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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You will be the first to know about new releases, and whenever I feel like giving away something cool, it´s all about you guys on the list! You can sign up here:

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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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RIFT - scene 4

 

I've got another scene from RIFT for you, but first I want to make you aware that EXODUS is currently FREE on Amazon. It's just a few days, so if you haven't got it already, you should head over and grab your copy now! http://www.amazon.com/Exodus-Trilogy-Andreas-Christensen-ebook/dp/B00AI9BMHS/

So, let's move on to RIFT then. As you might already know, I'm posting every new scene of Rift, my next book to be published after Genesis, the third and final installment of the Exodus Trilogy. This is raw unedited first draft material, and though that may not be for everyone, I hope many of you enjoy following the process from first draft to the final product you'll find on Amazon. As I said, this is first draft, completely unedited. Sometimes I go back to add a scene, and I do make notes on the side as I discover things that needs to be changed. I write comments to myself in the middle of sentences. Some characters doesn't have names yet, while others may change. (when I wrote Exodus, one of the main characters even changed sex from first to final draft, which turned out to be a lot more work than I thought...) Since I'm currently also writing Genesis, that takes priority. Once Genesis is finished though, I expect these posts to be a lot more frequent.
All right, so this scene (which may turn out to be an entire chapter- looks like it anyway) ends the beginning, where Sue goes from being an anonymous orphaned young woman in some poor future town, to an Initiate, sworn to "Service to the State", and bound for great obstacles and hardships to come. Also, it shows her willingness to put her neck on the line for a friend, and the beginnings of conflict. It even gives the keen reader a hint of future plot twists. So here it is:
RIFT: Scene 4:
 
