Archive for science fiction

The 2015 International Science Fiction Convention, Update Numero Uno

Posted in book signings, Books, Comics, Fantasy, Fiction, kidlit, Literature, Publication, Publishing, Sci-Fi, scifi conventions, Spokane, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2015 by Jessica Crichton

You know what Worldcon is, right? That obscure science fiction con where the Hugo Awards are presented? You know, the Academy Award for Science fiction that writers like Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin and Arthur C. Clarke have won, among others? Oh, you HAVE heard of it?

Awesome, because it’s coming to MY hometown.

Spokane, Washington isn’t exactly the hub of Western Society. We’re not even the hut. Spokane is, honestly, much more like the Bermuda Triangle of Washington State. People heading to Seattle on the bus wonder if they’ve been abducted by aliens when they find themselves on a layover in Spokane. When I was a kid visiting Jacksonville, Florida and people asked me where I was from because I didn’t have a southern accent, their first thought upon hearing my answer was that I knew the president.

“No, Washington STATE,” I’d inevitably say.
“OH! Seattle!”
“No.”
“Oh… what’s it like to live on a farm?”

And yet, thanks to a series of very fortunate events, Spokane won the prestigious 2015 bid to host the biggest science fiction convention in the world.

Wow.

I’m not going to actually STATE that this was a gift from God dropped directly into my lap, but it certainly feels like it.

It’s like the middle of nowhere was suddenly invaded by the first aliens ever, and I’m that yokel with so much potential and zero opportunity… until the face suckers come and I get to be a REAL hero.

All that is to say, I’m going to be at Sasquan: the 2015 International Science Fiction Convention in Spokane in August. I’ll be hosting things as the Spocon head of Literature, speaking on panels, and reading and signing books just like a real boy! Erm… writer. And I’d sure love to see you there. I’ll update as things progress.

Wheeeee! Go Sasquan 2015!

Blight: Chapter 1

Posted in Books, Fiction, Literature, Reading with tags , , , , , , on March 18, 2015 by Jessica Crichton

Here is the first chapter of my new YA novel, Blight. I thought I’d already posted it here, but I looked and can’t find it. Very odd. Please let me know what you think! Thank you. ~JR

 

Blight
by Jessica Rising

Chapter 1

Witchcraft.

The ancient word hangs in my mind as I kneel in the dirt. My fingers, chalky with dust, working slowly. Carefully. I can’t afford another mistake. Already the rocky ground is littered with broken bits of metal, cracked cogs and de-twined springs. Here and there, peppering the mess, shiny bits of white glass reflect the low light from outside.

That, I broke on purpose.

Even in the beginning there were only two of the fragile globes. The most important pieces. But I had to know how they worked, and the glass cover hid the details inside. I’d had to sacrifice one to understand the other.

A pointless sacrifice.

I lift up the uncovered innards to study them again in the faint light. The tiny bits are as mysterious to me now as they were when I’d first killed the Knight, three days before.

The bottom is curved around and around like the hand drills we use in the quarry, only much shorter and fatter. Above, surrounded by a jagged lip of the broken glass that had covered them, two tiny metal wires stand up side-by-side, connected at the bottom by a small cube of clear glass. Another wire runs along the top, connected back to the glass cube by even thinner, springy wires.

I’ve studied it for days, at every angle, but it still makes no sense. Both globes worked perfectly when I saw them focused on me within the hollow eyesockets of the Knight, blinding me with their bright glow. But they’d gone dead with it. I haven’t been able to make them glow since.

Frustrated, I pull my book out of its secret pocket in my robes. Something hits my knee. I look down to see its sister has followed it. I’ve had both books for as long as I can remember and known they were dangerous for just about as long. Books are heresy against Bask, outlawed in the Under. Nobody here can read.

Nobody except me.

I don’t know why I can read. Neither of my parents can. Nobody I know can. I don’t remember learning how, I just always have. Just like I’ve always had the books.

