon chose the women in his harem based on their DNA compatibility and the ones he favored most had benefited generations ago by DNA enhancements.

Jori and Terk’s mother was one such woman. That she also had the abilities of a Truth Seeker also made her a desirable. Although Terk and Jori did not have her ability, they were both excellent results of select breeding. They were the last two he had sired and were the only two sons he had left.

Jori irritated him a great deal, but Jetser was right. He was still young so there was still time to mold him.

“I want you to have a long talk with him about being careful not to look like he’s befriending our enemy.”

Jetser nodded respectfully. “Yes, Your Eminence,” he replied.

Devon gave Jetser a dismissing nod. “Bring me Hagar,” he said.

Jetser nodded again with a slight bow. Devon stepped out of the at-ease stance and crossed his arms in front of him. He wasn’t quite as annoyed about Jori as he had been a moment before, but he wanted to make sure. Hagar came recommended by Trevine and was proving to be a very promising warrior guard. Devon would have him keep a closer eye on Jori and report anything suspicious.


Please comment below to tell me what you thought of this chapter. I’m an amateur writer and am in desperate need of constructive criticism.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright November, 2015 by Dawn Ross

You may share this sci-fi novella so long as you link back to this website and mention, The Kavakian Empire by Dawn Ross.

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch10a – Insert

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 10a – Insert

(I realized that I forgot to tell you all what happened when Devon called Jori back. So this part of chapter 10 needs to be inserted prior to what you read a few weeks ago. Remember, this science fiction story is a work in progress. You will find many errors as you read. Feel free to point them out and please provide me with constructive criticism.)

Jori’s stomach felt like it was full of rocks that were grinding together. And it wasn’t because he thought he was in trouble. He was used to being punished. It was because his father knew something was amiss with the Alliance crew members. Jori was sure that whatever pain he felt from being punished wouldn’t even come close to the pain he’d feel if something happened to J.T.

Seeing people die, especially when they were brutally murdered, already gave Jori nightmares. And if this happened to J.T., the nightmare would be a hundred times worse because the death would be of someone he cared about.

Jori steeled himself for whatever was to come. He stood in what some called an at-ease stance with his hands behind his back, but he was anything but at ease. His muscles were rigid and he dared not give in to the desire to fidget. He held his breath as his father stood over his desk, looked down on him with a threatening glare.

“Why do the prisoners have so much information on their digiviews?” His father’s voice was quiet, but Jori could sense his boiling anger.

Rather than be intimidated, though, Jori’s eyebrows drew together. It was no secret that the digiviews were full of information. “Although they have general knowledge on lasers, they aren’t familiar with this project.”

“So you thought it was a good idea to give them information beyond the project, information they should already know?”

Jori felt a twinge of annoyance. For once, he hadn’t done anything wrong. “The more information they have, the more likely they’ll be able to complete the project.”

“How can I be sure they’re knowledgeable enough if you’ve given them all the answers?” His father’s lips were pressed together and his jaw tightly set.

Jori had to be careful to keep his tone from sounding peevish. “Since they only minored in the technology, I gave them references they could turn to so they wouldn’t mess anything up.”

His father took a deep breath. Jori could sense his irritation, but he seemed to accept the explanation. Something else was bothering him though. “Why does Jako seem to think you’re helping them?”

The rocks in his stomach tumbled again, but Jori kept his face neutral. “Jako is jealous because he knows I’m smarter than him.”

His father raised his eyebrow impatiently. “So you’re not helping them?”

“I merely make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. If I help them, it is to make sure they’re doing it right.”

“And I suppose you’re not protecting them either?” His father’s nostrils flared and his breathing sounded heavier.

Damn Jako. Jori knew the man was going to be trouble, but that he actually had the nerve to make such accusations to his father really irked him. “Protecting them how?” Jori replied. He tried to make his tone sound innocent, but it sounded vexed instead.

“By not properly motivated them,” he said through clenched teeth.

Jori’s mouth was dry and he wanted to look away from his father’s glare. But he managed to hold his eyes and keep his composure. “Jako’s desire to exert his newfound dominance on them is counter-productive.”

