RIFT - Scene 10

First of all, thanks to everyone who shared, bought, recommended or otherwise helped spread word of the Exodus sale earlier this month! And to everyone who has reviewed Genesis, a huge thanks. With the Exodus Trilogy complete, it is great fun to go all in with Rift, which is set on Earth a few centuries after the events in Exodus.

If you´re not familiar with Rift, let me just mention that I blog every scene, raw, unedited, and if you like following the process, you are welcome to do so here on the blog. If you prefer to save yourself for the final edited novel, just skip these posts. Either way, expect the novel to be quite different, as I tend to change everything a lot throughout the editing process.

Alright then, some background for this scene. After writing the scene in which Dave had gone to the Cottage, and discussing the economic/political system of the Covenant, I realized I needed to flesh out the background for the Covenant a bit. What kind of place is this? How did it become what it is? Who are the Moon people? Why do they wield such power? What does the Wardens do? And what is the Rift?

That, and many other questions will, to some degree, be answered in the next scene. So here it is!

 

RIFT - Scene 10:

 

Dave was struggling to find a comfortable position, sitting with the other initiates, while a Warden, probably not more than a couple years older than him, lectured.

"You all know the story, or at least the parts taught in schools, and I expect you to know the basics already. Yesterday we covered the Fall, where humanity descended into darkness. The Fall is where the history books all begin, so let´s just leave it at that for now. The Dark Age lasted for almost half a century, and there was no hope in sight, just a scattering of surviving groups, soon only descendants of those who survived the actual impact, which killed most of humanity." The Warden intoned, clearly bored from having told the same story too many times. Dave was finally finding a good position, and tried to pay more attention. He´d never been that interested in history, so occasionally there were nuggets that he´d never heard before.

"Then came the Descent, in which the Moon People brought salvation. Shortly after landing, they began gathering the scattered groups and communities, one by one. In the beginning, the people were simply cared for; sheltered, fed, protected. Then, as more joined in, this started to become increasingly difficult. So, just a few years after the Descent, the Moon People made one demand. In order to receive help, a number of people had to make a contribution. For seven years, those selected would serve obediently, in order to feed, shelter and protect the others. Thus, the first Covenant was born. The first service was the Corpus, and it was back breaking work. Cleaning rubble, clearing fields, road building, sowing and plowing, building, constructing. Hard manual labor. Many didn´t make the seven years, but the Moon People demanded that everyone stayed until their term was up. And through those hard years, the form and shape of the Corpus that we know today, was created. Eventually, the need arose for different kinds of services, and the Janissaries were created. Enemies were trying to capture revived lands, both in the north and the south, and the Janissaries became the most powerful fighting force on the ground. Supported by Moon People air and sea power, the Janissaries swept south and subdued all enemies all the way down to the Floral Sea. With the south conquered, it quickly became apparent that there was no way the Moon People could control such large areas of land unless the conquered peoples became part of the growing nation. And so, twenty years after the Descent, the second Covenant was formed, in which the southern peoples committed to the same allegiance to the common good as those that had gone before them. They would be eligible for Service, the first years only in the Corpus and then later in the Janissaries, and in return the families of those serving would receive enough food and goods to live out the life of the serving family member. Eventually, most of the fertile lands of the south became State property, run by the Corpus, although some parts became ordinary towns and villages as well, such as Charlestown and Stonehaven." The Warden paused and Dave thought of how he´d never realized there had been more than one Covenant. The pact that bound them all together, must have been revised several times over. In school, he´d always thought the Covenant to be something that had always been there. Now, as he listened intently, despite the lecturer´s obvious boredom, he found that he was learning something new with every sentence.

"So now there was peace in the south, and the second Covenant lasted for thirty years. In the north, the wars lasted for months and years at a time, but there were no clear winners. The nortern enemies never managed to capture land for more than brief periods, while Legacy never wanted the barren lands of the north, simply because they are worthless, and the cost of making a final push north would be too high. Also, another threat appeared, that not even the Janissaries could contain alone." Dave cocked his head. He´d never heard of this.

"Far to the west, even further than we are now, lies the Rift. A deep depression, created by the Fall, that separate the furthest reaches of the Covenant from a wasteland far more dangerous than anything found up north. A poisonous river runs through the Rift, creating a natural barrier, and sheer cliffs rise on both sides of this depression. Beyond the Rift there are people, descendants of other survivors of the Fall, but very different. Disease and radiation have changed them into aggressive predators, fighting amongst themselves, scavenging. Some of the tribes are cannibals, others have turned to some sort of twisted religion, and human sacrifice are common." Dave shuddered.

"A zone was created, two hundred kilometers wide, between the Rift and the Covenant. A forbidden zone, where only a few select people, in Service to the State, would be allowed. These people would be rangers, soldiers, scientists, independent thinkers, who knew when to act and how. They would be sworn to secrecy, because the sights they would see out there, and the things necessary to do to protect, was something Legacy decided to spare the people of the Covenant. These were the first Wardens, and this camp is located in the forbidden zone." Dave jumped a heartbeat, and looked around. Others seemed surprised as well, even Liz, who always seemed to take everything in stride, never letting anything faze her.

"When the first Wardens began patrolling the zone, there were still only Moon people officers in the Services. Eventually though, non- Moon people had to be put in charge as well, because the Moon people, even though they have multiplied since the Descent, were only so many. And when disloyal Janissary and Wardens revolted, it was non- Moon people commanders who put down the revolt. In recognition of their Service, Legacy decided to extend the privilege of citizenship to all who serve honorably to their term´s end. Also, because of the mortality rates among the Janissaries, their term was reduced to three years instead of the usual seven. A good many other laws were passed in the final year of the second Covenant. So many that by the turn of the century, the third Covenant was proclaimed. Among the new laws were the creation of the Students, the service where the University and the Academy would select the very brightest young men and women to be groomed into scholars." It still stung. Dave knew he should have been among the Students, although he´d fit in just fine here in the Wardens. But still, the way the lecturer had just described Warden service, he now felt a pang of regret, for not being up in Legacy, with Chas and Felicia.

