Renee Writes

Posts by RScatts

Saturday Shorts: Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures – A #Fantasy #ShortStory

Continued from The Bridge to Edon

The city was vast. Much more so than Tiyana expected. It seemed so small from the water, and she didn’t see much of it on her trip from the shuttleport to the mansion. She was completely lost and worse, people avoided her whenever she approached them for directions.

She passed a building resembling a huge mirror and quickly covered herself with her arms when she saw her reflection. No wonder people wouldn’t come near her. The poor excuse for a cloth covering the Edonists had wrapped her in left her body completely exposed now that it had been soaked through from her swim. She ran to the closest alley and hid in the shadows.

“What do I do now?” she said, sinking to the ground and pulling her knees to her chest.

It was hopeless. Tiyana couldn’t allow herself to be seen in public dressed as she was. She was surprised the peacekeepers hadn’t arrested her yet for indecent exposure. Her vision blurred, but she bit her lip to keep the tears from coming. Crying was not going to get her out of this mess. She had to think. Her father would tell her to focus on the solution to her problem. She had to consider her options.

Tiyana took a deep breath, clearing her thoughts. “I can’t allow myself to be seen dressed this way. I need clothing, but how will I get clothing without being seen? Plus, I have no money. The Edonists have my belongings.”

Speaking out loud sometimes helped her think, but then Tiyana remembered where she was and looked around. The last thing she needed was to draw unwanted attention to herself. People might think she had escaped from a sanatorium if they saw her talking to herself, especially dressed as she was. Thankfully, there was no one close enough to hear her.

Logically, if she couldn’t be seen, she would have to wait until nightfall to move around the city. No doubt there would still be people around in the city center, but if she stuck to the alleyways, she could avoid being seen that way. Also, her coverings would have time to dry and maybe they wouldn’t be as see-through as they were now. Considering the kind of people who prowled the city at night, they might not notice her anyway.

By the time the sun set, another problem had emerged. Tiyana’s stomach had been growling so loudly all afternoon, she was surprised the entire block hadn’t heard it.

“Clothing first,” she whispered to her stomach. If she could find clothes, she could get to the shuttleport and catch a transport home before dawn. Once she was safely away from Oshea, then she would worry about eating.

The streets in the business district had begun clearing in the late afternoon as people made their way home from their places of work. Still, Tiyana didn’t feel comfortable enough to leave her hiding place until darkness had settled over the city. Her stomach let out a gurgle of protest and she couldn’t help but imagine her family sitting down to dinner at that very moment. Then she remembered the time difference. It was probably closer to lunchtime there. She sighed wistfully.

“I shouldn’t have come.”

It was too late to worry about that now. Tiyana had to keep her mind on her task. It was time to find clothing. The streets in this district were dark enough now for her to venture out. Most of the buildings had been emptied and only the occasional pedestrian could be seen.

On the corner of the street, she found a city directory. She sighed as she scanned it. The residential district was on the other side of the shopping district. If she could make it to the residential district, maybe she would find something that had been hung out to dry. She hated the thought of stealing, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

Unfortunately, the shopping district would be brightly lit and loaded with people. Not only were there retail shops, but most of the popular taverns and restaurants would be in that district as well.

Tiyana’s only other option was to go around it, through the seaport and warehouse district, which would add a lot of time to her venture. As big as the shopping district was, it might take her all night to make it to the residential district and she would have to spend another day hiding out if she didn’t find something to wear before dawn. The shopping district would have lots of clothing shops, but it wasn’t as though she could just walk in and buy something.

She rubbed her arms as she considered what she should do. Finally, she decided it would be better to play it safe. Going through the seaport and warehouse district might take longer, but she would have less chance of being seen. Besides, if she had to steal clothing, she would rather not steal from a shop where she would have a greater chance of being caught.

The night air grew colder. By the time Tiyana reached the seaport, she was shivering. The cold was forgotten when she heard male voices headed in her direction. She took cover behind one of the large shipping crates on the dock.

“Are you sure?” She heard one of the men say when he was close enough to make out their words.

