Category Archives: Writing

Short Story Saturday: Warriors vs. Timberwolves


“Sir, Captain Sir! Rush and Bogut are down just outside of Minneapolis. Radar shows that the wolves are closing in.”

Captain Curry looked up from where he sat lacing up his shoe. He wasn’t yet sure if he could trust Private Barnes. The young recruit showed flashes of promise, but proved inconsistent so far in their time together. Of course, he knew that was what other said about him and his goddamn ankle. He pulled tighter on the lace to make sure his boots were secure around the surgically repaired joint.

“Can we take them out with rockets?”

“No, sir. They are not in range.”

“How far into the woods did those two go down?”

“Not far, sir. Only a few clicks. The satellite shows sparse trees for another few kilometers before the forest gets any denser. There’s a large field that borders the forest. Should make it easy to get low and find a good position.”

“Do we need to watch out for bobcats in the area?”

“No, sir. The wolves had a run in with them earlier this week and were chased off. This is a new area for them. My guess is they’re getting hungry, perhaps a bit desperate. It looks like there’s only nine left in the pack.”

“That’s not many. But we need to be careful; they took out that rogue group earlier this week. We don’t want to end up like that. Those mavericks should have been able to fend off the wolves, but they took them down. They’re wily animals, and cunning.”

“Sir, yes. That is true, sir.”

Captain Curry bent down again to double-check his boots. Everything looked good. On the inside, though, it still felt shaky. It was probably all just in his head, but the ankle he injured 3 years prior had never really seemed to heal properly. His team needed him to lead, though, and he wasn’t the kind of man to let a little lingering pain hold him back.

“Let’s go,” he said to Private Barnes.

A short time later, the drop ship zipped toward the field, Captain Curry and his band of warriors ready to jump in and save their squadmates from the vicious teeth and deadly claws of the wolf pack. The buzzing of the engine made it hard to hear anything, but as soon as they’d jumped to the earth and the ship turned away, the arena for the upcoming battle went silent. There was probably a family in the farmhouse adjacent to the field in which they’d landed. They might be the only spectators that night. But Curry and his warriors would save them from the same savage fate from which they needed to rescue Sergeant Bogut and Corporal Rush.

Curry’s ankle twinged, even landing in the soft grass field. He cursed it, wishing not for the first time that he’d opted for the bionic replacement. At the time he’d talked himself into believing that he could perform just as well with his real, natural body after he’d healed from the surgery. But he heard the whispers that went around HQ, people wondering if he would ever be the same run-and-gun officer who people thought would lead the warriors into a new era of dominance. But the people he’d worked with back then were gone, replaced by youngsters, newly enlisted, and guys like Bogut who might never see a battle again.

The team scurried across the field, taking up positions spread around the perimeter of the woods. Curry watched and saw the glowing green eyes of wolves circling. Their body language said exactly what Barnes had thought: they were scared and desperate, their pack had been decimated and they were just trying to hang on.

“On my mark, we try to take them down from here,” Curry said, flipping his mic live. “Barnes, Thompson, you take the shots. Lee, Landry, prepare to move inside. Three, two, one, mark!”

Several quick bursts of fire tore threw the woods, taking down branches and splintering trees. Curry saw the wolves duck and scatter, but a moment after the gunfire stopped, they were back.

“Not working from out here,” Curry said, “Lee, Landry, get in there!”

The two hulking big men crashed into the forest, barreling towards the pack of wolves who looked scared and more than a little unsure. Two of them, though, a light wolf and a dark one jump straight into the path of the two Staff Sergeants and raked them with their claws, sending the officers back a few steps. The pair of wolves tried to get a grip on the warrior officers with their long canine teeth, but Curry’s warriors rebounded from the initial assault and tossed aside the two animals brave enough to resist. The rest of their pack had already turned tail to find a new hunting ground.

Curry rose from his crouch and called for the drop ship to return. He hadn’t done much, but most of the time it was better to play to your strengths and use what worked. He recognized the wolves were too fast to hit from long distance, so they got up close and secured the victory from a meter away instead of seven.

Lee and Landry came back helping Bogut and Rush into the ship. They pulled away from the site and Curry was sure they all wished it could always be so easy. As the ship sailed back toward base, Curry noticed a large swell of clouds on the horizon and lighting slashing from them, torching the ground below. Thunder echoed in the distance. He sure hoped they wouldn’t have to ride through that to get home.


