All posts by kate

Old writing: Moon Story

My first attempt at sci-fi from about 2006! I might go back to this someday, or see how it goes into something else…I did like the story, but it never got fully fleshed out. I’d be interested to see how it does morph if I pick it up again.

As soon as she entered her small, neat room, Tanine knew that there was someone else there. Was it just her thoughts? Was she being silly, just because she had just been…no! But the presence was there, she knew – it was almost tangible to the senses. She shut the door firmly and looked around, but there was no one to be seen. It was her imagination! But no, it wasn’t…the slender girl licked her lips nervously and spoke, feeling a little silly at speaking to empty air.

“Who…who are you?”

Butterfly.

They had answered? As the shock faded, the girl quickly assessed the voice. It seemed to be in her head, not heard, but still there. It was a light tone, neither masculine nor feminine, but with the slight stilted accent that spoke of computers. But the accent could be stimulated. What did they want with her?

“What are you?”

I am a computer programme, similar to the IHEG system. My access code is Butterfly.

A computer. Tanine sat down on the bed and activated the screen to her personal monitor. She shook her head slightly, dismissing the jumble of thoughts and emotions and concentrating on the task at hand.

“What do you want with me?” she asked softly as she ran a search on the name. Oddly, she was not afraid of the silent presence – she knew that it would not stop her; that it was strangely friendly towards her. How did she know that? she wondered.

It is more what do you want with me. You found me.

That brought reality crashing back down to the girl as the computer brought up no results for the search. Several days earlier, she had found a locked system while searching for something for school on the network. It had been pure accident that she had happened across the gateway, and she was fairly certain that no one had come across it before. But she had no password for it and hurriedly retreated before security was triggered. So was the thing now talking to her whatever was behind that locked gate?

Yes. I am Butterfly, created by Aleut Hume. I am a purely personal system, but I have access to most of the network. More than your systems have, at any rate.

The voice seemed to be laughing. Had this system been given more human characteristics than the normal ones? How…what was it? Questions revolved round Tanine’s head. And…it had answered her thoughts. The thought sent an icy shiver down her back. It could hear her thoughts?

Maybe I had better explain. Aleut created me as a companion, but also as a protector. Butterfly said. I know everything that goes on in this base, and a lot of what goes on in the others. I was given an almost human character. Go back to the gateway you found three days ago.

The girl did as she was told, remembering the pathways with ease. Her memory tricks were one of the few things she was proud of at school, but she chose not to let on about it – it would attract too much attention. She went quickly through the network, accompanied by silence from the computer-person. And then there was the gateway, a blank screen with the simple word across it:

PASSWORD

I told you what it was. Butterfly reminded her softly.

Password…access code. Butterfly.

Tanine typed it in. Nothing happened.

You have to speak it as well as type. Put your hands on the access plates so I can get your prints as well, and your datachip. the mental voice instructed.

The girl spoke the password softly, and touched the screen. She suddenly felt a deep wave of fear sweep over her, but if faded as fast as it had come, leaving her nervous and puzzled.

ACCESS GIVEN

As soon as the words on the screen came up, the blackness dissolved into a whirl of colour. Then, on the screen, came the hazy figure of a person. It resolved into a human, a slender woman wearing a subtly coloured cape of all colours, an old-fashioned style from another century, times ago. The hood covered her face, leaving darkness beneath it, hiding the features. She seemed to be looking directly at Tanine. She seemed almost…real.

Personal update: an honest post

Warning: long post, and contains an update on me. Tl;dr – new job, separation from my husband, health issues, still writing, still sane (mostly).

It feels like everything’s happening at once, or has happened over the last few months. But I finally feel that I’m swimming forward, instead of just treading water. There’s a few bits of good news and a few bad, and some that are just…things.

It’s hard to write all of this because I don’t usually share my problems; I don’t like spreading worries around. I am a private person – some close friends knew some of what’s in this post, but I didn’t want to talk about it more widely. For anyone reading who is feeling left out, or upset that I didn’t talk to you; I am sorry that I have upset you, but I hope you can understand why I preferred to keep it private.

Please don’t feel that you need to comment, and in fact I’d rather you didn’t; I wanted to put this out into the world because there has obviously been something going on with me, and this is my personal blog! I’m not asking for sympathy or help; I simply want to explain and update, and let people know some of what’s been affecting me for the past few months and years, and what’s going to be affecting me for the foreseeable future.

So, the good!

I’ve started a new job
grumpy brussel sprout
@grumpy_brussel_sprout

I’m doing web development in Gloucester. We have two office puppies (who are SO CUTE) and I’m doing mobile app work, front-end development and marketing (including Google Analytics) and so far, I’m liking it! I’m going to be learning so much; I get a walk again for my commute, which is awesome;  and there’s a really nice little coffee bar on the way in so I may end up spending some of my paycheck on tea every morning…oh noes. And I have become a sleeping spot for the puppies…double oh noes. It’s such a hard life! Although it is going to be hard for a couple of weeks (months) while I settle in, so far it’s good. And involves puppies. (More pics further on – aren’t they CUTE?!) They’ve also been told about my depression and had one taste of an anxiety day (turns out, cuddling puppies helps a lot) and they’ve been really good with it, so I’m hoping I’ll actually be able to have some sort of normality on the job front with that.

