Mar 19
2014

Huzzah! Hurrah! Yipee! etc.

I sent back edits on While You Were away, my sci-fi romance novella for Red Sage. Ended up being a couple days late due to the new job and other factors, but as was said in Star Wars: A New Hope, It’s away! Now I wait…well…now I work on something else while I wait. I just have to decide what that something else is. My noir-style dark urban fantasy has been calling me, though I’ve run into a snag on that one and haven’t been able to get past it. I also need to finish edits on book 2 of the epic fantasy romance and start book 3. Then, there are a slew of other things I want to eventually get back to. So I’m torn, but at least one thing is taken care of and out the door.

I hope readers will enjoy While You Were Away. It was a blast to write and is action-packed with a great romance. There’s plenty in it to satisfy romance and sci-fi readers alike.

See you in the stacks,
DJD

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Mar 03
2014

As I Pondered Weak and Weary

Contracts, that is. Or more specifically, one contract.

I posted a while ago (and I apologize to anyone who actually comes to read here that I haven’t updated in a while) that Rogue 5 had been accepted for eventual publication. Except, the more I thought about the contract, the less happy and more hesitant I became. It was great finding While You Were Away a home, but I wanted a little more control with Rogue 5, meaning a better contract and solid reversion of rights, plus things like comic/graphic novel rights (which, yes, I could exploit on my own), film rights, animated, and possibly foreign. I still plan on getting an agent and these are all things they could help me work to see through. I don’t feel that, though the publisher has asked for them all, and more, they’re going to actually pursue them. Thus, it would behoove me to ask for them, some clarification on the language as to reversion, and to ask that some clauses be stricken. It’s a boilerplate contract, so, who knows? They might not have a problem with changing it.

I know, sometimes it’s a fool’s errand to agent yourself, but I was even told point blank by a couple of pros in the field not to sign for various reasons and to tell them thanks but no thanks with the current contract as it is. So, I made a counter offer. If they don’t accept, I at least gave them a chance and will bow out gracefully. As I said, they picked up WYWA and I’m more than thankful for that. I just feel that Rogue 5 deserves more and can be more than what the current contract would allow.

I am even considering the possibility of going it on my own if they say no. I hear that sci-fi romance does pretty well in self-pub and I have a number of sources I could go to for editing, artwork, cover design, etc. I think it would be a fun project and an interesting experiment in publishing, plus it would allow me to keep those rights and reversions.

Would it be a harder road? Most likely, but I think Rogue 5 could be more than just another romance ebook adrift in the virtual sea. Much more. So I want to give it that opportunity and the first step there is making sure all of my control isn’t taken.

I’ve been talking with the awesome Stuart Jaffe about self-publishing and have been given some great advice. In the end, it all depends on the publisher and whether I have the moxy to do it myself. Either way, Rogue 5 will see the light of day and it will be stellar. On another front, I’m back into edits on book two of my epic fantasy trilogy. I’ll have to get betas eventually for the first two books, but I love this story. Can’t wait to see it through. Biggest work I’ve ever done and I hope I can get it out there to lovers of erotic romance and epic fantasy.

We’ll see what transpires in the coming year.

Oh yeah, and in 25 days I’ll be another year older.

Oh yeah, and this freezing weather we’re having is getting very, very old too.

Till next time,

DJD

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Dec 17
2013

Cue Kermit Arms

Rogue 5 was picked up by Red Sage! I have to fill out the paperwork, but it looks like I’ll have another work out sometime next year. At least, I hope it’s that soon. One never knows.

For anyone just joining, Rogue 5 was my first completed full length novel that I wrote back around ’09. It’s an epic space-opera sci-fi romance novel with shades of anime like Robotech/Gundam.

“To save her band of misfit Mercs and put an end to a galactic civil war, Ahlia Jensen, along with ace Battle Suit pilot, Tannen Reece, must discover the secret behind an ancient prophesy before a madman plunges the known galaxy into chaos.”

