Deleting scenes is hard

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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MARCH QUESTION: Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

MY ANSWER: Frankly, I usually have the opposite problem. I tend to write long, often longer than the prescribed word count, so my challenge is not what to add but what to delete without compromising the story, while staying inside the allowed word count. Deleting scenes and even chapters during revisions is a regular writers’ task. Sometimes, it is just common sense. Other times, it is painful. You like the scene so much, you invested your heart in it, the participants came out alive, the descriptions are throbbing with emotions, BUT… If it is not relevant for the overall story, if the story could live without it, you should cut it out.

What I do if I like the deleted scenes too much: I collect them. Some of them make wonderful short stories later on.  

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This post wasn’t easy for me to write. As you could see above, I didn’t really have an answer to this month’s question, I didn’t have any other ideas, and I didn’t want to skip the post either. Since I joined IWSG in 2014, I never skipped the post day. I’m not about to start. So I made the decision: whenever I have trouble writing an IWSG post, I will post one of my pre-made book covers. It is about books. And it definitely covers my insecurity as a book cover creator. So far, I only created two book covers for real people and real stories. Maybe if I advertised more… So here is this month’s cover. Of course, it is fantasy.

 

 

Posted in book cover, Fantasy, Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

WEP Feb 2022 – All You Need is Love

This year, all the WEP challenges will be about music. All but one incorporate popular songs of the 20th century. Only one challenge is dedicated to classical music. Unfortunately, while I enjoy classical music, I never liked popular music. I’ve never heard any of the songs or singers involved in this year’s challenges. Even when I tried to listen to them now, they don’t evoke any emotions in me. So instead of following the tunes and verses that leave me cold (except Moonlight Sonata), I’ll write my flash stories based on the words of the titles, which inspire me.

As usual, I’m going with a series of interconnected stories about one protagonist. She is Altenay, a Finder, living in a fantasy city in an imaginary, vaguely medieval land: horses, swords, magic, the usual. Here is my entry into the WEP Feb 2022 challenge All You Need Is Love.   

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“I wanted a baby,” Lady Malsy whispered. “I wanted someone to love. All I wanted was love.”

Altenay nodded. “Of course, Milady.” She had made it a policy never to contradict her clients, lest they became non-clients. But what had the woman’s maternal yearning had to do with Altenay, the Finder?  

“My husband wasn’t a kind man,” the lady continued.  

Altenay had heard that about the late General Malsy. Nobody mourned him. Obviously not his new widow.

“It wasn’t his baby. He’d never have forgiven me if he knew. He would’ve killed me and the baby. Luckily, he was away on campaign. He never learned.”

“Of course,” Altenay repeated. “What do you want me to Find for you, Milady?”

“I want you to find my baby.”

Altenay stared. “Uhm,” she said faintly.

“I had to give it up, so my husband wouldn’t find out. The midwife took it away. It was seven years ago. But as soon as the general died, I came to you. I want to find my baby. I want to adopt it officially.”

“Seven years,” Altenay squeaked. She glanced up from her visitor to the man who had come with her. He stayed at the door. His face was impassive, but his eyes blazed with anger. Lady Malsy had introduced him as her cousin, and he obviously didn’t want any baby found. Probably a large inheritance was at stake. Altenay returned her attention to the lady, who was still talking.

“I never saw it. Don’t even know if it was a girl or a boy. But I love it already.” Tears glistened in the woman’s eyes. “Find it for me, Finder. They said you never fail.”

Altenay swallowed. “Do you have anything that belonged to your baby?” Even as she asked the question, she knew the answer. Of course, not. The lady had never even seen the baby.

“No,” Lady Malsy said.

Altenay spared another glance at the cousin. His fury seemed to subside, replaced by quick mental calculations.

“What about the midwife?” Altenay asked. “Do you have anything that belonged to her? Do you know her name?”

The man at the door perked up. Would he do something nasty to the midwife? Or just pay her off to stay quiet?

“I don’t remember her name,” Lady Malsy said. “But I have this. It was hers. I kept it.” She put a cheap silver bracelet on Altenay’s desk. “She removed it before the birth and forgot it when she took the baby away. Would it help?”

