Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pre-Release: Just a Dinosaur

My speculative (meaning: dark-urban-bushland-setting-fantasy-science-fiction-touched-by-horror) short story, Just a Dinosaur, is now available for pre-order on Smashwords and Amazon-Kindle.

The legends hinted at some kind of dinosaur. Oliver hoped it was a new species, and he had Nate believing him. Together, they hope to circumvent the prohibitions of intruding on a sacred site, to prove the creature existed—and all without their boss, and Nate’s lover, finding out. What exactly lies behind the legends—and, more importantly, will they be able to reveal it to the world?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NEW COVER: The Years of Voyage

The cover for my science-fiction short story, The Years of Voyage, has been approved. If you like stories of plague, colonists and crashed starships, you might like to check this one out when it releases on July 14.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ingress: The Magnus Builder’s Challenge – Complete!

Three days ago, I was 600 resonator deployments short of completing the second stage of the Magnus Builder's Challenge. Today, with the flu starting to make its presence known, I finished it with 5 days to spare. Pretty happy with that.

Progress Report - Day 9 to Completion

Day 9: Sunday: I didn't want to go out today, but I'd identified two blocks of portals where I might deploy another couple of hundred resonators. I was just trying to figure out when to go, when my husband suggested a family trip to look at Cooma, a small town about an hour's drive south. I took a quick look at the intel map, saw a bunch of grey portals and figured I could I could fit a small amount of deployment in, while we looked around - and it was worth it. We got to check out Cooma, which has a lot more portals, and a lot more history, than I thought, and we found a nice new area to visit. As we approached the town, there was a big weather front moving in, but we had almost an hour of sunshine, as we had lunch and then took a quick drive through town. With time a little tight due to commitments in Canberra, we left with the weather closing in behind us - and a list of things we wanted to go back and visit. I didn't do any planned deployments on the trip, just incidental ones on the trip down, through, and back - and I missed quite a few because I was too busy looking out the window. Day 9 Total: 2,709  (added 135)

Day 10: Monday: I woke up with a bit of a scratchy throat, and a morning class to get to after school drop-off. The throat got to razor-blade sore by the time I'd left, and I wondered how the day would go - and if I'd be able to manage the walk I'd planned to top out the medal. Picking up some soothers and tissues before class turned out to be a good idea, and I was checking out the scanner when I noticed a big blue area on campus that I hadn't visited yet. *That* looked interesting, so I figured I'd check it out if it was still blue when class was done. (ANU has a pretty strong Enlightened presence, so nothing was guaranteed.) I was lucky, or the cold weather was keeping the other team inside, because it was still very blue when I got out. By this time, I was starting to feel a little under the weather, and figured the flu was going to set in over the next couple of days. With an hour to kill before the next bus, I started on deploying resonators, and hacking in an attempt to have enough to deploy. By the end of two hours, the other side had come out to play, but I'd completed pretty much everything I could complete by the time it was to head for the bus stop. Two hours was the outer limit of the time I could allow for a walk, but the unexpected blue patch on campus had meant I'd saved about a half hour of travel. Even though it hurt to stop when I was so close to finishing, I really did have to get home and back to work. Day 10 Total: 3,096 - so close and yet so far, (added 387)

Day 11: Tuesday: Today, I felt okay when I woke up, but I knew my littlest was probably going to need to stay home, and I knew my oldest wanted to get away early, so I went for quick half-hour walk to a group of portals I'd identified the night before. Three full deploys and I'd be over the line with the final stage of the medal. I really wanted to deploy all the portals - I mean, who wouldn't? - but that okay feeling was fading by the time I hit the portal patch, so I wound it back to blasting and capturing two Enlightened-held portals, and filling out a third Resistance-held portal, before walking back home. And that was me done for the medal, and for the day. I definitely had the flu, and if I didn't pull back and hunker down for the day, it was going to get much worse. Still, challenge completed. Day 11 Total: 3,119 (added 23 to complete the challenge).

Available for Pre-Order: This Year's Star Fish

Yay! The fantasy short, This Year's Star Fish, is now available for pre-order from Amazon-Kindle and Smashwords. It releases on June 16.

Every year the fish come down from the stars, and every year Faulknor hopes they come for him. Well, this year he’s tired of waiting; this year it’s his turn to do the seeking. This year, he’s going to catch himself the fish of his dreams. This year, he’s coming for them… just as soon as he’s finished with the assassin, and the elf with its human and orc sidekicks. Yeah, after that he’s going to find himself a fish.