It was rejected several times and the great agent and author Lucienne Diver gave me some good advice on the opening that made me rework it. Then I went and reworked the whole thing, as I’d gotten good writing advice from a beta reader on While You Were Away that would ultimately benefit Rogue 5 as well. So I retooled it, fixed the query, reworked the synopsis, got another rejection from Baen (I would guess because it was a romance and taking it out would have been an arduous task). Getting it back from Baen meant that it was freed up to send to Red Sage. I figured I’d give them a crack at it, since they picked up WYWA, and I feel Rogue 5 is even better than WYWA. They gave it the thumbs up.

And so now I have another set of paperwork to fill out and then a contract to sign. I’m pretty excited about this one seeing the light of day. If it hadn’t been picked up I would have self-pubbed it as I feel that strongly about it. It’s not what you’d normally see in SFR, so it’s been a somewhat hard sell, but it’s a fun story. I think readers will love it.

All of which brings me to the advice section of the post.

Persevere.

Don’t give up. I’m reminded of a commercial on the overhead speakers at my VERY part-time job. It says good things come to those who wait, but I think if you want something bad enough you have to go out and make it happen. Do the legwork. Keep trying. Climb to the top of Mount Doom and fling that crap into the fiery pit. Forge your own blade and quench it in bloody vengeance (another story I have in the works ;) ). And if no one wants to publish the work because it breaks conventions or they feel they can’t market it, do it yourself. But persevere. You can’t edit a blank page and you can’t sell a work that never sees the light of day.

So, head down, press forward, into the maelstrom.

Keep writing. Keep trying.

See you in the stacks,

DJD

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Nov 25
2013

Another Chuck Challenge, 200 Word Round Robin

So, this week’s challenge over on Chuck Wendig’s blog is 200 Words at a Time, Part One, where you write the beginning to a story, 200 words or less, and then next week, everyone chooses another’s work to continue with another 200 words, and on until the usual 1000 word total is written. Sounded interesting, so I’m giving it a go. I’m not giving it a title so that others can write freely without having to think of how to fit their work into the title. It sometimes takes me to the end of a work before I realize what the title might be anyway.

So, here it is, first installment. If it’s not used, I may expand it. I’ve got ideas. ;)

***

There was absolutely nothing in this world worse than squid. Aric spat, tossing stick and dubious, floppy chunk of meat into the guttering fire. It wasn’t really squid, of course. He remembered squid; fried calamari was once his favorite. It didn’t help that he’d eaten the slimy substitute every day since the drop. There was only so many times he could choke something down that tasted like sulfur and the inside of an athlete’s running shoe, regardless of whether the analyzer dubbed the small alien cephalopod safe and nutritious. Gruel was nutritious too. In fact, he would almost prefer gruel.

At best count, as the days were longer here, he’d dropped in the Emergency Landing Vehicle twenty Sol Standard Days ago. The landing was rough and the ELV was toast, but any landing you can walk away from….

He chuckled, a mad titter that he bit back.

Standing, he kicked out the useless flame, heading back along the jagged slash in the alien landscape where the ELV rested. He needed to check the beacon, and after, finally explore this no-man’s land of an uncharted jungle planet; anything to keep his mind off a rescue that might never come.

***

DJD

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Nov 14
2013

Back in My Day… (or, What Is It With All These Categories?)

I understand to a point. I really do. Parents wanting to keep the wrong books, views, situations, out of the hands of impressionable youth. But lately, there’s a veritable plethora of genre age categories popping up all over, some of which seem a little…unnecessary. The latest I’ve seen is what’s called New Adult, which evidently has heroes/heroines in the 18-25 range and target those readers and deal with situations that I guess the target audience would deal with in their own lives, like getting their first car…or I guess in fantasy that might be their first horse? In fantasy, would getting a job be like having to work in Ye Olde Smithy? Joining the armed forces I guess would be conscription into the King’s royal armies of the crown. Aaaand, I’m rolling down tangent hill on this one.

To hearken back to the title and sound like an old fogey, back in my day, we didn’t have all these age categories, just genres. Stories that dealt with character growth from youth into adulthood was simply a Bildungsroman story. I read everything that’s still on my shelves today from authors like Terry Brooks, Weis and Hickman, Piers Anthony, Michael Moorcock, Raymond E. Feist, Stephen Brust, Angus Wells, Christopher Stasheff, David Eddings, and a whole slew of authors who had no category designation. It was either fantasy, sci-fi, or some combination thereof. Some of their works were straightforward, some more complex, but they didn’t necessarily target an age group. If they had characters of a certain age group they did, if they didn’t they didn’t, and that was okay. But now it seems everyone wants their own category, their own special place on the dwindling store shelves, their own specific target audience because the flood gates were opened when YA became so popular.

