FREE EBOOKS: “A Child Weeps In Moscow” by Lawrence Dagstine – (Reading during Isolation)

As the writer of the occasional post-apocalyptic yarn and other dystopian fiction, I can say we are living in some very scary times. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is very scary stuff. I never thought I would live to see the day where the stuff of motion pictures (Contagion, Outbreak, and 28 Days Later) would become a daily reality! California is in shutdown mode, New York City is about to be shutdown! Europe has sealed the borders of twenty-six countries; Canada has also closed their borders and taken the necessary measures to contain this horrible virus which seems to prey mostly on the elderly (age 60+ crowd, mainly) and those with underlying health problems and compromised immune systems. I fall into this category myself because my immune system is compromised, so I must be cautious. Then, as an American, you have to worry about the economical impacts, the sociological impacts, and the political ramifications such a scenario has on a nation. This is only the beginning. This is not your average flu. In the coming months there will be food shortages, prescription shortages, medical supply shortages, people may have to stay indoors over a year. Please, self-isolate. Protect your loved ones. You’re going to have a LOT of free time on your hands. What better time to read? That’s why I am giving away one of my Ebooks for free during this health crisis, straight up until the end of this year. A CHILD WEEPS IN MOSCOWa dystopian yet rather alternative history telling of alien influence in Russia during the Post-Revolution years is FREE until December 31st 2020 on Smashwords. It’s available in ePub AND Mobi formats (Kindle). Read it on your Kindle, your Nook, a phone or iPad or other android device. Whatever works for you. Links, pictures, coupon code below. Remember, free. Most of all, stay safe. Be kind to your neighbor. Self-isolate.

Coupon Code: FG76H

A Child Weeps In Moscow: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276157

FREE ALL YEAR: EXPIRES DEC. 31 2020.

FREE EBOOK ON SMASHWORDS

ChildWeepsMoscowKindle

Artwork by Bob Veon

Smashwords Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276157

COUPON CODE: FG76H

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Other New Entries: “Free Fiction”

New Anthologies: “Rise and Rescue Vol. 1” – A Charity Anthology

I am part of an amazing new charity anthology put out (March 3rd 2020 in digital, and March 10th 2020 in paperback) by science fiction writer/editor Stephen Landry. With artwork by Amelia Parris. The name of the charity anthology is RISE AND RESCUE: Vol. 1. It is a book of RPG and gaming-related tales for a very worthy cause. And you should pick up a copy right now! It is at a great price, I have a brand new RPG tale within its pages, along with 22 other talented authors, and ALL proceeds earned go to WIRES. Wires is a special wildlife group who are trying to save the baby koalas and baby kangaroos who have lost their homes or become sick due to the bushfires that have DEVASTATED Australia. Are you a fan of LitRPG or gaming-related fiction? Let’s help the animals of Australia. As an animal lover myself, this is doing a charitable thing. Check out the book covers and other banners below. And don’t forget to read my short story: “The War Module.” FIRST TIME in print! Links also below!

RISE AND RESCUE:

A Charity Anthology

For WIRES Wildlife – Volume 1 – 22 Authors!

new book

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RISE AND RESCUE: Volume 1

Save the koalas, save the kangaroos, help animals devastated by Australian bushfires.

Almost 450 pages of fiction by genre writers who are gamers/compassionate people.

ORDER FROM AMAZON NOW (Link):

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085DFTC2B

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WHO ARE WIRES? WHAT DO THEY DO?

WIRES – Australian Wildlife Rescue Organization:

https://www.wires.org.au

You can get the book off Amazon, and very soon from Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, and through Apple Books, in print, in digital (if tablet or eReader is your thing), or even mobile (if reading on a phone is your thing). ALL formats.

Read: “The War Module” – a LitRPG story by Lawrence Dagstine.

AUTHOR LINEUP for RISE AND RESCUE Volume One

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If you’re a fan of genre fiction. If you love to read. Let’s do this for the animals. Let’s do it because it’s right. Rise and Rescue…Now available.

Other New Entries: “Books & Anthos”

 

New Anthologies: “Classics Remixed” – Left Hand Publishers

I have a science fiction story in Left Hand Publishers speculative fiction anthology, titled: CLASSICS REMIXED. Edited by Karen T. Newman. This is a big beefy book, chock full of imaginative stories of characters we know from past fairy tales, novels, and folklore. What happens when you take famous story characters and put them in different scenarios, speculative situations, or twist around a fairy tale? You get Classics Remixed. An anthology of classic characters REMIXED and REIMAGINED into something new and different. It has beautiful cover art, and as always when I update my website, I will leave pictures of book covers, a lineup of the author talent (Table of Contents), and links to the publisher’s website and places like Amazon, where you can order this book in trade paperback form.

CLASSICS REMIXED

An Anthology: Edited by Karen T. Newman

ClassicReMix_Cover-SMALL-FRONT

Left Hand Publisher’s Online Store (order book):

https://lefthandpublishers.com/shop/

Classics Remixed – Order from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Classics-ReMixed-anthology-classic-tales/dp/1949241114/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=classics+remixed&qid=1560065576&s=gateway&sr=8-2

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Table of Contents for Classics Remixed:

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother Tells All by Jill Hand
The inside story behind one of our favorite fables
Sailor’s Saga by Steve Rouse
Old Man and the Sea meets Moby Dick meet 20,000 Leagues
Not a Single Soul by Tom Howard
A good witch, a wicked witch, but which witch is which?
The Maze Under the Clouds by Blake Jessop
A sci-fi spin on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
The Upper Hand by A.P. Sessler
In a spin on “The Monkey’s Paw,” be careful what you wish for…
Of House and Home by Eric Andrews-Katz
Were Hansel and Gretel the victims? Not so much.
Solomon’s Moon by Kevin M. Folliard
Not all invisible men are created equal. Some are just bad.
A Taste of Wonderland by Gregory L. Norris
Starvation twists Alice, Wonderland, and all its inhabitants
Gluttony by Henry Herz
What happens below decks, stays below decks in this biblical misadventure.
Moby n’ Queegs by William Ade
This ain’t your daddy’s Moby Dick
Follicles, Fables & Follies by Paul K. Metheney
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down … never mind
Jane, Designed to Love by Brandon L. Summers
Jane Eyre or A.I.? Do androids dream of electric love?
Ding Dong the Pitch is Deadly by Jonathan Shipley
There’s no place like home plate
Catcher in the Crawlspace by Jay Seate
Catcher in the Rye or Stalker in the Crawlspace?
Curse of Avalon by Anthony Regolino
That’s no Lady of the Lake…
Treasure Moon by Robert Allen Lupton
Treasure Island with a sci-fi twisted sense of humor
Noah from Mars by Lawrence Dagstine
Science fictions versus one family’s faith
Strike the Match by Robert Petyo
The Three Musketeers go bowling. Seriously.
Handsome and Greedy by Katherine Brown
Hansel and Gretel like you’ve never seen them before
Copper County Fair by Cheryl Stevens Clark
The story of the Minotaur comes to Copper County
Mermaid by Karen Janowsky
The Little Mermaid in modern day prose
A Novel Gathering by Neil Childs
A band of fictional rogues who attempt to rob the poor to feather their own nests

 

Other New Entries: “Books & Anthos”

NEW ANTHOLOGIES: “Re-Launch: Science Fiction Stories of New Beginnings…”

You can now find a story of mine in the reprint anthology, RE-LAUNCH: Science Fiction Stories of New Beginnings. Available in ebook form, for Kindle. And edited by Kelly A. Harmon and Vonnie Winslow Crist. Re-Launch is just one of many genre titles in the Re-Imagined Series. This particular one being my forte, pulp science fiction. If you like pulp-stylized stories of astronauts and cosmonauts and space travel and interplanetary landings, this might be up your alley. I’m not sure if a print version exists but I will provide an Amazon link down below along with the author line-up.

ANTHOLOGY APPEARANCES:

RE-LAUNCH

Science Fiction Stories of New Beginnings

Re-Launch

BUY EBOOK VERSION NOW:

https://www.amazon.com/Re-Launch-Science-Fiction-Beginnings-Re-Imagined-ebook/dp/B07G9N45SN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536058557&sr=8-1&keywords=re-launch

Edited by Kelly A. Harmon & Vonnie Winslow Crist

AUTHOR LINE-UP: Douglas Smith, James Dorr, Kris Austin Radcliffe, Eando Bender, Wendy Nikel, Stewart C. Baker, Meriah Crawford, Gregory L. Norris, Jennifer Rachel Baumer, Jonathan Shipley, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Lawrence Dagstine, CB Droege, Jude-Marie Green, Steven R. Southard, Calie Voorhis, Anthony Cardno, Andrew Gudgel.

 

Other New Entries: “Books & Anthos”

Gaslandia: “A Dieselpunk Anthology”

You can find a story of mine, A Better Life, in the recently released dieselpunk anthology GASLANDIA. Published in eBook format, and put out by Radiant Crown Publishing. The eBook is available through Amazon Kindle, which I will leave a link to down below. In A Better Life I tackle the theme of domestic violence (a wife aiming to take her children and escape her abusive husband) for just that: a better life than the one she leads now. Story-wise, it is set against a steampunk backdrop with airships and gears and cogs, but with a working dieselpunk aesthetic. Pick up a copy off Amazon today, or from Radiant Crown’s website. I think you’ll enjoy it.

GASLANDIA:

A Dieselpunk Anthology

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AMAZON KINDLE: https://www.amazon.com/Gaslandia-Dieselpunk-Anthology-Subterranean-Book-ebook/dp/B07938PD13/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528080945&sr=8-1&keywords=gaslandia

RADIANT CROWN PUBLISHING: http://radiantcrownpublishing.com/product/gaslandia-a-dieselpunk-anthology-epub-mobi/

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Author Line-up: Kevin Holton, David Castlewitz, Lawrence Dagstine, Pedro Inguez, Dale Carothers, Jeremy Szal, Irene Punti, Gregory L. Norris, Chuck Regan, Matthew Maxwell.

Illustrated by Stefan Paris.

