Wednesday, May 4, 2022

#IWSG Writer Rollercoaster and #MayThe4thBeWithYou


Shout-out to Alex and the awesome co-hosts for today:  Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!

May 4 question - It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

Highs and lows... 🎢 like a rollercoaster. 

My highs are getting positive reviews or someone saying they could relate (to a character or scene, whatever). And days when the words just fly onto the page. 

My lows are, without a doubt, when I trap myself in the editing loop. Did I leave a plot hole? Did a character set an object down and I forgot to have them pick it up? Do all the dates line up? Did I put the right amount of spaces between paragraphs? Is it clear who is speaking? Was the intended character development clear? Did I make each character matter enough? Have I used all the sensory details I could in a scene? 

I'm looking at the story I just put on my blog last month. And I see so much that could be changed, improved, altered. (And I don't just mean the baker who turned into a humpback whale to travel by a hurricane wormhole.) I feel like I didn't use enough sensory details to really bring out the scenes. I don't know if I should alter it and publish it. Or leave it as is and publish it. OR... make an original and an altered erotic version that really explores that pan relationship May and Jade had going on behind closed doors. 

Or I could go back to work on the Anna story. Which had a bunch of scenes and a second storyline that were not in the original A to Z. 

Or I should get back to Proof of Existence. I fixed the major problem I had with the one scene. I figured out how to plug a plot hole. Wouldn't it be cool if I released it in Sept on the Anniversary of Fractions of Existence?
I found out there was a copy on Amazon without the final edits. So I should also go work on that. 

First, I'm going on vacation. A to Z took it out of me. And almost getting run over really took it out of me. (See Reflections post from earlier this week.)

To all my fellow "geeks" out there: #MayThe4thBeWithYou

Please also visit: The Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club on Goodreads.

Operation Awesome Happening at : Reflections post.
The poll closes this week.

Monday, May 2, 2022

#SFF #AtoZChallenge #Reflection 2022

Reflections 2022 #atozchallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2022 tribute badge

 Another round of the A to Z Challenge is OVER! My theme was:

A speculative fiction short story from a dreamer

The story outline started with a dream I had. (I'm the dreamer.) It's a dystopian setting.  

Writing a short story on the fly sounded like a *good* idea. I would not do it again during A to Z. The first week went okay. I had time to write the story as well as comment on 50 blogs. 
But then things went wrong in my life. Regular followers know that, after L, I fell behind. My friend is doing much better. Thanks to everyone who cared and gave prayers, good vibes, and well wishes. 
We were sitting around waiting for him to get out of surgery number two. (We had food with us this time. Unlike surgery number one, where we scrounged a nearly empty vending machine and ate my supply of pocket jerky. Fun fact about J, I almost always have jerky stashed in my pocket.) 

He came out fine, and then we left. In the parking garage, I heard an engine rev. Hairs on my neck and arms stood up. I shoved my spouse to the side before getting grazed by the truck and slammed into a concrete post. 

Yes, they caught the driver. He claimed it didn't happen. And he doesn't know how some of my hair was hanging off his SUV. Oh, the security camera? Whoops. Didn't think about that, did you? 

Anyway. So I didn't die on April 30. But it was closer than I'd like. I'm a little injured but I will be fine. My spouse is fine, but is less than thrilled with the idea of my going on vacation (hiking alone in the woods) by myself in a few days. 

Hey, wanna see a funny? How I named the last character. 

Here's a review of all the prompts I was given (comments, tweets, dm, email, and WEP). 

  • J's dystopian dream ✅
  • wormhole ✅ (several)
  • time/space travelers arrive on a planet that has been settled by space pioneers or an alien race ✅ (Letter Z) 
  • time travel (x2) ✅ (May's students time traveled. It also comes up several times.)
  • another species on Earth suddenly got the upper hand ✅ (The overlords put species on Earth, and they all have the upper hand now.)
  • an alien who's on the run from an overlord race prepared to take over earth and who falls in love with a baker who just happens to be working undercover for the Dept of Homeland Security ✅ (O'tien and Piers)
  • a storm system that isn't exactly weather ✅ (Hurricane wormhole travel)
  • 'Implants'? Memory implants, for example. Or vitamin implants. ✅ (Language implants)
  • something underwater for your setting ✅ (Humpback whale travel was underwater, in a hurricane wormhole thing.)
  • pansexual couple hooking up for the first time ✅ (May and Jade)
  • tardigrade ✅ (Overlord Shell and his kind)
  • shapeshifting ✅ (Piers becomes a humpback whale. 🐋 )
  • electricity isn't working, something crucial for the protagonist isn't working but something they never thought they needed, does? ✅ (Letter S. Even I didn't know they'd need the Jay-Aid until I got there. Ha ha ha.)
  • girl's name: Jade ✅ (Love interest character.)
  • dream of things like grass, and running through fields. ✅ (Jade dreams this while in the whale.)
  • Guinea Pig World ruled by Biggles ✅ (Letter Z. Hinted in J, among other posts.)
  • chimera hermaphrodite or sexual organ ambiguity main character ✅ (May Rose)
  • An alien society (or character) that travels only within mind-space dimensions ✅ (O'tien and Az'es)
  • Palio di Siena, in an alternative universe where the occupants of the Contrades are the animals after which each Contrade is named ✅ (J, K, L posts)
  •  ✅ (Q post.)