I pick up the second book. It’s smaller than its sister, thinner, with a brown cover that almost matches my robes. I’ve always wanted to read it but I can’t. The lock on its side keeps its secrets well hidden.

I put it back in my pocket and focus on the other book, the one I can read. A little bigger than my open palm, its title is 8th Grade Physical Science. I’ve read it so many times I can almost recite it word for word, but I still understand so few of those words. I open it to a wrinkled page with a picture of a bulb. My lips move as I whisper the caption under my breath.

“Electricity is a force created by a difference in charges due to gained or lost electrons. Electricity flowing between two points is called an electrical current. In order for these electrons to flow, there must be a difference in charges between the two points. Electricity always flows from a location with a negative charge to a location with a positive charge.”

Words. So many words, so little sense in them.

I stare at both bulbs — broken and whole, and bite back a scream of frustration. It’s right here. RIGHT here. Light for the Under. Freedom for my people. So close, but so impossibly far away.

The small cavern where I kneel vibrates to the long, low toll of a bell.

The waking-bell. And today is Atonement. I won’t have another chance at lighting up our darkness for another whole day.

Who is Squire Carroll?

Posted in Books, Young Adult with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2015 by Jessica Crichton

I’ve written middle grade characters almost exclusivity my whole life. But Squire screamed at me. She called out to me, She told me she needed to be heard.

Squire Ann Carroll.

She is sixteen years old, far too old for my usual characters.

Still, she called to me in my daughter’s voices — Cisily at 18, Emily at 16, Joei at 14 — and I knew I couldn’t ignore her voice. Women characters like Bela Swan, with her insecurity, like Katniss Everdeen with her stone-facade, like Anastasia Steele with her loss of control, all of them spoke to my daughters in a way that Squire couldn’t accept. And so Squire spoke to me. She spoke of strength and hope, of love of a man, and freedom, of individuality and understanding.

Squire Ann Carroll spoke to me as her sisters before her — Lewis Carroll’s Alice, and Lyman Frank Baum’s Ozma — that whimsy and truth aren’t engendered. That the hope of the future belongs to us all. That we must stop pretending we’re different — stop labeling ourselves and others — in order to find equality that will LAST.

Do you agree with Squire? Then read her story below, share this, and dive into her world to see what girlpower truly means, both without a man, and with. Squire loves a strong man, but she understands her own strength as well. Will you you join us? Will you support the light that Squire wants to bring to the Under?

Read her story, and decide…

Chapter 1

Witchcraft.

The ancient word hangs in my mind as I kneel in the dirt. My fingers, chalky with dust, working slowly. Carefully. I can’t afford another mistake. Already the rocky ground is littered with broken bits of metal, cracked cogs and de-twined springs. Here and there, peppering the mess, shiny bits of white glass reflect the low light from outside.

That, I broke on purpose.

Even in the beginning there were only two of the fragile globes. The most important pieces. But I had to know how they worked, and the glass cover hid the details inside. I’d had to sacrifice one to understand the other.

A pointless sacrifice.

I lift up the uncovered innards to study them again in the faint light. The tiny bits are as mysterious to me now as they were when I’d first killed the Knight, three days before.

The bottom is curved around and around like the hand drills we use in the quarry, only much shorter and fatter. Above, surrounded by a jagged lip of the broken glass that had covered them, two tiny metal wires stand up side-by-side, connected at the bottom by a small cube of clear glass. Another wire runs along the top, connected back to the glass cube by even thinner, springy wires.

I’ve studied it for days, at every angle, but it still makes no sense. Both globes worked perfectly when I saw them focused on me within the hollow eyesockets of the Knight, blinding  me with their bright glow. But they’d gone dead with it. I haven’t been able to make them glow since.

Frustrated, I pull my book out of its secret pocket in my robes. Something hits my knee. I look down to see its sister has followed it. I’ve had both books for as long as I can remember, and known they were dangerous for just about as long. Books are heresy against Bask, and outlawed in the Under. Nobody here can read.

Nobody except me.

I don’t know why I can read. Neither of my parents can. Nobody I know can. I don’t remember learning how either, I just always have. Just like I’ve always had the books.

