Today’s snippet

Almost at 48k today….and things are getting crazy.

*******

<Save him, damn it!> She couldn’t do anything until she got this damn piece of junk landed, and right now they were headed for a rock field. She had no thruster power, and the yoke wasn’t working well. Emergency landing procedure. Bess clicked on the airbags. They inflated with a jerk. She gave up on the yoke and secured her helmet, then turned to Alex, writhing under his seat restraints. To her relief, he had managed to secure his helmet. She grabbed it to make him face her, wincing as he kept screaming, his eyes wide and nearly popping out.

“WE’RE GOING DOWN!” she yelled. “BRACE! EMERGENCY LANDING PROCEDURE!”

Despite it all, he nodded. She tried to guide him toward a safe crash position, but his limbs resisted.

<Damn it, Sarah, DO SOMETHING.>

<Can’t…Blocked…>

Bright white lunar surface coming up fast. One of them had to be alert upon landing. One of them had to function. Bess braced herself. The shuttle struck, then bounced high, flipping over. She lost track of the number of times they rolled. At last they lay still.

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Bearing down on 45k…another Netwalking Space snippet

So I hope to break 45k on Netwalking Space today, despite a lot of busy stuff going on. Should be easy since it’s only 500 words away…and then I aim for 50k before the end of the week. Hopefully maybe even get close to my goal of reaching 60k by the end of the month…we shall see, we shall see…

Meanwhile, here’s another 2nd person POV from Diana…where things are not what they seem.

************

And yet the voices don’t seem to swamp one cool, calm sector of clarity in your mind. You take a closer look at the datathread whispering those awful things. It’s from the Shadow Chamber.

<Enjoying yourself?> This virtual voice is stronger than it has been. It’s oddly familiar, but you want to hide the clear-thinking part of you from it. Something about that particular voice makes you worried.

<I have no idea what’s happened or where I am.>

<Good,> the voice laughs. Chills run down your body as you suddenly, horrifically, place it.

Parker Landreth. Your evil, twisted, dead father-in-law. War profiteer who sent his own son out to be captured and tortured because he chose a relationship with you. Murderer of your father. You recognize his tones in that voice that has been screaming in your head about the evils of Netwalk. How the hell did he get into Netwalk? He never survived to be a Netwalker, and the traces of him that were present in the bloodbonding that Will incorporated into Do It Right technology shouldn’t have been enough for him to create a complete Netwalk personality.

<What are you doing here?> you ask, dread oozing through what you can feel of your body.

Parker’s head takes shape in your mind’s eye, fiendishly grinning. <Payback, my dearest daughter-in-law. Payback. Victory over you and your mother. Revenge on a son who was unfaithful to his father.>

<What are you planning?> And is there some way you can get a warning out to Sarah, or Melanie, or Bess? Or Will. Oh God, Will. Your father. What kind of threat is he to you? What can he do to you in virtual?

<Ah, ah, ah. That would be telling. And if there’s anything I am not, it’s one of those people who dialogues on forever about their Secret Plans.> Parker’s head arches a brow at you. <You’ll just have to find out what my plans are when I make you fulfill them.>

<I won’t do what you want. You can’t make me.>

Pain throbs through your body, then fades.

<Oh yes you will do what I tell you to do,> Parker says. <Oh yes, you will.>

More pain washes through your body, until a welcome cloud of darkness blots it out.

But still, before your consciousness fades, you vow to yourself. I’ll find a way to stop you, Parker Landreth.

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Not a Netwalking Space post…well, except for maybe the last paragraph

IMG_2109Actually, there has been other stuff going on this summer besides The Novel. We are painting house exteriors in Portland and in Enterprise; I’m helping with the big Portland project (ahem, when the temps and word count allow) while hubby is pretty much doing Enterprise on his own. Considering the Portland exterior is twice the size of the Enterprise exterior, well, that makes sense.

But more is going on other than the Novel, Painting, and Preserving/Gardening. Though Preserving/Gardening is a thing, and will be even more so as we progress through August into November.

Part of what is going on is that the prescription for Mocha this summer is lots and lots of road riding. Once I got her past the half-mile hangup in hacking out, we’ve been able to do a lot of exploring on the local gravel and blacktop roads. We’ve got the hoof issues under control, however the other piece is that she is still going through muscle adaptation to new hoof angles. That means a few consults with the equine bodyworker, and a lot of hacking out at a walk with occasional trots. When we’re not in Enterprise, she’s been going out to pasture with other horses. It’s clear she likes that part of the new regime. The Stall Princess is now a Pasture Queen. Granted, that has nothing to do with her status in the herd, which is toward the bottom.