"For thirty years there was peace, and then the first Corpus revolt happened. It was put down hard, and ever since, life in the Corpus has remained… well, let´s just keep it at that. Corpus service is a sacrifice, something that someone must do for the common good of all the rest of us. Those who manage three years in the Corpus are usually transferred from mining and farming to factory work, which is a bit better. Still hard work, but those working the factories have earned the right to better conditions. I´ll put it this way, in the factories there are foremen instead of whippers." The Warden seemed to have eased into his lecture a bit more, and it seemed less of a recital, now that he was approaching modern times. The initiates also seemed a bit more eager. Now and then a question would arise, and the Warden would try to answer as best he could.

"Why do those people on the other side of the Rift try to come here?" someone asked.

"Well, there may be several reasons, but I suspect life out there can be pretty unbearable. Unfortunately, disease and radiation has mutated their genes so badly we cannot allow them to pass the zone. Sometimes it shows, and those we have to fight, and put down the hard way. Other times the damage is invisible. Then we stop them and help them return to where they came from. Next question?"

"Does anyone ever go the other way?"

"No, or at least, they won´t get too far. We have motion detectors and sensors all over the zone, and if someone should enter from the east, they will be turned back. The zone is forbidden. The Rift is something only a Warden should see. And the wastelands beyond, well, I wouldn´t want anyone to go there. Crossing the Rift is death. Next!"

"What caused the Rift?"

"The Fall. Or rather, the thing that caused the Fall. Next."

"What caused the Fall?"

"A disaster. Only the Moon people knows. Only the Moon people are allowed to know. Next."

"The Moon People come from the Moon, right? What were they doing there?"

"I am not privileged to that information, and neither are you." Dave noticed the questions were taking a turn away from the history lession, and the lecturer seemed to tighten up by it, like he wasn´t supposed to talk about some of these issues. Warden initiates all seemed to be like him; curious, and although this line of questioning was interesting enough, Dave wanted to know more of the history.

"What happened after the first Corpus revolt?" Dave said. The lecturer looked almost relieved at the question, and eager to answer.

"Well, when the Corpus first revolted, the third Covenant was deemed to have come to an end. After that, Legacy decided there would only be "the Covenant", where new laws and orders could simply be incorporated into the old system." He paused for a moment, thinking hard.

"Since the first revolt was put down hard, you should expect there to be a long period of peace. But the opposite happened. The third Covenant ended almost seventy years ago, and in the first twenty years, there were three major uprisings. Now, this is classified information, not to leave Warden territory, you got that?" He waited until everyone either nodded or answered yes, before continuing.

"All evidence point towards outside involvement. And not just towns and regions in the Covenant. No, there were insurgents, terrorists, from outside the Covenant as well."

"From the north?" someone asked. The lecturer made a gesture.

"Who knows. Could be that, or someone from the less damaged populations out west. They do have weapons out there, you know. Either way, the last revolt was fifty years ago, and the Covenant has been very prosperous since then. Nowadays, I don´t see an uprising as a likely thing to happen. The economy is good, The Corpus seem quiet, the Janissaries are in control of the northern borderlands, and we have noticed nothing unusual out here. A few intrusions now and then, but they are swiftly deal with, and it doesn´t seem organized in any fashion. No, I´d say this is a good time to serve, and hopefully you´ll all earn your citizenship in a time of peace and prosperity." Dave couldn´t agree more. As long as there was peace he would deal with the challenges his Service would throw at him. But as the lecture ended he wondered if his time of Service would be as quiet and uneventful as the lecturer had expected, or if the last fifty years had just been the quiet before the storm.

 

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RIFT - Scene 9

I have another RIFT scene for you all today. As you probably know, this is first draft material, and once it´s done it will be published as a novel. And being a first draft, there will be A LOT of changes as we go. Today you will notice I changed the name of one of the Services, the Guardians, into the more fitting Janissaries. Inspired by Ottoman Turkish slave soldiers, I find the idea to be more in line with how I envision the Guardian status. Slaves that will always be "inferior"to their masters , and yet, able to gain status and power. Well, I haven´t thought it all through- sometimes I just write and let the ideas come as they please, and the result of such a writing method can actually be quite good.

And then, if you haven´t heard already, or figured it out yourself, let me tell you this. RIFT takes place on Earth, centuries after the destruction caused by Devastator in Exodus. So RIFT is actually connected to the Exodus Trilogy, although it can also be a good starting point for new readers. I think that could become something pretty cool, don´t you? 

Alright, here we go.

RIFT- Scene 9.

A mannequin stood before the initiates, empty eyes staring straight through them, arms hanging motionless. The black suit covering it from neck to toes was unlike anything Sue had ever seen. It was a Janissary battle dress. Unlike the formal parade uniforms she had seen so many times, which was tight fitting and made of some shiny fabric, this one seemed bulky. It was matte, and the black looked almost gray because of thousands of tiny sensors covering its entire surface. Beside the mannequin lay a visored helmet, with tubes and wires obviously meant to connect it to the suit when worn.

«Looks impressive, doesn’t it? « Tac Hordvik said, grinning. 
«Not some parade uniform, but the real thing, built for fighting.»  Sue looked at the tacticus. He was of the Moon People, with distinct, angular features and the bearing of a man whose heritage was something he always measured himself up against.
«Some of you may come to love the battle dress, those of you who get a chance to wear it in combat, for it will save your life.» He looked at every one of them, taking his time. There were nine left from her initiate squadron. From her team, all except Brad was still there, meaning that the other teams had taken harder losses. Sue was glad to still have Julian and Keisha though, but she would have been even happier if she didn´t have to deal with Quinn. 
«In the Janissaries, you should expect injuries. You may stand too close to a blast, get caught up in a chemical attack, or get sprayed by a hail from a machine gun, storming an enemy position. And the battle dress will be the only thing standing between you and glory.» Meaning death, Sue thought.

