Thursday, June 28, 2018

Writing update June '18

Okay writing update. Doing something different.

Published "The Courier" which is still on sale-at least the E-books are. I keep saying it but it's true-it's an exciting tale of action and adventure about a very young woman Courier. No one has stated anything different about my take on it anyway.

Have a story ready for a certain contest, and I will be sending out stories next week. Not sure how much I will be doing Saturday-family issues happening then.

This next is the different. I have five Western stories ready to publish. They are all about a Certain US Marshall Dobson. A bit of 10,000 words total. And I will be doing the cover. I don't want to spend much-if any for this cover, with only five stories under it.

I may be doing a second set of Western stories soon but they will all be about different people. Well two will be linked. That one might have seven stories.

And I will be getting an apology of 22 to 25 stories ready. They are all written but not all revise. They cover a wide spectrum of genre.

And sometime soon, a set of five general fiction I am calling foibles.

I am working on three novels; "Djinn" "Insane" and not sure of the title of the third.

Oh yes, of course. I have looked for a beta or three for two novels for so long I have forgotten about them. Supposedly five or so people said they would beta read one or both of them but they never told me how to get the manuscripts to them. So do I pay or just give up on that?

Done a bunch of short stories for free. They are in "My Stories Inspired by Pictures" collection and some mini stories are around Charlie Hoover's geekscapes I have two or three more stories for my Collection which makes it around 20 maybe 24 stories in there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Yay! Birthday sale on my E-books

Friday is my birthday so I am having a Birthday sale on all of my E-books. These are good reads, so they make good gifts even for yourself. $3.99, $2.99 and a set of Fantasy stories for $.99.
Sorry only e-books even though Amazon, on their own, has placed the anthology I have a story in for less than half price. Great stories in there and worthy reads, mine is the fourth best story in the Strange New Worlds Ten.
They are at Barnes and noble online, Amazon, kobo and other places. Here is the link to my Amazon page since most of you seem to like Amazon best. I must say though that due to a glitch I am not sure what price Above My Pay Grade X2 will be selling for on Barnes and Noble online. But the rest of the E- books should be on sale there. sale goes on for until July 7th, when it ends.
Happy reading and help my to celebrate my birthday with a good price on great reading.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Two space opera stories: one is steampunk

