Two Minute Book Previews – Paradox: On the Sharp Edge of the Blade
Just signed up for NaNoWriMo! Working title: All the Moments in Forever
ALL THE TIME IN THE UNIVERSE MIGHT NOT BE ENOUGH!
Previously, in my last NaNo novel (Heart of Fire Time of Ice – available on Amazon, free on KENP – find it here ):
Kathleen Whitby’s quantum physics research allowed her to develop a mathematical formula that gave her control of time-travel. At least one shadowy group besides her government wants the formula. After having escaped a deadly attack by inadvertently jumping into the Pleistocene, Kathleen found a way to break her self-imposed barriers and not only survive, but thrive with the aid of a handsome Clovis culture hunter.
Now the two have been driven out of their refuge in the inter-glacial Sangamon period by hostile pre-humans. Forced to return to modern times for medical assistance, they find that the same antagonistic forces are still at work.
The government has used a theory based on another time-traveler’s experiences to develop a method of time travel. Unfortunately, it has proven to be uncontrollable, stranding their initial subject somewhere in the past. Now they want Kathleen’s information even more than before.
Cadeyrin is held hostage until she surrenders her formula. Will he be set free if she cooperates? And what about the second group that wants the secret?
Once again Kathleen meets a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Will her intelligence and natural creativity allow her to overcome the complex mixture of enemies and problems she now faces?
Kathleen paused, and looked around in sudden alarm. There was something in the dense evergreens, something that might represent danger. Her wolf, Ulfsa, had stopped a few feet ahead of her, his ears flat and his back fur ridged. His lips were drawn back in a silent snarl. She noticed that his tail was clamped tightly against his haunches. Whatever it was, it frightened him. She dropped her rifle from her shoulder, and cradled it in both hands, ready for action.
The mid-Sangamon interglacial period was not without its normal dangers. The North American mega-fauna was threat enough for any human, regardless of how well they were armed.
Kathleen and Cadeyrin had set their home in the middle of a howling wilderness almost exactly one-hundred-thousand years BCE. The animals held no surprises for Cadeyrin. He’d lived all of his life hunting them. The thing that he continually marveled over was their number.
Here in pre-human North America, the animals thronged. Cadeyrin’s time, the last part of the Pleistocene during the final glaciation period had far fewer animals. This was more due to the harsh climate than the actions of humans, although humans did their share of killing. Fire drives often resulted in far more dead animals than the hunters could use. This waste was thought of as a necessary part of hunting, but Cadeyrin’s people generally were conservation oriented, killing only what they needed.
For her part, Kathleen sometimes thought it was amazing that humans had survived long enough to form modern civilization. Her origin in the twenty-first century hadn’t prepared her for such a life. Despite her handicap, she had become a seasoned huntress in just a few months.
Now she sensed a heightened tension in the air as if whatever it was had decided to attack. She raised her rifle, a hard-hitting thirty caliber, and prepared to empty the magazine. She’d purchased thirty-round magazines, and had never regretted it. Better to have too much fire-power than not enough.
Ulfsa shifted nervously. He’d arrived just a few minutes earlier. When she and Cadeyrin had started their hunt, Ulfsa had gone with the man. Their intent was to jump a deer. If Cadeyrin couldn’t shoot it immediately, Ulfsa would trail the animal.
Most deer would eventually circle, coming back to familiar ground. The wolf would continue to follow, guided by his exquisite sense of smell, until the deer circled. On its way back, there was a good chance that it would pass within range of either Kathleen or Cadeyrin.
Kathleen had been looking for an open area in the heavy spruces. While a deer would travel quickly through the trees, it was a little more likely to run through an open area when tired. When Ulfsa came up, she realized that he’d lost the trail or, as it now appeared, something more serious had arisen.
The wind shifted, eddying around the spruces, carrying the scent of resin, and something strange. She sniffed. It was like…somewhat like a heavy, musky body odor. Her mind flashed back to a day at the Minneapolis Zoo. It had been hot. When she’d walked by the gorilla enclosure, one of the male gorillas had been near her location. The current scent reminded her of his body odor.
