The Cobalt Diamond Factory

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Pre-Amble:

Shock! Horror! I’m getting pretty good at making these shorts a regular thing. The story below is based on another #RueLouPrompts prompt. If you’re a writer looking for some inspiration, I couldn’t recommend them more. You can find Rue and Lou here and here, respectively.

This fortnight’s prompt was “ghost in the machine”. I went down a kind of creepy path, so, uh, brace yourselves for that. I haven’t been able to edit it as much as I would have liked, due to some family matters that happened yesterday (an ambulance was involved), but I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless.

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We Follow the Sun

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Pre-Amble:

In a turn of events that surprises absolutely no-one, here is a story I wrote literally five minutes ago in a response to a #RueLouPrompt. I have briefly checked for mistakes, please don’t judge this sleepy butt.

What you might be surprised to here is that I did actually start drafting for this week’s prompt on Saturday. Of course, that draft then turned into a 5k short story that I’ve decided to edit and query … and lo, another story was needed, and I did provide.

What amuses me most about this piece is how very different it is from the other story, but what can I say, I was ready for some wholesome fur friend content.

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Braided Roses

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Pre-amble:

In a shocking turn of events, I present to you another mid-week bit o’ fiction inspired by a #RueLouPrompts over on Twitter. I’ve been meaning to do another one of these for a while, but good LORD life. Anyway, this was supposed to be a 500 word flash, and then it got out of hand (as all my short fiction loves to do) and lo, it is now a 2000 word short story of a vaguely fantasy nature. I have literally hammered this out tonight and I’m too tired to give this a thorough check before the publishing deadline, so apologies for any errors you might find. Other than that, enjoy!

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How to Finish Your First Draft (in an Apocalypse)

How to Finish Draft in Apocaplyse
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If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’re in the process of finishing your first draft of something. If that’s the case, CONGRATULATIONS! Getting near the end of your first draft is no small feat. I should know; it’s taken me seven years to finish The End of Atlas. Yes, you heard me right! I’ve finished The End of Atlas first draft!!! Of course, if you’re here, that probably means we have at least one thing in common; we both really struggle to finish anything. That or you’re simply struggling because there’s an apocalypse in progress.  Either way, don’t worry, I’ve got you! This post is a road map of how to finish your first draft (in an apocalypse).

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Blink and You Forget to Blog

blink, blog, forget
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I genuinely can’t believe it’s May and I’ve forgotten to blog for four whole months. It really is a case of blink and you forget all about it this year. The following is a list of blog content that I thought about, and then promptly got distracted because lockdown and other mess:

  • My annual goals list.
  • A post about the Saboteur Awards (which Moon-Sitting got a special mention in by the way, and also go vote on their shortlist).
  • An update on my progress with the end of The End of Atlas.
  • Three shorter pieces of fiction that I promised myself I’d write this year.

So now I’ve actually managed to summon myself out from under my cat, away from Dragon Age and into my desk chair, I guess it’s time to catch-up with my bloggerly duties. What do I feel like addressing today? Shall we start at the top of the list? We shall. Okay, let’s talk goals.

I’m not going to do a review and reset like I have in the past. I feel like 2020 is turning out different enough that ignoring my traditional format is 100% appropriate. Instead, this year, I think I’ll set myself a few writerly tasks, and we’ll talk about knocking them off as I get there.

So what do I want to get done this year?

  1. Finish a draft of The End of Atlas (I’ve been three scenes away from finishing since January because I keep thinking of things I need to add, but STARS I will finish it this year).
  2. Record myself reading one of my stories.
  3. Look into setting up a newsletter.
  4. Submit something to anywhere.
  5. Write three pieces of shorter fiction and publish them somewhere (here or elsewhere).
  6. Help more people with their writing.
  7. Outline the plot for Moon-Sitting 2 (that’s not the real title).
  8. Complete first round of edits on The End of Atlas and get someone to read.

That’s eight things to get done in eight months. Given that life has decided to be chaotic evil for a while, I figure I’ll pick one a month to focus on, formulate a plan to get it done, and then report back. Seem cool? Cool.

Of course, the writing three pieces of short fiction might need more than a month, so I’ll aim to work on that one whenever the other tasks are annoying me (and at least one will be done in that month I try and submit something somewhere).

