Kaitee – Wednesday’s Featured Writer on Out of the Woods

Part of the reason I wanted to start a blog was to connect with other writers who were in a similar situation to myself. The first week of blogging I found Kaitee’s blog called Kaitee Squiggle. She too is on a journey to authorhood and I believe is an undiscovered talent. I asked Kaitee to let me feature her here and she has graciously agreed. She even wrote a short story piece for this post which is something relatively new to her. Thanks Kaitee for doing this!

I’m Kaitee! I’m a book collector, mostly into fantasy/sci-fi with a bit of crime and chick-lit thrown in. I’ll read pretty much anything. I’m a huge nerd, married a nerd and we’ve recently acquired a nerd baby. We live in an Australian tropical paradise, which is wasted on us because everyone knows nerds spontaneously combust in the sun. I’ve always loved writing and I’m now trying to finish one of the (many) stories I’ve started and have been blogging about it along the way. This is also my first foray into short stories, although I hope to write more of them in the future.

1) How often/when do you write:
I’ve set myself the highly achievable goal of writing 100 words a day, which I do at no particular time. I’ve got a 4 month old baby at home and I’m studying externally at university so my days are relatively full to begin with. My rules are that those 100 words can be notes, research, backstory or plotting, as long as it pertains to fiction in some way and that anything to do with real life (emails, assignments and the ultimate procrastinator, Facebook) doesn’t count.

2) What authors do you admire and why?
I like authors that aren’t afraid to take risks with their characters and let them have horrible experiences. I have a funny habit of ‘becoming’ a character when I’m reading because I imagine it all playing out in my head as I read, so adventure, comedy and tragedy all become real for me. George R R Martin is fantastic at this, as is Robin Hobb, Jennifer Fallon and Fiona McIntosh.  I know Janet Evanovich is a different genre, but I love her Stephanie Plum series.

3) Would you prefer to be published the traditional route or would you give self/e-publishing a try?
I think I would prefer to be published traditionally, simply because I just love books. Plus, it would be kind of awesome to see someone actually reading it somewhere, which I’d never do if it was an ebook. That said, I think there are some advantages to ebooks. I’ve got a Kindle and through it I’ve found some fantastic books that simply aren’t available here in Australia through the Amazon Recommends feature. I’d probably still aim for print first though.  

Kaitee’s Story:

Cadence wasn’t happy about being dragged to the arse end of the galaxy. She wouldn’t have been happy about it at the best of times, but she hadn’t been given a choice. Someone was clever enough to have found her despite all her misdirection and false identities. Whatever these people wanted from her, it was big. Monumental.

“Where exactly are we?” she asked, not seeing any familiar planets or systems on the navigation readout.

“Probably nowhere you’d recognise,” replied Jordan, the excitable young man who’d burst into her home in the dead of night, cackling gleefully that he was right and he’d found her. They’d taken advantage of her groggy state and bundled her into a ship waiting at the port.
“One of our long range ships was on its way home from a shoot-out in one of the outer systems. The Conglomerate got in a lucky shot just before they jumped away, blew the nav controls and they found themselves here”.

Cadence closed her eyes. “Morning Star, damaged on exit from Qin system, reported destroyed by Conglomerate. No reportable crew activity for two years until arrival on Shi’an aboard Mystery, vessel classification unknown”. She opened one eye and looked at Jordan. “Sound right?”

“Pretty much. We’re sorry about the secrecy, but we really need your information and analytic skills”.


Jordan pointed out the window at the approaching planet. “Notice anything?”

“It’s completely black. Are they shielded?”


“Are you going to tell me anymore?”

“No, when we break atmo, I’m going to fly in low and let you see for yourself”.

Minutes later, Cadence was staring at a sight she was having trouble comprehending. There were heavy storm clouds in the sky, blanking out most of the natural light from the sun and bathing the already dark planet in a chilling oppressiveness. The planet had been decimated. They were flying over what she imagined was once a sizable city. The skeletal remains of tall buildings stuck out awkwardly from piles of twisted metal and charred concrete. There were buildings as far as she could see, most of them were falling in on themselves, missing their sides or roofs and had stairs leading nowhere. No part of the surface seemed untouched by the destruction. Outside the city was a vast emptiness, nothing but charred soil and sporadic blackened trees, their skinny finger-like limbs reaching out longingly towards the heavens.