I have not put up any stories here for a while. I do have some on Google+ for free as well as my blog. I don't think I have any stories that would be good for Father's Day so these two will have to do. 
June 17-very close to my birthday and BTW soon, a day or three, you can find my E-books on sale on various E-book sites. A very good price for a good, fun read. These novels have been revised and double checked. 
I wrote a space opera tale kinda of quick; 1820 words long. It’s the first story of two. It might need a bit more revising but I don’t think a lot. I tend to do some revising as I write. They call that slinky style of writing. I was trying to decide on what other story to include when it hit me. I can add an unusual one, that combines two genres. You might like the interplay of two different story ideals. 
Steampunk and Space Opera. “His Not So Peaceful Trip” 2,768 words. 
Now I can’t find it-yes, Google failed me-but the idea for this steam powered spaceship came from a real event. It kept coming up with newer discussions and designs even when I put in different questions and years. A group of men-including a Master SF writer-designed one somewhere around 1950. Many SF writers from that time period are called the Master.
My poor memory, though, can not come up with any of the names of the team or the exact year. It might be closer to 1945. I did however find some discussions on really using steam powered engines in real spaceships, evidently this is a real possibility. 
So here is story one:
“Pivot the ship!”
Helm said, “Eye sir,”
I had seen another round of incoming rockets headed in. Good thing there were not missiles. Rockets were much smaller, dump and could only go so far. They could turn to reach their target but they had no avoidance thrusters and only a tiny bit of electronic warfare routines.
My command, The Swift Kick, was a designated as a frigate even though it had more to it than just that. We could maneuver quicker, which served as well at the moment.
“Fire the EPs,” and had four larger guns than a frigate. The newest of the energy plasma weapons series. We also had lasers and blasters, even though the last were more from tradition and a last minute defense. Their range was half of what the EPs were and three-fourths of most lasers. Our two small diameter Beta Charged lasers could hit a target at the same distance as the EPs-prehaps a bit further with better accuracy.
The lights flickered a bit as all four EP used most of the power-their one drawback. It would get cold for a second soon too. My command chair sat right in the middle of a prefect circle, with each of the control seats against the wall. So my position would feel the cold more than the others. Crewmen of three stations stood while each of the others had seats. There were two spare stations used for training at times but usually ready to go as a replacement for any controls that got knocked out. That included the science bay which was a tiny alcove where the science officer stood.
Toni at Tac said, “Four scores, two are solid hits.”
I nodded good, but we would need more than that.
A moment later she said, “Fifteen rockets and four missiles.”
I almost gave an order but she knew what to do so I held my tongue and hoped our point defense was up to this. They had been a little jinzy on that. At the same time I wondered why only four missiles.
A moment later I answered myself. To soften us up. Twenty missiles showed up on sensors. A second later a bit of whiplash revealed that we moved backwards with a suddenness that wasn’t totally compensated for. Helm had backed us up without warning. The sudden change of direction though caused five EPs to miss us.
My eyebrows went up on that I wondered if we were fighting a new enemy craft. Something like the Star Knights. Whatever it was had a partial stealth field for our sensors couldn’t get a true reading. Good enough for our weapons to hit them but not enough to get a good look at them.
Blaster fire could be heard. Two EPs also fired. A few seconds later the smaller chain guns went off-they always made a stuttering electronic sound you can hear throughout the ship. The point 2 laser also fired as did the min blasters. None of the first round of incoming hit our shields but that second punch would now know what we had in the way of point defense.
“Hit them again with the EPs and lasers”
The EPs fired first and less than a second later the Beta Charged lasers fired and two-seconds after them so did the lesser lasers. I had not clarify that I wanted just the Beta Charged laser so Toni fired all of them. Three hit incoming missiles. Another five were taken out by Anti-missile rockets. I hadn’t heard them launch. Another five minutes to wait before the survivors reached us.
Sweat dripped down the back of my uniform. If we faced a newer type of warship their missiles could be significantly advanced too.
We exchanged energy weapons fire once more before the missiles reached us. This was quick, I have been in battles were took over forty minutes for missiles to reach their target. The blasters fired, then the chain guns. Another six incoming missiles gone.
