Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Archive for the tag “science fiction”

#NaNoWriMo 2017: Two Winners In One Household!

Yay! We did it. My son Joshua and I managed to write the opening 50,000 words of our novels between November 1-30 during National Novel Writing Month 2017. This was the first time either of us had participated in NaNoWriMo, but we both felt the urge to do something that stretched us to the limit.

At one stage I was about a week behind with my word count and thought I wouldn’t make it, so had to do some mad 3,000 plus sprints per day to catch up.

Joshua managed to be more consistent in his progress but was a bit erratic in updating his word count on the NaNoWriMo website, so his final stats and graph looked a bit strange, which is why he wanted me to post mine and not his. In case you are wondering who Wolery Wol is, that is one of my online author usernames/pen-names.

My novel, which will probably end up at about 75,000 words in length, was inspired by a short story I wrote way back, titled The Parable Teller, so this is what I chose as my working title during NaNoWriMo but ir won’t end up as my final title as it is no longer suitable. This, my sixth novel, was intended as an exercise in shutting off that pedantic inner editor and recapturing that creative energy and dynamism that went with writing my first novel years ago. It worked, but doesn’t mean that I will skimp on the editing during revision 1, 2, 3, 4, or however many it takes.

When I started the novel I thought it was science fiction, but after writing the first three chapters, it dawned on me that it wasn’t science fiction but mainstream satire, which happens to be set at an unspecified time in the future (think Ben Elton meets Jonas Jonasson). In fact, it is possible that I have never written true science fiction, or true fantasy for that matter.

[Thank you, Bob Shaw for your book How to Write Science Fiction, which has been lurking on my bookshelf since 1993, and became my only reading material throughout November. It would have saved me from a lot of marketing problems, if I had read your book properly in the first place. Next on the list is Writing Fantasy Fiction by Sarah LeFanu, on my shelf since 1996].

My enlightenment has proved a liberation, as I am now free to embrace my quirkiness without the strictures of rigid genre.

My son’s novel is his first, although he has written plenty of short stories (you can read one of them here), plus he has a BA in History, English and Creative Writing. He likes to write fantasy: real fantasy, unlike his mother! His novel, which also has a working title that he intends to change, will end up much longer than mine and sounds potentially epic.

Lastly, I want to award my husband a medal for his patience and encouragement throughout November. It must be hard enough for anyone living with one NaNoWriMo maniac for a month, but to live with two, you have to be some kind of saint.

Friday Fictioneers — Art Installation, AD 2316

Genre: Post-apocalyptic science fiction
Word Count: 100

ART INSTALLATION, AD 2316

 Welcome to the tri-centenary celebration of life on Old Earth.

 Item 1: Wooden desk, whitened with paint to disguise the murder of a tree.

 Item 2: Plastic writing implements to poison the oceans and scribble out fish.

 Item 3: Metal paperclips to imprison tree-paper.

 Item 4: Sticky substance to glue tree-paper to tree-paper.

 Item 5: Two soft toys…

 “Mother, what are they?”

 “They’re birds called penguins. They used to inhabit the South Pole of Old Earth before it boiled.”

 “Are those two the only ones we rescued?”

 “No, my child, there were real living penguins…”

 “Without deflector shields, you mean?”

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 Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright © Claire Sheldon

Friday Fictioneers — An Assault on Vanity

PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

When I saw the photo prompt © Liz Young for this week on Friday Fictioneers, it immediately brought to mind the story that was my first blog post back in December 2011.  The original story was 150 words in length but I’ve pruned it down to 100 words without difficulty and with added punch.

As a footnote to original, I wrote the following…

Author’s note: In my experience the more fantastic the claims for a beauty product, the more expensive and full of dangerous chemicals it is. I believe in organic beauty products, used from head to foot, and a balanced diet of freshly prepared meals.  Combine this with a positive attitude, creativity, and trying to see the funny side of things whenever possible.  Who cares about a few laughter lines and characterful wrinkles?  I don’t fancy looking like a faceless mannequin doll. Do you?