Altenay picked up the bracelet and let her Finder magic flow. The pull was strong and unmistakable, arrowing north. Probably not far out of the city. Surreptitiously, she checked the cousin at the door again. He looked like a hunting dog on a scent. Ready to pounce. She needed to do her search out of his watchful eyes.

“I don’t know, Milady,” Altenay said. “My magic is small and erratic.” That was a shamefaced lie. Her magic wasn’t erratic. It was small, yes, but simple and straightforward. It tugged, and Altenay followed. So far, she had always found her quarry at the end of her magical line, but she always cautioned her clients, so they wouldn’t expect too much. Besides, the cousin might be a problem.

“I’ll try,” she said. “But I’ll have to finish a couple other jobs first. I can start on your search in a few days.” That was another prevarication. She didn’t have any other jobs at the moment, but hopefully the notion would keep the greedy cousin off her back for a time. She really wanted to find the kid.

Altenay watched through her window, as the lady’s carriage vanished around the corner. The cousin would need some time to organize anything. Meanwhile, she would move. As soon as the rattle of the carriage wheels on the cobblestones died away, she clamped a yellow tubeteika, fringed with tiny coins, on her head and slipped out of the house. She hurried to the northern gates of the city. To her relief, nobody followed her.

At the gates, she checked the midwife’s bracelet again. Her magic still pointed north. She hired a donkey cart at the livery just beyond the gate and followed the call of magic. It zoomed straight to the door of a modest cottage in a small town a couple hours from the city. Easy.

Convincing the midwife to disclose the fate of the child was trickier.   

“General Malsy died?” the midwife asked in surprise. “When? She was afraid of him.”

“The funeral was yesterday,” Altenay sad. “That’s why Lady Malsy came to me. Because her husband died.”

The midwife pursed her lips but eventually relented. “His name is Ratmir,” she said. “A good, healthy lad. I gave him to the local draper’s family. They couldn’t have children.”

She even took Altenay to the draper. “This is a Finder,” she said. “Lady Malsy hired her.”

“No!” the draper’s wife exclaimed. “No. Ratmir is my son. We won’t give him up!”

Her husband, a thin stopped man, nodded his agreement.

Altenay looked through the window at the dusty yard outside. A boy with the dark curly hair played with a dog there.

“He might have more chances in life with a rich mother,” she said. “And she might pay you too. She doesn’t have to cut you off either. The boy loves you.”   

The draper and his wife exchanged speaking glances. Everyone in the room knew that none of them could really make any decisions. It was Lady Malsy’s money. And the boy was her son.

“I’ll let the lady know where you live,” Altenay said at last.

It was already dark when she returned home. The next morning, she trudged up the hill to see Lady Malsy. To her relief, the cousin wasn’t in the room.

“You need something else?” the lady asked anxiously. The house was swathed in the mourning colors, but its mistress didn’t seem grieving.   

“No, Milady.” Altenay told her about her yesterday’s trip.

“Ratmir,” the lady breathed. Her eyes shined. “You said a few days. Oh, thank you!” She thrust a heavy purse into Altenay’s hands. “Thank you, Finder. Thank you.”

“Milady,” Altenay said. “It is not my business, but you’re rich. You probably have other heirs for your money. They might resent Ratmir’s sudden appearance. Maybe … you should do something … to keep him safe.”

Lady Malsy’s expression turned frosty. Then it switched to thoughtful. “Yes,” she said after a lengthy pause. “Yes, perhaps I should.”

Altenay curtsied and fled. Later on, she heard in the market that Lady Malsy dotted on her long-lost son. She also heard that the lady’s cousin suffered a fatal accident. People always gossiped about the rich.   

Tagline: The mother’s love can’t be denied.

Posted in Fantasy, Olga Godim, WEP | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Bats in the libraries

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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FEBRUARY QUESTION: Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn’t around anymore? Anyone you miss?

MY ANSWER: I could talk about several people like that, but the most important one was my father. He died years ago. I didn’t write then, so he never knew. But I chose his first name, Godim, as my fiction pen name. Every time I write a story and put down my byline – Olga Godim – I remember him. This way he is always with me, even though he had never read any of my stories.