«A Janissary and his suit are as one single organism. It´s like a symbiosis, where if you treat your suit well, it will keep you alive. Sensors all over, both on the outside and inside, will notice subtle changes in you and your environment. The powerful AI knows your needs even before you do, and acts accordingly.»The tacticus walked slowly from side to side, and Sue listened intently as he explained some of the battle suit´s functionality. 
«Of course, it protects you from most small arms fire, blast and fragments. But it can do so much more. Say you´re dead tired from days of fighting, or laying surrounded, enemies all around, and yet you struggle to keep awake. If you fall asleep, you may not be able to get out of a sticky situation. And all the while, your eyes keep sliding shut, and you have trouble keeping a clear thought. Well, the suit will notice, and when you reach a certain level of fatigue, the suit will inject stimulants directly into your blood stream. Enough to keep you from falling asleep, if you need to lay still, or enough to give you a real adrenaline boost if the situation demands it.» Sue looked at the suit again. An AI to make life or death decisions almost frightened her. But she also knew there were situations where you needed to act quickly, and one day the suit´s abilities might save her life.
«Sometime though, even Janissaries need to sleep. The suit can fix that too. Just tell the AI, and it will help you find the rest you need, through chemical and electric stimuli of certain parts of your brain. Heck, you can even set the timer.» Tac Hordvik chuckled, and a few of the initiates smiled as well. The tacticus stopped and looked at them. His ice blue eyes sometimes unnerved her. Moon people eyes.
«Imagine being alone out there. Near the coast, the fog can get as thick as soup, and your line of sight stretches no more than a few meters in front of you. The suit though, can warn you, long before your eyes can see them, and give you an early warning, pinpointing your enemy´s location. And if you´re incapacitated, the suit can eject a poisonous gas that kills up to fifteen meters away. Of course, you won’t be harmed, as you will be injected with an antidote.»

«Everybody think they know a Janissary. People all over the Covenant have seen proud Janissaries parading in their uniforms. This though, is the true color of our Service. The battle dress is what sets us apart from our enemies. We have powerful weapons, just as they do. They have just as much conviction and determination as we do, just as much of a purpose and faith and fervor. They have amazing fighting skills and their soldiers are just as well trained as ours. But our suits keeps us alive, and helps us win, even outnumbered ten to one. Without a functional suit, we´re just as vulnerable as they are. But with the suit powered and active, we are close to invincible.»

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WHY INDIE?

Indies are changing the face of publishing! (and music, and movies)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2014/07/01/indies-how-your-next-door-neighbor-is-changing-commerce/

When I started writing, I very early on decided not to query publishers. Several reasons for that, really, but mainly it was a straight up business decision. By my reasoning, I couldn’t see what value a publisher would add, that justified paying 75% to 95% of the earnings for, besides giving up ownership of the all rights, possibly forever. And the non- compete clauses, which have become more or less the standard in traditional contracts, would make it impossible to write anything in a world that I created, unless the publisher gave me permission! Asking for permission to write my own characters? In my own world? And not being able to publish those stories however I damned well feel like? To me, that's a deal breaker.

So I chose self- publishing, or to use the term adopted from the music and movie world, I went indie.

Some people might say, "but what about editing?"  or "a publisher would market your book" or "self- published books look unprofessional" .

Well, first of all, these questions show a lack of understanding of current publishing trends. Avaliable data show that indies are capturing a growing share of the total number of books, especially on Amazon, which is the biggest book store and retailer in the world. In electronic format there's no stopping the indies, and this is where the real growth is. I'm Norwegian, and most people here haven't even read an ebook before (Norwegian publisher are WAY behind in this area, and the publishers own the brick and mortar stores... AND they are protected by politicians from left to right, so don't expect any development from this corner of the world...), so they may have a hard time understanding this. Expect Norway to adopt ebooks when we run out of trees!

But back to the indies. In certain genres, such as Science Fiction, Indies account for more than 50% of the titles in the top 100 list! So it is definitely a preferred option by many, and readers don't care about the publisher; they care about a good story, good editing, and good formatting. A great cover that draws attention, is an absolute must.

Does self- publishing mean going it alone then? Heck no. Not if you want your books to sell, and be read. Not if you want great reviews and readers who crave your stories.

So I do have a team. I wouldn't want to do this without one. I do have an excellent editor, carefully selected among many other great professionals. And I have an awesome cover designer, who works with me on making covers that convey genre, sets the books apart- covers that sell books. And I have advertising partners, venues that helps me reach hundreds of thousands of potential readers, mostly genre specific. And let me tell you this: no traditionally published books by unknown authors get much advertising anyway. You have to step up and do most of the marketing yourself, whether you're trad published or indie.

I pay every one of my "team members" and business partners a fair price. I never skimp on quality. But I don’t give away the rights to my works, or a percentage of earnings (which could be anywhere from a few measly bucks to thousands of dollars throughout the years).

Instead, I am independent. I own all rights, and I owe no one anything. And for as long as my works are on the market (ebooks and print on demand books never go out of print...),  they will be a possible source of income, for the rest of my life and 70 years beyond.

So, going indie is a sound business decision. This article from Forbes tells us that more and more people are beginning to see it the same way.

I never even considered the alternative.

 

Have you signed up to my email list yet? You should!

I don't spam, and you get to be the first to know whenever I have something new out. Also, you get the story ALIVE for free!

SO what are you waiting for!

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RIFT - Scene 8

So I hope you are all enjoying Genesis, the third and final installment of the Exodus Trilogy!

Now, I want to move ahead to RIFT, which will eventually be published in novel format. Here you can follow the process, by reading the scenes as I write them, completely unedited. If you don´t like reading first draft material, you should skip these posts, but if you want to see how the story evolves, you might get something out of this.

Well, let´s get to it then. Here´s a scene from Dave´s point of view. While we learn more of what kind of society the Covenant is, and a small part of its history, Dave is gradually learning more of what the Wardens are all about.

RIFT- Scene 8:

«So, basically, the Covenant consists of two economic systems?» Dave asked rhetorically. Teacher Hughes nodded back at him. Dave was eager, and had found that the Wardens, although not as prestigious and well known for their research and knowledge as the Students, were a Service where those who had a thirst for knowledge might find themselves well situated. The Teachers were only too eager to welcome initiates such as Dave, who had barely missed Student Selection. One of them, Rogers, claimed that those picked by the Wardens often had stronger motivation than Student initiates, which made them better scholars in the long run. Dave had learned that while the Students had their Academy and their University, the Wardens had their Cottage. It wasn´t well known, or glamorous in the least, but Dave was beginning to believe it might be equal to the Legacy institutions in quality of research and inventory of knowledge.

They had spent the first three weeks in camp, learning everything from how to build a fire and constructing improvised shelter, to physical training, to intermediate physics, chemistry and economics. Only when they had been deemed worthy, the initiates moved into the Cottage. Dave was among the first group to be awarded the honor, and immediately settled in nicely. This was the first lecture by one of the Teachers at the Cottage he attended, and he immediately felt more at home with the more advanced levels of learning here, than with the more basic levels taught by the Teachers back at the initiate camp.