Fun facts:

I did very little planning. I knew I wouldn't show the world as a setting until I made the WEP post. I did not know that Quintilis would be in the Q post. I came up with that the day I wrote and posted it.

The "catch up" posts that were posted a few hours apart? I wrote them, did two edit passes, and posted. That's "live" writing time.

May Rose, July Ice, and Quintilis Cave -- May is so named because I looked at the names of months. "After Caesar's death, the month Quintilis was renamed July in honor of Julius Caesar in 44 BC" 
And then I decided last names would be from vague descriptions of places. Rose is, of course, a joke, because the place has no roses and smells absolutely terrible. 

During the I post, May talking to the reddish stone was still going to just be an inside joke. As people are the pets now, they don't really have domestic pets, so... pet rocks are cool again! But later I figured out that I could use the stone to help with the alien in the mind-space travel prompt. 

I forgot about needing a shapeshifter. I didn't want to add another character at that point. None of the students could be shapeshifters because that would have come in the mind scans. So Piers got one more tool. He was already a baker who worked with the Dept of Homeland security thanks to a prompt. But what kind of shapeshifter could be useful? Well, I also needed an underwater scene yet. And then I found the story of a whale ingesting a guy and spitting him out elsewhere. But I also needed a storm that isn't weather, so yes, I added a hurricane that contains a wormhole. 

Biggles was always getting the happy world at the end of the story. I dropped foreshadowing all over the story, but was very careful not to say Biggles or mention guinea pigs until the final scenes. The Chavín people were real! And lived in the same place that guinea pigs are said to originate from, the Andes area of South America, around what's now Peru. 

I planned from the start that Jade would be Jade X, because that solved a title for a difficult letter. And I knew it would be "X" because May was to train an "alphabet worth" of classes-- because it's the A to Z Challenge and that amuses me. But, omg, using that as one last cliffhanger in the story by telling you that Jade X can't come to the new world... 😆

May starts off selfish in a way. She's grateful for what she has. She'll do anything to keep what she has. And if that means dozens of virgins from another timeline get turned into pets for alien overlords to breed, so be it. This could have easily been an erotic story if you consider the actual teaching that was going on. Anyway, by the end, May gives up everything for Jade. None of what she was so grateful for matters to her anymore. Does anyone notice the lack of a mention of plumbing on Biggles' planet Yeovil?  

#AtoZChallenge 2022 WINNER badge

There were a LOT of great comments on my blog this month. I'm going to share a few favorites:

(I LOVE how many of you could relate to being ignored by motion sensors for lights, faucets, and doors, by the way.)

Comments for @jlennidorner #atozchallenge 2022

Please follow J Lenni Dorner:
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Saturday, April 30, 2022

#SFF #AtoZChallenge Zinulya

#AtoZChallenge 2022 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter

A speculative fiction short story from a dreamer

A continuous #sff story during April. May Rose Chavín is the main character (🧑🏽 they/them pronouns).
May from #SFF #AtoZChallenge @jlennidorner

Yevtsye and May held hands once the ship took off. They watched Earth shrink from view, from planet to blue marble to tiny light in the sky. As the ship passed Mars, the light grew brighter for a moment. Then dimmed. Once they passed the asteroid belt, the ship went from light speed into a wormhole. 

"It took hours to get this far. How long do you think it will take to reach the new world?" Yevtsye asked.

Piers leaned closer. "A few minutes. Here, let me show you. Trace the shortest path between the tip of my thumb and the tip of my pinky finger."

Yevtsye traced it, going along his palm. 

"That was like the route we just took from Earth to Mars and then the asteroid belt. It seems the shortest, because a straight line is what you've been told is the shortest distance. But watch this." Piers pressed his thumb and pinky together.

"Wait, but that's cheating."

Piers smiled. "No, that's wormhole travel. Skip the line. The shortest distance is a fold. Press the starting point and destination together."

"It curved your hand though. Why do we not see the universe move when there's a wormhole?"

Piers shrugged. "Maybe people aren't that perceptive. Only one planet away, Earth was nothing more than a dot, no bigger than most other stars in the sky. And wormholes that move through time? Humans already lack the eyes to see time. Oh sure, the effect of time is perceived in the process of aging. But time itself isn't seen. Humans barely understand it. And are terrible at measuring it."