“She couldn’t have gotten far, Brant. She isn’t exactly dressed appropriately, and we have eyes on the shuttleport. If she tries to leave Oshea, we will have her.”

Tiyana stiffened. Were they talking about her? She bit her lip and hugged herself. Of course, they were. Who else would they be talking about?

Now, what would she do? Even if she found something to wear, she couldn’t leave the island by the shuttleport. They were waiting for her there. Another idea formed as she gazed at the docked ships.


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Author Spotlight: Through the Hostage – A #SciFi #Novel by J C Steel

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today we have Science Fiction author, J C Steel visiting with the first book in his Cortii Universe series, Through the Hostage. He had this to share about himself:

Born in Gibraltar and raised on a yacht around the coasts of the Atlantic, I’m an author, martial artist, and introvert. In between the necessary making of money to allow the writing of more books, I can usually be found stowing away on a spaceship, halfway to the further galaxy.

Science-fiction and urban fantasy are my favourite genres to write in. I grew up on a rich diet of Anne McCaffrey, Tolkien, Dorothy Dunnett, and Jack Higgins, and finally started to write my own books aged fourteen. I can’t point the finger at any one book or author that set me in my current direction, but I blame my tendency to write characters who favour drastically practical solutions on some mix of those. If I can toss in a bit of gender- and genre-bending, so much the better. Status quo is boring.

I hope you enjoy reading the books half as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Connect with the Author

Amazon Author Page
Smashwords Author Page
Goodreads Author Page
BookBub Author Page
Facebook Author Page


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About the Book

Khyria Ilan is a commander in the Cortii, the most elite mercenary organisation in known space. With a past she can’t remember, and commanders who would love to see her dead, her future is likely to be short: her command faces their ultimate test to prove their right to survive.

When the odds are impossible, sometimes the only thing to do is play the game…

Get it Today!

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Keep reading for an interview with the author:

What is the oddest thing you’ve ever researched for one of your books?

I write action and adventure style sci-fi; if someone’s checking my browser history I’m on more watchlists than I have fingers. My personal favourite was a few years back when I periodically shared a computer at work, and a colleague stumbled over my search history. Topics of the day: knife throwing and blood spatter analysis techniques. Another favourite was household herbs that could be used to repel a curse (bay leaves, believe it or not).

When did you first consider yourself an author?

Honestly, it came home to me when I got my first print proof in the mail. I had the eureka moment just standing there and staring at it – sort of a ‘this is a real book and I have made it’ kind of thing. I still occasionally catch myself staring at the print copies I keep on hand in the same kind of disbelief. There are four whole books out now 🙂

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Sit down and start writing. The only thing you can’t fix is an empty page.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

Like many authors, I read a lot; when my self-discipline is on the upside of its cycle, I also enjoy martial arts, working out, and riding (on the rare occasion there’s a stable close by). Travelling’s another firm favourite – I grew up on a yacht, so I moved around a lot as a child and got bitten by the travel bug young. Since I started paying my own bills, my travel budget is mostly on the ‘well, we can go and explore the back garden’ scale, but I have a bucket list I’m working on.

About how many books do you read in a year?

Until I joined Goodreads, I would have shrugged at this question. Now I can confidently tell you I read about 200 books a year.

Do you prefer ebooks, print or both?

Depends. Left to my own devices with unlimited space, I prefer paperback books. On the other hand, given just how much I read, I turn coat very promptly to ebooks if I’m travelling – I can take my tablet along, rather than trying to pack 10 books for a two-week trip.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