Genre: Science fiction horror

ASSAULT ON VANITY

Cries of terror rocked the city and catapulted Tania into wakefulness.  She fought to focus on her clock, but to no avail. The digits blurred grey and her eyes had the deep ache of a hangover, but she’d not touched a drop of alcohol for days.

In the bathroom, she splashed water at her face but couldn’t feel it contact her skin. Then she looked in the mirror. Apart from her eyes and the skin covering their sockets, her face had metamorphosed into a featureless blank; the work of Dr Hamid’s new wonder cream that claimed to banish wrinkles overnight.

Poll: Which Book Should I Publish Next?

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Okay, I need some help focusing here. The time-gobbling monster has already eaten January and is threatening to eat February, too.

First, before I go any further, it’s time to get something off my chest. I’m not sick of indie publishing but I am sick of trying to sell novels to children and young adults. On the plus side, I have some fabulous loyal adult readers, many of whom have read both Desiccation and Noah Padgett and the Dog-People and given me a heap of positive feedback. This has led me to believe that I don’t write the sort of novels that most people under the age of 18 want to read, but ones that their parents and grandparents want to read instead. Yes, my novels contain elements of fantasy and science fiction, but no, they’re not about wizards, vampires, paranormal romance, spaceships with lasers blazing (or whatever lasers do).

sarah-potters-quirky-novels

This leads me on to my next point: even if I publish a novel specifically for adults, it could still deviate from the expectations that die-hard fans of a particular genre might have.

I had considered writing a genre-bending novel, as it fits into the bracket of quirky and yet has an identifiable market. With that in mind, I decided to read Jane Austen’s  Pride and Prejudice and then carry out a textual comparison between it and Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies. The trouble was that I loved the original so much that I couldn’t get past the first few chapters of the zombie version, which I hated. Maybe if I hadn’t read the original, then I might have seen it differently. Certainly it made the New York Times best seller list. I don’t have a problem with zombie books per se, having read some excellent ones. I just don’t like ones that would make Jane Austen turn in her grave (no apologies for the pun), although I do acknowledge that some of her writing is quite witty. Maybe one day I might bring myself to write a novel based on a classic novel but not so that it follows the original text word-for-word in places; otherwise, what’s the point in having worked hard to develop a voice of my own?

I’ve written five novels in all, leaving three unpublished as yet. The fifth one, my speculative fiction novel Counting Magpies, I intend to submit to publishers after a further edit, as I’ve identified some new small press publishers that didn’t exist a couple of years ago but are looking for quirky novels. There are plenty of successful hybrid authors, who have both indie and traditionally published novels, so why not me?

Now to ask you, my wonderful blog followers and visitors, readers or potential readers, which book I should indie publish next. In other words, which would you be most likely to buy, if any at all? To help answer this, I would really appreciate it if you could take part in the poll and/or comment with some constructive feedback. I’m at a bit of a crossroads and am not sure which direction to take just now.

 

Friday Fictioneers — You, Before and After

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

At first light, we hear a howling yowling dogcat hullabaloo coming from the horses’ paddock. Through my binoculars (cowardly husband me), I watch you stride through the snow in wellies, into silence deep as a subterranean cavern.

The horses stand freeze-framed and mid-chomp at their trough. There’s a trail of green on the snow’s surface, accompanied by the footprints of a three-legged creature. You follow the trail into the bushes.

Inside, over a cup of tea, you say nothing. There’s a mute look to your eyes, too. Later, I find a discarded plaster in the bathroom, soaked in green blood.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo prompt: image © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Friday Fictioneers — Intergalactic Souvenirs

PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Fuller

Aliens visited Earth once, during the Holocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period. Along with the official samples collected for scientific analysis, one of them smuggled some souvenirs back home as toys for its 5-year-old squirmling.

All quite harmless, it thought, until a beetle crawled out of a piece of deadwood and infected the squirmling with a deadly virus that wiped out every living creature on the planet.

In a couple of centuries from now, human astronauts will visit the star Wolf 1061 and discover exoplanet 1061c is dead. Then they will excavate and find a 2016 copper-plated coin from Earth.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo prompt: image © Claire Fuller

July’s Guest Storyteller, Allie Potts

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I’m delighted to welcome as my guest storyteller this month, fellow blogger and author Allie Potts.

