Indigenous Khiatons Short Reads Campaign

I want to write more indigenous SFF short stories, so I started an experiment to post what I write to Kindle Unlimited (KU).

Eventually I will collect them into another short story collection but in the meantime I plan to make one short story available every 1-2 months. There may be times I submit the month’s short story to an anthology open call instead of sending it to KU. I will send them out instead of posting them to KU when that happens. Since the open calls don’t happen often enough for me to produce the stories regularly I am using the KU program to get myself to produce more indigenous stories.

Unsavory is my first KU short story upload.

Doreen is in danger of becoming one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Can her loyal guard dog, Gertrude, protect her from a creepy neighbor who only comes out at night?


June 2019-Pantsing as a Brainstorming Technique

I’ve been interested in Dean Wesley Smith’s “writing in the dark” technique but was reluctant to try it.

I need structure in my writing though I can’t stand for it to be too rigid. Or rather my best plans have to adapt to reality in life and writing. However, having no plan at all gives me an unorganized mess that wastes my time and energy. Which is why I was surprised that pantsing worked as a good brainstorming technique for a story idea I have.

I’ve been wanting to work on a story about a scifi maintenance man. He balances out his demanding and quirky coworkers. However, I didn’t know where to begin. I’d tried researching anything that could apply to it to see if it’d give me an angle. I looked up other scifi works to see if any tropes would give me ideas.

All I had was a vague idea of the office politics and the reactions people had to my scifi maintenance man. They are spoiled and demanding. He has to smooth things over for them or nothing would get done.

I figured I should have enough to start with, so I wrote 4000 words out. It wasn’t as lively as I liked but things came together as I got further in. I now know what their installation is and the department they work for. The workplace has a worthwhile goal I want to explore. I now have an idea how to proceed for the rest of the story which I believe could fill out a novel.

I may need to do further research but at least I’ll know what subjects to look up.

I tried other brainstorming techniques. Nothing worked until I actually tried to write it out.

Dean Wesley Smith is a big believer in “writing in the dark.” I’m not sure if I’ll be as dedicated as he is to the process. I wouldn’t want to write an entire novel that is an incoherent mess. Now I must use Dean’s technique of cycling back to set up the focus of my book early in the text.

May 2019-I Discovered a Trick for Manually Updating Windows 10

My discovery of a workaround to make Windows 10 update manually is important to my writing. Eventually all my laptops will be W10, so I’ll need to use it then if I want to keep my main writing tools functional.

The trick is to set your computer’s Windows Update to set your computer’s active hours. It will download the updates but wait until the end of your active period to install the updates.

The Windows Update box also has a “Check for Updates” feature. You click it to search for updates. It will download any update it finds but not restart your computer until the end of the active period.

When all the updates are downloaded a “Restart Computer” button appears on the list of updates. You can keep the computer on and wait for the active hours’ period to end. It will update automatically then. However, you can press the button and do your update then and there.

You may have active periods but I assume you still have a time when it’s convenient to run a manual Windows Update. A moment when you’re not in the middle of a project and can turn the update into your priority.

Otherwise, the automated update will happen outside of your control. I once turned a W10 computer off before it downloaded the latest update and had to get my computer repaired. I don’t want my laptop on all the time. This can mess up the update process if it’s turned off before it’s done downloading the updates. Even if you leave your laptop on you still won’t want to be interrupted when you’re in the middle of an important project.

This workaround gives you control over the timing of updates. Windows Updates happen on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. This will become your manual Windows Update day by default. Otherwise, the automation kicks in. It’s also good to check on the 2nd Wednesday of the month to see if anything else was released later in the day. I consider this trick important to my writing since my writing tools need to be kept functional.

In other news: I plug away at my projects but there’s nothing to report until something’s out. It takes so long to finish stuff that I don’t want to promise anything until it’s actually done.

I will post The Shifty Captive on Wattpad in its entirety and am working through it chapter by chapter. We’ll see how long it stays up.

April 2019-Writer’s Life: A Fresh Start this Spring

This is my first writer’s life entry.

I want to keep this blog active but I feel Wattpad will be a better venue for the free samples of my work. People come there for reads and my stories may get more traffic there.

I plan to take part in Wattpad contests. I will post “The Shifty Captive” there starting in April.

There may be more activity on Wattpad based on the response I get. I’m also working on a Norse LitRPG novel I want to put on Wattpad too but I want to complete the first draft first.

You’ll find updates on my projects and writer’s life here for the time being.

I’m not giving up on writing or indie publishing but I hope this is something I can build into a good readership base. I’ve tried other methods before and have had a tepid response. It’s hard to tell what I’ll define as “success” for the Wattpad experiment. It’ll take work and effort to build my brand there. I need enough time to give it an honest effort but still need to decide what a proper return on my investment is.

I have faith in my writing but older book buyers are reluctant to try me out. Perhaps younger readers will be willing to take a chance on a newcomer?

At the very least keeping a record of my experiments may be interesting to people. Even if I end up quitting the writer’s game I’ll be sure it’s only after I’ve exhausted every possible avenue.

You can see it at @CathySmith527 at Wattpad.