Monday, May 15, 2017

New Cover: Just a Dinosaur

The cover for, Just a Dinosaur, my third release in June has been approved. I'm a little bit excited and a little bit nervous about this, all at the same time. I've written something contemporary that feels a little bit like horror, and a little bit like urban fantasy, and a little bit like an archaeological adventure story. It's also set in a bush-setting as opposed to an urban environment and, editing it, I thought it touched on some of the stereotypes we see in Australian culture, hopefully both acknowledging and challenging them. It's not what I set out to do on purpose, but something that came through as the story came into being. This tale is due out on June 30.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Available for Pre-Order: The Stars to Guide

My first short story for June, The Stars to Guide, is now available on Smashwords and Amazon-Kindle for pre-order.

When the stars told me my father would not return, my life changed—and my mother was not amused.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ingress: The Magnus Builder's Challenge - Ponderings and Progress

Ingress provides all sorts of incentives for fitness. This month, there is another anomaly being held over in the States, but people all over the world get to participate in the story-line fuelling the event. Our task is to deploy a number of resonators to portals for which we will be awarded a medal - 1,331 for the Builder level, and 3,113 for the Architect level. The only catch is that the resonator only counted towards the score if we have never deployed it on that portal in that particular resonator slot, and that was where it got challenging. Fortunately, upgrading the resonators deployed by other agents counted, or very few of us would have achieved even the basic level, so the event demanded a different style of play.

Instead of deploying the highest level of resonators we could, we had to remember to make space for other agents on our teams to deploy their resonators. This, of course, held the risk of making the portals we'd built more vulnerable to attack from agents on the other team. On the other hand, the portal network needed to be refreshed, which meant that the portals needed multiple resonators deployed, with no specification of which team's resonators would do the most good.

Did we have to make it so that only our team deployed? Or, was it better if we didn't shield the portals so that the other team could also deploy and between both sides were we able to make the network stronger than if only one team was able to deploy? It was - and currently still is - a quandary, with agents from both sides choosing the answer as they deploy. Only time will tell what is best - and, perhaps, not even then.

So, this week has been quite challenging. Even though I build Ingress play into my fitness, I still had to wangle a bit more time to meet the first medal requirements, with the result that I've walked 54 kilometres since June 6, averaging just over 6 kilometres a day, around classes, and the usual round of publishing, writing, study and household tasks. It's been challenging, but fun.

We are now half-way through the challenge, and next weekend brings the unofficial Luminescence event. I'm already seeing the special missions starting to pop up all over the city, and look forward to posting a report or three on those. It looks like being another busy week - I have my fingers crossed I'll be able to fit in the last 600 or so portals I need to reach the Architect level of this medal, but we'll see. Exams are looming.

In the meantime, here's the progress report:

Day 1: This was an Ingress First Saturday. Resistance and Enlightened agents got together to put together an event on the grounds of the Australian War Memorial, and we got to admire the history,  and the memorials to, those who've fallen to keep us free. The AWM, as it is known locally, is a place not just of memory, but a museum containing a significant portion of Australian history, and the organisers had structured the challenges in a way that had most of us visiting the portals and the memorials outside, throughout the event. The only hiccup we had was that the Magnus Builder's Challenge kicked off on the same day, and our scanners didn't keep up with updating the stats we needed for the challenges, so there had to be a simplified awards decision at the end of the day. On the other hand, agents were able to make a lot of unique deployments with portals changing hands at regular intervals, so most of us made a fair bit of progress towards the Magnus medal right there. In addition, I'd started the day starting the City Walk Ping-Pong mission, which took me through the portal-rich city centre. Of course, I went off-mission when time ran short to catch the bus to the Memorial, and quartered the city centre to make sure I didn't miss any portals within a set number of blocks. That helped a lot. Day 1 Total: 553.

Day 2: Sunday. A quiet day for me, Ingress-wise, with a bunch of lesson prep and study thrown in, but I took some time out for a break in the afternoon. This time, I drove to Lake Ginninderra and fully deployed two small areas at the northern end of the lake. It was a beautiful day, and the area was full of bird-life, making me regret not taking the big camera. Day 2 Total: 714 (161).

Day 3: Monday - I had a morning class, and not much time for Ingress beforehand, so I doubled back to the city, taking out the portals along one of the main routes from the university to the middle. With an hour to kill before the next bus, I was able to cover that and the adjacent city sections fairly thoroughly, before I had to head home. Day 3 Total: 959 (245).