«Indeed, initiate Wagner. How many of you have ever thought about why everybody just sell their goods locally? Simple, it´s a matter of price and demand. To move goods further than a few towns away would make them too expensive to sell, and unable to compete with goods carrying lower transportation costs. So that limits the business geographically.» Teacher Hughes said.

«While Legacy, who get all their goods from the Corpus lands, while paying a higher transportation cost actually pays less altogether because of the cheap labor.» Dave continued.

«Service. Not cheap labor. Service to the State.» Hughes admonished mildly, a hint of a smile touching the corner of his mouth, before he addressed the class.

«But yes, a little blunt, but initiate Wagner got it right. That´s the two economic systems we have in the Covenant. One that sustains a strong State and the welfare of its citizens, and one that ensures a sound economy, with an optimal distribution of goods among the non citizens in every town from Charlestown in the south to Fort Winter in the north.» He looked at his watch. Unlike school back home, there was no set time and no bell to signal the end of one class and the beginning of another. No, it was all up to the Teachers. And there was plenty of room between classes for such a flexible system, room which the initiates spent discussing amongst themselves, asking follow-up questions to the Teachers, or just hanging out with friends. Dave found that even though he had thrived in the more disciplined system back home, he actually learned more, or rather, he gained a deeper understanding of the subjects, within the Warden system.

«Time for a break, folks. Teacher Gregers will be ready in half an hour, so let´s try to stay close, shall we?» Everyone scurried out of the classroom, speaking loudly amongst themselves.

«Initiate Wagner. Will you stay for a few minutes, please?» Teacher Hughes said. Dave immediately froze. It must be something he said. He was terrified of messing up, now that he was beginning to think of the Wardens as so much more than just a second best option for his years of Service. He held back until everyone had left the room, standing a few steps away from Teacher Hughes, waiting nervously.

«David Wagner… Charlestown boy, right? We don´t get to many from your parts…» he opened a folder, and read quietly for a moment. Dave remained quiet.

«Hm. Such a clever young man. I bet you expected to be somewhere else right now though, didn´t you?» The Teacher sighed. Dave tried to think of something to say, but the words just wouldn´t come.

«Well, there´s not much glory or fame to be had here, so if that´s what you were hoping for, I can assure you, life here will be difficult for you.» He peered at Dave, cocking his head slightly to the left.

«But that´s not it, is it? No, I don´t think it is. You have something there kid. Potential, yes that´s it. You don´t care about the fame and the prestige and all that, no… You seek knowledge. And such a seeker of knowledge can have a bright future here. Unless of course…» Teacher Hughes stopped abruptly. Then he smiled, and closed the folder.

«The system isn´t perfect, far from it. But it´s the best we could possibly have. Before Descent, and the Great Recovery, there was chaos. Before that, a system that in the face of danger, couldn´t protect its citizens.»

«But isn´t unfair that…» Dave began, but stopped when he saw the hard look the Teacher gave him.

«The system prevents disorder. And, yes, it rewards the citizens of Covenant. Understand this though, Initiate Wagner; the state is vital to our survival. Citizens earn their privileges. And one day you might as well.» he sighed again.

«You will learn, son. I wasn´t born a citizen; I don´t have Moon blood running through my veins. But I´ve learned that everything we have, our way of life, is all because of the Moon People, and the concept of Service to the State.» Dave noticed Teacher Hughes got a faraway look in his eyes as he paused for a moment. Then he focused his gaze on Dave once again.

«There are dangers you wouldn´t dream of out there, Initiate. If we were to give an inch, our enemies would take everything we´ve got. Everything we´ve built. And ultimately, we would be left outside of the protection of the Moon People.» Dave nodded slowly. He knew there were dangers, outside the safety of Covenant. He´d never taken most of it seriously though. It had always felt too distant. Teacher Hughes, on the other hand, looked like he knew more than he would tell, and yet, he obviously felt the need to warn Dave. To make him take it as seriously as he did.

«The Moon People saved us all, and every day since, the Covenant has been all about preserving what they built. Moon blood or not, we´re all in this together.» The Teacher´s stare seemed to pierce right through him, and Dave saw something he hadn´t noticed before. Fear. Like he´d seen more than was good for him. And a fervor Dave hadn´t noticed before. He felt a chill running down his spine.

«We´re living on the edge of a knife´s blade, son. One wrong move and our society falls. We are Wardens, and our job is to make sure that doesn´t happen. Whatever the cost.» 

As Dave walked toward his next lecture, he had a feeling he´d soon enough learn what Teacher Hughes seemed to fear so much. And he didn´t look forward to it.

---

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Genesis is out!

The day has come, Genesis is now live, and for a few days the price is only 99 cents. That´s a 75% discount for you early readers.

Normally, whenever a book is published, it´s the other way around. The most loyal readers pays the most, while those who wait get the discounts. Well, I think that´s unfair. I want YOU, who have been patiently waiting, to get the discounted price! So go grab it now, before the price goes up. 

Here´s the link for U.S. and international readers: http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Exodus-Trilogy-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00LEW26ZA/

Here´s the link for my U.K. buddies: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Genesis-Exodus-Trilogy-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00LEW26ZA/

 For you Canadians, Australians (go Tasmania!) and everyone else, you know where to find me! ;-)

I know some of you have said you will buy the book at full price. I urge you to go and get it now instead. Doing so would mean you help push the book onto the genre bestseller lists, which will give it increased visibility. This is a very valuable contribution, and can help readers find it, who wouldn't otherwise. And if you feel like it, you could always write a short review on Amazon, or tell a friend about my books, or share a Facebook post... Or anything else you might think of! ☺

Alright then, I would like to share few words on book length, Amazon and pacing with you. Genesis is approximately the same length as Exodus and Aurora. In fact, Genesis is the longest, with Aurora a few pages shorter, and Exodus slightly shorter than Aurora. The reason I mention this is that on Amazon, the book is aproximated to 162 pages, while in fact it is almost twice that length. As far as I can tell, this is some sort of glitch that happens to books when the ebook is published before the paper book. It will eventually be sorted out, but in the meantime it is easy to think Genesis is shorter than the others. It happened with Aurora.

