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Android Murders

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I posted on Facebook a snippet from a new story that I’ve started working on and it’s generated a lot of comments. I thought it might be fun to post more of the story on this blog and invite everyone to comment on the story and how they would like to see it unfold. I have some ideas of where it should go but I’m so interested in the comments that I’d love to share writing this one with you.

The objective isn’t to have you write a story for me to publish. This will be publicly available so most magazines wouldn’t publish it anyway. I’d really like to see how collaborative effort works and share it with the world. So, read the story so far here. Then post your comments. Feel free to comment on what’s gone before, how you think the writing works, where the story should go next. I will pass along any comments not offensive or abusive (hasn’t been a problem so far, but truth in advertising). Let’s have some fun with it.

Steve Fritz

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October

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October is coming to an end and still no takers. I’ve signed up with Literarium, which regularly posts calls for submissions. I’m wrapping up the tweaks of my novel IX – New Millennium and hope to send it out this week. The Revolt on Mars, my second essentially complete WiP, is only 70.000 words but I plan to submit it to a couple of places that publish novellas. Then it’s back to flogging my short fiction while I work on either a sequel to IX or a prequel to Revolt. I’ve made a solid start on both of them.

I also have a WiP near-term military thriller about a war between North Korea and the USA. This one is based on a personal experience I had in the Navy. I was on a carrier sleeping at 2 AM when the General Quarters alarm went off.

BONG – BONG – BONG “General Quarters, General Quarters! All hands man your battle stations. Condition ZULU will be set throughout the ship in ten minutes.”

Usually if it was a drill they would precede the above with “This is a drill, This is a drill, …” Nope, just general quarters. As I grabbed my flight gear and headed for the ready room I wondered if WW3 was about to start. Fortunately it was a mistake. A watchstander on the bridge saw a lighted life vest go over the side into the ocean and tried to hit the Man Overboard alarm. Ooops.

It took about six hours to account for every sailor aboard. The last two hours were spent searching for a young sailor who had a mental health crisis and was in sick bay, lying on the floor under a bunk. The docs, never very military to begin with, didn’t realize it was their responsibility to make sure the ship knew he was there while we were doing a head count. Thank God it wasn’t WW3. But even then I thought it had the makings of a hook for a story. Time will tell whether I ever get it finished.

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Querying

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It’s October, I can hardly believe it. I’m querying for two novels. One is The Revolt on Mars, a 70,000 word novella/novel about a rebellion by terraformers against the United Nations of Sol. The other is IX-New Millennium, a novel about the world a millennium after humanity is virtually wiped out by bioweapons. I didn’t make the cut for #pitchwars so I’m reaching out further. If I don’t have success by 2019 I may try self-Publishing. I need to publish while I’m still alive.

 

 

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Submitting my stories

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It’s been busy the last month. I participated in #PitchWars 2018 for my newly polished manuscript of The Revolt on Mars. I’m still waiting to see if I get a request for the full manuscript, but I need to stay busy until mentors are announced in October.

On Sept 7 I submitted IX – The Messenger to #PitMad and got one like. After that an agent tweeted she was accepting queries and IX – The Messenger fit her wishlist, so I submitted a query there as well.

Now I’m working on editing some of my short fiction after some rejections and additional critiques. I’m not sure my perspective fits very well with recent SF but I’m writing what comes out of my own experience.

 

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PitchWars is on!

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So I did it. I submitted The Revolt on Mars to PitchWars. It’ll be a month before I know for sure whether a me mentor chooses me. Until then I languish here in limbo. Please read and comment on my short fiction. It’ll give me something else to think about.

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Help! I need somebody!

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This week I am obsessed with #PitchWars. My first completed novel, IX: Awakening, has languished in Rejectistan for over a year. I took some writing courses to help polish my writing and mashed up two short pieces into The Revolt on Mars, which ended up being 71,000 words. Revolt is the piece I am readying to submit to #PitchWars in the search for a mentor who can help me make my writing more likely to be published. Everything is pretty much ready to submit next week, after which I will have a month to wait before I find out if I have attracted a mentor. This process is higher probability than querying an agent, but it’s still very low probability of success. When I was a Navy helicopter pilot a lot of my fellow Naval Aviators wanted to fly for the airlines. When I left active duty, one airline advertised for six pilots and got over 8,000 applications. There is no way this can be weeded down to 6 without a huge helping of arbitrariness and personal connection. Same with writing. So the probable #PitchWars odds of about 100:1 against isn’t as bad as it might be.