Don’t get me wrong, I can completely understand Middle Grade and Early Middle Grade (even though at around that age I was reading Elric of Melnibone), and to an extent, Young Adult (which sometimes seems more an excuse to write trite, shallow works, than targeting a specific age group, but I digress), but with every new category we just get more and more redundant and pigeonholed. What’s next, Middle Adult for 26 to thirty-somethings? Over The Hill fiction targeting 40 and up? How ’bout Geriatric Adult featuring octogenarian heroes and themes such as bladder control, hip displacement, and memory function? Where is the line drawn?

As I said, some are more necessary than they used to be, given today’s market. I mean, I wouldn’t want my daughter coming home from the library in a couple more years–if she becomes as voracious a reader as I was at that age–with a book she thought was about an investigator in the Faerie Court and realize it’s Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series. Talk about awkward. But on the flip-side, I’d let her read most everything that’s on my shelves now (besides the romance novels, because, no). And I don’t want her to have to choose books based on her age bracket, unless that’s what she wants to read.

Still, the age categories have brought a lot of new authors into the realm of the published, so at least it’s done some good in that regard. However, everything has its day and everything eventually experiences a drop off, so who knows what the future may hold. I know one thing for certain though, I’m gonna get a jump on that Geriatric Adult category. That one’s gonna be huge!

See you in the categorized stacks!

DJD

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Oct 25
2013

Life & Lemons: The Saga Continues

Not much good news to report. As you know from last post, I lost my laptop, then the hard drive on the loaner laptop died, and now I am on a loaner desktop until I can find a way to get my laptop repaired. There seems to be an issue with the desktop as well, possibly hard drive. Sheesh, what is it with hard drives! Someone ran off the road a couple days ago and destroyed our mailbox and pole (hit and run, of course), so that’s another expense we can’t afford. We’ve taken a couple other monetary hits as well that I won’t go into. And hey, Christmas is coming! It seriously makes one consider the self publishing route more and more and I have thought long and hard, especially of late, how I’d go about it. But whether I do or not, I guess my days as a full time writer are just about at an end for a while until novel money starts coming in. Back to the daily grind. Hope my health holds out.

Beyond that, no word on Rogue 5, which I sent for consideration to Red Sage. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s been about two months. Though, as quickly as they picked up While You Were Away, I’m surprised. I think Rogue 5 is far and away better than WYWA, but we’ll see. Working on revisions of book 2 of the epic fantasy romance trilogy and trying to decide whether I want to finish a Middle Grade fantasy I’ve been working on or wait until I have book 3 of the fantasy romance done. I think I know of a place to send the Middle Grade fantasy that might be interested, but I’d have to move quickly (before March 2014 when they close to subs). And it might mean another pseudonym, unless I try using my actual name, but what can ya do.

Not much else to report. It’s getting cold in cowtown, so it’s getting cold in this breezy rental house and…we hatessess the cold, yesss we do, we hatessess it! Ahem…yeah.

So that’s it. Normally, when life hands me lemons I’d make Limoncello, but I can’t even afford the vodka.

So till next time,
Happy reading and stay warm.

DJD

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Oct 17
2013

The Death of Productivity

It hasn’t been a good week here at chez Davis. The only computer we had, my laptop, died. My laptop is pretty much my line to keeping in contact with friends, family, publishers, and other writers, as well as the machine I type my novels on. Thankfully, I keep my work backed up on a flash drive and an external hard drive, otherwise things might be much worse. I don’t have the money to get it fixed at the moment, or buy another, so one of my relatives was nice enough to give me a loaner until I could get mine worked on.