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I want to talk about something different this month. It is not about me as a writer, but it is about books. And bats. In fact, it is about libraries. I learned this fascinating tidbit a couple weeks ago, and I’m sure some of you are not aware of it.

In common parlance, bats are often associated with witches and dark magic, especially for speculative fiction writers like myself. But two historical libraries in Portugal – the only ones in the whole world – use bats as bug repellents, to protect their priceless manuscripts.

 One is the Biblioteca Joanina of the University of Coimbra. Another one is the Palace Library at the Palace of Mafra near Lisbon.   

Both are gorgeous old libraries in the ornate Baroque style. Amazing décor, marvelous gilded carvings, the usual. Since the 1700s, soon after the libraries opened, the colonies of bats have been roosting inside those buildings, behind the bookshelves. Nobody actually recorded the exact dates when the bats first took residence among the stacks. The little flyers sleep in the daytime when the libraries are in use. At night, when all the visitors are gone, the bats fly out to hunt through the libraries’ corridors and balconies, devouring insects and thus preserving the magnificent ancient volumes in the libraries’ collections. Some of those volumes date back to the 15th century or before.

Biblioteca Joanina – photo from wikipedia

The staff are very understanding of their manuscript-protecting creatures. There are always open windows in the buildings, so the bats could fly outside, drink water, and feed in the gardens nearby, before returning home. Furthermore, every evening, before the employees leave for the night, they cover all the original 18th century furniture with leather sheets, just as it has been done for hundreds of years, to capture the bat guano. Every morning, before the libraries open their doors, the staff remove the furniture covers and scrub the floors, so they could welcome in the library patrons.

Palace Library of Mafra – photo from wikipedia

So simple and so ingenious. I’m in awe. Clever Portuguese. Some modern libraries spend thousands of dollars on book preservation, and it could be done much cheaper by common bats. Perhaps we should copy a page from their ‘book.’  

 

 

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Queen as a character

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. And I’m one of the hosts this month, together with Erika Beebe, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken. Hooray!

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I’ll forgo this month optional question for a question (or five) of my own. I recently read a fascinating novel, a cozy murder mystery The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett. I enjoyed it, but it also inspired a few of those questions I want to ask.

You see, one of the novel’s protagonists is Queen Elizabeth – the current ruler of Britain and one of the sleuths of the story. There are also other characters representing the living people in the queen’s entourage, all with their real names. Plus, of course, some fictional characters. I wonder if the author had to ask permission to use the real persons’ names and the queen’s personality in her book. And what does it say about the British law that the permission was (obviously) granted? Maybe Bennett didn’t even have to ask. Maybe any writer could use the British royals as characters in their fictional tales. I know there are several books like that. How much difference is there between the real Queen Elizabeth and her fictional counterpart?

And the inevitable second series of questions arises. I’m a Canadian. What if I wanted to create a fictional version of our political leader, the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? Would I have to ask permission? Would it be granted? Or is it permissible without asking?

Could an American writer use their current president as a fictional character? How about a Hollywood star or a television host? Is any public persona a fair game for fiction writers? Does anyone know the answers to my questions? If not, would you care to speculate?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing | Tagged , , | 43 Comments

WEP Dec 2021 – Narcissus

Finally, the last WEP post of the year, Dec 2021 challenge, Narcissus. This entry tells another story about a young Space Fleet Academy cadet, Neville. He serves on the spaceship Mariposa as the captain’s liaison with the passengers, refugees from a destroyed colony planet. Read about Neville’s previous adventures here:

Feb 2021 – The Kiss

Apr 2021 – Freedom Morning

Jun 2021 – Great Wave

Aug 2021 – Freedom of Speech

Oct 2021 – Scream

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“Men want to be beautiful, too,” the old man told Neville in a quivering baritone. “And don’t smirk at me, young man. You do, deep inside your heart. Everyone does. That’s what I did with my life. I made men beautiful. I owned a salon for men only. Haircuts. Massages. Nails. You name it—I offered it. In the end, I owned 15 salons in four cities, all called Narcissus. That’s who I was. The Narcissus. And now…” He sighed and looked around at the passenger hold, where he shared his berth with a thousand other refugees.