No gorillas here, though, she thought. It must be something else. I hope it’s not a bear.
She turned slightly. The presence had moved to a thicker clump of fir trees. She couldn’t actually see anything. She’d somehow sensed it’s movement, though. She glanced quickly down at the wolf. He was looking fixedly at the same clump. She lifted her rifle, aimed, and squeezed the trigger. The bullet ripped through the fir branches as the sound of the shot rang through the air. She waited.
Nothing happened. She gradually became aware that the tension had lowered. Whatever it was, it had retreated when she shot. Ulfsa had lifted his ears, and his tail had returned to its normal upright position.
There was a sound in the brush behind her. She didn’t turn, recognizing the oncoming steps as those of Cadeyrin. He was running at full speed.
He stopped beside her, panting. He held his rifle at the ready also. After a moment, he sniffed the breeze, then lowered his firearm.
“Gone,” he said. “Lets move forward a little so I can check the area.”
They walked forward silently, paced by Ulfsa.
There was a scuffed mark in the forest floor on the far side of the fir trees. Cadeyrin bent down, inspected it, then walked on. He abruptly stopped, pointing at a soft patch of earth. There was a large footprint showing.
Kathleen’s first thought was that it was a large bear, but then she saw that the conformation of the track was wrong. It looked more human than bear.
Cadeyrin grunted, then explained, “Forest giant, I think.”
Kathleen jerked in surprise, and looked to see if he were serious. She shook her head negatively, then said, “We’re too early for there to be any men here. When we moved back from your time to now, I was careful to move us far enough back that no humans would have come to this part of the world. There are humans right now across the seas, but my people have never found any remains from this time here on this land. The soonest any people will arrive here will be fifty-thousand years from now.”
He smiled, obviously liking what he saw as he gazed into her eyes. “Yet, there is the track. It does not tell an untruth,” he said.
She looked at the print again. It did look human, but it was quite wide and much longer than her own foot. She glanced at Cadeyrin’s moccasin-shod feet. The print dwarfed them. If foot size was indicative of the creature’s height, it would be huge.
“How large is this thing, anyway?” she asked.
Cadeyrin thought for a moment, then answered. “I’ve never seen one. They were very rare in my time. Perhaps there are more now. I’ve heard that they may be somewhat taller than me, but not much.” He held his hand a good foot over his head leading Kathleen to understand that his idea of ‘not much’ and hers differed considerably.
He added, “They are also supposed to be heavier than all but the largest man. Look at the track, see how deep it is? Now watch this.”
He stepped down in the soft earth, his foot leaving a print beside the larger one. It was only about half as deep. Kathleen knew that Cadeyrin was at least two-hundred pounds, probably more. He had very little fat, but was quite heavily muscled, something that she found incredibly attractive. She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts of his body. She estimated that meant the unseen creature weighed over four hundred pounds. It must be quite bulky.
She asked, “How strong are they?”
Cadeyrin shrugged. “I don’t know. It was said that they are much stronger than men. They are dangerous, but they only carry sticks, not pointed weapons.”
He paused again. “If they are here, they know we are here also. They may become a problem for us. The old stories say they are enemies to men. I want you to always carry a weapon. If you don’t have your rifle, at least carry a pistol. I don’t want one of them catching you by yourself and unarmed.”
Kathleen shuddered. She’d been threatened by enemy tribesmen in the past and didn’t want to relive that experience. She looked up at her mate, and said, “I promise. I’ll be careful.”
He turned and led her back the way they’d come. After a few hundred paces, he said, “Let’s go out to the forest edge. Perhaps we can find some prey there. It’s getting late and the deer will be coming out to feed.”
Kathleen mulled the afternoon’s discovery over in her mind. The idea that there was an indigenous population of possibly hostile hominins made her quite nervous. She didn’t like the thought of having to constantly watch for intelligent enemies in addition to the ever-present large predators.