Even though Genesis is the longest of the books, I am certain many will feel it is the quickest read. I believe this has to do with pacing. As the plot moves forward, the reader begin to feel everything is moving more quickly. And be warned, in Genesis, A LOT OF THINGS happen VERY QUICKLY...

So now, as we reach the end of the Exodus Trilogy, I hope you have enjoyed the ride. I have a feeling that although the trilogy has come to an end, this is not our last visit to Aurora, and I hope you will come with me once we return!

For now though, let's dive into the explosive finale of the Exodus Trilogy. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all your support along the way!

 

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RIFT - Scene 7

Here´s another scene from RIFT!

For new readers, let me just explain briefly what this is all about. I am putting every scene of this upcoming novel up here on the blog, first draft, completely unedited. Once the entire first draft is finished, it will be thoroughly edited, of course. So this is a way for those of you who are interested, to follow the process, from first draft to the finalized book you will find on Amazon.

Warning: If you are put off by typos, poor word choice, errors in timeline, and whatever mistakes you can think of, please, don´t read any further. This is a FIRST DRAFT, and the finished novel will look quite different. Actually there may even be plot holes or inconsistencies, that may result in the finished novel being VERY different. I´m just saying.

If you do want to continue reading, and you haven´t read the previous Rift posts, I strongly urge you to go back and read them in order. They are clearly marked, so it should´t be a problem finding them.

In this scene, Sue finds herself in the middle of basic training. I made up a ranks system for the Guardians, and played around with how to explain it to the reader. This might be a bit of an info dump, but I guess that´s something I´ll work on later. This is first draft, after all. Let me know what you think!

All right, let´s just get to it, shall we?

 

Rift - scene 7:

«Move, you lazy bastards!» the tacticus yelled. Sue gritted her teeth, and kept running, despite the metallic taste of blood in her mouth, her lungs screaming for air and her muscles begging for just a brief respite. She kept moving, because whatever she did, she would not be among the washouts. Too many of them had already gone south, kicked out from failing to meet the rigorous standards of the Guardians.

Basic training was by far the toughest challenge she´d ever faced, except for dealing with the deaths of her family, of course. The tacticus in charge of her team of initiates was an imposing figure, a sun tanned face with blue eyes and hard angular features, hair and mustache the color of sand. His name was Hordvik. She had begun to notice most of the officers were Moon People, and although tacticus wasn´t strictly an officer rank, she believed there weren´t too many non Moon People among the higher ranks. Tac. Hordvik was no exception, and he behaved as if used to command even though he couldn´t be more than a few years older than her. And indeed, those she had encountered so far all seemed bred to command, bred for war. She wondered if there were any non Moon People ranked above tacticus. It was difficult to think that way, without wondering how many of the initiates would last through basic, but as soon as the thought hit her, she forced it away. No use in thinking about it. If it happened, it happened.

«What the hell are you doing, Atlas? Move it!» she heard Tac. Hordvik yelling. She picked up her pace, just to avoid being singled out. The punishment for not giving your everything was harsh enough, but finding yourself the mark of a bullying tacticus could break you. No more thinking now, she thought. Just keep moving.

She was all spent when Tac. Hordvik ordered them to halt. She had to exert herself just to keep standng, but through the fog of exhaustion she saw another officer walking up to the tacticus.

«Sir, Team one three Charlie ready, sir!» Hordvik said, standing at attention. She saw the two silver stars of the other officer. Sub meridian, she rehearsed quietly. She still didn´t have the ranks all sorted out. She did know a sub meridian outranked the tacticus though. She tried reciting the ranks. The initiates were the lowest of the low, at the bottom of the ladder, barely worth their boots. Then came the junior guardians. Nobody used the junior prefix though, except a senior, if he meant to put down the former. Junior guardians were those who had passed basic and weapons training. Once you gained the single JG bar, you were deemed combat ready, if only for gunner duty. Meaning cannon fodder. For more skilled tasks there were senior guardians, who had at least three months of JG duty behind them. Next came the sub tacticus and the tacticus, team ranks still, but there were actually a few non Moon People among these ranks, she´d heard.

«I see you are driving them hard, Tac. Hordvik.» the sub meridian stated. The tacticus puffed out his chest.

«I do my best sir.» he answered. The officer clearly liked the response; short and without any fluff, as he nodded.

«Well Tac., I see that. Keep doing what you´re doing, and you might actually make guardians out of this lot after all.» he said. Sue thought the two looked alike, but it was the same with so many of the Moon People. They even had similar names.

They were given a short break, to hydrate and check for blisters on their feet. Five minutes later they were up and running again, and Sue wondered if the break had actually made them more tired. She certainly felt that way. She began rehearsing the ranks system again.

The teams were the smallest unit in the Guardians, except for patrols, which were units put together for a specific mission, and didn´t have permanent members. The teams were usually headed by either a tacticus or a head tacticus, which was the lowest official officer rank. Three or four teams made up a squadron, which were led by a sub meridian or a meridian. Three or four squadrons made a battalion, usually led by a head meridian or a meridian. Altogether, the initiates in basic training had made up a battalion when they began, but now, a few weeks into it, she guessed there couldn´t be more than two squadrons left, tops.

Once they finished basic- and weapons training though, they would be assigned to one of the brigades, which were self- contained fighting units holding their particular sectors with only air- or in the far eastern sectors, sea- support. The brigade was commanded by a sub strategos. And then there was the battle group, which was formed of at least two Guardian brigades, and commanded their own air- and sea- support. These were commanded by a strategos, the highest rank found in the Guardians. 

She had wondered, at first, whether she would be able to try out for air- or sea- service, but quickly learned that these units were pure Moon People only, and all their training was kept separate from the Guardians. Air and Sea only submitted to Guardian command when part of a battle group, which meant that even the lowest airman never took orders from Guardians below the rank of strategos. She found that curious, but from what happened to one of the initiates who asked too many questions, she had learned to keep her mouth shut. Albert she thought his name was, from Holstonhead. One day he was gone, washed out, she heard someone say. Another said she heard one of the officers talking about this kid from Holstonhead, who was transferred to the Corpus. From that point she made it a point not to get singled out, and so far so good.

She had found, in the few spare moments between rigorous training sessions meant to harden them physically and mentally, that she was forming bonds with her team mates. None of her friends from Charlestown were on her team, and the teams were generally kept separated. Still, there was Brad from Morrow, Keisha from Fort Winter, just south west of here, and Julian from Bunkerville. All friends, growing tighter with every trial they faced together.