“The whole planet is like this?” she asked, as they began to head out over the sea. Rubbish and debris floated in the ocean, the waves dumping it onto the shoreline, a thick wall of trash that by the look of it had been piling up for eons.

“Almost everywhere. Some places are less damaged than others though. There’s a massive island on the other side of the planet that’s almost untouched. The coastal areas are a mess, but the middle isn’t too bad. There’s even a few trees growing, but the water and the ground are still radioactive. That’s where we’ve set up.”

“So it was a war then?”

“It seems that way. Most of the radiation readings we’ve been getting are similar, but there are enough differences in chemical composition to suggest that a range of nuclear devices were used. Real primitive stuff too, nothing at all like the ones we use.”

Minutes later, Jordan landed the ship and announced they had reached the camp. Cadence stepped outside and surveyed the area. The ground and surrounding mountains were a curious shade of red and orange and the building in front of her was the first solid structure she’d seen on this world so far.

Jordan ushered her into the building, chattering as he did so. “We’ve found what we assume is a library. Most of what we’ve found has been printed in paper books instead of stored electronically.”

“So what have you learned about the people that live here?”

Jordan rubbed his head and grimaced. “See that’s the kicker. They were human”.

She turned to him in shock. “How can that be? There are no human settlements beyond Shi’an.”

“The images we’ve found here and in every other site we’ve visited all show distinctly humanoid features. We have no idea how they got here, or what happened. This is why we need you”.

Cadence grinned. “Well you certainly have my forgiveness for kidnapping me then. I do love a good mystery. Wait, did the crew of the Morning Star rebuild a ship from here?”.

Jordan laughed. “I wondered when you’d figure that out. They were clearly space capable, but how they managed to get here in those steaming piles of crap is another puzzle that needs solving”. He handed her a stack of musty leather bound books. “Most of it is written in supremely old English derivative, but this stuff we can’t translate.”

Cadence plonked them on a table and opened the first book, smiling. “Well, you better go and get me some food, I might be here a while”.


Three days later, Jordan walked in to find Cadence frowning. “Jordan, how many people know where this planet is?”

“Less than a hundred”.

“Keep it that way. You have no idea what you’ve stumbled onto”. She thrust a book under his nose. “I’ve run these through the scanners and the data collation is terrifying. What you have here could destroy the Conglomerate”.

Jordan sat down next to her, shocked. “I don’t understand”.

“I don’t either, at least not fully. Jordan, I don’t think the humans of this planet arrived here only to get wiped out in a war. I think they were always here and the destruction of the planet was their own doing, but some managed to escape and go elsewhere”.

“How do you know that?”

Cadence took a deep breath. “The texts you couldn’t translate. Some of it was Russian, some German, Spanish and French”.

“Do you mean… this is… no, it’s impossible. It’s an old bedtime story”.

Cadence turned the pages of the book in front of her. “It’s right there, written under the map. A map, which I might add, resembles the land formations on this planet”.
Jordan’s eyes widened in fear. “Holy shit. The Conglomerate have been lying for thousands of years!”

Their eyes met. “Earth is real!”

About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three who doesn’t really know what she wants to be when she grows up.
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7 Responses to Kaitee – Wednesday’s Featured Writer on Out of the Woods

  1. Selena says:

    Kaitee-very nice to meet you! And I love the story!

  2. Redhead says:

    Yay for scifi-fantasy book collecting nerds!

    and Yay for a fun space-opera-ish mystery thriller type thing. i dig it!

    • Kaitee says:

      Thank you! 🙂

      I’d read a space-opera-ish series a while ago that referred to ‘Old Earth’ and I began thinking about what really would happen if life on Earth became untenable and everyone went their separate ways.

  3. Pingback: Guest Appearance « Kaitee Squiggle

  4. Such great story! I love the idea of Earth being considered a myth by a far future people. More, please. 😀 Love the Q&A too. I definitely know how challenging it can be to balance everything.

  5. Pingback: More Stories Than You Can Poke A Stick At! | True Writes

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