 

Other New Entries: “Books & Anthos”

 

 

Science Fiction Appearances: “Alien Dimensions #14” – Science Fiction, Fantasy and Metaphysical Short Stories…

I have a story up in the Kindle Unlimited publication, Alien Dimensions Magazine. Issue #14. Or, also known as Alien Dimensions Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Metaphysical short stories.  This is an ePublication focusing heavily on alien races and alien influence. Other authors appearing beside me in Issue #14 include: John Hegenberger, Neil A. Hogan, Olga Werby, Sean Mulroy, Jeremy A. Brown, and Regina Clarke. I’ll place clickable links below the current issue’s cover, along with their main website. Be sure to check it out. Enjoy.

ALIEN DIMENSIONS MAGAZINE – ISSUE #14, November 2017-2018

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WEBSITE: http://www.aliendimensions.com

AMAZON KINDLE: https://www.amazon.com/Alien-Dimensions-Metaphysical-Anthology-Magazine-ebook/dp/B0774NQHR1/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1509806908&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=alien+dimensions+14&psc=1

 

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

 

 

Science Fiction Anthologies: “Visions VII Universe” – edited by Carroll Fix

You can find a science fiction story of mine in the new Visions Anthology (and last in the series, by editor Carroll Fix and Rogue Star Press). VISIONS VII: UNIVERSE. Available in a nice thick trade paperback for $19.95, or as an ebook on Kindle or venues like Smashwords for about $4.99. A plethora of great stories by familiar science fiction short story names, all compiled into one 260 page book. This anthology focuses on the theme of “faraway universes” and the “human race.” Our roles within it. I’ll put more details below, along with the author lineup, and any necessary book cover photos and where-to-buy links (which you can click on and be redirected). So just scroll down.

Visions VII

VISIONS VII: UNIVERSE

SCIENCE FICTION ANTHOLOGY

Edited by Carroll Fix

AMAZON (Kindle or Paperback): https://www.amazon.com/Visions-VII-Universe-Carrol-Fix/dp/1945646284/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505934894&sr=1-1&keywords=visions+vii

ROGUE STAR PRESS

SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/741648

VISIONS VII AUTHOR LINE-UP:

Doug Souza

William Huggins

Jason Lairamore

W. A. Fix

Gustavo Bondoni

John A. Frochio

Leigh Kimmel

Margaret Karmazin

Lorraine Schein

Jonathan Shipley

Lisa Timpf

Mike Adamson

Mary Madigan

Darrel Duckworth

Neil Davies

Elana Gomel

Lawrence Dagstine

John M. Floyd

S.M. Kraftchak

Robert J. Mendenhall

Nick Manzolillo

Tom Olbert

Visions VII selfie

The following below is excerpted from the Visions website for promotional purposes.

The Visions Series tells the story of how humanity must ultimately venture outward from our tiny home and explore the Universe.

Visions VII: Universe, the final volume, opens the doors to incredible possibilities for the race called Human. We venture into realms where the impossible becomes fact.

Visions VII: Universe

Final anthology in the Visions Series.
The Visions series tells the story of how humanity must ultimately venture outward from our tiny home and explore the Universe. Visions: Leaving Earth, the first volume, describes our first faltering steps to rise from Earth’s surface and build homes in space. Visions II: Moons of Saturn confirms humankind’s success in leaving Earth and building homes in the other planetary systems circling our sun-father Sol. Visions III: Inside the Kuiper Belt proclaims domination of all that dwells within the solar system—from our Sun to the outermost reaches of the Kuiper Belt and into the Oort Cloud. Visions IV: Space Between Stars astounds us with the infinite possibilities of adventure and danger far from any suns or planets— in the cold, dark regions of deepest space, where dark matter and nebulas of celestial gases abide. Visions V: Milky Way leads us to explore our own galaxy. Although vast and unreachable with current technology, the Milky Way is but a tiny point in the Universe. We must first learn about our own home galaxy before we can explore further outward to other galaxies. Visions VI: Galaxies follows human progress into other galaxies. Humankind survives to spread across the Universe, making distant galaxies and planets into a home for a race destined to seek horizons ever more far away.

Visions VII: Universe
Series: Visions
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Rogue Star Press (August 2017)
Language: English
POD ISBN-10: 1-945646-28-4  ISBN-13: 978-1-945646-28-7
EPUB ISBN-10: 1-945646-29-2 ISBN -13: 978-1-945646-29-4
MOBI ISBN-10: 1-945646-30-6 ISBN-13: 978-1-945646-30-0

Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
Spine Width: 0.71640  in
Weight: 1.019  lbs

 

New Entries: “Appearances, Books & Anthos”

Crimson Streets: “Island in the Sky” by Lawrence Dagstine… (appearances)

My pulp adventure story ISLAND IN THE SKY is now uploaded, as of August 20th 2017, at the weekly pulp adventure-pulp noir fiction webzine CRIMSON STREETS. Edited by Janet Carden. Island in the Sky is a story of zeppelins and floating islands and a race of savages amongst the clouds. Inspiration for this one comes from such timeless movies as Indiana Jones, Rocketeer, and even the Tom Baker Doctor Who story, The Power of Kroll. Not to mention paying respect to such classic authors as Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and Jules Verne.

Crimson Streets publishes a new short story every single week, fifty-two weeks per year.  Hard, gritty fiction, which packs a punch.  The story has an illustration by Toe Keen.  I’ll leave a direct link and banner down below.  Enjoy.

CRIMSON STREETS

Edited by Janet Carden

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“Island in the Sky”

by Lawrence Dagstine

CLICK HERE: http://www.crimsonstreets.com/2017/08/20/island-in-the-sky/

With Illustration by Toe Keen

 

More short stories coming soon…

New Entries: “Appearances”

 

 

Science Fiction Anthologies: “An Atlas to Time, Space, and Bonfires” – presented by Save SciFi.com

I’m pleased to announce that I have a short story in the successfully “Kickstarter-funded” science fiction anthology, AN ATLAS TO TIME, SPACE, AND BONFIRES. Old school and new school short fiction authors, 350+ pages, 120,000 words in length, and presented by Michael Daugherty and Stephen Landry over at Save SciFi.com. I’ll put all necessary pictures, links, banners below. It is available as a thick print book or in digital format on storefronts like Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords. Each author’s story is also presented with original artwork by artist, Stephen Landry. It is chock full of new and reprinted stories from across the universe. A must-own (and a must-read) for the science fiction anthology enthusiast.

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NOTE: As of the writing of this website post, on this date, AN ATLAS TO TIME, SPACE, AND BONFIRES has done extremely well. Not only being a successful Kickstarter campaign, but also pushing a hundred or so print copies at a science fiction convention (in Harrisburg, PA, I believe), and hundreds of digital versions (eBook format). Also, thank you to Michael Daugherty, Stephen Landry, and the people who funded this book over on Kickstarter. Much love. Save science fiction. Pictures and links below.

An Atlas Book Cover Back

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SAVE SCIFI TEAM:

Editor and Founder: Michael Daugherty

Head Artist: Stephen Landry (w. Kristina Sotje)

WEBSITE LINK: http://savesci-fi.com/category/savesci-fioriginals/anthology1/

AUTHOR LINE-UP

David Bax

Danny Daines

Heather Leonard

Stephen Landry

Kevin Small

Zach Shaw

Felicia Copeny

Lewis Leslie

E.J. De la Pena

David Castlewitz

Drew Avera

Christopher Vickers

Mike Lawson

H.S. Donnelly

Patrick S. Baker

Sophie G. Michaels

Bob Brown

Lawrence Dagstine

Marleen S. Barr

Daniel M. Kimmel

Medron Pryde

An Atlas Book Lot

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Once again, thank you to the people who funded this over at Kickstarter.

YOU MADE THIS POSSIBLE.

SMASHWORDS:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/724921

AMAZON KINDLE:

http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Time-Space-Bonfires-Anthology-ebook/dp/B0725R41YB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495461708&sr=8-1&keywords=an+atlas+to+time+space+bonfires

Living Amongst the Lizards

NEW ENTRIES: “Books & Anthos”

 

 

 

 

Tales of the Talisman, Issue # 9.1… (appearances)

A little late at the presses, but I bring a new story to the Summer-Fall 2013 issue of David Lee Summer’s genre periodical, Tales of the Talisman.  This would be my 6th appearance between its pages, and this time I weave a historical fantasy tale involving witches.  Witches seem to be very popular as of late.  With The Witching Hour and American Horror Story Coven opening to record numbers, the dark practitioners are far from overused.  My yarn leans more toward Hogwarts though, so Harry Potter fans will surely relish in this slightly different approach.  Read my 5,000-worder: She Left Home Under a Cloud of Dragonflies, now.  Click pictures or links for direct order; line-up also below.

TALES OF THE TALISMAN #9.1

Summer-Fall 2013 Issue

TalesoftheTalisman9.1

ORDER NEW ISSUE AND OLD HERE:

http://www.talesofthetalisman.com

Issue 9.1 featuring fiction by: Christian Martin, Simon Bleakan, Glynn Barrass, Uncle River, Davyne DaSae, C.J. Henderson, Frances Silversmith, Derek Muk, David B. Riley, Jeff Stehman, Hunter Liguore, Melinda Moore, Mira Domsky, and Lawrence Dagstine.  Also, poetry and illos by G.O. Clark and Marge Simon.  And much, much more.

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Last Issue (Steampunk Edition)

with Dagstine Stories:

TalesoftheTalisman8.4

Happy Halloween 2013

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Tales of the Talisman, Issue #8.4… (appearances)

You can find a brand new Steampunk story of mine in the latest issue of Tales of the Talisman.  This would be my 5th appearance with David Lee Summer’s long-running genre periodical (formerly Hadrosaur Tales in the 90s).  This particular edition, Volume 8, No. 4, is a “themed” issue.  It’s all about Steampunk.  All about airships, cogs and wheels, receptor rays and bubble guns, star liners and Victorian garb, and more.  Table of contents below, along with a link for ordering.  It should also be available for Kindle.  Get your copy today.

TALES OF THE TALISMAN #8.4

SPECIAL ‘STEAMPUNK’ EDITION

TalesoftheTalisman_8.4_demo

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW:

http://www.talesofthetalisman.com

With steamy good fiction and poetry by: O.M. Grey, Christine Morgan, Tom Lynch, Denise Dumars, James Webster, Jason Andrew, Neil Weston, Douglas Empringham, N. E. Taylor, Simon Perchik, Mike Wilson, Livia Finucci, Clinton A. Harris, Patrick Thomas, David S. Pointer, W.C. Roberts, Gary Every, Lyn McConchie, Neil E. Leckman, David Lee Summers & Karissa Sluss (book reviews), and Lawrence Dagstine.

