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  1. How's your schedule? Spring break looming for you? Or are you just looking to crash from all the harsh winter or summer weather and need a good reason to take a break? Well, once again we have another Classic Author feature to tickle your interest and catch your eye in case you missed this early author from GA's beginning days! Kombat Kids is set in a place very familiar to me... the Pacific Northwest. Not far from the Columbia River, this is a region with a lot of rich plant-life, varied animals of all shapes and sizes, and so many outdoor activities you don't ever have to go inside if you don't want to! The perfect setting for this story. Add in the stellar snippet of the review from Myr on Monday's feature, which you can read here if you didn't see it, and I am happy to also get to share an excerpt of this story with you to showcase just what you're missing out on if you haven't read it yet. You can also download a copy of the graphic to add to your signature if you want to share how much you enjoyed the story! To read more, click here.
  2. Cia

    Chapter 75

    “You would begrudge me some time to judge your intentions?” She straightened, her body poised but her face calm as she folded her hands in her lap. “I know my father and his intentions. I guessed at Anyas. I guessed at yours. What I knew and hoped for was enough to prompt me to action, but a wise person doesn’t recklessly move forward without the most intelligence possible.” “Wise.” Deke snorted. “You’re practically a—” “Shh! Watch your tongue,” Anyas snapped, cutting him off with a violent wave of his hand. The girl’s melodic laugh broke the tension that was ramping up. “You have not told them?” Captain stiffened against me. “Told us what?” “I am not some innocent youngling, which is what your crew member was about to imply. Did Anyas not tell you how long-lived the Elites are?” “I said your father had ruled for millennia. It’s not my fault if they weren’t paying attention or didn’t believe me.” Anyas made a face. “It wasn’t an exaggeration. That is how long he has been in power.” “Yes. A while, for our people, and a very long time for those who live shorter lives. We do not age as your kind do, taking care to preserve our youth.” She swung eyes that suddenly seemed much harder than before on Deke. “So while I may look young, I am anything but. And when I say I have spent time considering my decision to support my father’s actions regarding his aims for our kind to rule the universe or if the Elites need to learn their value comes from supporting and not controlling other species, I mean I have spent considerable time. Far more than you have spent on this mission. “Probably even more than you have been serving in your military. Maybe even been alive.” She sniffed. “You are the child here. So perhaps you should sit down.” I stared at her; she might be willing to help us, but she had a healthy dose of the same haughty condescension that set Anyas apart from his guards. “Why would you help us?” I asked. “Now that is a smart question.” She pushed herself upright. “I believe I can answer it and even your skeptical friend there will believe.” “Of course we would take you at your word,” Anyas said smoothly. He pulled out a chair at the head of the table. “My lady.” “Rilecca is fine.” “And speak for yourself,” Captain said. He took at the edge of the table by Rilecca. “I have a crew to protect, people who trusted me to avenge. Maybe even find them and set them free for real this time.” “You speak of Brox’s experiments they are doing. To create beings like them.” She gestured toward me and Danie. “Prototypes for their army. Drones to control the masses. Secret controls. And once they figure it out, there’s no telling what species they’ll stop at. Humans are malleable; it’s why they chose their species to begin with.” Rilecca placed her hand on a screen on the table. A light came on and she licked her finger, then touched it into the light. Holographic screens lit up in front of every chair around the table. “The planets in purple, we control. The ones in red are well on their way to being fully-integrated into my father’s web. The blues are independent.” There were more than I expected, which Captain said aloud. “Taking over the universe takes more time than one man has. Even one as long-lived as my father. That is where I am supposed to take the reins, under his guidance, of course. He would remain an advisor, from the system of his choice.” “Let me guess, one he’s got lots of comforts and lots of enslaved species?” Captain said bitterly. She inclined her head. “My father was raised in another time. I have had a distressing habit of slipping my guard for some time. What he didn’t know was that I did not remain on this planet. See, my father desires power. I desire knowledge. I have learned so much from the many cultures, planets, and people I have witnessed.” Her expression darkened. “And I have no desire to stamp them out. I am not a clone of my father, no matter what he desires, and he cannot stamp out my free will either.” “Ahh.” Captain nodded his head. “Now we see the heart of this. Rebellion. Will that see you through your plans and keep my crew safe from retribution from your father?” Rilecca narrowed her eyes. “Do you imply I reject his fatherly plans for me and push back on a whim? To be difficult? Because my cage might have been bigger and my escapes might have been farther afield but based on what I learned of your Kohen’s life growing up, our pasts are not much different. We were conditioned to our roles. When we weren’t being used, we were locked away. “No one deserves to have their choices taken from them.” Rilecca’s voice was soft but steel shone through the velvet. But I knew how brittle the strongest person could feel inside. I leaned over the table past Captain and touched her hand, covering it with mine. “So you came to free me. To help us.” She took a deep breath. “I did. But I understand why your captain is so skeptical.” She turned her gaze on Captain. “Your crew has been ill-used. Let’s put a stop to it.” “Well, damn, Captain.” Freska suddenly spoke up from her place along the wall, her links disconnected. “You thought convincing the person in charge that changing their minds about their plans would be hard. Here she is offering to do it on her own.” “Rilecca is not in charge,” Deke said. “She is the heir, not the ruler,” Anyas agreed somewhat reluctantly. Freska snorted. “I found some interesting things in the system, boss. She’s not done surprising us yet.”
  3. This time of year, I'm always hoping for some spring to warm things here in the north, and I'm sure the south is getting ready for some relief from their heat. Either way, the extreme swings and highs and lows are starting to level out... usually. Washington is a great place to enjoy this time of year, and if you read GhostRyder's Kombat Kids, you'll get a great glimpse at the wonderful settings his story has to share as he takes readers on a journey along with his characters as they learn to overcome problems facing them. Length: 278,295 Description: The Kombat Kids belong to Unit One. Unit One was Started by James and Matt Bateman to give the local boys an option to the mostly homophobic Church run youth groups and the scouting programs. The Unit is located near the Columbia river in the South East Corner of Washington State and is made up of mostly gay boys and men. Members learn to cope with their own fears and problems during the first year and a half of the Units existence. A reader said: Kombat Kids is an emotional rollercoaster of a story. Tons of funny one liners. A lot of deep dark emotional pits to fall in. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll cringe. You'll swear. You'll grumble about some grammar issues. But chances are good if you start reading it, you'll keep reading it. ~ Myr If you want to spread the word about GhostRyder15's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!
  4. PRIDE & PREMIUM How would you like to support GA and maybe earn a little spending money? Or Premium access? We need your new 5-15k short stories featuring 'Coming Out' stories for to help celebrate before, during, and after Pride month. Each story would be featured with weekly installments and posted for Premium subscribers, with a copy maintained in our Premium archive. Any author on GA can participate, and stories can be 1-3 chapters in length and any genre, as long as they incorporate the theme and are between 5,000 and 15,000 words. Deadline: April 28th, though earlier is always nice so Cia can help do a proof on your story as they come in! We'd also like to create an eBook of the stories to use solely on the site to provide to those Premium subscribers who enroll for higher month renewals for their offline reading pleasure. Authors who provide stories would also receive a copy of the eBook! For more information, please PM Cia if the question is private. Also feel free to chat here!
  5. We need Premium short stories themed "Coming Out" for Pride month. Do you have one you want to sell or donate to support the site? 5 to 15k, we can work with authors on editing! More information below: 