Jori knew his tone had come across as sounding defensive because his father’s fists were balled up so tight that his hands were turning white. “Is that your sentiment talking, boy?”

“No, Sir,” Jori replied. He lifted his chin in a way he hoped would reflect the confidence he didn’t feel. “I am tired of having to work with these cowardly men, but I do what I must so that the laser can get done as quickly as possible. The more Jako wants to punish them, the longer it will take.”

His father still had a dark look, but his fists were no longer clenched. “So you’re taking it easy on them for the good of the empire?” His father sounded skeptical but Jori could sense he was buying it.

Jori forced himself to clench his teeth and frown in a way that he hoped his father would interpret as hate. “I have no love for the Alliance.”

“Then it won’t bother you if I sign them up for another round in the gallery.”

Rather than give in to panic, Jori tried to hold on to his look of hate “Not at all, Sir.”

“Good. Then when Derianna is done, I will make the arrangements.” His father stared at Jori for a moment to see if he’d react. Jori’s stomach turned, but he didn’t let anything show. Still, his father wasn’t satisfied. “And if you hate the Alliance so much, I expect you to participate.”

Jori felt the blood drain from his face, but he forced himself the keep the hateful look. This time, though, the look was a reflection of how he felt about his father. “You know I won’t.”

His father’s face turned red and he bared his teeth when he spoke. “Then when I am done with them, it will be your turn.”

Nervousness and outrage rumbled together in Jori’s stomach. He defiantly held his father’s stare, but didn’t reply. So be it, he said to himself. He would have said it out loud but he knew it would earn him a hard slap.

Despite Jori’s Jintal training, a form of training that taught him to endure pain, he still felt anxious about being punished. But while his father thought the torture would make Jori more compliant, it only served to make him hate his father more.

“Damned your stubbornness, boy,” his father said through clenched teeth.


Please comment below to tell me what you thought of this chapter. I’m an amateur writer and am in desperate need of constructive criticism.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright November, 2015 by Dawn Ross

You may share this sci-fi novella so long as you link back to this website and mention, The Kavakian Empire by Dawn Ross.

Review of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on October 31, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

I know I have a difficult time showing rather than telling my characters’ emotions. And I know I tend to describe emotions the same way every time even though each scene and each character might be different. The last chapter with Terk and Jako is a perfect example. So when the book The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression was recommended to me, I ordered it right away.

Before the book gets into the emotions, it gives some tips for avoiding common problems with writing emotions. The problem I have was listed first, which is basically telling rather than showing. In chapter 11 of part two, a sentence reads, “He glowered at Jako and the weasel of a man finally had the sense to begin feeling uneasy.” Even though Terk can sense emotions, it might be more beneficial for the reader if I showed this part rather than just stated it.

Another problem The Emotion Thesaurus mentions is with clichéd emotions. Grinning ear-to-ear is an example the book presents. So when a writer wants to show that a character has a wide grin, perhaps they should try to show it in a different way, or at least a way that is not overly common. My problem isn’t so much a trouble with clichés as it is with using the same expression too much. For example, chapter 11 seems to have a lot of scowling and glowering.

Not Balanced
Too much reliance on either dialogue or non-verbal expression is another problem The Emotion Thesaurus mentions. A writer needs to have both well balanced together. My problem is that my dialogue isn’t balanced well enough with the non-verbal expressions. In other words, the characters talk, but no one feels anything. Or if they do feel something, it is barely mentioned.

The Emotion Thesaurus mentions two more common problems with writing emotions, but I’ll let you buy the book and learn about them for yourself. The book also gives some very good examples of each problem and how to fix them.

The rest of the book is the emotions part of the thesaurus. Emotions are listed in alphabetical order from adoration to worry. There are 75 emotions total and each one is broken down into the following parts:

The definition is first. Some emotions, like embarrassment and shame, are synonyms. But there may be some slight differences that are important for a writer to distinguish between.

