So as it turns out I had this nagging impression to highlight Ahead on Machined Shoulders. Before that, I’ll tell you a little something: Shareware bites hard these days. “Free” downloads bait-and-switch trailware and interruptionsoft teasers galore, whilst I attempt to proofread with a sick dog on my lap. She’ll be fine, we figure, but it turns out Balabolka does a fine job of reading my work, once I got over my nervousness. Ironic, right? Nerves about having software read me my own story.
Akin to stage fright, but I got over it and the clarity of my work does benefit from hearing another voice recite words I have spent so much time with. Those early lessons are now a matter of habit: Give yourself time between drafts, involve yourself in other projects, don’t be afraid to let other influences walk in the door, but be aware of them and decide if they are appropriate. Also, spending time with character sheets of nearly any kind, getting to know your characters will always improve how you write about them.
So if you need a Text-to-Speech reader and have no budget (or no patience for crookware), knock on over to Balabolka and grab it (so nice I linked it twice). No trickware-payasyouplay-hinthintweneedbucksnow.com.org thank you very kindly sir madam moving right along now. Finally, have a free sample of a story freely available at Wattpad right now, no slight of link involved:
[I have detained an intruder,] was her unruffled reply. A few steps beyond the kitchen I transmitted authorization to unseal the door. Mishan hefted over her shoulder what looked like black beams wired together into a person-sized doll. I gestured for her to bring it inside. With a bow of the head to Yale, she complied, placing the figure on the couch.
“Unconscious or stunned,” I asked.
“Trade secret. She’s unhurt,” Mishan answered rigidly. “She has no combat experience or training, or I would not have caught her.”
“No?” Yale bleated.
“I’d be dead,” she said casually.
“True grit.” Nasty piece of work, this.
She rank of warm lubricant, and there was no doubt about her gender. A young face, probably late twenties or early thirties by the darling head tacked onto a war-machine body. I leaned in close to check the condition of the scars around the base of her neck. They were cauterized quickly but expertly, and I bounced the idea off Yale and Mishan that she was a roadside reclaim. The idea I knew the handiwork also crossed my mind, but I made no mention of that.
Mishan flicked her head, thick auburn hair brushing away from her eyes. “I saw no memory tag. Ansile also does not take kindly to reclaims.”
“Barrowloft shunted the last of the ‘claimers’ to Talon,” Yale observed solemnly. “That’s right, isn’t it?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Besides, she’s wearing high grade hardware that shouldn’t be here.”
“I am high grade hardware that shou~uldn’t be here,” she affirmed, musty grey-silver eyes snapping open. “Aaran Vanadyl Coates.”
There was a buzz in her voice that suggested emotional distress. “Hi there kid, why’d you break the law to come find me?”
“I broke no laws.”
“I s’pose not, but you sure are bending ’em. That was a messy glyph you sent me, but the soft-ID looks legit.”
Roll up a wheelchair and stick a needle into the patient; ‘Hope’ owed her condition to kidnapping and threat of death against son and husband she loved. I posted Mishan outside the door, assured that Hope wasn’t in any way dangerous when she made the gift of a system-disabling shutdown code she somehow had access to. Quite the demonstration of confidence.
“Shards,” I breathed. “Alright kid, y’got my attention.”