When I’m in Enterprise, though, we’re hitting the roads. It’s an easy three-quarter mile to the gravel road that gives us access to some interesting loops. I can do a three, four, five, or seven mile road ride at (mostly) a walk with gentle hills. Most of the ride is by ag land, with occasional house clusters. We pass by entire sections of alfalfa, wheat, various hay mixes, canola, peas, and flax as well as grazing land for cattle herds and some horses on our different routes. There’s lots of whitetail deer and a fewer number of mule deer. One three-sided garage seems to be an attractive midday nap site for muley bucks; I’ve seen a four point and a forked horn lounging in that outbuilding.

Along with the crops are the wildlife. We spot feral cats bounding through the cultivated grasslands, shy and wary enough to survive coyotes, eagles, and other predators. I’ve lost track of how many California Quail coveys we spot on a daily basis. I know one covey has barely-fledged young (clearly a second hatch) while a covey that shares the same area has fledged young capable of short flight. But there’s still another covey with young that except for size look adult. Occasionally we encounter a China ringneck pheasant; fortunately, none have exploded out from under our feet. We’ve seen marmots, raptors from kestrels to eagles in size, ruffed grouse, and a distant coyote. And deer. Lots of deer. Last night, we encountered twin whitetail fawns hanging around the road. Big spotty fawns, no sign of mama. They didn’t take off until Mocha picked up a pricked-ear trot to check them out, and then they crashed through the canola fields, white tails flagging back and forth as they disappeared between leaps.

My horseback time is useful for learning the difference between whitetail and mule deer behavior. Muleys tend to freeze and look. Whitetails look, then run with their tails wagging and flashing high. If you hold, then the muley holds. The whitetail just plain takes off. They tend to run more blindly and their flight path follows predictable patterns–often right in front of us. If I were hunting whitetails, I think I can now predict the flight line they’ll take, because the terrain definitely seems to affect how they flee.

Deer don’t seem to faze Mocha. The closest incident we had was when the four point muley buck blew out of that garage almost on top of us. But even then it was a jump and freeze reaction on her part. She’s the steadiest road horse I’ve been on, in the sense that I have more confidence in her response to me than I ever did with Sparkle. Sparkle was a decent road horse, but she had an unpredictable bronc element that Mocha lacks. If things get really crazy with Mocha, I can dismount, walk a ways with her, then get back on and be confident she’s okay. Couldn’t do that with Sparkle. A definite difference in breeding and training, for sure. That said, I ride out with four reins on Mocha. Just a bit of power steering and power brakes, you might say. Most of the time, we’re marching along on the buckle. It’s those other moments when I need that little reminder. Sparkle was a bronc who might choose to react by bucking or rearing. Mocha is flat out reactive and possesses a bit of sting. But her reactivity is easily managed and that sting can be defused. She’s hotter than Sparkle ever dreamed of being but she has a lot more sense. However, both mares enjoy and enjoyed hacking out. The big difference is that Mocha might startle and maybe take a couple running strides, but Sparkle would run with a few bucks.

So this summer I’m throwing back to my childhood in the Mohawk Valley riding the small handful of gravel roads available to me from my parents’ place, only I have many more options. Plus the view on Alder Slope beats anything in the Mohawk hands down. I can look to the north and see the plateau country transitioning into the canyon country, or look to the east and see more plateau country leading to more canyon country and the Seven Devils. South, of course, are the Wallowas, especially Ruby Peak, Hurricane Creek, Chief Joseph, and Mt. Howard. Nothing like riding along on a good saddle mare with a big walk.

At the same time I’m pounding away on Netwalking Space. I passed the 30k mark today and I’m on target for getting dang close to 60K by September 1st if I can sustain this pace. It’s not the killer pace of Nano–I’m trying to average about 2500 words a day, every day, without doing the brutal 5k and 6500 word days I did during Nano. The highest word count day I have so far is 3500 words and I have a few 3100 days under my belt. I am going to be traveling a little bit in forthcoming days so I need to have a few overage days to hit my average. The other, good thing is that while the plot matrix has now become “plan? what plan? we don’t need no stinkin’ writing plans” to some extent, it still gives me enough guidance to provide some chapter outline work to give me a guide to where I’m going now. The other piece is that I think this story is going to come in at around 70k-80k words. I could be wrong, but we’ll see. I’ve hit some points at 30k that I thought would come later…on the other hand, I have two more big plot punches I can throw. So we’ll see what happens.

