Building made from converted shipping containers (in Dundee, Scotland). (photo credit: James Kemp)
Building made from converted shipping containers (in Dundee, Scotland). (photo credit: James Kemp)

Thanks to everyone that voted on what I should write for NaNoWriMo 2017, the winning result was the novel I planned for last year, which I’ve re-titled ‘Lit by Another Star’. It seemed poetic as a title, and also didn’t have anything else that conflicted when I googled it. I’ve also chosen a primary point of view character and done some more planning.

Today is the first of November, so National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo) has kicked off. You can follow my progress writing Lit by Another Star either on the NaNoWriMo site or you can read Lit by Another Star on wattpad.

Lit by Another Star – synopsis

Piraxis is Earth’s thirteenth colony. Officially number 8 in the Beta wave. Everyone knows it as Thirteen.

Sylvia Gunn is deep undercover as an agent of the Earth Imperium to find the subversives out to sabotage the colony. It’s 180 days until the next Starship arrives, and 60 days before any messages she sends will arrive at Earth. She needs to keep her cover and find everyone involved in the sabotage before they find her.

Lit by Another Star – Excerpt

Aboard the SS Providence
Day -15

“ATTENTION! ATTENTION! Prepare for main engine cut-out.” Hidden speakers boomed through the ship.
We were in the small module that had passed as our sleeping quarters for the last seventy-nine days. Four curtained bunks filled one wall, a large view screen dominated another. I fastened shut the curtain on my bunk to stop anything floating free when the engines stopped.
“Bags.” I said.
Donald looked at me with his head tilted and his hands spread.
I threw my spare at him. “The orientation said we might lose our lunch.”
“Not nice in microgravity” Aran said.
“Eeeuw! Gross.” Lianne said.
“I’ll be fine, cast iron, me.” Donald said. He held onto the bag.

The transition out of hyperspace lurched and churned my stomach. This brought bile into my mouth. It was the same every time. I wasn’t alone, Lianne and Donald both vomited. A chunk of something unrecognisable missed Donald’s bag and floated free until Aran caught it in his bag. Aran seemed unaffected, perhaps his work with food prep and recycling had hardened his stomach. Lianne’s long hair rose in a halo around her head, writhing like snakes.

The feeling passed rapidly, and I washed the acrid taste of the bile away with a bulb of water. Somehow wishing that I didn’t know it was all recycled many times over, and that we’d shortly be drinking Donald & Lianne’s puke.
“I wonder what it looks like?” Lianne said, touching up the viewscreen.
“We’re too far out” Aran said, “we won’t be close enough to see it with the naked eye for another ten days”.
“The ‘scopes might be able to show us.” Lianne paged through menus on the screen.
“I thought we only had four ‘scopes on the ship.” Donald said “there are twelve listed.”
Sure enough, the menu showed twelve options. “Well I’d guess Providence 1 to Providence 4 are the ship’s scopes. Let’s see what M001 gives us?” Lianne touched the button on the screen.
The screen flickered, and then a fuzzy white area started to scroll up the screen. This resolved into strands on a blue background, with shadows.
“Wow! That must be a weather sat!” Lianne said.
“Seems to be a lot of cloud.” Aran said.
We continued to stare at the images of the planet we were going to live on scrolling up the screen. An irregular line grew diagonally as the area in view continued to scroll past. The background was a speckled green and dark, still with swirling white above it.

“ATTENTION! ATTENTION! Prepare for manoeuvre thrusters.” The speakers broke our entrancement.
Donald kicked off the wall and bounced to what had been our ceiling when under acceleration. He opened a hatch in the centre and pulled out harnesses.
I opened the hatches on the floor, each with a single strap with a metal clip on it. I pulled each one up a metre and left it dangling in the air.
Lianne had opened the hatch next to the view screen and pulled the cable out of it. Aran helped her haul it over to the doorway on the opposite wall where they secured it to the hook mounted next to the doorway.
We worked as quickly as we could. There had been drills on this most days since we’d boarded the Providence. Lianne and I helped each other into our harnesses and checked that the straps were tight. The men did the same for each other. Happy that we were secure the harness clipped into the strap from the floor, and also the cable across the room. No matter how the manoeuvre thrusters changed our angle we’d stay suspended in the middle of our cabin.
“Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Manoevring.” The room spun, and I felt the bile rise again. I closed my eyes, but it spun faster. I opened them again. The room was static, spinning with me. I swallowed the bile back down, although the sense of disorientation stayed with me. I took the water bulb from my pocket, a stylus flew slowly out. I didn’t immediately notice it until it drifted past my face. It took a curve up over my head and then back towards the floor near the door. Before it got there it stopped and then came back on the opposite arc back towards me.
Lianne grabbed it out of the air, “hey! That was cool!” she passed the stylus back to me.
“Thanks. Weird” I said, securing the stylus back in my pocket.

“Main Engine burn in Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Burning.”
The straps tightened as gravity pushed us back onto the floor. Lianne’s hair fell flat again, the snakes slain.