Great Scott!

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Jan 14, 2016 in Writer's Life

deloreanSaw this in the parking lot on my way to work this morning. I’ve seen it around the area before while driving. Totally lights up and everything. Then I remembered that under my jacket, I also happened to be wearing my Save the Clock Tower t-shirt. (My second such shirt, I wore its predecessor out.) Logic dictated that I needed to risk being late to the office in order to take proper pictures with this thing. So I made a u-turn, and went back. After all, any boss who doesn’t take “Oh, I had to stop and take selfies with a tricked out DeLorean” as an excuse for tardiness is not worth working for.

And to top things off, this is what I’m reading now, an awesome Christmas present I got from my parents earlier this week. I’m only a couple dozen pages in, but the story behind the movie is so amazing…how long it took to sell the script, how they shot the first few weeks with a different actor as Marty, how the clock tower and lightning scene was a last minute add-on to get the movie under budget.



It also has a lengthy list of actors they entertained for Doc Brown that I found fascinating, imagining how the movie would have worked with John Lithgow or Steve Martin or Eddie Murphy? So, it seems that the universe is trying to tell me something. Maybe it’s that I’ll soon cross paths with  Micheal J. Fox. After all, it’s my density, right?


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Sanford Allen’s holiday-themed sf/fantasy/horror

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Dec 21, 2015 in Writer's Life

When writer friend Sanford Allen asked me about my favorite holiday-themed sf, one author came to mind: Christopher Moore. Check the out the whole list here.


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How Lando Calrissian and VegDucken Stole My Muse

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Nov 18, 2015 in Writer's Life

So you know how you come across a recipe for VegDucken, (a zucchini, stuffed in an eggplant, stuffed in a butternut squash) and you have to write a novel about it? No?

Well, something like that happened to me. I woke early up a few days ago with my muse thumping on my forehead, with the line “I slipped out of my bedskin” playing over and over again in my mind. I was already writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, but an idea for a short story perhaps? Well, in any case, she 20151020_212300clearly was not going to let me go back to sleep. “What the heck is a bedskin?” I asked her. Well, obviously it’s something you sleep in made of skin. “Ew…What kind of skin?” I implored her. Alien skin, of course. Sort of like that space faring beast you’re reading about right now in “Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThornBoka.”

“You’re completely right, dear Muse!” So then I begin to think on the kind of people who would need such a bedskin. Desperate people, probably. Desperate space faring nomads who hunted down giant majestic vacuum breathing creatures. But that wasn’t enough. What if they lived inside the beast, like a zucchini stuffed inside a big ole’ butternut squash?

Uh oh. Suddenly my idea for a fun short story turned into a novel idea, and since it’s NaNoWriMo, it needed to written immediately.

So here’s a brief excerpt:



The gristly undernap of our family sleepskin seems impenetrable as I rub my hand over the surface, looking for the exit seam. I’d underestimated the depth of the darkness that would surround me, and without vision, without hearing, and with my mouth and lungs and stomach filled with sleep balm, touch is the only tool to help me escape.

I feel the flesh of my mothers and fathers beneath me, bodies limp and near lifeless as they await the construction of our new world. Me, I am not that patient. This is my first excavation, and I don’t intend to miss it. Matris, my head mother, and our clan’s matriarch, had been raised from our sleepskin well before my sedatives wore out, probably as soon as the herd was in sight. My fingers twitch, imagining Matris as she took aim and dealt the crippling blow to the space-faring beast. At our next exodus, Matris promised that she would let me drive the helm, but that is still some twelve years off.

Beneath my desperate hands, the undernap goes to partially healed scar tissue, smooth and thin. I pull the bone shard I’d smuggled, my laugh the silent jiggle of liquid filled lungs, and nothing more. If Matris knew her lash counters had missed it, she’d have them strung up by their thumbs for a week. My incision is slow and precise, matching the original, hair for hair. I can’t leave any evidence of my excursion. A soft blue light seeps through the cut. I push apart the layers and press my head through. Air hits my face, and the instinct to cough catches me by surprise. No waste, I think to myself, but it is too late. Sleep balm spews from my mouth, my nose, as sweet air fills them, quickly washing away a metallic aftertaste.