Unfortunately, my luck of late stinks and the hard drive is going out on this one as we speak, so I can’t really write on this one either. I could try, but it keeps glitching and freezing, so I’m hesitant lest I try to save my work and it hangs and fails to do so. I’d hate to lose my work because of it. So, here I am, my productivity shot as I await the possibility of a loaner desktop PC from my brother. In the meantime, I’m working on my art piece and trying to come up with things to make and sell. Maybe I can make the cash needed to get back up and running on the laptop. One can hope. I may even have to go back out into the workplace part time. However, my health is kind of shot right now so we’ll see how that goes.

So, until then, I’ll be plugging along on other things, wishing I could be working on my revisions. Hopefully the desktop PC will last longer than this machine did and keep me going until I can figure out how to get my laptop functioning again.

Till next time,

DJD

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Oct 11
2013

In Honor of My Favorite Holiday

Halloween is my favorite holiday. If I could dress up in costume every day, I would. Make ghoulish treats, throw horror-themed parties. Ah yeah.

Chuck’s challenge today was three sentence horror, and it gave me the itch to do more of them in honor of Halloween. So, presented here are a number of three sentence horror tales, some funny, some creepy, but all hopefully fun reads. One of these I’m thinking of using for my art project I’ve been working on, for obvious reasons, if you saw the picture I posted.

So, here’s Three Sentence Tales of Horror and the Macabre. And check back as time permits. I’ll probably be writing more as I think of them.

Enjoy.

The Book
I found the book embossed with a million silently wailing faces in an old trunk from an estate sale. I thought no harm in reading its dark passages, curiosity getting the better of me in my hubris. And now one million and one silently scream an eternal warning as new hands caress the cover and curious eyes gleam at my estate sale.

Insatiable Love
The old woman promised the ritual would work to bring back my love so that we could spend eternity together. I prepared a beautiful meal in preparation, as instructed, and waited patiently for her return. As I drag myself along beside her now from our home and into the night, I am reminded as my memory begins to dull that she always chided me about never making enough food.

The Portrait
The death portrait was a macabre thing, the black-suited cadaver staring eternally through milk-white orbs at those who passed, but Gerald always gazed long at it in morbid fascination. The day that he could have sworn it moved sent a chill down his spine like the cold, bone-white fingers that almost seemed to press against the edges of the frame, and he rubbed his over-tired eyes as imaginary objects writhed just behind the corpse figure. As time passed, a frantic thought screamed for him to look away, to never return to the picture, but he was mesmerized, falling into black pits that were once white pools as pallid fingers drew him lovingly into the warm, walnut frame.

Pumpkin Carvings
He carved, each a meticulous endeavor, with hopes that this time it would be different and finally he would show them all that it was true. The leering faces of his creations would do it for sure, would bring Him, would make all the effort worthwhile. Linus wiped gore-covered hands upon his blue blanket, staring at his work; the ghastly, jack-o-lantern grins etched lovingly into the flesh of those who doubted him would bring Him into the world at last—as the Great Pumpkin commands.

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Oct 10
2013

Expanding the Universe of SFR

Hey all,

I read a couple articles recently over on The Spacefreighter’s Lounge, here and here, where they were talking, at the short of it, about the target audience and how to broaden both SFR’s reach in the market and expanding readership. You can go read those, I’ll wait. Back? Okay.

Since getting into writing SFR, I’ve been thinking of this a lot, as my focus is on creating quality sci-fi and romance that I hope will appeal to both sides of the spectrum. It’s something to carefully consider, especially if you want to reach the most readers you can. I had too much to say on the matter that I figured a blog might be a better way to go.

Comments in the articles mentioned that tapping the Paranormal Romance (PR) readers might be a way to go, stealthily slipping bits of sci-fi into a PR novel like little roofies, but I don’t completely agree. If you’re going to write sci-fi, write sci-fi. Don’t just sneak in psionics or bits of cleverly disguised bizarrotech into a PR. Take the PR into space. Throw it into the future. Make a love story between two werecreatures amidst a struggle between the remains of humanity and the machines they created. If it’s sci-fi, it should look the part. Be unapologetic. That’s how the next big trend gets created. Someone says, hey, I’m gonna do a werewolf/changeling paranormal sci-fi love story in space! Do that instead.