The huge screens made everything appear closer, and the greatest of them all sat in the front, above the podium. Sue could almost feel the eyes of Head Servant Lunde stare straight at her. Of course, it wasn't real. Head Lunde and Counselor Novak were hundreds of miles away, in Legacy, the great sprawling capitol, where most citizens lived, and the only place in which Moon People made up the majority. As far as she knew, no Head Servant had ever set foot in Charlestown.
"I welcome you all here today, to the annual selection of candidates. To remember how our great nation once rose from the ashes, like a phoenix of ancient mythology, a feat accomplished only because of the sacrifices and service to the common good made by our forbears (check word). Long ago, these acts became an example of how one person's service can benefit all, for generations to come, and therefore, Service to the State became one of the founding pillars of our society. Only those who are willing and able to serve are worthy of citizenship. And capable of carrying the burden of responsibility that citizenship carries with it. So, with no further ado, I welcome the representatives of the Services." Sue looked down to the podium below the screen, and saw four figures rise from their chairs, while Mayor Robertson remained seated.
The first to step forward was Dr. Erle Nielsen, the Senior Scholar, an ageing woman of perhaps sixty, with long grey wisps of hair, small glasses that threatened to fall off the tip of her nose, and a smile that never seemed to break through her absentminded demeanor.
"I'll make this quick," she said, producing a crumpled piece of paper. "I welcome initiates Chas Drummond and Felicia Petit to the Students." she paused for a moment, scanning the crowd. "Yes, that was it." She finished, crumpling the paper, and put it in her pocket. Sue frowned. She would have thought Dave to be a natural Student, but she knew they were extremely selective. Two Students from Charlestown this year then. Well, she'd seen worse.
"First Guardian Ivanov," a booming voice announced, and an imposing figure of around fifty, six feet tall, athletic, short white hair, and clad in Guardian black, took a step forward. His face was set in stone.
"To the Guardians, I welcome initiates Susan Atlas, Frederick Burke Lowe, Hugh Winters, John Victor Preston, Lydia Dille Gardner, Peter Philip Howe, Lucinda Rice, Jeffrey Leighton, Stephen Balinski, Lawrence White, and David Wagner. May you reap honor." Sue noticed Laurie straightening as the First Guardian spoke his birth name, Lawrence, while Vince looked more nervous than ever. She didn't think the Wardens would pick him, although who knew what they were looking for. Now he could only hope to avoid selection altogether. But in the end it was Dave who caught her attention. She almost hadn't noticed, since he never used his birth name, but there were no other Wagners around. Dave looked more confused than anything. He was about as far from the ideal Guardian as she could imagine. Sue could only imagine the thoughts that had to be racing through his mind at this time. Did the Guardians select cannon fodder on purpose? She hadn't thought so before, but now she wasn't so sure anymore.
Next was the Wardens, but Sue didn't pay much attention. She had been chosen. She would serve with the Guardians, which was about the best she could have hoped for. Sure, it would be tough, and the next three years would be the biggest challenge she'd ever faced, but as long as she listened to her teachers and did her best, she might be a citizen by her twenty first birthday. The Master Warden, a middle aged man she couldn't remember having seen before, dark haired and olive skinned, only chose three initiates, and then it was time for the final Service to choose their Initiates. The Whipmaster stepped forward. The gaunt man was at least a head taller than the other representatives, bald, and clad in a shiny fabric that emphasized his lean figure. His face remained expressionless, and as he began to list the selection of initiates, he never once consulted a list.
"The Corpus represents the truest sacrifice, the complete giving of one's body and soul to the common good. This year's initiates for the Corpus are the following: Herbert Trent Glover, Samuel Herreira, Juliette Dale Griffith, Cindy Quellar, Jack Burke, Leland Ferris, John Henry Minden..." as the list continued Sue lost track of them all. So many! The Initiates for the Corpus numbered more than double that of the other Initiates alltogether. She had never heard of anything like it. So many of her friends and neighbors, to be swept off in chains. She was stunned.
"...and finally Christopher Jenkins. Welcome, Initiates. Serve well, until death sets you free," the Whipmaster said, and with that, the officers begun to separate the Initiates from the former Candidates. Sue was ushered along to the front of the square, to stand in front of the representatives side by side with the rest of those chosen for Service. She was given a black armband, as were the other Guardian Initiates. The Students wore white, while the Warden Initiates put on green. The Corpus took a while to gather, but once they were all there, they were given red armbands, while officers paid close attention. It wasn't unheard of that fresh Initiates tried to run, and those chosen by the Corpus had less to lose than the others.
Dr. Nielsen just waved an officer over to gather her Initiates, and Chas and Felicia looked more than ready to get moving. The Wipmastes didn't even look at the Initiates wearing their red armbands. Some were sobbing, while others seemed to let all hope die, steeling themselves for whatever might come next. First Guardian Ivanov walked around, looking each of his Initiates up and down, speaking a few words with each and every one. When he stopped in front of Dave, he seemed to wrinkle his nose at his skinny bones.
"Initate Wagner. It seems we've got quite a challenge here. Well, we'll just have to try to make a Guardian out of you, kid. Any questions?" Dave seemed to hesitate, before he answered.
"Sir, I wonder if there's been a mistake..." he said, before trailing off.
"Speak up, boy. Here's your chance." The First Guardian barked.
"Sir, I don't think I'm Guardian material. I mean, I'm the highest ranked for academic achievements. In school. I wonder if there's any chance of being transferred to the Students?" God, how can you be so stupid, Dave? Sue thought. She wanted to scream for him to stop. She almost expected the the First Guardian to slap him or something. But Ivanov just nodded, and seemed to consider what Dave had said. Dave looked hopeful (show, don't tell!!!!)
"I think you're right, son. You don't look like you have what it takes at all." A smirk crept across the face of the older man, and Sue shivered.
"Sadly, Dr. Nielsen just left, and I won't be able to reach her for a while. But I think I know someone else who would have use for your talents." He looked over at the Whipmaster, and Sue saw sweat break on Dave's forehead, as he struggled to say something. He remained silent though, his face turned pale, and eyes closed as the First Guardian moved on.
As he reached Sue, she felt herself shrink before his eyes.
"Initiate Atlas. I fear we are out of time, as the train leaves in fifteen minutes." Sue was torn between self-preservation and friendship, but in the end, friendship won (expand?). She spoke just as Ivanov moved to turn away.
"Sir. I think it would be a waste to send Initiate Wagner to the Corpus. Look at him. He'd be dead meat in a month. What kind of Service would that be, sir? Perhaps the Wardens would take him?" she had no idea what the Wardens actually did, as most of it was secret, and there were few if any Wardens from Charlestown. But as she saw it, anything would be better that the Corpus. The First Guardian fumed, and was about to lash out at her, probably ready to trade her black armband for a red one, when the Master Warden interjected.
"She's right, Ivanov. It would be a waste." He smiled. "We'll take him." The First Guardian looked furiously from Sue to the Master Warden, and then back again at Sue. Then he exhaled, and shook his head.
"All right then, enough of this nonsense." He turned toward the Master Warden. "Take the boy. Now, let's get on with this. Damn kids need to learn some respect." The last was murmured as he walked off, signaling the officers to take the Guardian Initiates to the waiting train. As the Corpus Initiates walked off to the southbound train, the others followed their representatives towards the trains that would take them north. Dave followed the Master with the three other Warden Initiates, and as he passed her, his lips moved, mouthing a silent thank you. Sue smiled briefly, although she was angry with him for opening his mouth. That head of his would get him in trouble again, she though. And the next time she wouldn't be there to save him.
Sue wondered if she had just made a huge mistake. She wasn't the most social, but as far as she knew she'd never had an enemy. As she boarded the train, she caught the eye of the First Guardian, and wondered if she'd made her first.
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RIFT - A scene in between

I just finished another scene for RIFT. If you haven't read the previous posts on this, please go do so now, to understand what this is all about.

You ready?