Physical Signals
The next section is the emotion’s physical signals. These are the signals that other people can see. There are a number of physical signals for anger including flaring nostrils, glaring, baring one’s teeth, turning red, pounding fist, and so on. Terk was partially angry and he showed it with his glaring and he smacked his hand down. But I could show a little more. He was also annoyed that Jako wasn’t afraid of him. I stated this, but perhaps this thesaurus can help me show it instead.

Internal Sensations
The next section is on internal sensations. These are things a character feels but doesn’t necessarily show. Depending on how angry a character is, their internal sensations can include sweating, quivering muscles, and more.

Mental Responses
The Emotion Thesaurus also lists the mental responses for a character. A character who is angry might also be irritable or irrational, among other things.

Long Term Consequences
If a character feels an emotion for a long period of time, The Emotion Thesaurus lists the cues for this as well. So someone who is angry for a long time, for example, might develop a problem with getting angry over little things, develop hypertension, or escalate into rage.

Suppressed Emotion
But what if a character feels an emotion but tries to suppress it? The Emotion Thesaurus covers this as well. Jori and Terk both have a tendency to try to hide their emotions. So if Terk wanted to suppress his anger, he might try to carefully control his tone, avoid eye contact, or clench his fists behind his back so someone like his father doesn’t notice.

Writing Tip
Each emotion ends with an additional writing tip. Some of the tips are specific to the emotion just presented while other tips can be applied in a number of situations.

For me, the three issues first mentioned all boil down to the fact that I do not show my characters’ emotions to the reader well enough. My writing isn’t balanced because I don’t show it and I tend to rely too much on common expressions. I really think The Emotion Thesaurus can help me. Rewriting part one with this in mind might make a huge difference when it comes to developing my characters better. But before I go back that far, I am going to rewrite chapter 11 of part two. Come back next week to see if I’ve made a noticeable difference. In the meantime, buy The Emotion Thesaurus from my Amazon A-Store.

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch9c

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 9c

Note from the author: This chapter is a little longer than I intended. I think there is too much inner contemplation from Terk and not enough action or tension. What do you think? Please feel free to provide some feedback. I believe this sci-fi story is a great one, but as an amateur writer I need all the help I can get in making sure it is written that way.

Terk sat in his father’s chair on the bridge. His father was not there, which meant Terk was in charge. He wan’t completely in charge, though. General Trevine would take command if he felt Terk couldn’t handle it. Trevine, or tree trunk as many called him, generally left Terk alone, but only because most tasks on the bridge were routine. If there was an emergency, Trevine would take over and completely ignore any of Terk’s suggestions.

This day was as mundane as usual. Terk could sense Trevine’s boredom. The man often was. Trevine was a warrior and like to be constantly active. He was intelligent enough to work the bridge, but he had learned by experience rather than through an education like Terk’s. Terk had tried to argue for more hands-on experience with both Trevine and his father. They agreed, but neither were willing to let go of their authority. Trevine was much like is father in stubbornness and arrogance. It irritated Terk to no end, but there was little he could do about it other than complain. And complaining wasn’t something his father tolerated.

Terk was looking over the engine stats to make sure everything was operating within parameters. Dekel did well enough, but he sometimes forgot to keep an eye on the ___________ sensor. It was difficult to tell whether it was too high or too low because a high number didn’t always mean it was high. The measurement had to be compared mathematically with three other components, which also tended to fluctuate. Biskol was supposed to devise a program to make it easier to tell whether the ____________ reading was normal, but although programming ships was his specialty, he really wasn’t all that good at it. Tredons were not known for making intellectual pursuits a priority. Only lords tended to opt for a formal education and usually had to travel abroad, or in Terk’s case have teachers brought in from abroad, to get it.

Terk was considered highly intelligent, but Jori was the true genius. He absorbed everything he was taught, including aspects of warfare. And he studied even more subjects on his own. If Jori could find the time, he could probably write a program for gauging the _____________. But their father kept them both rather busy. And the more Jori learned, the busier he became because the ship desperately needed the expertise.

His brother was better than him at most things, but Terk wasn’t jealous. There was a time when he was, but Jori was too likeable. And he didn’t have an ounce of ambition in him, other than his desire to learn and learn some more. Kavakian siblings had been known to kill one another off in order to become heir. Terk had seen a couple of his elder brothers do it. And his father had gotten his status in this way.

