Category Archives: Writing

‘The Shark Boats’ snippet

This is a snippet from my new novel ‘The Shark Boats’, available in full from Amazon.com . Enjoy…

The Chang Kai-Shek and the Franco rounded the stubby cape on their starboard, and John deKuyper gazed into hell. No more than two miles away, the heavy cruiser and a light cruiser sat bombarding the shore. Their guns were raised – it’ll take time to lower them, thank God – but they were surrounded by three escort ships, arranged in a rough triangle. The escorts were firing their own guns up at wherever Reiner was.

So many guns were firing so continuously that, now the noise barrier of the cape was gone, the roar was deafening. The whole area was shrouded in dull grey smoke, and every couple of seconds a flaming red burst erupted from one or another of the ships’ guns.

Holy hell, deKuyper thought. And Reiner’s in the middle of that, along with Quintillian and the others.

That thought made what he was about to do seem rational.

“Go! Go! Go!” he yelled into the radio mike for Fordham’s benefit.

The Chang’s RPM needle hit the far side of the dial as the boat surged forwards. To his right, the Franco was doing the same thing.

“Go for the big one,” deKuyper ordered. Shaking hard. “Kill it!”

I can’t do this. This is insane. This is bugfuck nuts. They must collectively have five hundred times our tonnage. A thousand times.

Orders were orders. Duty was duty. And they were already rocketing toward the heavy cruiser at what the gauge said was forty-eight knots.

Ahead, the enemy ships had noticed their presence. The big cruiser was starting to move, well within a mile and a half’s distance now. Guns were starting to swivel down.

Instinct, not thought, singled out the nearest destroyer as the worst threat. Smaller guns would de-elevate faster and they’d have to pass right by the thing. But couldn’t waste torpedoes on it. Facing the broad side of the cruiser, but the stern of the destroyer at about a twenty degree angle. About half a mile from the big cruiser – barely more than a mile from the two shark boats, and getting closer.

Can’t do anything. No. Can.

“Guns fire on the nearest destroyer! Distract and cripple her!” deKuyper shouted.

The fore gun crew began to aim. A burst of gunfire, over the still-deafening noise of the shore bombardment; deKuyper’s head whirled to the right. One of the Franco’s machine-gunners must have fired prematurely. Nerves, probably. Couldn’t blame him.

The destroyer’s stern guns were lowering.

They fired.

Boom. Boom, went explosions somewhere between deKuyper’s and Fordham’s boat. Huge noise. Waterspouts.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

The corvette opened up. More gunfire.

They have shark boats of their own around here somewhere. How do we deal with those?

That’s what machine-guns are for. When we’ve finished raking the destroyer.

More waterspouts and explosions, all around the area.

BOOM.

One of the big cruiser’s fore guns fired. A huge waterspout rocked the Chang, a hundred yards ahead of it. deKuyper absently noticed that he was drenched. It didn’t matter.

“Oh God oh God oh God,” Kaye was muttering. He held on for dear life.

“Yee-haw!” Fordham’s voice came over the radio. “Ride `em, cowboy!”

Water everywhere. Waterspouts everywhere. Blazing muzzle-flashes. Thrumming engines. For a moment deKuyper’s view coalesced into a burning conceptual gestalt of fire and noise.

Get out of it, John!

It was hard. It was easier to view the spectacle absently.

Snap the fuck out of it or you’re going to die!

Groggily, he fought himself back to his senses. Gripped the wheel again. Kaye had leaned over in the meantime – how long had it been? A few seconds, probably – to hold the boat steady.

He nodded a thanks without looking up at the young officer.

They were within probably four hundred yards of the destroyer. The Franco fired its cannon, and deKuyper realized he had one of his own.

“Fire, damnit!” he shouted. Somehow the two-man crew heard him above the roaring of the engines and the constant rolling thunder of the big ships’ guns. Above the clattering din of heavy-caliber machine-gun fire, both incoming and outgoing now.

His lead gunner made a final calibration and fired. An explosion bloomed amidst the aft battery of the destroyer.

Somebody cheered.

The aft battery fired as though nothing had happened.

