Friday, January 24, 2014

Excerpts from my published stories: Birthday

Hey everyone, hope you're all enjoying your Friday so far - I'm not working this weekend so I absolutely cannot wait to get comfortable and begin relaxing! Just need to get this work-day out of the way...

In any case, I've got another (the last, for now) excerpt from my published stories - this tale was published in eSciFi's second issue, and is about a day in the life of a young man, living in a world that has dealt with the problem of over-population in a ... well, you'll just have to read it to see, won't you? ;-)

Here's a taster:

***

The first thing I heard as I woke up was a soft ping – the System recognizing that I had woken up. It monitored everyone, every minute of their lives – another one of Dad’s ‘societal improvements’.

I stretched, yawned, and then grudgingly sat up and ran a hand through my hair. The System activated the radio and an irritating DJ’s strident voice began informing me that “Today’s a day for great things, man, so get out there and be great!” and then the flowglass cleared, letting dazzling sunlight spill into the room.

I climbed out of bed and shuffled into the bathroom. The light went on and I studied myself in the mirror for a while – I had the old asshole’s eyes, my mother’s nose; his unfortunate chin, too, and my mother’s pale skin. Behind me the DJ began reading out the day’s weather and it was only when he stated the date that I realized what day it was – my twenty-third birthday.

“Fuck sakes,” I breathed, lowering my head into my hands. Another day older. Another day closer to the Letter.

I rubbed my hand over my face, thoughts falling into that odd numbness, that silence that echoes in the space between thoughts. Then I noticed the vial lying next to my right hand. I had learned to stop wondering what was in the vial, just as everyone else in the world had, I guess.

The only information that the System gave us was that the liquid in the vials kept our hearts beating, kept us healthy and fit, and bolstered our immune systems – because of the vial’s contents no-one had died of disease or infection in almost thirty years.

I picked up the vial. Pierced the soft lid and swallowed the tasteless contents.

After getting dressed I checked my Notifications and saw it. I forced myself to access it. The Letter opened in the air before me, the System’s various ‘Eyes’ building the holograph in a matter of seconds, and I began reading.

“From: PopCon Johannesburg – Mandela Square Office

“Mr Herchelle, it is our solemn duty to inform you that on the 17th of March, 2133, at 17h35 -”


I re-read it before marking the Notification as Read. Eating break-fast –the gruel that was specifically tailored and gene-sequenced to my body chemistry- passed in a blur and I only really started noticing my surroundings again when I climbed out of the TransU-pod and stepped onto Herchelle Plaza. A trip of fifteen minutes that had passed with me entirely unaware of it.

I was one of two people in the world who had the necessary access-imprint to enter the plaza, and I realized that, for the first time in my life, I was happy that only my father and I had the imprint.

I stood before the plaque for a while, just looking at the silver etching of his face. I read and re-read the statement that had been printed at the bottom that celebrated his world-saving and humanity-saving achievement. It came as a surprise when I felt the tears sliding down my cheeks.

“I know you can hear me,” I whispered, dashing the tears from my eyes. “All I want to know is, why haven’t you tried to contact me? How can you sit there, watch me standing here, knowing what’s coming, and not contact me?”

I swung a kick at the base of the wall and a single alarm-tone sounded, short and loud. A warning. I ignored it. “Are you already dead? Is that it?”

No reaction. Truthfully, I hadn’t expected him to react.

I spat on the plaque and left the plaza.

***



If you'd like to read more, here's the link to order the issue: Amazon US and Amazon UK. If you read it, please let me know what you think, eh? ;-)

Until next week,
Be EPIC!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Excerpts from my published stories: Angel Song (AfroSF - Science Fiction by African Writers)

Hey everyone, hope you're all well. :-)

I want to thank everyone who checked out yesterday's excerpt of 'TWISTED' - if the stats are anything to go by (88 views!) then plenty of people read the excerpt and (hopefully) bought a Kindle-copy of the eFantasy issue in which the story appeared. :-)

Today I've got another excerpt for you, from Angel Song, the Military SF story that was published in AfroSF alongside an awesome collection of stories showcasing many of the best African-SF writers I've come across. :-)

This tale is all action and has a slight hint of religious flavour - or does it? That's up to you to decide... ;-)

I hope you enjoy it!