Previous Issues w. Lawrence Dagstine (click banner):

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And so this marks my 4th magazine appearance in a month.  I won’t have any more till year’s end, so I hope everybody enjoys their summer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drop by.  There will be free fiction (see Free Stories), free ebooks (short stories or novelettes), a new section on retro items, and more on the current book projects I’m working on, which will eventually lead us into 2014.  You stick around; it’s going to be fun, you hear.

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Doctor Who: “Eddie Izzard cast as the 12th Doctor…”

Finally, someone older and sheer comic genius is chosen for the iconic lead role of England’s long-running scifi hit series, Doctor Who.  Unfortunately, Steven Moffat and the gang at the Beeb had a hard time keeping it under wraps (or, as Alex Kingston would say, Spoilers!).  It was leaked yesterday, and the regeneration script is dynamite! For a while such names as Paterson Joseph, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Simon Amstell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Russell Brand, Chiwetel Eliojor, and Jenna Louise Coleman were among the hopefuls tossed out there.

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Matt Smith, who has played the role of the 11th Doctor for 4 years, will step down this Christmas and hand the TARDIS keys to 51 year old Eddie Izzard (best known for his comedic roles).  Apparently, Izzard has wanted to play the Time Lord ever since the show was relaunched back in 2005; Tom Baker even hinted that Izzard would be perfect for the role.  Moffat, however, is uncertain about his own future with the show — there are rumors flying around that the BBC is looking for fresh blood in the production department, and Mark Gatiss or Toby Whithouse would be good successors — and he may only stay on for one season of shooting for the Izzard incarnation before moving on.  Doctor Who resumes production next year, and the 12th Doctor returns to television screens in Fall 2014.

Lawrence Dagstine: “Wizard World Comic Con 2013…” – New York City

I’ll be at the 2013 Wizard World “NYC Experience” Comic Con with books on hand, including my alternate history novella, A CHILD WEEPS IN MOSCOW, for two out of the three days.  Only $40.00 a ticket, children under 10 get in free; why pay more at the door? There will be loads of comic book artists, TV personalities and movie stars, WWE superstars, genre book authors, and character toy and comic merchants.  Also, in the near future, stay tuned to a new section on this website devoted to vintage toys and collectibles, comic books, and retro video games.  Should be fun.

WIZARD WORLD COMIC CON in NYC

Basketball City (Pier 36) – 299 South Street #36, NY NY 10002

June 28th – 29th – 30th 2013

Wizard NYC

 Tickets and other details here:

http://www.wizardworld.com

Some of the TV personalities, artists and guests this year include: Norman Reedus, Jon Bernthal, Laurie Holden, Chandler Riggs, Michael Rooker (basically, the whole cast of The Walking Dead), James Marsters (Buffy, Angel), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek TNG), CM Punk (WWE Superstar), Wil Wheaton (author), Dean Cain (Superman & Lois), Sara Underwood, Lawrence Taylor, Henry Winkler (Fonzie), Ray Park, Neal Adams, Boris Vallejo, Stan Goldberg, Michael Golden, Paolo Rivera, Greg Horn, Pam Grier, Anthony Michael Hall (Breakfast Club), the legendary Stan Lee, and hundreds other.

Lawrence Dagstine: “Casa del Dagstine…”

Today I decided to update my website, which I never seem to have time for anymore.  What has it been? Three months? Four again? Forgive me if I go on a little stream of consciousness.  Anyway, many people have been probably wondering where I pen my stories.  My fiction, my moment of Zen or just overall grooviness.  I rarely let people into my life.  I like to be left alone.  I’m that 40 year old (well, almost) codger who doesn’t like the company of human beings too often.  Yes, as antisocial as it sounds, I gave up on the human race a long time ago.  We need to be recycled, as corny as it sounds.  Those harbored thoughts, which I analyze on a daily basis, while sitting with a cup of Joe on my windowsill, helps to motivate me.  Small shards of my inner self, small particles of my inner thought processes are engrained in every single thing I write.  You may not notice them at first, or not until a second or third reread.  But they are there.  Whether one of my stories takes place aboard a giant mechanical shark  off the shores of 1880s Victorian New England; or an agoraphobe wakes up to find a beanstalk rising up through his living room ceiling into a homosexual neighbor’s mind; or a nuclear household living the same volatile routine among a lunar base that will lead to forced oxygen depletion, I am embedded in the grains of the virtual ink.

And yes, a little TV, movie and pop culture didn’t hurt anyone either, especially in the inspiration department.  After all, we didn’t all become artists or writers because we had something important to say.  Outside influences clearly stirred us; they were the wheels for that ‘important thing to be said.’

Me, today

Okay, that wasn’t stream of consciousness.  It was a plug for a future project.

At the moment, I have a collection coming out with a new small press in first quarter 2015 (chock full of short stories, novelettes and novellas) and it will be available in a limited edition print and ebook form, the stories available nowhere else ever but that single tome.  Apparently, I’ll also be one of the launch titles with three other authors.   Then, there’s a second collection.  This one is a fully illustrated collaborative project (my first) — think graphic novel writing — and it’s currently under consideration (and still being written).  Then, there’s the gargoyle secret agent novel, on the backburner, which needs to be tended to.  Agent would really like me to finish this, but there’s never any time.  It’s part of a swansong trilogy, and I’ve never seen a guy show so much enthusiasm in me.  And let’s say I did write the first book in 9 months, get a pitiful advance of $2000 or $3000 in the current publishing climate, ends up lasting a month on a B&N shelf until it’s taken down and turned into obscure pulp.   I sometimes wonder if there’s a point to any of this; even today’s most legendary publishers and editors rely on Kickstarter campaigns to start projects that, while awesome, will never earn out.  For Christ sake, Night Shade is gone; how long till B&N is next?

Friend of mine asked me the other day, if you could go back in time would you return to journalism school or your first option, pharmacy school.  I said ‘pharmacist,’ a one hundred thousand dollar a year field.  In a heartbeat! We live and learn.

Thank God for ebooks, I suppose.  And simple creativity.

Anyway, without further ado, here is an intimate look at Casa del Dagstine…

Let’s start with the kitchen, here is where I cook my meals…

kitchen 1

Black Fridge 1

Black Fridge 2

Black Fridge 3

Those are porterhouses on the right, and you can’t go wrong with Birds Eye veggies.  The kitchen itself has brand new white wooden cabinets, sanded granite floors and granite-marble countertops for preparing food, and I’m usually always prepared for the zombie apocalypse.  You’ll also notice my Alf doll from the 80s on top of the waste bin.

Chinaware

Apple Jacks_Cookie Crisp

I also, in the last year or so, love to cook.  Like four days a week.  It’s become a passion of mine to make whole grain pastas, meatballs, homemade macaroni salads or tuna noodle casseroles, steaks and center cut pork chops, marinated chickens and broiled or deep fried cutlets.  Here and there, brussel sprouts or fresh cauliflower, steamed in a tangy butter sauce (I use regular margarine), with salmon fillet or lamb (when on sale).  I experiment with seasonings and homemade recipes.  And I just love my chinaware, which is the green plate below, called Amazon (after the rainforest).  It’s ceramic with a clay pottery material.  Heavy, fragile.  For breakfast, it’s Apple Jacks or my personal favorite, Cookie Crisp.  You can also see in one photograph I’m making Angus Beef porterhouses (25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees) with steamed vegetables.  I eat steak every week.  When I’m cooking, I listen to classical music, video game soundtracks like Final Fantasy, opera or ambient/mood music.  Or, my personal favorite, Trance.  Yes, I love trance.

PorterhousePorterhouse_After

Dinner 1

Eating Dinner

The second dish is my honey mustard barbecue chicken, tangy but delicious.  Off to the living room, miscellaneous rooms, and some random pics…

couch-table

TV area

The living room is small, compared to most one-bedroom apartments (welcome to NY real estate), but for a cozy area to nap, or work on my laptop, or watch TV or play video games, it’s suffice.  The couch is black leather, Crate & Barrel.  The table is an imitation marble, which I have to Pledge every second.  I’m hoping to put an AC in the window real soon.  Opposite that, I have two bookcases, and two in the bedroom.  But I’ve unloaded a lot of my print books and limited editions (from Asimovs to Analog to 25 dollar hardcovers, I couldn’t even give them away) due to everything being Kindle and Android readers now.  I used to own 2000 books and magazines at one point in my life, I’m guessing that number is more like 500 or 600 now.  Now I mostly use it for video games and to display collectible toys.

The entertainment center is average for a small living room… I don’t have all my video games there, and as a collector and somebody involved in the industry, I’ll do a separate blog post or something displaying my 1000+ game collection from NES up until now.  Too long to write about today.  Mostly retro.  However, below, I’ll put up my favorite system ever made, mint condition, with trusty Express handheld, and I own 45 HuCard games for it.  Called the PC Engine in Japan, but over here, the Turbografx-16 Console.  Circa 1990.

Turbografx 5

Turbografx 6

Turbografx 4

Castlevania 1_2_3

MegaMan_1_2_and_6doctor who

Bleecker Bob's Pulp Paperbacks

Like I said, it would take another blog post (maybe two or three), and about two spare weekends, just to catalog those four bookcases: video games, toys, genre books, genre mags, encyclopedias, non-fiction, baseball card albums, Yu-Gi-Oh, Star Wars, obscure fanzines.  Where do I begin?

The print books above, however, are my most recent acquisitions.  Doctor Who with the Ice Warriors, and my GF’s sister picked these four pulp scifi paperbacks up for me from a now out-of-business record store called Bleecker Bob’s.  Yes, the famous rock and roll institution of Greenwich Village.  And Bob himself, now in a nursing home, was a science fiction fan and avid collector and reader.  These are Bob’s pulp paperbacks.  I used to own The Martian Chronicles (and read it already) in 1986, but mine came from Forbidden Planet and was a later edition.  This might be a first, not sure.  Nevertheless, can’t wait to dive in.

bedroom

toilet

This is the smelliest room in the house.  Mornings I occupy this room for about — er, uh, well you know how it is.  I eat a lot of fiber.  Above that, the bedroom where, sometimes I’ve been known to lock myself for twelve hours at a time and work.  Some people have cabins in the woods, others stay in hotel rooms.  Me, I have a blue bed.