The Mariposa’s trips to Simel were not long, eight to ten days only, depending on the traffic through the warp gates, but at the end of this journey, nothing waited for this old man. Neville felt sorry for him. Younger refugees would find new jobs, make new lives for themselves, but this old geezer had nothing to look forward to. Neville opened his mouth to deliver some bracing platitudes when the Narcissus’s next words floored him.

“They should’ve left me on the planet,” the oldster said. “My daughter died there, and my granddaughters. One of them was pregnant. With my great-grandchild. The shuttles couldn’t reach any of them in time, before it all exploded. But they saved me. Why? I’m no use to anyone anymore. I can’t even give you a haircut. My hands shake. Stupid old hands.” He stared into the distance only he could see. A slight tremor shook his wrinkled hands.

Neville desperately wanted to cheer up the old man, but how does one counter such despair? He scrambled his brain for anything positive. “Do you want to walk with me through the ship?” he asked finally. “Have you ever seen such a ship as Mariposa? It’s a military freighter, three kilometers long. It never landed on any planet, was built in space.”

“Heh?” The old Narcissus perked up. “Yes. Thank you, dear boy. Three kilometers? I don’t think I could walk that far.”

“We won’t go all the way,” Neville promised with a smile. “And we’ll stop for rest.” He offered his arm to the old man. “Lean on me, sir.”

“Wonderful.” Narcissus’s answering smile creased the old face. “What is your name again? I’m Peter.”

“Neville,” Neville said.

They walked slowly, and Neville explained each section and its functions to Peter. Twice, the old man rested: once in the mess hall, the next time perching on a huge loader’s arm in the D section. But he refused to return to his hold.

“This is a fascinating excursion, Neville, boy.” The old eyes sparkled. “I haven’t had such fun in ages.”

They were nearing the warp drive housing when the ship chimed a warning. Then the captain’s command, cold and sharp, cut through the intercom. “Officers to the bridge. Passengers, go to your holds and stay there.”   

Neville’s head snapped up.

“Trouble?” Peter asked.

“I don’t know.” Neville brought his wrist-comm to his lips and keyed the captain’s station. “Captain? Should I report to the bridge or stay with the passengers?” He was the passengers’ liaison after all. He was supposed to be available to them at all times.

“A moment, cadet.” She continued her conversation with someone else, but she didn’t turn off the audio, and the raised voices came through Neville’s comm-link.

“No, Tergio,” she said. “It’s a suicide mission. We might muddle through as is.”

“No, we won’t,” Tergio said. “The volanite leak means the shell’s cracked. When the leak reaches the critical volume, the engine will blow. You know that. I must go in and patch the shell. I should’ve checked before. I’m the chief engineer. It was my duty.”

“What is volanite?” Peter mouthed to Neville.

“Warp drive fuel. It powers starships,” Neville replied absently, his mind on the conversation he was overhearing.

The captain again: “We are four days out from the nearest station with a decent medical facility. Simel is even farther away. We can’t treat volanite burns onboard. You’ll die.”

“I know,” Tergio said. “But there is no one else. My assistant is twice younger than I am and has a toddler daughter. I can’t order her to do it.”

“Captain,” Peter spoke directly into Neville’s wrist-comm. “Can I do it?” His voice wobbled more than usual.

Startled, Neville glared at the old man.

“Who is that, cadet?” his comm demanded.

“One of the passengers, Captain. An old man. I was giving him a tour of the ship.”

“I’m almost a hundred,” Peter murmured into the comm. “I’ll die soon anyway. No reason to go to Simel for that. I can just as well die here. At least my death would mean something.”

“Are you an engineer?” the captain demanded.

“No. I was a barber. But I’m sure your engineer could talk me through whatever needs to be done. Couldn’t you, sir? In simple layman words?”

“No, Peter,” Neville said in dismay.

“I want to,” said Peter. “My family all died back home. Let me do it.”

“This is wrong,” Tergio said after a long pause.

“Yes, you can do it,” the captain said at the same time. “Thank you. Neville, bring him to the bridge. Tergio, prepare your equipment.”

Peter’s grin was incandescent. “This is the perfect last job for Narcissus,” he said happily, as Neville towed him to the bridge. “Don’t be so gloomy, my boy. Making life a better place was what I did all my life. I might as well die doing it.”