Although there was once a half-brother Terk considered killing, he would never harm Jori. When Terk became emperor, Jori would be by his side. Terk would handle the leadership and martial aspects of his job while Jori would handle the administrative and technological aspects. Dividing duties in this way would certainly make things much easier. Terk’s father juggled all the duties, except the technological because there wasn’t much of a technological aspect. His father was doing administrative work now, which was why Terk had command of the bridge.

Terk’s musings were interrupted with a beep from the vidcomm. The corner of the bridge window indicated it was Captain General Brevak of the Basilisk.

Terk pressed the answer button on his chair and stood up. Although he could have remained sitting, Terk felt that addressing a high-ranking official in such a way made him look lazy and arrogant. Standing was a mark of Terk’s authority as well as a sign of respect towards the man’s status.

“Brevak, I trust your ship has been repaired and all is well,” he said when the captain general’s face popped up on the screen.

“Yes, my Lord,” Brevak replied.

Brevak was rather young for a captain general, mid-forties, but he was quite capable. He was probably one of the best warrior-leaders of his father’s fleet, at least according to Terk and Jori. He came from a family long dedicated to the Kavakian Empire. But unlike many of the lords who tended to get lazy and leave the work of fighting to lesser-born men, Brevak’s family maintained a strong warrior heritage. They learned their skills both at home and abroad and in many different forms. Brevak was the master of all the basic weapon types and several forms of master arts, was greatly skilled in space combat, and did very well in strategic planning.

His skills were not what Terk and Jori admired most about him, though. Nor was it his unwavering loyalty to the Kavaks. Brevak was an exceptional leader and his men loved him. Terk and Jori had tried to determine what it was about Brevak that made it so, but weren’t around Brevak enough to find out. All Terk knew was that while his father’s men grumbled and complained but did as they were told, Brevak’s men seemed to celebrate their leader.

Terk had tried to get father to send him to the Basilisk so he could tutor under Brevak. But although his father trusted Brevak’s skills and loyalty, Terk sensed a wariness in him.

“However,” Brevak continued, “we engaged with a couple of Alliance ships just before crossing the border and suffered additional damage.”


“Yes, my Lord. Within the hour.”

“Injuries to your crew?”

“No one this time.”

“And what of the Alliance ships?” Terk asked.

“I’m sure they sustained more damage, but I doubt it was significant. They didn’t follow us over, although I think they could have. I will need backup, Sir, if you want me to go back over to destroy them.”

“Backup is a few day cycles away yet. Repair your ship and monitor the borders to make sure they don’t sneak in.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

Terk disconnected the communication and the window went back to its view of space. He sat back down in his chair but was careful not to make it look like it was with relief. There had been a time when he would have relished the idea of going to war with the Alliance. But after nearly dying and being rescued by them a few periods back, he had a difficult time seeing them as his enemies.

While Terk didn’t like the idea of Jori endangering himself in order to save them, he did hope they wouldn’t have to die. He especially hoped he wouldn’t have to be the one to kill them. Terk didn’t enjoy killing the way some of his father’s men seemed to. But he had no trouble with killing when it was necessary, although he suspected killing J.T. would bother him. Not to mention that Jori would never forgive me.

Jori came onto the bridge before Terk could contemplate the problem of the Alliance crew further. His brother was apprehensive, though lately that was nothing unusual.

“What are you doing here?” Terk asked.

“Father summoned us.”

“What about?”

“I don’t know,” Jori replied.

Terk felt a spike in brother’s his nervousness. “I’m sure it’s nothing,” he replied as he and Jori made their way to their father’s ready room.

When they entered, their father was focused on his work screen. Terk sensed he was deep in thought and didn’t seem to be in a foul mood.

Good, Terk thought. He still knows nothing.

Terk’s hopes were dashed, though, when his father looked up at him with his piercing dark eyes. Terk felt a mental stab when his father’s anger spiked.

“Jako came to me with a disturbing complaint,” father said.