Okay. So, I'm writing this book where you can follow the progress, scene by scene, right here on the blog. Unedited, raw material, typos and all. Yeah, I know - crazy... Anyway... As long as Genesis is still my number one project progress on RIFT will most likely be slow, but once the Exodus Trilogy is complete, things will definitely speed up. So far I've posted two scenes, but even as I wrote scene 2, I knew I'd skipped one or two scenes that needed to be somewhere between scene 1 and 2. I needed more setting and the Sue character needed to be fleshed out more. Let me know what you think!

All right, here we go.

RIFT, scene 1.5.

Outside, the noises that usually greeted her had subsided. Today was a public holiday, and only the most necessary functions were still running. Sue heard the train come to a halt a few blocks down to the right, and an angry couple shouting at each other in a building nearby. Other than that, there was only the wind and the rustle of leaves. Sue didn't look back as she walked away from her house, passing between the artificial trees on the sidewalk, and crossing the street. The grocery store on the other side had a sign on the door that said "closed". She noticed someone moving inside, and smiled. There was always some business or another, even on Initiation Day; it just moved in behind closed doors.

She passed the butcher's, the bakery and the telephone office, without seeing any signs of life. The telephone service was closed on holidays anyway, and even if it wasn't the lines were all monitored. She remembered two years ago, when Charlestown got its second telephone office on the other side of town. No one could believe there was a need for more than one, but amazingly both were still in business. You would think people had better things to spend their hard earned coins for than telephoning each other, but obviously they didn't (change?).

The town square wasn't far, just a few blocks away, and then a wide circle back around, which took her right back toward the train station, located on the far side of the square. This was where everyone was gathered. She glanced up at the three story building which housed the mayor's office, and saw the Covenant flag flapping in the wind, hanging out above the sidewalk. Mayor Robertson was one of the few citizens she knew, and a woman she looked up to. She had earned her citizenship through Service with the Guardians, and although there were all kinds of stories about her, Sue didn't know which ones to believe. All she knew was that she was a fair but stern woman in her sixties, with a granddaughter a year younger than Sue, and she was from here. She was one of them. That counted for something.

The crowd let her through; some smiled and patted her on the back while others remained silent, wearing solemn looks and somber eyes (too heavy?  or appropriate?). Everyone knew that many of the kids they saw today would never return, one way or the other. Sue walked toward the officers, who were directing everyone into lines where they would wait to be registered. She noticed a couple from school being separated. Who knew if they would ever see each other again? A mother kissed a boy from her class on the forehead, tears running down her cheeks. She didn't make a sound, but her lips moved constantly, a silent prayer for her son to return. She saw Chas from the advanced class, shaking his father's hand, both with jaws set and a determined look in their eyes.

She joined Vince and Laurie at the back of the line, as the officer directing her turned and went to fetch another. Both were laughing, although she sensed their nervousness. Laurie's sister had been chosen by the Guardians last year, and he hoped to rejoin her up north, if he was chosen today. Vince on the other hand, had no desire to join his older brother. He'd been chosen for the Corpus three years ago, and no one had heard from him since. They would have known if he was dead, but if he wasn't he would be soon enough, once they had spent him. Sue remembered Vince saying once that it was better to think that he died that fateful day. Better to mourn, and move on.

"You nervous?" Laurie asked. Sue just nodded.

"Come on, man, we're all nervous here." Vince said. "All we can do now is hope. It's all decided for anyways."

"You really believe that, Vince?" Sue said, cocking her head. Vince had been talking to the priest lately, and the belief was that everything was decided by fate. There was no escaping it, and whatever you did to avoid your fate, eventually it caught up to you. Better to accept it, embrace it, and gather strength from it.

"Yeah, I do. I really do. I just hope fate has something better in store for me than my bro."  Sue watched him. A year ago, Vince had started working out, training, in order to be more attractive to the Guardians. It was the best he could hope for, as the Students were out of the question. Anything but the Corpus. A few months ago though, Vince had started slacking off, as the faith had started to sink in. There was nothing he could do; the Corpus was just as likely as the Guardians to pick a healthy, fit young man for Service. And whatever he did, fate would find him eventually.

Sue didn't know what to believe. She listened to the priests, and there was wisdom in their words, and she did accept her fate, whatever that might be. But she didn't like the fact that she didn't have a say in it. She had a hard time accepting that her life and death was at the hands of some unknown entity, and that her actions didn't mean anything.

When they reached the end of the line, an officer scanned and registered their IDs and their retinas, and they were allowed to pass.

"Hurry up and wait." Laurie said dryly. Sue looked back, and saw the lines still snailed forward. It would be a while until everyone were registered. She noticed her neighbor, Marie standing behind the officers, over by the fence, and moved to walk over to her.

"Don't bother." Vince said. "You are a candidate now. Property of the State." Sue looked around, and noticed that none of the others moved away from the area in the middle of the town square, surrounded by officers. Then she looked back to Marie, her mother's old friend. Did she come here today for her? She would never know.

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