***

 "Get those fucking Blowers ready!" Ed screamed, buffeted on all sides by screaming, fighting soldiers.  “I’m makin’ a hole!” He rose, tossed the last of his S-grenades over the crest of the rise and collapsed to the dirt, throwing an armour-encased hand over his head.
A second later the pressure-wave reached him and his ears popped. The ground rose, then fell a foot below him and he thumped down, his teeth rattling.
Ed paused for breath and then engaged his helmet’s IR-filters before pushing himself to his feet. With the IR activated he could see through the swirling dust, and what he saw was a crater, so smoothly hollowed out that it seemed the landscape had been replaced with some artificial depression. It glowed, the fiery orange of residual heat roiling above the crater like an air-shimmer. The power of singularity-grenades was terrifying. Ed understood why platoon-leaders were the only ones who were supplied with them, and then only five-a-piece.
Ed thanked humanity's myriad gods that he hadn't been in the middle of that blast. Somewhere in the air above that crater, a miniature black hole the size of a pinhead was dying away, sucking into compressed oblivion who-knew-how-many of the enemy. He scanned the space behind him and then moved forward. His troops were getting to their feet too, but some - faces slack and eyes staring - didn't move. Casualties of the Angel-advance they had died to halt.
"Come on, let’s move it! Press them! Press the fuckers!"
Ed led his four thousand and they rushed into the stillness of the grenade’s aftermath. The digits in his HUD kept him updated on how many men he had left in his force. Twelve-thousand men had died already, and that was just in his command. The current front line, which encompassed thirty square kilometres, had been filled with two-hundred thousand soldiers just this morning. When the HUD’s unit counter reached two-thousand he would abandon the attack, as ordered by High Command. Sometimes it seemed to him that High Command thought massive casualties were somehow sustainable in this war, and that leaving a core of shell-shocked veterans was good for the war’s continuation. Ed didn’t understand it, but it was what he had to work with. He also didn’t understand why this planet – so far from Earth that Earth was just a dim star in the night sky - had been targeted by the Angels; it was well off their invasion vector, so out-of-the-way that it didn’t have a name, only a designation that he had already forgotten.
One of his men, a lieutenant who’d been on the job for precisely forty-five minutes, ran up beside him and shouted, "The Blowers are offline, sir! The Techs were hit!"
"By what?" Ed screamed back, although it was obvious; when someone died in this war, they weren’t hit, they were touched. Caressed.
They had to shout above the distant thunder of surrounding engagements – four groups of similar size hitting the kilometres’ long front-line of advancing Angels . Ed hadn’t even noticed that the Techs had fallen.
He was losing focus.
As one they streamed down the side of the crater, jump-running. Thirty yards ahead Ed could see the sky begin to fill with the radiance of another advancing wave.
More of the Angels were coming. How many people must have died to make so many Angels?
That thought, more than the numbers who had died trying to push the Angels back, staggered Ed.
               "Get the Blowers up here! We’ll make-do without the Techs!"

***





A war against Angels? Well, to find out just what's going on in 'Angel Song' you'll have to get yourself the AfroSF Anthology - Amazon US (Kindle & Paperback), Amazon UK (Paperback & Kindle), Barnes and Noble, Exclusive Books.

I hope you'll give this anthology a read - and then post a review on Amazon, your FB-profile, your Twitter stream, wherever! :-)

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Excerpts from my published stories: Twisted (A Fractured Fairy Tale)

Hey everyone, hope you're all well. :-)

I thought I'd give you all a taste of the stories that I've had published so far; my novel will be published in April (with another smaller surprise coming in March), and I think plenty of you haven't read anything that I've written - hopefully the excerpts will intrigue you enough to get you to purchase the collections my stories have appeared in. ;-) *hint, hint, Amazon-reviews, wink, wink*

Let's get right into it, shall we? Here's an excerpt from TWISTED, published in October, 2012:



***

Once upon a time, in a land where the twisted and the strange were commonplace, a little girl was walking down a forest-path as she sang a merry little tune in a high, pure voice.

She wore black buckle-shoes that were speckled with mud, along with spotless white stockings and a knee-length black skirt. The tails of her black cloak brushed against her calves as she walked and under the hood her face was milk-pale, though her eyes were a bright, vibrant blue.

The forest was silent as she made her way through it.

The trees stood dark, tall and twisted along the path, their bare branches arching overhead like the curled fingers of skeletal hands. Shadows surrounded her, twisting and curling and hissing as they twitched and rolled out of the girl’s path. Her singing trailed off at the sudden movements but then she gave a high lilting giggle, as if finding what the shadows were doing cute.

The air in the forest was dank and laced with the harsh, dark scents of rotting and dying things but the little girl paid those scents no mind.

Moments later, with the shadows swelling and twitching behind her in impotent anger, she emerged from the forest into a beautiful meadow. The sun blazed down and the meadow’s grass was a rich, vital green. Butterflies of all sizes and colours flitted, dived and climbed in the air and birds sang…

But only for a moment.