    1. comicfan


      I'm writing, honest.

  6. Still looking for great stories by any GA author! Tag your friends!
  7. Cia

    Finding a story - help!

    Not one I wrote @Graeme or even one I recognize. Sounds interesting though!
  8. Cia

    Chapter 74

    Danie was close to Freska, his hands cradled to his chest. “Sit down, Danie. You need to keep resting.” I’d been too focused on my own situation to notice his, but I winced. I’d been shocked enough times, feeling the pain of the punishments, so I could push it aside. The scientists had worked to force me to avoid sensory input with pain as a punishment, but they’d trained me to ignore it to a large extent as well. He was like a newborn baby; all brand new nerves and experiences. My breath hitched; I remembered those first few times. The pain had been intense, my confusion and fear just as strong. “Kohen, are you okay?” Captain holstered his weapon. “Put her down over there. You need to rest.” He guided me over to a bank of chairs. I arranged the girl on them. Knocking her out had been necessary, but I was starting to worry. I tried to position her like I would like, curled protectively up with my back to one side of a chair and not sprawled out. “You okay?” Captain rubbed my back while I bent over her, folding her hands on her stomach. “Yeah.” I straightened, groaning. My body ached. “I am worried she isn’t waking up. I wish Aparoe was here. I didn’t mean to hurt her.” “I know. We’ll make her understand when she wakes up. You would never hurt anyone if you could avoid it.” He always thought the best of me. I leaned into Captain, relishing the warmth of his body and the scent of his skin surrounding me. A pulse of contentment rushed through our bond, and I felt our synthgar shiver against my skin. “I missed you so much,” I said softly. “We risk a lot.” “I’d risk everything to make sure you were safe. The Elites are behind your torture, and they made Danie for god knows what plans. I’ve been sent on mission after mission rescuing people who are being sent back into the same hell I thought I was saving them from. They backed us into a corner.” “Any being who has no way out is at their most dangerous. It was why I was taught to use ruses. No one could know I was coming until it was too late.” Shame colored my words, but for once my skills were being put to good use. The Elites thought they’d beat us so quickly, but we used their own hubris against them. “Of course, now we’re trapped in this room.” Deke paced in front of the doors, eyeing them. “He wasn’t talking about us.” Captain scowled. “Or to you.” “It’s fine. Deke knows anyway.” He’d read Kohen’s file when they were first rescuing him. “And he’s handicapped by an inability to function when he’s not trying to blow something or someone up.” Danie had wheeled his chair by Freska. She was sitting at the console extending from one wall, her wires connected to the system. Her other hand rested on his neck, connecting him to her. “Danie and Freska are on their part of the plan. Anyas got us here. The ship will be waiting when we’re done.” “I almost feel superfluous,” Captain said. “You have to use all those fancy words and talk our way out of this later,” Deke said. He caressed the weapon I had brought with me and handed over to him. “And I’ll make sure anyone who needs some extra convincing is extra convinced.” “You do not hurt anyone without cause,” Captain warned him. “We are not the bad guys here. These machinations need to stop. People are not things to be experimented on, and no one race should hold reign over all others. The Central Council needs to be purged and purified so that the races are really the ones in charge and not being manipulated by some shadowy figures.” “I agree,” said a melodic voice. Gasping, I jumped. Captain tightened his grip. We stared at the young woman who was looking up at us. She hadn’t moved other than opening her eyes. “Hello,” she said. “Hello. Glad to see you’re awake.” Captain narrowed his eyes. “For a while, perhaps.” “Not too long but long enough.” She gingerly touched her face. “I’m sorry,” I blurted out. “I didn’t want to hurt you.” “It’s fine, Kohen. You didn’t know I was coming to help you. Since I don’t see them, I take it you eluded my father’s guards?” She really hadn’t been awake that long. “Yes, we have.” Captain drew himself up. “You were helping Kohen?” “I was going to try. For all that I should be taking over, when he can get away with it, my father keeps close tabs on me.” She sat up, crossing her ankles. “Lady.” Anyas rushed over. He bowed formally, flourishing his hands. “I pray that you are well.” “I’m fine.” Her voice was flatter. “Why am I not surprised you are part of this plot?” She was as light as he was dark. She raised one silvery brow. “Speaking out against the plans to harness the powers of all the ruling councils and suppressing the free will of the lesser species is what got me exiled to begin with.” Anyas shrugged one elegant shoulder. “Their plan had little chance of succeeding, but what more can they do that is worse than moldering on that dreadful planet?” “Well, with me by their side—as their captive, of course—they should have a much better chance of success.” We all gaped at her. “You would do that?” I asked. “After I….” I gestured toward her face. “As I said, you are not to blame. Besides, it gave me a chance to determine your real intentions. People don’t censor themselves around strangers when they don’t believe they can be heard.” “So you were eavesdropping on purpose!” She cocked her head, staring at me. “You are very naïve. Of course I was.” The look on her face… I had to wonder if her appearance was cultivated to make others underestimate her. I clearly had.
  9. Cia