This one’s dead on, thought deKuyper. Swerved the boat – realizing that he could swerve the boat.

The destroyer’s shell exploded within ten yards of the Franco. The blast rocked the boat sideways, almost throwing Kaye out of the cockpit. The second lieutenant had drawn his pistol and was holding on with only his left hand. He fired the pistol at the destroyer. The noise was unnoticeable amongst the massive general din of guns and engines and exploding shells, but the hot brass casing landed squarely on deKuyper’s bare forearm. Minor stinging pain.

The engines of the boat, pushed past their redlined maximum, kicked deKuyper’s backside like the mechanical bull he’d once tried riding on a dare.

They began to pass the destroyer. The Franco swerved right, the Chang Kai-Shek to the left.

“Eat lead, you commie sons of bitches!” Fordham yelled, as both shark boats’ quad fifties raked the destroyer’s decks. The Franco’s cannon boomed, the shell punching a hole clean through the side of the destroyer, which was turning, turning so that both fore and aft guns could go into action.

Incoming fire. A bullet scored a deep line along the top of the control panel, missing deKuyper by inches. Other rounds were striking home on the deck, punching right through the light wood surface. One of the Chang’s gun crew was wounded but trying to load a shell anyway, right arm clasped to an obviously hurting side while he helped his partner manhandle the three-inch shell into the breech.

A triple array of explosions followed by waterspouts. Three of the big eight-inchers firing nearly simultaneously and landing at about the same place, seventy or eighty yards ahead of the two zigagging shark boats. The destroyer was behind them, now – chasing them, it looked like to deKuyper when he glanced back.

No damn time to worry about the destroyer. The cruiser was their objective. Easily within a mile now. Slowly picking up speed.

Wasn’t sure how much range these torpedoes had. Theoretically they were good for up to five miles. deKuyper had heard the same rumors everyone else had heard about that.

Now? Then we can break away?

No. He only had one run at this. Better make it count.

“Stop zagging at half a mile when I do,” he told Fordham. “Straight run and fire when I give the signal.”

“Straight run? They’ll zero in on us and blow us to pieces!”

“They’ll probably do that anyway,” deKuyper yelled back without thinking. “You want it to count or not?”

More shells. Waterspouts. Three quarters of a mile. Five eighths.

Half a mile.

The Franco exploded like a matchbox stuffed with gelignite. Splinters of wood and metal flew everywhere, propelled outwards by a big blazing fireball.

Oh, fuck.

No chance to run now, even if he wanted to. Maybe there’d never been a chance.

“Ready torpedoes!”

They’d just have to do the job with two rather than four. He aimed the Chang amidships of the cruiser.

Kaye fired his pistol again, and again. Another bit of hot brass stung deKuyper’s left forearm. He flinched, and the boat swerved to the starboard a fraction.

“Will you fucking quit that?” he yelled at Kaye.

Kaye nodded, shouted something inaudible of his own, and emptied the rest of his pistol’s magazine at the cruiser.

The torpedomen probably couldn’t hear deKuyper either. Oh, shit. They were readying their torpedoes anyway. They knew from training what going dead straight, this close to a target, meant.

He just hoped they’d know when to fire.

They did. Fifty feet into the run the torpedoes slipped off their racks and slid into the water. deKuyper saw their trails begin to lance towards the big cruiser, but he didn’t have time for more than a glance. He was swinging the Chang away, turning her in a wide arc to get as far the hell from the rest of the fleet as possible. One of the destroyers was coming around the bow of the big cruiser.

The second destroyer’s guns fired. Waterspouts close, so close that they rocked the Chang hard, tipping forty-five degrees to port. Kaye was thrown loose and his .45 went flying overboard. The fore gun crew lost the shell they’d been reloading.

Bullets raked the Chang from somewhere – a lucky burst, deKuyper hoped, and no more than that. Through the din of the gunfire he heard someone scream.

Zig-zagging away. Then an explosion. A big one, with an overpressure wave. He turned his head for a moment – saw a fireball blooming above the aft section of the cruiser. Secondary explosions seemed to be happening.

They have shark boats around. Time to get the hell out before they arrive. Surprising they haven’t already.

