WEP Feb 2019 – 28 Days

This year, my contributions to the WEP challenges will be a series of connected sci-fi flash stories about a pet care shop on the Rendezvous Space Station and its owner Dinara. Every story will feature one animal and Dinara’s troubles with it.
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Dinara gazed at the tiny sad creature in the cage. Jean, the buka, lifted her round eyes at Dinara and whined softly, her ears huge and limp, piling on the floor on both sides of her miniature fluffy body like a blanket.

“Why don’t you eat, you stupid little mug?” Dinara muttered. “Your master only left yesterday. It will be 28 days before he comes back. You’ll die if you don’t eat, and then he’ll have my license.”

Jean didn’t respond, just put her head on her paws and closed her eyes. The food bowl stayed untouched.

“No luck?” Dinara’s cousin Manie asked from the far corner. Manie worked part-time for Dinara’s business, Rendezvous Pets. The rest of the time, Manie was a designer at the local theater. Unfortunately, a theater designer on a space station, even as large a station as Rendezvous, couldn’t earn enough. All the theater people had part time jobs.

“She drinks, but she doesn’t eat. I don’t know what to do. She misses her master,” Dinara said.

“Try art,” Manie suggested.

Dinara snorted. “What do you mean?”

“Are there any… I don’t know… documentaries about other bukas?”

“Tons.” Dinara perked up. “That’s a great idea. Thanks, Manie.” Perhaps she could bribe the small animal with the images of other bukas. She settled in front of her com-link and typed ‘buka’ in the search box.

The list of documentaries from Simel, the bukas’ native planet, was impressive. Dinara programmed a large holo screen in front of Jean’s cage and directed the longest documentary towards it.

Jean yipped, as the other bukas on the screen climbed the cliffs and frolicked in the grass. She sprang to her feet and bounced to the food bowl. Her ears flapped like velvety wings. When the bukas in the documentary started pulling nuts from the shrubbery and crunching them, Jean in her cage crunched contentedly on her own nuts.

Dinara smiled in satisfaction. Mission accomplished. To her consternation, Jean, like every buka, was intelligent and had a good memory. Two weeks later, when Dinara ran out of the new documentaries and started replaying them, Jean lost interest in her food again.

“What are you going to do now?” Manie asked with concern. “You have another two weeks before her owner’s ship is back.”

“This little bugger is blackmailing me for a new entertainment,” Dinara replied crossly. They were having lunch together in Dinara’s office. “Do you know why they are called bukas?” She ladled more dumplings than she needed into her bowl. She was tired from her food war with the sneaky buka. She pitied the creature, of course, but she suspected that Jean only declared a hunger strike when she was bored.

Manie shook her head. “Why?”

“When the colonists first arrived on Simel and discovered them, they called the buka species Cheburashka, after an obscure cartoon character from the ancient animated movies. Because they looked like that character. Later, the people shortened that mouthful of a name to buka. I ordered all three cartoons from Earth. Our net didn’t carry them. Paid a bundle too. Want to watch, before I show them to Jean? They just arrived. I hope they’ll do the trick.”

After the first cartoon ended, Manie wrinkled her nose. “What is the other animal?”

“Crocodile, from the translation,” Dinara said absently. “I’m not sure Jean will like it. It’s so primitive. Although Cheburashka looks exactly like her.”

“Crocodiles on Earth are huge. Bigger than men,” Manie objected. “I read about them. This one is… small.”

“He wears a jacket and plays harmonica too. It’s a cartoon, Manie.” Dinara shook her head. “Let’s see if my big-eared manipulator likes it.”

Jean loved it. She finished her food in record time. She also sang along with the crocodile and his harmonica, a high-pitched whine that sounded surprisingly in tune with the melody.”

“Who knew bukas are musical,” Manie commented.

Jean’s fascination with the three short cartoons about Cheburashka and Crocodile didn’t last long.

