Mikey Campling http://mikeycampling.com Author Mon, 14 May 2018 13:51:56 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 http://handbuiltweb.com/ A podcast on writing, self-publishing and being an indie author. Mikey Campling clean Mikey Campling mikeycampling@gmail.com mikeycampling@gmail.com (Mikey Campling) Copyright - Mikey Campling A Podcast by Mikey Campling Mikey Campling http://mikeycampling.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/podcast-mc.jpg http://mikeycampling.com TV-G Weekly 62915195 CHEATC0DE: A Science Fiction GameLit Adventure – Snippet #1 http://mikeycampling.com/cheatc0de-a-science-fiction-gamelit-adventure-snippet-1/ http://mikeycampling.com/cheatc0de-a-science-fiction-gamelit-adventure-snippet-1/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 12:59:32 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5960 Chapter 1 Nineteen LATE AFTERNOON—THE TIME WHEN KIDS GO HOME FROM SCHOOL. But the street outside Parkville High is empty. No one walks home in this neighborhood. No one except Hank. Today is Hank’s final day of school, and while the other kids cheerfully climb onto the bus, jump into their cars or get picked […]

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Chapter 1
Nineteen

LATE AFTERNOON—THE TIME WHEN KIDS GO HOME FROM SCHOOL. But the street outside Parkville High is empty. No one walks home in this neighborhood. No one except Hank. Today is Hank’s final day of school, and while the other kids cheerfully climb onto the bus, jump into their cars or get picked up by their proud parents, Hank slips out the school gates with his head held low and sets off for home without a backward glance. The motley motorcade of yellow buses, minivans and secondhand SUVs swings out from the school yard and sails along the street, heading for the leafy suburbs: the passengers chatting happily, swapping jokes, or concentrating on their phones. Some are listening to music, their eyes closed, earbuds jammed in place. But no one looks out the window. No one spares a glance for the boarded-up shops or the tumbledown houses with their crooked roofs and cracked windows. No one wonders what’s beyond the sagging chain-link fences barely held in place by drunken steel posts. This street is a wasteland: barren, desolate, empty.

But Hank walks on, his shoulders squared, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his jeans. He tunes out the rumble of traffic, ignores the diesel fumes. Soon, they’ll be gone and he’ll have the place to himself. He turns a corner, and though he doesn’t raise his head, his eyes flick from side to side, scanning both sides of the street, watching. This is his street, and if there’s anything new, anything missing, he’ll know it in an instant. But there’s nothing to cause concern. Not today. Today, the street is quiet as the grave. The red brick houses don’t just look empty, they seem abandoned: paint peeling from the doors, windows dull with grime, concrete yards cracked and sprouting tufts of grass.

Hank allows himself a grim smile. He’s almost home. He takes a breath, flaring his nostrils. It’s a hot summer day, and the humid air is tinged with a trace of decay. Every summer it’s the same. Hank’s dad, Mervin, says it’s the drains, but how the hell would he know? How the hell would he know about anything? His dad hasn’t set foot outside the house for years. For a heartbeat, Hank pictures his dad, imagines him shuffling from the sofa to the refrigerator, from the bathroom to the bedroom, back and forth, back and forth like a goddamned zombie. He pushes the thought away, pushes it as far as he can. But it isn’t easy. It’s hard to ignore someone when he relies on you for everything. Even harder when you see his face every time you look in the mirror.

Hank takes after his dad. Always has, always will. Everyone says it. And it’s not all bad. Back when he was in his prime, Mervin was a big man: taller than most and built like an athlete. A good man on the basketball court, Mervin played power forward for the college. He could’ve turned pro, so they say. But not Mervin. Ten years pushing paper for the army then kicked out on a disability pension. Hank could never figure it out, and truth be told, he didn’t often try.

Still, the genes came through. Hank has that stature, that poise. He walks like a military man: his shoulders square, his back straight, his arms hanging halfway loose by his side. It’s not much but it’s what he’s got, and it’s enough. Most of the time. The drunks and the vagrants leave him alone. And Hank has the knack of seeing trouble five minutes before it hits the fan. He does OK. He makes his own luck. Most of the time. And when things turn ugly, he’s fast enough on his feet to get the hell out of the way.