Novel Excerpt: Gardening in The Shifty Captive

Here is a gardening excerpt from The Shifty Captive in honor of spring. Though black magician’s gardens are hazardous.

Damien recommended I read one grimoire to prepare for my new gardening duties. “You’ll find this book useful. One of my students was an avid gardener. He was absorbed in botanical studies. More so than I wanted him to be,”

“And that’s why you ‘disposed’ of him,” I finished for him.

This time Damien surprised me, “No, since he fulfilled the rest of his duties I allowed him to indulge in his hobby.

“Huh?” I asked. I’d made a natural assumption after what he did to Gareth.

“An interest in gardening is one thing, embezzlement is another,” Damien said.

This lead to the rather obvious question, “Then why isn’t he here with you instead of me or Gareth?”

“He was killed during his duties,” Damien shrugged.

He added, “Your work in the garden is more than menial labor. I am using it to teach you valuable principles.”

I shuddered, “Like the cooking lead to potion making?” and the table manners I didn’t add.

“I’m doing it to increase your trade value. It’s the most humane way to dispose of you. I can’t allow you to leave my service unless you’re a member of the Trade.”

“Oh,” I was lucky to get this much consideration after what happened to Gareth.

We got back to the lessons. I wasn’t all that excited about being Damien’s gardener. Back when I was free, I might enjoy an occasional walk in a park or think a flower was pretty. Though it didn’t mean I was a big fan of the outdoors. I was raised in a city, and most of the things I cared about took place indoors. I was not looking forward to getting myself dirty but then it occurred to me that gardens were outdoors. Once I was outdoors, freedom could not be far off.

That afternoon Tobias showed me a door to pick. “Want to see the garden, Nosy?” After a few tries I got the door open. There was a room with wide windows that overlooked a large, ornate garden in the backyard.

My heart dropped at the thought of tending all of that. Though it was good that the garden was outdoors and outside of the house. Getting away from this property would be easier if I wasn’t caged up. When I saw how pretty it was, I couldn’t help saying, “It doesn’t look like it’s neglected.”

Tobias snickered, “It’s not as nice and pretty as it looks from here or as well tended.” I looked at him in confusion. “Most of what you see is illusion. That’ll be your next lesson in class tomorrow.

Maybe the master will keep you on to tend the garden if you do a good job. It could also increase your trading value so you’ll get a good master,” Tobias said.

“I’m not interested in working for a master.”

“You won’t leave this house without being a magician’s minion or apprentice. The master’s tricks have forced him to show you too much.”

You can read the full story in The Shfity Captive.


Norse Flashfic: A Lack of Instant Gratification Can Be Torture

Frigg’s feelings for Midgard were mixed nowadays. Jotunheim was full of the Aesir’s enemies. Yet Midgard had become the most troublesome of the Nine Worlds as far as she was concerned.

Odin was constantly showing off new toys from Midgard that caught his one eye.

He’d come to dinner with a set of prosthetic eyes in different colors. He showed off each of the available colors by inserting them into his empty eye socket. Then he’d changed the color of his one good eye to match it

“You see? Now I have more scope for my shapechanging.”

It was a good thing that Odin’s shapechanging tended to be as a mystery shopper these days. He didn’t want Midgard’s surveillance technology to track his movements.

“I’ll be able to unlock the facial recognition software of the jotuns’ smartphones. I’ve seen Loki do that.”

Frigg sighed. “I reckon he must’ve done that in all the Nine Worlds.”

Odin grunted “yes” at this.

Frigg smiled. “How do you plan to access these smartphones? Will you take Hugin and Munin out of retirement to retrieve them?”

“I’m itching to go to Jotunheim and do it myself.”

Frigg gestured to the prosthetic eyes. “You’ll need these made in jotun size if you want to use them in your disguises.”

He grunted again at this.

He called up the prosthetic eyes’ order page on his smartphone and it absorbed all his attention. Frigg rolled her eyes, nostalgic for the days when Odin wouldn’t sit at her table with his smartphone in hand. She fumbled with a key fob on her belt as she contemplated his shift in attention.

He shook his smartphone in his hand. “Load,” he muttered.

“What’s wrong?” Frigg asked.

“Either your wifi is slow or Twitter is down.” Odin muttered. “My Jotunheim strream isn’t loading.”

“Jotunheim stream?”

“Midgard’s social media has turned the enemies of Asgard into exhibitionists. Why should I risk my ravens?”

Frigg smiled, “You’ll have to take Hugin and Munin out of retirement at this rate.”

He grimaced. “I’ll give it an hour to resolve itself.”

He tapped his fingers on the table and checked his smartphone again.

Frigg raised her brows. “You once hung off a tree for nine days with a spear in your side to learn the wisdom of the runes, Allfather. Surely you can withstand an hour’s suspense?”

He snorted at this.

“Let’s have a horn of mead while we wait.”

She motioned to her maid servant Lofn to bring the horns.

She checked her own smartphone under the table to see the countdown on her electronic detox app. Her key fob wase connected to her wifi network. It automatically scheduled electronic detoxes or blocked users from her wifi system. She’d scheduled the wifi to come back at the end of the hour.

©2019 Cathy Smith All Rights Reserved