Cover Reveal – watch out for Bloodflower!

I’m really excited about this new upcoming book because I’ve had a chance to see it in various stages and I can attest to the incredible polish the author has put into it. One of my CP’s is releasing her debut novel upcoming, and it’s titled Bloodflower. It kicks off the start to a series: The Hidden Flames Artifact.

Check out this blurb:

Born into a world of futuristic technology, ecologist Jàden Ravenscraft wields starship fuel like magic but she’s losing control of her power. Marked as a dangerous weapon, she’s trapped in hypersleep for 4000 years and wakes in the backwoods of a terraformed moon. Now she’s determined to find her reincarnated lover and escape back to the stars before her power takes control… or she is found. 

Because one life is not the end. 

The man she loves has lived more than twenty lives without her, and Jàden’s alone in a world of swords and sorcery. When exiled prison guard Captain Jon Ayers shields her from an attack, Jàden seizes the chance for safety and human connection. Using her magic, she ties her energy to Jon, forging a bond to keep him close to her side. 

But Jon is hunted by mercenaries for the pendant he carries, a key to the gateway between worlds, and their bond stirs a desire neither can ignore. Jàden is faced with the hardest choice of her life: between Jon and her reincarnated ex. Saving one lover will destroy the other, and the wrong choice will land her in chains she can never escape.

If you love the blend of science fiction and fantasy as much as I do, you’re gonna want to run, not walk, to grab Bloodflower. Better yet, pre-order it, or put it on your Goodreads shelf so you don’t forget. An ecologist protagonist, a steamy romance (for all you romance lovers), amazing worldbuilding with new creatures and plantlife, and horses and technology. Swords and spaceships. I really can’t say enough good things about it.

Ok but you came for the art, yes, I know. Check it out!

Isn’t that absolutely gorgeous? And the details just give me shivers, knowing what’s in the book!

And the author? Also phenomenal.

K. J. Harrowick is a fantasy and science fiction author with a strong passion for blending grimdark worlds and futurist technology with threads of romance and revenge. She is the co-creator of Writer In Motion, contributed to the Science in Sci-Fi series , and was a panelist in the Write Hive online convention. With an unhealthy obsession for dragons, tacos, cheese, and beer, K. J. also works as a freelance web developer and graphic designer on a broad range of client projects before falling down the occasional rabbit hole. 

Grab your own copy today (because you can’t have mine)!

Find on Indie Story Geek: https://indiestorygeek.com/story/1115

Add to your Goodreads Shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58664286-bloodflower

Preorder Links: https://authorkjharrowick.com/k-j-s-linktree/

Sign up for KJ’s Newsletter: https://authorkjharrowick.com/newsletter/

Check out the publishing co-op Portal World: https://portalworldpublishing.com/

Follow KJ Harrowick on Social Media: https://authorkjharrowick.com/k-j-s-linktree/

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Prelude Cycle!

I can’t wait to send you a free book!

Prelude Cycle is a novella associated with the Children of the Nexus series and it’s the perfect way to get introduced to the world and characters of Children of the Nexus. If you haven’t read one of the books yet and want to see if you like my writing style, this is perfect for you. And if you already have read my books and want to get more insight into the world and beginnings, Prelude Cycle will do that as well.

Prelude Cycle is a series of four vignette short stories each focused on one of the main characters from Children of the Nexus and arranged in a series of seasons, set about three years before the beginning of Between Starfalls. Taunos puts himself on the line for a chance to gain entry into the library of Far Dahutad. Takiyah balances her love of learning with the judgements of her community. Kaemada struggles mind to mind. Ra’ael faces challenges on her path to becoming a priestess.

To get Prelude Cycle, simply sign up for my mailing list. If you enjoy Prelude Cycle, check out Between Starfalls next.

Categories: Uncategorized

Let Loose the Fallen Cover Reveal!

I am so excited to share with you all the second book in the Children of the Nexus series, Let Loose the Fallen! I’m almost done applying the last edits and then just need to go over it one more time for quality control.

In this book, more of the world gets thrown in and it becomes firmly sword-and-planet science fantasy as the characters learn more about what’s been going on in the shadows and put together pieces of the past to form epic stakes. All four main characters have amazing character arcs here that I (though of course biased) simply adore.

Here, let me show you the blurb:

The priestess searches for her faith.

The fire-wielder wrestles with her past.

The psion dreams of peace.

And the hero is torn between his heart and his duty.
While grief scatters the four protectors to the winds, outside forces write history according to their own whims. The fate of the Rinaryns lies twined with that of the boy, Eian, caught in a tug of war the heroes are unaware of.
But the evidence lies waiting for Taunos and the others to see, if only they can move past their betrayal.