There you have it–a recent update that isn’t all Netwalking Space.

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Cracked 25k on Netwalking Space…another snippet

I promise, there will be non-Netwalking Space posts soon. Just pounding away trying to hit 50k before September strikes. So here’s a piece from today’s writing…

*************

“What are you doing?” Melanie asked, slipping in a small compulsion tone as she spoke.

Gupta grimaced in reaction to her tone. “We’re sending a communication probe toward the incoming fleet. Based on observations and trials with the Gizmo, we’ve managed to create a welcoming message.”

“Are you out of your everloving minds?” It was all she could do to keep from screaming at Gupta and the other Exec members. She’d thought Zhao could keep a better rein on their impulses! Maybe we should have risked Mom’s proximity to the gadget and left her here to keep them in line. Sending her out to DIR1 sure didn’t stop bad things from happening!

“What part of an invading force armed with strength we can’t match don’t you understand?” Gupta shot back. “Why alienate them if we can defang potential hostilities?”

<He does have a point. We don’t know whether the gadget is representative of its kind,> Will speeched.

<Not you too!> Melanie snapped. “And how do we know that your probe isn’t being co-opted by the device to provide a booster link to the incoming fleet so that it can get free? Can you guarantee that?”

“No,” Tessa Chandler said. “But we can certainly take precautions. With your help, we hope.”

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Melanie sighed, sinking back in her chair. “I think this is a supremely stupid move. I can’t talk you out of it?”

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Today’s snippet

Nearly 20,000 words in, and things are getting difficult….

***************

“Mom, don’t.” Raw fear echoed from Andrew. “Don’t do anything you regret.”

“I’ve done plenty to regret,” Diana retorted. “Now I’m going to make amends for my past choices.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Diana turned coy. “You’ll find out soon enough. I never thought I’d live to see the end of days, but it looks like it may be my privilege to bring it.”

“Mother, please. Don’t do this, whatever it is you’re going to do. You have problems with us. Come deal with us directly. Don’t take it out on the rest of humanity!”

“Humanity has been contaminated by Netwalk,” Diana said, her voice falling into a rote pattern as if she were repeating words she had been coached to say. “Humanity needs to be cleansed and purged.”

“Mother, no.

“Say your prayers, Andrew. Maybe you can be saved. Acknowledge your abomination before God.”

Melanie gulped back a sob of her own. She tapped out a message to Alex, Nik, and Bess as Andrew continued to try to reason with their mother, only the occasional crack in his voice revealing his emotion.

Assume Diana Landreth to be dangerous and hostile. Stop her no matter what it takes.

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Another Netwalking Space snippet

Just wrote this; closing in on maybe hitting 18k words on Netwalking Space today. Just a little bit from Diana’s second person perspective….

*********************

You are cursed, you and your descendants. Abominations. Unnatural. What if your father really wasn’t Dan Andrews? What if, like Peter, you are his daughter?

You can’t trust Sarah, the lying bitch. Which means you can’t trust her current Netwalk host, your granddaughter. And you can’t trust your daughter, who sides with Sarah more often than not. Can you trust your son? You don’t know. Perhaps you can bring him over to the awareness that the whole family is an abomination that should end. If you could rip that Netwalk chip out of your head that Sarah fouled for all those years, you would. Maybe after you do what needs to be done at Stephens Observatory.

Right now, the only thing you can trust is that datathread. The only thing you will trust is that datathread.

You don’t think about Will. The Will you loved died years ago, when Netwalker Sarah killed him. Once he became a Netwalker, he crossed the line into abomination.

Netwalk must end. Netwalk must die. Death needs to mean dead, not just physically but in the digital world.

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A snippet from today’s writing so far

I’m playing around with a second person POV for Diana in Netwalking Space. Enjoy!

****************

The small chapel on DIR 1 stinks. Sweat, fear, organic smells from the biospheres, and the faint acrid whiff from the chip manufacturing wings all seem to concentrate here. You drop to the prie-dieu’s kneeler in front of the cross, old knees stiff and sore even in the lighter gravity of space. Space. The place your granddaughter loves, almost more than any others.

You dredge your rosary out from the depths of your right pocket and lean on the prie-dieu’s shelf, bowing your head as you sort out the beads. This morning you have felt the growing oppressive rumble of the Gizmo deep inside yourself. It woke you early, before your alarm, and you lay in your bed, listening to the hisses and clanks and pops of a working space station as the rumble rose in your head.