He hit the throttle harder.

If you like what you’ve read here, you can get the full thing at http://www.amazon.com/The-Shark-Boats-ebook/dp/B00EZHY8S4 .

Kal’s Writing Worlds

Now that the insanity of Dragon*Con is past, I think it’s time to tell you all a bit about what I’m writing, what I’m working on, and most importantly, what I’ve got in the chute.

Currently, I’m actively writing in four universes. Two are space opera, one is straight military science fiction, and the last is an epic fantasy setting. I currently have four completed novels, six completed novellas, and some indeterminate number of short stories, all in these same four universes. Each of the novels is intended to be the first books of their own series, while the novellas are a series themselves.

I’ll go into more depth on each of the individual books in a later post, but I thought I’d give an overview here, and later on I’ll link the post here to those later posts.

My first published book, the novella Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption, is the first story in a serial that takes place in what I call the Mira universe. It’s a series of short stories and novellas that cover the adventures of a band of, well… renegades. The second novella, Renegades: The Gentle One, is set from the perspective of Ariadne, a psychic and all around nice person who just happens to light people on fire when she loses her temper. My novel, The Fallen Race, is also in this universe, and there is some overlap and interaction between the two series, mostly in the big events but sometimes in individual characters as well. The Fallen Race is a hundred and twenty thousand word novel and is set around five years after the Renegades series begins. The Fallen Race is the story of Captain Lucius Giovanni, the captain of a warship whose nation and home have fallen to aliens and who seeks to take a stand and make a difference.

My military science fiction setting is the Star Portal setting. In it, a very distant cluster of colonies has become separated from Earth. Alone, they’ve encountered several hostile alien races. In wars of vast scale they’ve managed to survive, but most worlds suffer as protectorates of the core colonies and the Star Guard. My first novel in this setting is Fenris Unchained which is a hundred thousand word novel. Fenris Unchained follows the story of a sister and brother who get dragooned into helping to stop a berserk automated warship from destroying a planet.

The third setting is what I call the Eden universe, and my first book in that is the Eden Insurrection. This universe is set several thousand years in the future. Technology, society, and humanity itself have stagnated and the power brokers within the Confederation prefer it that way. Several waves of colonization have spread humanity in a vast sprawl across the galaxy. In the Eden Insurrection, various factions of humanity seek to seize power within the Confederation and to forge it into a weapon to seize still more power. It is a complex story, with varied plots and morally ambiguous characters.

The last setting is my take on epic fantasy, with the novel Echo of the High Kings. I’ve personally grown frustrated with the slew of generic epic fantasy novels I’ve seen. Particularly where magic is poorly understood or virtually nonexistent, yet technology is undeveloped. I’m also sick of the characters who seem to be recycled from multiple books: the archetypical hero, the scoundrel, the damsel in distress. Or the writer goes the other way and has characters so morally ambiguous they can’t pull on their boots without stabbing someone in the back. The characters in these books are real people, with complex motivations as well as reasoning and logic to their behavior. I also did my own take on magic, one where I applied scientific method to how wizards develop magic. Here the magic has rules, and follows some fundamental physics. Conservation of energy is a big one… so are the principles of thermodynamics. But I think I kept most of that off scene, so for those of you (like me) who hate the math… well, just set back and enjoy the ride.

So that’s what I’m currently working on. The first novel in the chute is The Fallen Race, which dependent upon real world stuff, I should have out sometime near the end of September or early October. The next novel out after that will be Echo of the High Kings, my epic fantasy. All of this is being self-published, and will be made available on Amazon and Smashwords (and through them, their affiliates: B&N, Sony, and Apple stores). My goal is to publish a novella a month, but as I’m also active duty military, that could be somewhat problematical. Since I’m doing this in my (limited) free time, as well as writing… well, I’m doing what I can to get them out. If you like what you see, please tell others. They can find my stuff on Amazon or Smashwords or just follow the Buy My Books link at the top of the page. Monetary incentive means I’ll work harder at getting things written, edited, and published.

News Update

Just a quick news update and some admin-type stuff to start the day.