    Post stories in other languages

    No, unfortunately, we do not allow stories to be posted in foreign languages. This is because our moderation team primarily speaks and writes English and the entire site is based on English as well. We don't have the capabilities to do translations of all the languages in the world to ensure members and Stories are moderated fairly. We allow people to do common greetings and some phrases on the forums that are easily recognized, and we do allow authors to pepper some phrases in foreign languages into their stories though we typically prefer if they provide some sort of translation for readers either in the story via the characters or in the story notes.
  10. Cia

    Chapter 73

    The cool calm Anyas projected cracked for the very first time when I slung the girl over my shoulder and dropped her on the couch in the room he’d been given in the building. He gasped. “What have you done?” “It was necessary.” The girl’s head lolled back, and I was reassured when her chest rose and fell slowly. I hadn’t killed her; she was just unconscious. I’d been too worried about being spotted to stop and check on her. I carefully arranged her arms and legs, trying to make her a little more comfortable. No reason to leave her awkwardly splayed out. Besides, it looked indecent. Her face was unlined, her thick lashes settled on smooth cheeks. Her lips were light pink against the dark skin of her face. She had speckles across her forehead. If she’s bruised from my blow, I couldn’t see it. As soon as I straightened, Captain was there. He pulled me into his arms, one hand capturing my face. “Are you okay?” “Fine. They didn’t hurt me.” I decided not to mention my numb fingers; the sensation was starting to come back anyway. “You?” I studied him. He was in charge and the Elites would remove him to prevent the crew from rallying behind him. “Anyas kept us safe,” he said. “For a while, I wasn’t sure if he had turned on us.” I could admit that to Captain, the whisper of words spoken against the skin of his neck when he pulled me close, reliving the stomach-churning fear and loneliness. “I’m glad he didn’t.” Captain narrowed his eyes. “He wouldn’t have survived the attempt.” Anyas snorted, and we broke the embrace to turn and face him. “As if I’d perform at less than my best. These are Elites. I’m an arrogant fucker, but they are even more arrogant than me. They see what they want to see and only that. It has been longer than I thought since I was among them; inattention and sloth has crept in. They will be easy to overthrow.” We hadn’t been talking quiet enough, apparently. A certain gleam entered his eyes, and I had to wonder if we were setting ourselves up to face a more devious enemy later… but I’d just make sure we kept Anyas as a friend. Freska gasped. “We have incoming. Time to go.” I grabbed Captain’s hand. “Should we leave her?” Deke asked, gesturing toward the woman. He had a weapon out and pointed at the doors. “No, absolutely not. This may be the best thing for us, even better than our plan before.” Anyas glanced at me. “Well, if she doesn’t hold a grudge.” “Why?” Danie was standing by Freska, one finger on her neck while she was patched into the system. “Freska controls their systems. What do we need an Elite for?” “Because the guards can still fire weapons, and a battle will endanger your crew. A bloodless coup is always more desirable. With the A.I.s working with Freska and the city on lockdown, they will be forced to treat with us in person. And with her, they will go very, very carefully.” “Why?” I asked. “Who is she?” “She, my surprising friend, is the daughter of the High Councilor. His heir to his seat. And, as he is wasting away after a millenia or two, she is about to be acknowledged in the next year.” Captain blinked, his hand tightening on mine. “Are you saying the most powerful of all the Elites is this slip of a girl, and she was wandering around all alone by herself in a prisoners wing, and Kohen knocked her out and kidnapped her?” “That is exactly what I’m saying,” Anyas replied. He raised an eyebrow. “Was I unclear in some way?” “Was I unclear saying we had to go? A whole troop of those damn guards are coming this way. We need to get to the interior conference room and lock it down. Now!” demanded Freska. There was a flurry of activity. Unwilling to let others touch her for some reason, I grabbed the girl and, more carefully this time, put her over my shoulder and secured her with one arm around her thighs. That left my other arm free for a weapon. I was put in the middle—where Captain would have put me anyway, even with my strength and abilities—and we were off. Freska had disengaged her leads from the system, but she kept a hand on the sides of the building whenever we neared an electronics panel, reading the data screens on the vids that lit at her touch. “Shit!” Deke fired over his left shoulder, yanking his body to one side to avoid a stunner blast. His weapon was not set to stun, and the guard who had tried to intercept us was unlucky enough to find out. We left him on the side corridor, blood oozing from the blackened edges of the burn blazed into his armor. “Almost there,” Freska panted. “Gotta work on my cardio.” “Sitting behind those machines will do that to you. Why not have Danie carry you out?” Anyas was annoying cool and dry, unlike the rest of us. “Not everyone can keep calm when armed guys are after them. And Danie was zapped cause he touched what he shouldn’t have.” “Stop!” Freska made them all stop and backtrack. A nondescript gray door in the middle of the corridor. A blue band went around it. “This is it.” “This?” Deke didn’t look convinced. “Yep. Hiding in plain sight.” Freska touched the keypad, just one fingertip, and the door seal cracked. The door popped open with a hiss. Deke went first, a guard following, Freska, Anyas, me, and Captain pulling up the rear with the other guards. They pulled the door shut, and Captain said, “Watch out.” I hid my eyes just in time for the screen to go up in a shower of sparks from his shot.
  11. Holy moly, it's already March! How's the weather where you are? We all know we'd rather be reading, no matter if it's warm or hot or cool or cold, so how about we enjoy this month's CSR featured story instead of worrying about all that outdoor junk. LOL This month there's something about the sadder side of love that called to me, and I couldn't help but think of @MericCotton's story, Second Chances. Give it a read! Second Chances by Meric Cotton Length: 23,552 Description: Can life start again after losing the person you expected to be your partner for life? A Reader Said: Loved this story!! I did not expect this ending at all! I’m not sure what I thought would happen, but I’m glad he’s taking a chance to find happiness for a second time! Thank you! ~mfa607 Don't forget to come back with your thoughts during the CSR Discussion Day on Monday, March 25th!
  12. Cia

