Finding, refining, amplifying

In a recent blog interview, I shared that when my high school English teacher asked me why I write, my answer was “because I have something to say.”

I seem to keep stumbling across a writing-related theme recently: does writing require talent? If so, what is it, specifically? If not, why do we keep torturing ourselves with it?

I think writing is about finding, then refining and amplifying your voice.

On finding your voice:

Finding your voice takes serious guts. Not everyone is going to like your voice, or even understand it, and some will positively detest it. Writing in your own voice, and then sending the piece to be read, and critiqued, by (gasp) others is a people-pleasers’ worst nightmare.

It also takes time and hard work. I was told that most people who start a story never finish. Finishing your story is your voice is very, very difficult. I’ve lost count of how many times I almost deleted my first draft of CYRION and THE BURNED BRIDGES PROTOCOL.

It’s too difficult, I told myself. People hate it. Novellas/MG is out of fashion – no one will even look at it. It’s too complicated. It’s too dark. It’s been done to death. I can’t do this.

Then, I walk away from my laptop, spend some time to collect myself, and dive back into my WIP. Repeat, until the tale is complete.

On refining your voice:

This is where things get really tricky. On one hand, it has taken a lot for me to find my voice, so compromise is not an option. On the other hand, I want to become a better writer.

I suggest the following experiment for illustrative purposes. No, no one else has to know but you. Find the busiest, noisiest street corner you can find, and then sing something into your phone/recording device. Sing the verse/line/song with your normal volume. Repeat song in your bathroom/any room with reasonably good acoustics. Finally, if you can, repeat in a recording studio.

Study the results.

The irritating background noise obscuring your song when you were at the street corner? That’s what poor grammar, typos, and miscellaneous line errors are doing to your prose. The bit of the song where you were a little flat/sharp/off key? Those are conceptual missteps in your prose. Notice how you can’t even hear those details when they were still buried under traffic noise? Refining your writing means removing the ‘noise’ and then reinforcing your melody, so your voice comes across strong, clear, and beautiful. That’s it.

Safely delete any critique failing this purpose.

On amplifying your voice:

I was recently reminded that pace and descriptive prose have an inverse relationship. When a burning plane is about to crash land on the roof of your MC’s house (for example), your MC is not going to spend time studying the sunny sky, the fluffy clouds, the spring breeze ruffling his/her hair and the clean scent of fresh-cut grass. No. S/he is going to be groping into the pockets of his/her dressing robe, praying that the pocket lint his/her questing fingers has found thus far would somehow materialize into a cellphone, so s/he could call 911. Or so s/he could record the whole thing for YouTube purposes.

Unless, of course, your MC is the antihero who masterminded the entire plane-on-fire-landing-on roof debacle. In which case, the descriptive prose might work exceedingly well. The YouTube bit would also make a lot more sense.

My point: there is a time and place for descriptive prose. In the right time and place, descriptive passages can amplify your voice – which is what you want. This applies to all the rules of writing. Well, they’re really more guidelines, aren’t they? Use them if they help. Otherwise, feel free to toss them away.

Any thoughts to share? Do feel free to comment below 🙂



I am profoundly grateful and blessed at how so many people have supported The Burned Bridges Protocol by purchasing the book and leaving their thoughts on the review sections in both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thank you! Cyberflowers for everyone 🙂



I’m especially grateful for Mr. Cyrus Keith for taking the time to write his very kind review. Do pop by his homeplace for a bit of natter and a nice cuppa of cyber-joe 😀

Since I can’t seem to find the re-blog button (ironic, I know, since I *write* science fiction), here what Mr. Keith said:

Enjoy it I did. First off, it’s an easy read. And by easy, I mean the words flow so easily through my brain that it’s notwork to read. I finished this in just a few hours. It’s a short work, too at just over 200 pages, and the print is a bit larger than many other recent works I’ve read. It’s marketed as a novella, which is  just shy of a full novel-length work.

Which leads into my one minor criticism of the book: It could be longer. One or two scenes, in my opinion, could have been filled out just a fuzzy more. But don’t let that stop you from diving in head-first and devouring it.

I promise no plot-spoilers, but it’s not easy. I want to tell you all how it starts with a “What the…” and ends with an “Oh, wow,” and fills the pages between with more than one “I did NOT see that one coming!”

I can guarantee your mouth will drop open when you get to the reason for the title of the book. It takes a lot to surprise me like that, but she did it. I think what I like the most is Abigail’s sense of humor, a twisted, tongue-in-cheek kind of style that reminds me of a fluffy pink bunny riding a werewolf’s shoulder and pointing at Elmer Fudd while screaming “There he is: Get him!”

I should have expected this from Abigail, but with an imagination as lively as hers, it’s hard to know what to expect at any given time. And in this case, that’s a very good thing.

Five thumbs up.

I am a fan of Mr. Keith and his NADIA seriesI feel honored that he thought this way about BBP.