Dave Brasgalla is truly amazing to work with. We went back and forth this time getting some background people in the cover to look a little more uniquely fantasy and he did an absolutely phenomenal job. He took a look at the trends in the last year and went bold with the color, really leaning into the surrounding setting while still making Taunos, the main of the four for this book, the focus. And he’s three for three, showing me an image that I knew immediately was how Taunos looks. Capturing his essence and giving him a face.

Check out this cover!

Here’s Taunos, looking a little worse for wear after Book One’s adventures, a little rugged, a little tired. And surrounding him, all sorts of people from all sorts of nations, some of them looking at him with wariness, most just going about their business.

It’s perfect!

Let Loose the Fallen is the second book of the Children of the Nexus series, and will be released on January 22nd!

Check it out on Goodreads!

Remember, Book One of the series, Between Starfalls, is free in KU.

Check out Let Loose the Fallen on Amazon!

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Writer In Motion Season 3 Wrap-up

I adore Writer In Motion and that’s really no secret by now. Every time I participate, even when I’m all over the place like this time, I learn something new.

This time, I tried something a little different, with a new protagonist and a sassy voice and really enjoyed the result.

The best part for me was being more involved behind the scenes with all the goings on that make Writer In Motion run smoothly. I really enjoyed working with the team, even though it hardly felt like I did anything some daysI It’s hard to find better people to work with!

I also very much enjoyed working with my CPs this round, as usual. I like to mix it up to work with different people, and this time I had the chance to work with Melissa (who I’ve beta read for before, and is an amazing writer) and Erin Fulmer. It was great to give them thoughts on their fantastic stories too. I also ran that round past the wonderful Lauren, and my critique group!

Then for round two, I had the chance to read for Kim B and Dan Koboldt, who were each incredible, along with SM Roffey. It’s so fun to get to work with people in the writing community who I haven’t had the chance to work with before.

Next time I plan on participating (of course!) and would love to help out behind the scenes again too!

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Space Cows 3: Final Draft

2 Comments

I had some great help on this round too! My CPs gave me wonderful things to think about. Dan Koboldt had a great point about strengthening the overall arc, but I ran out of words. While technically I can go over 1000 words now that this is the final draft, I try to stick to it anyway in the spirit of the challenge. I could have altered some of the thoughts of Goat in the beginning, but I felt like that would give a different tone and character to Goat than what I was going for.

SM Roffey gave me some of those words though, pointing out a sentence I could cut, and Kim B wanted more detail of the inside of the building, so I used my 9 extra words there instead with some worldbuilding.

Beyond those changes though, it was mostly necessary nitpicks. People still suggested changes to “Not following orders” so I finally fixed that, but I kept my “full with leaves” because “full of leaves” doesn’t work for me and I couldn’t come up with something better. The hazards of editing power-sessions: now my worder needs a break.

But I really enjoy my little Space Goats, and I am pleased to present my final draft, complete at 996 words:

You sproing through the scraggly bushes that cling to the hill, muzzle raised to the cool breeze. Alien scents wash over you, so different from the ship’s sterile, recycled air. The trees are full with leaves, and the sky is blue above the darker bruising of the distant mountains.

It’s rather disappointing. Shouldn’t alien planets be more, well, alien?  

And there’s a blocky, artificial structure right at the top of the hill, not even trying to hide. Training exercises are supposed to be hard, aren’t they? Otherwise what’s the point? It’s all dreadfully boring, so you stretch your neck out, rising on the tips of your back hooves to reach a long-hanging branch and nibble at the twigs there. It’s against the Code, but who’s gonna tell on you? Cow? Cow’s not here. She’ll be in the building that’s clearly where you’re meant to go, waiting for you to show up for your briefing. 

But you’re on an alien planet! Simmering underneath the disappointment, excited energy thrums through your bones. The grass isn’t made of crystal, and the sky’s not green, but it’s still a completely new ball of rock hurtling through space, and you’ve actually done it. You’re a Space Goat and nothing can take that away from you. 

All you need to complete the day is a nice glass of wine, the fruitier the better. 

Oh, and to finish your mission, you suppose. 

You can hear the Whale as distinctly as you did when he stood in front of you, a scowl on his long face. “This mission is simple. You’ll be Dropped on an alien planet. First, use your head to find your assigned mentor, who will have the Matter Transportation Device. They’ll brief you on a short excursion, and upon your return, you’ll both Matt back up to the ship.”

Look for clues, for anything out of place, of course. Like the glaringly obvious building

Your hooves squish in the springy turf, and the mountains rise and fall behind the apex of the hill with each bouncing leap. Going directly toward the building would be boring. You’ll go around it first—scouting. That’s right. Totally being responsible. 