    Weekly Wrap Up (Feb. 24 - Mar. 2)

    You know what's funny? 2 months ago my daughter got a ball python for a pet and I call it the nope rope. I think snakes are pretty... in their tanks!
  13. Cia

    Weekly Wrap Up (Feb. 24 - Mar. 2)

    ❤️ (hug) to @Renee Stevens for the recommendation! I still love this series. I should put a banner together and organize it all up pretty-like.
  14. April 28th, which I've put in the topic post. Thank you for the reminder to add that, Comicfan!
  15. Cia

    Chapter 72

    Our link pulled at me, and I followed it. These Elites didn’t have their cells set up like the scientists and doctors had. No constant surveillance, just guards. Guards who didn’t see me coming before I took them out. Deke would be proud. The last one had managed to draw a weapon on me, so I’d been forced to use a knife on him. If he was valuable, they could regrow the tendons. If not… it was him or me. And nothing was going to keep me from Captain. Hopefully Anyas was doing his job because I needed Danie and Freska in place soon. He was going to keep the others close, making sure he didn’t lose the biggest threat he had over the other Elites. My stomach churned as I crept along, the weapon I’d stolen at the ready. He’d been a superb actor—at times too good—and it was hard to know whether or not we could trust him. Then again, being welcomed back into the fold of the ones who betrayed him didn’t seem like a good idea to me. Bastards exiled him once, no telling how quick they’d do it again once he’d given up his bargaining chips. And Anyas was many things, but stupid wasn’t one of them. I’d kept my eyes down on the trip to the cells, but I’d learned a long time ago to assess my surroundings and learn the smallest details without being noticed. As a spy or assassin, covert had been drilled into me. So I knew I was running out of corridors before I’d return to the main building. I needed to find them, but I couldn’t go rushing out where I’d quickly be surrounded. The other Elites knew about me and Danie’s skills. They probably had information on the rest of the crew, but Freska’s abilities were a secret that only those truly loyal to Captain had been privy to. The others knew she was a tech mastermind. They didn’t know she could literally bond with inorganic technology and become a part of it, and let it become a part of her. Claimed as spoils of his capture, Anyas had brought us in his ship, but had ours had “limped along at its pathetic pace”. Which meant it should be overhead… Right. About. Now. I ducked into an alcove when the lights flickered, crouching down and leaning against the wall to blend into the shapes of the decorations as best I could. Yep. Right on time. Relief sent a fine tremor through my hands. Anyas hadn’t betrayed us. He’d gotten Freska to a place where she could connect with the ship’s A.I. And that A.I. was now sharing with the planetary A.I.s just what type of joy she could bring them. A glimpse of humanity. Love. Appreciation. Need. I’d almost had to look away from Freska when she spoke of it because what she felt for metal and circuits felt more intimate than I was comfortable with. My face had been on fire. Danie had watched her with rapt eyes, his chest rising and falling and rapidly. And then I had looked away. But whatever the A.I.s felt from her, they returned it tenfold, giving her free reign through their systems. Booted feet pounded by, and I froze, barely daring to breathe. They’d never discover her, but I was still vulnerable. The lights flickered again, and then a voice whispered from a screen in the wall. A speaker? “Kohen?” “Yes,” I whispered. “Good, it’s Freska. The sensors picked you up. You’re down five levels and across the compound from us.” Who else was it going to be? I suppressed a snort. “Of course I am. You got the lights? Doors?” “Yes. I’m tracking you, so I’ll try to divert others away. Captain Querry says to be careful. Make your way here quick, Anyas says. Things—” She broke off, and I tensed. Someone was coming, and they weren’t stomping like a guard. This was different. Soft footsteps crept quietly down the hall closer, and I made a snap decision. Jumping out, I locked onto the person and flipped them to the ground. I covered their mouth with one hand, using my body to hold their arms to their sides and my weight to keep them pinned. With the other, I pinched the blood flow at the neck until they went limp. Blinking rapidly, I stared, crinkling my forehead. It was a woman, a young one, barely into adulthood. Maybe a year or two older than me. An Elite. What the hell was she doing down here? I was glad I didn’t use the stunner on her; knocking her unconscious was kinder. But she’d wake up faster. I could leave her or take her. Making a snap decision, I scooped up her body and tucked her willowy body over my shoulder. I awkwardly leaned into the alcove. “Freska? Get the lights and doors. Now.” The lights went out. Hustling, I followed the directions Anyas had been able to provide us, always tracking toward the bond that I had with Captain. It was awkward with the Elite in my arms, she was a tall girl, but there was something strange going on here. My brain raced as my body moved just as quickly. Why was an Elite female heading into the cells? Why was an Elite female unescorted at all? Was she the reason for the troop of guards that had blasted past or had they discovered the missing guard I put in a cell? Were we discovered another way? Freska would have some answers about the guards movements, and hopefully she or Anyas would have some information about the girl too.
  16. This month's story announcement for the CSR Book Club was Down a Darkened path by Ronyx. An experienced hand at writing, this GA Classic Author knows how to write a story that sucks in readers and keeps them reading as you can tell through many of Ronyx's works. This story was no different, based on the thoughts a lot of readers' thoughts. I know I enjoyed this story despite the sometimes troubling events and sad scenes, the redemptions and ending held true to my hopes for the characters. But what did you think? Make sure you share your thoughts at the end of the interview! Who do you like best, Jerry or Tom? Jerry. I’m extremely allergic to cats. LOL. Besides, Jerry was the smart one. If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do? I would take, Shadow, my twelve-year-old flat-coat retriever for a walk. Because of his advancing age, I know he won’t be with us too much longer, and I love to spend time with him. What's your favorite room in your house? Do you plot or write