29 Apr 2014

With Prejudice 1



Introduction:
Good evening my friends, and let me welcome you to a little experiment, a story written by me and posted onto my blog. Each post will be titled with “With Prejudice” and will be followed by a number. Why am I doing this, you ask? Simple answer is pretty simple, it will get me into the writing routine on a more regular basis—at which point you the reader will hopefully get to see a new scene of around 500 to 800 words, if not a tad more, once or twice a week—and secondly, you would be entertained.
The story will feature one of my favourite characters from my play-by-email days, where he would take on the role of a sergeant in the European Police Office in the year 2049. He will be a little grittier and a tad rougher around the edges, but some of you may recognise him. The setting is Kamala, in Uganda.
Please do provide feedback in the comments section below. Besides, now and then I may ask you on what you think on what may happen next, but don’t worry if I go ahead and do something different (the likelihood of that happening is fifty-fifty... eh, what can I say, I am a writer... we’re weird like that).
Anyway, sit back, grab a cup of coffee or beverage of your choice, kick your shoes off your feet (or just throw them at your nearest colleague if you are reading this over your lunch break), and enjoy.
Story Premise:

Uganda has experienced an economic boom, thanks by in large to the jointly operated space-elevator. With European law enforcement providing support, the country also has entered a new era of peace and unity.
The space-elevator was seen as its saviour.
It was also seen as its ball and chain, where some believed that the politicians had sold Uganda out to Europe’s attempt in renewed colonisation.
Upon being called that his best friend and partner was killed in a fire, Sergeant Bowman Akers of the European Police is thrust into a cobweb of corporate backed espionage, disseat and divided loyalties, and tasked to break in a new partner.

The Story:

Wednesday, 10 November, 2049
Bowman Akers residence
Kamala, Uganda
4: 49 am

The moon lit the bedroom’s interior sufficiently through the partially opened window; its brilliance clearly seen above the apartment complex. After five years stationed here Bowman Akers was immune to the spectacle as he rolled over and reached for the wireless clip-on earphone and microphone. Frowning as he eyed the caller’s identification credentials on the communicator’s small screen, it was his boss. He clipped the ’phone over his left ear and tapped it.
“This better be good, Shoe,” he grumbled as he lay back down and stare at the ceiling.
“I bet that you only got home a half an hour ago,” the voice of Shinshuu ‘Shoe’ Takata sounded muffled through the tiny speaker. Or was that disappointment? Akers wasn’t really sure. Then again, he didn’t really care as he massaged his forehead.
He then checked the time, and barely suppressed a groan. He had stumbled back into his apartment at four in the morning, and looked as if he had somehow managed to catch some sleep over the last two hours. He was quite happy with that. two hours sleep seemed like his personal best. “A while ago,” he amended, while running his hand over his jaw. The grimace returned. Akers needed a shave.
“Don’t tell me you’re hung over,” voiced Takata in his ear.
“All right,” agreed Akers, wondering if his friend and boss was going on the soapbox again and lecture him on why Akers shouldn’t dive back into the bottle, or why he should not be overly reliant on anti-sleep stimulants for that matter. Not that he did go out with the aim of getting drunk, even if a part of him wanted to. As for the stims? Well, that was easy to rationalise. Most often than not, Takata had him called away to spearhead an away team or assist in some investigation closer to home.
Still, all he really did was go clubbing with some of the others from the office that were going off-duty at the time, even if somewhere along the way he ditched them and went solo. Or was that the other way round? Akers wasn’t entirely sure. “I won’t tell you that I’m hung over,” he finished and then sat up on the side of his bed, and felt the bedroom spin. “Much,” he muttered, pinched the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes briefly. Frowning, he breathed out slowly. “There a reason why you called?”
“We have a situation,” Takata announced.
That was nothing unusual. There was always some sort of situation.
“Anywhere in particular,” Akers wanted to know, “or is this just a blanket statement?”
Takata’s response was to snort. “It just is.”
“So, what’s the situation?”
“It’ Baric.”
Akers frowned, momentarily confused. “What about Jozo?”
“When did you last see him?”
“Day before yesterday,” answered Akers, sitting up straighter and focused on the moon.
“Yeah, he ought to be enjoying some quality time with his kid.”
“Ought to be?”
“You know Baric better then I,” countered Takata via the earpiece. “Anyway, we got word that there was an explosion over at Nakawa ...” Akers straightened as he sat on his bed. Baric had an apartment there. “... The thing is, Bow, we can’t get a hold of him.”
“Can you pinpoint where he is?” asked Akers, the hangover largely forgotten now.
To better facilitate where everyone was, and be easily tracked by satellite, every member of the European Police Commission had a tracking chip inserted just below their left shoulder blade upon graduating.
“Right now, all we can tell is that he’s somewhere within the affected area.”
“That’s comforting,” muttered Akers as he turned his attention to the floor, looking for his clothes.
“I need you to investigate,” Takata announced.
“Have the locals called us in?”
“Not yet ...”
Akers regarded the moon, bright in the night’s sky.
“Ah, you still with me, Bow?” Takata sounded in his ear.
His thoughts turned to when he first met Baric, where the two started to love hating one another. Still, they had became friends afterwards. The two had spoken only a couple days ago, before Baric was to go on leave. Or more accurately—they argued.
“Can I shower first?” he finally asked, getting up as he did.

