Tag Archives: Living and Dying

Living and Dying Sample Story: “Mouths to Feed”

For those of you who haven’t downloaded and read Living and Dying yet, either from the TS Store or the Kindle Store, I thought I’d post one of the stories from the collection to give you a sense of what it’s like.

This story, Mouths to Feed, was originally written on TypeTrigger, based on the prompt phrase “I first knew.” After writing it on TypeTrigger, I spent a fair amount of time polishing and rewriting it before including it in Living and Dying. The end result was what you can read below.


Mouths to Feed

I first knew how much trouble we were in when the engine sputtered for the fourth time.

The first couple of sputters didn’t seem like a big deal. Let’s be realistic: you’re bound to get the occasional booster hiccup when you’re fourteen years into a twenty-year journey to the center of the solar system and back. But I’m a smart kid, and I know that while two can be coincidence, three is a pattern, which means four is something worth paying attention to.

So I called up the engineer. “Dad,” I said, “I think we might have a problem.” And he put down his call-it-breakfast-but-we’re-pointed-straight-at-the-sun-so-really-it’s-pretty-much-always-lunch-time, and he popped his head up into the cockpit with a relaxed, what-is-it-this-time-bud grin, and by then I’d counted eight-and-a-half sputters, and a look at the diagnostics screen made his smile disappear pretty quickly.

He entered a handful of bypass codes to shut the boosters off, which made the trip calculator go absolutely crazy with warnings and red numbers, and then, as he scrolled through the emergency maintenance manual, he started humming.

I’d never heard him hum before. The song was slow, and soft, and haunting. It made me feel like I was looking out a porthole into space, but couldn’t see any stars.

It creeped me out, so I went and found the captain, and she told me the last time she’d heard my dad humming was when he found out she was pregnant with me, which was almost ten years ago, and she bet she knew what song he was humming, too.

“Mom,” I said, “for every hour we have the boosters shut down, we’re adding a month to our trip time.”

“I know, bud,” she said.

“And with three people drawing from the supplies, we can’t afford to add on any more than about two years, or we’ll run out of rations before we arrive.”

“I know, bud,” she said.

“That means we have 24 hours to fix—”

I know,” she said. And then she climbed up into the cockpit with my dad and locked the hatch behind her.

We’d all memorized those numbers a long time ago, of course. They were one of the first things I learned as a kid, when I started to ask questions about what we were doing here, my mom, my dad, and I, tearing through space in a tin can made for two.

If I’d never shown up, there would have been a lot more margin for error with a problem like this one. The rations and the recycling system had been designed for two mouths, not three. There wasn’t supposed to have been a romance. There wasn’t supposed to have been a pregnancy. There wasn’t supposed to have been a Me.

But a Me there was. My parents had learned to cope. They’d recalculated the rations. They’d made the sacrifices they needed to make. And now we had less than two days to save ourselves from seven years of hopelessness and one year of death by dehydration.


That all happened about nine months ago. I don’t remember much about the frantic whirlwind that those two days became, but I do remember two failed reboosts, three emotional breakdowns, a lot of yelling, and being locked out of the sleeping quarters “overnight” at the end of it all.

Ultimately, we found a way to keep the engine burning, but our workaround means that someone has to constantly be watching to manually make the small, vital adjustments that are keeping our hopes, our faintest of hopes, alive.

I take a regular shift. I didn’t, at first, but eventually I had to, out of sheer necessity, because of my parents’ fatigue, and now I think they’ve grown to trust me.

And they should. I do a good job, even though it’s sometimes hard to concentrate when there’s a newborn around.

My dad hums all the time, now.

Living and Dying: Now Available!

Today is June 1, and that means Living and Dying has officially been released! Spread the word by retweeting the announcement tweet below, or share the link on Facebook (or anywhere else) using the social media icons at the bottom of the post.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/TimSevenhuysen/status/75979423958052864″]

You can now download the Living and Dying ebook from the TimSevenhuysen.com Store and pay what you want for it.

