"Initiations over, Michael. Time to join the club." I'm not saying that I'm a vampiric Kiefer Sutherland. I'm saying that novels are a big commitment, to read and to write. This includes the ones that have been polished by professional editors and gone through dozens of drafts. Also, even at their best, not every story is for everyone. I include below a sampling, enough for a reader to know if they want to follow the characters to their conclusions. If you want more, let me know. This is a suggested donation kind of thing, because I have literally put 100s of hours into these.
Donating your feedback can be even more important than money. I always want to know how to make these pieces better. I often have ideas on how to do this, but need fresh sets of eyes. If this sounds like you, I can hook you up with full manuscripts and a bevy of questions. Then I can make these stories more entertaining and impactful for other readers.
I am especially interested in reactions to Rust in the Ravine from people of color. My real life experiences can easily drive speculative fiction, but what my experience lacks, the speculation is also likely to lack. Especially now, when experiences of racism are caught on video daily, and we know it's not just "a few bad apples" as political leaders have been saying for decades—I want this story to support equity, not subtract from the voices that are trying so hard to make a difference.
This goes for everything I write. So if I screwed up, let me know. And please be nice.
Rust in the Ravine (Ch. 1–12)
In 1937 London, Azinza Cumper knows there’s a larger story behind her unchristian name, one her parents will not tell her. When they die in an accident, she’s sent across the Atlantic to live with a grandmother she didn’t know she had.
The fifteen-year-old is especially nervous for her new life in the Confederate States of America. She knows the kind of slavery practiced there—one her parents abhorred—is designed to benefit her as a white person, but she worries her moral integrity will falter. She finds that her lavish new home comes with unimaginable expectations, an obsessive matron whose servants think she’s gone mad, a colossal ironwood at the edge of the ravine, and many slaves, formally called contractees, who are plotting an escape. Azinza knows she must help. She soon discovers why her mother ran away, where her name really came from, and that good intentions aren’t always enough.
Rust in the Ravine combines magical realism with alternate history in a coming of age novel. It explores white guilt, the imbalance of sympathy between races during hardship, naming's power over identity, and how small actions manifest into large consequences within our world. Perhaps most of all, it explores the possibility that, to be heroic, sometimes people must lower their voices so others can be heard.
Where I'm at:
The first draft of this is only a couple months old. I think I need more outside feedback both generally and specifically.
This novel contains protected Intellectual Property and is copyrighted. It is free to read, is non-commercial, and as such has the permission of Stars Without Number creator Kevin Crawford to appear here. None of the views within reflect his views. Please visit Kevin's site for more info about his wonderful RPG that this world is based on: http://www.sinenomine-pub.com
Stars Without Number
The golden age of space travel has collapsed in a psychic disaster. Hundreds of years have passed, but the disparity of wealth seems to be increasing. Terrorism threatens the sector as working wages fall in a competitive race to the bottom.
Psychic potential rescues Charlotte Preace from the "mining" planet Oros. Her prize-fighting brother, Jonah, is left behind. When scientist and heir to a corporate fortune, Donte Willard, agrees to expose the terrorists through a military ruse, their paths cross, with the entire sector hanging in the balance.
Where I'm at:
This is the most polished novel I have, so if you like sci-fi, start here. This is essentially fan fiction based on the general setting of the role-playing game Stars Without Number. A big thanks to Kevin Crawford for allowing me to post a free, non-commercial version which includes the IP of his game. I may still write the sequal for fun-zies because I love the story and characters so much, but it gets the back-burner for now.
Déjà Vu (Ch. 1–5)
Erwin trains for a high school football championship. His kid sister, Sam, trains to be a grand master of memory. Their link to a great grandfather who disappeared decades ago derails their lives. They begin a battle against a cruel overlord and an alien incursion in a YA sci-fi / fantasy hybrid. This is the first book of the World We Want series.
Where I'm at:
I feel good about the first couple chapters, but have some darlings to kill. I will need some time to rework all of this.
Danniopolis 4.3 (Part 1 of 3)
Do you think political control over economics maintains unequal distribution of wealth? Join Daniel Johnson, a small-town midwesterner who dropped out of a big city college. He navigates the early 2000s by following the course of injustice through history in the hopes to know his enemy, and, hopefully, find solutions. Soon he's surrounded by distractions: friends, family, the possibility of love. His inability to heal a broken world plunges him into helplessness. He oscillates between extremes until the pressure makes his mind mirror the insanity of the world he lives in.
This coming of age novel is literary fiction, with a large dose of historical information.
Where I'm at:
This is my first novel, originally drafted over 20 years ago. Uff da. I am both more sentimental and less particular, meaning that I'm not in a great position to edit it. That said, the history bits need a giant axe to swing on through. I just don't know where. Your feedback with this, especially, is encouraged.