The meadow fell silent and the butterflies sank out of sight. Even the sunlight seemed to dim. The little girl’s face became a grimace and her nose wrinkled, as if at a bad smell, and she clicked her tongue in childish anger.

Then came the sound of snapping, crackling branches that drifted out of the forest, and she turned with a smile as three creatures shambled into the meadow.

“Piggies!” she cried out happily and began skipping over to them, her hood bobbing.

The piggies were great, bulky creatures covered in dirt and bits of bark and leaves, their flat-snouted faces stained with old blood, their little piggy eyes sparkling with maliciousness. They snorted and coughed at each other as they shook themselves, their hides rippling in waves as the layers of fat underneath swam sickly around. One of them eyed the little girl and spoke in a grating, dirty voice.

“Look, it’s the little hunter! Where’re our snacks, little one? You know we’re always hungry…” The other piggies laughed at that, harsh coughing sounds that made it sound as if they were in pain...

***

If you enjoyed this little taster, I hope you'll consider getting yourself a copy of eFantasy, Volume 1, No. 3, and read the rest of the tale. There're also other tales to enjoy, in case mine leaves you wanting a bit more. ;-) And please think of reviewing the collection on Amazon! :-)

Until the next excerpt,
Be EPIC!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What I Did On My (Our) Vacation

Welcome to 2014, eh? :-) I really hope the year's been good to you so far - I'm having one of those idiots-all-around-me days (at work), but thankfully my meds help me not to lose it! ;-)

I know I've been quiet for a while - with good reason.

I took a well-deserved vacation with my girlfriend, Leana - flew down to Mossel Bay (South Africa) on the 25th of December to join her and her mom for Christmas. And I told myself that I wouldn't focus on writing; you see, the last time I was in Mossel Bay with Leana I was so focused on writing Betrayal's Shadow that I wasn't *present*. Sure, I remember where we went, what we did, and I enjoyed it, but my focus was on the novel, so I didn't enjoy the holiday with her as much as I could have, and I definitely didn't relax. This time round, it was sublime - I packed in an examination pad, took books with to read, bought more, got a sun tan, saw the sights, and generally had an awesome break. :-) I did write 40 or so words, so I cheated a bit, and I had some great ideas, but other than that, it was the break I needed.

Leana and I also drove to Cape Town, and we were there for three nights - I met up with an old friend (haven't seen her in 6 years!), met Cat Hellisen, Nerine Dorman, and finally met my publisher, Marius Du Plessis, and his husband, Adolph de Beer.

Cat and her family are really cool - I vaguely remember her husband, Bryan, though his hair has grown longer, and they've got two beautiful little girls (plus two cute cats and two adorable dogs). Cat cooked an awesome dinner for us, inviting us over on really short notice I must add, and we chatted about writing, the area they live in, the Cape, and plenty more. It was seriously cool of Cat to allow two 'strangers' into her house, a favour we'll definitely repay should they come up to our province for a visit. :-)

We had coffee with Nerine in a nice place in St George's Mall in Cape Town - was awesome to finally meet her, too, and chat about writing and our various projects. Nerine looks intimidating but that's far from the case - she's warm and welcoming, just don't tell her I said so! ;-)

Meeting the man behind Fox and Raven Publishing was awesome - we met him and Adolph for breakfast before we drove back to Mossel Bay. We chatted at length about the book and plans for the book - I'll be getting a portfolio of artwork from various illustrators soon, from which I'll choose the person who'll do the cover design for Betrayal's Shadow. And the final edits will be received and done soon, too, which I'm really looking forward to. We also discussed the novelette I wrote, A SONG OF SACRIFICE, and some aspects of book 2 - and Marius will be going to the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs, which leaves me incredibly nervous and damned excited! ;-) All in all, the breakfast cemented the fact that  made a damned good decision to accept the deal with Fox and Raven Publishing, and I'm so damned excited for this year and everything it will bring that I can hardly contain it all!

Other than all the writing- and book-talk, we checked out Cape Town - what an incredible place! The sights, the vistas, the mountain... It's definitely a place I'd like to relocate to sometime, a move we'll be looking at doing once Leana has attained her degree in Education. :-)

So, coming up this year, so far:

A Song of Sacrifice - Novelette - March 2014
Betrayal's Shadow - Novel - April 2014

The Bell - short story (Forest of Dreams Anthology) - TBA

I'm hoping to add book 2 to this 'list', but we'll have to see how things pan out. :-) Also, I'm going to really try to post more often, and post stuff that's actually interesting. This whole self-marketing business is actually quite intimidating! ;-) I'm well into book 2 (well, almost-4K) and I've had ideas for plenty more short stories, so I'll definitely be writing plenty this year - updates as often as possible. :-)

Until next time (soon),
Be EPIC!