Writing Prompt – We Need You Again

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It all started with a writing prompt:¬†The phone rings. The voice on the other end says, “We need you again,” then hangs up.

I just started writing, with no clear idea of where it would go or what, exactly, I wanted to write about. I haven’t finished whatever it’s going to be, but one day later, this is what I have so far. Have a read through, and then in the comments tell me where you think it should go from here. Be imaginative! Let’s have some fun with this. ūüôā


The phone app rings on my wrist. The voice on the other end says, “We need you again,” then disconnects.

Groggy with sleep, I drag myself out of bed, glancing at the face of my smartcuff¬†that reads 09:48.¬†Seriously? Don’t they know I’m not a morning person?¬†I glare at the softly glowing screen of the device and slumber off¬†to the bathroom of my tiny apartment to splash some water on my face and wake up. After taking care of the first essentials, I then stumble¬†into the kitchenette, lights turning on as I enter.

“Alexa, coffee,” I grumble into the air, and the machine starts heating up in its wall cubby.

“Good morning, Kate. Please allow one minute for the water to reach optimal temperature. ¬†Shall I prepare a Kovashi breakfast bar¬†for you?”

The disembodied voice, so perfect in its intonation, obviously intended to be comforting, only serves to further darken my mood.

“Just the coffee.”

I know I should eat something, but another soulless, even if perfectly nutritious, processed protein bar¬†is entirely unappetizing. My tastes run more toward eggs and toast, but my credit limit runs more toward¬†Food Bar, Basic. What I wouldn’t give for some orange juice, real orange juice, not some flavored water generated out of Kovashi’s genetic engineering labs, but since the blight of ’47 that has been out of reach for all but the wealthiest citizens.

While I drink my coffee and hide the tiredness in my eyes with the lightest amount of shadow I can get away with, I ponder what it could be this time. It has been four months since my last job, and my credit is close to running out, as Alexa reminds me each time she orders restock for the kitchenette. Last time they wanted me to escort some businessman to a fancy dinner, keeping an eye out for any trouble, but the only trouble was when the client wanted more than a socially acceptable bodyguard after I’d seen him back to his hotel. I’m pretty sure the bruise I left him with is responsible for my recent lack of work.

Fifteen minutes later, dressed in a form-fitting grey one-piece, hair pulled back into a ponytail and the lightest amount of shadow to hide the tiredness in my eyes, I step out onto the platform of my residential building. A misty drizzle fills the air, and heat rises from the ground level, far, far below me. Across the void rises another apartment block, orange and grey, windows for those lucky enough to afford a view unit facing over the traffic lanes. Every twenty stories a bus platform extends, and on many of them I see other citizens awaiting their rides. Between our buildings a steady stream of buses and aircabs rushes by, with the occasional privately-owned vehicle for those lucky or silly enough to own one, while in the center the billboards drift along, lighting up the building face¬†with their flashing colors and soothing voices exhorting us to buy the latest fashions, or tempting us with impossible excursions to islands that probably don’t exist. The city is not a quiet place, but then, where is?

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The trip from my outer neighborhood to Westlake Center takes almost an hour, as the airbus stops frequently where citizens await on their platforms. Fortunately, it’s nearly a direct shot, and once I reach the downtown core I’m able to descend a few levels below the bus route and find pedestrian walkways that bridge the gap between commercial buildings. I jostle through the crowd, office workers on their lunch breaks and shoppers eying jewelry and electronic gizmos behind thick plate-glass displays, and make my way to the bank of elevators that will whisk me away from the commercial levels.

“Present authorization,” says the not-so-comforting voice of the control panel — no Alexa here — and I wave my smartcuff in front of the flashing sensor pad. A moment later the door opens, then closes behind me, and the elevator ascends rapidly, and I feel the pressure change in my ears, swallowing reflexively to clear them.

I step out into the lobby, and the impossibly beautiful and expensively enhanced receptionist smiles brightly at me.

“Welcome back, Ms Conyers. They’re expecting you in the conference room. I believe you know the way.”