Shit, Terk thought, blood draining from his face. He had meant to speak to Jako as soon as his shift was over. Now it was too late.

“He says the Alliance crew members don’t know what they’re doing,” he continued.

“Some are more knowledgeable than others,” Jori replied with a calm Terk knew he didn’t feel. Their nervousness had intensified, though neither let it show on their face. Their father couldn’t sense emotions like they could so their ability to hide how they felt was a strong advantage.

The man must have suspected something, though, because his jaw clenched and his nostrils flared. “He seems to think they’re faking it.”

Shit! Terk tried to think of an excuse but his brother beat him to it.

“If they are lying, we’d sense it.”

“How can you be sure? You barely know what you’re doing.”

“I know more than Jako,” Jori said, trying not to sound defensive.

“Terk?” his father said. “Have you sensed any deception in them?”

“No …” His voice cracked. “No, Sir.”

His father glared at them each in turn. Terk suppressed the urge to swallow and held his breath as his father scrutinized them. Both brothers stood stiff in an at-ease stance in hopes of reflecting calm and confidence.

“Just to be sure,” he finally said, “get Derianna … now.”

Shit, shit, shit! Terk thought but kept his face straight. Both brother’s acknowledged their father’s command while keeping their composure, although both were a hundred times more tense than they had been just a moment before.

Derianna was their mother and her ability to sense emotions and lies was much more precise than Terk and Jori’s. Plus she had another skill, one that kept her close while the other concubines tended to get passed on to the men when their father got bored with them.

“Shit!” Terk said out loud once he and his brother were clear of their father’s ready room. If father finds out about our ruse, he’ll be beyond pissed. Terk wanted to be angry at his little brother, and at the Alliance, for getting him into this mess. But the truth was, he was worried. And not worried for himself, worried for Jori.

Their father only had two surviving sons and an assassination attempt that corrupted his DNA kept him from being able to procreate more. But having two sons meant one was expendable.

Terk had been sensing his father’s increased impatience and annoyance with Jori. Although Jori was better than Terk at just about everything, he was very stubborn about certain things. The one annoying father the most was that Jori refused to torture or murder anyone. Oh, he would kill if he had to, but never murder. To make matters worse, rather than simply refuse to do what father told him, Jori often argued with him about it. Although Jori’s reasoning seemed logical, it only served to infuriate their father. Terk was afraid that one of these days his father would lose his temper and take Jori’s punishments too far. It wouldn’t be the first time their father had killed one of their brothers.

Terk pushed these dire thoughts out of his mind. He and Jori would get through this and they would get through it together.

“Warn them quickly,” he said to his brother in their secret language. “I’ll talk to mother.”

Before they could get far, Jori stopped short and held the comm button by his ear. Terk sensed a sharp panic from him. “Yes, Sir,” Jori said.

“What is it?” he asked.

Jori’s face was pale. “Father just called me back. I can’t warn them.”

“Did he say what he wanted?”


Shit. Terk tried to think of something but nothing came to mind. When father called for them, there was no delaying. “I’m sorry, Little Brother, but this might be the end of it.”

“Maybe Mother…”

“Maybe. Or maybe we’ll get caught, dammit.” Terk glowered, daring his brother to protest.

Jori didn’t say a word, but the look on his face and the emotions emanating from him said it all.

“Dammit!” Terk said. He turned away in a huff and headed towards the harem. Anyone looking at him would have thought he was in a furious mood, but inside his gut churned with worry.


So what do you think of this chapter? Constructive criticism is welcome.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright September, 2015 by Dawn Ross

You may share this sci-fi novella so long as you link back to this website and mention, The Kavakian Empire by Dawn Ross.

Meet Another Fantastic Author – Amy McGuire

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , on September 29, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Welcome, everyone. I’d like to introduce you to another great author, Amy McGuire. Who is Amy and what does she write about? Read about her here today and come back again tomorrow for more!

Dawn Ross: Tell me about yourself.