This month, though, what shall I tackle first? Hmm … I guess … I’ve only got three scenes of Atlas left to write. And they should actually be the last three scenes. I hope. I pray. We’ll go with that one. Let’s do this.

 

Love and Stardust,

EM.

A New Colour of Sunrise

Picture of morning light over some tall sandstone terraced houses
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Pre-Amble:

Surprise! A random mid-week post. Although if you’re over on Twitter, this may not seem so random.

The following is a 500 word flash fiction piece written in response to a prompt created by Rue Sparks: A New Color of Sunrise. I caught wind of this through Rue’s co-conspirator @LW_Writes, who was asking for people to join in so that she would feel less nervous writing flash for the first time. Given that I want to see more writing from Lou … well, here we are. (P.S. If you are a member of the Twitter writing community, go follow these precious gems.)

Now, before you begin reading, I feel I should say, this is based on a character I used to write many moons ago (~laughs at accidental Moon-Sitting related pun). For those of you who’ve watched the video on my brand new Youtube channel, this is the protagonist of the novel Villain that I mention wanting to rework. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter, because it’s always best to let Carson speak for himself.

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Moon-Sitting: On Publishing My First Book

Picture of EM Harding surrounded by review quote of Moon-Sitting, with a back-drop of Moon-Sitting's logo.
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Moon-Sitting: On Publishing My First Book

So, it finally happened. I published a book. Moon-Sitting is out there, readily available to anyone who wants to buy a copy (go here, do a thing, make me happy). It has been surreal.

I started a new job a few weeks ago, back working admin, and my body had been struggling to adjust to the 9-5. I’d been tired, but unable to sleep before midnight; memorising 100 new course facts, but forgetting arrangements with friends 500 times before I had to be somewhere.

Then Tuesday the 12th of November came, and suddenly I had energy again. I woke before my alarm, and as I lay in bed waiting for the heating to kick in, I started spreading the news of Moon-Sitting’s birth across my socials, and answering messages from folks congratulating me. I was amazed by the response. People I’d never seen in my feed before popped up with well wishes. By the time my alarm went off, I was ready to spring out of bed with a leap and a bound!

A picture of a review for Moon-Sitting from Amazon, which reads: So much book in such a small book! Hard to review without giving away the twists and turns that start early and keep it all moving at a speedy but not rushed pace. Great characters, sci fi-y enough to take you to another place but you don’t need a particle physics degree to enjoy this vivid alien world. Very much enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from this author!

Outside of the virtual world, I arrived at work and was greeted by a new colleague with a box of chocolates. “Happy book birthday!” he said, as I sat down, flustered. He told me how much he’d enjoyed the 35% he’d read so far and I tried to keep my grin at a level that wouldn’t send my face into spasm.

I spent the rest of my work day trying not to bounce around the office walls, and outside of work time I was flinging messages back and forth online and chatting with colleagues and friends who knew exactly why there was a smile on my face. During my weekly shop, a tweet from a reviewer appeared, telling me how much they loved it and that I should expect good things.

A tweet from @runalongwomble which reads: Really enjoyed and was surprised by Moon-Sitting by @EM_Writing - a SF take that gets bigger and darker as the plot unravels - very good Hopepunk - review to come.

In the last few days, I’ve been asked to do an author interview, take a spot in a newsletter, had my work analysed as part of the “hopepunk” movement, had my first Amazon reviews, and someone even Googled my book to find my blog. I have never felt more connected. People are enjoying reading my book, Moon-Sitting. I did that. My book child is a success.

I realise that this sounds like an awful lot of bragging, but that’s not really what I’m aiming for with this post. What I want to do is encourage.

I know there are people in the writing community who are sitting on manuscripts, not because their story’s not good enough, but because they don’t think anyone would be interested in traditionally publishing it and self-publishing is a “waste of time”. It’s not. Self-publishing means you get to experience what it’s like to put a book together from beginning to end, and you control how it’s packaged/sold/marketed. Not to mention, YOU GET TO HOLD YOUR BOOK IN YOUR HANDS.

A picture of Moon-Sitting having just arrived in it's new home.

Honestly, having something you wrote perfect-bound with a nice cover is an amazing feeling, and the work I put into making that happen made it all the more wonderful. Self-publishing is worth trying. Even if you try it just for the hell of it.