I did have a very frustrating couple of weeks in February/March, because after nothing from the jobs for several months, I had four (!!) interview requests in the space of two weeks, and they were all for different fields! I had to decide whether to continue with my library career, go into web dev at the bottom of the field, take a more graphics/copywriting route, or get into professional editing…I’ve gone for web dev with the company in Gloucester, and I think I’ve made the right decision. It’s one of those things that I will always think “what if…” but on weighing up the fields and talking to people I trust, I think I’ve gone for the field that will bring me most pleasure and let me do what I want to.

Editing and writing
biggie mini daschund
@biggie_mini_dachshund

I’m also still doing freelance editing work for Grimbold Books and privately (Scritto Editing, for anyone interested!) and I’m really enjoying that. I did wonder if doing professional editing would make my ‘other job’ feel like a chore, so that was a major factor in not continuing along that career path. I am also apparently a Senior Editor at Grimbold (*mad dances*) which makes me ridiculously happy. I must be doing something right! I’m loving the stories I’ve had – I’ve had one of our new writers, one sequel to a book I loved originally, and I’m currently working on a book that both Jo Hall and I have dug our elbows into. In addition I’m getting to beta-read and slush-pile read books, and it’s fab. One of the best things about being an editor is getting to read (and have input!) on stuff before anyone else!

I’m still writing; I’m doing new things, I’m still submitting No Man’s Land to agents and I’ve got projects (like No Man’s Sky) on the go. I am reading again, and reviewing, and I want to get some more short stories done. I’ve also got projects with Cake Club, and reading for friends…so my writing and associated stuff is continuing! Obviously more news on all of that as I do it because this is primarily my writing blog, and I’ll always keep you updated on the mad plans that seem to come out of my brain and onto paper.

Ryan

I miss Ryan like hell, and we have the inquest coming up soon (as he was killed on the railway, they automatically open one) which I’m sort of dreading, but also want to just get it over with. It feels like a final thing hanging over us, stopping us from grieving, bringing up the questions again and again…so I’ll be glad when it’s done and we can start accepting it. But even though I miss him so much, I have had the pleasure of getting to know his family; I’m in touch with his mother almost every day, and I’ve been visiting the family (and their mad puppies!) – I had a wonderful afternoon over there the weekend just gone, which was bittersweet. It’s really hard going over when he’s not there, and being at the pub is still so difficult; there’s an empty space, a missing friend, someone I’m just waiting for…but I am grateful for the memories, grateful that he knew I loved him, and grateful for the new friendships that I’m making thanks to him. I’m still crying every time I think of him and I know the hole in my heart isn’t going to heal anytime soon, but in some ways I think that’s good; I’m not forgetting someone I loved so dearly.

And the not-so-good
Sprout with ID tag
@grumpy_brussel_sprout

I’m separating from my husband. It’s my decision after two years of anxiety and stress and trying to work out my feelings, and it’s currently amicable. We’re keeping our mad old pub and continuing on with the renovations, so that’s going to be (fun) chaos! Beyond that, we’re just taking things as they go. It’s really hard for both of us, but in many ways I’m happier because I’ve finally made a decision and it’s not hanging over me – and the burst of relief, horrible as it was, suggests I’ve made the right one. This may be the first you’ve heard of this – I don’t publicise my personal Facebook, although my author page is here – so if you know my husband, I’d greatly appreciate your support for him. It’s a shitty time for both of us but I’m really lucky to have some brilliant friends around me, and he doesn’t have as much of that support network. I still care about him so much, and it’s been a really horrible decision to have to make…but I think it is the right thing to do, much as it hurts.

I’ve also had some health issues in addition to the depression over the past few years that have left me feeling broken, for all that I’m (as far as tests show so far) physically ok. It was mostly just routine but included one rather bruising encounter with a specialist who basically informed me that I was lying about everything, and then declared that I should have done X, Y and Z…well, if my GP had told me to do X, Y and Z originally then I would have done it! That was incredibly frustrating and hurtful, but luckily my regular GPs have been awesome. It’s all settled down for the moment, but it has been several years of additional ups and downs that haven’t helped with anything. Again, some people know the details of this, but I hope you can appreciate why I prefer to keep it private. It may be something that I do open up about further in the future, but for now it’s just too painful.