I thank her with a smile of my own — Anita annoys me, but there’s no reason to antagonize her — and walk past. When I enter the conference room with its floor-to-ceiling windows, I pause for a moment to once again gaze upon the¬†sea of buildings leading off as far as the eye can see, far above the constant advertising bombarding the lower levels. A discreet cough reminds me that I’m not here to admire the million-dollar view.

Three suits, two men and a woman, stand¬†at the far side of the large glass and steel table that dominates the room. One of the men I know: Hugo Dresling, my boss, or at least he is whenever I’m on a job for Dresling Personal Services. Hugo’s not a bad guy, but he’s mercenarial at heart, and I’m not completely convinced that all of the¬†personal services¬†rendered through his company are strictly legal. Being an ex-cop — don’t ask, it didn’t work out well — my specialty is client protection, glorified bodyguard, and because I clean up well they like to use¬†me for discreet social situations. Really I think they pick me more to look good at the client’s side at dinners, parties, and meetings than for any actual protection I could provide. Oh well, since getting fired from the force — I told you not to ask, didn’t I? — I can’t be too picky about where my jobs come from these days.

The other two I don’t know. I presume they’re the client. The man is about my age, maybe even younger, late twenties to¬†early thirties I’d say, and he smiles as I walk in. Dark hair, neatly styled, his suit cut to impress. The woman, on the other hand, is closer to Hugo’s age, perhaps in her mid forties, though the only reason I think so is the confidant way she holds herself, the expression on her face that says¬†I’m in charge here. Her hair is severely pulled back into a tight bun, and her makeup is no-nonsense, perfectly applied so that one could be forgiven for not realizing she’s wearing any. I’m immediately self-conscious of my own very rapid preparation this morning, and from the woman’s expression, she can tell. From the flawless complexions and perfectly apportioned features on both of them, I’m pretty sure they’ve spared little expense on upgrades.

“Kate, welcome, come in,” says Hugo. “Allow me to introduce Fiona and Lloyd Devereaux.”

“Ms Devereaux,” I greet her. “Mr Devereaux.” Her grip as we shake is firm, and she holds my hand for a moment longer than strictly customary. I have the sense she is appraising me somehow, and of course, why not? They are presumably here to hire my services, after all. I wonder about their relationship as we all sit down.

Bored Space Girl


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Thank you, darlings! I look forward to hearing your ideas. And, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Distractions and a Quick Snippet

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I’ve been working on¬†Partners and Crime lately, trying to expand it to a longer, single piece of, oh, perhaps 8000 words or so when done (for comparison, the three parts already posted here came to a total of about 3300 words combined). I have actually found it a little bit slow going, partly because I’m still figuring out where this story is supposed to end up (remember, it started as flash fiction and was never supposed to be more than a thousand words or so), and partly because I originally intended it for posting only to the blog, which I generally keep at no more than, um, somewhere between PG-13 and R¬†rated, perhaps, and yes, it has now definitely crossed that border firmly into R territory, maybe even a little NC-17 in there.

Which is odd, because it’s not as if I haven’t written some¬†very explicit scenes in other stories before (Switch). Why is this one different? Perhaps it’s because I’m actually thinking about how this one could appear as a short novelette on Amazon? Because I’m already thinking about potential beta readers and their reactions? Because when I first started writing¬†Switch (which, so far, is much more explicit) a year ago, I didn’t ever expect to show it to anyone?

Or perhaps I’m just massively overthinking it.

Or spending too much time on social media. Yeah, there’s always that. Having trouble wordsmithing the next sentence? No problem! After all, someone just favorited my latest rambling tweet, and I need to go check that out. Oh, and look, someone just posted a very interesting article on — wait for it — social media strategy for authors; I’d definitely better read that. And hey, some of my favorite authors just got published in a new anthology; mmm, reading that sounds like much greater fun.

(On a side note, Chemical [se]X, edited by Oleander Plume, really is great fun to read.)

