Tag Archives: writer life

“Going Gently” is pretty much finished

Or so it seems. It’s a rough draft finish, of course, and I think that I’ll probably polish it and release the polished version for sale in December.

Meanwhile, I’m going to make it available to my newsletter subscribers in rough draft form, with a cover that reflects that status. In some ways, this was a tough story to write while also being compelling. It was about death, and transition, and aging. Not sure I’m completely satisfied with the ending–I never am, especially in the roughs–but it did come to an end.

Will this be the final Netwalk Sequence work? To be honest, I’m not sure. I left some loose ends hanging because they’re relevant to the backstory in Star Shepherds (which is not going to be started until I get some other projects out of the way and do some necessary research). I may go back and tweak a few of those because one new character (who will be very relevant to Star Shepherds) doesn’t get enough foundation. But I couldn’t do that until I finished the story, and, well, gotta have time to format it into reading form and get it ready to go on BookFunnel.

But make no mistake, this is a transition story between Netwalk Sequence and Star Shepherds. I may write a few more stories set in this time period as world building for Star Shepherds. I just don’t know yet. There’s other writing I need to get done, which also includes some work on getting spec stories out instead of self-pub stories. And then there’s Beating the Apocalypse, which I’ve delayed starting because I thought I was going to have some conflicts that have now gone away.

I may still put off starting up Apocalypse until later in the month so I can get some short writing done. We shall see.

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Going Gently…the new Netwalk Sequence story

Like I said yesterday, I had no real intention of opening the Netwalk Sequence again.

But this story, I tell you…it’s at 4300 words and growing. At this point, I’m looking at a probable novelette length. I don’t think it’s a novella, but I’ve been putting down a lot of breadcrumbs that could sustain a longer story than just 5000 words.

In this story, we’re seeing Melanie after a stroke, with her brother Andrew near death from cancer, and…one more crisis is thrown at them, at the end of their lifespan. I started moving past the basic mechanism of that original story concept to deal with these characters who are facing the question of “do I upload into digital life and why”–where the why may affect the long-term survival of humanity.

The question of aging, in a world where digital life is possible. It’s…interesting.

In any case, I expect to have it ready in rough form for a newsletter giveaway. Actual publication will be probably in November or December. Totally unplanned, but…worth it, I think.

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Netwalk Sequence…redux, and introducing Star Shepherds

I hadn’t planned to write anything further in the Netwalk Sequence after I finished Netwalking Space, at least not for a while. Oh, a far future version was on the publishing schedule (Star Shepherds),  but as for anything immediately after Space?

Not really.

And then a particular scene kept popping into my head when I drowsed off to sleep. An old Melanie and Andrew on the Moon, Andrew near death, and in need of Melanie’s assistance.

The scene kept haunting me. Why did Andrew want Melanie to come to the Moon so urgently, at an age and fragility when it would be daunting? To say goodbye, true–but there was something more going on.

Well, it’s a story. Possibly an introduction or worldbuilding for the foundation of Star Shepherds. I should be done with it in time to give it away for my next newsletter release. Let’s just say it’s an interesting premise.

(and if you’re not already subscribed to my newsletter, leave a comment or message me)

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Wrestling with a story–Beating the Apocalypse

This summer has been about the complete rewrite of a novella as I expand it into a full-length novel. Seeking Shelter at the End of the World came out from eTreasures Publishing over three years ago. It wasn’t one of my premium projects at the time (that honor went to a series, Netwalk Sequence) and I had been recruited to submit something to this small press because of my placement in an anthology that was an award finalist.

Well, cool. I had a short story and a novelette set in the same world, so I stuck them together to make a novella and sent it off, along with Pledges of Honor.

The writer-publisher relationship didn’t go well. I took the rights back to Pledges based on several technicalities, but I left Seeking Shelter alone to ride out the rest of the three-year-contract. It hadn’t been a priority and I had other projects ahead of it on the to-do list, certainly not enough to justify buying out the contract for early rights reversion. As near as I could tell, it wasn’t exactly selling that much, so I focused elsewhere–finishing the Netwalk Sequence, expanding Pledges into its own series (Goddess’s Honor), writing a fun short contemporary fantasy novel (Klone’s Stronghold).

Then things blew up a little over a year ago. I discovered that wait a minute, the story WAS selling (I had to make a right royal witch of myself to get a royalty report), and in the meantime I’d been noodling around with some concepts that would dovetail very nicely with the ending of Seeking Shelter. I thought it would be easy to repackage and get that story right back out there. But I wasn’t going to touch it until I had my rights back in hand (which proved to be a Very Good Idea, for Reasons–getting those rights back took a fight and I walked away from the promise of print publication, and for the record, I’m really glad I did). Still, I thought turning the book around and getting it out again wouldn’t be that hard.