An hour later, Peter entered the warp engine housing under Tergio’s radio supervision and patched the drive shell to stop the leak. It might have taken a stronger and better trained man less than an hour. It took Peter, with his tremorous hands, thrice that long. He didn’t die from volanite burns after all. He collapsed right there, inside the drive compartment, as his old heart finally gave out after his job was completed.

Just after Tergio shouted in triumph: “Well done, old man!”   

The captain gave a moving eulogy at Peter’s wake the next day, her words transmitted through the intercom all over the ship. Afterwards, impromptu speeches started.  

“I had my haircuts at Narcissus all the time,” said one man. “They knew how to do man’s hair better than anyone else. Had I known we traveled with such a celebrity, the owner of Narcissus, I would’ve told the old guy.”

“Yeah.” Another man stood up. “They did my haircut for my wedding. The best barbers ever, that’s for sure. Who would’ve known a barber could be a hero.”

Neville didn’t talk, but he knew. The captain had already submitted a report. The next new Fleet ship coming out of the military docks would have an unexpected name – Narcissus.

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Tagline: Even a barber could be a hero

Posted in science fiction, Short Story, WEP | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Good and bad of writing

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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DECEMBER QUESTION: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

MY ANSWER: What delights me? It is a no brainer: a story. I enjoy making up my own stories, coming up with the characters and their adventures. It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding. When the story unfolds, it sucks me in, makes me forget all my real-life troubles. It is escapism at its best, better even than reading.

What stresses me? The lack of moral support and encouragement. For all my writing life, the only encouragement I’ve ever got for my writing was from my online friends. Nobody in my real life praises my writing or even reads it. I’m not complaining about my family – far from it. I have a great family, BUT… I and my family and my closest friends are all immigrants from Russia. Nobody among my family and friends knows English enough to enjoy reading it, including my writing (I write exclusively in English). Mostly, they read Russian books.

Furthermore, raised and steeped in the Russian culture, they don’t read light genre fiction, which is what I write. Magic with dragons? Puh! My mom never in her life read anything so frivolous. She enjoys serious mainstream novels and literary fiction. So does my sister. The sci-fi adventure flicks I write, with nothing even remotely resembling true life, is not for them.

My children, on the other hand, know English. They went to school here, in Canada. BUT… My daughter doesn’t read fiction. She is into non-fiction and not interested in my genre stories. My son – the only one of my relatives – did read a few of my stories and even complimented me. He is a good son and a good man, but we have different tastes in reading. I’m reluctant to push my writing on him too often – don’t want to over-exploit his affection for me – and he never asks to read anything of mine without a prompt. So, not much moral support there as well.

Just as I said, the only consistent moral support and encouragement for my writing comes from my online friends: here at IWSG and at WEP.

BTW: we have the last WEP blog hop of 2021 coming up on the theme Narcissus, based on the famous painting by Caravaggio. I’m going to post my story in a few days. Come read it. Give me your moral support. It’ll make me happy. A hint: it will be a sci-fi flash story, an adventure in space.

What about you? What stresses and delights you in your writing?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

About a queer romance

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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I’ll skip the optional question this month to write instead about my taste in fiction. For those who visit my blog regularly, it would be no surprise that my two favorite genres to read are romance and speculative fiction. And a mix of the two. In recent years, both genres experienced an upsurge of a subgenre of queer romance. Lots of books published in both genres have queer protagonists and/or same sex love stories.

At first, whenever I tried such books – often at a recommendation from my online friends – I ended up disappointed. Until I read Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell and to my surprise liked it a lot. It is a science fiction M/M love story and a delightful book by all accounts. I thought: so I can enjoy an M/M romance after all, if it is handled correctly.

Then I read a fantasy trilogy by A.J. Demas (Sword Dance, Saffron Alley, and Strong Wine) about a pair of male lovers and again enjoyed those books immensely.

After some musing on the subject, I finally figured out what makes such books enjoyable (or not) for me. The main snag is the focus of the story. If the focus is on the characters’ adventures, whatever they are, and the protagonists just happen to be both male or both female and fall in love in the course of their fictional journey, in short if their queer status is accidental to the story, I like it. In such stories, the protagonists might be both males or both females or belong to the opposite sexes, and the plot wouldn’t change one bit.

