Archive | October, 2013

The Looming NaNoWriMo

29 Oct

Today is October 29.

In just three days, another round of NaNoWriMo begins.


Last year, I attempted NaNo for the first time and was, surprisingly, successful. Of course, my daughter and I had a wager (a box of Godiva) riding on the outcome, so that may have had something to do with it. WILL WRITE FOR CHOCOLATE. I should have that printed on a t-shirt or something.

I am better prepared this time around. Last time I didn’t know preplanning was allowed. Now I have my outline set up in a Scrivener file and have already done some basic background work on the alien who will be my protagonist. I won’t be trying to research World War II Yugoslavia AND write 1,667 words a day. I am also more able to turn off my internal editor on rough drafts.

Unfortunately, this year I have more people commitments that I can’t just drop. It worries me a little. I hope I am now a faster rough-draft writer so that I can make my daily word counts, but I wonder. Do I really have 50,000 words to say from the alien Baroness’s point of view? Can I make her decision truly agonizing? And believable?

And why in this universe do I seem to be drawn to psychological/philosophical conflicts of this nature?

In any case, my goal is to post here each Sunday evening with an update of my progress and one other time during the week with a bit of backstory for Ahbee’s Universe.


Proof of Life, Part 31

5 Oct

October 3, 2131

Hidaya sent a remote video probe to examine the asteroid. It looked pitted and scarred and old, but the chemical signature was unmistakable. After examining it closely, she decided it was not natural.

“This was obviously made, Memre’. But why? To what purpose? As a joke? A time capsule?” She snapped her fingers. “That’s it! There must be something inside. Maybe a time capsule or a coffin. Who knows? Can our scanners pick up anything about the asteroid’s center?”

“Something at the center of the asteroid seems to confuse our scanners.”

“I guess we’ll have to get a look at it another way.”

She sent a second, laser-equipped remote to gradually heat up the asteroid’s exterior, boiling the elements away. Inside was an odd, metallic spiral.

“What is that?”

“Unknown, Captain. Sensor readings do not match any material in our databanks.”

“Hmmm. There’s something about the shape, too. That spiral reminds me of a seashell.” She directed the video remote to move in more closely.

“What can the sensors tell us, Memre’?”

“The object is a golden mean; it rotates pi times; and it seems to have fractal edges at the wide end that my instruments can’t accurately measure.”

Hidaya started to tremble. “That banded exterior, Memre’, could have been somebody’s practical joke, but that shell thing –“Her voice broke, but she forced herself to continue her reasoning. “It’s probably alien, right? I mean, our fancy, high-tech scanners don’t recognize the material. It’s math inside and chemistry outside: the same kind of thing we put in our early messages to the stars. With that gaudy exterior, it clearly was meant to be found.”

She waited, hoping Memre’ would contradict her. Memre’ didn’t: “This is beyond my programming, Captain.”

Goosebumps rose on her arms. “That object could be a bomb, a piece of art, a scientific monitoring device, or something we have no word for.”

Her legs felt rubbery, and the blood from her pounding heart roared in her ears. She leaned against a cabin wall. “The universe just shifted.”


“I’ve come a long way toward overcoming my fear of people, but aliens?! That’s different by a whole order of magnitude! Consider what humans do to each other, regularly committing atrocities. How can we expect that aliens, with whom we will share no common bonds, will treat us better? And how will people react to this proof of other intelligent life in the universe? We have a deep-seated need to think of ourselves as the center of creation, as Galileo found out all too well.”

Her legs gave way, and she sank to the floor. “This find will not go over well back home. I have a big decision to make.”

Proof of Life, Part 30

2 Oct

October 2, 2131

“Captain? The scanner readings on a small asteroid ahead are very unusual.”

Hidaya looked up from her dinner. “Unusual, how?”

“Readings indicate that one end is lithium. Next to the lithium is a band of beryllium, followed by bands, in order, of boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and fluorine. Sensors indicate all seven elements are in pure form, and in relatively equal amounts.”

“Impossible!” Her mind struggled for a logical explanation: “Maybe early asteroid miners made this and shot it out toward the edge of the solar system.”


“Tag it, and set a course to match its orbit and speed.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Proof of Life, Part 29

1 Oct

September 13, 2131

“It’s been six months, Brother. So far, this belt has more icy asteroids and fewer metallic ones than the Mars belt does. The overall density is less. That, plus the travel time involved, means it won’t be immediately profitable to us. I’ve tagged about nine asteroids that were spectacularly valuable. One appeared to be mostly scandium. Another had an interesting mix of vanadium and germanium. I’ll leave speculation about its origins to the experts. My attached report includes all the information I’ve gathered so far.” She sighed and continued, “I will of course fulfill my contract for a ten-year survey, but I expect it will be more of the same.”