there? My den (or as some would say- my man cave.) Everything I need is here. I have a large screen television, a computer desk and a comfortable leather sofa. It is where I do all my writing. Do you have a favorite quote about writing or reading? My favorite quote deals with education (which involves writing and reading.) At the end of my story, Reggie’s Journal, after Reggie struggles for months to complete a weekly journal, the teacher rewards him for doing an excellent job. He also writes the comment: The purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. Very insightful comment about growing up and seeing the world through a different perspective. If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be? I wish I would have started writing sooner. I had thought about writing in my teens, but I lacked self-confidence. When I was about sixteen, I wrote the first few chapters of a story, and it still remains hidden in the bottom of a drawer. It wasn’t until many years later that I threw caution to the wind and attempted to do what had always been a dream. I’m forever grateful that I did. It was the beginning of an amazing journey. I’ve made so many wonderful friends over the past twelve years through the Mustard Jar, Codey’s World and Gay Authors. How much research did you need to do for Down a Darkened Path? I didn’t need much research. I had never considered writing a story with a blind main character. One night I received an email from a college student who told me he was blind. He asked me if I would write a story about a blind person. At first, I told him I didn’t think I could because I had never known anyone who was blind. However, a few months earlier, my nephew was involved in a serious car accident. He was a passenger when the driver lost control and plowed into a bridge abutment. He almost died. He was in the hospital in critical condition for days, and after a month he was moved into a nursing home for rehabilitation. As a result of the accident, he lost his left eye. Several months after he returned home, he was attacked outside his apartment by two men who tried to rob him. He also was engaged to be married, and his fiancée decided she couldn’t handle the situation and left him. For those who have read Down a Darkened Path, you can see the similarities of incidences in the story and my nephew’s life. I was able to take a tragic personal event and incorporate it into the story. My nephew is happy today, and he has adjusted well to the loss of his sight. In the story, I wanted Troy to accept what happened to him and live a happy and fulfilling life with Jayden. You wrote a scene where the characters tried to learn some empathy for your main character by experiencing sensory loss in a public place. Was that something you did for your writing process? Not directly. When I was in college, I took many psychology classes. In one of the classes we did a trust exercise where we were blindfolded and led around the campus for an hour by another student. We were required to do several sensory experiments. I used that learning experience and applied it to the story. This story has several very emotional scenes. How did you handle writing those? As I discussed earlier, this story was written from a personal experience. Probably the most difficult was writing the hospital scene directly after the accident. Tony (my husband- it was his nephew) rushed to the hospital when we received a late-night phone call. At first, he was not expected to live. The engine of the car was pushed into the passenger’s side, and his lower body was crushed. He also hit the windshield which resulted in the loss of his eye. He was in intensive care for a week, and he managed to show improvement after several weeks. The sorrow that night was very intense and emotional. We also visited him in the nursing home when he was recovering, and he talked about some of the depression he was experiencing. It was difficult because he was only twenty-two at the time, and he had such a bright future ahead of him. Today, he still suffers from bouts of depression. Do you have a favorite scene in the Down a Darkened Path? I love the ending! I think it is one of my best. I admit tears flowed down my face when I wrote about Troy singing, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” What better inspiration than to end a story: “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high. And don’t be afraid of the dark.” What is one thing you would like to share with us about your current or upcoming stories? I took a hiatus from writing for three years. In 2015, I lost my twin sister. She was in intensive care in three hospitals for ulcerative colitis. I visited her for three months as her health continued to deteriorate. She passed away two days before our birthday. Fortunately, I had just finished my last story, Other Sinful Things. After her death, I lost my passion for writing, and I stopped. I never intended to write again. I had also written twenty-two full-length stories, numerous short stories and a two-act play (which has never been published.) I was literally burned out. During the past three years, my readers have been wonderful. They have waited patiently for me to write again. Occasionally, someone will email me with words of encouragement. Two years ago, an administrator wrote and asked me if I would consider posting my stories here. Interaction with the wonderful GA members has also helped motivate me. Last year, I attempted a new story, Dancing on a Star. It has been difficult trying to write again. Several times I even considered deleting the story. It’s been a struggle, but I am beginning to approach the end. I’m not posting regularly because I don’t know when I might experience a slump. However, I have always promised my readers that I will complete any story I start. Dancing with a Star will be completed. I hope that it contains the quality of writing my readers have come to expect. If not, I hope they understand.
  17. This week's feature is a much older story but one I hope more interest in will prompt Myr into writing more. Who wants to join me in getting some more psi-corps? The banner feature was on Monday if you want to download and put the banner in your signature to share the story as one of your favorites! Myr's story is a short one, but I still chose a longer excerpt. There's a good glimpse into Jerry's character here, but it doesn't really give anything away about the story's events to come. Myr does share some tantalizing tidbits about just what might happen in the future. If you want to read more, click here.
  18. Cia