I’m a pantser. Probably the outlier on the scale – for my sci-fi series, I quite literally have a couple of pages with some key details on ten or so major characters, and a spreadsheet of the quotes I use for chapter headers. That’s it. Books really do just happen, and mostly they happen when one or more of my characters (who are highly-trained mercenaries expert in storming defences) start invading my head. This usually starts out relatively innocuously with snippets of dialogue now and then, or a scene that won’t leave me alone, and has been known to escalate to vivid dreams about infiltrating alien factories and gunfights with giant robots when I try to resist. Generally, after a few weeks to a month of this, I cave and start writing with whatever scene I can’t dislodge from my head. After that, all I have to do is write down what my characters do. At this point, I’ve been daydreaming about my main characters and working with them for about thirty years, so most of the details about them and the environment are so internalised that I have the answer in a mental vault to most of the questions as I write. Although one of the characters I’ve been telling myself stories about since I was six surprised me the other day by letting me know she prefers stilettos to standard fighting knives.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Tricky question. I’ve done NaNoWriMo and won, so technically I know I can come up with a book-length manuscript in a month, but I haven’t dared open that MS again to try and edit it, because I know it’s a horrific hurrah’s nest that’ll take months of edits. Several of the books I’ve published recently I wrote first drafts of twenty years ago. Through the Hostage, the first in my sci-fi series, is one of them, although its current form is heavily-revised from that original draft. In addition to that, I have a full-time day job that’s pretty demanding and when a colleague hasn’t double-dog dared me to do NaNo, I write to relax, so I’m not even close to writing full time. Best guess, from nothing to publication, I’d say 18 months to a couple of years.

How do you come up with the titles for your books?

Actually, I’m very lucky on that score, based on what I hear from other people – my titles, in the vast majority, show up fully-formed at some point in the writing process, rather like Athena from the head of Zeus. Occasionally it doesn’t happen until I’m at the copy and proof stage, and starting to panic a bit about what on earth I’m going to do for the cover art drafts, but so far one’s shown up in time for each book. Long may that continue!

Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?

I write primarily about an elite interstellar mercenary cult, so anything from real life I use there is dissected, shaken vigorously in stardrive lubricant, and then looked at through the bottom of a glass. If someone asks, I claim semi-truthfully that most of the darker psychological mind-games in my books are based on my time in a UK boarding school, which is probably about as close as writing about real-life experiences as I come in my main series. The urban fantasy I’m currently working on is partly set on a yacht in the Caribbean and that one I’ve been able to take chunks of my childhood for (the yacht and the islands, rather than the vampire hunting…hopefully that was obvious…uh).

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

No, not really. Aspects of characters will be based on aspects of people I know; I don’t think you can help, once you start writing, observing people just a trifle too closely and writing them in your head. Some of that will always spill over. There are traces of me in my protagonists; one hates wearing shoes, another enjoys edged weapons training, things like that. I had a friend in a martial arts club once who had a joke where he’d flip someone the bird and ask them very seriously how many fingers he was holding up, which one of my characters has stolen.

Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre?

All the time! And then mostly I forget to write it down, because I’m disorganised, or I don’t have the time to write it (often), and nothing happens. However, there was something, about eight years ago now; I live in British Columbia, and the political party at the time came up with a genius (ahem) idea to publicise the province with a tagline of ‘Super natural British Columbia!’ – as punctuated. It was on billboards everywhere for about eighteen months, and then someone clearly got tired of the helpless laughter from everywhere and put the comma in. However, that one resulted in an urban fantasy NaNo on the lines of a werecat tribal enforcer with a poor attitude and a werewolf partner. Not sure if it’ll ever get published, but I laughed so hard writing it I kept getting funny looks.

What are you working on now?

I’m most of the way through the editing on my first urban fantasy for publication. I wrote the original version years ago, while I was still in boarding school and feeling homesick for the Tropics, and frankly never expected to actually publish it. I mean, vampire hunters based on a yacht in the Caribbean? Come on! Then I floated the idea on a writers’ forum, only half-seriously, and got an unexpected number of responses along the lines of ‘Heck yes, I’d tap that, publish it!’…so here I am, a year later, elbows-deep in getting it ready to go. Actually, I love my cover art for this one. I’m looking forward to see how it does compared to my sci-fi series.


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Special Feature: #YA #SFF Tiva Boon: Royal Guardian by Jenn Nixon

YA Bestseller in 2012. Will Be 99c through March 31st!

Final Fantasy meets Star Trek! One girl’s destiny will change her planet forever. All Tiva Boon ever wanted was to become an elite protector to the throne, and she dedicates her youth and risks her life to prove her worthiness. But when she reaches her goal, a mysterious off-world threat emerges and shatters everything Tiva holds dear.

Get it today on Amazon!


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