A breeze whips past and you pause, your eyes half closing as you filter the new smells and try to guess what they are. Plants. Air. Smoke. Smoke’s a little concerning, but it’s only a whiff, so it’s probably pretty far aw—

Something slams into you, lifting you off your hooves. You skid across the rocky ground on your side. Dust in your eyes makes them water. Your heart hammers faster than it did during your first spacewalk, and you scramble to your hooves. 

Cougar stands a meter away, his fangs a flash of white as he smiles. “Disregarding orders again, Goat?”

What’s he doing out here? You glance at the building, where Cow would be waiting. It’s too far. Cougar will outrun you. 

He prowls a step closer. “This is a training exercise. You and I weren’t supposed to meet like this. If you had followed orders, we wouldn’t have.”

“You wouldn’t hurt me. Not really.” Too bad fear makes your voice high-pitched and bleaty.

“Accidents sometimes happen in training exercises.” He sits, inspecting his claws. 

You flick your tail. You won’t bow to the threats he’s tossing about. You’re the first Goat to make it onto the Whale’s Space Teams. And even if this planet seemed boring at first, it’s your very first alien planet! You’re not about to let the chance to explore end here in the cruel claws of a Cougar bully. 

You dig your small hooves into the ground and lower your head, dropping to all fours. A flicker of surprise lights Cougar’s eyes as you spring forward. You crash horns-first into his side, the same way he’d knocked you over just a few moments ago. Spinning around, you charge for the top of the hill, for safety. Cougar won’t be happy you hit him, but all you have to do is make it to the tiny, square-sided building before he does. 

The soft dirt slows you, giving no easy hoof-holds as you scramble up the hillside. Hot breath on your flanks urges you to move faster, and you skid around the side of the building, panting for air. 

Where’s the door? Where’s the door? Cougar’s gonna get you before you can find the entrance to this dirty, unassuming building, and on your very first mission. That’d be mortifying. 

The door gleams, white metal in the sunlight, and you lunge for it, scrabbling with the knob. It was obviously not made for hoofed-species. He’s coming and you don’t have time to wrestle with a space-junked door! You kick it, then lower your head and head-butt it. 

It lurches open and you stumble inside. Your hooves slow of their own accord. You stare around, gaping. The interior is an enormous cavern. A cool grey banister stands two meters in front of you, separating you from the rest of the colossal space, while ramps of bustling Geckos, Mice, and Tamarins spiral deeper into the mountain beneath you. A Bat whisks past you toward the ceiling, carrying a basket. Everything is lit with warm yellow bulbs, and flashes of colorful doors amidst the shadowy grays accent the interior. This is more like it.

One floor below you, Cow waits, tapping her hoof. “How’d the Goat do?”

Your mouth works, but nothing comes out. Who was she talking to?

Behind you, a velvet voice has no trouble finding words. “Off-script, and with a literal meaning for ‘using your head.’”

 Your eyes flick from Cougar to Cow and back again. This was all a setup?

Cougar grins at you. “What, cat got your tongue?”

“What?” you squeak.  Normally you’re much wittier, you swear.

Cow shakes her head. “I needed to teach you an important lesson before we get to our primary objective.” Her bovine face turns serious. “Never judge a planet by its drop site.” 

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Space Cows 3: First CP Round

Wow, this week has been full! I got some great feedback from my CPs though, and am working on my edits on Space Goats!

Both my CPs had great suggestions, and it was a matter of selecting which I could pull off in 1,000 words while keeping the voice I had going!

As usual, I read through the feedback right away and let it sit, though this time life conspired to pull me away for most of the week, so hopefully my subconscious got in some good mulling over!

After compiling the comments I wanted to act on (none of the compliments, though they are so kind and good to know!) into Scrivener, I had a clear plan.

Most of the comments were smaller things, though I also received some great notes about characterization and continuity. I threw out comments that would alter the voice too much or turn things that were reflexive into active things (and vice versa), even though they were great comments as general advice. Melissa had great thoughts on changing line breaks for emphasis, which was cool, and it’s always fun to see where people agree on comments (no one disagreed this time, though that’s also fun!).

I decided to stubbornly keep some things, like my “full with leaves” even though it’s a bit archaic. I like my archaic phrasings, lol. If my next round of CPs also marks it though, I might cave.

I did get caught with muddiness regarding four legs or two, and when the Goat switches and why, so I tried to clear that up. Was the Goat normally on four legs and rose up to nibble the branch, or normally on two legs? Was it the rising up on two legs that was against the Code, or nibbling an alien plant?

The other thing I had to think hard about was the line “Are all planets going to be like this one?”. It is a bit clunky, and it’s not strictly necessary. I didn’t like the ideas I had for smoothing it though, so I considered just cutting it. In the end, that’s exactly what I did.

Figuring out the legs issue was a little more involved, but I found I had some extra room so I was able to give more description of the space and Goat’s reactions to the back and forth.

So with no further ado, here is Space Goats, this time with a word count of 985.