I saw a buzz on my sensor screens for a moment. The phantoms with clone projectors had gone out. Small devices the size of five tablets that produced images of this ship good enough to fool the brains on attacking missiles-played havoc with full ship sensors too. 
Three of the incoming missile hit our shields with no harm to use even though one area of shields lost some power. Three was a lot from that small attack. They were probably reading a larger launch pattern. Of course it was also possible that given that they were a new ship, they may not have that many tubes. But I thought I better go with my first idea.
Lets get this over with, I thought, before we lose crew members.
“Launch a fifteen missile spread, solid strike.”
“Yes, sir.”
A few second later I heard the whoosh of come of the missiles launching. The sound carried through some of the hull, so that the ones closest to the bridge could be heard.
I watched their progress on one of my screens even though Tac commanded them. She fired a couple of Eps and lasers to soften up their shields.
Their anti missile gear wasn’t bad only five of our missiles reached close enough to strike. But they all lost contact with the enemy ship. I couldn’t believe it when they wondered off or zoomed in at a strong area of their shields. It was as if their brains just said to go in even if they couldn’t see the target anymore.
Tac spoke in an almost shout, a thirty missile spread came our way and we didn’t pick them up until they were completely clear of the enemy ship. The computer IDed ten of them as the new double warhead missile we had heard about. Ten more were bomb pumped laser missiles. Even a near shot could do damage.
I knew Toni was on it even before I could say anything but I had to voice my emotions.
The first rounds only hit one missile. The way it flew off I think its drive unit must have taken a hit. Sweat tickled my underarms and forehead. The cool air on the bridge made the skin on my head go clammy, that could be a distraction if I let it.
Toni fired more rounds at the incoming. One chain gun chugged chugged near the bridge. One screen showed me that Helm had moved the Kick sideways to give us more time to hit the incoming. Two more went down but that still left 28. Five grouped together, probably after one certain target.
The main point defense came on, but they only hit five. Make that six but that one seemed unharmed. The clone projectors went out. Earlier than last time. Either she had fired them too soon, or the computer had suggested a different defense routine.
Three incoming missile hit the shields doing no harm, but neither had been the surviving double warheads or lasers. Toni seemed to be aiming for them even though the computer did the actual aiming.
A moment later though a clump of five that had held back, came in faster. Three, which included a laser missile hit the same spot on the shields. The Kick rocked hard, I bounced in my chair, other crew members stumbled. One may have fallen, but they were behind me. An alarm sounded as a louder clang reverberator throughout the ship followed by an explosion.
Damn, the last two missile must have made it through the damaged shields and hit the ship. Damage reports start scrolling across the one screen for that purpose. One EP was gone, two crew dead and four injured but those two numbers would probably grow.
I heard the whoosh of more point defense weapons. Good, Toni and the computers were still dealing with the remaining missiles, ignoring the hits. A moment later the all clear signal sounded. No more missiles.
More dead and injured. I frowned, ordered the two surviving EPs to fire we needed to strike back but that new stealth core made that harder.
An idea hit me.
“Okay, the name of this ship is the Swift Kick, now is the time to live up to that name. We move closer and launch ten missiles, four of which will be the new phantoms. When they hit we will move in fast and quick,” Yes I said both and meant both, “to spitting range, fire what we have—including point defense—at their engineering section than we get the hell out of there launching some clone generators as we go.”
Less than thirty-seconds Toni said she was ready, a moment later Helm said he was ready.
“Watch the readings, they might change as we get close.”
An “Aye Sir” sounded and I said, “Go!”
A heart beat later we moved. We felt nothing of course but when I saw our speed, I swore that my head went back because of the increased speed. What seemed like minutes later we slowed, I heard the swoosh and strutting noises I have mentioned, then we were headed back outward. We must have looked like a person on a bungie cord.
Billy, at sensors said, “You were right Captain, the images shifted off as you predicted.”� Once we were a save distance away, save being subjective, I glanced at my screens and saw heavy damage to their engineering. A small inner blast just finished an explosion. They had three hull leaks, damage done to drives and sensors. We were fortunate for we escaped with no new damage—no more deaths. 
One of our missiles hit very close to the bridge. An internal explosion blew out a chunk of the ship. I could see evidence of fires on board, not for long but still any damage is good.