“She stopped eating again,” Dinara complained, when Manie arrived for her shift a week later. “Darn! That, perverse little schemer! Her ugly ears will be the death of me. I’ll feed her to the fusion reactor.” She pointed an accusing finger into Jean’s cage, and the upset buka chirped distressingly. “She is acting out. She is a theater junkie, like you.”

Manie grinned. “Yeah. Kindred spirits. What are you going to do?”

“I have an idea,” Dinara growled, grabbed her com-link, and stomped out. She went to a printer shop and ordered one Cheburashka and one crocodile exactly like in the cartoon, both the size of her palm, like Jean. It took an hour to print both toys.

“I’m going to charge your owner with all my extra expenses,” she grumbled on the way back. “From Earth! I had to order from Earth, you furry exploiter.”

She flew into the shop and thrust the toys into Jean’s cage. “If you don’t start eating, you, plushy rascal, I’m going to skin you for a rug,” she threatened.

Jean twittered happily and pounced on the toys. She gobbled her food right away and wasn’t interested in videos anymore. She abandoned Cheburashka an hour later, but she kept the crocodile with her at all times, gnawing and crooning to it.

When her owner came for her, he didn’t want the saliva-encrusted crocodile at first, but Jean complained so loudly, he took the chewed-up toy. He reluctantly paid for the toys, and the Earth cartoons, and the documentaries.

“Next time, I’m taking you with me,” he said grumpily to Jean as he left Dinara’s shop. “You’re too expensive otherwise.”

“Yeah,” Dinara said smugly and fed his credit chip into her accounting software. “Next time, I’ll only take her with a ready crocodile.”
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For those of you interested in bukas from Simel and how to entertain them, here is a song from the Russian cartoon Jean liked:

The crocodile sings in Russian, but I have translated his song for the curious.

Let them wade through the puddles,
Rubber boots stirring muddles,
Water running along like a brook.
Passersby cannot gather
Why in this rainy weather
I would happily carp like a rook.

Refrain
When I sing my merry ditty
No one would venture near.
Alas birthday, what a pity,
Happens only once a year.

Wizard with a silver mane
Flying in a magic plane
With a movie as gay as a dream.
He will bring cake and gifts,
Yummy, wonderful treats,
And a pile of delicious ice-cream.

Refrain

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

Book covers and badges

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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OPTIONAL QUESTION: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

MY ANSWER: I don’t always answer the optional IWSG questions, but this one struck me as extremely relevant. Most artistic people I know have more than one creative outlet. It is as if the creativity bubbles inside them and wouldn’t be consigned to one single stream. As I discovered recently, I’m no different.

I’ve always made up stories, since I was a little kid, so it was a logical progression for me to start writing down my stories. But I haven’t ever considered myself an artist, couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life. Surprisingly, few years ago, I started designing book covers from the existing free images available on the internet, and I found it such a satisfying activity, I can’t stop.

Most of my pre-made book covers are in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Each one is almost a visual story in itself, with a protagonist and her complex milieu. Sometimes it is a witch with her pixie helpers. Sometimes it is a princess who befriended a dragon. I use people 3D rendering made by other artists in DAZ studio or Poser and backgrounds offered by wonderful photographers and artists on Pixabay and other similar free websites.

My pre-made book covers are like an assembly line, with 2 to 20 different elements in every cover. The sample cover below includes 9 elements. You can see all my pre-made book covers on my DeviantArt page, and I often add new ones. I would be very happy if someone liked my covers and used one of them for their book.

The book covers I made for wattpad, for all my stories and for other writers’ stories as well, are a bit different. For them, I used predominantly photographs as the basic images, not DAZ renders. You could see the examples on my wattpad page. It is not my favorite approach; too many cover artists use realistic photographs these days, and the images seem to blend into each other, with nothing to distinguish one author from the next, on Amazon or any other book retail site. At least, my DAZ and Poser based covers are unique.