Uh–no to the easy.

Seeking Shelter had suffered from a crappy first edit, of the sort where you send it back with blistering comments about how editorial recommendations don’t match the industry-standard basics (um…punctuating speech tags as action tags and vice versa, for one). Even as a less-experienced editor at the time I knew this editor screwed up. Fortunately, the second editing round was better, but I winced when I finally took a look at the story once the paperwork was done and I had rights back in my hot little hand. Dear God, it was a mess.

At the time Seeking Shelter was released, cli-fi was just starting to become a thing. The two stories had never quite been fully integrated–the short story piece, “Canaries,” was good enough to earn an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future but it lacked sufficient worldbuilding to carry the premise. I could see where adding on the concepts I’d been noodling with over the past three years would be enough to make it a longer, better, book.

All right. I had the extension premise to work with. Slap that onto the back end of the existing story and get it back out there, right?

Uh, no.

Characterization of the antagonist reared its ugly head, since he was created from the finest cardboard. Ick. So I started digging around in what might motivate this guy (as well as fixing up a few things, bringing a dead secondary character back to life, creating the antagonist’s love interest, and…and…and.).

One thing kept leading to another. There’s been times when I’ve thought about walking away from this project, but on the other hand, the more I started poking at this world, the more promise I saw in it. Over the course of the last month or so, since Fishtrap, I’ve taken a deep breath and decided to go big with the story. It deserves much more than a slapdash, half-assed rewrite.

But finding the right path for this book hasn’t been easy. Various notes on paper and in Scrivener tell the tale. I decided the antagonist needed to have a voice. I went down various plotbuilding rat holes and dead ends. Meanwhile, we’re going through a horribly hot and dry summer which makes my brain fuzzy (I am SO not a hot weather person), while giving me inspiration.

All the same, I’m now at the point where I feel as if I can wrap my hands around the basic plot. I’ve added one more point of view, and today I did preblocking preparation so that I can sit down with my favorite yellow legal pad in landscape layout to block out the entire book. I still need to build elements of this world but now I KNOW the backstory and can go from there with it.

It’s a complete rewrite now. The first round rewrite just wasn’t enough. Bandaids and warts are visible. I’m going to start fresh, though there will be copying and pasting from the latest version into an entirely separate document. I may do this one in Scrivener to make things easier on me; at the very least things are going to be swapped back and forth between Word and Scrivener as the situation requires. Portions of the first 2/3rds of the book are written but as it stands, instead of 20,000 to 40,000 more words, I need to add about 60,000 words.

But I’m going to do it. This book is going to be much more kick-ass than its progenitor. Instead of Seeking Shelter at the End of the World, it’s now Beating the Apocalypse. I still intend to end it on a positive note–but there’s going to be a lot more to it than there was before. I’m projecting a late 2018/early 2019 publication date, just because I don’t think this one is going to come along easily. I may end up doing like I did with Klone’s Stronghold and putting it aside to get a Goddess’s Honor book, Choices of Honor, done (along with short stories, essays, and poems. It’s time to get back into spec short story writing). Choices is already semi-blocked out and I just need to do a few more prep things before I get rolling on it.

I’m still planning to put out the middle-aged ski bum memoir, Ski Days, this November. Most of that is taken from blog posts I wrote over the years about skiing.

It’s gonna be a fun ride.

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Summer Fishtrap 2018

I’m sitting on my porch in the summer warmth, working on my writing outside until the sunlight and warmth makes it uncomfortable to be outside any longer. Not that much writing has been going on until now, because I’ve been digesting and organizing my notes from this summer’s Fishtrap Gathering of Writers.

Fishtrap is just that kind of writer’s conference. The organization’s overarching theme is “promoting clear thinking and good writing in and about the West.” To that end there are workshops—the good writing portion—and then keynotes and addresses and afternoon discussions—the promoting clear thinking portion. It’s not a Fishtrap without both elements—and this year, the two portions came together quite smoothly—even for, or perhaps, this year, especially for, a science fiction and fantasy writer.