“Okay, we hit the again that hard and than we ask if they want to surrender.”
But a long moment later and they started to move. They pivoted and headed away from us. We got off two more laser hits and a missile shot before they entered FTL speed.
“Helm head back to base, we have dead to take care of, repairs to be made, wounded to have taken care of, and I have a nice long report to write. In fifteen minutes, if there no other surprises, we trade off with the beta team so we can clean up and rest.”
And to myself I added, and so I can start on that report. I may not have handled that quite right but we chased off a larger ship with new weapons so that should count for a couple of good marks.
I didn’t smile as I read the names of the daed but the crew did good and I will state that before I take my break.
The end. 
Story two:
His Not So Peaceful Trip.
“Turn the Port.”
I watched as the helmsman fought to spin the large rudder wheel. He stood at the front and to the left much like an airship’s helmsman. I paced a few feet behind him and watched the streak come our way.
The wheel seemed to fight back, but Mosha manhandled it in the correct direction. The wheel, of course, did not control any rudders for we were in space. It operated an ingenious movement of gears and chains I didn’t fully understand. The Endeavor, like every space ship nows was full of them. The gears connected to the steering wheel opened the release hatches for the steam steering jets. Pipes led from two boilers to the jets. So that when opened the steam would rush out. The steam pushed the bonny little craft in the direction I wanted it to go. We had solid fuel rocket motors, but they were for emergencies and only directed the ship forward. Of course that object headed our way constituted an emergency, but they still wouldn’t do us any good, we wanted out of the way not meet the object even faster.
The Endeavor, one of the ships built by the United States government. There had been five ships in the US fleet, the latest US version of the ships dreamt up by Arthur C. Clarke and his BIS fifty years ago. Now there were three. The Challenger blew on the way up, right after being shot out of the cannon. My brother, Captain of the Atlantis, died when it came apart during reentry. They had been on a survey and science mission, which is what the spaceships were for, not combat. The US government, however changed points in the original design. They added devices over the years, like weapons. I still snarled when I thought of the weapons.
Right now though none of that mattered as we watched something head our way. I assumed the same question filled the thoughts of everyone on the bridge: could the Endeavor turn fast enough? We watched through the front viewport-which made the Endeavor look like a famous sub surface craft. The window could withstand the pressure of 20,000 leagues under water and had survived being shot out of a giant cannon. Yet we had two air leaks, we had a procedure to fix them though. With all that said I knew a direct hit by this object would crack it. That would allow the air to leak out which would be the end if us. The crew of the H.M.S. Clarke Five had died that way. I saw the bodies, it had been very bad.
The whole crew heard the steam hiss out, and we all prayed
to our God, that it would be enough. The Endeavor moved, the view out the window changed, but was it enough? The air felt warmer which meant those in charge of the boilers fed the fires to create more steam. 
The streak closed even faster if possible. I know I grimaced as my ship turned too slowly. It would be close--I refused to believe it wouldn’t be enough.
I---everyone---watched. I could feel the Endeavor seemed too slow. I heard someone begin The Lord’s Prayer.
Fear brought bile up, it looked like it wouldn’t be...enough.
By force of will I kept my eyes open and watched the streak. It closed, I could see it looked manmade. Someone let out a gasp of a scream. I didn’t blame them.
It grew larger, filled the body turned into an empty hose. I heard a number of breaths, mine included, being released. The object flashed by one side of the window. No crack, no thud. We would live, even if only for a few more moments...if we didn’t act.
“Turn the wheel back to the original course...raise the blast shield.”
Another crew member pulled levers which operated yet another series of gears. A piece of strong steel--thicker than a steam-dozer’s blade--angled to deflect asteroids and other space debris, rose in the front of the ship. I hated doing that last because it cut our view of the front. However the ship had other means to see.
I could hear the massive gears shift and rotate as they raised the shield. Again it felt hotter on the bridge. Both boilers must be working at full. They sat in their own compartments, under the bridge and the cabins, but the heat they produced circulated throughout the Endeavor.
Before the shield blocked the front view window I saw that we were on the right course.
“Up periscopes.”
There were five such devices, with a separate crew man at each. Each man’s job was to watch and report what he saw.
“Fire the drive rockets.”
“Aye sir.”