    Chapter 71

    I’d been separated from everyone. The Elites didn’t look at me, didn’t talk to me. Shivers wracked me as I was hauled away, my hands bound behind my back with strong shackles. I wanted to vomit up that last meal we’d had, or cry, or drop to my knees and not move. But none of that would help me. None of that would help the others. Years of experience suppressing my emotions helped me stay on my feet and kept me from panicking. I squeezed my hands together behind my back. A wand was shoved between my hands, zapping my fingers. I cursed, my hands now completely numb while painful shocks burned up the nerves in my arms. The synthgar shivered against my neck. I held my breath, hoping it would stay still. They’d take it and kill it. I was back in the same hell as before, even if it was on a planet instead of a sterile space station. They were already starting to isolate me from sensory input. Not talking to me, not letting me even hold my own hands. It was sickening. Worse, I could feel some of that numbness beckoning me. It’d be easier, safer, than the fear and anger. The scent of the flowers was gone, the warm breeze tempered to a cool stillness, and turn and after turn led to windowless corridors. I nearly walked into the back of the guard in front of me, and only barely stopped before his wand slammed into my stomach. I sucked in a sharp breath, arching away from the glowing tip. A door opened on my right, and I went inside. Pick my battles, fight when it made sense. Play docile while you have to. I kept my back to guards. My hands and wrists were so numb I didn’t feel the cuffs disengage, but I had to bite back a cry when my arms fell useless to my sides. Above all, never, ever, let them see you cry. I blinked back the tears, swallowing past the thick lump in my throat. The bed was different and boasted a thin mattress and a pillow. A pillow; I hadn’t had one of those before. The space was rectangular instead of a square box that matched sides perfectly four strides one direction and four the other. My mind latched onto the small details even as I was left alone. I paced the cell. I sat on the bed. I ignored the pillow in case they came and took it from me. Mealtimes came and went without any trays. Darkness had to have fallen outside, right? Even if we’d arrived early in their morning, I’d been locked in this cell for hours. I couldn’t touch anything, not even myself. Sitting still and touching nothing was more exhausting than I remembered. This wasn’t like my cell from before, though. I could hear outside my cell, which helped the waiting. Night fell and the lights dimmed. I crawled onto my bunk facing the door. The sounds of activity faded and soon just the tread of booted feet and the thump and squeak of what must be the guards was left. Silently, I slipped out of bed and crept to the door. I cursed the numbness in my fingers. It was going to hamper my escape, but I was done in this cell. Time to find Anyas. I traced my fingers to the left of the cell door. Stiffening them as best I could, I drilled them into the metal, punching holes into the wall. Holding my breath, I waited for an alarm. Nothing. Either no one was watching me, or they hadn’t noticed what I was doing yet. Security wasn’t what I had lived under before, which is something I’d been hoping for. I curled my fingers and the metal squealed, bending and breaking. Success! The hole exposed the electronics for the lock. Now came the part I wasn’t sure of. Freska had given me a tiny chip to conceal in my clothes. Of course, I wasn’t supposed to lose the feeling in my hands when I tried to use it. That made it infinitely harder to carefully place the tiny green plastic shard that was about to free me. Biting my lip, I cursed under my breath, but I finally manipulated it into place. Click. The door opened a fraction. A wicked grin crossed my face. Something was going my way; it was about damn time. I pried open the door, peeking out. The footsteps were faint, on the far edge of the patrol pattern. Slinking out, I started to follow the sounds. First, neutralize the guards. Second, find the others. Third, get Anyas. Fourth, take over this compound. Fifth, let Freska and Danie do their thing. Sixth, take these fuckers down. Probably not that simple, but my body itched to take care of the first order of business and the second. I needed Captain. He needed me. We were better together. I made my way to a corner, then flattened along the wall. My senses would help me, my strength an asset. Footsteps. Boots. The swish of fabric. The second the profile of the guard came into view, I was on him. I’d held back before, acting like their constructed bodies were too strong for me. This time I held back nothing. Stiffening my hand into a flat blade, I slammed the edge into his neck. There went his ability to shout out. Jumping, I clapped my hands over his ears. No more ability to hear the others. He choked on his cry when I kicked his kneecap and blew it out backward. He dropped to one knee, and then I used my elbow to drive his head sideways, slamming into his jaw and knocking him unconscious. One guard down. I wasn’t even breathing hard. These fuckers were about to pay for a lifetime of abuse, and I was just the guy to dish it out.
  19. February is a short month, and I've picked a short story to go along with it. This is actually one of my favorites of Myr's stories, so I hope getting a bunch of new eyes on it will help get him to write more. Jerry is an interesting character, and there's a lot more to be told of his story! Length: 7,832 Description: Jeremiah Declan Samuels has been in the Terran Confederation Spaceforce since his unusual birth. Those years of training are about to pay off as he leaves Earth to go to Europa to learn Jumping. If you want to spread the word about Myr's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!
  20. Cia

    Newsletter Question

    There was an announcement at the start of the year that we were moving to a monthly digest (last Sunday of each month) of the newsletter due to a lack of engagement and clicks from subscribers, with a move to posting more content on GA's social media and direct emails to authors for special site announcements like special events (Premium short story call). We want to get information about what's happening to members, and we're looking for the best ways to do that.
  21. Cia