You sproing through the scraggly bushes that cling to the hill, muzzle raised to the cool breeze. Alien scents wash over you, so different from the ship’s sterile, recycled air. The trees are full with leaves, and the sky is blue above the darker bruising of the distant mountains.

It’s rather disappointing. Shouldn’t alien planets be more, well, alien?  

And there’s a blocky, artificial structure right at the top of the hill, not even trying to hide. Training exercises are supposed to be hard, aren’t they? Otherwise what’s the point? It’s all so dreadfully boring, that you stretch your neck out, rising on the tips of your back hooves to reach a long-hanging branch and nibble at the twigs there. It’s against the Code, but who’s gonna tell on you? Cow? Cow’s not here. She’ll be in the building that’s clearly where you’re meant to go, waiting for you to show up for your briefing. 

But you’re on an alien planet! Simmering underneath the disappointment, thrums of energy race through your bones. The grass isn’t made of crystal, and the sky’s not green, but it’s still a completely new ball of rock hurtling through space, and you’ve actually done it. You’re a Space Goat and nothing can take that away from you. 

All you need to complete the day is a nice glass of wine, the fruitier the better. 

Oh, and to finish your mission, you suppose. 

You can hear the Whale as distinctly as you did when he was standing in front of you, a scowl on his long face. “This mission is simple. You’ll be Dropped on an alien planet. First, use your wits to find your assigned mentor, who will have the Matt. They’ll brief you on a short excursion, and upon your return, you’ll both Matt back up to the ship.”

Look for clues, for anything out of place, of course. Like the glaringly obvious building

Your hooves squish in the springy turf, and the mountains rise and fall behind the apex of the hill with each bouncing leap. Going directly toward the building would be boring. You’ll go around it first—scouting. That’s right. Totally being responsible. 

A breeze whips past and you pause, your eyes half closing as you filter the new smells and try to guess what they are. Plants. Air. Smoke. Smoke’s a little concerning, but it’s only a whiff, so it’s probably pretty far aw—

Something slams into you, lifting you off your hooves. You skid across the rocky ground on your side. Dust makes your eyes tear up. Your heart hammers faster than it did during your first spacewalk, and you scramble to your hooves. 

Cougar stands a meter away, his fangs a flash of white as he smiles. “Not following orders again, Goat?”

What’s he doing out here? You glance at the building, where Cow would be waiting. It’s too far. Cougar will outrun you. 

He prowls a step closer. “This is a training exercise. You and I weren’t supposed to meet like this. If you had followed orders, we wouldn’t have.”

“You wouldn’t hurt me. Not really.” Too bad fear makes your voice high-pitched and bleaty.

“Accidents sometimes happen in training exercises.” He sits, inspecting his claws. 

You flick your tail. You won’t cave to the threats he’s tossing about. You’re the first Goat to make it on the Whale’s Space Teams. And even if this planet seemed boring at first, it’s your very first alien planet! You’re not about to let the chance to explore end here in the cruel claws of a Cougar bully. 

You dig your small hooves into the ground and lower your head, dropping to all fours. A flicker of surprise lights Cougar’s eyes as you spring forward. Your horns crash into his side, just as he’d knocked you over just a few moments ago. Spinning around, you charge for the top of the hill, for safety. Cougar won’t be happy you hit him, but all you have to do is make it to the tiny, square-sided building before he does. 

The soft dirt slows you, giving no easy hoof-holds as you scramble up the hillside. Hot breath on your flanks urges you to move faster, and you skid around the side of the building, panting for air. 

Where’s the door? Where’s the door? Cougar’s gonna get you before you can find the door to this dirty, unassuming building, and on your very first mission. That’d be mortifying. 

The door gleams, white metal in the sunlight, and you lunge for it, scrabbling with the knob. It was obviously not made for hoofed-species. Cougar would likely have an easier time with it. He’s coming and you don’t have time to wrestle with a space-junked door! You kick it, then lower your head and head-butt it. 

It lurches open and you stumble inside. Your hooves slow of their own accord. You stare around, gaping. The interior is an enormous cavern. A cool grey banister stands two meters in front of you, separating you from the rest of the colossal space, while ramps of bustling workers spiral deeper into the mountain beneath you. Everything is lit with warm yellow bulbs, and flashes of colorful doors amidst the shadowy grays accent the interior. This is more like it.

One floor below you, Cow waits idly. “How’d the Goat do?”

Your mouth works, but nothing comes out. 

Behind you, a velvet voice has no trouble finding words. “Off-script, and with a literal meaning for ‘using your head.’”

 Your eye flick from Cougar to Cow and back again. This was all a setup?

Cougar grins at you. “What, cat got your tongue?”

“What?” you squeak.  Normally you’re much more witty, you swear.