And we shouldn’t just be thinking within the romance market. I feel, to begin to expand past the niche market they describe in the articles, SFR authors really do need take it upon themselves to start going for the harder sell, especially if the publishers aren’t. If we don’t at least try to pull sci-fi readers in that don’t normally read romance works, we’re selling ourselves short by not at least trying to target half of our writing focus. I mean, it is sci-fi romance, after all. We shouldn’t be saying that we won’t bother trying to sell to this or that person because they don’t read romance, but instead try drawing in new readers from all sides. It is a harder sell, and balancing the final product to appeal to readers from both camps is tricky but doable. Heck, even I was once a mainstream sci-fi reader who didn’t have an interest in reading SFR titles—even though what I wrote always had at least romantic elements in—and now I read and write it, with my first dystopian space opera SFR novella coming around August 2014 from Red Sage.

I do feel that erotica plays a bit of a part in pushing away potential mainstream sci-fi readers, since it is so difficult to differentiate between SFR and SFE in the market based on cover and blurb alone. You really have to do research ahead of time, but if you don’t have a specific title in mind, it could be like walking through a minefield blindfolded, just like I felt when looking for space opera amongst the glut of hard sci-fi and “New Space Opera” titles. Much of it is all lumped together on the shelves with little to no indication on the cover which is which. I really don’t have much interest in reading erotica, myself, but others do, and some sort of effort on a publisher’s part to differentiate between either heat levels or focus on the cover would go a long way to alleviate the confusion. A number or letter system on the spine would work.

Something else to consider, balance. As I like to say, balance and moderation in all things. Focus too much on the sex aspects, and you lose the external plot and story, which is what your non-romance readers would sign up for. Not enough romance and your romance readers may feel cheated. It is a balancing act, but one I try to achieve in my works. It was something I said I’d strive for when I started writing SFR, stories that would appeal to sci-fi readers, romance readers, and sci-fi romance readers all. We’ll see how that goes, but I feel what I’ve done so far hits pretty close to the mark.

The other thing I see as a possibility for expansion and growth in the SFR market that may play a role in pulling in new readers is cover design. There’s still that propensity to have half naked (or all, in some cases) “beautiful people” on the covers with little to no indication as to the setting or genre focus. Even mine has a hunky shirtless guy on 90% of the cover, hunched over because he evidently barely fits on it. Thankfully, I was able to tell them that the cover needed something more sci-fi than an AR-15 to mark the thing as a sci-fi title or it might have been ignored by sci-fi and sci-fi romance readers as modern military fiction. The ease of graphic arts and Photoshop has harmed cover design more than helped, IMO. Why bother with an illustrator when you can slap a couple naked model poses on, change the eye color a little, maybe mess with the hue and contrast of the background, drop in some darkened unfamiliar city skyline from a remote part of our own world in the distance, and call it a sci-fi cover? Bring back the illustrators!

I will be planning a strategy over the coming months until my novella is out, one that will entail not only a blog tour of both romance and non-romance venues, as well as a means of getting my work into the hands of people at conventions—local at first, depending on money—that might not normally pick it up. I have plans for freebies, prizes, eventually post cards and posters, free sample chapters, etc, all designed to draw potential readers. I’ll be getting in touch with local contacts, schmoozing local booksellers, begging favors, and generally spending time getting the word out. Not just to romance readers, but to everyone who likes gripping space opera sci-fi, rousing adventures, bad ass heroines, equally bad ass heroes, a good love story, and yes, sex. Now, who doesn’t like all those?

And maybe, just maybe, I can start a push to expand our little corner of the universe. Even if I have to do it one step at a time.

Till next time,

DJD

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Oct 05
2013

Chuck Wendig’s Challenge: Roll for Your Title

If you followed my other writer blog, you might know that every once in a while I’ll do a Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge. It’s a fun exercise he has every Friday, where you have a week to finish a 1000 word piece of fiction based on some random criteria he’s come up with. This one you had to roll a D10 on two charts to get a random title that you had to use to make the story. Oddly enough, I rolled two 10s and got Infinity Sailor. Wasn’t sure what to do with that until something hit me this morning while I was half asleep. Might be a little sketchy, but I like it. And so here’s:

The Infinity Sailor

Rayce watched through the viewer as the Infinity Drive spun up for what would most likely be the last time, creating the mass field that would pull on his destination coordinates and tear the fabric of space-time, hurtling the Infinity Sailor through the known universe. He adjusted in his seat, stifling a groan as he tried to take pressure off the still oozing wound in his side. He wasn’t even certain he’d make it much longer, but this had to end. He had to finish it.