First off, my first entry to epublishing is now live.  Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption is now available from Amazon and Smashwords (links below).   Renegades is a serial of novellas that follow a band of misfits on their journey through space.  The series will have multiple stories from different characters, some long, and some quite short.  The overall setting is several hundred years in the future when humanity lies on the verge of catastrophe, attacked by not just one, but two alien races.  To make things worse, the various nations and factions of humanity are at odds.   Deserter’s Redemption is the first of these stories and Mike and his new ‘friends’ will have to struggle to escape a prison station where survival is measured in hours.

http://www.amazon.com/Renegades-Deserters-Redemption-ebook/dp/B00ETTND0C/

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/351853

The other topic I’d like to address are blog posts.  Everyone likes to have a little regularity in their lives.  I’m not talking about dietary fiber; I’m talking about when a reader might want to check in to see if I’ve posted anything.  I plan to post blog entries three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Monday posts will discuss me, as an author, and my writing, and maybe some samples or sections from works in progress.  Wednesday posts I’ll discuss books, authors, movies and other entertainment stuff.  Friday posts I’ll blog about current events, cool things in science, and generally interesting information.

One more thing, I’m headed to Dragon*Con this weekend, so expect a few posts about the event and probably some pictures as well.

Introductions

The most important questions anyone should ask when deciding to read something are who is the writer and why should you care enough to read what they’ve written. Or at least, that’s the assumption I’m going with. Time is short, and most people don’t want to read everything on the internet. Knowing the author, knowing they have something worth saying gives a reader the sense that what they write is worth reading. That’s an important distinction, because no one likes to start an article or blog posting, get halfway through, and realize what they’re reading is total rubbish and stop. Hopefully, if you’ve come this far, you think what I’ve got to say might be worth reading. If not, well, knowing a bit more about me might make it seem that way to you. Or you might run away screaming, but that’s between you and your pharmacologist really.

 

As for who I am and why you should read what I write, that’s no easy pitch to sell. There are countless writers out there, many quite good, no few quite terrible. They tell us when we are children that we are all unique and special, but they also tell you that the Tooth Fairy takes your teeth and gives you cash. Let’s face it, I’m not special or unique, but I do think I’ve got an irreverent humor, an introspective approach, and a wide and varied experience to base my writing on.

 

I’m going to go out on a limb and try to profile my audience a bit. If you’re reading this, you probably scale more to the ‘nerd’ side than not. You probably have at least some interest in space, science or just good stories that take place a long time ago or somewhere far far away. What that means to me is… well, you’re probably a little like me. You might go to work at a normal day job, but in your free time, you like to escape to other worlds. Like me, you’ve probably lived vicariously through movies, books and even games in countless adventures, journeys and battles.

 

Frankly, that’s what stories are all about, for me. The stories that grip you by the throat and don’t let go until you turn the last page. The stories that make you laugh, or cry, or just giggle a little maniacally. In real life we can’t be an eight-limbed alien who tries to live by a moral code not his own or a psychic who bends people to her will, or even a bioengineered assassin who cooks like a gourmet chef. But we can stand in their shoes and see the world through their eyes. Sometimes all we need is to live like that for a few moments in our own minds; to go to a distant place and be someone else for a few moments.

 

This is why I write. I can go those places in my own (sometimes twisted) imagination and (hopefully) share them with dozens or hundreds of people. I can take things I seen and people I know in my own life, mix and mash them with bits of science or news I’ve read, and spit out settings and characters that feel real; ordinary yet drawn to the extraordinary. And yeah, at a certain point, I end up laying my heart, mind and soul bare for strangers I’ll never meet… because, well, it’s just amazing to have an entire universe inside my head and I want to share it with you.

 

What do I offer? I write stories to be entertaining, maybe a little educational, and even to give a little inspiration. I love the stories of the underdog, the born loser who fights back against the unbeatable foe. I value vivid storytelling, detailed settings, strong characterization and elaborate plots. That’s what I offer from my writing and I think that’s what people want to read: a good story that has awesome characters in an exciting world where life and events aren’t always simple.

 

So, step into my world, and let me know what you think.