Cow shakes her head. “I needed to teach you an important lesson before we get to our primary objective.” Her bovine face turns serious. “Never judge a planet by its drop site.”

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Space Cows 3: Self-edit

2 Comments

The first thing I did was let it sit. I always let stuff sit before editing. My subconscious is able to work on it that way. For this, obviously, there’s not as much marinating time available. Then I did a read through and made note of what I wanted to change:

  • Really get into and sophisticate Goat’s voice. I don’t want Goat to sound like a kid, while preserving Goat’s excitement, spunk, and sass.
  • I want to make sure there are no pronouns associated with Goat. I want Goat to be able to be anyone who feels like Goat. 
  • I also want to smooth out the whole reason to be here on this planet, as it got a bit muddy while I was discovering it. 
  • See if I can strengthen the arc I have in here. 
  • Then line edits, to make sure everything’s as polished as I can make it. Obviously typos, cutting word count, and tightening sentences. Oh, and read aloud!

Once I had everything as good as I could make it, I ran it through AutoCrit. As usual for me, it found some repetitions and I got to think about alternate ways to say things. I love how this word map summarizes my story so well!

I’m pretty happy with Space Goats right now! It clocks in at 991 according to Scrivener, so I came in comfortably under the word count limit. Have a look:

You sproing through the short bushes that cling to the hill, muzzle raised to the cool breeze. Alien scents wash over you, so much different from the ship’s sterile, recycled air. The trees are full with leaves, and the sky is blue above the darker bruising of the distant mountains. Are all planets going to be like this one? 

Frankly, part of you is disappointed. Shouldn’t alien planets be more, well, alien? For another thing, there’s an odd artificial structure right at the top of the hill, not even trying to hide. Training exercises are supposed to be hard, aren’t they, or what’s the point? It’s all so dreadfully boring, you rise up on your back hooves to reach a long-hanging branch and nibble at the twigs there. It’s against the Code, but who’s gonna tell on you? Cow? Cow’s not here. She’ll be in the building that’s clearly where you’re meant to go, waiting for you to show up for your briefing. 

But you’re on an alien planet! Simmering underneath the disappointment, thrums of energy race through your bones. The grass isn’t made of crystal, and the sky’s not green, but it’s still a completely new ball of rock hurtling through space and you’ve actually done it. You’re a Space Goat and nothing can take that away from you. 

All you need to complete the day is a nice glass of wine, the fruitier the better. 

Oh, also and to finish your mission, you suppose. 

You can hear the Whale as distinctly as you did when he was standing in front of you, his long face scowling in your memory. “This mission is simple. You’ll be Dropped on an alien planet. First, use your wits to find your assigned mentor, who will have the Matt. They’ll brief you on a short excursion, and upon your return, you’ll both Matt back up to the ship.”

Look for clues, for anything out of place, of course. Like the glaringly obvious building

Your hooves squish in the springy turf, and the mountains rise and fall behind the apex of the hill with each bouncing leap. Going directly toward the building would be boring. You’ll go around it first—scouting. That’s right. Totally being responsible. 

A breeze whips past and you pause, your eyes half closing as you filter the new smells and try to guess what they are. Plants. Air. Smoke. Smoke’s a little concerning, but it’s only a whiff, so it’s probably pretty far aw—

Something slams into you, lifting you off your hooves. You skid across the rocky ground on your side. Dust makes your eyes tear up. Your heart hammers faster than it did during your first space walk, and you scramble to your hooves. 

A Cougar stands a meter away, his fangs a flash of white as he smiles. “Not following orders, again, Goat?”

What’s a Cougar doing out here? You glance at the building, where Cow would be waiting. It’s too far. The Cougar will outrun you. 

The Cougar prowls a step closer. “This is a training exercise. You and I weren’t supposed to meet like this. If you had followed orders, we wouldn’t have.”

“You wouldn’t hurt me. Not really.” Too bad fear makes your voice high-pitched and bleaty.

“Accidents sometimes happen in training exercises.” He sits, inspecting his claws. 

You flick your tail. You won’t cave to the threats he’s tossing about. You’re the first Goat to make it on the Whale’s Space Teams. And even if this planet seemed boring at first, it’s your very first alien planet! You’re not about to let the chance to explore end here in the cruel claws of a Cougar bully. 

You dig your small hooves into the ground and lower your head. A flicker of surprise lights the Cougar’s eyes as you spring forward. Your horns crash into his side, just as he’d knocked you over just a few moments ago. Spinning around, you charge for the top of the hill, for safety. The Cougar won’t be happy you hit him, but all you have to do is make it to the tiny, square-sided building before he does. 

The soft dirt slows you, giving no easy hoof-holds as you scramble up the hillside. Hot breath on your flanks urges you to move faster, so you abandon decorum and go to all fours. Twice as many hooves to propel you to the hilltop does wonders, and you skid around the side of the building, panting for air. 