My first mate was only one of three who responded like that,
the others just carried out the orders. All had served in the ocean navy and had been transferred to us. I wondered if someone thought we needed military men just in case.
I felt the impact as five of the rocket engines fired. They burned a solid fuel. We carried only a limited amount so we had to be very careful in its use. I figured this was an emergency though.
The Endeavor increased its forward speed. We were still too far away to see details of the other ship, but they had fired on us with no provocation. All we did was try to communicate with flashing Morse code and wireless telegraph. As much as I hated it we would return the favor. 
First, however, “Cease the rocket engines...Fire three rockets.”
That last order hurt me, I had argued against arming these new ships. I wanted it to be a trip of peaceful exploration and discovery, but these, whoever they were, didn’t seem to care for that.
The cannoneer mumbled something and a moment later I heard three clangs as one. The rockets were new and were exactly the same type used as those used in combat. With one modification. It had been decided that firing them from a ship might interfere with that ship’s course. Instead they were catapulted away. The action ignited a fuse inside the rocket that would light the chemical fuel. Five-seconds later--right on the button according to my pocket watch--one watcher said, “The rockets are on a good course, sir.”
We waited again, I hoped he also kept an eye out for any rockets or objects sent our way.
“All three hit, sir. I think they exploded near a weapon of some type...They produced minimal damage, however. I saw some pieces of metal go flying, but no hole in the attacker.”
“A streak is headed our way.”
We received more warning this time, “To Port, helmsman.”
Again he manhandled the wheel, again I heard the hiss of steam as it escaped. It could have been me, but I thought the air started to feel cooler.
A new voice, one of the side watcher’s said, “The streak past us by a mile.”
“Back to course.”
At that moment I heard something that sounded like pings from the metal shield.
That same Watcher said, “They are firing at us with some type of gun.”
Without a warning a scream echoed through the ship. By
reflex I looked down, because it had originated from below. Before I could give an order we all fell toward the side when the Endeavor titled.
Mosha said, “They must have damaged a gear, the controls are sluggish.”
More pings on the shield, fear leapt in my heart when I heard a crack. It was followed by a groan. One from inside the bridge. The ship tilted forward and sunk-it got hotter, very hot. I knew something was wrong with a broiler. Ted, first mate, ran for the speaker tube. Air rushed by me. I looked and found a small hole in the window near where it joined the metal body of the ship. So one bullet managed to slip around the shield somehow. I also noticed that no one stood near it. I was the closest. A Watched shouted, “Two streaks headed our way.”
No time to deal with that, I ran, slipped when the Endeavor tilted again, caught my balance, and made it to the emergency bucket. The bridge had two of them. As I said we had a procedure for small leaks. I grabbed the ladle. Pain seared though my hand, yet I held on-I had to. The fire under the bucket was still going. My teeth ground together as I spun around, headed for that hole. A tiny tornado rushed toward it, along with papers and pencils. With little grace I dumped the thick liquid onto the hole. A maple smell filled the bridge, I couldn’t understand why, but my mouth watered, waffles and this syrup would taste good. Yes, we used good old Vermont maple syrup. It flowed through the hole, froze when it touched space. Instant plug, the air stopped, the papers and pencils fell. Two pieces stuck out of the hole intermixed with the syrup.
Ted said, “One engineer is badly hurt sir, he was shot then fell on the broiler. He received some bad burns.”
The Endeavor slipped again, we fell toward the window then to one side.
“That broiler is out of control, it’s releasing too much stream--they are opening ad closing emergency stream release tubes”� Those tubes led to outside the ship and acted like the steering jets which explained the wild ride.
Ted continued, “If they can’t lower the temperature, it will blow.”
Another problem, how can I use one against the other? As I had been taught.
“Use the emergency cooler.”
That was a pipe that let water from the broiler drop into the fire pan of the broiler instantly putting out the fire.
“The Chief engineer says that will make that broiler useless until it dries out.”
“If it blows it will be useless, as will as the whole ship.”
A sudden thought came to mind, “Is there an emergency pipe through the belly?”
I didn’t let him come up with an excuse why we shouldn’t use it, “Let out as much stream as possible through that pipe.”
“Aye sir.”
I waited, I looked around, saw that the wounded crew member was receiving treatment. It didn’t look bad.”
When I felt the ship move upward I directed the helmsman. He fought the wheel harder than usual, but the ship turned. The forward watcher said, “The enemy ship is up and ahead of us. I can clearly see it’s belly.
