Xenogeneic: First Contact
by Lance Erlick
Dr. Elena Pyetrov’s father vanished in space 18 years ago while searching for extraterrestrial life. As an aerospace engineer, Elena travels into space to search for answers and continue his work. Her ship is pulled off course and crashes. She suspects extraterrestrial interference.
The alien Knoonk lost their civil war in a distant star system and fled to Earth’s neighborhood to hide and regroup. They seek a new home—Earth. Unable to live in Earth’s toxic environment, the aliens kidnap and use humans to genetically modify their species to adapt.
Surviving the crash, Elena and her shipmates are transported to a closed cave system where the Knoonk monitor and control everything. Elena tries to make a connection with her hosts and find ways to work together, but Knoonk leaders rebuff her and force the humans to submit as slaves. The aliens use illusions, distractions, and social experiments to learn from their hostages and keep them off balance. Resistance by captive humans brings swift punishment to break the human spirit.
While Elena continues to look for ways to cooperate with the Knoonk, it becomes apparent that there can be no compromise. The Knoonk want to capture Earth for their species. It is winner take all. With time running out, Elena must dig deep to uncover the alien plan and find a way to stop them before the human race faces enslavement and extinction.
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Writer’s block plagues most writers at some time during their writing careers. They stare at a blank page and nothing comes forth. I’ve been fortunate so far, which I attribute to my approach.
The mind has two ways of experiencing writing: creative and editorial. It’s natural after years of parental, teacher, and peer criticism to have an editor on your shoulder. That critic says things like, “That won’t work.” or “That’s trash.” The editor will stifle creativity if you don’t turn it off. There will be time later to rework and polish.
I like to think of creative writing like modeling clay. You can’t mold the clay until you get it on the spinning wheel. So the first thing I do when writing a rough draft is to ignore all of the negative feedback from the editor on my shoulder.
The next problem I’ve run into that brings on writer’s block is trying to write a story before I’m ready. I’ve gotten my protagonist into a fix and have no idea how to get him or her out. At times like this, I step back and let the subconscious mind mull the problem. When I return later, the answer often presents itself. Forcing the answer rarely does.
While writing Rebels Divided, I had this problem. I needed Annabelle and Geo to meet in such a way that would throw them together despite mutual distrust. Rather than pushing through this dilemma, I wrote other parts of the story. When that didn’t work, I slept on it, mulling the problem before I went to bed. In the middle of the night, the answer presented itself in what I hope readers find as creative and satisfying ways.
In Xenogeneic: First Contact, I had a form of writers block in that I had a problem with one character mucking up the story. It wasn’t so much that the character had a better idea of where the story should go. Rather, I realized after much reflection that the character was wrong for the story and needed to be replaced. Once I made that change, the story began to flow.
Only after I’ve laid out the creative side of the story do I let the editor on my shoulder have her say.