    Chapter 70

    “A cell is not a home!” I snapped. It was a hell. My heart was pounding, and my hands shook. I couldn’t walk, wouldn’t step forward when Anyas’ guard tried to push me to follow him out of the house. “I’m quite aware,” Anyas said. He cast a sharp glance over his shoulder. “What are you doing? Just pick him up.” The guard picked me up and tossed me over his shoulder. He was something… not human. Too big, too strong. Nothing I did had any effect on him at all. He just kept walking. Danie walked behind us. “Help me,” I hissed. “That would be futile,” he said. “These beings are stronger than you and me put together. They have the rest of the crew. We know no one here, and we have nowhere to go and no place to hide. The planet is a frozen wasteland.” “So you’ll just march along?” I asked, outraged. “Yes.” He shrugged one shoulder. “Better than being carried. Or tranquilized.” “Oh, I won’t tranquilize you,” Anyas said. “I wouldn’t want to damage the delicate balance of your systems.” His face hardened. “But I will have you neutralized if you do not stop fussing. It is tiresome.” I wanted Captain desperately. My stomach heaved and I gagged. “I’m going to be sick.” They must have knocked me out too, because the next thing I knew, I was in a cell. Alone. Guess getting sick all down the back of one of his guards was too much for Anyas. The difference with this cell from the one I was in before was the transparent front. A shimmer covered it, and I knew better than to try and touch it. I desperately wanted to, though. Across the small, round room from me were several cells holding the others. I could see Captain on his back, one arm hanging off the thinly-padded shelf attached to the wall. My feet slid across the plastic as I sat up on mine. Craning my head, I tried to see and count the people. I couldn’t hear anyone, even though it looked like Deke was up and pacing and shaking his fists. Soundproof. That wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was the utter lack of any feedback from the ship moving at all. Were we traveling? Still in port? I had no idea. Not knowing how long I’d been out was distressing. Tiny taps behind my ear alerted me to the fact my nerves had disturbed the synthgar. It was on the move, and I held up a hand, letting it curl into my palm. As I stroked his small, smooth belly I calmed. I wasn’t alone, even if I felt like I was. This wasn’t like before. We had a plan. Even if things hadn’t been exactly like we thought they’d go, this wasn’t a complete shift in the plan of how to get to Anyas’ home planet. Flexible. Calm. Breathe. I could hear Captain’s voice in my head. I smiled slightly, ignoring how it wobbled on my face. It was a smile damn it. When I looked up, Captain was still passed out on his bunk. I felt a pang; I’d felt sure he’d have woken up and would be smiling at me. Maybe he was smiling at me on the inside. Yeah, I’d go with that. Anyas had informed us our onboard thrusters were terribly inefficient, and the trip would only take a short time. He hadn’t done so before because he hadn’t had the whim to visit his home planet. I snorted. “Whim. Right.” A short trip or night, it felt like eternity. I watched intently but Captain remained out. When they came for me, he was still there, and I couldn’t see him, couldn’t touch him, couldn’t even mouth I Love You to him as they hauled me away. Bravery was overrated. I fought them to get to him, hitting, biting, and kicking. Damn alien statue guys. When we walked off the ship—which had been traveling across space, even though it felt like it was sitting still in port—the air was as hot as Anyas’ house had been. Hotter, in fact. It was like being slapped with a wet cloth. Hot, steamy, and even the spaceport was surrounded by green and big, spiky plants in a variety of speckled leaves with brilliant bursts of colors were taller than he was. Tall buildings pierced the skyline everywhere, and the people. So many Elites, in all the colors of the rainbow, light to dark and back again. They moved with purpose or slow indolence, their clothes gauzy and barely covering their limbs. “Man-eaters,” Danie said. He eyed them curiously. “You aren’t a man.” The newcomer was in robes, his hands tucked away. “So you are probably safe.” His voice had no inflection I could hear, yet somehow he managed to emphasize probably in such a way to cast down on Danie’s safety. He raised an eyebrow when he gazed at me. “Interesting, ever since the humans did their little raid, we thought we’d lost an asset. Now look at how you come waltzing back in our arms on your own.” “He isn’t on his own,” Anyas snapped. “He has me, and his friends. I want an audience with the one in charge. In exchange, you can have him.” He waved a hand lazily in my direction, and I bit back a curse. We hadn’t talked about that. “When I get my life back, you can have the others.” Anyas stepped into a new vehicle, this one much nicer than the one he’d had. He sighed and leaned his head back. “Ahh, this is what I was missing. Worth every second.” He glanced up. “I do what I must,” he said. “One day, you will understand.” “No. No I won’t,” I hissed.
  22. Cia

    Plot Holes

    The question I often face is... it a hole or an opportunity to backfill later with a twist the readers didn't expect? When you write and instantly post the chapters of an ongoing serial, you don't have as many opportunities to 'clean things up' as you do when you write a complete work and then post, but you do need a team of readers if you plan to be able to find all those missing moments your author brain can't see for the story in your head. Writing off the cuff versus writing to a plan also make a big difference. Of course, sometimes I try to make a plan and it doesn't mean anything when the story goes off the rails and in a whole new direction, lol. Another great thought on writing and editing, @Comicality
  23. Cia