TMNT Playset

This is another toy.  TMNT playset (but for use with Batman figures).  Stands four feet tall.  I bought this for my son for X-mas 2012. It’s as tall as him.  He plays with it when he comes to visit.  It took seven hours to put together.  The desk in the background fell apart two months ago, thus I’m now writing on a blue bed.
My Son 2012 A

My Son 2012 B

My Son 2012 CMy Son 2012 D

My son, summer 2012.  He got big.

The 9th Doctor

Cool Hand Larry

Cute Eyes Larry

The uppermost pic (the humorous one; okay, they’re all humorous) is me at age 23.  I must have been rocking the Tom Selleck look back then or something.  That might have been taken at Benihana’s Japanese Restaurant.  Friends and I used to eat there a lot.  The next two, and rather hipsterish, are February 2013, my living room.

kitty cats

Last but not least, friends on Facebook may remember that I acquired two kittens in summer 2012, but I couldn’t take them with me.  No pets allowed.  Blackey and Trouble (sister and brother).  Well, good news.  They’re big now, and they’ve found a wonderful home with a cat-loving mom and her little girl in Brooklyn.

If you want to help an animal, give a kitty a foster home or make a donation, there are some wonderful cats at: www.brooklynanimalaction.org

Please consider giving an older animal a place to live today!

With that said, drop by over the next few weeks.  Free ebooks, magazines coming out, subscribe.  Stuff like that.  Always feels weird blogging; like I’m talking to myself or something.  :/

Lawrence Dagstine on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, Smashwords, and the Apple iTunes Store:

Amazon      Nook      Kobo      Smashwords      Apple

Amazon Kindle: “New eBooks by Lawrence Dagstine…”

Well, after a year in the making, the six-novellas project comes to a close.  Six brand new releases for Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo, Sony eReader (via Smashwords), Apple iPad (Smashwords), Smashwords.com, and I’m sure over the next few weeks a couple of more.  I have a wide range of science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternate history, satire and suspense titles available (including the almost-40,000 word A CHILD WEEPS IN MOSCOW), some inspired by authors like George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut to Stephen King and Ray Bradbury.  Quality fiction with characters and plots that boldly go where no other (at least I hope) author has ventured before.  I’d like to take this time to thank my cover artist Bob Veon, and fellow editor Edith Marlowe.  With that said, these titles below are only 99 cents to $2.99 each, worth the price, and a welcome addition to any eReader.  Just click on the buttons beneath the covers to access the ordering page for your favorite reading device.  Or go and visit my eBooks & Kindle page (up on top).  Most of all, happy reading!

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How Jones Goes by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “How Jones Goes”

Price: SCIENCE FICTION (FREE on Smashwords)

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In the late 21st century, overpopulation is a problem.  There’s also the problem with mental health.  In one particularly unusual asylum, there is Dr. Born (psychiatric intern) and Dr. Bloch (sexologist).  And then there’s Jones.  You have not met anyone like Jones.  You see, it’s not every day that patients claim they are from Mars.  And it’s not every day they come and go as they please.  A science fiction story filled with loads of satire (and lots of oddities that will make you shake your head) by speculative fiction author, Lawrence Dagstine.

A Child Weeps in Moscow by Lawrence Dagstine

A Child Weeps in Moscow by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “A Child Weeps in Moscow”

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Alien possession meets alternate history, in this communist tale set in 1923 Russia, about a boy named Abraham (Abe), whose parents suddenly disappear one day.  Like many of the adults throughout Russia, they are being taken away in the night by a special police force put together by Lenin’s “new” government, a government put together after the arrival of spacecrafts with biomechanoid origins and higher intelligence and influence.  Aliens the citizens simply call, The Invaders!

Klara Izolyev, Abe’s teacher, tells the boy that the only way he can learn the truth about the Invaders is to go to Moscow.  There he will learn what they really want on Earth, what role they play in the current socialist movement, and possibly find his missing parents and sister.  There he will fight starvation, arrest, combat homelessness, and meet an even more influential figure.  Arkady, the leader of a Moscow street gang, whose parents have also been taken away.  Together they will all journey to find the people they once loved, discovering just why the aliens are so interested in helping Lenin.

The Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “The Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean”

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Mercer Hollingsworth is not your typical pirate; he’s more a buccaneer of the freelance sort, with a bit of the old hero in him.  No job is too big for his merry crew, so long as it helps bring down the Great Armada and plenty of booty is involved.  But when he brings his own wench aboard, members of the crew start disappearing.  Who is this mysterious young woman? Why does she sing so much? Why is Mercer still alive? When they find themselves stranded on an island in the Caribbean, blood and death will go hand in hand, as the wench reveals her true form and purpose in this speculative pirate story.

“The Paraplegic” by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “The Paraplegic”

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“Doc, I’m telling you.  I just woke up in a hole in broad daylight.  No memory!”

When Herbert was told he had amnesia, he knew things were bad.  When he couldn’t feel anything below the waist, he got scared.  When the doctor told him he’d be paralyzed for life, he got depressed and wanted to die.  After all, no one wants to be a paraplegic.  But what made him crippled so suddenly? Did somebody do this to him? And if so, why? Now in the hospital, undergoing intensive surgery, little does Herbert know that the force responsible isn’t done with him, not by a long shot! Something’s coming back.  There’s a little unfinished business to take care of, and it comes in the form of vampires.

“Family Reunion” by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “Family Reunion”

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When Kendra was a teenager, she got raped and knocked up more than once.  When she finally found the courage to run away with the children, she went back to school, got a job, and set up a nice life for herself far away.  The children are now eight, and Howard has come ‘home’ for what he feels belongs to him.  He swears he’s a changed man, he wants to get married and be a dad.  Even if it kills! He wants this reunion to be one that Kendra and the kids will never forget… should they live to tell about it.

"The King of Trumpeters" by Lawrence Dagstine

“The King of Trumpeters” by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “The King of Trumpeters”

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Salamand (Sal) was a slippery donkey, and a troublesome one.  Escaping one bad owner, only to find himself in the hands of another.  But after being sold to a nice couple, he swore he’d finally escape and start the perfect coup.  The one that would help all donkeys take over Jerusalem and the human race.  The plan might work, as humans are stupid creatures; might even give Salamand the edge he needs.  After all, what could possibly go wrong in a parody?

"Overcast" by Lawrence Dagstine

“Overcast” by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “Overcast”

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It’s not every day that a 1920’s flying ace risks his life to bring a plane down safely for a little girl.  But when a horribly disfigured Sal and Lillian land in the remote, snowy mountains of Montana, a friendship will occur, a bond like no other.  As the winds blow and the snow accumulates, the pilot will do everything in his power to get this child down harsh ravines and rocky slopes.  Through darkness and despair they will do whatever it takes to stay alive.  A bittersweet story of survival, with an emphasis on the importance of not giving up and working together, no matter what age group you are.

Moscow Novella

Or purchase the NEW 150-page print version of Child Weeps in Moscow for $5.95.

BuyNow

Other New Entries: “New Releases, eBooks & Kindle”

If you can’t find a Dagstine story on a particular reader or android device, just get to me at Facebook or Twitter.  Every few weeks I will be ironing out formatting issues, adding on stuff, and working out other kinks.  Family Reunion and King of Trumpeters will also be available in print sometime in March or April.

Coming Soon: “A Child Weeps in Moscow” by Lawrence Dagstine

COMING SPRING-SUMMER 2013

to Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Sony eReader, Kobo…

Coming to e-Dagstine.com Download Center, coming to eBooks & Kindle (and as a chapbook).

In the vein of George Orwell’s 1984

“A CHILD WEEPS IN MOSCOW”

A Novella by Lawrence Dagstine

ChildWeepsMoscow

Alien possession meets alternate history, in this communist tale set in 1923 Russia, about a boy named Abraham (Abe), whose parents suddenly disappear one day.  Like many of the adults throughout Russia, they are being taken away in the night by a special police force put together by Lenin’s “new” government, a government put together after the arrival of spacecrafts with biomechanoid origins and higher intelligence and influence.  Aliens the citizens simply call, The Invaders!

Klara Izolyev, Abe’s teacher, tells the boy that the only way he can learn the truth about the Invaders is to go to Moscow.  There he will learn what they really want on Earth, what role they play in the current socialist movement, and possibly find his missing parents and sister.  There he will fight starvation, arrest, combat homelessness, and meet an even more influential figure.  Arkady, the leader of a Moscow street gang, whose parents have also been taken away.  Together they will all journey to find the people they once loved, discovering just why the aliens are so interested in helping Lenin.

Official soundtrack for… Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean (teasers):

Also coming in 2013, and a MUST READ!

For fans of Weird Tales & Pirate Fiction

“THE MYSTERIOUS LADY OF THE CARIBBEAN”

A Novelette by Lawrence Dagstine

MysteriousLadyoftheCaribbean

Coming Soon to: New Releases, eBooks & Kindle

Proofreading and Writing Services – Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Hi, my name is Lawrence, and I’m a writer of fiction and non-fiction.  If you clicked on this page, then you are probably interested in my proofreading services, or at the very least, wondering what I can do in regards to the written word.  Let me first tell you a little bit about myself and this website.  Many people know me as an author of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror), and my name is pretty synonymous within the small press.  I’ve been writing for well over fifteen years, and I have an extensive publishing history.  Think of this site as a sort of virtual resume of some of my previous work, upcoming work, and publications.  Not just the services I provide, since I consider myself a working writer.  I’ve been called prolific when it comes to writing short stories and informative when it comes to magazine articles.  Wherever I go, any social media platform I visit, people tend to say, “Oh, Lawrence Dagstine, he’s that Scifi/Horror writer.  Sure, I’ve heard of him.”

This is me, hard at work for you.