You can also buy it from the Amazon Kindle Store for $0.99. Here’s a link to the US product pagehere’s the UK product page, and here’s the German product page.

Don’t forget: if you buy Living and Dying today, you get on the early access list for my next fiction collection (plus a free Fifty-Word Stories: Volume One ebook if you pay $0.90 or more), and if you write an Amazon review you get on the early access list and get to contribute a superhero name to a story I’m writing!

Thanks for the support, everyone.

Living and Dying – Release Details and Special Offers

Original photo by Rachel Davies, used under a Creative Commons license.This Wednesday is the release date for Living and Dying. As long as the Kindle Store approval process goes smoothly, the collection should be available for pay-what-you-want download from this site around the same time as it becomes available for purchase from the Kindle Store for $0.99.

In order to allow for pay-what-you-want purchasing, I’m launching a TimSevenhuysen.com Store today. There won’t be any fancy shopping carts or download systems or anything; just download links and PayPal buttons so you can read my writing and pay me either a set price, or whatever you think it’s worth.

As promised, I have a couple of special offers available for anyone who’s interested.

Offer 1) Early Bird Bonuses: Buy Living and Dying through PayPal on or prior to release day and you’ll get early access to my next short fiction collection and (if you pay at least $0.90) a free digital copy of Fifty-Word Stories: Volume One.

Anyone who pays for a PDF/ePub copy of Living and Dying from this site (as opposed to the Kindle Store) before midnight PST on June 1 will receive my next short fiction collection a week before it becomes publicly available. You can still get in on this offer if you buy the collection from the Kindle Store, but you’ll have to pay me at least 1 cent through PayPal, so that I have proof that you’ve bought it. (The Kindle Store doesn’t give me any information about who’s bought my products, so I can’t verify purchases from there.)

Not going to be around on June 1? No problem! You can “preorder” Living and Dying right now by going to the product page and clicking the Buy Now button. I’ll email you the .zip file as soon as the collection goes live!

Offer 2) Reviewer Bonuses: Review Living and Dying on Amazon and you’ll get on the early-access list for my next collection and will also get the opportunity to provide me with the name of a superhero to write into a story that I will include in my next collection.

Anyone who reviews Living and Dying on Amazon.com and sends a link to their review to tsevenhuysen@gmail.com will have the opportunity to contribute a superhero name to a story that I’ll be including in my next short fiction collection. Want to have a character of your own creation mentioned in my story? All you have to do is write a review, good or bad, positive or negative, one star or five stars.

In addition, you’ll also get your name on the early-access list for my next collection and receive a copy by email a week before it becomes publicly available.


So… Who’s excited? ME! I AM!

“Living and Dying”: A Short Fiction Collection

On June 1, I’m going to be releasing a short fiction collection called Living and Dying. It will contain eight stories, totaling approximately 5,000 words.

The centrepiece of the collection is a short story called Saucer that I originally wrote back in 2004 (give or take a year; it was a long time ago!). Since I originally wrote it, I’ve edited and rewritten portions of it several times, but this time it’s finally complete, and I am satisfied that it conveys what I want it to convey. Saucer is a sci-fi story about a man who has been imprisoned for dissension against the government, and I’m really proud of it. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.

I’m also including the first example of a new format I’ve created called the 555, where I take a story title and write three different stories for it, one that’s only 5 words, one that’s 50 words, and one that’s 500 words. In Trust No Gun, the three stories aren’t directly related to one another, but in the future I’m hoping to experiment with using the three stories to support or expand on one another in interesting ways.

The rest of the stories are edited and expanded versions of things I’ve posted to SixMinuteStory.com and TypeTrigger.com over the past month or two. These two websites have really kick-started my creativity, and they’re the reason I decided to finally get out there and start releasing some of my non-fifty-word-story writing. Check the sites out and see what comes through your keyboard!

I hope some of you are as excited to read my stories as I have been to write them and prepare them for release. It’s a fun experience!

I’m going to have a special offer or two available either upon release, or shortly prior to it. There will be opportunities both for you to get free stuff, and to help me out with spreading the word, so stay tuned for that.