The blog could use an overhaul, too — really, I should put my excerpts together on an actual¬†page — and gosh, I haven’t posted anything in a long time, and… well, I’m taking care of that problem right now, aren’t I? And distracting myself from finishing up a measly few thousand more words in¬†Partners and Crime.

Ok, though, seriously, where do you think the story should go? When last we left them, Eileen McConnell and Daryl Travers had to dash into a shower stall in the women’s locker room at the police department where they both work because two other officers had just come in to the room. Oh, and Travers had been¬†wearing Eileen’s¬†handcuffs for most of the action up to this point, though she has just taken them off him (though that story point could change — what do you think?). Now, if you aren’t exactly clear on how these two ended up in this predicament, this would be an¬†excellent¬†time to go back and read the three installments I posted to the blog.

On another side note, Jade, I really did not¬†have you in mind¬†when I named one of the two officers entering the room¬†Waters¬†— the name just appeared from thin air as I wrote — but, hey, what would you do if you were in your namesake’s position? And yes, I know you aren’t¬†nearly as crude and crass as the Waters in the story. You’re far too nice, and she’s… well, she’s not. At least, not yet.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a very brief snippet from the continuing story:

He tugged, and with a wiggle of my hips my panties slipped down my thighs. I tried to kick them away, but only succeeded in tangling them about my ankles. If Travers noticed, he gave no sign, and very quickly I forgot all about them too when…

When what? Ah, I’ll leave that to your imagination… for now.

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Partners and Crime: Your Opinion?

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Several¬†of you have commented upon and ‘liked’ the little bit of unfinished serial flash fiction I’ve published on this blog,¬†Partners and Crime. That is¬†actually quite gratifying, considering I started it on a whim, with no real concept of where it would go. Eventually I stretched it to three ‘parts’ and roughly 3,000 words, and of course it’s still unfinished, ending on a little bit of a cliffhanger. Partly that is because I’ve been working on other things, and partly it’s because the next natural step in the story seemed likely to get somewhat more explicit than I thought I could get away with on a blog not flagged ‘mature.’

Actually, that’s another thing I’d like to get some opinions on, too. Namely, just how awful is it to have WordPress flag your blog as ‘mature?’ From the documentation, it seems like it would make it essentially unsearchable and unfindable except for those who know the URL exactly (i.e., no Google search will find it, and it won’t show up in WordPress Reader — is that true?). Since that seems like it would be death for a blog in which an author is trying to promote her work, I don’t think I want to go there, but it’s certainly possible I’m misunderstanding how this works.

So, for now at least, while I certainly do get a little bit steamy here (or at least I hope I do), there’s a blurry line I’m trying not to cross.

The main question I have at the moment, however, is about publication. Although I am working on a longer story, in novel format (a little bit of which I excerpted for you earlier today), I am considering taking a little bit of time to finish up Partners and Crime, perhaps rounding it out ultimately to about 8,000 or 10,000 words, and then publishing it. Really publishing it, I mean, as in making it available for purchase on Amazon as an e-book.

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Would you pay 99 cents for an 8,000 word story? I know plenty of authors have short pieces out there, and they seem to do very well. Personally, I’d be fine with that, as long as I knew I was buying a shorter piece up front, so yes, it would be clear to everyone just what they were getting.

Another option is to enroll the story in Kindle Unlimited. This would mean that Kindle Unlimited members would be able to read the story for free, but for everyone else it would need to be priced at Kindle Select’s minimum of $2.99 (not counting the five free days per quarter). Matthew Kadish wrote a very interesting article recently about author marketing strategies around Kindle Unlimited, and from his findings, it seems like¬†Partners and Crime could be a good fit.

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It’s hard for me to justify charging $2.99 for an e-book that isn’t at least novella-length. So, this would really be marketed at Kindle Unlimited readers. Of course, I would make a point of highlighting the free days for everyone else.

Kindle Select also requires exclusivity, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Some have interpreted this to mean you can’t even have excerpts on your website, but I don’t think this is what was intended by the clause. Even if that’s true, the story will no doubt change a bit in editing to make it a little less episodic than its present form, plus about 70% of it isn’t even written yet.

What do you think?