Friday, October 19, 2012

National Day On Writing

Today is the observation of the National Day On Writing on Twitter! This is a day created by US Senate Resolution 565. While it seems a bit of an odd thing for the Senate to be interested in, it is kind of nice to have a day set aside to show off our work!

This year's theme is "What I Write". So, what do I write? Just about anything. I'm not picky. I do like some genres more than others, though. For example, I'm not really into chick flicks or chick lit. I'll watch or read it if someone has something that they highly recommend or if I'm on a Girls' Night Out, but I don't pursue it. I like my romance punctuated by Killer Robots. I mean, The Terminator is one of the most romantic movies ever made. Dude came back through time just to be with her! It's just like Somewhere in Time but with more explosions. Don't get me wrong, I loved Somewhere in Time. Christopher Reeve going back to the '20s to be with Jane Seymour did make me swoon a bit. And there was time travel involved. You can't beat that with a boomstick.

But I digress, don't I? My writing career is in the nest, still, trying to figure out how to fly. My first novel involves my first love, military (or in my case semi-military) science fiction. From Starship Troopers to Old Man's War to Midshipman's Hope, I can't get enough Space Marines. I don't know why. I also like military movies that take place on terra firma, especially submarine movies (Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, Gray Lady Down, you name it). These movies and the many comic books that I have read (and still read) over the years have fueled my imagination. My parents bought us many books over the years and always encouraged us to use our brains and to be creative, and I am thankful every day for that. All of that reading and watching has been a heavy influence on me -- with a lot of Monty Python and BritComs mixed in for good measure.

I have written Teen Titans fanfiction on since 2005. That was my first real exposure to showing my work to the world. The fanfiction community is a lot of fun, and I have made a lot of friends in that particular corner of the internet. I have one last story in the major arc that needs to be finished, and hopefully I will be able to finish it before my nieces are grandmothers! I love superheroes and writing about them, and who knows, perhaps there will be some spandex-wrapped characters in my professional future as well. Ya never know what's around the corner.

However, I don't want to be limited to JUST science fiction or superheroes. I think I have other stories bursting to jump out of my head and run around the room screaming. Some are more fantasy and some are more slice-of-life. I jot down the ideas as they seep into my skull from ether. They incubate for a while. Maybe a long, long, while, and perhaps some day, they will see the light of day. The genre itself is less important than the fact that I'm getting to use my noggin and that I'm letting other people into my own mental playground for a while. Now, letting others into your head is a tricky thing. It's a variety of intimacy that leave you vulnerable to the wilds of criticism. But it's something you must withstand if you are going to tell your story to the Universe.

I went round and round trying to think of something to post for today as part of the celebration. I have settled upon releasing a portion of the first chapter of my novel-in-progress, Twenty Million Leagues Over the Sea. It is a sequel to the The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. I call it my "steampunk space romance". It attempts to answer the question of "What did they do with all that alien technology lying about after the Martians died?" And yes, there is a connection to Verne as well, so the naming of the novel is not as off-base as it seems at first. Just be patient.

I have finished the first draft of the first two chapters. Currently, I am hard at work on the third chapter, and I have many notes on the rest of it. My hope is to publish it as an e-book for the Kindle, the Nook, and anyone else that will take it in Spring 2013.

Here is the snippet. Enjoy the sneak peek!

Twenty Million Leagues Over the Sea

Chapter 1 Excerpt

"Have no fear, Miss Llewellyn," the captain said. "I've done this before."

He touched a crooked finger to the corner of his sharp green eyes, as if to tip an imaginary hat. He lowered it quickly to allow the white-coated technician to continue strapping him into the seat next to her. Gemma Llewellyn had schooled her posture as much as she could to conceal her nervousness, but there was so much of it that she supposed it was still leaking out and making her face as pale as the technician's suit. That was fine. After all, a total lack of fear would draw too much attention. She hoped she seemed just nervous enough without tipping over into real hysteria.

"In fact," he continued, "most of the crew members have experienced at least a half a dozen launches via the rail-gun system by this point." She thought he sounded somewhat British, like her, but not quite. There was something broader and flatter about the way he pronounced certain words. Was he Australian, perhaps? "We've launched continuously for several years without a major incident--"

"Bloody hell, I suppose the crash into Mauna Kea last summer was only a minor incident, then," said a voice in the row behind them. Most definitely a Brit, that one. "I suppose one must be at least a midshipman before having one's grey matter smeared across a mountainside is considered a major incident, eh?"