On the opposite end, there was Quinn, a volunteer from Hodgeton who seemed to find great joy in the fact that Keisha struggled with keeping up from time to time. Also, she had learned that Julian had difficulty reading, and Quinn seemed to enjoy taunting him for it, telling him how difficult a time he would face, once they moved on to weapons training, and how much they were required to read in order to make it through.

Still, even with the hardships, and despite scumbags such as Quinn, Sue found herself becoming a part of something, and she was beginning to think that the Guardians might, in time, become her family as well.

Genesis coming soon, very soon...

I have an update for you on Genesis!

 

It is now in the hands of my excellent editor, Shelley Holloway, and hopefully we´ll be able to work through it so that it can be out by the end of this month. There are no guarantees when it comes to publishing a book, since I will not hit the «publish» button until it is absolutely the best it can be, but from experience I´d say it is reasonable to expect this process to take about a month. 

 

In the meantime I am, believe it or not, writing! I expect to have another scene of RIFT up pretty soon, and I also have my Super Secret Project going, the one I will only reveal once it´s done. Can´t wait… ;-)  Also, I´m working on finding a few elements that I will need for the cover, and speaking of covers, which one did you like best; Exodus or Aurora?

 

For those of you who already subscribe to my mailing list (hey, you may not even remember, since I only send you an email when I have something substantial, never spam!), you’re the lucky ones! Once Genesis is out, I´ll send you a notice, and if you act quickly, you´ll get the ebook at a 75% discount! That is 99 cents, less than a buck, instead of the $3.99, which will be the regular price. I´d say that´s a bargain! Especially for a brand new novel! If you aren´t on the list, hey, what are you waiting for? Here´s the link: christensenwriting.com/signup

 

If you are willing to wait, I will publish an omnibus edition of the entire Exodus Trilogy. I can´t tell you when, since I don´t know how soon I can make that happen, but I think it´ll be awesome to see the three books together, finally. The list price of the omnibus will be $5.99, so if price is an issue, you should go grab Genesis for a buck instead (so check your inbox, and even your spam folder, so you don´t miss out).

 

That´s all for now, folks! See you soon!

 

RIFT - Scene 6

It´s been a while since my last post, so I guess it´s time for an update on my various projects. First off, Genesis is in its final stages of self-editing. As soon as I get through every missing description, and badly worded dialogue, I´ll send it off to my editor. She has a very full schedule, so I cannot say how that phase will take, but I´ll keep you all posted as soon as I have some new info. I also have a Super Secret Project going, which will surprise some of you, while others will say "I knew it!" Let´s just say that if you like my books you´ll definitely love this one!

And then there is RIFT. I´m trying out different writing methods, in order to become a better, faster writer, and for RIFT, I´ve begun writing short beats as a middle ground between pantsing  (writing without a specific plan, letting creativity flow freely) and outlining (planning every scene beforehand). The beats are really helpful, and keeps me on track without limiting my writing to a strict plan, and thus hampering creativity. I might use this method more, since I find it´s a very useful technique that suits me well.

Here´s another scene, where Dave finally reaches the grounds of the secretive Wardens.

RIFT, Scene 6

The train moved quietly through the landscape and the only sound was the low chatter among initiates. The further west they went, the more sparse the habitation. Finally there were nothing but untouched nature as far as the eye could see. Dave knew he should get some sleep, but he was far too nervous to even try. There weren't many Warden initiates, and most were from places he'd barely heard of. He didn't know the others from Charlestown, and even they mostly kept to themselves, so he had no idea what to expect.

One thing was that the Wardens were a mystery in themselves. Another was that no one told him anything, even though he noticed some of the initiates talked to each other as if they knew more than he did. He just sat there, by himself, staring out the window, as the train sped west, through the rolling hills and the valley beyond, of which he'd only read in school text books. Soon he was farther west than he'd ever been, further than anyone were allowed. Obviously, the Wardens were allowed out here though. 

When the train slowed down and finally halted he was dead tired and excited all at once. A man in olive fatigues and a shaggy beard ushered them out of the cart and onto a platform where several others were waiting. Most wore the same fatigues, but he noticed that although they had some resemblance to the militaristic Guardians, with uniforms and certainly a chain of command of sorts, these looked like they all had adapted their individual styles. There were bandanas and hats abound, but also uncovered heads, shades, tattoos, and even a few short sleeves. Off in a corner of the platform, a couple of young men and a woman were smoking, a sickly sweet scent that told him that this was definitely an illegal substance. He'd never actually smelled it, let alone smoked it, but he remembered learning about it once, in class. They said it was dangerous and would kill you. When they noticed him staring, they grinned at him and laughed. He quickly averted his eyes. 

"Hey! Watch where you're going." One of the other initiates, a girl, said. She smiled as he fumbled, almost lost his footing. She was lean, and looked fit, with full lips and auburn, close cropped hair. He'd noticed her boarding the train at one of the last stops, and she was one of those initiates who already seemed to know their way around. She offered her hand.

"Liz." He took her hand, and shook it.

"Dave.»

"I guess you haven't tried kissweed before, have you?" she said. He shook his head. She chuckled, but didn't say anything. A grey bearded fellow who stood out, not just because of his multi-colored shirt, but also because he was obviously an authority here, walked across the platform and stood in front of them.

"Allright, initiates, listen up." He said loud enough for everyone to hear.

"I'll give you no speech, promise. I just want you to know that you are welcome, and that I hope you will settle in here. In the next few weeks you will learn more of the Wardens, and our role in the Covenant." He paused, a knowing smile breaking through the thick beard.

"Trust me; you don't know half of it." And with that, he turned and left, leaving the initiates standing idly. 

"Well, that was brief." Liz said. Dave wondered what would happen next, and he didn't have to wait for long. A lanky fellow, around twenty-five, with sand colored hair and sunburnt skin, tattoos snaking up his neck, came up to them, carrying a note pad. He wore a name tag that said "Searles".

"Names." He said, sounding almost bored. They gave him their names, and he found them on his list.

"Wagner, you're in C- house. It's the first one on the left. Sidnell, follow that chubby fellow, and he'll take you to your house. You're in A." he said. They both nodded, and Searles walked over to another group of initiates.

"I guess we'll see each other around then." Liz said.