If they couldn’t live safely in the here and now, then she’d have to figure out another time to move to. She briefly thought of bringing Cadeyrin back to her time. She imagined him in modern clothes walking across the university campus. He’d probably be attacked by lustful women every time he went out in public. He was, she thought, very desirable. That led her to another topic.
Cadeyrin was sitting at the table of their travel trailer, his back to her. He was working on cleaning their weapons. He had a natural ability for mechanical work. She attributed it to his mastery of flint-knapping, but wherever it came from, he had quickly learned to clean the firearms. He could field strip and reassemble them like a trained soldier.
She moved over behind him, bending to nuzzle his neck. He placed the mechanism he was cleaning on the table, and caught her arms, turning his head so that their lips met. One thing quickly led to another with the result that it was dark before they’d fixed their evening meal.
During the night she lay awake, thinking. In addition to possible competition for Cadeyrin, moving back to her time also had another drawback. It was highly likely that the government agency that had tried to co-opt her method of time-travel for military and espionage work was madly trying to find her. She didn’t think those people would give up easily.
The possible use of time-travel for espionage undoubtedly represented a true prize for the government. That was something she didn’t want to see.
The time-travel method was her discovery, and, since she was the only one who understood it, at least at present, it was her property. To have a bunch of bureaucrats trying to force her to pass the information on was not something she wanted. Yet, if it wasn’t safe here and now, they’d have to go somewhere or somewhen. She wasn’t sure what the answer was.
Well, when you don’t know what to do, the best thing is to gather more information about the choices. Either you’ll discover something that helps you make up your mind, or the situation will change while you’re waiting, she thought.
Kathleen decided to shelve the problem for awhile. Perhaps the answer would be clear tomorrow.
I’ll post another chapter later so you can have a decent preview of the story.
Paradox: On the Sharp Edge of the Blade – Part of Chapter 8
I’m relieved. I just finished my latest story — title above — and it was a bit of a struggle. The final section had to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and it gave me a fit. I generally feel more at home writing straight action sequences, so putting things into the context of a meeting was a little more difficult.
Just to give y’all a feel for the story, and, yes, it’s time-travel again, here’s a section from Chapter 8. The main character, Logan Walker, has just arrived in the past, and is still trying to adapt to his unexpected situation.
The moon was high, its bright rays shining through the oak leaves. The light made strange patterns and shapes on the ground between the trees. The blotches of darkness seemed impenetrable, making it impossible to see what lurked below.
Despite his thirst, Logan had managed to sleep for awhile. He wasn’t sure how long it had been. The moon was now nearly overhead. It hadn’t even risen when he had dropped off to sleep.
He carefully studied the ground. There was no sign of the cat creature. Perhaps it had left, looking for other prey. Surely there was something to attract it, something easier to catch than one scrawny human.
He thought about climbing down to look for water, then rejected that idea. Even with the moonlight, he couldn’t see well enough to be sure that something wasn’t hiding, waiting for him to make a stupid move.
The tree seemed to be intent on impressing every nuance of its rough bark on his posterior. He found that changing position every thirty minutes or so made the fork of the branches barely tolerable. Thirst bothered him more and more as the stars wandered towards sunrise. All-in-all it was an amazingly long and restless night.
Logan had always slept late, but now he was beginning to think that the sun had stopped. When that thought first popped up, he snickered, but then stopped to consider his situation.
He was in a tree, trying to avoid some kind of big and really toothy cat thing, and trying to hold out until morning so he could get a drink. He’d been in the front yard, fallen into the drainage ditch, and then this place had somehow grabbed him. He hadn’t consciously wanted to come here. He’d…Oh! He’d wanted to escape that woman. Before that he’d eaten that brownie. Maybe something in it was giving him a bad trip. She’d said it was very strong. Still this didn’t seem like an hallucination. Everything was too real. It had that unmistakable feeling of reality, not like a dream or any kind of altered state of consciousness.