When not finding ways to squeeze in 72 hours into a 24 day or chasing after children determined to turn her hair gray before its time, Allie enjoys stories of all kinds. Her favorites are usually accompanied with a glass of wine or cup of coffee in hand.

Allie is a self-professed science geek and book nerd. Today, she’s going to share a companion story to her novel, The Fair & Foul (Project Gene Assist Book One), which, as the title suggests, is science fiction of the cyberpunk/genetic engineering variety.

The following scene takes place a few weeks after Dr. Juliane Faris and three others have taken part in an experimental procedure granting unprecedented knowledge and cellular control over their bodies, but this same procedure could also very well cost them everything.

FairandFoulFullwebHQ_02

SYSTEM TIMEOUT

Error code 598: The stream is not a tiny stream. Chad snorted, Duh, as he bypassed the message and accessed screens of data. Music selected purely at random blasted through a pair of wireless bone conduction headphones. So in the zone, he hadn’t noticed Dr. Juliane Faris enter the lab until she was standing in front of him. She was always stunning, but when angry she could kill with her looks as easily as her temper. Chad cringed as he buried the thought deep down. His girlfriend, Nadia had a way of picking up what he was thinking and he definitely didn’t want to risk her picking up that particular observation. Although it wasn’t as if she had anything to worry about. Juliane may be his boss, but Nadia was his everything.

Juliane raised one manicured eyebrow. Chad waited. She tapped her ear with one finger. He cocked his head in confusion. As the meaning behind her gesture bloomed across his awareness, he pulled the headphones down. He felt his cheeks blaze, sure the color of his face now matched the color of his hair. “Sorry Dr. Faris.”

She sighed and shook her head. “I still don’t understand why you have so little faith in what we are doing here. If you’d only get the upgrade like the rest of us, you wouldn’t need all these extra . . .” she pointed at the headphones now draped around the base of his neck “. . . antiques.”

“What if something went wrong?”

“During the procedure?” Juliane paused, likely thinking about her own procedure. She, her research partner, Dr. Alan Dronigh, and the company’s acting CEO, Mr. Louis Evans, had all decided to act as guinea pigs one night. Chad fought to keep his hand from shaking. Even the thought of such a spur of the moment activity made him sick to his stomach. “I keep telling you, Betty and I recalculated the dosages. You’ve been pre-screened. The risk is negligible.”

“What about after?”

“After?” Juliane repeated. “It’s been weeks since our upgrade and I’ve never felt better.” Her lips tightened as her brow knit in thought. She’s thinking about Mr. Evans again. Chad’s muscles clenched as he glanced at her face, praying that his expression betrayed none of the pity he felt for his boss. Juliane suffered pity like a cat suffered being drenched in water. An accidental splash too much, and you risked getting your eyes clawed out.

“You aren’t reading the gossip pages again? I thought I’d made my opinion of that garbage perfectly clear.” At first Chad was relieved at the change of subject, but then he looked over to where her gaze fell. He’d left his reader out and he could only guess what headlines would be featured on the front page. He searched her expression for any indication she’d seen more than the magazine’s logo and found nothing but her usual steel determination.

He ran to the desk and scooped up his reader only to stuff it into his backpack with his notebooks and personal belongings. The corner of one of her lips turned up. “Well, if you are in a running mood, would you mind running to get a cup of coffee for me?”

Chad grinned as he bobbed his head and raced out of the room thankful to avoid more questions that were better off without answers.

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Fair & Foul (Project Gene Assist Book One) is available to buy at Amazon

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You can find the links to previous guest storyteller posts at 

My Review of The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Five Stars ***** it was amazing

This novel by Justin Cronin is epic in the same way as The Stand by Stephen King is. I never thought I’d make that statement, but even Stephen King describes it as having “the vividness that only epic works of fantasy and imagination can achieve”.