But today, the street is quiet, and Hank walks on, unimpeded. The concrete beneath his canvas shoes is cracked and worn. And with every step he takes, a swirl of dust kicks up into the air, where it hangs for only a moment before it whirls and is whisked away by the gentlest summer breeze.

“Too goddamn hot,” Hank mutters. A trickle of sweat runs down the back of his neck, but he pays it no heed. He doesn’t slow his pace, nor does he remove his heavy leather jacket. He wears that jacket every day, rain or shine. And anyway, it’s too late to take it off; his house is just up ahead: stained brick, dented door, just like every house on the goddamned street.


I hope you enjoyed that snippet.

The Science Fiction GameLit Adventure CHEATC0DE is available in online stores. To learn more visit: Find CHEATC0DE Online

cheatc0de cyberpunk gamelit scifi

 

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Prison Quest – a Sci-Fi LitRPG Adventure – Snippet #2 http://mikeycampling.com/prison-quest-a-sci-fi-litrpg-adventure-snippet-2/ http://mikeycampling.com/prison-quest-a-sci-fi-litrpg-adventure-snippet-2/#respond Mon, 30 Apr 2018 10:46:29 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5953 ICYMI – Here's Snippet #1 Chapter 2 The last of the winter sunlight faded away, and Cody watched the clock on her tablet, counting the remaining seconds of her shift. At first, she didn’t notice the armored truck approaching the parking lot, but the deep, throaty growl of its engines alerted her, and she looked […]

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ICYMI – Here's Snippet #1

Chapter 2

The last of the winter sunlight faded away, and Cody watched the clock on her tablet, counting the remaining seconds of her shift. At first, she didn’t notice the armored truck approaching the parking lot, but the deep, throaty growl of its engines alerted her, and she looked up in time to see the matt black truck nosing forward, the automated barrier rising to allow it through. Must be a delivery or a pickup. Security trucks arrived every day, shifting valuable equipment or taking sensitive data to be destroyed, but when the truck swung smoothly across the parking lot, she narrowed her eyes. What the hell is that thing doing here?

This was no security truck, but a BEAR—a tactical support vehicle favored by SWAT teams and the military—and it was turning up on Cody’s watch.

“We’ll soon see what this is all about,” Cody muttered. She pocketed her tablet and marched across the lot, on a path to intercept the vehicle. But the truck skirted the edge of the lot and ground to a halt directly outside the main entrance. Cody jogged to the truck. She hadn’t seen anyone step down from the vehicle, so she had to assume the driver was still inside, but the truck’s windows were heavily tinted and well above eye level, so it was impossible to see inside the cab. Cody looked along the vehicle, surprised to see no badge or identifying marks, then she took out her tablet and checked the delivery schedule. “That’s weird,” she murmured because there was nothing: no pickups or deliveries for the rest of the day.

She kept her eyes on the cab and walked around to the front of the truck, holding up her tablet and activating her scanner, but for some reason, the scan wouldn’t run. Cody tried again, but when someone opened the truck’s passenger door, she forgot about her tablet and stepped back, ready for anything.

The man clambering down from the cab wore a well-cut business suit over a dazzling white shirt, and he would’ve looked more at home in a Bentley rather than a BEAR, but even so, he had the relaxed poise of someone accustomed to being in charge. He buttoned his jacket as he strolled toward her, and when he spoke, his voice was deep and commanding: “There’s no need to scan this vehicle. We’re authorized to be here.”

Cody hesitated. “I’m sorry, sir, but you can’t leave your vehicle in this area—it’s for emergency services only.”

The man slid his hand inside his jacket, and when Cody tensed, her reaction seemed to amuse him. “Relax,” he said. “I’m just getting my ID.” He held out a card bearing the Vortax logo, and when Cody read the man’s details, she stood to attention, her eyes fixed dead ahead.

“I’m sorry, Colonel Banks, sir,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting anyone from V Division.”

The colonel pocketed his card and looked Cody up and down. “That’s understood. You’re doing your job, and we’d appreciate it if you’d let us do ours.”

“Of course, sir.” Cody’s mind raced. This could be a great opportunity, a chance to make a good impression on someone from V Div. But you couldn’t just soft-soap a colonel, could you? Cody cleared her throat. “If there’s anything I can do to help, Colonel, please let me know. In the meantime, I was wondering if I might—”

Banks didn’t give her the chance to finish. “Thank you, but it’s best if you go about your business as usual. We’ll be out of here as soon as we can, and that’s all you’re authorized to know.”