I pick up the second book. It’s smaller than its sister, thinner, with a brown cover that almost matches my robes. I’ve always wanted to read it but I can’t. The lock on its side keeps its secrets well hidden.

I put it back in my pocket and focus on the other book, the one I can read. A little bigger than my open palm, its title is 8th Grade Physical Science. I’ve read it so many times I can almost recite it word for word, but I still understand so few of those words. I open it to a wrinkled page with a picture of a bulb. My lips move as I whisper the caption under my breath.

“Electricity is a force created by a difference in charges due to gained or lost electrons. Electricity flowing between two points is called an electrical current. In order for these electrons to flow, there must be a difference in charges between the two points. Electricity always flows from a location with a negative charge to a location with a positive charge.”

Words. So many words, so little sense in them.

I stare at both bulbs — broken and whole, and bite back a scream of frustration. It’s right here. RIGHT here. Light for the Under. Freedom for my people. So close, but so impossibly far away.

The small cavern where I kneel vibrates to the long, low toll of a bell.

Curfew. And tomorrow is Atonement. I won’t have another chance at lighting up our darkness for another whole day.

Chapter 2

Mother’s warm, raggy hugs. Father’s beardy, scratchy kisses. Baby Derrik, all squirmy and giggly and snuggly in my arms. Grandfather’s weird quips, spoken at the most random times. Our home, tiny and hot, sitting at the top of the stoneshack heap of Cavern 16.

These are the things I remember as a kid in the Under. These are the things that keep me going even though it could all go horribly wrong.

Even though it probably will.

When I was little, the Under was home. It was peace. Behind the robes of my parents I never saw the horror just below the surface of my daily life.

We woke to the tolling bell each morning. We left our tiny home with everyone else, shimmying down the ladders to our neighbor’s roofs, then down more ladders to more roofs and finally to the pebbled ground below. The low light-lines embedded in the sometimes smooth, sometimes rocky walls illuminated the brown-clad subjects of Neighborhood D in their low, cold glow. My little feet, dusty and bare since birth, ran over the dips, pebbles and broken tiles of the cavern floor as I pushed through the throngs of other families headed into the quarry for another day of work. Father always called me over their heads, but I pretended not to hear him. It was our little game.

Coarse robes, bare legs and feet covered in sweat-drenched dust, gnarled hands clasping sharp pickaxes or the split, wooden handles of rusty shovels. I pushed through and around them all, bent on one goal — to get to our family spot before Father, and prove I was finally big enough to explore the dark cracks in the quarry walls that fascinated me.

But every time, he was there first. I’d break free of the crowd as they dispersed through the enormous, open quarry, and he was waiting for me with a wide grin, holding out my scraps basket.

Then one day the game ended, and with it, my childhood.

Running between the brown-clad legs, I didn’t see the spot of white until it was too late. I ran right into what felt like a rock wall.

The wall turned to look at me. My breath stopped. Underneath the soft white hood, a cold glow where eyes should have been. Thin, bloodless lips pursed below a set of ragged holes that only barely resembled a nose. The body, tall and thin, was covered from shoulders to floor in robes that matched the hood.

A Knight of Bask.

I’d heard of the Knights, of course. Everyone knew of the white-clad specters who policed the Under to keep peace among the subjects. I’d even seen a few from far away, but never this close. Close enough to smell it.

It stunk like rotten holemole meat.

The Knight turned away from me without a word. I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived. Within the next moment the crowd pushed back violently, knocking me to the ground. Pickaxes clattered to the cracked floor, screams echoed everywhere, and I looked up to see the Knight holding someone in the air by the neck.

I didn’t know her, had never spoken to her before, though I’d seen her at the quarry often. She had been softly wrinkled in the face, with sharp green eyes and graying brown hair always pulled back neatly into a torn scrap of robe. Now, her face was purple and bloated from choking, her eyes bulged out sickeningly, her hair free and frizzy, half-covering her face and damp with sweat. Her legs jerked under her brown robes in an unnatural way I’ll never forget as the Knight moved through the parting people, heading toward a nearby hole in the ground.