Amy McGuire:  Well, I’m the last of three children born to missionary parents who worked in East Africa for most of my childhood.  I was born in the tiny town of Campbell River, British Columbia during one of their furloughs and about two and a half years later they returned to the mission field with me and my two older siblings in tow.  My first published book is infused with some of the experiences I gained as a missionary kid and the culture I grew up in is a very big part of who I am, both as a person and as writer.  I have written stories and poetry almost from the moment I learned how to form a complete sentence, and can say without question that writing is my passion.  I’ve been married to the same amazing man for over eight years now, and I have to admit that the dark hair and light eyes combination of some of my male characters are inspired by him.  I am also the mother of a darling four year old angel who makes me smile and believe in the power of imagination on a daily basis.  I guess you could say my titles are as follows: Wife, Mother and Author.  I love being all three and wouldn’t have my life any other way.  Romance is my personal weakness.  I love to read it, write it, talk about it, experience it when I can, and live it.  If I ever ‘make it big’ I want writing to be my career and the ‘job’ I do until I can no longer type or come up with stories.

Dawn Ross:  Tell me about your writing process.

Amy McGuire:  When I first started writing The Hope Valley Saga it was one book.  I had a notebook I took everywhere (this was pre-laptop) and I wrote as often as I could.  Whenever I was able to find a moment, I used the desktop to type all the chapters I had written in my notebook into Microsoft Word.  Sometimes just ideas, and not whole chapters would come me and in that case I would enter them into my notebook in Microsoft Word when I got the chance.  As the story developed I ended up with multiple drafts, all saved in a special file on my desktop.  For my birthday a couple years ago I asked for a small, lightweight laptop that I could use anywhere instead of constantly typing from my paper notebook.  Now I use that almost exclusively but occasionally when I am away from it, such as I was when I went camping with my family about a month ago, I go back to my paper notebook and scribble whole chapters or just ideas.

Dawn Ross:  Where do you get your inspiration?

Amy McGuire: I was once told by a very wise person to ‘write what you know’.  So a lot of the scenes in my first novel are loosely based on actual events I experienced.  As my story has progressed and I create the saga, I find my main inspiration is simply the world around me.  I can watch a movie, or show or people in a crowded mall and get inspired.  In fact, one of my upcoming (hopefully in the not too distant future) books which is sci-fi was inspired by another sci-fi show I watched recently.  I find certain books I read will inspire me.  Sometimes just being on vacation and ‘getting away from it all’ can have a huge affect on what I write.  For instance, there is a scene in book three of my saga which I wrote entirely while on vacation in Florida, again, based off actual events.  A thing as small as being bitten by fire ants while taking a walk with my family or as big as a horrific event on the news can be inspiring, depending on my mood and what particular scene I want to write.

Dawn Ross:  Do you have any creative writing tips?

Amy McGuire:  I don’t know that I’m very technical, but I guess my advice to anyone working on a novel they want to get published is this.  Make sure you watch your points of view, that you don’t head hop.  This is something a lot of the more famous writers get away with, and while it’s fun to know what everyone in the story is thinking, it’s not wise to play God as a writer.  You need to look at it from the reader’s perspective.  If this were real life, would they be able to know what everyone’s motives are all the time?  Of course not.  Besides being a bit annoying to jump from so and so’s thoughts to someone else’s without any breaks, it is also incredibly confusing.  I have found myself many a time having to go back a few pages because I don’t know whose head I’m in.  If you must tell the story from different points of view, use two line spaces between the paragraphs of each character and try very hard not to jump back and forth.  A rule of thumb I try to follow is that there should really be no more than two points of view in any chapter.  I’ve been told that one per chapter is best, but it can be very restricting in romance to write like that.  If there are more than two I have to rethink whose point of view is the most important.  I actually rewrote an entire scene in The Heart’s Discovery based on this principle and discovered that the scene was in fact stronger because it was in Gabriel’s perspective and no one else’s.  It also can be lazy writing to just let your readers know what everyone is thinking all the time.  You aren’t forced to show the emotions, but simply tell the reader so and so feels this way or that way.

Dawn Ross:  This is not the end of the interview. Come back again tomorrow. In the meantime, check out Amy McGuire’s books at:

Amazon Paperback:

Amazon Kindle:


Amy McGuire