But if the author makes her story specifically about a queer couple and their travails because they are queer, while everything else that should matter – families, countries, wars, villains, and so on – fall by the wayside, those stories don’t interest me.

What about you? What do you think about such stories?

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

WEP Oct 2021 – Scream

This story is my offer for the Oct 2021 WEP challenge, Scream. My hero for this year stories is a young Space Fleet Academy cadet Neville. Suspended for one year from the Academy for disciplinary infractions, he is serving that year on the spaceship Mariposa as the captain’s liaison with the passengers, refugees from a destroyed colony planet. You can read my previous entries about Neville here:

Feb 2021 – The Kiss

Apr 2021 – Freedom Morning

Jun 2021 – Great Wave

Aug 2021 – Freedom of Speech

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“You must find my Scream, officer. It is priceless. I can’t afford to lose it.” The woman’s fingers dug into Neville’s arm, her face tense. The other passengers of the refugee hold #5 listened intently. Nobody surrounding them even pretended not to be interested.

Neville sighed inwardly. By tomorrow morning, everyone in all seven passenger holds would know that someone had lost something during boarding, and none of these people could afford to lose anything. They were all evacuees from a destroyed planet, traveling to Simel as refugees. All of them had lost too much already when their planet imploded: families, homes, careers. He would do anything to help any of them if he could, but he was one man, even if he was the passengers’ liaison with the captain, and there were over eight thousands of them presently on board.

“Tell me more,” he said quietly to the distraught woman. “What is your scream? I’ll do my best to help you find it.”

“It’s a musical instrument. Destrian bagpipes. It is unique. I call it Scream. I’m a musician, a piper. After our planetary disaster, my Scream might be the only one of its kind left in the whole universe.” She sniffed. “Here, I’ll show you.”

Neville looked at the holo 3D rendering spinning slowly above her tablet vid plate – a strange assortment of wooden pipes of different lengths and diameters, sticking out in all directions from a red fabric bag, presumably filled with air. “It plays music?” he asked dubiously. He couldn’t quite conceal his skepticism.

“It is a traditional instrument, with thousands of years of history, you ignoramus,” she said acidly. “It came from old Earth. And now, you went and lost it when you helped me with my luggage.”

“I didn’t help you with your luggage, ma’am,” Neville said. “I didn’t help anyone with their luggage. I’m forbidden to handle the passengers’ luggage by the captain’s orders.”

“Oh.” She deflated, then rallied. “Well, someone did. I had it when I boarded, and now I don’t have it. Where is it?”

“I’ll find it for you,” Neville promised.

“See that you do,” she said angrily. “Because if you don’t, I’ll sue the entire Fleet for losing my beloved instrument. My livelihood. Centuries of history…” She turned away, still muttering.

Helplessly, Neville watched her stiff shoulders. Some people reacted to their huge losses by becoming weepy. Others were stoic. Still others turned furious from the horrendous toll their dying planet had extracted when it shattered. No matter, he would help her find her Scream. After all, the Mariposa, his ship, was large but finite. If the woman brought her pipes on board, they were still there.    

Three days later, he didn’t feel so sanguine. He had talked to many people in all seven holds. His surveillance drones whizzed all over the ship, searching for Scream and not finding anything even remotely similar. The Mariposa had less than seven days left on this trip, and he was still in the darkness regarding the odd pipes.

The piper demanded an update from him every morning and grumbled her disdain for the Fleet officers’ ineptitude, and he could tell her nothing.

On the fifth day, Neville decided his random personal contortions were not enough and settled on a technical approach. He entered the parameters of the Destrian bagpipes, as well as some other types of bagpipes he found on the interplanetary net, into the Mariposa main computer. Then he programmed the sensors to scan the ship for the 3D representation of bagpipes. The whole rigmarole took him a couple more days, as he could only do it at night. His days were devoted to the passengers.

On the seventh morning, yawning from his lack of sleep, Neville set the scanner to commence and headed for the refugee holds to start his day, as usual. The scanner would take a while, but it would cover every inch of the three-kilometer-long ship. By evening, he would know where the pipes were.