An oobli.

They littered the floor here and there, deep, dark holes with bottoms set in wicked spikes. Most of the time the ooblis were empty, but we were always taught to stay safely away from them, and everyone knew what they were for.

Punishment.

The Knight stopped at the oobli, holding the jerking woman over it in one hand.

“Bask has spoken,” it bellowed. “The heretic shall be vanquished.”

Without another word, it dropped the woman and walked away. Just dropped her, like she was nothing. Like she was trash.

I ran, then, as far and as fast as I could. It did no good. I still haven’t escaped her gurgling screams.

I don’t think I ever will.

It’s Almost Here! Book 3 of Guts and Glory!

Posted in book signings, Books, Family, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by Jessica Crichton

You’ve been waiting patiently.

You’ve been wondering when it would be OUT already.

You’ve looked for SOME sign on this website  that it is actually coming.

Well, here it is!

August, 2014…

At Spocon, Glamirita, and Here on this Website…

The Official Release 0f…

“RISE OF THE NEFARIOUS NUMBOTS”

NumbotsCover1

The third and FINAL volume of “Guts and Glory, Freedom Fighters of Nil” is almost here!

Check back here soon for exact dates, and spread the word!

The Weird Kid

Posted in Books, Family, kidlit with tags , , , , , on March 12, 2014 by Jessica Crichton

The Weird Kid

A Short Story of Nil

by Jessica Rising

Books peeked around the corner at the weird Kid Gadget had brought home. He made a face behind his way-too-big goggles.

For three years, the brothers had lived together all alone in the big, broken down mall, Books learning everything he could from Gadget. Mostly, Books’ big brother had only let him hold things and read instructions out loud, saying a Stick wasn’t big enough to learn anything important. But two days ago, Books had finally earned his name. Gadget had promised that now he was old enough to learn the interesting stuff, and even said he could actually help with Gadget’s newest invention, the Rock Walker! Books had been so excited.

Then, this little… thing… happened.

She was tiny, way littler than Books who was pretty littler than Gadget anyway, with dark eyes and skin and frizzy black hair. Like all the tiny Sticks that always showed up around Nil, she wore a dirty white, shapeless dress. That was it. She didn’t have any shoes or gloves, or even tire armor! Every time before when they’d found  one of these tiny Sticks, Gadget had left it there, saying another group of Kids would find it and raise it right. He said he was too busy inventing important things to worry about another Stick. But he’d chosen Books to raise because he’d shown he was smart from the moment he’d found him.

“Ya was standin’ inna port, wailin’ up a storm, like all the other Sticks,” Gadget had told him many times, “an’ I was gonna just leave ya there. But when I turned ta leave, ya said, ‘hey, where ya goin?’ No little Stick ever talked ta me bafore, an’ I was kinda lonely, so I thought I’d just show ya the ropes, ya know? Now stop askin’. I toldya tonsa times already!”

But now there was this new little Stick that Gadget’d actually brought home. Books didn’t really know how to feel about that.

“Well?” Gadget asked from behind. “Whaddaya think?”

Books glanced back at his big brother. Gadget was tall and skinny, with green eyes and dirty blond hair mashed up in thick braids he called dreadlocks. He wore big gloves and big goggles, just like Books, but unlike his little brother he also wore a long, stained white coat over his Nil rags and tire armor. When Books had asked about it, he’d said scientists wore coats like that. Books had never found one in the scrap that fit him, but he kept looking.

“I dunno,” Books said honestly. Gadget always said to be honest whenever possible. “She’s kinda scrawny.”

“Sure,” Gadget said. “But I think she’ll be okay.”

“Why’d ya get her?” Books asked. He felt himself get all hot and stuffed-up inside. He sniffed hard to make sure he didn’t cry. Scientists never cried. “Ain’t I good ’nuff?”