“Daidi’s bells,”  I curse upon the memory of every heart father there ever was. I recoil, and cover my mouth with balm-slick hands. I’d imagined my first words upon this new world would be something more profound, something graceful and fitting of the clan’s future matriarch.

I look around, the cargo hold half full of other families still in stasis. I can smell the pretension through their sleepskins, prominent families who don’t care how the gristle is shucked as long as they wake up in a perfect replica of their former homes, details ironed out to every button upon their sofas, every scuff upon their cycl-scaled floors, and right on down to the creek of the boneboards beneath. Matris says they have forgotten that we are nomads, and that it is for the best. It is better for them to focus their efforts on infusing the economy and advancing technology, than worrying over the droll trivialities of beastwork.

Beastwork. The promise of seeing our new beast before the excavation begins thrills me to my core. I hope that I am not too late to witness the beastworkers sink their siphons into the first artery. I hurry, pulling my body through the incision that I now realize is too narrow for my hips. I twist, trying to finesse my way through. My feet stand purchase on the familiar rip of my Bapa’s abdomen and the indistinguishable arm crook of one of my mothers. The delicate seam tears, running jagged this way and that. I ignore the pit in my stomach. It is still early. Maybe it will heal in time. Maybe I can bribe the lash counters to look the other way instead of tattling to Matris.

“Psst, Seske!” comes a voice from off in the corner of the hold, somewhere hidden behind the neat stacks of deflated sleepskins. Adel’s head peeks around, and she smiles at me, her hands and face already blackened by the beast’s ichor.

I clench up, my stomach raw and sore with disappointment. “I’ve missed the first letting.”

“You slept two days too long.” Adel looks around, eyes darting around the hold like a rodent. She approaches along the wall, slipping in and out of shadows until she’s upon me. She inspects the seam rip and the steady blurble of sleep balm wasting over the edges. “Sonovan can take care of this. Like it never happened.” Then, with a beastworker’s strength and grace, she hoists me up and out of the sleepskin like my bones are made from mad vapor.        

“Why didn’t you wake me?” I ask Adel.

“This beast has spirit. Your Matris called all hands to steady it. It’ll last us fourteen years, the head mothers agree already, and you know how often they agree.”

“Great,” I grumble. That’s two extra years I have to wait to see the next first letting.

“Don’t be mad.” Adel pulls a stiff roll of fabric from her pack, the iridescent blue of a beastworker’s suit. The natural creases of beast hide still run through it. She hands it to me and I slip out of my nakedness and into my disguise. “We’ve got two hours before we need to get this back. And you back. Lash counters are on edge. My amas say they’ve never seen them so flighty, especially during excavation.

I bite my lip. Adel’s amas–Matris, soothe their sweet little hearts–are older than anyone I know, and have been through seven beast cycles. Two of her amas had begun their courtship as teens, but didn’t take on their third until they were well past their childbearing years. They bucked convention, and some had even dared to call them a “couple”, though they fervently denied it, claiming they were just taking their time searching for the exact right woman. They were every bit as sharp as they were eccentric, though, and if the amas say something is amiss, then something is amiss.

“Don’t pout,” says Adel, tugging me forth. “I’ve got something even more exciting to show you.”

“What is it?” I ask, my hand sticking in hers, and in an instant I’ve forgotten all about the ichor  boiling in vats, filling the beast with breathable atmosphere and all the scents of home. “Are we going to the gills?”

“Seske, are you crazy? Do you know what your Matris would do to me if she found out I’d gotten you gaffed on mad vapors? She’d have it out on my hide, and my mothers would be sure to tear up any pieces she’d overlooked! This is way better anyway.” Adel produces a lightpen from her pack.

“Bonework?” I grunt. What could be more boring than boring holes in the beast’s bones?

“Nuh-uh. We’re going to the womb. This beast…it’s pregnant.”

“Pregnant!” I shout, forgetting where I am and who I am. My voice echoes through the hold. I cringe. Adel tugs me into the shadows. It isn’t long before we hear the footsteps of a lash counter. Adel nudges me between the layers of flacid sleepskins, then dives in after me. My lips are upon Adel’s ear. “Maybe she won’t notice the rip,” I breathe the slightest of breaths.

Adel turns so that we’re nose to nose. “You must have already taken a sip on the mad vapors, Seske. You know they notice everything.”


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