“Yes. I understand. Sorry to have kept you, Colonel.” Cody stood still, waiting to be dismissed, but the colonel was already walking away. He climbed back into the BEAR’s cab and slammed the door without a backward glance.

I was just a glitch in his day, Cody thought. An irritating interruption to be dealt with. She took a breath and exhaled loudly, then she headed back across the parking lot. The day had gone just about as badly as it could, but at least it was almost the end of her shift.

She took out her tablet and checked the time, and that was when she saw the notification on the screen: a new message. Her mood brightened. Perhaps it was Joseph, getting in touch to apologize for earlier. But when she opened the message, her smile disappeared. It was from Chalmers. A few terse sentences:

Milbourne – it seems you sent a parking fine to an official visitor from the State Department. Come and see me in the morning. And the guy covering the next shift phoned in sick, so you’d better cover for him. Stay put until I can find someone to take over. And no more tickets unless you check with me first.

“No,” Cody groaned. “This can’t be happening.” But the implication of Chalmers’ message was clear. If she wanted to stand a chance of keeping her job, she had to do what she was told without complaint. She had no choice.


I hope you enjoyed that snippet.

Prison Quest is available on all Amazon Stores and can be read for free by members of Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime. To learn more visit: Find Prison Quest Online

scifi litrpg adventure book

 

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Why Did I Want to Write a LitRPG Book? http://mikeycampling.com/why-did-i-want-to-write-a-litrpg-book/ http://mikeycampling.com/why-did-i-want-to-write-a-litrpg-book/#comments Sat, 28 Apr 2018 18:40:00 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5931 With any new and popular genre like LitRPG, there is always a flood of new books as authors wake up to the trend. With that surge in new material, comes the suspicion that some authors are jumping on the bandwagon merely to make some money. And with that suspicion, goes the feeling that those authors […]

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With any new and popular genre like LitRPG, there is always a flood of new books as authors wake up to the trend.

With that surge in new material, comes the suspicion that some authors are jumping on the bandwagon merely to make some money. And with that suspicion, goes the feeling that those authors have not shown consideration to the fans and readers of that genre. This isn't unique to the LitRPG genre. The success of any book seems to spawn a slew of copycat titles, seeking to emulate everything from Harry Potter to Fifty Shades. But let's not tar everyone with the same brush. Sometimes, writers spring into action because an author or a title seems to speak to them; they love Sir Terry Pratchett's work, they have an idea stored away in a tattered notebook, and they finally get the courage to gave a go at creating their own humorous fantasy books.

My new LitRPG release, Prison Quest, written along with author Saffron Bryant, has had an interesting journey, and a very different one from those cash-in copycats that might be doing the rounds.

Saffron and I became acquainted online when we were among the sci-fi authors who formed The Collective SciFi along with Drew Avera. The aim of the collective was creative collaboration in shared worlds. Interestingly, this type of collaboration is now quite common, so I think we were ahead of our time. We tried to get some projects going, and a jointly written story called The God Machine is still free on all stores – it's easy to find. But as a group, it's fair to say that we never quite hit our stride. We benefited from mutual encouragement and support though, and when we decided to retell folk tales and fairy tales as sci-fi stories, I was inspired to write CHEATC0DE as a radical retelling of The Silver Tinder Box by the Brothers Grim. Instead of magic and a witch, I opted to have Virtual Reality and an evil high-tech genius. The tale was meant to be a short story, but I like to make things complicated, and it grew to novel length with scope for a whole series. The sequel, The Trust, is an even longer book, and in my opinion, it's a better story too.

When I released CHEATC0DE, it was firmly fixed in my mind as a cyberpunk title, and it's worth mentioning that I had not heard of LitRPG. But that gap in my knowledge was about to be addressed. You may have noticed that on Amazon, you can see which books people have also bought, and I began to see more and more of these intriguing LitRPG titles appearing below my book. It seemed that some LitRPG fans had stumbled on my book, and a few people even made reference to LitRPG in reviews. One reviewer said, “This is a fast paced story in a gaming universe. Not totally LitRPG but close enough if you like this style of literature.” Another threw his/her toys out the pram and wrote, “This is NOT LitRPG.” This last comment seemed a strange accusation when you remember that I hadn't encountered LitRPG when I wrote the book.