Whatever had happened to thrust him into this situation, it was beyond his understanding. It may have been related to the brownie or it may simply have been chance. It seemed that somehow he’d fallen through a hole, ending in another world, or…and here he paused…another time.
The cat-creature gave him one clue. He hadn’t looked too closely at it, being more concerned with avoiding its jumps, but it had a tawny, sort of stripy coat and a short tail. The most obvious feature was its huge teeth. He’d thought that it reminded him of a saber-tooth tiger, but they were extinct. Only maybe not in this place. Maybe here they weren’t extinct.
Logan gave up trying to figure out what had happened. In a sense it didn’t matter. He was here now and he had to learn how to survive until he could get back to where he’d come from. It really was that simple.
The thought crossed his mind that he might not be able to go back, but he shoved it away. That wasn’t something he wanted to consider.
By this time it was getting light. The sun was peeping over the horizon somewhere out at sea to the east and its light was gradually infiltrating through the foliage that surrounded him. Somewhere a bird started up, singing its morning song. The song quickly changed, and then changed again. It was a mockingbird; had to be. Nothing else sang so many songs at peak volume.
He heaved a sigh of relief. At least he was still on Earth. He’d thought for a moment that he might be on another planet. All he’d had to go on was the impossible cat or tiger of the saber-tooth variety. A mockingbird was at least familiar and made the place seem very Florida-like despite the lack of people and houses.
Logan maneuvered around and stood up, trying to stretch the cramps out of his neck and back while he waited for his left leg to regain its circulation. He’d been sitting in such a way that it was wedged tightly into the fork of the tree and now it hurt and tingled.
He carefully edged over and rested his hand on one of the more vertical branches, unzipped his pants, and relieved himself. The stream spattered on the dried leaves below. There was no answering sound. He’d half expected the cat to come charging out at the noise.
Finished, he began to edge onto the connecting branch to the magnolia tree. He’d descend carefully, then see about a drink. The idea of water tormented him now, and he had to mentally restrain his movements. It wouldn’t be good to slip and fall. He had to be careful.
He reached the magnolia with no sign of his attacker. Just to make sure, he broke off a rotten stub and threw it into the bushes. It made a gratifying rustle and crunch. Then all was silent except for that mockingbird. It continued to sing somewhere over near the edge of the stand of trees.
That was a good sign, wasn’t it? Logan thought that birds might be quiet or sound some kind of alarm call if anything dangerous was nearby, but he wasn’t sure about that. All he had to go on was his brief experience at the dig site, and, years ago, a week at summer camp with the Cub Scouts. He was realistic enough to recognize that he couldn’t really rely on the information he’d seen on TV.
“I wish I’d read more prepper-type stuff on the Internet,” he muttered as he climbed down the smaller tree.
The last branch was about five feet up, and it decided that his weight was too much this time around. It snapped, precipitating him onto the ground in an undignified fashion. The fall knocked the wind out of him, but he jumped up, looking wildly around, preparing to either run or to try to climb the tree again. Nothing happened. The saber-tooth must have given up and gone elsewhere for its meal.
I’m rewriting the first draft now, cleaning it up and working on the flow, so it will read easily. It’ll go to my editor in a few days, then (I hope) be ready to publish by July 1. (I know. I’m optimistic.)
Reviews are important to the author. Here’s why:
By Lewlew on 3 Mar. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is my first book by this author and I found the premise interesting and, unlike a recent reviewer, the physics lessons very much needed if you are to understand Kathleen’s predicament! She must master control over the positive and negative aspects of her discovery from years of research. Her life, and Cadeyrin’s depend upon it. I am not sure that the author is done with one book. When you finally reach the end of the book, you are wondering, how will the future be for her? Can she carry on functioning this way and be safe from further problems in the present and past?
I don’t want to give away anything as it is a book for discovering the characters as well as the plot. But I do hope the author is going to bring us another one. I would like to follow along as Kathleen follows her dreams!