On the mental health front, I did start medication again for a month but I’ve now come off it again – against the advice of a lot of people, I should add! Being on the medication meant I had artificial ups (I was singing! Baking! I did grumble that if I had small birds trying to help me do the chores, I’d feed them to Frankie) and felt like an alien in my own skin. I haven’t been sleeping well generally, with a lot of vivid dreams that mean I don’t feel rested. While medication does make the downs less violent, I was hating the changes, and so I chose to come off it again. I am hoping that I’ll be able to weather the ups and downs more naturally – I may still go back onto it, but I’ll see how I do.

So. That’s a snapshot of the current chaos!

Stepping onwards…
biggie dreaming of bacon
@biggie_mini_dachshund

I’m giving myself three months (my work probation) to settle in to everything, and see how things go on both the work and home front. I’ve set myself a deadline of Christmas before I make any more big decisions; I want time to just settle into myself again, absorb the changes, and feel like me. Beyond that…I’m just taking things as they come.

I’ve also got some scarier long-term plans in the works – I don’t want to say much as it all still feels like a “what-if-maybe” dream, but let’s just say that they’re big and scary and I don’t know if any of it will even work! But I’m taking small steps towards them and if it works out, it works out! It feels odd having a long-term goal, as the depression means I often find that so hard, but…it feels good, too.

If you’ve got to the end of this, congratulations! Thank you for reading, and also thank you to everyone who does read this blog for your support. I really value your contributions and views, both from those of you I know in real life and those I don’t. Thank you.

Again, don’t feel the need to comment; just thank you for reading, and for your understanding. I really appreciate it 🙂

*goes off to hide under the duvet with chocolate for a bit*

Review: A Closed and Common Orbit

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

closed and common orbit coverThis is the sequel to A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, but it also works as a stand-alone; you don’t have to know the characters and the world to pick this up!

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has to start over in a synthetic body, in a world where her kind are illegal. She’s never felt so alone.

But she’s not alone, not really. Pepper, one of the engineers who risked life and limb to reinstall Lovelace, is determined to help her adjust to her new world. Because Pepper knows a thing or two about starting over.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that, huge as the galaxy may be, it’s anything but empty.

Beautiful. Wonderful. Character-focused, philosophical, moral, full of stories and thoughts and places and the universe, all in one beautifully woven story…I knew I adored Becky Chambers’ writing from her first book, but this just cements it. She has a way of weaving everything in together and telling a story while you’re caring about the characters that means you’ve suddenly got to the end of the book and you’re somewhere between crying and smiling, but you’re not sure why.

It’s a gentle and sweet read, but one that also tugs you along; I was reading this on my commute and I did not want to put it down. I was reading it while making dinner and kept forgetting to stir things. I actually let my tea go cold! I had to read one more chapter, one more paragraph, just to find out what happens next…

We get to see more of the universe and the cultures in this sequel, and it’s all so inventive, so different – and yet everything works together. Yes, there’s horrible people and places, there’s bureaucracy and frustration and anger and hate. But there’s so much love and hope, and I think that’s what I love most. You come away from the stories realising that even if everyone is so, so different – somehow, they can make those differences work.

The story itself is sweet; the two timelines follow Jane from her start as a worker in a factory, sorting scrap, and Lovelace taking her first steps in a human kit-body after being a ship’s AI. But the two stories wind together at the end, and I love seeing both of them grow.

So yes. Sweet, adorable, thoughtful, growing and wonderful. Read it. Read the previous one. And then read them again.

Cover Reveal: Desperate Knight

So, back sometime in 2016, I randomly picked a book off the SFF World review spreadsheet because it sounded interesting (actually, that’s how I choose most of my review books!) The book turned out to be Traitor Knight by Keith Willis, and I definitely enjoyed it – it involves a dragon with hiccoughs and a heroine who takes no shit within the first ten pages, and got better from there. What’s not to like?

Well, it’s got a sequel.

And an awesome cover.

(And there’s a chance to win an Amazon gift card, too).

You ready?

Ta-da!

desperate knight cover

No time… No options… No plan…

No one said saving the world would be easy.

Morgan McRobbie and Lady Marissa duBerry swing back into swashbuckling action, facing old enemies, new threats, and a diabolical conspiracy. Not to mention a more personal battle, one with hearts and pride at stake.

As the pair escorts Prince Robert to the dwarf king’s court, a fiendish scheme is unfolding, intended to hurl men and dwarves into a devastating war. Morgan ends up sidetracked by a kidnapped dwarf and a centuries-old feud, while a mysterious wizard’s revelations shake Marissa to her core, throwing into question everything she thought she knew about her past and future. And the advent of a rival for Marissa’s affections threatens any hope of a happy ending—if they survive.

Once again the desperate knight and indomitable damsel must hazard everything on a single throw of the dice, gambling on untested allies and unimagined weapons to save their world. And the odds have never been worse.

It’s out sometime in Summer 2017 from Champagne Books, and you can find more information on Keith at his personal website or on Twitter.

 

 

And finally…goodies! Trundle over to Rafflecopter for the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card – and if you haven’t already got it, I’d highly recommend Traitor Knight