Sarah kept it out. But she kept other things from you, things deep and dark and hidden. No matter what your daughter says about how a Netwalker and host can’t hide things from each other, you know differently. Sarah holds secrets. She always has. Now she’s corrupting your granddaughter.

The Gizmo inside you grumbles even more at the thought of granddaughter. Melanie wasn’t a good daughter in that respect. She resisted the need to expose your granddaughter to the Gizmo, to make certain that Bess never introduced dangerous elements to the virtual world. Bess—and her cousin Chris—are among the Netwalk users the Gizmo doesn’t know. That’s dangerous.

Your head hurts even more and you drop it into your hands. Agony pulses through you in great rumbles. It lasts a few moments, and then you can raise your head, pick up the beads with heavy fingers, and begin the Our Father, proceeding to contemplate the Sorrowful Mysteries.

You have finished your third decade when an alert flashes across your overlays. You blink it away. Your staff will handle it. This is Bess’s station, not yours, and you’re just a figurehead. If they need you, someone will come.

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And it begins…the opening of Netwalking Space

Just started writing on Netwalking Space, the last installment (so far) of the Netwalk Sequence. I’ll be writing more, and this is rough, but…just felt like sharing these opening lines.

************

“Where’s the data you used to extrapolate your projected performance from the interface of the Netwalk 5 chip with the Resolve biobot?” Bess Fielding leaned forward in her chair, fingers closing tightly on the squeeze ball she was clenching under the desk out of sight of the other participants in the hologlobe conference between Do It Right principals and researchers and the developers of Resolve. She focused on Remy Alastair, the lead researcher for the European-based company who had developed the Resolve. “Because I’ll tell you right now, those projections do not match any scenario I’ve developed for Netwalk 5. There’s no way in this solar system that Netwalk in any version operates at those speeds, especially in extraterrestrial settings.”

Remy brushed a strand of dark hair out of her face before answering. “We project a boost in Netwalk from Resolve—“

“Now just wait a minute.” Zack Hawkins, one of Bess’s researchers and the host for the Netwalker Will, Bess’s late grandfather, interrupted. “Resolve cannot have those accesses to Netwalk. That would assume a backdoor that does not exist.”

“We would need to create that opening.” Remy scowled. “These are projections based on the existence of such an opening. Which is standard protocol for all virtual access these days.”

<NO. FUCKING. WAY.> Will’s virtual shout made Zack wince and Bess’s lips tighten even further.

<Cool it!> she speeched to her grandfather. <You want Mom getting after you for being rough on your new host? Zack isn’t Julia. Modulate. Or else yell at me.>

<He doesn’t need to be so rough,> Bess’s own Netwalker, her great-grandmother Sarah, chimed in privately to Bess. <And if he shouts like that at you, he and I will have words.>

<I’m not going to stand by and watch those upstarts break my latest upgrades!> Will retorted.

<Grandfather. It hasn’t happened and it isn’t going to happen. Chill.> Bess inserted a nuanced command tone. <I’m the one who makes that call, and I’m not about to break that new security programming!>

“We have a Netwalker objection,” she announced, picking up the non-virtual conversation without a pause. “And it is one I support. We are not going to provide those accesses. Find another way to make Resolve interface with Netwalk.” She took a breath and prepared to say more.

INCOMING. INCOMING. WACKO SYSTEM ALERT. The Do It Right participants startled as bright text flashed across their visual overlays. LARGE GROUPING OF GIZMO-TYPE DEVICES DETECTED OUTSIDE OF PLUTO ORBIT.

***********

Oooh, this one is gonna be FUN, I tell you. FUN.

 

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New Netwalk Sequence short up on Wattpad

Facing the aftermath cover

Got an outtake from the end of Netwalk’s Children up on Wattpad. I decided to write it as part of the prep for plotting Netwalking Space. Caution: spoilers for Children in the story itself. But if you want to find out what the Netwalk Sequence is about…check it out.

https://www.wattpad.com/user/joycemocha

 

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THE Fishtrap post

So clearly I ran out of steam when it came to Fishtrap live-blogging. It wasn’t for a lack of things to write about; instead, there was a lot to pack into the day so that by 10 pm when I got home, I’d had enough and just wanted to vege out.