Six Sentence Sunday

The intro to the Valkyrie Project 2 (no working title yet):

Our hero spins, a violent but controlled dervish with a Raptor pressed firm in each hand, spitting venom bullets in wild arcs. His back jostles against the strong, hard back of his partner as they dance a reaper’s tango across a cold durocrete floor. Outnumbered but over-trained, they move as a single entity, one person with four arms, four guns, firing as fast as the guns pointed back at them.
In a theatrical presentation of the scene, scores of bodies would fall over railings, letting loose strings of stray bullets in a last attempt to take down the hero.
The bodies in real life, though, mostly just slumped back after being hit, merging with the shadows of the long alley, melting into the darkness as they faded into death.

Backing Up Scrivener With Dropbox

At first, I wondered if this was too obvious to even be worth posting, but the first time I tried to use Scrivener with Dropbox as a backup, I ended up losing over 1,000 words. Evidently, the way that Scrivener saves automatically using a bunch of different files confuses Dropbox’s syncing. Luckily I was able to recreate the stuff I’d written. I’ve heard in podcast interviews and whatnot that sometimes people rewrite scenes from scratch to try to make them better, but my attempt at that didn’t work out so well. I don’t have the original content to know for sure, but that was my gut feel, and it was enough to turn me off of using Scrivener for a while, especially since I had a lot of work in MS Word already.

After hearing Neal Stephenson speak at Unity Temple a few weeks ago and learning that he uses Scrivener, well, that was enough to get me to try it again.

So I got back on the horse and put my Scrivenings (?) in a folder that wasn’t synced to Dropbox. I decided to go with a manual back up. Under the File menu, you go to “Back Up To…” which let’s you select a location to which to save your back up file (select “Backup as ZIP file” so that Dropbox only has to sync one file, and since it has a timestamp in the file it won’t overwrite previous backups). That worked well, but I had to remember to actually do the backups.

After a few weeks, I was exploring the options instead of actually writing, and I noticed that you can set Scrivener to back up a project whenever it is closed (or opened if you want a copy to revert to in case you don’t like anything wrote). Brilliant!

The automatic backup option is under: Tools -> Options and then on the box that comes up, on the Backup tab. Select “Turn on automatic backups” then select which options you want below that. I have mine compressed as zip files (again, so it only backs up a single file into the Dropbox folder), as well using the date in the file name (again, just to make it easy on the Dropbox syncing mechanism). I keep the five most recent backup files (there are probably reasons to keep more or less, but 5 seems like a good starting point).

Finally I set the backup location to a special folder I created in Dropbox to store all my Scrivener backups. Done!

The Athena Project by Brad Thor

Come on now. I was just reading this 7 Deadly Questions interview with Joanna Penn and while talking (or writing, I suppose) about kick-ass female protagonists, she mentions a book by Brad Thor called The Athena Project. All I can say is, it’s a good thing I published Episode 1 of the Valkyrie Project only 6 days after Thor’s release date for The Athena Project, because I will be the first to admit that the premises sound very similar. Although mine is clearly speculative near future fiction while Brad’s takes place in a contemporary setting.

Another key difference is that the first 4 episodes of The Valkyrie Project are currently available in all electronic formats for free on Smashwords, while Mr. Thor’s book will set you back $14.99 for an electronic version (though the hardcover version is somehow available from 3rd party sellers starting at only $5.82). The Athena Project is also available at The Chicago Public Library, which is probably where I’ll get it from because I’m not a fan of hardcover books (especially owning and storing them) and there is no way I’m going to pay $14.99 for an ebook.

And it looks like another key difference is that The Athena Project is being made into a movie. Since it sounds like a book I would probably like, it sounds like a movie I would like as well. I’m all about kick ass female protagonists: Buffy in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Sydney in Alias, Kate in LOST, Sarah Connor and Cameron in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Echo in The Dollhouse, Olivia in Fringe, Kate in Castle, even Nikita in Nikita. Also, from that list that I was able to come up with off the top of my head, it appears that I’m not the only one who likes a strong female presence in their sci-fi (or detective or spy comedramas). Also, it should be obvious from that list why I am writing an episodic sci-fi serial with a female protagonist. In fact, if Facebook still allowed free form text in their Favorites section, I could probably just put: Episodic Sci-fi Serials with Female Protagonists as my top favorite thing.