Yevtsye tilted her head. "Hi, O'tien."

"Hello. Yes, sorry, I forget that it's unclear that I am me when I speak through Piers."

"Is time measured differently in your mind-space dimension?" May asked.

"Absolutely. As you will need to measure it differently on your new world. Basing anything on how long it took the Earth to move is useless. You'll need something constant. Of course, that's if you measure it at all. The overlord of this world has little use for it. That is part of why my species had to be involved. As wild and free as this world is, knowing the countdown deadline for Earth was not easy to translate."

Docking directions were given. Upon boarding, the language implant chips had all downloaded the language of the guinea pig overlord and that species. Of course, that wasn't what they called themselves, but the chip used it, so words all came out sounding right. Otherwise, Yevtsye would have danced in her seat, as she had with every word she heard from their language before. Now, it just sounded like normal words. Still, the greeter who came to the shore to welcome them was sitting in her lap for the journey. She hadn't stopped petting the new friend. 

The ship opened. Cheers of welcome came from the outside. Fuzzy little creatures reunited with each other. Some humans found other humans they knew. 

Yevtsye looked around for her twin. May pointed in the distance and took off.

"Nope. Walk away." May stated while making shooing waves.

"What?" Doña Marina batted her lashes. 

"Might I ask what is going on? Why is this one forbidden from speaking with me?"

Yevtsye caught up. "Because she was going to kill me and my love. Hi, Zinulya."

"How did you make it here? I was told our family had perished." Zinulya wrapped her arms around her twin sister. 

"It's a long story. This is May, the love of my life. And this is Piers, who can turn into a humpback whale." Zinulya squealed and clapped when Yevtsye said that.

"Never thought about there being two of them, aye Piers? Greetings, I am O'tien, speaking through my darling Piers."

Zinulya touched the reddish stone earring she wore. "Pleased to meet you. And might I introduce Az'es, my closest friend and a young one of your kind."

"Lame. Who wants to hang out with you losers anyway. Bunch of chumps with aliens in your heads. I don't need this." Doña Marina stepped backward as she spoke. As she turned, she slammed into a fuzzy foot. 

"Everyone, this is Overlord Biggles. Welcome to Yeovil," Zinulya said, motioning to the gigantic fluffy overlord. Biggles picked up Doña Marina and dropped her on the other side of the nearest mountain range. 

"I'm going to like this world," May said with a smile. 

#AtoZChallenge 2022 tribute badge

Question: Would you want to move to another planet if it was the only way to survive?

Thanks for reading this month!
J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author, Uncle J to Biggles 💗🐹

Please follow J Lenni Dorner:
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Friday, April 29, 2022

#SFF #AtoZChallenge Yesterdays

#AtoZChallenge 2022 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter

A speculative fiction short story from a dreamer

A continuous #sff story during April. May Rose is the main character (🧑🏽 they/them pronouns).

Jade's eyes widened as tears spilled out. "What?"

"You are not my student. Nor are you a pet with the designation of X. And, though I was born in Rose, that place is no longer my identity. Those names belong in our yesterdays. The overlord who is saving us was a friend to the Chavín people. I wish to be known as May Chavín as we go to the new world together. What about you, my love?"

"My true name is Yevtsye. If we find my twin sister, that is what she will call me."

May kissed her neck. "What about Yevtsye Chavín?"

"Share a name?"

"Is that not how people of your time show an unbreakable bond?"

Yevtsye kissed May. "It is part of how we form and grow families, yes. So we will both go to the new world?"

"Together. And we shall remain as such."

They hugged. Piers clapped.

"And what will become of me?" 

May looked at Doña Marina. "You will stay away from us. The Chavín family is ours, not yours. Is that clear?"

"I understand."

Piers looked at May. "You trust her not to make trouble?"

May wrapped an arm around Yevtsye and moved toward the path. "I trust that if she fails to keep her word, her body will die just as certainly there as here. I trust in my own skill."

Natica's stone was thrown at the blood-stained sand. Doña Marina struggled to retrieve it. Piers, Yevtsye, and May hurried up the path.

#AtoZChallenge 2022 tribute badge

Question: The name Yevtsye is the Ukrainian form of Eve, and also means life.
Name meaning (click)
Do you think this name suits Jade's character?

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#SFF #AtoZChallenge Jade X Cannot Go to the New World #romance #shortstory

#AtoZChallenge 2022 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter

A speculative fiction short story from a dreamer

A continuous #sff story during April. May Rose is the main character (🧑🏽 they/them pronouns).

Overlord "Shell" Tardigrade's shadow grew larger as he landed on the shore. Natica climbed out of his harness and marched over to Doña Marina. 