Now I’m going to climb down from my soap box and add one final comment:

Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy, reviewed/rated the book, liked/commented/shared a post, or just straight up told someone about Moon-Sitting. You are brilliant human beings who continue to amaze me.

Now here is a montage of my friend Tori’s #MoonSittingCC art. She blew up my Facebook notifications for a week, the only person to enter the creative countdown, but refuses to take the proof prize. So, instead, she’s getting a gallery of her art on my blog (get a GD writer platform so I can link people, you pest).

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All the love in Infinity,

EM.

Moon-Sitting: Creative Countdown Announcement

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Moon-Sitting: Creative Countdown Announcement

Hello, fellow humans! We’re now just over a week away from Moon-Sitting’s release and I’m a ball of mad energy. How about you?

Over the past few weeks I’ve received my dinky Moon-Sitting bookmarks and immediately announced them as “MY BABY HAD A BABY” on Twitter. I also accepted a job offer and sorted out a flat in a different city. And TODAY, I finally announced the winner of last month’s giveaway (@Katie_Masters on Instagram). When I say “mad energy”, I do mean both in terms of volume and craziness. I don’t know where it’s coming from; I just keep going.

So, while I’m on a roll, I thought it was time I announced my plans for the next Moon-Sitting competition. It won’t officially start until Tuesday the 5th of November (a week before the release, it’s a Creative Countdown after all), but I wanted to give folks a head start.

Right, so. Starting on the 5th of November, I will be releasing a prompt across all my social media channels, every day, until Moon-Sitting’s release. These prompts can be used to create micro-fiction (no more than 280 characters), similar to #vss365 on Twitter. Or, if you’re more into art/photography, you can use the prompts to inspire some visual artwork!

Below, you will find the calendar of the prompts I will be releasing. This is to give you a chance to come up with ideas, and get creative! I know you guys live busy lives ;D

 

MoonSitting Creative Countdown.jpg

 

This calendar will also be posted to Facebook and Twitter, in case you need to find it quickly. I would post it to Instagram too, but we all know how small and unreadable that would be! Instagram will still have the daily prompt releases, though. (Update: Acutally, I put it on Insta and it’s pretty readable, so you can now find it there too!)

You can enter the Moon-Sitting Creative Countdown using as many prompts as you like as many times as you like, however, I will be judging entries on quality (creativity and style) not quantity. Moon-Sitting is sci-fi and it’s Sci-Fi Month, but you can use the prompts to create pieces in whatever genre takes your fancy. I will anonymise entries first, so friends and family can enter!

If you’re entering on Twitter or Instagram, please make sure to use the hashtag #MoonSittingCC (and tag me if you’ve got space). To enter on Facebook, please submit your entry on the EM Harding page (here). Note: by entering you are agreeing to let me use your name/display name and entry when I announce winners. You must also be willing to give me an address to send a prize to (should you win).

73326591_115846296501051_754591072046284800_nAs I mention above, rather than a prize draw, I will be judging the entries and picking my favourites. These will get anonymised for fairness, and I’ll judge them in terms of creativity and style. Assuming there are enough entries, there will be one winner for the written pieces category and one winner for the visual pieces category. Each winner will receive a signed proof of Moon-Sitting and a Moon-Sitting bookmark. I will also feature other entries that I loved here on this blog.

I’ve really enjoyed running community projects similar to this format in the past, so I will be participating by releasing my own micro-fiction pieces using the prompts (though obviously I will not enter myself in the competition 😉 ). I strongly encourage engaging with other folk’s entries! It’s a great way to meet awesome humans, and I look forward to chatting in the comments!

Love you, lovelies!

EM

P.S. Remember! Moon-Sitting comes out on the 12th of November. You can find all the information about my novella (including reviews and ebook pre-order links) on the Moon-Sitting page of this blog. MOON-SITTING WILL BE AVAILABLE AS A PAPERBACK ON THE 12TH.

Moon-Sitting Giveaway!!!

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Moon-Sitting Giveaway!!!

Just a quick post this week to announce the Moon-Sitting Giveaway!

It’s the Hunter’s Moon today, so I thought it was time for the next Moon-Sitting related treat. This week I’ll be running a giveaway, giving you guys the chance to get hold of a copy of Moon-Sitting before it’s release on November 12th. I have ONE signed proof copy of Moon-Sitting up for grabs.