Unfortunately, it’s a label I’m stuck with—because I chose to enter that field and write in that form.  You see, as a child I grew up to movies like Star Wars and Aliens, TV shows like Doctor Who and The Incredible Hulk, and I read Marvel comic books and digested good science fiction literature (no, great!).  Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, you name it.  I read voraciously! I lived around the corner from a Forbidden Planet and was practically there every day.  I did book reports on lengthy Stephen King novels in 2nd and 3rd grade, and was the head of the boys in reading and writing in my school district at the time (the 1980s).  Years back my IQ was tested and I got a score of 150 (teachers called me gifted).  I even delivered prescriptions to the late Kurt Vonnegut and, for a brief period, became friends with him and he a sort of mentor to me.  So reading and writing, especially genre, has always been in my blood.  But I prefer to be called a Freelance Writer because I work with words in general.  It’s what I studied.  Not just fiction.  Genre fiction is pretty much the “fandom” side.  And it is very hard to make a full-time income writing fiction, as most genre writers are paid a pittance.  I’ve known writers who got their BA or MA, thinking they were going to write the next literary masterpiece or appear in The Paris Review, only to become editors or teachers.  They weren’t delusional, they had the confidence, their hearts were in it, they just dreamed a little too high is all.  Even I dreamed high once, then my first client base involved writing and proofing pamphlets and instruction manuals.  So you really need to expand your writing skills to other areas, other venues.

Now if you’ve written something that you feel needs improvement, but don’t know how to go about fixing it, ask yourself a few questions… Have you ever had trouble with words like ‘further’ and ‘farther?’ Perhaps verb usage? Do you know the difference between their/there/they’re? Did you know that words like ‘never mind’, or ‘any more’, or ‘all together’ are not compound words? They’re all two words! Does your story have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Plenty of conflict? Because something has to happen in your story, and something has to be resolved.  The first sentence means more than you know, because it’s the first thing the reader sees after the title and byline.  It’s what immediately draws the reader in.  What about non-fiction, or product placement, or a cool advertisement? Maybe you have an idea and want somebody to word that idea a certain way, where it can potentially become a moneymaking vehicle.  Maybe you need help creating or formatting a resume or cover letter, want to stand out from the rest of the crowd when it comes time to apply for that killer job.  Need a catalog done, or a brochure, or a catchy slogan? Need some minor ghostwriting (query)? Textbook writing or editing? Essays or proposals? Striking web content for a business or organization? Help with a novelette or novella? What’s that? Want me to write you a Western Romance? Okay, I’ll write you a Western Romance.  You’re the boss.

No matter what it is, if it involves words, I can probably help you.  My publishing history consists of over 400 fiction credits in print magazines, webzines, anthologies, and miscellaneous periodicals.  My non-fiction consists of 150 credits, online and offline, for small and medium circulation newspapers, trade journals, regionals, and everyday magazines in need of good filler.  I’ve penned video game reviews in the past for Nintendo Power and written greeting card jingles for Hallmark’s competitors.  I’ve written articles on the paranormal, pharmaceuticals, beach erosion, Native American spirituality, theology, historical subjects, marriage, divorce, pets, vacation spots, real estate, wrestling and more.  I’ve shared tables of contents with two Hugo Award winners and two Bram Stoker winners.  I can do just about 75% of what’s out there.

Still in doubt? Well, ask yourself these 12 sample questions.

Do you know how to assemble a story arc? Do you know what character development is? Do you know what a three-act and five-act narrative is? Are you familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style? Have you ever referenced the work of John Gardner (On Becoming a Novelist, The Forms of Fiction, The Art of Fiction)? Do you know the difference between literary and mainstream? Do you know what structural analysis is? Have you ever studied English Literature—authors like Graham Greene, Truman Capote, EM Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the like? Do you know what proper manuscript format is? Do you know the difference between filler and feature article? Do you know how to write a pitch? Do you know the difference between a plot formula and a plot device? Heck, do you even know what I’m talking about?

If you answered no to five or more of the above, then it wouldn’t hurt to have me or some other qualified individual as your proofreader/editor.  Because I will only improve your fiction or non-fiction project, and only to your liking.  That is what I do.  I work with words.  Think of me as a sort of literary engineer.  I check for errors, make corrections, do any necessary research, and make your prose more persuasive.  I assist you in getting it the attention it deserves.  I develop fresh, innovative, and compelling work.  I drive constant voice, grammar, format, and diction across all text.  I know that your project is your baby.  It was birthed from your imagination.  But you must be able to take criticism and suggestions.  It will only help your project stand out from the rest, and help you get better.  What I am not is a copy editor.  A copy editor is an entirely different animal.  Copy editors usually work, or have worked, for publishing houses.  And good ones (not the kind you see for these run-of-the-mill small presses, who also publish their own books with the same company).  They do what’s called line edits.  They review your manuscript and send it to you with revisions in a program like Microsoft Word.  I do NOT do line edits.  Yes, I am certified in editing, but there is a great difference between a workshop certificate and a staff editor with more than 10 years experience at one of the big houses.  Yes, I have a background and education in journalism, creative writing, technical writing, and the business side of writing that could very well meet your needs.  Yes, as a proofreader I will go over your manuscript a minimum of three times, acquiring your voice and style.  Yes, I will print out your story or article, take a red pen to it, highlight certain areas I feel should be highlighted, and tell you what I think.  Yes, as your proofreader I will pay attention to the usual stuff like grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency and sentence structure.  But I am not a copy editor.  I’m being honest here.  Even I use an outside editor for lengthy projects.  Because everybody needs a qualified editorial eye.  After all, how can you successfully edit a work that came from your own subconscious mind?

Difference between copyediting and proofreading:

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-difference-between-copyediting-and-proofreading/

Difference between copyediting and line editing:

http://publicizeyourbook.blogspot.com/2007/04/difference-between-copy-and-line.html

A copy editor will usually charge you by the word or line (I charge a flat fee).  They often do book manuscripts, and make up what’s called a style sheet.  If you’re looking for one, personally, I suggest looking for someone with at least three years experience.  Also, be careful of line editors posing as copy editors, as they can really screw up the flow of your manuscript if they don’t know what they’re doing.  This has happened to me.

Once again, I charge a very affordable flat fee.  Satisfaction guaranteed.  On a budget? I understand we’re still in a recession, the economy may very well not be good for years to come, and because of that, I am willing to work with you.  I expect at least half the cost of the project at the beginning of our agreement.  You are to pay me the other half after the project is finished.  Our email acts as a sort of electronic contract, if you will.  Research or additional time spent on projects (like staying up all night and losing sleep to meet a deadline on your behalf), costs extra.  And no, not an arm and a leg.  You are responsible for the cost of things like encyclopedias, visual aids, books purchased on Amazon, transportation places, or other reference materials.  I fact-check well, and I give citations where instructed or needed.  I do great copy—print copy! I’m not the kind of lazy individual who just looks something up on Google or Wikipedia.  Google is one of the worst reference tools you can turn to.  That’s because you usually find more than one answer to a particular question.  A long time ago I was commissioned to do a short article on Planned Parenthood in the new millennium.  I needed abortion statistics.  I found eleven well-rounded, informative sites by using Google.  The only problem is I found eleven different statistics.  So which was the right answer? For your project, if I have to go to a library, then so be it.  To the library it is.

I put in the time and effort to make your project as professional as possible.  I am proficient in Microsoft Word and Open Office (sorry, no crappy programs like WordPerfect).  I can give your project the treatment it deserves, and if you feel it needs work or you are not fully satisfied, I will tailor it to suit your needs at no additional cost.  I want you to be happy with my work.  I want you to succeed.  You retain all rights.  My name does not go on your written material.  I merely spruce it up.  So do you have something that involves the written word? Send me an email today for a free evaluation or price quote.  Give me an outline of your project and what you’re looking for.  Tell me about yourself and the work you do in three to six paragraphs; small businesses and companies most welcome.  If you want, I’ll even give you a freebie.  Three double-spaced pages for fiction (or 1,000 words); a half-a-page for non-fiction (150 words)—absolutely free! Have a fax machine? Want more proof emailed to you? Press clips always available upon request.  And I do simple typing too!

So contact me today, tell a friend, because no project is too large.  All material should be sent as an attachment.  I look forward to our partnership and any questions you may have.  Contact: ldagstine @ hotmail.com

Sincerely Yours,

Lawrence Dagstine

Speculative Fiction Author/Freelance Writer & Editor

Proofreading and Writing Services

Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin

Other New Entries: “Proofreading Services”

Free SF Serial: “Orphan’s Prey pt. 4” by Lawrence Dagstine

*Science Fiction Serial – New Installment – First Draft*

ORPHAN’S PREY #4

Last Time (part #3): https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/09/02/free-sf-serial-orphans-prey-pt-3-lawrence-dagstine/

For a reptile such emotions were not like him; then again, perhaps he did not try hard enough to show emotion.  Along with his predictions in the weather, and for as long as he could remember, he had experienced premonitions instead.  If the premonition seemed genuine, his chest unit would emit a strange glow, and he would utter a warning of disaster to the rest of the tribe.  Very rarely did the Vendragon take him seriously, and very rarely did they act on it.  His forebodings were never specific, the calamity either absurd or nameless, so it was unusual that he did not speak of any premonition in the days or hours before Arim—a most treasured farmhand assisting their nascent culture in advancing agriculturally—was attacked and fell from that high cliff.  And never in his wildest dreams, he thought, could he predict that, even now, the two orphans he searched endlessly for might bring with them a terrible but ancient disaster.

 ORPHAN’S PREY #4

by

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Blake discovered that there is a point beyond which another blow to the spirit is almost meaningless because it cannot be felt.  Helping his sister cope with the jaw-dropping size of the storm—though the gravity of its suddenness was what was most startling—no shelter from the wind-driven onslaught in sight, and instilling a renewed sense of faith and meaning in the importance of survival, the boy led the way through the wastes as any adult leader would.  This was not the same frightened little cherub from two days earlier.  This was not the same eavesdropping eight-year-old who cowered only in the safest corner of an overturned transport, as shadow monsters with an insatiable taste for fluid waited for their next meal.  No, this was a child who finally came to the realization that, in this unnatural environment, the odds were stacked greatly against him.  He had no choice but to push on, even if it meant dragging those he loved dearly along with him; his sister obviously loaned him some of that inspiration and courage in order for this sparkling change to take place.