I also make badges for the WEP challenges, have been making them since 2016. It started with a casual request from Denise Covey, the WEP founder, and it is very different from my book covers endeavor. With the book covers, I make them mostly for myself, to satisfy my artistic itch. With the badges, it starts with a theme.

After I find an appropriate image for the theme, I design a badge and ask the other WEP team members for their feedback. Sometimes, my first attempt is approved right away; everyone likes it. Other times, I don’t get so lucky. I might go through a half-dozen or more different images for one challenge, before it is accepted by all the hosts of WEP. We swap ideas and discuss possibilities. I found it especially hard with challenges leaning towards abstract concepts, but so far, I’ve always come out the winner with a final badge everyone likes. And it’s such a giddy feeling, when I finally get an ‘okay’ for a badge from everyone, I always feel like celebrating.

Perversely, until I do get an ‘okay’, I feel like I’m an imposter, a failure. Like I’d never get another badge right in my life. Like many artistic personalities, I’m very sensitive to my friends’ critique, and each time they dislike my first draft, I would sulk and think something along the lines of “oh, they don’t understand…” But then, I would search again, listen to their suggestions, find a better image or a better composition, and the final badge is always, without exceptions, the best of all my attempts. Obviously, my friends do understand.

One of the examples of my hard-won badges is the one for the upcoming WEP challenge in February, 28 DAYS. I went through several different images before I found this one, the one everyone approved. The process wasn’t easy, but the result was all the more satisfying because of it. Come and join us in this challenge. What could you write about 28 days?

What other creative outlets do you have, in addition to writing? Tell me in the comments.

Posted in art, book cover, Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, WEP | Tagged , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Crystal Song, final chapter published

The finale chapter of my science fiction novelette Crystal Song is live on wattpad.

The story protagonist, Ulira, doesn’t trust anyone. When she was 17, she had been betrayed by the person she trusted most – her brother. She had almost lost her life then, and she had lost her trust in people. Fortunately, she had escaped her home on the Hanumah Space Station and created a life for herself elsewhere.
Now, thirteen years later, her brother found her again. He asks her to come back, because Hanumah and its people need her help.

You could read the full story here.

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Crystal Song, chapter 2 published

Chapter 2 of my science fiction novella Crystal Song is live on wattpad.

The story protagonist, Ulira, doesn’t trust anyone. When she was 17, she had been betrayed by the person she trusted most – her brother. She had almost lost her life then, and she had lost her trust in people. Fortunately, she had escaped her home on the Hanumah Space Station and created a life for herself elsewhere.
Now, thirteen years later, her brother found her again. He asks her to come back, because Hanumah and its people need her help.

You could read the full story here.

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Crystal Song, chapter 1 published

I finally write again, after almost a year of the worst writing block in my memory. I’m working on the science fiction novella Crystal Song and publishing it on wattpad.

The story protagonist, Ulira, doesn’t trust anyone. When she was 17, she had been betrayed by the person she trusted most – her brother. She had almost lost her life then, and she had lost her trust in people. Fortunately, she had escaped her home on the Hanumah Space Station and created a life for herself elsewhere.
Now, thirteen years later, her brother found her again. He asks her to come back, because Hanumah and its people need her help.

You could read the first chapter here.

Posted in Novella, Olga Godim, science fiction, wattpad | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Romance: enforced socializing

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 love romance and read it a lot, although I don’t write it much. There are two major trends in romance novels. One: my NOT favorite: the insta-lust. The heroes meet and feel an instant, almost irresistible physical attraction. Afterwards, for the rest of the novel, they struggle with the said attraction (or fall to bed right away) and in the process discover that they like each other as persons after all. HEA ensues – usually. The most famous story of this kind is Romeo and Juliet – the ultimate case of insta-lust. And look how it ended! I’m not a fan of this kind of romantic fiction.