"Sure. Nice to meet you."

Dave watched her walk away, and turned to see who else was there. One of the initiates from Charlestown, Brian something, was lingering, and Dave walked over to him. They nodded at each other, and Dave thought he remembered where he'd seen him before.

"Did you compete in the math fair last year?" he asked. Brian nodded, and grinned.

"Yeah. No idea why I even made it to the finals; never been any good at it before or later, but my teacher thought I had a head for it. No match for you though." Dave remembered. He'd ended up second, beaten only by Chas. Brian, from a different school, had been pretty good, but nothing like Chas or himself. Smart, but poorly educated.

«So, what do you think all this is? I mean, no one ever told us what the Wardens actually do.» Brian said. Dave just shrugged.

«No idea. But it must have something to do with our location. We are pretty far out west, probably deep into forbidden territory. And from what I can tell, initiates seem smart. Usually not Student smart, perhaps, but intelligence seems to be a criteria. And independence perhaps? They don´t look very disciplined.» he said, gesturing at the kissweed smokers. Brian nodded.

«I guess we´ll know soon enough. It´s just that I hate being kept in the dark.» Dave smiled.

«Maybe that´s another criteria? Curiousity?»

It turned out Brian was also to be living in C- house, so they walked together. It was nice to have a familiar face around, with everything else new and unknown. Dave realized he´d made two new friends in just a short while. Usually, he wasn´t the social type, so this was something new for him. He figured he might fit in just fine here.

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Paperback giveaway + RIFT scene 5

Well, here we are, January 31st, which means signed paperbacks! The lucky winners will receive an email from me before the end of the weekend, and hopefully the paperbacks should be in the mail within a few days.

Speaking of paperbacks, I guess I haven't mentioned that all my paper books are enrolled in the Amazon Match Book program. The cool thing about Match Book is that when you buy a paper book enrolled in the program, you get a discount on the e-book as well (when you buy through Amazon). And although many prefer one or the other, there are many readers who like to have a paper book on the shelf, while also having all the advantages of e-books, such as bringing your entire library when travelling.

I like to give my readers a good deal. In fact, I even received a review once that said something like "I got the book because it was cheap, and what a surprise!" Yeah, that. So that's why my discount is 100%. That's right - when you buy one of my paperbacks through amazon, you get the e-book for free! Some might say that's ridiculous, but I don't see it that way. After all, you just bought my book! It's not like it costs me anything to give you options! And I like to make my readers happy!

All right, so let's move on to RIFT, shall we? As the story continues, we learn more about the society of Covenant, and in this scene we learn a bit more of what it really means to be chosen for Service; how it changes everything. One of the differences between citizens and non-citizens is the euthanasia laws. Non- citizens aren't allowed to live past the age of fifty. Citizens on the other hand, are allowed to live for as long as they like (there's is an element of choice there that will be explored more in depth later). And we learn that life for citizens can be much longer than we think of as natural today, which of course has to do with technology, given that RIFT takes place hundreds of years in the future.

Well, I guess that's enough introduction for you on a Friday night. Here's scene 5 of RIFT:

RIFT - scene 5

Sue found a vacant seat by the window, and sat down. After a minute or so, Laurie came and sat down next to her.

"So, you know how far north we're going?" He asked. Sue shook her head.

"No idea. Never been north of Stonehaven." She said. Sonehaven lay inland, north west of Charlestown, and was the town everyone went to for trading goods that were hard to come by at home. She had gone there with her father once, while mother and little Georg stayed at home. Thinking of her little brother always choked her up, and she turned and stared out the window. They were going faster than she'd expected. The train hovering inches above the tracks; the smoothness of the ride was amazing. Not like riding the steam cars back home. She'd done that once too.

"It's magnetic." Laurie said. She turned back and looked at him. Curly dark hair, wide lips and nose, and originally the prankster among them, he'd changed after his sister was chosen. More serious, Sue thought.

"We have no idea what to expect, do we?" she said. He half- smiled back.

"Guess we don't." He leaned forward to see better. "We haven't heard from Liz since last Initiation Day. Not one word."

They both stared out for what seemed forever, and Sue felt herself doze off, as daylight receeded. The train suddenly slowed, and they emerged from a tunnel. In the distance they could see the capitol, Legacy, in all its splendor. Lights everywhere; no shortage of electricity there. And soon the train stopped on the platform. This was clearly separate from the civilian platforms, as there were officers everywhere, herding groups of Initiates around. Black, white and green armbands still separated the Initiates, while the officers wore the grey uniforms she was familiar with from back home.

Their cart was Guardian only, but she knew Dave, Chas, Felicia and the others from Charlestown were on the same train. Now though, their ways parted. She saw a group with green armbands boarding another train; no familiar faces though.

"There go the Wardens." Laurie said quietly. The Wardens were something of a secret society, especially since there were so few from Charlestown. Initiates from Charelstown generally went to the Guardians or the Corpus, with a few now and to the Students. Student Initiates usually never returned. They stayed on to become Scholars, those who after having served their seven years and earned their citizenship, chose to stay in the Service. While the Students were treated well enough to keep a majority even after the seven years, the Corpus spent their Initiates and spewed out what was left. Usually that wasn't much; if they even made it through their seven years, they returned with disabled bodies and broken minds, though their citizen pensions could easily feed a family for the rest of their lives.

The Guardians had a high casualty rate, but those few who chose to return to their hometown did so with fanfare; the pride of the town. Every time one did, it was cause for celebration. The rumors said the Wardens mostly stayed in the West, even further than the miner towns and wildlife preserves. But no one ever knew. So, since the Corpus was absolute horror, the Wardens were a mystery, and the few that were chosen for the Students were always from the advanced class, whenever they had discussed the prospect of Service they had implicitly discussed service with the Guardians.

Sue saw Chas and Felicia pass right outside their window, and waved at her. Felicia noticed, and waved back, while Chas seemed to be lost in thought. They would be taken to the Legacy Academy or the Covenant University, which both produced scholars. Sue didn't really know the difference between the two, and right now she didn't care. She just hoped her friends would fare well.

"I was worried for Vince there for a second." Laurie said. Sue smiled.

"We all were. I was so certain he'd be chosen. He'll be fine back home." She said.

"Yeah, better than the Corpus." Laurie said, as he sat back, ignoring the window, and staring up at the ceiling. The train started moving again. Slowly at first, but soon it was moving at top speed again.