The fast-approaching clouds, with their thunderbolts and swirling snows pulverizing the landscape, looked like an entity unto itself.  During the late night scramble, above the four-thousand-foot high stretches of sand and rock, the children progressed hurriedly through a dark expanse of steep ridges and intertwining cliffs, upward rather than down across the valley floors.  Blake assured his sister that the higher you were, the safer it was.  So Chandler had told him.  Long after the bluffs were in complete shadows, Chelsea had watched the rapidly changing weather with a solemn look on her face.  One minute it was one season, the next it was entirely the opposite.  It went from hot to cold and cold to hot, to just plain damp and icy again.  It was uncanny, especially at this height.

“Fog thickens and encircles the thunderheads first,” Blake pointed out from atop a thin ledge.  They both stopped for a quick breather. “Or maybe the other way around.  Sorry, sis.  I’m kinda tired now.” He nodded toward the sky. “Streamers.”

“Streamers?” The girl was confused.

“Yup.  See them?”

“I suppose,” Chelsea said, though she still didn’t know what he was talking about.  Practically gasping for air, she’d run so far and fast that she could barely concentrate on the present moment.  Fearful of the climate, and being lost on account of her brother, she also felt displaced. “What about it?”

“Think of them as a main storm body within another storm body.”

“Then they should be carrying warning features.”

“Maybe.  Chandler wouldn’t have thought so,” the boy admitted. “Oh, and see those big dark masses over there?” His finger was outstretched and pointing. “They’re the real soldiers, carrying the big muscle, all the moisture and all the winds.  If they want to, they can regroup, break out the lightning and hail, and really kick ass”—he paused, shaking his head gently in awe—“and with more power,” he went on, “than you can believe possible.  More energy released, too!”

Chelsea nodded. “I see.”

“Moisture inside the fog cloud condenses with the help of little specks of mud and dust,” the boy added, “and as it rises in an updraft it turns to ice.  Then maybe it comes down, builds up more moisture, and goes up again, swirling around and forming more ice.  Up and down, back and forth, growing and getting harder all the time.  That’s how you get hailstones the size of pterodactyl eggs.”

Chelsea was smiling lightly. “I told you, bro.  Pterodactyls are extinct.”

“Oh, well, the hail’s still big.”

“I bet.” Outside, the girl continued listening quietly, her eyes on the distant horizon; inside, she was growing impatient. “Chandler taught you this?”

“Yep, he sure did.  And those big ol’ fog clouds aren’t static either.  Somewhere inside they boil and churn.  Like you said, enormous magnetic forces are at work”—he paused again, this time to show off his necklace as it slowly drifted away from the collar of his shirt by some invisible force—“updrafts, downdrafts, sudden cooling, sudden warming, generating enough electricity to light a whole solar city for a few nights.  Come on, look at the rope around my neck, sis.  You know there’s some evil at work here.” He tucked the chain back in; the way he’d explained it sounded like it was a good thing.

Chelsea snapped. “Did it ever occur to you that actually looking for a place to hide in the rock face might be an option, rather than a weather report?”

“Huh?” Now it was Blake who was confused.

“You really want to know what’s happening out there, little brother?”

“Hey, how come—”

“No, let me finish!” The girl was fuming. “Because this place isn’t cool one bit, and that’s what you’re making it out to be.  Neither is it rad or awesome.  I know your ego is fragile, Blake, but every so often you need to be kicked in the noggin.  Repeat after me: IT’S OKAY TO BE SCARED!!” There was a stunning silence as they just stood there, long and heavy raindrops sopping their clothes. “Mom and Dad aren’t here.  The Keeper isn’t here.  The Vendragon are a no-show.  The planet itself is unpredictable.  Chandler is dead.  Even the friggin’ information bank on my wrist got wet; damn thing is on the fritz!” She smacked the top of it. “All you can do is talk about how amazing and deadly the climate is? Seriously, I don’t think it gets any more selfish and immature than that!”

After five long days, Blake’s shyness suddenly reappeared.  For a brief minute his thoughts went back to the time spent aboard the Juniper, then his body loosened and he reached around to rub the back of his neck.  He walked up to the top of the ledge, watching the storm-crazed heavens; he was in such a trance he would have probably walked straight off it, so long as he didn’t have to be around his sister.  The moons of Ragnarok were much farther now, and the night continued closing in.  The mix of rain and snow got harder.  The air got colder.  The lower parts of the land became darker.  New stars appeared in the clear sections of sky but eventually those patches, too, were blotted out as the clouds merged and continued their relentless advance.

Some of the showers and hail that evening were mere dustings which held on the chilled ground and rocky ledges.  In other high places the winds dropped as much as five or six inches which, here and there, accumulated in small drifts.  He could only imagine the shape of the marshlands, the lower valleys, and the much flatter plains.

Finally the girl swallowed her awful tongue and approached him. “Hey, listen, I’m… I’m sorry, kiddo.” She suddenly felt terrible for the way she acted. “Being lost like this would pretty much drive any girl stir-crazy,” she carried on in a low but silly voice. “The weather doesn’t help any either.”

The boy did not say anything.

“Come on, Blake.  You know how much I worry about you.  What if this storm caused us to get separated? What if you got terribly ill? What if—”

“Stop!” Blake narrowed his eyes in hurt, but did not turn around. “Why’d you mention Mom and Dad?”

“Huh? Oh, that… It was spur of the moment.  You know, a passing reference?”

“So that gives you the right to preach?”

“I was scared,” Chelsea admitted. “My nerves got the better of me.  I’m soaked to the bone, I’m numb with cold, and I thought you were fooling around.  It felt like it wasn’t the right time for bullshit.”

The boy went silent again.

“Blake, please!”

He crossed his arms and ignored her.  Now his thoughts went back to another time and place, even long before the freighter.  Mother.  Father.  Other family.  He was so young; it was all so hazy.  But there were some memories.  Vague instances that were not really detailed, but they were better than no memories at all.  And there they were again, playing itself out amidst the hard driving rain like some mental hologram.

Blake’s parents had been wannabe out-colonists from the start.  They were like any other family of their generation, saving up their earnings while looking toward the future—in their time, to look ahead was the only way to think—often waiting with prolonged anticipation to see what a new planet in a new solar system would bring.  Jeremiah Prittengayle, a business savvy engineer by trade, dealt in matter transference and rockets.  He believed that the urge to visit the world of your choice, or what could eventually become the fruits of your new origins, was buried deep in every human’s heart.  To communicate with alien races, to explore and inhabit lands many light years away was something to be appreciated.  It was an escape from orthodox living and remedial technology in a Great World Society; some called the lifestyle homogenous.  But, being by nature a self-contained man, he had never asked how other family members felt about it—most of Blake’s aunts and uncles lived in the same block as him—nor would he have cared what their answers might be.

As too perfect as it might have been, and for as little time as he experienced it, Blake wanted to be back in that society now.  Anything was better than Ragnarok.  Perhaps that’s why he talked about the weather so much.  To take his mind off things like Earth, Mom and Dad, Aunt Rachel, Grace and Steven, Grandpa Jack and his funny metal leg, apple pie and real friends, other kid’s laughter.  He remembered his father most from his shaving emulsion, which gave off a peculiar but interesting scent.  His superficial-in-a-good-way attitude second.

He suddenly wept.  But it was a good weeping.

There had always been insight into his family: his great-grandfather’s journals which, unfortunately, he had left behind on the Juniper.  He wondered if the diaries were still there, tucked between the metal frame and mattress of his bunk, or if some other youngster had come along and found it.  Would the new child have thrown it away? If he lay down to read it, what would he have thought afterwards?

Of his mother, Courtney Prittengayle, he remembered her soothing voice and the way she embraced him.  She gave the best hugs.  The soft teddy bear kind.  Both she and Rachel had been the daughters of a once-famous geologist.  Though the man had died well before his birth, Blake recognized who he and Chelsea inherited their instinct and desire to adapt from, and when and how to use it.

He remembered being a toddler in the backseat of her father’s ship, vacationing one year in the icy plains of Europa.  He must have been about two-and-a-half.  Chelsea was probably about his age now.  His mother had skills as a navigator and pilot; so did Rachel.  Looking back, she flew the sleek white craft with precision, something he was sure that, as an adoring mother, she did many things.  She’d glance over her shoulder and smile at him, and he’d laugh back.  That feeling of events gaining the upper hand was always with her, but she knew when to push it aside, settle down, and study her surroundings.

“Honey, look, a wilderness!” She pointed downward.

Blake’s father peered out from his side. “Oh yeah, look at that.  Real trees.  They must be rooted somewhere in the ice.” He turned around to face the children. “Look kids, a forest on Europa.  Isn’t it breathtaking? Maybe one day when you grow up both of you will visit a sphere just like this.  Who knows, maybe you’ll even live on one.  Wouldn’t that be exciting?”

The boy nodded cheerfully at the time.

Chelsea was awestruck.  She had opened her eyes as wide as possible, then stuck her forehead and freckled nose against the special glass. “Awesome! Do you see that, little brother?” She tugged his shirt to the point of wrinkles. “Do you see the sculptures and waterfalls? It’s beautiful!”

“Wowww!” The boy sat up on his knees, amazed, then giggled. “Beautiful!”

“Baby, sit down and put your belt back on,” his mother ordered.

“Yes, Mommy.”

“Come now.  You too, Chelsea.”

Blake had lifted his head as far as his neck would stretch.  He just managed the tip of his mother’s shoulder; he never quite understood what went on in the front seat.  He had seen a visual system come down with elaborate keys.  Some were heat-operated, others you just had to blink commands.  They were topographical maps, as Chelsea had told him, and even his father had a virtual one open on his lap.  The contours crowded close on the atlas like holographic shapes and symbols.  It indicated oceanic rifts and icy basins, steep mountainous slopes or sheer cliffs; but the reality of their exploration were the rock faces dropping into darkness, bottomless canyons into which the sun would penetrate only for short hours or even minutes a day, rocky slopes too steep for a human to stand on.  Like Ragnarok, these seemed features of another world; they were features of another world.  In north-facing crevices and hollows, the last Jupiter year’s freeze-over held.

“Looks like we won’t be able to bring her down there,” his mother said.

“Should we take her back to the rough country?”