And now I am wondering what Jon and Nadia would think of Lilliane and company….


Whoops of joy

You know, I hoped that I’d have my excitement in check by this point.

Nope, no such luck. LOL

The Burned Bridges Protocol is now available on Amazon, Kindle and Barnes and Noble.


Would you like a sneak peek into a few random pages? *randomly flipping pages* How about these?


God, he feels and smells like heaven.

Get a grip, she reminded herself. It’s all a game. Just a—

He kissed her. All coherent thought fled from her mind.

He kept his head close when their lips finally parted. His breath in her. Becoming part of her. Of her consciousness. Just as he breathed in her exhalations, making her a part of him.

“Curious little kitty.”

She inhaled more of him. Intoxicating musk. Her entire world shrunk to the irresistible curve of his cupid’s bow. Her own lips parted as she panted.

Begging for another kiss.

“Care to find out?”

Anything for more.

She nodded.

“Then come.”

She left without a backward glance.

# # #

David tugged her hand and pulled her onwards. Away from the New Edinburgh pod and deep into the rats’ nest of alleyways surrounding the docking bays. Away from the safety of her shipmates. From the watchful eye of her ship’s AI.

Lemon – wasn’t that what she called it?


Well, as far as he was concerned, Lemon would soon be toast. And then he’d turn it into another of his hungry little devils. Just like he turned the AIs of the other pods that docked in the Lady Di. Not that he needed another devil since the New Edinburgh was the last, after all.

But as they say: Waste not, want not.

He glanced at his gauntlet to check on the virus’ progress. His hungry little devils had almost eaten through all of Lemon’s defenses. It will be checking on its Mother’s status soon. Good thing they were almost at his favorite blackout zone, beyond the reach of Lemon’s sensors.

Still, must move fast.

Her hand slipped from his grip. She stood in the middle of the refuse-strewn alley and looked around, perfect teeth gnawing perfect coral lips, hesitation written all over her face.

He stifled an exasperated sigh – I don’t need this right now – and advanced towards her, a pronounced swagger in his steps. He dropped his voice into a rumble.

“What’s the matter, angel?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know where we are. I don’t recognize any of this.”

He gathered her into his arms, tucking her head into the crook of his shoulder. With a twitch of his thumb, he released another dose of aerosolized gamma – gamma-hydroxybuterate – from his gauntlet.

Let her have a few lungfuls of that.

Her taut muscles loosened. She leaned into him, lithe body molding to his. He buried his smile of satisfaction in the wealth of gold at the crown of her head.

“If you’re scared, I can take you home.” He allowed just the smallest note of regret creep into his baritone. “I was just really looking forward to…” He sighed, then bent his head and parted her lips with his own. Another flick of his thumb instructed the nanobots on his tongue to release a combination of concentrated human pheromones and even more gamma.

He held his kiss for a few minutes, to ensure she gets the full dose, before pulling away. He noted the flushed cheeks, ice-cold hands and dilated pupils in her eyes.

“Shall I take you home?”

hello world :)

I feel something emerging. A new story? Maybe. I suppose, part of this message is to remind me of the story kernel, its core message. Please forgive me if I don’t make a lot of sense.

The prospect of success that comes hand in hand with the prospect of abysmal failure.  True freedom is risky. Some people take that risk, and some do not. Of those that do, some succeed, and some do not. But if, as the saying goes, God does not require us to succeed, but only to try, does this automatically mean that everyone who dares to take the chance is successful by default? Or is that just wishful thinking, a form of whistling past tombstones in the dark?
On the flip side, someone told me once that too many choices tend to create unhappiness. According to this person, people profess to be most content when their scope of choice is limited. Ergo, a limited form of freedom is best. The rationale goes that more choices, equals an exponentially higher opportunity cost for each decision made, equals more future regret. Hence the higher probability for unhappiness.
Oh, and by the way, my novella, The Burned Bridges Protocol, is due to be released by Giant Squid Books this winter.
Did I forget to mention? I probably should have opened the post with that. Silly me 🙂
Any thoughts?

Note to self:

I can’t see the wind blow,

but I can see wild grasses ripple under the moonlight,

the daffodils nod their golden heads,

and the crests of wavelets sparkle in the noonday sun.


I don’t need the wind to howl,

when I can hear leaves gossip in the trees,

a dead branch skritch against my bedroom window,

and dry flowers rustle before forgotten gravestones.


Maybe ‘hidden’ characters – secondary characters with ulterior motives – work the same way. I cannot explicitly write about what they do. At least, not too early. I can only write about the effects of their actions, and maybe their reactions to these effects.

This could be tricky.

And fun 🙂



Memorial to my fallen darling.

In obedience to Faulkner’s advice to kill my darlings, I wish to bid adieu to one of my darlings.

Farewell, dear snippet. I’ve fought to include you in my draft for months, and can no longer stay the executioner’s blade.  You were a treat to write, but far too serious for middle grade high fantasy. Maybe I can find another home for you some other where, some other time. For now though, my sweet, rest well here, and know that you are loved.