Day 4: Tuesday - no class, and all my lesson prep was done, so I allowed myself a quick trip into the city centre to cover a section I hadn't done. An hour-and-a-half later and I was heading back to create another cover and edit another story, having deployed 187 resonators. Day4 Total: 1,146 (187).

Day 5: Wednesday - lots of classes, but I had an hour before the first one, and that let me take a different path to the university. I made class with fifteen minutes to spare. In the half hour I had after dealing with lunch, I covered the portals around the area for my next class. There weren't many, but they mattered, because there was no time between the last class and the bus.

The Magnus Builder Badge looks like this:

Of course, Wednesday being my busiest day, I just had to go out and meet up with some fellow-Resistance agents that night, and we wandered through the Gold Creek Tourist Village, busily rejuvenating as many of the portals there as we could. It was a pretty awesome way to spend an evening, and good to meet some more of the Resistance team. Day 5 Total: 1,661 (515).

Day 6: Thursday. I had another class, but managed a half-hour portal rejuvenation on the way from the bus to the classroom. After class, I continued to work my way through the centre of the university to finalise the portals between there and the route I'd taken to class on the Monday. The swathe of blue didn't last long, since the university has a very strong - and, unfortunately for me, active - Enlightened contingent. I even remembered to borrow the books I needed to start my final assessment essay for the subject I won't be sitting exams for, but then I had to move pretty smartly to catch my bus. Day 6 Total: 1,905 (244).

Day 7: Friday. A scheduled day off... okay, apart from the usual study and family things, but it's light compared to Wednesdays. I took a bus into the city, rebuilding my stock of blasters and mid- to high-level resonators. I was heading into the National Botanic Gardens, and another Resistance agent had been there before me, so I knew I'd need a few resonators above levels 1-3. Usually, I walk, but I was, again, on a pretty strict timeline, so I took another bus through the university precinct and got off only four or five blocks away from the gardens themselves. That, and the ensuing walk gave me ample time to do some more glyph hacking for supplies. By the time I reached the gardens, I was ready to take on the small pool of green I'd noticed near the entrance, although I'd almost run out of low-level resonators before I was done. What followed was a thoroughly enjoyable walk through some of the nicest autumn foliage and flowers I'd had in a while. The lorikeets, emu wrens, yellow-breasted robins and king parrots were out in force, and I had a hard time keeping on task. Again, I very much missed having my camera with me, but I'd never have completed the deployment if I'd had. The banksia were also in bloom, and the wattle birds and lorikeets love them - a very photogenic sight. I have made a note to go back, either before the end of autumn, or this time next year - with my camera, and probably without paying too much attention to the scanner. Friday, though, was a blast - literally for some portals - and not-so-literally for me. Although, because the gardens are so close to the university, one of the local Enlightened agents was already hard at work taking down the portals and network of links and fields I'd created, before I'd left. Fortunately for him, I had a bus to catch... and I caught the wrong one, but it allowed for a few incidental deployments and I got to know a whole new route to take the next time I want to go exploring, so it wasn't all bad - and I was still home on time. Day 7 Total: 2,374 (469).

Day 8: Saturday. I'd been keeping an eye on a small, portal-rich suburb to the north of me, and had just resigned myself to limited deployment over the portals there, when an Enlightened agent went through before I could get there. It was just lucky that I had some blasters left over from Friday's little skirmish. I was able to deploy all bar three in the area. Two were just out of range of my walk time, and one... well, that one was the last portal I reached, and I ran out of blasters. I have to admit, there is something very frustrating about not being able to finish taking down a portal which has a fingernail of a resonator left to defy you - especially when it's out on its lonesome and you've turned everything to a level one and can't hack a blaster big enough, or hack enough blasters, to finish it off. I had to salute its courage and walk away. There will be other days, and I can always go back... Day 8 Total: 2,574 (200).

And that's it for now, folks. Take care, and get out there; it's time to move.

New Cover: This Year's Star Fish

This week, I also received the second cover for June's releases: This Year's Star Fish.

Every year the fish come down from the stars, and every year Faulknor hopes they come for him. Well, this year he’s tired of waiting; this year it’s his turn to do the seeking. This year, he’s going to catch himself the fish of his dreams. This year, he’s coming for them… just as soon as he’s finished with the assassin, and the elf with its human and orc sidekicks. Yeah, after that he’s going to find himself a fish.