Gadget grinned, and Books braced for a joke about his crying. But Gadget surprised him by being serious. “I just figgerd we needed a new Stick ’round the place ta do the work ya used ta do, cuz ya ain’t no Stick no more… Books.”

Every time Gadget used his new name it made Books all happy inside, like when the orange Nil sky broke open for a second and showed the bright yellow light on the other side.

“Ya mean I can stop sweepin’ an’ holdin’ scrap an’ makin’ food?” he asked, excited.

“Not yet,” Gadget said. “Ya gotta show her how first. But then she’ll do the Stick work till she earns her name. That’s when we’ll find ‘nother Stick.”

Books felt his excitement peeter out like the broken balloon in a book he’d read once. “She’s gonna be a scientist, too?”

Gadget nodded. “She’s smart, Books. Just as smart’s you when I found ya.” He punched Books in the shoulder. “Only smart Kids’re ‘lowed ta live here.”

Books looked back at the weird Kid. For once she was quiet, just looking around with her big brown eyes like she’d never seen a mall before.

“She don’t look too smart.”

Gadget pushed Books gently in the back. “Go say hey ta your new sis.”

Books growled under his breath, but walked out into the room anyway. The Stick looked at him curiously.

“Heya, Stick,” he said.

“Stick?” she asked in a tiny voice.

“Yeah,” Books said. “You are a Stick ’til ya earn your name. I earned mine, so I’m bigger ‘an you ,so ya gotta listen ta me, got it?”

The Stick looked a little confused, but she nodded anyway. “Yup!”

“Good,” Books said. “Cuz ya gotta be real smart an’ know yer place ta live here. It’s the best place in Nil, though.”

“What’s name?” the Stick asked.

Books squatted down so he could look at her closer. “Books.”

She grinned. “Books!” Then, without warning, she jumped at him, wrapping her scrawny arms around his neck and squeezing tight.

Books looked back at Gadget, who leaned against the wall watching them with a smile. Gadget didn’t smile much, but Books really liked it when he did.

He squeezed his scrawny new sister back. “Sure Stick,” he said, “ya gonna be a good parta our family, I think.”

He sniffed again. But this time is was maybe a good sniff.

Maybe.

“The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc” is NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in Books, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on October 12, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

Drumroll PLEASE!

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR….

TING!

The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc is now LIVE!

TZONFront

YAYYYYYYYY!

Please share! Buy a copy! Enjoy! And PLEASE don’t hesitate to tell me what you think when you are finished?

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

(Also, if you haven’t read Dr Fixit’s Malicious Machine yet, I would highly recommend you do that first. ;-))

The Zombies are Coming… RELEASE DAY! YESSSSSSS!

Posted in Books, kidlit, Kids, Parenting, Reading with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

TZONFront

“What was that?” Roach whispered, pointing across the water.

At the exact same time, I saw movement in the bushes under the archway. I hoped so hard that it was just my eyes playing tricks on me. I hoped. And hoped.

And HOPED.

Then my hopes were crashed into a billion little pieces.

Small shadows — tons of them – broke out of the greater gloom, wading silently through the water towards us. I sat there, unable to move or even scream, as they got closer and closer. Soon I could make out human-like shapes, arms raised, legs moving jerkily through the green sludge.

About halfway across the water, the shadows gave out a long, low moaning-wail that froze my bones.

“What… what’re they sayin?” Roach whispered.

I shook my head. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t breathe.

But I knew exactly what they were saying.

“BRAAAAAAAINS!”

Yes, it’s THAT time! Finally! Time to reveal the exact release day for The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc, Book 2 of “Guts and Glory, Freedom Fighters of Nil”! (Book 1 can be found here.) So, without further ado, just in time for Halloween…

Online Ordering Release: Friday, October 11th, 2013

First Public Paperback Release and Signing: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th and 27th, 2013 at Glamirita Clothing and Accessories in Spokane, WA!

Thank you all for your patience while Jessica Turner and I have been working hard to bring you the best “Guts and Glory” ever! We promise, it’ll be worth it. 🙂

John M. Cusick

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