Where’s the door? Where’s the door? The Cougar’s gonna get you before you can find the door to this dirty, unassuming building, and on your very first mission. That’d be mortifying. 

The door gleams, white metal in the sunlight, and you lunge for it, scrabbling with the knob. It was obviously not made for hoofed-species. Ironically, Cougar would likely have an easier time with it. He’s coming and you don’t have time to wrestle with a space-junked door! You kick it, then lower your head and head-butt it. 

It springs open and you stumble inside. Your hooves slow of their own accord. You stare around yourself, gaping. A cool grey banister stands two meters in front of you, separating you from the rest of the colossal space. An enormous cavern of bustling workers spirals deeper into the mountain beneath you. Everything is lit with warm yellow bulbs, and flashes of colorful doors accent the interior. This is more like it.

One floor below you, Cow waits idly. “How’d the Goat do?”

Your mouth works, but nothing comes out. 

Behind you, a velvet voice has no trouble finding words. “Off-script, and with a literal meaning for ‘using your head.’” 

Cougar grins at you. “What, cat got your tongue?”

“What?” you squeak. 

Cow shakes her head. “I needed to teach you an important lesson before we get to our primary objective.” Her bovine face turns serious. “Never judge a planet by its drop site.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Writer In Motion: Space Cows 3: The First Draft

8 Comments

You sproing through the short bushes that cling to the grassy hill, muzzle raised to the cool air. Odd scents wash over you—this planet sure is stinky! The trees are full with leaves, and the sky is blue, lighter than the grey-blue of the distant mountains. Are all planets going to be like this one? 

Frankly, part of you is disappointed. Aren’t alien plantes supposed to be more, well, alien? For another thing, there’s a odd artificial structure right at the top of the hill, clearly not even trying to hide. Training exercises are supposed to be hard, aren’t they, or what’s the point? It’s all so dreadfully boring, you rise up on your back hooves to reach a long-hanging branch and nibble at the twigs there. It’s against the Code, but who’s donna tell on you? Cow? It’s not like Cow’s every here. They’d be in the building that’s clearly where you’re meant to go, waiting for you to show up for your briefing. 

But you’re on an alien planet! It should be even more exciting, but still thrums of energy race through your bones, simmering beneath the vague disappointment. The grass isn’t made of crystal and the sky’s not green, but it’s still a completely new ball of rock hurtling through space and you’ve actually done it. You’re a Space Goat and nothing can take that away form you. 

All you need to complete the day is a nice glass of wine, the fruitier the better. 

Oh, also and to complete your mission, you suppose. 

You can hear the Whale as clearly as you did when he was standing in front of you, his long face scowling in your memory. “This mission is simple. You’ll be Dropped on an alien planet and will have to find your assigned rendezvous partner, who will have the Matt. Once you find your partner, you’ll be briefed on a short mission, and upon your return, Matt back up to the ship.”

Look for clues, for anything out of place, obviously. Like the glaringly obvious building

You sproing along, your hooves squishing in springy turf. The mountains rise and fall behind the hill with each bouncing leap. Going directly toward the building would be boring. You’ll go around it first—scouting. That’s right. Totally being responsible. 

The wind brings you further brand new scents, and you pause, your eyes half closing as you filter the new smells out and try to guess what they are. Plants. Air. Smoke. Smoke’s a little concerning, but it’s only a little bit, so it’s probably pretty far aw—

Something slams into you, lifting you off your hooves. You skid across the rocky ground on your side, dust making your eyes tear up. Your heart beats faster than it did during your first space walk, and you scramble to your hooves. Before you stands a Cougar, fangs a flash of white as he smiles at you. 

“Not following orders, again, Goat?” he asks. 

What was a Cougar doing out here? You glance at the building, so obviously where Cow would be waiting. It was too far. The Cougar would outrun you. 

Another flash of white as the Cougar smiles again. “It’s supposed to be a training exercise. You and I weren’t supposed to meet like this. If you’d followed orders, we wouldn’t have.”

“You wouldn’t hurt me. Not really.” Too bad fear makes your voice high-pitched and bleaty.

“Accidents sometimes happen in training exercises,” he responds, inspecting his claws. 

You’re not about to cave to the threats he’s tossing about like the trees shedding pollen in the air. You’re the first Goat to make it on the Whale’s Space Teams. And even if this planet seemed boring at first, it was the very first alien planet you’ve been on and you’re not about to lt the chance to explore more end here in the cruel claws of a Cougar bully. 

You dig your small hooves into the arid ground and lower your head. A flicker of surprise lights the Cougar’s eyes, but then you spring forward. Your horns crash into his side just as he’d knocked you over just a few moments ago. And then, you spin and charge for the building, for safety. The Cougar won’t be happy you hit him, but all you have to do is make it to the tiny, square-sided building before he does. 