You can enter into the prize draw through Instagram, Twitter, or my brand new Facebook page! There are three ways to enter on each site (like, share and comment with your favourite space fact on the Moon-Sitting Giveaway posts). However, remember, you must be following me on the relevant platform for your entries to be counted (i.e. if you like the Instagram post, you need to follow me on Instagram for the entry to count for the prize draw). There are nine ways to enter in total!

This competition is international! So feel free to enter even if you’re not UK based. I will ship anywhere. However, bear in mind the book is in English 😉

Entries must be in before 00:01 (GMT) on the 20th of October!

Good luck to you all!

Best,
EM

P.S. Remember: The Moon-Sitting ebook is now available for pre-order on ALL Amazon sites. It will release (along with the paperback) on the 12th of November. Get that date in your calendar 😀

Moon-Sitting: Section Release and Other Goodies

Moon-Sitting
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Moon-Sitting: Section Release and Other Goodies

Pre-Amble:

So, yesterday was a bit of a kerfuffle. Between getting a flu jab and e-mailing folks about ARC copies, I accidentally published the paperback copy of Moon-Sitting a whole month early. After a frantic call to KDP, I discovered that they don’t offer paperback pre-orders and managed to get Moon-Sitting taken down. Ah, the wonders of being a first time indie author.

That being said, I am still in the mood to celebrate! Firstly, I am finally formatting free! Moon-Sitting was uploaded to KDP in the wee hours of Saturday morning and my proof copies are on their way. Unless something’s horrendously wrong, I don’t have to stare at fonts and section breaks again for some time! In addition, I have discovered the pre-order tab on KDP reports, and people HAVE ACTUALLY PRE-ORDERED THE MOON-SITTING EBOOK. You have no idea how happy this made me yesterday, after two weeks solid of staring at text.

So, to celebrate the above, I thought it was about time I gave you a taster of things to come. Below you will find the first 1,102 words of Moon-Sitting (I couldn’t find a nice round number to stop on, it irks me too). If you like them there words, and find yourself hankering for more of Lucky’s adventure, the ebook is already available for pre-order here (or search your version of Amazon for Moon-Sitting) and the paperback will be released on the 12th of November. Remember, liking, sharing and commenting on my posts about Moon-Sitting also helps me a HUGE amount. Algorithms are pesky things beasts, but interaction helps make Moon-Sitting visible.

For the latest news on Moon-Sitting, you can follow this blog, my Twitter (@EM_Writing) or my Instagram (@em0rt). There might be a giveaway happening some time soon ~waggles brows.

I’ve also left a link to something special at the end of this blog post, so stick around!

Moon-Sitting: Opening Pages

The Moon fell into the Ocean and the Waves wept. Their tears swept the lands clean and left the World feeling painfully empty. And so, to fill the aching void, the World gave birth to us, the people of Infinity. The World smiled and danced around the Stars with joy.

That’s the story we tell children when they ask how Infinity came to be. It’s the fairy tale we were told to tell. A bedtime story for tiny tots. If children ask why the Moon fell, their parents shuffle awkwardly and say it was a silly Moon, or a sleepy Moon. They don’t tell them the truth.

The truth would give them nightmares.

Hell, I’m thirty-seven and it still gives me nightmares.

Every time I close my eyes, I find myself walking toward my cabin door. There’s an angry red light coming through the windows and the metal walls are humming with energy. As I touch the latch, I feel every hair stand upright. My skin tingles.

I push the door open and step out onto the deck. I look at the Moon. It’s glowing. I’ve never seen it glow before. Part of me wants to run back to my computer to check the readings, but something stronger is pulling me away from the old cargo ship I call home and down onto the pontoon.

Before I know it, I’m running along the floating jetty, out into the middle of the ocean. The waters are completely still. No waves. Not even a ripple from my weight skittering along the surface. I pause and look down. No face looks back at me. I feel my nose wrinkle and my brow furrow, but I don’t see it. So I continue running. And running.

The Moon sits two miles off the southern coast of Infinity’s single mass continent. The original scientists that held our moon-sitting posts positioned most of the bases far enough away that they would have time to send a warning, should the Moon cause another unnatural disaster. Hector resides in the shipping container five miles from the shore, and Belle lives ten miles inland, in an old caravan. The cargo ship, however, positioned itself right on the beach. I think we’d all prefer it to be further away from the Moon, but it was too useful not to convert for moon-sitting.