Beginning authors often have an unreasonable expectation that they will receive lots of positive feedback from admiring readers. While this may happen, it’s more usual for readers who enjoy the story to simply look for another from the same author. Giving feedback, despite being as easy as Amazon can make it, is still a task that few people have the time or inclination to tackle.
The number of feedback responses to a book has an impact on its success. Most people will base their decision to purchase or not at least partially on the feedback count and the average number of rating stars. Popular books often get thousands of ratings. Of course, books become popular through marketing. It’s only after the prospective reader searches out the book on the internet that feedback becomes a part of the equation.
Amazon’s sales rankings are one of the most important contributors to popularity. Once a book has moved into the top tier on Amazon, their algorithms ensure that it pops up on the computer screens of people who have shown interest in similar stories. This helps get eyes on the book, then the book’s description and the ratings take over.
I’m not able to speak with authority for anyone else, but my purchasing decision tree goes through these steps:
- Become aware of the title by browsing Amazon’s categories, seeing it in a list of recommended books on Kindle, or through some internet marketing on other sites such as Twitter or Facebook.
- Search for the book’s page on Amazon.
- Read the author’s description of the story.
- Check the average number of stars given by readers
- Read some of the text reviews – both positive and negative
- Download a free sample to read.
- If the author hasn’t captured me by the time I finish the free sample it’s Sayonara.
- If I can’t wait to find out what happens next, it’s purchase time.
- Read the story.
- Assign a ranking, and if it’s a book I really enjoyed, write a brief review.
So, that’s how I choose books. In my imagination, at least, that’s probably how many other readers act, too.
The importance of sales and making money is one thing for an author, but there is a certain intense satisfaction from learning that a reader really liked the story and characters that is perhaps more important. I’ve had readers tell me they stayed home from work to finish Heart of Fire Time of Ice. I find that incredibly flattering. I only hope their boss was understanding.
To my disappointment, the above review doesn’t show in the US Kindle site. Amazon shows US reviews on all of the other country sites, but not the reverse. Why, I don’t know.
I’ve had some readers ask what happens next for Kathleen and Cadeyrin and have put some thought into their story after the events in Heart. I checked the UK page for the book just by chance and discovered the above review. That final sentence, “More please,” convinced me. There will be a follow-up story.
I’ve already come up with part of the plot and the rest is bubbling around out there in the quantum plenum, just waiting for the two characters to lead me on the journey of writing their next story. My main problem is that I’m in the middle of another book with different characters. It makes it difficult to write when I’d like to be working on another project. As an aside, I like to finish one writing project before I start on the next. Now I’ve got to make a decision as to which way to go.
Here’s the take-away: If you like a book and want more, you’d be well advised to leave feedback and ask for a sequel. The author will almost certainly see your request.
A Good Editor Helps
I’m nearing the release date (February, 2016) for my next story, Heart of Fire – Time of Ice. It’s a sci-fi/time-travel/adventure/romance that has my pre-readers responding enthusiastically. This story is much better for having been through a thorough edit. I’m so grateful to 3P Editing for their good work that I want to give them credit.
I’ve been a writer for nearly my whole life. I hold a Ph.D. in Psychology, and was trained to write scientific reports. I’ve also worked for a major publishing house. Many years ago, I wrote a book that ended up sitting in a box in my closet. That was in the pre-indie publishing days and I couldn’t find anyone who was interested in the story. Once I understood the opportunity offered by indie-publishing, I self-published a non-fiction, humorous book based on my work experience. A couple of years ago, I finally decided to start writing fiction again. I thought I knew how to write well. After publishing three science fiction novels, I discovered 3P Editing. Previously, I had avoided hiring editors. My experiences with a publishing house had shown me that they can be good, bad, or indifferent. I was reluctant to hire someone who would charge me more than I might actually make from book sales and who might not deliver the quality result that I needed.