“We may have to, dear.”

“Mommy,” Blake muttered.

“Oh, almost forgot, darling.  Oxygen.” His mother handed his father a special mask. “You too, Chelsea.  And give your brother one.” She already wore her own, and her voice was muffled. “The atmosphere is dense in this area.  We’ll be up about twenty thousand, and the deep pockets can sneak up on you.”

“Mommy,” Blake repeated. “I have to pee.”

The boy had eventually put on the mask without another word.

From this height, any basins or frozen lakes they passed looked small indeed, toy representations of the real thing; a child’s model platform suddenly came to mind.  There was the wintry stream that was supposed to feed the lake, and there were its countless tributaries and dry ice cracks, some gleaming faintly with heat-generated water, some flowing now but easy enough to pick out from the way they extended across the landscape like branches from a tree.

Where they were now, thousands of feet above the highest ranges, the view was breathtaking.  More sheer slopes and more steep cliffs, some snow-blanketed, others mostly ice-covered, with indentations stretching to the poles as far as visibility went.  It was through this unknown, tangled mass of blue and white, Blake thought, that his parents and others like them had found their lonely way.

His father tapped his mother on the shoulder. “Look, Courtney, there’s the air tower.  The hotels and shops must be just beneath it.” He turned slightly and hollered, “Hey guys, keep your masks on.  We’re almost there.”

From the distance, much of it looked like a metallic ski resort. “This is so cool,” Chelsea said.

“Honey, you think checking in early will be a problem?”

“Nah, shouldn’t be,” the man said. “We can always come back.”

Beside him, the woman seemed to be waiting for some kind of signal. “Maintain this altitude, but swing back over the basin again,” she said, throwing some control switches.  At once the horizon shifted as they began a wavering turn.

As the wind currents moved slowly beneath them, Blake caught the gleam of standing water near the top of a high canyon.  They were coming over the tower now, and although the boy had no idea what his parents might be looking for, he searched carefully every slope, every gorge, every steep drop-off.

That was until they collided with an air pocket.

The sudden force ripped through the hull of the craft; invisible, but the power was tremendous.  Chelsea’s mask flew off and, though strapped in tight, reached for her throat and fell into a state of oxygen-deprived unconsciousness.

His father turned around. “Chelsea? Chelsea! Omigod, Courtney.  You have to bring her down now!” He saw the girl’s head tilted to the side.

The boy grabbed the armrests in fear.

“I…I can’t!” his mother cried. “Nothing’s working.  What’s going on?”

“Blake, whatever you do… DON’T MOVE!” The man had shouted it to the boy with the utmost urgency.

“Jeremiah, we’re going down.  Fast!” There was confusion; it was hard to understand anything over the inrush of wind, which came from the rear.

“Blake, listen to me.  Stay still!”

The boy suddenly stopped and shook his head in silence.  He tried to go back and remember some more but saw nothing that could explain the optical illusion he had seen while in the air.  That and the crash.  Was there even a crash? Were his parents even dead? It was so long ago.

Reality had brought him down to that sodden cliff on Ragnarok so fast and so cruel again, he didn’t know what to say.  There was so much he wanted to understand, but he never got around to reconsidering the past.  Upon their return home, Rachel had disappeared from their lives, too.  He was abandoned by other surviving family and, along with his sister, thrust aboard a ship for orphans, forced to just… deal.

Finally he heard someone say DON’T MOVE again, and with the same insistent tone his father had used.  He turned around in the pouring rain and saw his sister at the opposite end of the cliff.  Frightened, she was backed into a corner by a large and terrifying beast.  It had jumped down from a much higher ledge and almost pounced her.  The creature was feline, but it only had one eye.  It looked like some kind of saber-toothed Cyclops cat; Blake didn’t know how else to describe it.  It stood at least eight feet long and four feet wide, very powerful, with a large ivory horn in the top of its head.  From its sides were long and thin tentacles, three to each and six in all, with fine and sharp pincers at the tips.  The animal raised a giant claw and dug it into the ground with force, causing an upheaval of wet snow and mud.  It made its presence felt between the children; it had noticed the girl first but still left about ten feet open for them both.

Blake motioned with his hands from behind and said extra-softly, “Chelsea, don’t move.” He slipped off his satchel and searched for some perma-flares.  When he saw that he wasn’t the one carrying them, he searched for something else.

The girl stared past the animal at him in fright. “Please, hurry,” she indicated quietly and carefully, then went back to trembling in her corner.

The giant cat displayed its massively long fangs and gave off a monstrous roar.  Chelsea put her hands to her ears and held them there.  It roared and slammed the ground again, then proceeded slowly toward her.  The tentacles at its sides began to viciously click and snap.  The colossal eye widened and loomed in on her, while Blake emptied his bags and looked for something—anything he could use as a weapon.

Seconds later he remembered where he had left the crystal-tipped spear with the attached laser cutter.  It was leaning against the rock wall, just within reach.  He slid across the mud-spattered floor and retrieved it, standing and shouting from the far left side now, “Hey you! Yeah you, ya big ol’ pussycat! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” He tightened his grip around the base of the weapon, as the enormous beast turned its giant pupil and sharp fangs toward him. “Get away from my sister!”

“Blake, you don’t have enough room!” Chelsea shouted once she was clear of the ledge; she had maneuvered about fifteen feet. “Get out of there.  Now!”

“Keep climbin’, sis.  I’ll take care of this mean ol’ cat.  Just go!”

“Blake, don’t be an idiot!”

The animal started backing him up in a corner—it was either that or face it on the thin ledge—and snarled angrily.  The boy made small pokes and jabs at it.  Instinctively, the cat responded by opening its mouth, cringing its long-whiskered face, and taking quick swipes.  Blake was short and slim enough to pull his body back from the razor-sharp talons that were now swinging right to left and left to right.

Moments later the cat took two steps back and stood up on its hind legs.  It roared ferociously and raised an angry paw that overshadowed the child’s face.  Blake stood on the balls of his feet and, using as much leverage as he could muster, dug the now-heated tip of the spear into the underbelly of the animal.  The cat bellowed in pain, then swung its massive frame back and forth until the weapon broke like a twig.  Blake fell backwards to the ground.  The cat’s paw descended with a mighty thud, tearing up earth and hurling fragments of rock aside.  The boy lay watching beneath the rubble, as the salivating animal opened its mouth wide and came in for the kill.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Free SF Serial: “Orphan’s Prey pt. 3” – Lawrence Dagstine

Science Fiction Serial Part 3

First Draft – Follow it from the beginning…

Orphan’s Prey 1: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/04/20/free-sf-serial-orphans-prey-pt-1-by-lawrence-dagstine/

Orphan’s Prey 2: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/06/10/free-sf-serials-orphans-prey-pt-2-by-lawrence-dagstine/

Who are the Vendragon?

So self-assured, she was, only hours earlier. So brave and self-confident. So virtuous and independent at the right moments, yet obviously weak during others. 

She suddenly found herself pressing her hands to the sides of her head—she’d never done something like this in front of her brother—almost sick with discomfort.  She saw the expression on the boy’s face, then her own, only in her mind’s eye, weak, scared, unprotected, and she realized once more that they were just small children, incapable of much, and just how alone they really were.

 

ORPHAN’S PREY

 by

Lawrence Dagstine

A rather large, muscular, adobe-colored lizard was awakened that same night by what sounded like distant explosions.  From behind the controls of his land scout, the startled iguana with the reddish-brown leather armor and twaddle-speaking tongue realized it was thunder reverberating among the low cumulus that was some hundreds of miles wide.  There was the pitter-patter of rain pellets on the vehicle’s front looking glass and hood.  A break in the drought? No, couldn’t be; Ragnarok should only be so lucky this time of year.  All the water in the universe couldn’t fix that recurrent problem, only toss it a band-aid.  Hence the greenhouses, pipelines, and special sprinkler system back at the city.  Fog clouds approaching? Maybe.  It was a more logical bet.  In sandy, mountainous regions like this, a heavy thunderstorm or methane-mixed hail shower could be an isolated occurrence or a signal that a new front was moving in—or yet another unwanted season.  Whichever it was, the lizard was glad he was snug inside his tracker rather than camped out in a dry marsh or deep desert valley where the storm was picking up speed and strength.  As for how bad conditions would get, he’d just have to wait and see.

“Fog billows?” asked a similar life form from a standard operating panel in the rear.  Unlike the front of the vehicle, there were no visual systems or radar maps or even a looking glass to peer out of.   Compared to his much taller partner, this reptile’s armor was grayish steel, the portions of scaly flesh that was visible a mustard tone.

The tongue-tied lizard at the wheel of the land scout looked at his weather gauge. “With precipitation like this”—when he talked his mouth didn’t always move but, rather, an electronic chest unit with a flashing orb flickered—“what else could it be?”

“The way you study natural features,” his friend remarked, “I would have thought something more exciting.  Whatever your definition of exciting is.  You know, Koral, I’m quite surprised you never applied for an Earth visa.  You show a certain kind of enthusiasm for your work.”

Their vernacular wasn’t perfect, the interpretive English and back and forth chitchat a bit skidded; but the chest units helped immensely with vocabulary and pronunciation.

“You mean neurotic?” Koral’s tongue lashed out in slight irritation.

“Mmm, that’s the word.  A human term, too.  I’d bet my green farm that Earth scientists would have adored you.”

“Funny, Bakkra,” he laughed. “I don’t know whether to pat you on the gills for your clever perceptions of me—because I am mostly used to your cynicism—or just go ahead and collect my winnings now.  Heh! And here I thought only the man-droid was able to understand me.” There was a brief pause. “Speaking of which, the synthetic one has not returned or communicated back with our lovely package.”

“He’s a robot.  Robots are late, too, you know.”

“Not this robot.  I was the one the manufacturers hunted down and finally sold to.  I was the one guiding him through the wastes.”

“You seem concerned, and tired.  Should we call off the search?”

“No.  Not yet.”

“They’re that important to you, huh?”

“Yes.  That important.” Koral leaned back in his metal chair and let the ravaging elements unfold before him, while keeping a close eye on the overhead gauges and monitor for something else.