Tabbing controls with bloodstained fingers, he set the phase shifter to activate; the device that kept the ship from squirting into billions of single molecules from the gravity forces the Infinity Drive unleashed. At least, he thought with a chuckle that sent a ripple of fiery agony through his abdomen, he wouldn’t feel pain for a few seconds. He wouldn’t even feel his body.

Reality stuttered as space-time was rent asunder. The most dangerous star drive to the universe would also be its savior this day. That was of course, if Rayce didn’t die first. The phase shift kicked in next.

Fractals of space-time flashed in his mind’s eye, playing in an out-of-order collage, like the shattered shards of a mirror falling away.

His battle with the Shakar warrior, which graced him with a ragged, charred hole in his guts that would soon end his life.

The fateful day he’d taken the Infinity Sailor when its first test voyage seemed to drop it into his lap as he and his crew hung in orbit around a mining planet in their old modified cargo hauler.

The killing of his crew at the hands of the Shakar on a desolate world as they tried to obtain the Sailor for their own ends.

Racing through the streets of Dagda 7, the young woman Ara close behind, as Sekton Corporate forces closed in.

Blood, glittering crimson in wan light.

The Gray Man, general of the Shakar forces.

Ara bleeding out in his arms.

Hot tears for what might have been in another life.

Micro-singularities formed, permanent rips from Infinity Drive jumps.

The Shakar taking the plans for the drive as he watched helpless.

Escape.

The Shakar Matter Converter going online. Space-time torn asunder, the matter devouring rent ever expanding.

Fractals within fractals.

Shards within shards.

Shattered realities of what was.

What might have been.

What never would be.

And then nothing.

Searing pain returned, white hot, and he gritted his teeth against it. In his viewer, the black absence of all hung, expanding at an increasing rate, devouring matter, life, light, all of reality. He had one chance to make it all right, to undo the damage. It would work. It had to!

The Infinity Sailor streaked toward the black expanse, the drive system seeming to scream a battle cry as the hull rippled, the phase shifter going into overload. The drive would go next, but by that time he was certain he would no longer be able to feel anything. His vision blurred, his blood pooling under him in the pilot seat. The timing was critical. His shaking hand rested almost reverently, lovingly on the flashing controls that he prayed would serve one last function.

But would it work? Would this avert all that had been wrought? He had been so sure before, but with the end in sight, what if he was wrong?

A bang and shower of sparks, the smell of ozone, and the phase shifter was gone. Irrationally, he held his breath as all his nerves lit like a plasma inferno. A scream tore from his lungs. His finger twitched on a button. The Infinity Sailor entered the black expanse. His final thought was of Ara’s shimmering blue eyes and how he hoped he would see them again.

In another life.

*

Rayce Janek sat staring out of the viewer of the old hauler that he and his crew had called home for the past two years, waiting in boredom for any ships leaving the mining world of Parno that their remaining weapons could disable. They needed a big score this time. The lenders were becoming short tempered.

A bright flash nearby drew his attention and his eyes lit upon a gleaming white vessel, its sleek lines like nothing he’d seen be—

His head swam, fingers seeming to move of their own accord. A voice from behind, a question. Warning beeps echoed. Shards falling away within his mind, a shattered mirror of what could have been. Blue eyes.

The pack of proton missiles he’d been saving for this excursion streamed away toward the white craft. Its shields were not up, no weapon systems online. Only four crew. They could have taken it. It would have been a catch.

The ship went up in a white corona glow, pieces spinning away as the light died to a nebulous memory of the white heat that ate the released gasses and disintegrated steel.

“What the hell, Rayce!” Rennel shouted. “We had a shot at that!”

Rayce stared at where the white ship had been, tears stinging his eyes, a phantom ache in his side, another in his heart, fractures glittering away like twinkling stars. He pulled the hauler out of orbit and set a course. The lenders would just have to wait. This time, he would live.

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