An accidental meeting with another author who was very happy with 3P’s work convinced me to hire them to edit my fourth book. Their price was very reasonable and the results were outstanding. In a series of three passes, 3P found grammatical errors, corrected punctuation (commas are somewhat mysterious to me), and made gentle, but important suggestions on wording, scenes, characterization, and plot sequences. I adopted nearly all of their suggestions, and my story is now far more readable and enjoyable as a result. My pre-readers have been pleased. I knew the story was good when one person missed work in order to finish the book.
My conclusion? It’s simple. I will continue to use 3P and am in the process of having them edit my previous books. I highly suggest that if you’re an author you should consider their services.
Oh, BTW You can contact them here: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
On Developing a Believable Language for the Pleistocene
Nanowrimo — National Novel Writing Month — my new story
I’ve been busy with Nanowrimo. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in November. I just hit 44,000 words on my next book. I’m happy with the way it’s going. After finishing ‘Confederation’, the 3rd installment of the Gaea Ascendant series, I was ready for a change. I’ll probably come back to that universe later. I’ve got at least one or two more stories that are set in it. But, I needed a break.
I’d been toying with either a time-travel story or a story set in pre-history, specifically in the Pleistocene. After corresponding with Dr. Quantum (Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.) about his ideas on extraordinary time-travel, I made the decision to blend the two stories into one. It’s working well so far. I’ve just reached the point where the story has found its own voice and the characters are now telling me what they are going to do. The plot has fallen into place also.
I’ve got to admit that I’m a seat-of-the-pants author. I write about five to ten pages, telling the story in rough terms in what I think is the right sequence, then I push those notes ahead of me as I flesh out each scene. However, they are only suggested notes. The characters and story are still free to develop as they decide for themselves and they usually change things completely much to my surprise, but to the advantage of the story.
For this latest story, tentatively titled “Heart of Fire, Time of Ice” I did extensive research on the Clovis culture, the Younger Dryas period where global temperatures dropped an average of ten degrees in a year, and Pleistocene mega-fauna. Those topics were fun and pretty easy to encompass. Time-travel, on the other hand was not.
I admit that I’ve read probably more popular treatments of quantum physics in my spiritual and scientific studies than most people, but time-travel? Come’on now! Well, it turns out that quantum physics practically mandates that it must exist in some form or other. Fred Wolf has a unique take on the idea. He says in “The Yoga of Time Travel” that extraordinary time-travel is probably the way to go. By ‘extraordinary’ he means time-travel without wormholes, machines, or FTL travel. He suspects that all that is necessary is to wake up from a lucid dream in another time. Yeah, I know. Shocking ain’t it?
This approach is too easy. After all, we’ve got a long, long history of crazed inventors with weird clockwork machines or portals that they use to jump in time. Despite movies such as “Somewhere in Time”, I had the feeling that readers would have a hard time buying into the premise. This was a frightening prospect. I didn’t want a machine for logistic reasons and I liked the out-of-body aspect, having some experience with that phenomenon. So, I agonized for days over how to deal with the time jump. Finally, it struck me. My main character, a timid and reclusive female physics student, would develop a theory based on her meta-analysis of date from CERN. As she began to fully comprehend her formulas, she would experience instances of deja vu – sort of a precursor of her learning to travel in time. Finally, under extreme stress, she would make the jump.
It’s yet to be seen if most readers will enjoy this, but my preliminary readers have accepted it without a hiccup. Of course, maybe this is because the jump takes second place to her problems with survival and a certain Clovis culture hunter.
I’d like to do a preliminary cover reveal at this point. For this project, I wanted a softer look than my post-apocalyptic stories used and I found an artist who has done the subject justice. The background in this jpeg is in progress.
As an aside, the MCs have developed an attraction for each other and, though I’ve yet to see how it works out, the book is shaping up as science fiction/pre-historical speculation/romance. I’m a little nervous over the genre crossing, but the story seems to be very compelling, so I’m letting it go where it will.
I hope to have it ready by Christmas, 2015. I’m feeling ambitious, since I just wrote almost 50k words in 15 days.