My curiosity was piqued and I did some looking around for LitRPG titles, but it wasn't something I had time to pursue. My gaming pretty much went out the window when I started writing seriously – when you stare at a screen and thump a keyboard for hours on end for work, you tend to look elsewhere for your entertainment. Plus, I knew that if I delved into the games I loved, I'd just never get any writing done. I was an early adopter when it came to computers and gaming. I couldn't quite afford the Sinclair ZX80, but by the time the ZX81 came along, I'd saved enough from washing dishes and flipping burgers to buy the machine. Hooked up to a cassette player and an old TV, I played whatever games I could, and tried my hand at coding in BASIC. I progressed through all kinds of games, from text-based adventures to platform hoppers.

I progressed through an Atari ST to my first PC, and swapped floppy disks with friends to accumulate as many games as possible. I discovered my fatal weakness for flight sims (so long as I get to shoot things) and anything that called for strategic thinking. Sim City was a big one for me, and Civilization was massive, along with the XCOM turn-based games. Later, I went in for Rome: Total War on my PC, while I enjoyed the stealth of Hidden and Dangerous on my Dreamcast. It took me a while to discover first person games, probably because my earlier machines didn't handle the graphics well enough, but by the time my PC could run games like Max Payne and Half Life 2, I had rigged up a set of surround speakers which made for a great, and sometimes terrifying, atmosphere. So I have a love for games, but while there are many more I could mention, you'll notice I didn't really get into MMOs. My early gaming experiences were before the Internet was a factor, so if you wanted to play with friends, you went round to see them. It was a fun way to play, and we didn't know any different, but looking at the world of modern LitRPG, I felt like there was a world of gaming I'd missed out on. Reluctantly, because I loved the idea of stories set in virtual worlds, I put the idea of a LitRPG book in my mental ‘maybe one day' pile.

Until 2017.

Saffron and I were swapping messages in our Collective SciFi group, when the idea of LitRPG came up. I think Saffron suggested it first, and it turned out that she had the MMO gaming experience that I lacked. And there it was: a perfect combination of interests and experiences. Saffron had an initial concept for the virtual prison, and the idea of a VR world with a post-apocalyptic flavour was instantly appealing. As we started throwing ideas together, it was quickly obvious that we had a story with legs. I'd been used to writing on my own, and it was incredibly refreshing to have someone else to bounce ideas off. The first stages of planning, with a world, characters, a situation, and a sense of narrative drive came together very quickly. We threw ideas into shared google docs, and the experience took me right back to those text-based games. I'd open the doc, eager to see what exciting new ideas had developed since I'd last looked. In a way, writing this book has been a bit like an online game with two players battling through in co-op mode.

At this point, I should mention that Saffron is based in Australia and I'm in the UK, so the time difference is huge. You might think this would've made it impossible to work together, but actually, it's so easy to communicate online that it hasn't been a problem, and it's sometimes useful to know that you probably won't need exclusive use of a file at the same time as your writing partner (on account of them being fast asleep).

Saffron was great at handling all the game structure that underlies the plot of Prison Quest. The levels and skills all had to be there, along with the stats to back them up. This was an education for me, and an aspect of the book that we wanted to get right. I was perhaps more interested in exploring the characters and their motivations. We were both keen to have a female protagonist, and it was very important to me that Cody would stand up for herself. I really can't abide the misogyny that sometimes creeps into popular culture, but equally, I don't like tokenism. Representation is important, but every character had to pull their weight. There are a lot of characters in this book, and since there's a fair bit of action and not too much in the way of navel-gazing, the reader isn't going to get to know every single character in depth, but I feel that you know just enough.  For a plot to grab the reader, it needs a cast of engaging characters, and there are plenty of clues that hint at the hidden depths in the main movers and shakers of Prison Quest. After all, a writer spends hell of a lot of time with their characters in their minds. If I wasn't fired up enough to spend all those hours with Cody, and Taff and the crew, then the time would've dragged and I'd have torn my hair out. But the time flew by, and that's always a good sign.

We wrote this book because we had a passion for the story. Individually, Saffron and I have written quite a few books, and we both write to serve our audiences. We both have great respect for our readers, and we understand that while not everyone will like our work, we must always turn in a pro performance. I'm very proud of Prison Quest. We worked hard, we put the time in, and we created a story we both believe in. I hope you enjoy it too.