The other, much more life-like scenario is an enforced socializing. The heroes start by meeting because of a situation – at work or in the social milieu. Maybe they’re assigned to solve a problem together, or have to travel together, or he is a guest in her house, or they’re even set out to get married through an arranged marriage. It depends on the time-frame of the romance and its sub-genre.

In any case, they don’t like each other at first. They are too different. Their tastes in partners’ outer appearance run in different directions. They come from different social strata. Their personalities clash repeatedly. They don’t trust each other, because their goals are opposite, and so on.

They have to spend time together anyway, no choice about that for either of them. Often, they have to depend on each other in tight spots, and along the way, they learn about each other. More, they start liking each other, as their preconceptions and masks slip away. They develop mutual trust, and with it, at last, comes the all-important physical attraction, even if the protagonists didn’t consider each other pretty at first or thought that the other one is outright ugly. They stop seeing the outer attributes and concentrate on the inner beauty instead. Love flourishes.

For characters in this kind of story, personality is more important than physical appearance or sexual gratification, which could be found without any involvement of heart and soul. Remember the wide spread of prostitution in all the centuries but the current one. (Maybe this one too, I’m not sure.)

The most popular example of this type of story is Beauty and the Beast. It is my kind of story. I enjoy reading it. If I ever wrote romance, I’d go with this approach, but so many writers with a steady posse of fans prefer the other one.

What about you? What do you think of insta-lust? Do you trust it? Do you accept it as a driving force of a romance story? Or is enforced socializing more to your taste? Do your romantic characters experience insta-lust? Or do they follow another path and learn about the personality first, before indulging their bodily urges? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year 2019

So we reached the year 2019. Amazing! Congrats, friends. Best wishes in the coming year. Hopefully, it will be better than the last one, or at least not worse. I’m not very optimistic, you see, but I do wish you the best. Let most of your wishes come true.

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WW Photo Challenge: Zebra

I’m participating in Celia Reaves’ photo challenge. For 26 weeks, every Friday, she has posted a photo on a theme starting with a letter of the alphabet. I joined her challenge at the letter B, and this is the last of these weekly posts. We have finally arrived at Z. It is also the last WW Photo Challenge post for this year. Uph! As always, I’m posting one of my pre-made book covers.

Thank you, Celia, for your wonderful challenge. It gave me an opportunity to showcase my artistic side on this blog.

Zebra for the Z.

My book covers are mostly made from images I find on several free image websites, like Pixabay.com. Sometimes, I add an element or two I discovered as free stock on deviantArt, but not this time.

If anyone wants a cover you see here or in my deviantArt gallery for your real book, let me know. The fonts are negotiable, of course.

 

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WW Photo Challenge: Yoga

I’m participating in Celia Reaves’ photo challenge. Every Friday, she posts a photo on a theme starting with a letter of the alphabet. This week – it is the letter Y. As before, I’m posting one of my pre-made book covers.

Yoga for the Y.

My book covers are mostly made from images I find on several free image websites, like Pixabay.com. Sometimes, I add an element or two I discovered as free stock on deviantArt, but not this time.

If anyone wants a cover you see here or in my deviantArt gallery for your real book, let me know. The fonts are negotiable, of course.

 

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WW Photo Challenge: Ex libris

I’m participating in Celia Reaves’ photo challenge. Every Friday, she posts a photo on a theme starting with a letter of the alphabet. This week – it is the letter X. It is probably the hardest letter of the alphabet for this particular project. There are only a few entries in the dictionaries starting with X, none of them inspiring as a book cover image, which is what I’m posting – a pre-made book cover. Upon consideration, I decided to go with the sound.

Ex libris for the X.

My book covers are mostly made from images I find on several free image websites, like Pixabay.com. Sometimes, I add an element or two I discovered as free stock on deviantArt, but not this time.

If anyone wants a cover you see here or in my deviantArt gallery for your real book, let me know. The fonts are negotiable, of course.

 

Posted in art, book cover, Fantasy, Olga Godim, WW Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment