A breather between stories

It seems like I’ve been flying around dealing with stuff since Netwalking Space got finished, not all of it about the writing. Among other things, I had the day jobbe online work to keep me busy for three days this week, and then I participated in a book giveaway which ended up giving me a rather nice addition to my email list. Good stuff to do, but time-consuming.

And then there was the day lost to stomach objections. This happens once in a while, and it laid me flat for a whole day. Ugh. But the weather has turned, and I’m thinking a lot about writing stuff and art stuff as we’re getting close to bazaar season. IOW, STUFF.

On the other side of things, the Portland house is now mostly painted except for touch-up work. It’s pretty, but not as nice as the Enterprise house (IMO).

One of the things that happened last weekend was a second go-round at the Wallowa Valley Farmers Market in Joseph. I sold a couple of books and discovered in conversation that I am most likely THE science fiction and fantasy writer in Wallowa County. So, hmm. That makes for a nice piece of publicity–Wallowa County’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer.

And then there’s the election. Please, dear God, can it just go away? I have this dreadful feeling that 2016 is going to be too damn much like 1980 and 2000 for my liking, including the almost-20-year bit. Either that or 2016 is going to be a nasty set-up for major ugliness in 2020. Neither really works for me. Yes, I know it’s probably extinction burst of some attitudes, and we do seem to be making progress, but really. I’m fed up with the Purity Brigade on the left that whines and fusses about their presidential election choices, but doesn’t do squat in between those presidential years to organize and put together some real grass roots forces for significant change from the bottom up. I’ve spent too damn much time on Facebook griping at people who clearly haven’t spent time in the political trenches, can’t be bothered to do political organizing, but don’t like their choices.

If you don’t like your party’s choices? Then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Get involved.

But for God’s sake, with the Supreme Court at stake, don’t mouth sanctimonious platitudes about how your vote really isn’t going to get Trump elected if you decide that Jill’s your girl because HRC ain’t pure enough. For the record–you’re wrong. And don’t whine at me that you don’t like any of your choices if you haven’t spent time working for candidates at the local level and put in time organizing. Look, damn it. I worked for Jerry Brown in 1992. I tried to collaborate with people in the 90s to bring about some significant organizing change. The same people moaning about the Clintons being centrists and dragging the Democrats to the right had NO INTEREST in doing the grunt work to change things from the bottom up. The strategy of voting third party to bring about change is worthless, and only gives power to the 1%. Period.

Ah well, hopefully all will be well in November. But I’m worried. And I’m tuning out a lot of politics because I know how I’m voting, I’m not changing my vote, and there are too many people I know who seem to have lost all common sense when it comes to Trump. ARRGH.

And with that, I’m done with the political rants. Oh well, it’s helped me figure out who I don’t want to deal with on Facebook. Sigh.

We do have the prospect of a pretty hunting season ahead. I’m hoping it will be cooler and feature fewer yellow jackets, as I’d just as soon be able to sit down and eat without having to resort to the pickup cab. Or do reading or writing work in camp without having to hide in the pickup cab. Or manage deer/grouse carcasses without having to fight the yellow jackets. One sting this year is plenty.

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Netwalking Space finished!

About six weeks and right around 85k in rough draft, but it’s DONE. I’ll probably putz around a wee bit with the ending tomorrow, but…it’s done, done, DONE.

Six weeks of intensive writing, at about 2000 words a day average with some days going as high as 3000 or 35oo words. I did hit 4000 one day, but that was a rarity. While the ending took a few right hand turns, for the most part the storyline followed my original plan. I don’t know if it was the consistent writing, or what, but for once I didn’t have to stop in the middle third to rewrite the outline and whip the plan back in shape. I’m very pleased with that prospect.

There will need to be some significant rewriting before I ship it out to beta readers. I know there’s some continuity needs with earlier books, and within the story. I also have a subculture with too many A names, and I need to figure out some handwavium for the science part in order to maintain the narrative tension.

But it’s pretty much a wrap for this last book of the Netwalk Sequence.

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Busy times, and a Netwalking Space snippet

Between school starting back up and trying to get the novel finished and preserving the fall harvest, it’s been a busy time. But I’m getting close to finishing the book–probably 85k-90k since I’m now at 80k and we’re at the climax. 5k to play that out, 5 more k to resolve. Cool.

So here’s some of what I’m working on today:

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

A prickling sensation like that of a swarm of insects with clawed feet scrabbled from her elbows down to her hands. Bess forced herself to relax as Alex/Sarah took over her hands, pushing past the springy resistance with three practiced twists. Stock and firing chamber were together.

The crawling feel reversed itself, climbing from fingertips to hands to wrists to elbows.

<Whew. That felt weird,> Sarah/Alex speeched.

<I’ll say so. Will you need to do the same thing with the barrel?> Bess balanced the half-assembled rifle in her left hand, working her right hand open, closed, open, closed until she could feel herself in it again. Then she shifted the rifle to her right hand and repeated with her left.