Happy reading.

Mikey C

Devon, 28 April, 2018

Prison Quest: A Sci-Fi LitRPG Adventure is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon: Find it here

 

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Writers of SciFi 99cent promotion – April 27 – May 6 http://mikeycampling.com/writers-of-scifi-99cent-promotion-april-27-may-6/ http://mikeycampling.com/writers-of-scifi-99cent-promotion-april-27-may-6/#respond Sat, 28 Apr 2018 18:27:18 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5926 Taking part in this awesome #scifi #99Cents Promo. Check it out for your weekend reading: https://buff.ly/2HwOOp8

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Taking part in this awesome #scifi #99Cents Promo. Check it out for your weekend reading: https://buff.ly/2HwOOp8

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Prison Quest a Sci-fi LtRPG Adventure is live in paperback – ebook is on pre-order http://mikeycampling.com/prison-quest-a-sci-fi-ltrpg-adventure-is-live-in-paperback-ebook-is-on-pre-order/ http://mikeycampling.com/prison-quest-a-sci-fi-ltrpg-adventure-is-live-in-paperback-ebook-is-on-pre-order/#respond Fri, 27 Apr 2018 18:48:02 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5924 It's always exciting when a new paperback goes live. Prison Quest is a ScFi LitRPG Adventure and tremendous fun. Everything you want from this genre and more. If you prefer ebooks, the ebook is on preorder at a discounted price and launches on 30 April 2018, so you won't have to wait long to get […]

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It's always exciting when a new paperback goes live. Prison Quest is a ScFi LitRPG Adventure and tremendous fun. Everything you want from this genre and more. If you prefer ebooks, the ebook is on preorder at a discounted price and launches on 30 April 2018, so you won't have to wait long to get your hands on this story.

If you'd like to know more, here's a link – just click on the cover image below:

Prison Quest: A Sci-Fi LitRPG Adventure

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Exclusive Snippet – Prison Quest – a GameLit LitRPG Adventure http://mikeycampling.com/exclusive-snippet-prison-quest-a-gamelit-litrpg-adventure/ http://mikeycampling.com/exclusive-snippet-prison-quest-a-gamelit-litrpg-adventure/#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 14:31:05 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5815 Prologue He sits at his desk and flexes his fingers before pulling the keyboard toward him. Today is going to be the day. The solution to the problem is fixed in his mind. He’s been working on it all night, turning ideas over as he lay awake, testing his plans and looking for flaws. And […]

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Prologue

He sits at his desk and flexes his fingers before pulling the keyboard toward him. Today is going to be the day. The solution to the problem is fixed in his mind. He’s been working on it all night, turning ideas over as he lay awake, testing his plans and looking for flaws. And now he is ready.

He begins to type, the code flowing easily from his fingertips: side quests, levels, characters, points. It’s all there, fully formed. It’ll work this time for sure, he tells himself. He’s finally figured out how to smuggle his modifications into the system, piece by piece, without alerting the system monitors.

But there’s only so much he can do. He can’t make it too obvious or the company will have his balls for breakfast.

He hits the return key and stares at the screen, taking in the beauty of his handiwork. “That’s one hell of a thing,” he tells the empty room. “Cleanest code I ever wrote.”

His fingers hover over the keyboard, then he types the final command:

execute

The screen goes blank, the system icon whirls for a second, then the blinking cursor returns.

He allows himself a grin. Not a single error report. That has to be a record. He stands and pats the top of his monitor. Nothing to do now but wait. He’s done his best. The pieces are all in place. Now all he needs is someone brave enough to make the first move. Brave enough, smart enough, and tough enough. This isn’t going be easy, and it’ll take a special person to get through to the end. A very special person indeed.

Chapter 1

Cody ran down the deserted corridor, her heavy boots slamming hard against the steel floor, the sound bouncing from the metal walls and echoing all around her. Trickles of sweat streaked down her cheeks, and in seconds the over-zealous air-conditioning turned her perspiration to chilled lines. But Cody hardly noticed. It was always cold in the headquarters of the Vortax Corporation. Cold and soulless. Every surface was clad in spotless stainless steel, and every breath she took was filtered, chilled, and dehumidified: the servers needed it that way. And like every other employee, Cody had been given a simple message on her first day: What’s good for the servers, is good for Vortax.