The Passage is the first in a trilogy (I shout “yay”!). It’s 785 pages in length, and the next two volumes in the trilogy are nearly as long. Genre-wise, I would describe it as a literary apocalyptic science fiction thriller. It also has vampires of a sort, but not like any you’ll have come across in fiction before. They are freaky, scary, impressive in design, and yet tragic, too.

In brief, the plot is about a virus that threatens to wipe out every living creature on the planet, and one girl called Amy who holds the key to saving the world. Yes, the whole virus thing has been done before, just as it being related to the military messing with science. But the scale of this novel makes it something else altogether: the world-painting, the characterisation, the breadth of vision, the graphic action sequences, and the moments of tenderness interspersed between the horror of what’s taking place.

One small warning, about a third of the way into the novel, the author does a time-jump of nearly a century, seemingly leaving a whole load of characters behind. This caused me a monumental schism in the head when it happened and for about 20 pages I was annoyed. But this feeling passed as things fell into place and I realised the author had a valid reason for doing this, although he risked causing some of his readers to abandon the book at an early stage. Take it from me, you will forgive him if you persevere.

To quote Stephen King yet again: “Read this book and the ordinary world disappears”.

Desiccation #KindleCountdownDeal Starts Tomorrow

Desiccation ebook_imageYay! It’s sale time, starting tomorrow. And I’m going for one increment, which means that for six days, from March 2 – 8. the Kindle version of my YA science fiction/urban fantasy novel, Desiccation, will be on sale on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk at $1.37/£0.99.

Its usual price is $2.99/£1.99, so if you’re a reader who prefers to buy a début author’s novel at a bargain price, here’s your chance. Of course, once you’ve read this novel, I hope you’ll become loyal fans itching to buy my next book at its full price when it comes out 😉

Whilst posting, I’d like to say a huge thank you to those of you who entered the recent Goodreads Giveaway to win a paperback copy of Desiccation. A whopping 1,005 people entered this draw, about 380 added it to their too-read shelves, and the lucky winner came from the US.

Happy Days 🙂

Prize Draw To Win a Copy of Desiccation #GoodreadsGiveaway

3d bookBook lovers, you now have the chance to win a paperback copy of my science fiction/urban fantasy novel Desiccation in a Goodreads Giveaway. Entries are open from today and close on the 27th February when there will be one lucky winner, his or her name drawn by random selection.

If you’re not signed up to Goodreads and you love reading, now is your chance to join this vibrant virtual community for readers and authors. Membership is free. I’ve belonged as a reader since January 2012 and, more recently, became an official Goodreads Author, too

Each year, if you wish, you can join the Reading Challenge, setting a goal to read a certain number of books. Please note that this goal isn’t set in stone and you can raise or lower it if you wish. There’s also an opportunity to post reviews and recommend to your friends books to which you’ve awarded four or five stars.

It’s a great way to discover new writers. You might even find yourself encouraged out of your comfort zone into an unfamiliar genre.

So whether Desiccation is in your comfort zone or not, be daring and you could find yourself pleasantly surprised. Some lovely readers have already been kind enough to award it five stars. It’s a quirky novel that’s rather a mix of genres, where weirdness encroaches upon relative normality; no aliens arriving in battleships, but something quite different.

Its readership age?  Fourteen to ninety-plus? Interestingly, I’ve been marketing it as young adult fiction but, as far as I can tell, most of my readers have been in the forty-plus age group so far. In fact, as an experiment, I’ve just moved the paperback version from the YA science fiction category into the adult science fiction/aliens one, while keeping it as a YA book on Kindle.

To enter the Goodreads Giveaway, click here or on the widget in my sidebar, and it will take you to the right page. You can also register to join the Goodreads community by clicking on the link at the top of the page there.

On this occasion, the draw is only open to citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom (GB) & all other EU countries, plus a few bordering non-EU countries. But in the future, if there’s a demand for it, I will run another draw that’s open worldwide. Do let me know in the comments below, if you would like your country included in another draw.

One last thing — as Lieutenant Colombo would say — please consider adding my book to your “shelf” on Goodreads as a reminder to read Desiccation, whether you win or not!

Good luck and thank you 🙂

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