Thursday, October 22, 2015

The teenager had been so hungry.

New prologue for my novel: Insignia

-Prologue-


The teenager had been so hungry.
Life on the dirt-smeared streets of the slum city was more difficult than he had anticipated: squatting in abandoned warehouses with other disenfranchised youth and huddling close for warmth during the bitter winter. But not too close. He couldn’t get too close. Teens disappeared off these streets every day.  He wasn’t sure where they went. Maybe they moved on, found something better or maybe…something worse.
A year on the streets had made him lean. Gaunt. Pale. Desperate. Playing in the underground market was always risky. Unreliable. Volatile. Stressful. He had not been nearly as successful as he’d hoped to be.
Hunger.  He never imagined that he could be so hungry.
Learning to dumpster-dive had been a mixed blessing.  He now knew where to find the freshest food, though fresh was a liberal word. The food still stank with the rancid fumes of whatever had been left in the bin the night before.  Some days, he couldn’t stomach it. So he’d learned to beg. Occasionally he’d get treated to a mystery street-meat skewer, but most of the time the fare would be the mildly stale remnants of a stranger’s half-eaten sandwich. It was not much better than the dumpster, but at least it didn’t smell rotten….Then his pride overtook him.
He was better than this. He was smart.
So he taught himself to steal. He always had a knack with data:  computer navigation was second nature to him, even though he never loved it. The dingy cyber cafés had become his new haven.  Long days crouched over an ancient typepad, hunched in cheap fiberglass chairs with eyes straining at a dimly lit LED yielded him a fake credit account to which he stored real money.
He traveled through security networks of big CORPs, the underground tunnels of their cybernet space. Worming his way into firewalls and secure shields like a cockroach made of bytes, he scrounged for scraps of cred. Then he invested that cred in the virtual market. Win. Lose. Win.
He snagged only bits at a time. A little here. A little there. Not too much. Can’t get caught. Take just enough. Can’t ever get caught. Data heists were among the most severely punished crimes. In this world of capitalist greed where consumerism was rewarded, credit theft was punishable by death. 
The money though…it wasn’t for food. It wasn’t for clothing or shoes or mech mods. It wasn’t for him. It was for Charley. Someday, he hoped to have enough for two train tickets out of the hate-filled shitthole. To a real city. East, west, north – he didn’t care. All of them had promises, potential. A real job. A real school. A life. For both of them.
Then this strange man with a handlebar moustache and a plush burgundy waistcoat approached him in the café. Looking for him.
Why me? An offer. A good offer. Money. Money for food. He had been so very, very, hungry. And then this offer…
“What do you want me to do?” He asked the strange man.
The man took a drag of a long, mud-colored cigarette and handed him a small chip. “I need you to hack a shopping mall’s security system and pull the locked files.”
“Hack a system?” The teen asked incredulously, “That’s it?”
“It’s not as easy as you might think, kid,” the man explained, “It’s an AI security system. Makes what you’ve been crawling through look like a toddler’s game. It takes Skill.
“Oh, I got skills,” he responded arrogantly.
The man barely smirked and cocked his head. Nonetheless, he tapped a metal plate on the chip. There was one line of text:
JR. Avenue 5. Independence Plaza.
 “This is where you can find me,” he said cryptically and left, nodding.
*tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap*
Skills indeed, the teenager thought angrily, this bastard’s convoluted as shit.
Maybe he was in over his head. The man had warned him that several who tried before had failed. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and his t-shirt was becoming damp under his arms.
Failed how?”
The man didn’t say. It didn’t matter.  The money was too good. Enough to get him and Charley out of the slums. To get to freedom.
*tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap*
The lines of code taunted him. Flashing their glaring green deep into his strained retinas. His stomach growled. It’s just a shopping mall! He railed to himself silently. What could be on here?
*tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap*
An AI system.  What was an AI system?  It couldn’t be a new software because he knew all security systems. He’d never heard the term before. Maybe it was an old word? An antiquated security system? Maybe that’s why it was so hard to crack?
*tap* *tap* *ta—
He was in, he stared wide-eyed. The files suddenly were zipping themselves onto the storage device.  Bits flashed by in a whirr: zeroes and ones. Replicating with the precision of high-speed data, submitting to his hand, no longer taunting him but almost screaming.
Screaming... Red lights flashing. Something had triggered an alarm. How, though? He had been so careful!
Shooting to his feet, he yanked the chip out of the mainframe just as a boring-looking man strode casually into the server room.  The man’s eyes, however, were not boring. They were dark, and angry. And they were looking straight at him.