Arti’s Lament – a murdered snippet from the Watchlings.

            My love, I dreamt you came to me last night.

            In my dream, I went to bed alone and afraid. The sheets whispered as your body slid next to mine. Your elusive, subtle scent, I love it so.

            Your familiar rumble pulled me further from sleep. “What are you doing all the way over there? Come here, silly.”

            A chuckle, as you drew me to you, turned me around and folded me into your arms. My chilled skin tingled against yours. I luxuriated in your warmth. I put my arms around you, every part of me, greedy for you. For the touch of your skin. The gentle exhalations of your sweet breath. The pressure of your chin on the crown of my head.

            I knew then it was a dream. But a fleeting dream of you is worth more than an eternity without you.

            I’d spend my life dreaming of you, if I could.  

            I gave the sweet hollow of your neck an equally sweet kiss. Your salt on my tongue. Like the salt of our mingled tears. Do you remember?

            Living silk – wasn’t that how you described my skin? I pressed my ear to your chest. The strong, steady beat of your heart lulled me deeper into slumber.

            That was how we were. All our lives, until now. Two separate individuals, inextricably entwined. Our bodies, a perfect match, in perfect harmony. Two imperfect halves of a perfect whole.

            I opened my eyes, and found myself alone. My heart was broken anew.  

            My love, I dreamt you came to me last night.

            What will I do without you?

It’s done! Kind of….

I’m sorry for pulling the submarine act on you. I’ve been rushing to finish the first draft of my science fiction experiment. My test-tube baby weighs in at just shy of twenty nine thousand words. I know she is small, but at this point in time, she is still just a novella. I am debating whether I should free her from the tubes, polish her, and then let her run free as the short, sleek, tiny tale she is. Or if I should extend the plotline and let her mature into a full-grown novel. Thoughts?

Anyway, here is one of the final scenes of Burning Bridges. I apologize for its rough state, but little Cleo wants to play 🙂

In Luna’s holding station the Lady Diana, it was time for the hunt. Lilliane had been hunting with Becca and Cleo for about a week. She quickly grew accustomed to her specialized gear and mastered her gauntlet’s non-verbal, fine motor controls. She’s even memorized the ritual words Lemon insisted they use prior to each kill.

They soon found their quarry. He was in the shadows, bent over his victim, his blade still dripping with blood. The three of them stepped into the pool of flickering fluorescent light. Lilliane caught Hecuba’s gaze, grinned and cleared her throat to get the quarry’s attention. Only the decent thing to do. He’s already dead and doesn’t even know it.

He jerked his head up at the sound. 

“You know, murder is frowned upon by civilized society,” Hecuba said in her low, mellow voice.

“The slaughter of innocents is traditionally considered especially heinous.” Lilliane stretched her arms and yawned. The work is stimulating and highly rewarding. But the hours are terrible.

“And who will stop me?” He rose and stepped into the light. “Three little girls?” He scoffed. An ugly leer snaked its way across his pock-marked face. “I must’ve been a very good boy. I’ve got me three little lambs for the slaughter.”

“You should be afraid. Sweating bullets.” Hecuba flexed her arm, a humorless smile on her face. A glowing scorpion flail slipped out of her gauntlet.

“Pissing in your boots—” Lilliane made a similar movement, with similar effects.

“And in your pants, you’d—” Cleo stopped short and stomped her foot. “Scat, I’ve messed it up.”

“It’s okay, Cleo,” Lilliane said. The head scorpion on her flail twined around her form. “I think he’s got the idea.”

“Can I have him, please?” Cleo practically vibrated in her excitement.

Hecuba bent her head, lines of hesitation on her face. “Cleo—”

“You had the last one. I should have this one. I won’t mess it up. I’ll even say the words right. Pleeeease?” Her voice rose in a whine.

Hecuba caught Lilliane’s gaze, eyebrow arched in silent enquiry. Lilliane shrugged. Why not?

Cleo giggled and flicked her gaze back to their quarry.

“You should fear us because we are vengeance incarnate,” Cleo chanted the ritual words in her piping child’s voice. She flexed her arm. The electronic scorpion flail slipped out of her gauntlet and hovered to her eye level, weaving back and forth like something truly alive. She cocked her head at him, a beatific smile on her face. “You’ve victimized innocents.” The smile dropped away. Her dark eyes glittered with cold fury. “We claim a blood-debt on their behalf.” She flicked her wrist. The flail snaked forward, landed on his cheek with the gentleness of a lover’s caress, and bestowed on him its lethal kiss.

Cleo watched his death throes for a few moments in rapt attention before turning back to Lilliane and Hecuba. “That’s the last, right? I’m hungry. Can we get something to eat?”

Lilliane reached out and ruffled the dark curls on the little girl’s head. “Sure, Cleo. Let’s go.”