While I wait I am working on a third novel and trying to get several finished short stories published. I just joined critters.org as a way of getting more feedback on my writing. I plan to critique some short stories and submit a few of my own for critique. It will keep me focused on writing and make the time go faster.

Fingers crossed!

 

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Confusion with Names

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Names are more than a convenient reference to a person. Names have content, meaning. I just read a Facebook thread about a made-up character name that evoked an unbelievable potpourri of reactions and wondered what the name of an alien who came to Earth would do when it resonated with some cultural reference to (some of) us. Think  L U Cipher.

I’ve had fun with character names. Ignatius Xavier Ryan was based on the names of Jesuits I knew and their family members. It turns out IX, his first initials, are the the Greek initials of Iesus Xristos, an entirely unintended consequence.

I have detectives in my one sci fi detective short whose names were fun to create. Ken Bell and Jacqueline Russell were partners. Ken has encyclopedic knowledge (ken = know) and has good ideas (the bell representing the sound of a good idea arriving). Jackie Russell is hyperactive to the extreme, full of energy and ready to react to almost anything. Sophia Weiss (wisdom knowledge) is a truly wise detective partnered with Virgil Goodenough.

In a haunted house story, Amanda Hughes (lovable spirit) is a smart real estate agent pining for her true love Ezekiel Robbins (god strengthens / fame bright). I wanted his name for the positive and negative implications, not its meaning, but he turned out to be unexpectedly strong for a geek and very bright.

An android named Jay Myriad in my story about an android with memory loss was a tribute to Eric Frank Russell, one of my favorite authors in my early days. He had a character named Jay Score, who turned out to be a robot with the designator J.20. Jay Myriad, in addition to being a member of a large class of androids, was actually J1000.

In a story about the outcome of climate change, my main character was named Brunna, from Brunhilde, the name of a Valkyrie. Brunna was the one who chose who survived from an apocalyptic battle.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a name that sounds right and also has the right meaning. A character name I find myself going back to is Jack. It’s popular, strong, terse and a slang word for man in the middle ages. Also the names of my father and my youngest grandson, both of whom are “as independent as a hog on ice.” I never knew exactly what that phrase of my father’s meant, but it surely conjures up an image of a new but determined ice skater.

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Hunting in the Woods

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I’ve been spending a lot of time with my 8-year old grandson. He wanted to write a story and asked for help. We’ve written four short chapters of Hunting in the Woods involving him and his three young cousins. I read it to all the cousins at a recent family dinner. Beatrix, who’s 10, listened and then patiently told me that while she likes it, it’s mostly ‘he said, she said”. She suggested with infinite tact that it might improve if I wrote how the characters were feeling too.  She reads and writes a lot. I think she’s going to be published before I will.

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Camp NaNoWriMo

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This month (July 2018) I’m participating in Csmp NaNaWriMo for the first time. I’m interested in finishing off my novel WiP The Revolt on Mars. It should be an interesting experience.

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Mars Ain’t What It Used To Be

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In 1964 NASA retrieved pictures of Mars from Mariner 4, the first close-up images that revealed Mars to be (seemingly) a dry, dead world. The striking Mariner Valley (Valles Marineris) was one of its most important features. It started our understanding of Mars as we know it today.

At the time I was working as a courier and chauffeur for NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. When the Mariner team came to DC to be feted by Congress and the President, I was assigned to drive a few of them from venue to venue. My first trip with them took them to Congress, where they were in a hearing for hours. I knew a long wait would be boring so I brought a paperback novel to read: Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. On the cover the backdrop showed a ruins remniscent of Ozymandias’ kingdom, fallen marble pillars and broken-down walls, with shifting red sands beyond. In the background a giant, green, four-armed Martian with a four-handed broadsword as long as a car was moving toward the viewer. In the foreground was John Carter, somewhat larger and more muscular than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, with a similarly long two-handed broadsword. In the middle ground was a buxom, scantily clad maiden, the eponymous Thuvia.

After the hearing, the team was in a voluble and excited mood. One of the engineers decided to join me in the front seat. He hopped in with a grin and spotted my book which was lying face down on the seat beside me. He picked it up, turned it over to see he cover, then paused just a beat.

“Look, guys,” he said with a broad smile, turning to his colleagues in the back seat. “We were wrong. There is life on Mars after all.” Haw haw haw.

I’ve never forgiven them.

For a glimpse of what Mars might be, check out Life on Mars.