Saturday in Winchester

Last weekend I had the opportunity to try something completely new: a flash writing contest! This was put on by A Bunch of People, a non-profit that hosts artistic/creative events to raise funds for charities.

And actually, the flash writing contest wasn’t the only new thing I tried that weekend. It was held down in Winchester, Ontario, about an hour’s drive south of Ottawa, and I’d never been there before either.

The rules were pretty simple: there were four categories (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and song); each category got a prompt word at 11:00am; and then you had 150 minutes to write something under 1000 words which was themed to the prompt word.

Easy enough right…? Except I chose non-fiction (having never written flash nonfic before) and the prompt was resist. Oh, man, it was so hard!

I wouldn’t consider myself a very resistant person. Stubborn, oh yes. But that’s not quite the same thing. (I also don’t think you can survive in IT without being stubborn. One of my old managers, way back when I was a helpdesk agent, said you had to be a bit like a dog with a bone to do IT. But I digress.) So, I did what anyone would do, and improvised an essay about how I’m not a resistant person, but ‘my life is a river’ (to quote my opening sentence. And it tied for second-place! 🥳

After the contest I was starving (remember how it went from 11-1:30?) so I wandered a bit to find some food, and oh man, Winchester is a nice little village. Gardens, cafe’s, a maker’s shop (!), and a second-hand bookstore all within about a ten minute walk… my kind of place! I found a store with some old Star Trek novels and picked up four. I used to spend hours browsing second-hand bookstores as a teenager, finding old Trek novels and then reading them with a kitkat bar. Ah, nostalgia. Actually, I found what I think might be a first edition of the TMP novelization, which I’d never read (dunno why). It’s kind of cool to see Roddenberry’s not-quite-but-sorta canon “insider’s take” on what’s going on inside Kirk & Spock’s heads. A little more satisfying than just fanfiction, anyway.

Then it was back to the hall for everyone to present their works. I had to duck out after an hour–it was a long drive back to Ottawa, and I still had groceries to buy and dinner to make–but from what I heard of the entrants, I was so impressed. Doesn’t it… just scratch an itch to hear other people’s creativity? Out loud, together? I didn’t know that was a thing that was missing in my life, but it felt almost like sitting with friends, even though I didn’t actually know any of these people. It was great, I’m using too many words to try and say 😅

Then back to Ottawa with my Trek novels to find I’d taken second-place. The first & second place winners for each category will be published into a book, which ABOP is going to sell for charity. All together, a great day in Winchester.

Got this at the Maker Mart!
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March Through Pages: My Month in Books and Writing Endeavors

March has been an enlightening month, filled with discoveries and significant progress in my reading and writing journey. As a way to share my progress & goals here are the books I read this month, followed by an update on my writing projects!

Books of the Month

I read 5 books in March, slightly behind my goal of 1.5 per week. Goal: Step it up in April! 💪

  1. The Letters of John – Gary M. Burge
    The Letters of John, written by Gary M. Burge, offers an insightful exploration of the epistles of John from the New Testament. It delves into the historical, social, and theological context of these letters, shedding light on their relevance for contemporary readers.
    I thought this book was quite an interesting insight into the early church and apostolic authority when such a church didn’t have much in the way of Scripture to fall back on. Who to trust, and how can you trust them?
  2. San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities – Michael Shellenberger
    In San Fransicko, Michael Shellenberger investigates the impact of progressive policies on urban environments, focusing primarily on San Francisco. By presenting an array of case studies, Shellenberger demonstrates how well-intentioned policies can sometimes have devastating consequences for cities and their residents.
    The title of this book was a real failure–despite being so provocative, the book was very well researched and quite empathic towards those in real need.
  3. Kindred – Octavia E. Butler
    Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred is a powerful novel that blends science fiction, historical fiction, and social commentary. The story revolves around Dana, a young African-American woman who is inexplicably transported back in time to the antebellum South, where she must confront the brutal realities of slavery. As Dana’s life becomes intertwined with her ancestors, she grapples with questions of identity, responsibility, and survival. Kindred is an emotionally intense and thought-provoking book that offers a unique perspective on the lasting impact of America’s dark past.
    I’ve never read Butler before and I don’t know why? Kindred was amazing–exactly my kind of sci-fi. Character driven and intensely personal, and the sci-fi aspect is almost ignored in the end. It’s about how people act in abnormal situations, instead of the technology that made the abnormal situation. 5/5 will read more of her work.
  4. How Much is Enough? Hungering For God in an Affluent World – Arthur Simon
    A compelling examination of the relationship between material wealth and spiritual hunger. By reflecting on the teachings of Jesus and the experiences of people from various walks of life, Simon encourages readers to reconsider their priorities and seek a deeper connection with God.
  5. Exodus and Leviticus for Everyone – John E. Goldingay
    A super-accessible and engaging commentary on these foundational books of the Old Testament. Goldingay’s ability to bring ancient texts to life through vivid storytelling and practical application makes for an enlightening read.

