Monthly Archives: April 2016

Clam digging, writing, and online teaching

For the past few days I’ve been at a friend’s house in the Coast Range for the clam digging tides at Astoria. We’ve been working on building up a supply of fresh razor clams to keep in the freezer to nosh on the year around for both fried clams and chowder clams. The razors are the most flavorful and tender of the clams available on the Oregon coast, at least in our opinion, and while using the clam gun (a metal tube with a long handle and suction hole) is easier than digging bay clams, it’s still a bit of work. But oh, the flavor…

The other thing I’ve been doing while down on the beach is collecting whole sand dollars and pretty rocks/shells to use for art projects for fall and winter craft shows, combined with lots of leftover bead stuff. I have more beads than I’ll ever use in jewelry for sale, so I’m going to be doing art stuff with them. Crafts will happen in the summer, when I can sit under the pine tree in the shade and work on them.

Meanwhile, I’m still letting Beyond Honor sit and will get back to revisions sometime next week. In the meantime, I’m wrestling with a cozy-type gnome story that is being difficult. I don’t normally do cozy OR gnomes, so that’s part of the problem. But I started this for a theme anthology and sidelined it when other deadlines took precedence. Now it’s time to dust it off and get it finished. The conflicts just seem so small compared to what I usually write. Deep sigh. It counts, it counts, it counts.

I’m also putting in twelve hours a week monitoring PE and Health students working through online classes. It’s been a big learning curve for me, but it’s also been an opportunity to see how this type of teaching operates. I have opinions, but I’m waiting to see how it all shakes out by the end of the term before I say more. I will say, though, that in my opinion this sort of opportunity can be golden for some students but absolutely worthless for others. But we shall see.

At this point, I’m looking forward to the end of clam season and the frequent runs to the Coast (which will become garden runs) and the end of the school year, which will allow me to pick up some more projects. I’m hoping that things will settle down and I can focus even more on writing and editing. Keeping my fingers crossed that life doesn’t throw me any more complications…..

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And…Beyond Honor is done!

Just typed THE END on the first draft of Beyond Honor today. It comes in at about 44,000 words, and didn’t quite end where I anticipated it. I suspect rewrites may blow it up to about 50k, but we shall see how that goes. The last segment was a lot longer than I expected, with Alicira and the god Staul throwing chips to determine what would happen with her, her child, and her magic. That ended up being one heck of a talky session, but there were some mouthy characters who needed to say their piece.

I already know I have continuity things to fix. However I pretty much know what they are, especially if I work backward from the end to lay the breadcrumbs for the finish.

Whew. As I said before, this was a story that was over forty years in the making. I first thought of the Goddess’s Honor world when I was fourteen, and had started wrestling with this aspect of the story in a writers group twenty-five years ago. Back then it wouldn’t have worked as conceived, but without that foundation I don’t think I could have taken the framework in hand and shaped it into the story I finished today.

Now to do other stuff, and tomorrow I start doing something about the short story inventory, which is pathetic, sad, and in need of growth.

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Progress on Beyond Honor

I’m closing in on the finish of Beyond Honor. Gods, this has been a difficult novella to write. Geez, how many years have I been struggling to write this portion of the whole Goddess’s Honor mythos? Thirty, maybe?

For whatever reason, each time I’ve started to write about how Alicira comes to Keldara has been a struggle. It was actually easier to write Pledges of Honor as an indirect approach to the whole mythos through an apparently unrelated character…except then it turns out that Katerin is related. Some of this is due to a bit of stereotypic conflict building. Alicira was abused by the usurper Zauril, with the explicit intention on his part of using her magic to advance his own power to elevate himself to godhood. She escapes, but she’s pregnant with his child. Trying to write her as a powerful character with agency even when all her options are narrowing and she has little choice has been the struggle.

And then there’s the magic. BIG SIGH. One effect of the growth of gaming these days, especially for a non-gaming writer like me, is trying to figure out a magical system that holds together and makes sense. I don’t think you can easily do a handwavium magic system any more, just because there are so many readers out there who build systems as part of their gaming. That’s a good thing, really, but it requires more work on the worldbuilding. So that means figuring out the rules of the sort of magic that’s going on…which is part of the ongoing struggle with this story.

Following that is the meshing of Alicira, Heinmyets, and Inharise as a family triad who shares leadership and magic.

All of this is to say that this book is going to need some massive rewrite, I suspect. But at least I’ve laid down the bones. Much as I’d like to get it out by May, I don’t know that I can do it. On the other hand, as I work through the elements in this book, it will make working on the next book simpler.

At least that’s what I hope.