The soft dirt slows you, giving no easy platform as you scramble up the hillside. Hot breath on your flanks motivates you to move faster, so you abandon decorum and go to all fours. Twice as many hooves to propel you to the top of the hill does wonders, and you skid around the side of the building, panting for breath. Where’s the door? Where’s the door? The Cougar’s gonna get you before you can find the door to this dirty, unassuming, tiny building, and on your very first mission. That’d be embarrassing. 

The door gleams, white metal in the sunlight, and you lunge for it, scrabbling with the knob. It was clearly not made for hooved-species. Ironically, Cougar would likely have an easier time with it, but you don’t have time to wrestle with a space junked door! You kick it, and then lower your head and head-butt it. 

It springs open, and you stumble inside. Your hooves slow of their own accord, leaving you gaping. A cool grey banister stands one meter in front of you, separating you from the rest of the colossal space. An enormous cavern of bustling workers spirals below you, along with Cow, waiting just one floor down. Everything is lit with warm yellow bulbs, and flashes of colorful doors accent the space. 

“How’d the Goat do?” the Cow asks. 

Your mouth works, but nothing comes out. 

Behind you, someone else has no trouble finding words. “Off-script, and with a literal meaning for “using your head”.” 

He grins at you. “What, cat got your tongue?”

“What?” you squeak. 

Cow smiles. “I needed to teach you an important lesson before we get to our primary objective.” The bovine face turns serious, brown eyes boring into you. “Never judge a planet by its drop site.”


Coming in at 1031 words, it’s rough, but I love it. I’m really excited to dig deeper into Goat and let their snark and attitude out further, even though I need to trim some words!

I definitely wanted to do something fresh, to turn it on its head a bit, so using a new point of view and vaguely recognizable situations, then flipping it on its head felt like the right move to me. Plus, Goat’s voice was just so spunky and kept me laughing internally. 

I forgot my terminology so had to look it up. And that delete button kept calling for little typos, but I tried to avoid it, as I do normally fast draft. This draft was a lot slower than many of my drafts have been, but I have slowed down a little this year (last year my fingers were on fire I was drafting so fast!). Autocorrect still caught some of my typos while others I’m hoping I can figure out later!

The last words just popped into my head, and I rushed to write them down right away, because I felt they were a perfect end to my story, giving me the anchor to tie together the vague shape of the story that had come to mind. Don’t judge a planet by its drop site. 

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Writer In Motion, round 3

You guys know by now I’m a huge fan of Writer In Motion. Of course, it doesn’t work for everyone, but I adore the community and the solidarity that writers can find themselves immersed in.

This round, I was iffy on whether or not I would participate. I have such a blast with writing these shorts and I’m trying to get into a groove of practicing my short stories more. And my friends from WIM Round 1 were clamoring for more Space Cows! On the other hand, I also have edits to do, after all, and a couple of beta reads. But I definitely wanted to get more involved, so I volunteered to serve as a forum mod.

Then the prompt dropped. I love it.

Photo by Rahul Pandit on Unsplash

Look at this! The dark hillside, the lighted building. The openness of nature, the tiny man-made thing. The rounded shapes all around, and then the straight-sided boxiness of this building.

I immediately had questions. Who would live way out here? Why (beyond the obvious–hello mountainside!)? What else is there that we can’t see? What about that homey, chilling in the evening with nature mood–can I do something with that? What’s behind the house? What’s under the house? Does this fit with Space Cows, or something new?

But I knew I wanted to write something with it.

Spaceships under the mountain entered my head. Also a goat and wineglass picture I’d seen in Slack. And I mean, can I really pass up the chance to poke some fun at Jeni?

I had a hilarious time brainstorming in my writer’s group. So the questions continued. Is there a mountain sized spaceship under the house, and the little tiny house is actually the cupola?

Are the goat and wineglass on this mountain? Yeah, a mashup was inevitable.

And that’s when I knew what I was writing. Did I have a whole plot? No, but I knew the Goat would be the star, and it would be set in the Space Cows universe. I knew the Cow would be part of the story, in some way, but what exactly that way was still was yet to be decided.

Come play along with us! It’s not too late- just write your short story and post it by Friday! It’s only about 1,000 words in your genre of choice! Check out Writer In Motion for more details!

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On Inspiration and support

Writing can be a lonely endeavor when we let it become one. It’s easy to feel isolated, to feel like your words don’t matter and no one’s reading them. And when that happens, all too often the inspiration to write dries up. That’s a terrible thing. I believe there are amazing stories inside of each of us waiting to be told–stories that speak truths of who we are and how we see the world. Stories that matter. 

It’s a shame to silence them.