As I run, I think of my fellow moon-sitters. I wonder if they’re watching, if they see me sprinting. They must think I’m mad. My dark skin and scutes flake away, revealing ice-white flesh and new, pearly horn. I worry that the light from the Moon is burning me away, but it doesn’t hurt.

Then comes the moment where I’m standing at the foot of the Moon. I’ve never been there in real life. Council law dictates that we must stay away from the Moon unless given special permission. Moon-sitters can only break this law in an emergency, or else face imprisonment. See, the enormous spherical structure isn’t actually a moon. Not really. We don’t know what it is, just that it didn’t so much fall as land with a big enough bump to send tsunamis and earthquakes skittering across our planet’s surface.

In my dreams, the jetty ends two feet from the Moon’s smooth, clean face. I have to hold my hand over my eyes and squint to look at it through the scarlet light. Now I’m close, I feel the vibrations coming from the Moon in my bones. It makes me feel like the world is swimming and I throw up into the sea. I wipe my mouth and stand tall, trying to get my footing back. I breathe deeply – in through my nose, out through my mouth – and reach my hand out towards the Moon. I hover the scutes on my knuckles an inch from the surface. I can’t feel any heat, so I touch it.

Noise explodes out of the Moon. It blasts me away and, as I slide arse-backwards along the pontoon, I see the waves rise high above me, like two enormous hands reaching out of the ocean. They slam down onto my chest, pulling me and the bridge under the water. I see the metal and plastic tear in two and wonder how I’m still alive. Then I blink myself awake.

***

Almost every morning since I moved here, I’ve woken up covered in sweat, with the taste of salt water in my mouth. I stumble to the bathroom, check my reflection has returned, shower and swill my mouth out with root water. We Infinitians haven’t quite gotten around to figuring out how to make dental cleaner again yet. It’s been on the to-do list for a while; the public supply ran out when I was still a kid.

Body and mouth clean, I return to my living quarters and turn on my computer. Marcus – who was the ship’s original tenant and my mentor – built the machine from parts found in Infinity’s last remaining city. He built similar setups in the shipping container and caravan too, as well as setting up the wind turbines that power everything here. Infinity was fortunate enough to have a number of good minds, people who understood how things worked, survive the Moon’s arrival, but things are still not quite the same.

This morning, when I turn on my computer, it brings up the usual readings: a consistent low-level vibration, standard temperature, no signs of life. The Moon is an angry black hole on my screen. I pull back my curtains and look at it through the window. Even half-submerged in the ocean, it’s gigantic. The Moon looms over everything along the coast as far as the eye can see, with its summit five miles above sea level and its diameter a perfect ten miles wide. At certain times of year I get very little direct light.

Most people in City have only ever seen the Moon in pictures. They’re lucky. In the early days, they ran a few small memorial trips for folks to pay their respects. Not many people were interested in going anywhere near the Moon, but Mum brought me when I was still young. Funnily enough, I think the nightmares started after that, but back then it was just me running in the dark. I’m fast, but I think I had to run so far that I never quite understood what I was running to, until I returned to start my moon-sitting apprenticeship with Marcus.

I sit down at my desk and send a message to Hector and Belle:

L: Good morning. Same old sphere. You?

An Additional Gift:

If this whet your appetite, you might also like to pop on over to Youtube, where I’ve created a Moon-Sitting playlist. Some songs have a pretty strong connection to a particular scene, others give a general vibe or energy. You might also notice some similarities between the artwork and the images in Moon-Sitting. Moon-Sitting is an idea that seemingly sprang into my head from nowhere. However, a couple of these songs have been on my playlist for a long while (Wildfire by Slow Magic and Way Back by Vicetone). These, along with some of the tracks on my personal playlist, may well have been a subconscious influence. They definitely kept be going through writing, editing and formatting 😉

Final note:

I really want to thank everyone who’s supported this little project so far. I’ve loved writing since I was a child, and pretty soon I’ll be able to hold my own book in my hands. The fact that it’s self-published makes it all the more special. Moon-Sitting will exist because of my own force of will and because of the kindness and enthusiasm of others.

So thank you, and I hope you’re having a good weekend!

EM

P.S. If you’re a reviewer interested in a digital ARC, please fill in this form.