"There is a lady present, Doctor Pugh!" The captain tried to turn in his padded seat, but he was too well strapped in to do much more than wriggle. His tall, lean frame was well ensconced in the padded chair. Gemma thought he looked quite young to be a captain; he appeared to be not much older than her own four-and-twenty years. With his angular cheekbones, short chestnut hair, and thin mustache, he could have blended right in with any group of young university men.

"Lady, my arse, Christophe," the voice replied with a snort. "You haven't seen any of them since you left Wellington. A 'New Woman', perhaps. A lady would be home tending to her knitting, not strutting about in a bifurcated pressure suit. Sophie the Steamfitter, indeed!" He snorted and fell silent.

Gemma looked down as her own attendant snugged up her straps and pretended to focus on that young lady's tightly snooded hair. Gemma supposed that she was a sister "New Woman". Mrs. Brightman had instructed her that it was usually best to allow men their quibbling and not bother to argue against such statements, as it was a waste of one's breath. The suit was a bit odd, yes, but she supposed it would be just as awkward on anyone that had not already spent a great deal of time in orbit. She wondered what the Rational Dress Society would make of it.

"They ort to save that rot for the bloody tentacle-heads," her attendant whispered as she pulled back and gave Gemma a sympathetic look. "The rails should be close to full power now, Miss. They just loaded your trunk in the boot, too, so that ort to make this easier. Been up to the station twice meself. It's not so bad. Don't worry, love. You'll be on your way shortly." She gestured for Gemma to lean forward while another worker maneuvered the copper-clad helmet over her head. Gemma nodded at the young lady. It wasn't the rail-gun that worried her.

"Kindly restrict your remarks to the weather, Pugh," the man next to her said. His voice took on a muffled quality as his own helmet was locked into place. "And that's Captain Moreau to you."

The attendant disappeared into the haze behind the helmet's faceplate. The girl's exasperated expression was on the last face she would see on Earth until their over two years. Gemma had thought that they would be surrounded by reporters shouting questions, especially since this was the last rail-gun launch to the ship before their departure; but it was just the three of them and a few technicians. She had thought that they would have taken a daguerreotype of them at least before they climbed into the capsule. Strange to have so little attention paid to an event that the entire world had anticipated for over two decades. It wasn't the mission's visibility that worried her, either.

As preparations continued around her, Gemma thought about Dr. Pugh. Since she had been a (quite literally) last-minute addition to this venture, she had only met Captain Moreau and a handful of other members of the crew so far. She had spent the last few days just getting to the launch site in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; it had been a very long journey by airship and steamer from Britain. Then it had been two days of very intense orientation on the Launch Loop and the ship itself. This would not have been possible before the Invasion, Mrs. Brightman had told her, as they had based the ship's design on information found in the Martian cylinders. They had adapted the design to accommodate humans, of course. Since she had been but an infant when the Martians landed in 1901, she had known no other world except the one in which travel beyond the boundaries of Earth was a human possibility. Soon space travel would be a human reality. It would be a reality that included Gemma Llewellyn. For her, right now, that was the most important thing. In all that bustle, there had been no time to introduce her to a team that was already in orbit. There would be plenty of time for that once they were en route.

Except for the three of them, the crew and the scientific cohort were already on board the ship. Since the Military Industrial Alliance had built it in orbit – it would not fly within an atmosphere – very few people had seen more of the ship than drawings and schematics. The newspapers were rife with headlines that proclaimed the imminent and permanent defeat of the Invaders from Mars by the M.I.A.

Dr. Pugh, whose voice she had not heard until now, was the lead scientist for the expedition. She had only seen one daguerreotype of him, standing next to his mentor, the celebrated naturalist Professor Arronax, when he was much younger. She had no idea what he looked like now, and it would be several hours before she could look him in the face.

So, here was her superior, and he was insulting her even before their formal introduction. Mrs. Brightman would not approve. Behind the veil of the helmet, Gemma allowed her face to melt from the ladylike mask that it normally wore into a scowl. In about five hours, she would have to speak to him, ready or not.