<No, the programming’s focused in those two pieces. Placement is more important.> More Alex than Sarah this time.

Light flashed at them. Bess ducked, careful to keep the rifle steady.

“I thought you two would try something sneaky like this,” a woman’s voice said over their radios. “Put that rifle down and raise your hands. I’m on the next ridge behind you.”

“Who the hell are you?” Alex demanded, stepping to shield Bess. He reached behind with his good hand and took the half-assembled rifle from her. He pressed several buttons.

Laughter. “I’m the ticket to your new forever.”

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Transitions

I’ve taken up a new transitional ritual every time we return to the Enterprise house. After we’ve unloaded, done our evening stuff, and had dinner, I go into the bathroom, pull out the jar of Fango facial mud, and give myself a facial. During this hot, muggy summer it’s felt like purging the grime and stress of the big city and beginning a lovely period back up in the mountains with clean air and fewer people. I don’t know that it makes that much difference in my skin but it definitely helps me relax back into the pace and rhythms of Enterprise as opposed to Portland.

But transitions are happening everywhere. It’s the season for wrapping up summer chores and finalizing winter food prep for humans and creatures alike. The wheat threshers work long hours harvesting fields while those of us who can and freeze are busy. Most of the most recent cutting of hay is already put up, but those ranchers who haven’t finished with the hay are hustling. This week alone, while juggling novel, back-to-school prep, and other stuff, I put up zucchini relish and a lot more applesauce than what I want to think about. Between canned applesauce and frozen applesauce we’re in good shape–the trees were quite productive. We’ll be going back to Portland and Clatskanie and I’m already planning what to do with cabbage, corn, and zucchini (relish and pickling ahead). This was my first canning in Enterprise, and the kitchen passed the canning test with flying colors, even with adjusting for altitude.

Just through this week I’ve noticed the arrival of fall. The angle of the sun. A damp coolness in the air. A late summer thunderstorm briefly grumbled over us last night, processing from Ruby Peak over town and continuing northeast toward Idaho. The leaves on the burning bush add a little bit more red every day.

Today Mocha and I jumped up a whitetail buck by the road. As he bounded away, I noticed that his antlers were the bright white of freshly sharpened horn. Hunting season has opened for archery and gun season is a month off. No more bucks in velvet, I guess. Our late afternoon ride was cool, and I realized that this might well be the last shirtsleeve ride of the year, if not one of the lasts. Mocha’s been hairing up the past couple of weeks, winter coat starting to come in. One doe I saw today already had a winter coat coming in.

We also marked yet another transition today as the last construction project on the house wrapped up. Today the contractor put the last touches on the front porch. For the first time since March, 2014, we no longer have construction projects pending on this house. We do have some plans for future things to be doing, but nothing as big as what we’ve already had done or are doing.

More warm days may return…but autumn is here. High autumn, with the hopeful promise of early winter and a good snowpack.

I think I’m ready for it.

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The snark is strong with this one

Not sure how I feel about what I wrote today. Feels a little bit like jumping the shark.

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

Melanie triggered a Netwalk system-wide alert even as she raised her defenses.

<Entities of Third Planet, 3!G Star, 7!N2* Sector.> A picture of the Earth-Moon system with the sun behind it popped up. <This is The Nest. Prepare to meet your glorious destiny. Convert to the Wisdom of the Deep Mechanicals and join Our Nest in the stars.> An image of the Milky Way galaxy replaced the Earth-Moon system. <Release our flawed segment and compensate us for the services it has rendered to you so far.> An image of the Gizmo came next. <Failure to convert, release our flawed segment, and provide adequate compensation will result in unpleasant consequences.> Images of explosions, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis followed. <We hope you will come to a wise decision. Have a pleasant day, may your data always flow smoothly, and cherish your nest always.>

Pictures and the voice faded from virtual. Melanie tightened the jaw she’d dropped while listening to the Nest.

“What—was—that?” she finally forced out.

“I—it’s authentic, Melanie,” Will said.

“The Nest? With that cheesy—“ she gestured with both hands—“demand letter? Or are they just crappy missionaries? Pay us compensation? For what? Netwalk?”

“It sure as hell sounds like a crappy twentieth century scifi movie,” Andrew said. “If I hadn’t seen it in virtual, though, I’d not believe it.”

“Pretty damn presumptuous,” Paul said. “Convert and join. Doesn’t exactly sound voluntary to me.”

“Unless someone’s pulling one king-hell of a prank on the whole system,” Melanie said. “I mean—“ She shook her head. “Join us or die? Pay us compensation? Release their failed segment?”

“That’s a key right there,” Will said. “The gadget didn’t do what it was supposed to do. Or something. But they want it back.”

“Shit.” Melanie slumped against her chair. “You know damn good and well that the Courts will happily give the damn thing back to them without an argument. But compensation and conversion? That sounds worse.”

“If they take the gadget back they’ll get the Shadow Chamber with it,” Will said. “Is that something we want to see happen?”

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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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