“Fire one of the XJs.”
Along with a dozen of the smaller rockets and two other
weapons, we carried two large experimental rockets. They carried an explosive charge ten times the weight of the smaller ones.
More levers were pulled which resulted in a larger clang. A few seconds later the watcher said, “I see the ignition, the rocket is headed out.”
We waited again.
Watcher One?”
“The XJ is still flying, sir. It-it exploded-but no direct hit the enemy.”
I thought, what, did they have some type of weapon to shot down our rockets?� His voice continued, “It was close enough to damage the enemy, sir. Whatever it hit must have been very close...maybe a wireless antennae I couldn’t see.”
“What damage to that ship?”
“I see a hole plus debris and what might be bodies. We scored big. They’re firing on us again?”
More pings.
I said, “We shall return the favor. Fire the gats.”
The cannoneer mumbled some more, but pulled different levers. Two new clangs meant to new hatches opened. More gear sounds and two Watchers-these weapons were on each side of the ship-said, “The Gatling guns are deployed.”
One Watcher ended his comment with a “Sir”.
I said, “Fire if you please, Lieutenant.”
The first mate pulled a lever and I heard the gats fire. We only had so many bullets for them though.
“Hold your fire until we see what damage the other ship took.”
Watcher one said, “I can see impacts on the other ship, but we are too far away to. I can’t see damage.”
A moment later though, “There is some damage. A tiny piece spun away...I see steam escaping from one side.”
I raised my eyebrows could it be battle damage or were they...
“They must have had enough, sir. They are turning and fleeing like a dog with its tail between its legs.”
My First Officer said, “We need to chase them, sir. Find out where they are from.”
“Slow our speed. How much air do we have left?”
The First Mate said, “Four hours sir, that is enough time to see where they head. We need to know if they’re from Russia, those short, slanted eyed people from the East or someone form Mars.”
I thought about it, “Yes, we do but it could be a trap or it might take too long to find their port of call. On top of that we have injured. Head back to over Washington, DC.”
There was another reason to get out of the way. Discovery was about to be shot into space. I wanted to be somewhere safely out of the way. If we had a chance to communicate with them, we could tell them of the attacker. They had full weapons and full air supply so they could search for them.
We made it back to the spot where I wanted to be just in time to see a giant poof from the surface. An intermitted cloud cover made it hard to tell but I thought it came from somewhere in Florida. The same cannon that shot us into space.
I decided to say something, “Crew, you all did well. We survived being shot into space, we survived the attack and beat off the attacker,” there was a cheer here, “we will stay up here for another two and a half hours-we still have a survey to do...then head down.”
There were groans at that last. I didn’t blame them. The shot up here had been rough but the reentry would be rougher. We would aim for the right position and angle, then fire the drive rockets to send us into the atmosphere and to use up the fuel. The trip down would get very hot. That was how the Atlantis had been lost, unused fuel exploded on the way down. My brother and the rest of the men lost on that ship and the Discovery had been a bonny crew: strong, intelligent and brave, served their country and science-heroes all. I miss him badly but he died doing what he wanted.
If everything went as planned half way to the surface three helium balloons would pop out. I was glad we had the support of the US government which meant we had a large supply of helium. It was better for our use than the hydrogen The Hindenburg and other large airships used. The drag the balloons produced would slow us down enough so we could land in one of the Great Lakes. There would be more bruises but experience told us we would survive.
While we waited, I had things to think about. I really hadn’t wanted the weapons on board but this attack from a strange ship had been unprovoked. We had tried to communicate peacefully...they tried to destroy us, to kill my crew and did injury two. I had hoped if they were follow humans we could join forces to explore space. If they were from Mars, or even Venus, we could have shared sciences. What they could tell us of their world would further our knowledge and what we know of the planets. In either case, it looked like they wanted space for themselves. They could be responsible for the disappearance of the Germain space dirigible, the Uber Bismarck. Or since our attacker was three times our size it could have been the Bismarck. Whatever the case we needed to be armed to defend ourselves.
I sighed, I hated to come to that conclusion but with dangerous people, Martians, or Venusians, or even Germans, in space we had to be careful. Which meant we needed to be armed if they attacked us again. We should try to communicate with them, but we shouldn’t be sitting ducks either.
The End