"You have something that belongs to my overlord and me."

Doña Marina and May cast confused looks his way.

"You asked for the Miyoko Murex seashell I had worn at the Palio di Siena. You still have it. In fact, you brought it here."

Nightingale's beak clicked, unable to form speech while being choked by Jade. 

Doña Marina looked at May, who still had a weapon pointed at her chest.

"What? Natica wants his shell. Give it to him."

Nightingale clicked again. Doña Marina nodded, and threw her weapon instead of getting the shell.

The weapon landed at Nightingale's feet. A scream came from Jade. May turned to see what was going on. Doña Marina wrapped her leg around May, who fell on their injury. Blood sprayed the sand and Natica. Jade crawled to May, reaching out. Nightingale wielded the weapon with her large feet, aiming it at Jade.

Overlord Tardigrade rose up and, with one blow from his bearlike claws, split overlord Nightingale in two. 

Doña Marina looked wide-eyed at May. "Mercy."

"Hand over the shell," May replied, aiming again at Doña Marina's chest. 

Jade moved behind May, resting her head against their shoulder, and cried. Overlord Tardigrade scooped up Nightingale's remains. 

"What will happen to the people Nightingale had as pets? Class X has suffered losses, but my former students?"

Natica conversed with his overlord. "They become the pets of Shell. He is giving them to another overlord though. I believe it is the one you have come to meet."

Doña Marina moved to her knees, pleading to Natica. "Please, I will be Opal again. Allow me to be your mate."

Jade growled, poking her head out from behind May. "Just because O'tien moved and spoke through me, do not think I was deaf. You're pining for my May!"

Doña Marina pulled the shell out, pushed it to Natica's feet, then hung her head and cried. "I want to live!"

jasper reddish stone
Natica took the Miyoko Murex seashell. He shook and spun it several times. A reddish stone fell out. He presented it to May.

"You know what this is now."

"I do," May confirmed, looking from the stone, to Doña Marina, then back to Natica.

"I have had it for most of my life. Because of the alterations my overlord gave me, I have not needed it to converse with our friends in a long time."

"Yes, but do you need it to get to the other world? I killed Quintilis Cave to get a stone for Jade."

Natica chuckled. "I could have saved you that trouble. A shame Piers didn't realize that. Well, here we are. You could kill this human. No one here would stop you. Or you could give her this stone, which is the only way to save her life."

Natica placed the stone in May's hand. Then pointed to the sky, where a red cloud was breaking open. "That is the last transport. It will land and fill with the final passengers. Once it clears Mars, the clock will run out on Earth. Absolutely no life will survive. This planet will start over. Perhaps, in many thousands of years, microorganisms will appear. Even the youngest of the overlords will not be around then. So, if you leave this person here, it is the same as killing her."

Jade hugged May from behind while addressing Natica. "What about you? Don't you need it?"

Natica shook his head. "Shell is taking me. Though I will no longer be his pet on the other world, I will always be his friend. We plan to live out our days there. Tardigrades too small for human eyes to see already play in the waters of that world."

Miyoko Murex seashell image @Jlennidorner #SFF #AtoZChallenge Jade X Cannot Go to the New World #romance #shortstory
"It's hard to imagine your overlord on a microscopic scale," Jade said. 

They watched as Natica climbed back into his harness. He waved the shell as overlord Tardigrade took off.

Doña Marina threw herself at May, facedown in the bloody sand. "Please let me live."

"And watch as you interfere with our relationship forever?" May asked.

"O'tien and I vote you kill her so we can be on our way. The ship will land soon." Piers said, his eyes on the sky.

"My love?" May leaned against Jade. "You were so displeased to know I had killed for your stone. You said you do not like this side of me."

Jade frowned. "I also don't like the idea of her killing me in hopes of stealing you. Of that, I am deeply ashamed."

"Piers? Hold these." May handed the weapon and stone to him, then looked at Doña Marina. "Don't get any ideas. Not only is Piers exceptionally skilled with that weapon, but he's got an alien in his head who was about to defeat Nightingale using Jade's body."

"Sorry about that, O'tien," Jade said. "My hands weren't sufficient. Then again, I'm grateful my body didn't kill."

May took Jade's hands. "Even now? Even knowing Nightingale and Doña Marina came here intent on killing us. Still, you would not wish to be the one to end their lives?"

Jade looked down. "No. It isn't right. As grateful as I am that you are alive, and as willing as I was to let O'tien use me as a vessel, I am glad there is no death on my hands."

May lifted Jade's chin. "You are as beautiful inside as outside. I love you."

"I love you too."

"But Jade X cannot go to the new world," May said.

#AtoZChallenge 2022 tribute badge

Question: Would you save Doña Marina?

Please follow J Lenni Dorner:
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