That’s why this is dynamite, she told herself. This is it. This is the break I’ve been waiting for. Her heart fluttered against her ribs. Her boss had to pay attention this time. He had to listen. And then maybe, if she played her cards right, he’d reconsider her application and let her try out for V Division. Cody pictured herself in the V Div black body armor and the rugged helmet over the distinctive dark goggles. She could almost feel the reassuring weight of an assault rifle in her hands. A shiver ran through her, and this time it wasn’t the air-con.

She jogged to a halt outside her supervisor’s office and snatched her ID card from her pocket. The smooth plastic card almost slipped from her fingers, but she held it tight and smacked it against a black panel set into the wall. The panel flashed green, and with a faint hum, the door slid sideways.

Cody squeezed in through the gap before the door was fully open. “Sir! I think—”

But her supervisor did not even look up from his desk. He simply held up a hand to cut her off and went on with his business, reading something on the huge monitor that stood on his desk.

Cody stopped short and held her tongue. But not for long. “Mr. Chalmers, sir. I really think you should listen. It’s important.”


I hope you enjoyed that snippet.

Prison Quest is available on all Amazon Stores and can be read for free by members of Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime. To learn more visit: Find Prison Quest Online

scifi litrpg adventure book

Or you can go ahead and read snippet #2

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Pic of the day March 25, 2018 at 10:15PM http://mikeycampling.com/pic-of-the-day-march-25-2018-at-1015pm/ http://mikeycampling.com/pic-of-the-day-march-25-2018-at-1015pm/#respond Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:43:12 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5801 Any man who would be a knight, follow a king, follow me! #Excalibur #York #blog #writersofinstagram From Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BgwsvUOBMo-/

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Any man who would be a knight, follow a king, follow me! #Excalibur #York #blog #writersofinstagram
From Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BgwsvUOBMo-/

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Pic of the day March 16, 2018 at 12:43PM http://mikeycampling.com/pic-of-the-day-march-16-2018-at-1243pm/ http://mikeycampling.com/pic-of-the-day-march-16-2018-at-1243pm/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:59:04 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5798 Whee! New cover for The Wall – my #scifi book at 99cents and you can read it free on kindle via #kindleunlimited or #primereading https://buff.ly/2pmqShp #blog From Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BgYnAUBneE9/

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Whee! New cover for The Wall – my #scifi book at 99cents and you can read it free on kindle via #kindleunlimited or #primereading https://buff.ly/2pmqShp #blog

From Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BgYnAUBneE9/

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Snippet – WIP – Fortress 47 – a LitRPG / GameLit Novel http://mikeycampling.com/snippet-wip-fortress-47-a-litrpg-gamelit-novel/ http://mikeycampling.com/snippet-wip-fortress-47-a-litrpg-gamelit-novel/#comments Mon, 12 Mar 2018 16:26:52 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5787 Here's a snippet of a work in progress (WIP) – this is from a LitRPG / Gamelit novel I'm working on with author Saffron Bryant. I hope you enjoy it, but please remember that this text hasn't had it all the usual spit and polish just yet. Also, this isn't a complete chapter – just […]

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Here's a snippet of a work in progress (WIP) – this is from a LitRPG / Gamelit novel I'm working on with author Saffron Bryant. I hope you enjoy it, but please remember that this text hasn't had it all the usual spit and polish just yet. Also, this isn't a complete chapter – just a taster. Thanks.

Chapter 2

The last of the winter sunlight was fading away, and Cody was watching the clock on her tablet, counting the remaining seconds of her shift. At first, she didn’t notice the armored truck approaching the parking lot, but the deep, throaty growl of its engines alerted her, and she looked up in time to see the matt black truck nosing forward, the automated barrier rising to allow it through. Must be a delivery or a pick up. Security trucks arrived every day, shifting valuable equipment or taking sensitive data to be destroyed, but when the truck swung smoothly across the parking lot she narrowed her eyes. What the hell is that thing doing here?

This was no security truck, but a BEAR—a tactical support vehicle favored by SWAT teams and the military—and it was turning up on Cody’s watch.