Lightning flashed some more.  The alignment of the bolts, shooting outward from the cumulus in all directions, reminded the lizard of the storm chasing he undertook in his youth; after three hundred and sixty years, one begins to feel old but still take pleasure in the eccentricities of the past.

Thunderstorms in the wastelands of Ragnarok were forever awesome displays of limitless power, he thought, sometimes releasing energy many times greater than the atomic explosion range.  Hailstorms derived of methane were a whole other story.  Still, he knew if you were close to either one, or became trapped in the very center of a fog cloud, there was about them a personal quality.  It was dramatic and inescapable.  It was terrifying but vivid, as if every sudden flash, every strong gust of wind, and every simultaneous explosion that crackled and boomed were seeking you out; after all, it really sought no one else.  The lightning came in multitudes and blinded you.  The thunder wreaked havoc on your ears and deafened you.  The ice-cold rains came down heavily and drowned you.  And on the open plains, the sand-filled wastes, and in hanging valleys of crystal and rock, there was no place to take refuge.

The snow, which frequently becomes spot blizzards with reckless currents of air beyond gale force, could also be merciless and astonishing in its ferocity.  Large, lazy flakes drifting down at first, touching the ground and melting instantly.  But in minutes the fall becomes thicker, more rigid, and the wind-whipped mess pummels the landscape.  The temperature drops rapidly.  Marshes and gullies turn in the twinkling of an eye to great streams of half-frozen mud, which then later break apart from those very same winds and become torrents, rushing steeply downhill unintended, catching up loose rocks, Yurga bush, even boulders.  Other times, the mud is uplifted and snatched from their channels, as if by some godly hand.  Then it is flung into the air with impending force, thus turning it into hail during its whirl around the cloud formations and falling with a shrapnel effect down upon lower elevations of land.  In the midst of the mud particles, an unscented methane composite, laid bare to Ragnarok’s wrath and planetary nature to do whatever mixing and mashing it likes.  Once it falls back down again, hardened and in hail form, it wreaks of the most terrible odor, which can be inhaled up to hundreds of miles away.

Koral always remembered the cloud masses beginning somewhere in the high mountains, never the desert regions or marshlands, and in an almost tentative fashion.  Always the highest escarpments, always the greatest plateaus.  Perhaps that was what made the seasonal irregularities so peculiar, so unrelenting in their expansive devastation.  And you never expected a season to change so fast or, unintentionally, drive through one.  Not unless it was closely monitored or regarded from a distance.

From within the land scout, and up along a high altitude, the now-dozing lizard found such an effect magical.  A swirling, shifting pattern of light, eventually graying, then dulling and, finally, obscuring.  Precipitation from some disturbance in the planet’s magnetic field eventually conjured up the surrounding fog—yes, that had to be it—but he couldn’t be certain.  Neither could his people.  It was just another mystery of the planet, passed down from generation to generation, and his hypothesis was open to much conjecture.  Sometimes there was a break; usually there wasn’t.  Sometimes it revealed uncharted peaks, gorges and canyons, and the Vendragon Township far below, often untouched by the gathering clouds and coming storm.

At times he found such atmospheric wonder indescribable.  He often used worlds populated by humans as a comparison: where Earth’s seasons changed over the course of months, the cycles on Ragnarok could change within minutes if not mere seconds.  He used these comparisons in his teachings.  The Vendragon, whose society already flourished in ways early human colonies had, achieved much knowledge and experience from it.  They took it with them wherever they went; though formally a tribal race, that and available technology became a handed down tradition.

Finally the lizard’s thoughts were interrupted by a voice on the overhead speaker. “Hey, storm chaser! Come in, chaser! What are you chasing after now? Over.”

“Apparently little boys and girls,” Bakkra hollered from the back. “Ain’t that right, Koral?”

The man-sized iguana turned and shot his mustard-colored friend a filthy glance. “Do you mind?” His chest unit flared bright red.

The speaker chimed again: “Check.  Fog clouds reach you yet? Over.”

“Affirmative,” he answered. “Unpredictable weather surrounding just about everything.  All within close proximity of the vehicle, at least, otherwise cloud-to-ground.  Too soon to tell.  Just beginning.  Over.”

“I’m sure the young ones are all right,” the speaker crooned; the voice on the other side tried to be reassuring.

“What makes you think I was worried about that? Over.”

“Have any of our friends made an appearance?” An intense silence followed.

Bakkra was about to say something smart when Koral turned and shushed him. “The man-droid has still not reported back, and no,” he said. “No activity or other signs of life in the region.  Over.”

“Oh, well, still armor yourself.  This storm system reading is immense from our side.  We’re going to catch it for good and for sure, and there’s an airstream behind it.  First snow and ice, then rain and wind, heavy at times.  Even at your elevation.”

“Trust me.  We’ve already felt the thunder.”

“Thunder is nothing.” The communicator cut off for what seemed like two, maybe three seconds, followed by unusual static. “We may lose… you if… you go any… higher,” the voice continued brokenly. “You been feeling tremors? Over.”

“Negative.” Koral flipped a few switches on the overhead panel and fixed the glitch. “Unless there’s something I don’t already know or you’re not telling me.  Over.”

“Hmm, well, we’re still sending two extra rovers your way.  Over.”

“Helpful, Ooglad, but Bakkra and I are all right.  Over.”

“Listen, Koral, I know it’s just a random search, and this cloud build-up is like all the other occasions, but let’s be honest here, you can use all the help you can get.” A brief pause, and then: “Small stuff, under four on the quake register, with sand-shocks set well outside your perimeter.  But why turn down a free assist? Over.”

“Thanks, Ooglad, but no thanks.  Out.” Koral switched off the communicator.

Bakkra was the one with the smug look now. “What did you do that for? You’d have to be mad to turn down a rescue and assist in conditions like this.”

“We don’t need it.  We’ll just stay the night.  The storm will pass, like those before it.”

“For all you know those children might already be dead! Your droid’s bleeper would have picked them up kilometers ago.  This, my friend, is just suicide!”

“Really, Bakkra? How so?” Koral leaned back in his seat once more. “Does this also mean I’m forcing you to commit suicide with me? Because I do occasionally entertain the thought.”

“I guarantee you these children are already worm food or some other kind of beast droppings!”

“I say you’re wrong.” The lizard was terribly amused. “For once in your pathetic existence, don’t be such a coward.  Part of our race’s survival depends on these two kids.  We’ve weathered fog clouds before, and knowing how Ooglad thinks, he’ll most likely still send out that extra patrol regardless of what I say.  He’s crazy and neurotic, too.”

“You’re right,” Bakkra said. “For once you are very right.  That young reptile is paranoid and foolish like you.  But I am not.” Gathering his things, he went on, “I don’t plan on staying here with you.  So, if you will not wait for the assist and accept it, then I will.  They’ll give me a ride back to the city, while you stay out in the hail to wither and die.”

He was prepared to slide open the door and exit the vehicle when Koral jumped up and stopped him. “Oh no, my friend.  You are not leaving this tracker.” The lizard made his presence felt; the air suddenly became hostile and serious. “Not while I am in charge.  I say we weather the storm, investigate these hills and cliffs, and that is final!”

“Let go of the door, Koral.  Things could get messy in a very confined space.”

Lightning flashed just outside; the crackling sound was ear-piercing.  Koral shook it off.  Then he released his massive-sized hand from the door’s grip. “Go ahead,” he said. “I’d ask you to be reasonable but I think you and I both know we are beyond that now.”

The mustard-toned reptile reconsidered. “The only reason you are being this way is because of what happened to Arim.  You’re scared you’ll have to live through a repeat.” There was a brief silence, significant, and followed by what seemed like an even more emotional reawakening. “Your puny brain might not realize it, because it’s crammed deep inside your subconscious—yes, one of your human terms—waiting for the chance to be exposed, waiting for the opportunity to be expressed, and aired in permanent relief.” Then Bakkra put his things down and took two steps back. “There is a cause to your neuroses, Koral.  I see this.  Ooglad sees this.  The whole tribe sees this! They worry about you.  They can see right through your armor, the pain you are suffering, the empty feelings you sometimes emit.  You leave the camps and city grounds to study the conditions out here, bury yourself in your research.  This is your means of escape.  But because Arim perished and you suffer does not mean others need suffer as well.”

Koral did not reply.  Instead, he returned to the front of the vehicle, strapped himself back into his metal chair, and peered silently out of the looking glass.

Bakkra went on, “I will not go.  I will return to my station.  This is a very strong storm formation we are dealing with here.  Hopefully, your instincts are right this time.  I also pray you will not be blinded by pride again.  This stubbornness needs to subside.”

Koral blocked the rest of what he had to say out and stared up at the overhead panels in dismay.  Eventually he closed his eyes and, with the ease of long practice in strange places, went immediately off to dozing again.  In a few hours he would see what effects of the storm he could find, and if the children or the man-droid had left a trail for him.  This time he was prepared.  He had a carry-along machine, lightweight with a strap, which detected alien life forms.

He continued to ignore Bakkra’s petty banter through the night.  He continued to be aware of feeling kinship with the environment and, oddly enough, with the fog clouds.  It was a feeling he found impossible to shake.  Pensively he looked back at the fateful actions that led up to the Arim tragedy.  It was so long ago, uneventful to say the least.  How could the thoughts still persist? Were they really bottled up inside of him? It was his first interspecies “coop”, as most out-colony settlers called it in those days.  The boy was too young.  Sixteen in Earth years.  For every hour the lizard was out there searching for the two orphans he probably thought of Arim and the accident that befell him twice as much, only unconsciously.

For a reptile such emotions were not like him; then again, perhaps he did not try hard enough to show emotion.  Along with his predictions in the weather, and for as long as he could remember, he had experienced premonitions instead.  If the premonition seemed genuine, his chest unit would emit a strange glow, and he would utter a warning of disaster to the rest of the tribe.  Very rarely did the Vendragon take him seriously, and very rarely did they act on it.  His forebodings were never specific, the calamity either absurd or nameless, so it was unusual that he did not speak of any premonition in the days or hours before Arim—a most treasured farmhand assisting their nascent culture in advancing agriculturally—was attacked and fell from that high cliff.  And never in his wildest dreams, he thought, could he predict that, even now, the two orphans he searched endlessly for might bring with them a terrible but ancient disaster.

TO BE CONTINUED…