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Musing over categories


Poor Netwalk’s Children. I think it’s the best book so far of the Netwalk Sequence, but it’s getting hardly any attention. Some of that is possibly the cover; more might be due to the difficulty of finding a good category to put the story in. I know that there are readers out there who would like the story. But where to find them, where to find them…especially through keywords!

One of the challenges is that the story is a cross between cyberpunk and multigenerational corporate family sagas. The cyberpunk aspect has to do with the nature of Netwalk and Netwalkers and their interface with the gadget not-so-fondly known as the Gizmo, a war machine of mysterious origin. The Gizmo is controlled by an international body known as the Corporate Courts, a legacy from the somewhat dystopian period of the mid-21st century when the government of what once was the United States went through multiple upheavals, the Middle East became the Petroleum Autonomous Zone (no, I’ve not written that story and I’m somewhat afraid to go there….). One of the Corporate Courts’s functions is the promotion and development of space colonies and space stations for various reasons, including industrial development as well as expanding human residency in space. Think of it as a means of providing an off-Earth governing body.

The multigenerational corporate family saga piece is that we see the social and political organization of this particular world through the eyes of the female corporate leaders of one family, the Stephens-Andrews-Landreth family. With Children, we enter the fourth generation of the story, with three generations alive and two digitally uploaded after her death. The uploaded matriarch, Sarah Stephens, knows a lot about the Gizmo and its ultimate aims, and doesn’t trust the damn gadget as far as she can throw it. Her son-in-law William Landreth, late husband to Sarah’s daughter Diana, is also an uploaded Netwalker and his opinion matches Sarah’s. However, Diana doesn’t necessarily agree with Sarah, which causes a problem since Diana is also Sarah’s living Netwalk host (Netwalkers need live hosts to recharge and stay sane). The connection between Diana and Sarah has been fraying for years but everyone’s been willing to work around it until now.

Will and Diana’s daughter Melanie, who is the head Enforcer (those who police and manage Netwalkers and their hosts) and also president of the family bioremediation/Netwalk chip producer company Do It Right (Netwalk grew out of the development of wireless communication with bioremediation nanobots and drones) has a lot to manage. Years ago she split with the Corporate Courts, maintaining links only through the High Space Treaty that controls space development and travel, because of the Gizmo’s effect on her daughter Bess. One of the mandatory elements of Corporate Courts leadership is exposure of their children to the Gizmo in order to improve and facilitate linkages with Gizmo resources including access to Netwalk, as well as bond them to the goals of the Courts. The Gizmo took a strong dislike to Bess and tried to kill her as an infant. A similar but less dramatic event happened when Melanie’s brother Andrew exposed his son Richard to the Gizmo.

Meanwhile, Melanie and Andrew have a contentious past history, including the two of them nearly killing each other in the early days of Netwalk when Andrew was possessed by the uploaded personality of their uncle Peter. However, since they’ve both become parents, they’ve been cautiously rebuilding their relationship behind closed doors. Publicly, they’ve not been allies. Privately, well, they aren’t best buddies but the connections have improved.

So that’s the backstory. In the book, the Gizmo starts manipulating people to break free from its restraints, focusing on Richard (Rick) as its tool to get to Bess and use Bess’s strengths. Melanie and Andrew make their new alliance public and find a new ally outside of the Courts. Sarah and Diana have it out and Sarah cultivates a relationship with Bess, who she wants to have as her new host.

POV characters are Sarah, Melanie, and Bess. With the addition of Bess we get a YA-type character but the book isn’t necessarily YA. So this is a mess of genres, and I’m trying to find the best label for the whole dang thing. “Cyberpunk” doesn’t necessarily cover everything that’s going on in the book. “Multigenerational family saga,” however, isn’t necessarily the first thing one thinks of when looking at cyberpunk. I guess I’d probably pitch it now as “Dallas meets Cyteen” but that still doesn’t give me a label. One friend suggested “regency cyberpunk” or “cyberpunk regency,” but then that has way too many echoes of steampunk, as I’ve discovered when trying out the label on other folks.

Dang. It’s a dilemma, for sure.

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Filed under Netwalk Sequence, Netwalk's Children

Another spell of hard-charging busy times

Whew. Just spent a week pounding away at the short-term Day Jobbe integrating two different tasks between four different buildings. Talk about a crazy buzy time, enough that I was totally brain-fried by the end of the week. The last go-round, I had enough brain to toy with outlining an interesting new short story concept. This time…I got nuthin’.

Some of that is due to the reality that it’s plant sex season, and allergies make me stupid. The other part is just that I was juggling a lot, and, well, dealing with sleep issues. I’m hoping to get back to stories this coming week, but right now, it’s run and be busy while dealing with things other than writing.

Oh well. Been here before. Know it will work out. I have plans for blogs but the fatigue level has been such that I’ve not been able to think about them. We’ll see how things go.

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