My Writing Projects

Into The Grey – A Fantasy Novel


Final count: 138,974 words

Yeah, that’s going to be a real monster to revise. Sounds like a later problem for sure.

Sequel to “Distal” (Untitled: Sci-Fi)

Not… really sure where this is going, but I’m plugging away at it. None of you will remember the novel this one is a sequel to, because exactly two people in the world have read it (myself and one reader lol). In this novel, I’ve decided to write a Cinderella type story (you know, the ruler has to choose a consort type of thing) except the potential consorts are mostly political pawns for various players across the interstellar empire in which this takes place.

Because reasons.

Anyway all that started getting boring at 23k words in so now there’s a murderer aboard the spaceship:

😱Like I said: no idea where this is going. IT WILL BE A RIDE.

And just for fun, some art! I’ve been playing with AI art generators a lot this month. This one makes me think of the Nine Hundred Golden Suns empire. You know, with the fires and the burning and everything.

Hope y’all had a great March 😘

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They’re heavy. Unexpectedly heavy. I didn’t realize that 283,000 words would weigh so much, take up so much space. When you spend hours and days and weeks writing on a phone or a laptop, editing the same way, words are ethereal little bits: Sure, they add up in the word counter, but that’s the only way to measure progress. Now that I have all three paperbacks out I can actually hold them, feel the realness of each and every word.

Just in this series (I mean, the entire Nine Hundred series, not only this trilogy) there’s about five hundred thousand words. How much would that all weigh? If, someday, I published everything–Into the Grey, Bootstrap_, At The Edge Of Our Star, The Spice Merchant’s Wife… It might fill an entire bookshelf. Would I still have more stories to tell? Probably. The more I write, the more I seem to want to write. If I were going to give a new writer one single piece of advice, that would be it. Write every day. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, it doesn’t even have to be much. But the more you write, the more will come.

I’d like to get all three of those into one hardcover copy one day, but right now Amazon has a page limit of 550, which isn’t enough. I’d like to see Murah and Yuun’s stories there too, and Mattrim and Eli’s. But right now I’m just amazed that imagination can be so heavy. So weirdly real, despite being just a story.

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Completed art

Is this an art blog now? The world wonders.

(Actually have you ever read the backstory to the phrase the world wonders? It’s really interesting! So in World War Two, were added to an encoded message as padding (they were meant to be meaningless). But the message was something like >>where is the USS Nimitz [author’s note: I don’t remember the actual ship in question] the world wonders<< and the admiral who received the message took it really personally, like, where the fuck are you admiral dude.

I guess the message is, choose your encryption padding carefully.)

Right, but this post did have a point. Uh. Art!


by acerolinha on Fiverr

This totally inspired me to go back and add (at least one) of these decompression scenes to Loyalty. It’s half-drafted now, about 1k words in (though it’ll probably clock in at about 3k). Anutea+Loren! If each book focuses on one character’s perspective, and the first book definitely focused on the Casey+Norah relationship, then book two is much more about Loren’s relationship with each of them.

(Although book 2 focuses on Casilim-la‘s perspective, so I’m not sure why it focuses on Loren’s relationship… this meta stuff is hard).

Can you imagine a more fraught relationship than Anutea+Loren at the beginning of Loyalty? Man, there’s some fucking history there.

I think I’m going to try my hand at turning the above ^ into a bookmark, plus also get some prints to send out with hardcopy signed copies of the books. I wonder what scene I’ll commission next? Possibilities, possibilities~


More art

Actually I’m not sure I ever posted about the first art, so I probably shouldn’t label this one more art. But the point of the matter is: I commissioned some art of Casey and Norah in zero-g and got a sketch version of it yesterday, and I need to share this joy with the world.

It still needs colour, but doesn’t it look so fabulous? They’re so happy, my goodness. My happy darlings ❤

If you haven’t read this scene in Identity, it’s Norah trying zero-g for the first time (with Casey, who is definitely not in zero-g for the first time). Casey is also completely ignoring about six hundred urgent messages (#goals).

Actually looking at this (it’s my phone background now, so I see it many times a day) it occurs to me that there isn’t really an equivalent scene in Loyalty. I’m not sure exactly where I’d add one, but those little happiness scenes are important, aren’t they? One of my readers told me this was her favourite scene, and another said her favourite was Casey and Norah playing video games.

Of course, the character dynamics in Loyalty are quite different. But the karlzn scene (above) in Identity was a second draft insertion, so it’s not like I couldn’t go back and add a little… release of tension scene. Or a couple. Loren+Anutéa? Loren+Casilim-la? Why not? Or, hell, a flashback? Possibilities!