"Still going north." Sue murmured, as sleep seemed to pull at her again.

She was almost out when the doors to their cart slid open, and a man clad in Guardian Black entered.

"Listen up." He said, loud enough to wake those who'd dozed off. Laurie sat up straighter, and Sue craned to see better. The man was lean and tall, and when Sue looked closer she saw he couldn't be more than twenty five or so, the trimmed beard that made him look older.

"In an hour you will enter Camp Sharpe, where you will begin your training. In the meantime, you are to read this information sheet." He produced a stack of paper, and started passing it out.

"You can all read - the Guardians have no need for illiterates - so I suggest you pay attention to everything this sheet tells you. On arrival we expect you to know this by heart." He let the Initiates pass the sheets along, and turned back. Just before the sliding door, he stopped and faced them again.

"Initiates, in an hour the toughest part of your lives is about to begin. For some it will be the final part. No matter how well prepared you think you are, make no mistake; the coming days and weeks will test you. Everyone has a limit, and we intend to find yours. One day, you might find these trials will save the lives of yourself and those around you." Sue found herself absorbing the advice, and although his words were disturbing, they also made her eager. She had felt that way since hearing her name being called by First Guardian Ivanov, and as the train took them north, the feeling grew stronger. The Guardian hadn't finished though.

"One more piece of advice for you. I know many of you are friends. You've gone to school together, grown up together, played together, in Holstonhead, Morrow, Fort Winter, Stonehaven, Charlestown or wherever.

I want you to forget all that. Forget your hometown and everyone there. Forget your best friend from kindergarten. Forget your boyfriend or girlfriend or whatever. It's all history, and you are about to be reborn as Guardians. And let me tell you, a Guardian is sworn to service. To the State. Not to your pals or your birth family or your town. The State.

You may at some point find yourselves torn between loyalties, in training or in actual combat. It may be hard to abandon someone you played with as a child, or the person you first kissed, to die in some godforsaken ditch up north. Or to carry out punishment on someone you knew back when you were kids for having disobeyed the tranquility laws. But if that's what it takes to fulfill your obligations- to serve - then I want you to remember something: Most of you will die in the Service. Almost everyone you knew in that place you've always called home will die within just a few decades. In fifty years even your baby sister or little cousin Vinny will be dead, while you may live on for a century, if not more, if you survive your three years of Service.

In fifty years, when your hometown doesn't feel like home anymore, you will have new friends, you will have a new family, who are not subject to the euthanasia laws, who understand what you've been through. You will be part of the Covenant, having earned your privileges and your status." He stood quiet for a moment, before leaving through the sliding doors, letting the Initiates absorb what he had told them. Sue and Laurie looked at each other, and Sue felt an urge to protest. But she didn't.

Instead she looked at the sheet of paper, and started to read. It was all basic instructions; how to salute a superior, a chart for arranging her clothes and personal items in her locker, fire instructions, the different alerts that might occur, and some basic information on what to expect on their first day at Camp Sharpe.

She didn't speak to Laurie for the rest of the ride, and wondered if it was because they were both busy studying the sheets, or if it was because of what the Guardian had said. She knew Laurie would always be her friend, and wanted to dismiss what the man had said, but something in the back of her head wondered if it wasn't a lot of truth to it as well. After all, many of the Initiates right here in this cart would die, and soon. And there was no doubt that the euthanasia laws were merciless: on your fiftieth birthday you were given the choice of how to go, most took the pill, and that was that. In a few years her neighbor, who had shown up for Initiation Day in the town square, would be gone. The baker across the street had taken the pill last year, and next year it was his wife's turn.

Sue felt the train decelerate, and as it slowed to a crawl, they entered a tunnel. Seconds turned to minutes and after what felt like an eternity, the train exited the tunnel and stopped on a platform bathed in light. It was late evening outside, and darkness had descended. Behind the platform stood two black towers, with moving flood lights, and as the lights moved around she saw parts of Camp Sharpe, where she would spend the next weeks in training. On the platform stood Guardians, a row of them a few paces apart. From what she had read on the info sheet, these were Senior Guardians, who would each take a small group to their quarters, and later act as instructors. After sticking her head out for Dave, she thought it would be best to be as anonymous as possible, and not draw attention to her. She looked up at the Covenant flag on top of the main house in front of the platform, flapping in the wind. The white circle with another white round dot just above and to the right, on a black background speckled with small dots. The Earth, the Moon and the stars. And just as Earth had turned a new chapter, centuries ago, she felt the flag signified a new chapter in her life.

Signed paperbacks, and an update

 

Here's a quick update, and a little something that you might like!

First of, to those of you who aren't following me on Twitter or Facebook, or doesn't subscribe to my mailing list (you should!), I want to wish you a happy new year!

So what am I up to these days? Well, first and foremost, I am working on Genesis (third of the Exodus Trilogy), and man, are there many threads to tie up! The main ones should already be covered, but still, there are a lot of details. But it's fun! And besides, from where I stand (completely unbiased of course...), Genesis will be the best book of the trilogy!

Hopefully, you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! Currently it looks like it should be ready for my editor in a few weeks, and then I expect to spend a month or so working with her, polishing everything, to make it the best it can be. I'm wary of making too many promises though - as many of you know, I have a day job and a family, so time is always an issue. The one thing I DO promise though, is not to hit "publish" before it is ready!

Then there is Rift - this project where I blog the book, scene by scene, first draft. So far, it's been four scenes, and number five is sitting on my hard drive, with just a paragraph or so to go - I'll have it out by the end of the week. A fun project so far and a book I can't wait to really dive into. Blogging it is kinda cool actually. After all, once I'm ready to fully focus on Rift, I'll already have parts of the draft done, and I can just get straight to it, not wondering where to start, or spend too much time planning and outlining.

Now, it being a new year and all, I've got something for you guys (well, some of you anyway). I've got ten signed trade paperbacks of Aurora that I want to give away! To whom? Well, you, of course! All you have to do is make sure you're on my mailing list - being on the list has its perks! Here's the link!

So it's ten signed paperbacks. I'll randomly select ten people from the mailing list on January 31st, so whether you've been with me from the get-go, or you're a fresh face here, you all stand an equal chance - as long as you're on the list!

Hopefully, the winners will look just as happy as this guy:

*******************

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