“We’ll soon see what this is all about,” Cody muttered. She pocketed her tablet and marched across the lot, on a path to intercept the vehicle. But the truck skirted the edge of the lot and ground to a halt directly outside the main entrance. Cody picked up her pace, and she didn’t slow down until she stood beside the truck. She hadn’t seen anyone step down from the vehicle, so she had to assume the driver was still inside, but the truck’s windows were heavily tinted and well above eye level, so it was impossible to see inside the cab. Cody looked along the vehicle, surprised to see no badge or identifying marks, then she took out her tablet and checked the delivery schedule. “That’s weird,” she murmured, because there was nothing: no pickups or deliveries for the rest of the day.

She kept her eyes on the cab and walked around to the front of the truck, then she held up her tablet and activated her scanner. There was a heavy clunk as someone opened the truck’s passenger door, and Cody stepped back, ready for anything. But when she saw the man clambering down from the cab, she faltered. Wearing a well-cut business suit over a dazzling white shirt, the man would’ve looked more at home in a Bentley rather than a BEAR,  but even so, he had the relaxed poise of someone who was accustomed to being in charge. He buttoned his jacket as he walked toward her, and when he spoke, his voice was deep and commanding: “There’s no need to scan this vehicle. We’re authorized to be here.”

Cody hesitated. “I’m sorry, sir, but you can’t leave your vehicle in this area—it’s for emergency services only.”

The man slid his hand inside his jacket, and when Cody tensed, her reaction seemed to amuse him. “Relax,” he said. “I’m just getting my ID.” He held out a card bearing the Vortax logo, and when Cody read the man’s details, she stood to attention, her eyes wide.

“I’m sorry, Colonel Banks, sir,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting anyone from V Division.”

The colonel pocketed his card and looked Cody up and down. “That’s understood. You’re doing your job, and we’d appreciate it if you’d let us do ours.”

“Of course, sir.” Cody’s mind raced. This could be a great opportunity, a chance to make a great impression on someone from V Div. But you couldn’t just sandbag a full colonel, could you? Cody cleared her throat. “If there’s anything I can do to help, Colonel, please let me know. In the meantime, I was wondering if I might—”

Banks didn’t give her the chance to finish. “Thank you, but it’s best if you go about your business as usual. We’ll be out of here as soon as we can, and that’s all you’re authorized to know.”

“Yes. I understand. Sorry to have kept you, Colonel.” Cody stood still, waiting to be dismissed, but the colonel was already walking away. He climbed back into the BEAR’s cab and slammed the door without a backward glance.

I was just a glitch in his day, Cody thought. An irritating interruption to be dealt with. She took a breath and exhaled loudly, then she headed back across the parking lot. The day had gone just about as badly as it could, but at least it was almost the end of her shift.

She took out her tablet and checked the time, and that was when she saw the notification on the screen: a new message. Her mood brightened. Perhaps it was Joseph, getting in touch to apologize for earlier. But when she opened the message, her smile disappeared. It was from Chalmers. A few terse sentences:

Milbourne – it seems you sent a parking fine to an official visitor from the State Department. Come and see me in the morning. And the guy covering the next shift phoned in sick, so you’d better cover for him. Stay put until I can find someone to take over. And no more tickets unless you check with me first.

“No,” Cody groaned. “This can’t be happening.” But the implication of Chalmers’ message was clear: If she wanted to stand a chance of keeping her job, she had to do what she was told without complaint. She had no choice.

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SFF Promo – 3-4 March 2018 Only http://mikeycampling.com/sff-promo-3-4-march-2018/ http://mikeycampling.com/sff-promo-3-4-march-2018/#respond Sat, 03 Mar 2018 11:40:28 +0000 http://mikeycampling.com/?p=5779 I thought you might like to know that I'm taking part in this great SFF promotion this weekend (3-4 March, 2018). There are 100 books listed according to category, so it should be easy to find something you'll enjoy, and at that price, who could ask for more? If, like me, you're snowed in, throw […]

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I thought you might like to know that I'm taking part in this great SFF promotion this weekend (3-4 March, 2018). There are 100 books listed according to category, so it should be easy to find something you'll enjoy, and at that price, who could ask for more? If, like me, you're snowed in, throw another log on the fire then take the time to curl up with a good book and launch yourself into a world of fantasy or science fiction. Many of the books are available on several stores, and the links for each store are clearly shown.

Here's a link to the promo page – I hope you enjoy a leisurely browse through the books: 99c SFF Promo 3-4 March 2018

PS: When you click through to the promo, eagle-eyed browsers may spot the wrong year in the url of the promo page – it's just a typo and nothing to worry about.

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