For the next installment, go here. 

A tidy up

So, over the last couple of days (and throughout the rest of the coming week) I have been doing a bit of a spring clean in and around my online presence.

The first thing on the agenda is the colour change, the grey was too dull and unimaginetive. So yellowish orange and white is now the colour of choice.

Layout's changed too, with links directing you to my Facebook page and those of my written fiction and non-fiction. I am hoping to add more as time permits, of course.

28 Apr 2014

Celebrate Different Experiences



A good friend of mine posted her experience with depression, which you can access via this link here. To say that it was eye opening is cliché, as what she described is something that I cannot even begin to appreciate or fathom for that matter. I never experienced it, except for the occasional bouts of mind-numbing boredom. But then, I do jump back up onto the bandwagon and keep on going. On the other hand, it made me think.
Depression is experienced individually, and no one experience is the same (though there are similarities).
In fact, we may experience eating the same ice cream differently from the person you are sharing said ice cream.
Which brings me to today’s post, something that has been slowly but maturely wanting to get out, and absolutely nothing to do with depression.
Many of you who frequent my blog may already know that I have a disability, and if you didn’t know then... well, now you do. My kind of disability isn’t a Johnny-come-lately thing, but one that had been with me from the start. It is as much part of me as the colour of my skin. I just can’t get rid of it, no matter how much I want to go to the second-hand store and ask “how much for a well used disability?”.
On second thought, I should try that, even if for giggles.
Living with my disability has had its ups and downs, and the occasional trip sideways. It was there with me on my flight over from Poland to New Zealand when I was seven; it was there on the day when I was pushed over a flight of stairs by this boy who was hard of hearing. It was there during my first trip to the head master’s office, and it was there with me on prom night. It was even with me when I kissed a girl for the very time, and had faithfully attended every graduation ceremony I attended. In other words, it had always been a part of me – even when I did my level best to ignore it – and it will be part of me until the day I kick the bucket.
Yay, lucky me; Right?  
Actually, yeah... definitely!
But my point here is that my own experience with disability is my own. The first time I realised this was during my postgraduate years at university, when I was doing a professional social work qualification. My first placement was in mental health, in a community trust that worked with children and adults with mental illness and intellectual disability. Whilst society generally puts them in the same camp as those with physical disability and those who obtain it by accident (because really, who deliberately wants to become disabled in any manner?), the people I met definitely experienced life differently. I could not connect with them in any way, shape or form.
Oh, there was this one guy that actually liked me as his trainee social worker, but I suspect that it was because he saw me as his little project. Then again, I endeavoured to get to know the guy as a person and not as a case study to figure out, and I got to know what he liked and what he didn’t. Via him I got to understand, or at least have a better appreciation of what he experienced.
The other time was during my slugging match with my academic self, in what was better known as my time writing a Master’s thesis. I got to interview people, plus meet lots too.
In one instance I met this forty-something mother of two, who had ended up using a motorised wheelchair due to her disability getting progressively worse. This was someone who had travelled the world, got married, raised two children and had a far better artistic talent than I ever did. But the thing was, she let her circumstance dictate her life. If the support worker did a no show for the allocated times to help her go into town, she didn’t go.  
Heck, when I rolled into her house all the way from university (she lived a fair distance), she was surprised that I did so without the means of a specialised maxi-taxi. In turn, I was surprised that she was surprised. I mean, come on, it’s why they’re called motorised wheelchairs! To take you places, much like jogging... but sitting down. She in turn hardly drove around her own neighbourhood.
But the point here is that that was her experience, and it wasn’t my place to judge her as some weirdo – and still isn’t really.
And that is my point, my dear friends.
Never assume.
Never judge.
Just accept those around you as beautiful people, who have much to share with you and I.

6 Apr 2014

Rules?

So this morning I hopped onto facebook, as one is wont to do.

One of the updates was from my friend Nigel, that nice fellow behind Black Donald

Nigel posted an article that featured Neil Gaiman's 8 rules of writing, which you can find by clicking here. Alternatively, go check out Brain Pickings. So, what are these rules? Here, let me show you.

"Write"
Yeap, that is definitely the number one rule. One kind of needs to do that, whether by applying pen to paper or by means of the computer.

"Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down."
Here I would definitely say that it's just a matter of putting down on paper what you can see in your head. If you have a strong image or scene in your mind, describe it.
"Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it."
I would also suggest that you write what you are interested in. If you are writing something that doesn't capture your imagination, put it aside. But yes, finish what you write.
"Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is."
Agreed!
"Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."
That depends, if it's your editor talking take onboard what works for you.
"Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving."
Yeah, that is a good rule.
"Laugh at your own jokes."
No one else seems to anyway.
"The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter."
This one I like the best.

Dragoon Liberator and other projects in development stages

As I started out on my writing journey, many, many eons ago, I focused on shorter works. Gradually, I moved to longer pieces and had come ...