But it was a different type of intensity from going to a weekend science fiction convention. At the cons, I’m usually rushing to meet people, rushing to do panels/signing/reading, rushing to catch something in the dealer’s room before it goes away. No rush at Fishtrap, not really. All of us weeklong participants had morning three-hour workshops to attend. Then the afternoon panel or presentation, followed by open mic readings, followed by faculty readings after dinner. With a couple of exceptions, everyone went to the workshops, while not everyone went to the panels/presentations/readings (or at least every one). That meant the pace was slower to begin with.

The other big difference was that this was a forum to discuss craft, not business. There was only one editor from one press present; the rest of us were equally all writers. Now business did start creeping into discussions later on in the week, but for the most part we were focused on craft. It was about us being writers, not selling our writing.

Then most workshops had some sort of daily writing work. I think my workshop–the Uncanny, with Marjorie Sandor–had the most writing involved, but everyone was working on some sort of writing assignment throughout the week. My workshop had three evening writing assignments (as well as reading assignments), as well as several in-class assignments. None of the writing work was finished product but I definitely left with either starts or ideas for something like six or seven short stories or essays, as well as ideas for worldbuilding and structure for Netwalking Space.

Most of all, it was about words, and writing, and thinking about writing. Robert Michael Pyle has been a favored nature writer of mine for Wintergreen and The Dark Divide, but after this past week talking to Bob and listening to his keynote speech and listening to his prose and poems, I think he’s now my favorite living nature writer. We shared a thrill over pretty book covers (he liked the Beyond Honor cover), and talked a wee bit about the Klone’s Folly story I’m still developing. I didn’t know about Marjorie Sandor before this Fishtrap, but by golly I’m definitely a fan now. She is one of the best critique leaders I’ve worked with and her insights into the uncanny helped me pinpoint some developments in Netwalking Space. Plus she has written the best damn and uncanny second person present tense story EVER. Joe Wilkins turned me onto short prose poems, and Justin Hocking made me think about the power of lists in my writing. There were many more faculty members who shared lots of gems.

In any case, I took detailed notes during our workshops because Marjorie came up with observational gems including looking at expanding stories in the unplumbed gaps within scenes–instead of writing more and longer, she talked about going into various hot spots of the pieces we wrote and expanding those sections within what we’ve already written to make it longer. Lots of good stuff. I’ve gone back through those notes already with a highlighter, to help me identify key points.

But even though the flow is a different pacing from that of a three or four day con, there were still some similarities, just more subdued. Con glaze didn’t hit until day five of seven. And imposter syndrome set in about day four. However, unlike at a convention, while I was sitting in a swing between two trees looking up at the steep slope of one end of Chief Joseph Mountain and thinking imposter syndrome thoughts, a woman who had heard me read here in Enterprise back in December came up to me and complemented me on my reading then. We talked, and it came out that she also was feeling a touch of imposter syndrome. So we shared, reassured, and moved beyond that brief attack of imposter world.

Bob Pyle’s keynote speech warmed the cockles of my activist heart. I couldn’t get all of his good stuff, but here’s a few paraphrases of what he said:

* When fences and frontiers become one and the same, that’s when we get sealed off from each other.

* Walls haven’t worked in the past–why will Trump’s wall be any different?

* The walls between people and nature are as toxic as the wall Trump would build.

* When we think of nature as something other than us, that sets up a wall.

* There is no “nature writing”– it is all natural and environmental writing

* Natural does not mean good–natural just is.

* Most things can’t be easily divided, which is why most walls break down.

* It is only our silence that allows divisions to remain.

One panel discussed memoir and the differences between memoir and autobiography, with some good insights there. But rather than go on longer, maybe I’ll put those observations in another post. Or not, as the case may be.

One thing that I did definitely notice was the high ability level of most of the participants. Most people I talked to were writing at the intermediate or advanced level, with some sort of publishing history or professional writing background. Not saying that beginners wouldn’t benefit from this workshop, but it would definitely be of more value to someone at the intermediate or advanced levels. A fair share of attendees either had an MFA, were in the middle of getting their MFA, or were starting a program.

Would I go again? Heck yes. My stated goal at the beginning of this conference was to learn ways to take my writing to the next level. I think that has succeeded–or at least, we shall see if it has. For one brief moment I toyed with the idea of getting a MFA myself…and then sanity returned. That said, I am definitely keeping an eye out for more conferences and workshops like this to attend–both in and out of genre. I learned a lot by moving outside of the speculative fiction genre gatherings, and I think there’s more to be learned. My “to-read” pile has grown by quite a bit…and I have some things to think about.

Marks of a successful con, for certain.

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