When he returned to his cabin in the evening, the scan outcome blinked red on his com-link screen. No object found.

Neville frowned in consternation. Did he make a mistake in his scanner program? Or in the pipes’ parameters? Or did the woman not bring her instrument aboard? Did she lie to him? Why? Just in case, he removed the size restrictions from his scanner requirements and set it to work again during the night.

In the morning, the eighth morning of the trip, the scan results blazed green on his com-link. Object found. Neville stared at the holo pipes slowly rotating above the vid plate. The parameters of the found object ran in a short list beside the image. Its size was the first line. Its location was the last.

Neville cursed and went to see his captain.

“What’s wrong, Cadet?” she asked. “You look stormy.”

“Captain. I’m not sure. I think this woman lied to me, but I can’t imagine why. What did she think to accomplish?” He outlined the entire odyssey of his search for the pipes. “I found them. They’re this tiny, like a toy.” He brought his thumb and index finger a few centimeters apart. “And they are in her luggage. Why would she do that?”

The captain shook her head and sighed. “She threatened to sue the Fleet, didn’t she?”

Neville nodded unhappily.

“I think she is a hustler. She set you up to fail. She found a possible way to make money and she pursued it.”

“With all the tragedies these people have already endured? She tied up my time with her pointless search. The time I could’ve spent helping someone in real need.”

“You want my advice, Cadet?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Confront her with as many witnesses as you can manage and demonstrate the results of your search. Loudly. Then get the pipes from her suitcase. You have my permission to open it for this. Show the pipes to everyone. Make a recording with your drone, so she can’t sue the Fleet. That was her real goal.”

“Her hold mates would tear her apart for this.”

“Yeah.” The Captain grinned evilly. “She deserves it. Go and prove to every passenger on this ship how competent the Fleet officers can be. Good job, Cadet.”

“She probably can’t even play the real pipes,” he muttered as he stomped away.

Behind his back, the captain laughed.  

Posted in Olga Godim, science fiction, WEP | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Disconnect

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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I’ll skip the optional question this month. Instead, I’d like to talk about a strange disconnect I’m experiencing between writers’ books and their personalities. There are two writers I want to discuss. Both write fantasy – one of my preferred genres. Both are bestsellers. Both have blogs. Let’s call them writer A and writer B.

Writer A has a very interesting blog, full of personal tidbits and humor. Occasionally she posts free fiction on her blog. I subscribe to her blog and enjoy it. Not so much – her fiction. That could be hit or miss for me. I like some of her books and dislike the rest – they are often too dark and gritty for my taste.

Writer B at the moment is my favorite fantasy author. I love her books, all of them. I own them all and re-read them occasionally. Each re-reading infuses me with pleasure. They invariably lift my mood. I want more of her. I would’ve been a faithful subscriber to her blog as well, … but her blog is on Patreon. She only allows people to read it if they pay her. And the more they pay, the more content is available to them.

Such a greedy attitude towards her readers feels at the very least disrespectful. I don’t want to pay for reading a blog. In my view, it goes contrary to all marketing conventions. Moreover, it upsets me as a reader. I want to know more about what’s going on in her life and her writing, but I’m not prepared to pay for the privilege, although I buy her every book as soon as it’s published. I feel like she is failing me, even insulting me on a personal level, but I still want to read her books. Do you ever experience such a disconnect? Does a writer’s personality and behavior affect how you view her fiction?  

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Success as a writer

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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SEPTEMBER QUESTION: How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

MY ANSWER: I guess success is different for everyone. For me, success is huge. Ilona Andrews is a success as a writer. Lois McMaster Bujold is a success. They have made it into the big league.  I – not so much. I did have a number of my short stories published in magazines and anthologies. And a couple of novels. I even won an award for one of my novels. I do have an income from my work as a journalist. Small income, but I think it counts. But overall, am I a successful professional writer? I don’t think so. I don’t have millions of fans buying my every book. It feels more like a hobby that is edging into the professional territory. But it gives me joy to make up my own stories and write them down in the best English I can. So, no complaints. What about you?

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing | Tagged , , | 21 Comments