Fuck! He ran like hell. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My name is Lyndsie Clark and I am a Writer

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is my very first Toastmaster's Speech...roughly. It sounds better when spoken. I won the best speaker award (out of 2 ppl lol) and earned the nickname of "Brave Normal-Human-Size Toastmaster".



*****

My name is Lyndsie Clark and I am a writer. Saying that feels like I am admitting to a bad habit. A dirty secret.  Like I should be in rehab, not a toastmaster’s meeting.
This is because I have always struggled with being creative and also being taken seriously. When I was a child, I was encouraged to embrace this creativity.  However, as I grew into an adult, that was less and less embraced in favor of education and a “good job”. (or one that pays a lot of money)
It has taken me quite some time to accept that this creativity is as much a part of me as the desire for education and career.  And even longer to accept that I can both be simultaneously creative and successful.

1 –
When I was in fifth grade, I entered a poetry contest. My first poem inspired a life-changing love of writing.  Throughout grade school I wrote: poems, short stories, longer stories and novels. I started my first epic fantasy series when I was 13, finishing the first novel two years later.  Sadly, the second one, is still sitting half finished on an old hard drive.
This was because in high school, everyone was planning for college.  I didn’t want to go to college, I wanted to become a writer. However, my father – who had fought his way out of poverty to become a respected geophysicist at NOAA, believed in the irreplaceable value of a college education.  And as he was the one holding my college fund, I could choose to attend a university or stay home while my parents traveled the world with that money.

2 -
I chose college and enrolled in the architecture school thinking that it was creative. It also, oddly, required the least amount of science courses. I mean, you can build models and draw things, right? Not really. If anyone has ever gotten through an architecture course, I admire you. It is a lot more difficult pictures and models. Especially for one who doesn’t have much affinity for math.
Halfway through college, I changed my major to linguistics.  It was a major that sounded sciency enough for my dad to respect, but still allowed me to play with words all day. Even though I enjoyed linguistics enough to go on to my master’s degree. Something was always missing.

3 –
I hadn’t written anything for fun for my entire college career. Not a single poem. Then in the middle of my MA program, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  This is where I would write 50k words in 30 days. I was young, reckless, invincible and a bit masochistic – so I finished. I have never been more sleep deprived in my life, well…until I did it again the following year.
My creative drive had been reawakened. I was a writer! Well, not really…I was just writing for myself. I didn’t have to admit it to anyone. It’s not like I was going to make a profession of this anyway… 
But in 2012, something else happened.  I realized that I had many great ideas. I didn’t want to keep them secret, I wanted to share the excitement of my expansive imagination with the world. So this time I decided that I was going to write a novel and would not stop until it was completed, edited and my hands, my reader’s hands, my publisher’s hands.

Conclusion -  

When I won that poetry contest in fifth grade, the best thing about it for me was sharing my ideas with my friends. And that is still the case today.  When I admitted to myself that the writer in me wouldn’t be silenced until I could share my creativity with the world, I made the best decision of my life. And even if my career progresses in a different direction, I am still and always will be, a writer.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I am happy to be single

I am so happy to be a single woman. I am not lacking anything in any way. I am not any better or worse off than anyone else. I am happy and in love.

Even though I love people, I also love being by myself. I am not afraid of dying alone. After all, everyone dies alone. I am not worried about not being loved, as up until the moment I die, I will feel love every day. I am not worried about not finding love because I love so many people already, including myself.  I am not worried about having no one to rely on because you all are there. I'm not afraid of taking care of myself because I know best what I need in life. 

I don't need a husband, a wife or children to feel complete. I already am. I don't need anyone to make me a better person. I strive to do that every day, and I am always improving. 

Sure, I don't love loneliness and I'm still not happy when I get hurt. But I don't fear it. I know that I get better and hurts don't last. I will never truly be alone because I have myself. I have friends. I have family.  I have wonderful  people all around me. I don't need that one "special person". You are all special to me.

I couldn't love anyone else, if I didn't love myself. I couldn't make anyone else happy, if I was always sad. If I couldn't take care of my self, how could I take care of anyone else?

I love people but they are limiting. You have to answer to them, explain yourself, make sacrifices.  Right now, I am limitless and because of this, when I do choose to answer, explain and sacrifice for someone, it will be for the right reasons.  And I will not resent them for asking things of me, because I will have already consented to what they are asking.  Because I know myself, and my desires. I know my deal breakers, game changes, favorite foods and flaws.

I am so glad I have had a chance to really get to know myself.  I am so excited what new things I will learn in the years to come. And while sometimes my resolve will flag, in the end I am so grateful for where I am. I'm happy being single, and I may never go back. Or I might, but that choice is my prerogative.