Final key difference (for now), Athena was the Goddess of War (among other things, of course, but mostly war) who sprung forth from Zeus’s head while the Valkyries decide who will die in battle and then select from among those who die the ones that will join Odin in Valhalla to prepare for Ragnarok (sort of making them eternal warriors, which is kind of awesome). I will be interested to see if Thor’s book uses the Athena aspect at all or if it just comes as a name for strong females that the government though sounded cool when they named the project. The Valkyries in The Valkyrie Project take on tasks that at least resemble those of their Norse predecessors, and I am trying to make the correlation as strong as possible within the context of the story.

Valkyrie Project Episode 4: More Immediate

Download “Valkyrie Project Episode 4: More Immediate Now!

From the description:

Ana and Marisol are tasked with breaking up a weapons deal between the Continuum and a reclusive bioengineer.

Sounds like standard fare, but I assure you, this one is anything but standard. It is what some might consider my finest writing to date (at least I look at it that way).

Look at this quote that I would like someone to write about it:

Episode 4 is the best so far, with action that doesn’t stop and shocks and jolts that will make you jump like Kris Kross! Nels never lets up on the pace and I’m pretty sure I literally had a heart attack half way through!”

That would be pretty awesome if someone wrote that, right?

Episode Notes

Seriously, though, I really like this one. I went over and over the revisions and each time I reread something I’d revised I thought “Yeah, that really does make it even more awesomer [sic].”

I actually have some director-style commentary that I wrote while going through this episode, but I’m going to save that for some bonus material to add to the Amazon version that I will actually be charging people for. That version will be a collection of the first five episodes, and I’m going to make sure it gets distributed to not just Amazon, but the iTunes store as well. I had thought about making Episode 5 exclusive to that collection as a marketing ploy, but that just seems lame, or like I’m some sort of drug dealer (though a really bad one if I’m giving away the first four for free). So, instead I am thinking I’ll add the director’s commentary (and maybe some actor commentary, deleted scenes, or bloopers!) for the “pay” version.

Stat Updates

Seems like a good time to throw some numbers out there…

(All numbers represent free downloads)
Episode 1: 259
Episode 2: 270
Episode 3: 172
Episode 4: 31 (since 4/10/2011)

I did see another spike for the first three episodes when I put number 4 up there, but since it’s already dropped to the 33rd page of All Books on Smashwords, I’m not expecting a lot more indirect traffic until Smashwords decides to put up some “People who read this also read:” type widgets. Seeing as how they’re making money off every book that someone pays for on there, I’m not sure why they haven’t implemented that yet. They do at least list other books by the author when you look at a particular book page, and I’m sure that’s what accounts for the spikes in downloads for the other episodes when a new one goes up. But it would be nice to get some cross-author traffic going. I suppose I could review other people’s books (since I have read a couple), but when I see authors writing reviews it seems like they’re just trying to get more traffic back to their own page when people click on their name from the review. It just feel dirty, like a very transparent attempt to game the system… but I’m sure it does drive at least a bit of traffic back.

Other “charts”: Episode 4 is still on the 2nd page for most recently published General Sci Fi and #4 for MRP Free General Sci Fi, and I’m pretty sure that’s how anyone not following this blog will find it going forward.

10,000 Words Pt. 2

So, I’ve been working on this Friday Snippet project now, instead of the other one for which I’d already written 10,000+ words. But, I’ve now reached 10,000 words in what is called The Nine Mothers. This time, the 10,000th word was: she. Brilliant! Couldn’t have been “ignoring” or “blinking”, both of which came shortly before it… nope. She. Awesome.

I guess it’s very similar to my getting the Completionist achievement (Complete the majority of the game) in Mass Effect by telling Conrad Verner to go back to his wife on Earth. Yup. It wasn’t fighting the Geth, or defeating Saren (for the first time, at least), or even doing anything that involved shooting or using biotic powers. Nope. I just talked to the guy enough to convince him to return to his wife. Thank Yeewwwwww!

Friday Snippets: Does anyone do this anymore?

I seem to remember having 4-5 blogs that posted pieces of WIPs on Fridays… but I only saw one in the feed reader today… that one was enough to remind me that I actually have some good WIP to post now, though. So, hooray for that. And here goes (with the disclaimer, of course)…

This is © copyright 2008 by me, Nels Wadycki. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m giving up the first publishing rights. But then, it’s first draft stuff, and will probably be completely reworked, but hopefully not thrown away.

Not Even A Mouse

Josephine awoke to the high pitched, staccato beeps that White Home tended to make when he was straining to compute something. She was ten floors below the AI’s main work room on Sky Mountain Station, but the sounds carried through the ventilation shafts, and Josephine was a light sleeper. She flipped the covers back with a sigh, and went out to catch an elevator up to the Brain Stem.

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