I’ve been serious about my writing for nearly a decade now. I enjoyed writing and telling stories all through growing up but I let my practicing of my craft go by the wayside. And then, once I decided to really apply myself to growing as a writer, I shunned writing groups by and large, too scared to share my work. I got by with a few beta readers, one of whom became one of my story-shining CPs.

And I did get by. I learned a lot, and I worked hard, but not nearly to the point I have lately.

In the last year and a half or so, I’ve become incredibly productive in part because I’ve been phenomenally inspired by the amazing writers who make up my support system

For me, inspiration is tied to the books I’ve been reading and to my emotional state. When I’m stressed, inspiration often dries up, while if I’m comfortable and confident, I can sling ideas around free for the taking. That means self-care is really important for me. Yes, I still have to do the work, but part of that work is giving myself the best chance to be inspired. 

And that’s where my community comes in. My cheerleaders, my pillow-fort, my squad. They pick me up when I’m down and lost, and they cheer with me when I win or when I’m confident. 

So how do you get one of these amazing circles of friends yourself? 

That’s the meat of what I want to talk about today, because there’s absolutely no need to be jealous, and too many times I hear people bad mouth these teams, or feel jealous or sad. But here’s the thing: my bunch may not fit your needs, and your bunch may not fit another person’s needs. That doesn’t mean there’s anything cliquey going on (although that can happen, of course). It just means you have time to find your writing home. 

I have a few circles. Some are for me to encourage others and receive encouragement by seeing others getting words down. Some I use to motivate me by expecting me to have something to submit for critique, and I grow as I give critique, too. (When in critique groups, always plan to give more to the group than you get.) Some are where I shout out about awesome opportunities in the writing world, or brainstorm or world build or character build. And then a very select few I go to when I’m vulnerable. When I need a lift, when I need a hug. These are the groups I know will never stab me in the back.

How many do you need? It’s totally dependent on you! But at least you need the last kind- that circle of people who will support you and never turn on you. And that’s hard to find. And it’s scary. But it’s gold once you have your writing family.

To form your own writing fam, it’s terrifyingly simple, but difficult. You have to put yourself out there. You have to try groups out and see where you fit. And sadly, that means you’ll find groups that don’t fit you. They aren’t active enough, or they’re too positive, or not positive enough, or not experienced enough yet, or too advanced and you feel left out, or maybe your personalities just don’t mesh. All of these situations can happen absolutely benignly, and I’ve seen them happen several times. Feeling bitter about it won’t help–chalk it up to a simple “not quite right” and move on. (Or, stay for other reasons, but keep looking for that close inner heart-circle.) Your people are out there!

I love events and competitions like Nanowrimo, RevPit, and Writer In Motion. They are amazing opportunities to find community. You get out what you put in, though, too. So if you come in ready to fight, or pick nits, or only want adoration, they won’t do a ton for you. (Side note: Good critiques can be tough, but a tough critique does not equal a good critique). If you come in looking to give more than you get, lift others up too, and learn all that you can soak up, you have a much better chance of finding your troupe. You’re also far more likely to get a ton out of it, even if you don’t win the competition, and for far longer than the event goes for. 

I have four CPs right now (I know, right? I’m so lucky! They’re each amazing wonderful people and phenomenal writers). One I found through Nanowrimo, one though RevPit, one through Twitter in general but I interacted with her mainly from RevPit and Writer In Motion, and another through my writing groups on Discord.

My CPs and I poke at each other to do writing competitions, to stretch our skills with writing exercises, and trade insights and reading lists. This is in addition to the brilliant stories and synopses I get to read from them and the amazing insight they give me on my work, and in addition to the brainstorming and plot-hole-filling and character-motivation-shining sessions we have. It’s amazing to have people to bounce ideas off of and to encourage each other on. Again, you have to come with the mindset of learning and giving though.

Not all of my heart-circle is CPs though, either. Some people I know will never love my work because it’s just not right for them but they still are always there for support and encouragement when I need them, as I try to be for them. They’re still part of my heart-circle. You can find CPs and your writing team in general anywhere. And they’re an amazing resource to be able to lean on.

These days, I’m part of several writing groups that I’m active on nearly every day, including one that I run critique groups on nearly weekly (which is amazing), and nearly daily I hang out with my Writer In Motion friends, even though our Writer In Motion was a year ago. I also have gotten involved with Write Hive in my quest to give back to other writers, just like older more experienced writers helped me when I was beginning my journey. 

So in short, to inspire you, of course, reading is amazing, but I’m sure you’ve already seen that advice. Don’t forget to build your community, whether you’re a writer or a reader, to inspire you to keep reaching greater heights!

Looking for opportunities to build your own writing community? Remember to go into these with the intent to give, not just get.

Writer In Motion — starting back up in a week (August 2020)

WriteHive

Quillhaven Discord Writing Group

Beta-reading Matchmaker

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