    Chapter 69

    Anyas clapped his hands. A servant approached and handed him a cup. Oddly, I saw him also palm a device that detached from the base, slipping it under the table. It was tiny, the many sides each having a different button. He pressed his finger to the top, and it emitted a hum. I twitched and winced. “My apologies. Just ensuring we are secure now.” Anyas went from reclining in his chair to sitting upright. “Please remain seated, but you may move if you have need to shift or get comfortable. Now we can really discuss your odds.” The lazy tone of his voice was gone, and replacing it was the deeper, sharper voice I remembered. The intense stare as he locked gazes with Captain took me back to that day when we met. This was the Elite I’d been too awed by to kill. If I’d even been able to manage it. The way he’d moved his body…. “The scanners watching us will see a conversation where I draw you out and pretend to listen to your scheme. I extrapolated your plans from the data I swept from your ship and communications. I just had to wait until I had enough video and voice data in my holo generator system to mask our true conversation.” “Our… what?” Deke growled. “He is under surveillance, and our coming here is already known.” Danie voiced the information flatly. “And he’s now emitting some sort of signal that is hiding what we are truly saying and doing.” Deke stiffened and pressed both hands against the table, but Captain locked a hand on his shoulder, holding him in his chair. “As long as we don’t move about too much and disrupt the holograms.” Anyas inclined his head. “Correct. I knew you would quickly pick up on what was happening. Your approach here was discovered by more than just my monitors, and I’m afraid I could not hide your ship’s presence. The best I could do was to bring you to my home by pretending a willingness to listen to your plan and then activate my masking program.” “Pretending? So you won’t help us?” I asked. Our odds just went from bad to fucking impossible. The Elites knew we were here. They knew we had Danie. My stomach churned, and I nearly threw up. They’d take us out as soon as we tried to reach our ship and leave the system. Sooner, if we didn’t warn the ship; they might have already dispatched one of their own against us. “He does plan to help us, which is why he is masking this conversation. That would be the only logical reason to do so,” Danie said. “Are you?” I asked. “Let me see…” Anyas raised one sculpted brow. “Stay here on this frozen ball of nothing where I was banished for not being willing to butcher a planet of beings for a few generation’s worth of genesis stones or get some revenge and have a chance of taking back my ancestral home from those thrice bedamned bastards?” He snorted and shook his head, his black hair whipping from side to side. “Oh no, you’re not leaving here without me.” There was a collective release of tension in the room. Still, what he’d revealed troubled me. “But how will we escape without being caught? We were relying on the element of surprise.” “Oh, we can still have that. The plan they hear will be very different from the one we actually shall accomplish. And they may be monitoring me, but I have my spies still among them. That shall come in very handy.” Anyas rubbed his hands together, smirking at Danie. “I believe I can increase those odds you touted.” “Are you ready?” Anyas asked. “I don’t want to risk continuing the recording, but you must be prepared to play your parts. No slips, no deviations.” Captain rubbed my leg under the table. I was tense, and he could feel it. He sent a wave of calm through the bond to me, and I felt the synthgar shift against my neck. I knew he wasn’t any happier than I was, and I needed him. But there was no way for him to give us what we both needed. Not with the plan we were about to enact. I reached down for his hand, lacing my fingers through his for a final squeeze. I leaned my head against his. “I love you,” I said one more time. Just in case. He squeezed the back of my neck. “I love you too,” Captain said. When he let go, I straightened, avoiding the other’s gazes. Danie still stared, and Anyas watched us with a curious expression. The guards around the room stared at us equally. I wanted to avoid the pity in Deke’s eyes the most. He knew where I’d been. He’d found me in that tiny cell. Back then I was afraid of touching myself, much less anyone else. My existence was pure torture, not worth living but I’d never been granted the oblivion of death. And I’d just agreed to go back into it. Captain sucked in a breath. “Ready.” Tapping the small device, the squeal assaulted my ears again. Before I could react, Anyas was back in his indolent pose. “I’m shocked you think I would even consider your proposals seriously.” He grinned maliciously. “Why ever should I, when I can just capture you and use you as currency to regain my lost favor? Guards!” He waved his hand indolently. “Take them.” We were grabbed and separated, fighting doing no good as Deke’s weapon had been rendered useless and the guards Anyas had instantly tranquilized Captain, Deke, and Freska as well as the others. Danie and I were the only ones left. “Time to go home,” Anyas said. His smirk was evil. He was too good of an actor… but was he acting now or earlier?
  24. Cia

    Story banner /photo.

    My guess would be that you need to compress the resolution, not change the size. Whatever program you use for editing, when you save the image, look for the 'image quality' option as you save. There's usually a way to save it as best quality, which is typically the default and largest file size, to the lowest quality. Lowering the quality will compress the image without changing the size. How much you need to do depends on size of your original image based on the ppi of the images you used and the size you need. For your GA banner, you need to ensure the file size is under 2 MB. Or, in case this is a bug or other issue, have you tried adding the banner via a different browser or device?
  25. Hard to believe it, but it's already February! This month we have 3 weeks to read the CSR selection, and it's a longer one. Good thing @Ronyx helped me pick his feature for this read, and it's one that was popular with readers so you might have already read it! If not, with the number of comments and likes, it's sure to be a read that will pull you in. In following with last month's feature of a different sort, don't go into this expecting the same old storyline! As always, the Discussion Day will take place on the last Monday of the month, February 25th. Down a Darkened Path by Ronyx Length: 76,436 Description: Troy Neal has it all- good looks, smart and talented. A classmate, Jayden Henderson, finds himself struggling to survive a dangerous life when he is sent to live with his aunt and cousins after the sudden death of his mother. Late one night, when Troy's car runs out of gas on a dark, deserted street, fate brings them together. Can they survive a disturbing journey down a darkened path filled with insurmountable obstacles? Warning: Before you begin reading, you should be aware that this story centers around a brutal and violent event involving the main character. Several scenes in this story may be upsetting and disturbing to some readers. A Reader Said: I highly recommend this well written story. There are parts of this story that are unpleasant, but they were handled carefully. The characters are believable, and I quickly came to care about them. The dialogue and the feelings of the characters seemed realistic. Now that all the chapters are available, this will be one of those hard to put down kind of stories. Thanks to Ronyx for sharing this story. ~ JeffreyL Don't forget to come back and share your thoughts on the Discussion Day on Monday, February 25th!

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