This year’s theme was “Living Upstream,” and the particular workshop I chose was “Write for Change, Live Upstream,” taught by Laura Pritchett. The “Living Upstream” theme ended up focusing not only on environmental issues but the intersection of environmental issues and social justice. The thematic portion flowed into daily discussions with other attendees simply because of issues they were struggling with in the themes they chose to write about—whether it was the current cli-fi apocalypse I’m rewriting to other writers’ subjects, including novels about white supremacists and racism in Oregon.

Not that the whole thing was full of doom, gloom, and despair. If anything, the focus was on empowerment, whether we heard about Tim Z. Hernandez’s search for the names of 28 Mexican deportees killed in a plane crash in 1948 while being sent back to Mexico in All They Will Call You, to Kathleen Dean Moore, Kim Stafford, and Gary Ferguson exhorting writers to think about the interdependence of systems, how we celebrate a dying world, realizing the connection between environmental degradation and social injustice, the blindness of privilege and how to repair it, and accepting our role as word warriors.

Speaking of word warriors, let me tell you about Tim Z. Hernandez, because if you’ve not read him yet, you should be. He initially resisted the lure of All They Will Call You, because he had already written about the 40s and didn’t want to be known as someone who only writes about that period. But as time passed, he realized that he was the one to do the work, to find those names so they could be placed on the mass grave for the deportees (while the white people killed were found and bodies sent to their homes). He tried to talk to the families, but only found three (or was it four?) by publication, then a few more to bring the total to seven. At the end of his kick-ass presentation, he brought us all to tears by reading the names of the deportees killed in the crash and having the audience repeat “Presente” for each name. I bought the book and devoured it, and I tell you, you need to read it. Even though it is set in the 1948s, his account of how some of those people killed in the crash made the decision to come to the US for bracero work is heart-rending—and still relevant today. The search for the names, the histories of those who died—it’s all that and more.

I’m still processing what I learned and discussed there. I left the workshop with poems, essays, and story ideas—and a deeper understanding of what I need to do with Beating the Apocalypse. Sometimes we need to look beyond genre to focus on that clear thinking and good writing…and this year was one of those moments when it all came together.

Even for this speculative fiction writer.

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New book day! KLONE’S STRONGHOLD

Well, release day was actually YESTERDAY…but I wasn’t feeling well, and I’ve learned that doing promo work while not feeling well is not always the best thing to do.

Anyway, it’s out! My first foray into long-form contemporary fiction, Klone’s Stronghold, is now available online!

In a world of supernatural beings, not knowing what you are is dangerous.
 
After Reeni Dutta’s ex-husband Karl attacks her at a music festival, she finds a refuge teaching cryptid construct children at Klone’s Stronghold in northeastern Oregon’s isolated Bucket Mountains. But things are not as they seem at the Stronghold, from the older proprietors of a nearby store and the Stronghold’s leader Alexander Reed Klone, to Reeni herself. She discovers it’s not just Karl who seeks to control who and what she is, but forces from her past that threaten her present. Can she learn the truth about herself and do what is needed in time to defend the Stronghold?
 
Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and other places.
Books2Read link (takes you to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks) https://www.books2read.com/u/m2vZDG

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Writing processes–the year of finishing book projects

You know, for the most part I’m a plotter sort of writer. Except when I’m not, especially when I’m dedicating time to attacking those unfinished fragments on my hard drive. Quilters talk about UFOs (unfinished objects); well, I have bits and pieces of books. Unfinished Book Projects. UBPs.

The last two rough drafts I’ve finished, Klone’s Stronghold and Bearing Witness, are both significant deviations from the process I’ve been using for novel writing over the past two years because they’re UBPs. I’ve got the plotting process down to a version that works for me when I build a book from scratch.

But.

Stronghold and Witness are different because they’re UBPs. The previous books I wrote using my favorite plot matrix system were part of my two series’, Goddess’s Honor and Netwalk Sequence. Creating my plot matrix was part of the worldbuilding/character development process. However, both Stronghold and Witness started out as long short stories that became short novels, with Stronghold coming in at 60k words and Witness at a respectable novella length, 21k.

I often don’t rigorously plot my short stories. When I do that, either the story goes dead on me, or it decides to mutate into a first chapter. It’s just the way I am when I create. Give me half a chance and I’ll start trying to thread in more and more complexities and…yeah. Doesn’t work well for short stories.

With these two works, one novella, one short novel, I’m still figuring out the process when I pick up a UBP from several years back–and that means anticipating a lot more rewrite action. With both works, plot elements started warping both stories from what I originally intended. As a result, I have to go back and insert breadcrumbs to support the later plot developments. Arrgh. Yes, I am a very good rewrite writer–probably better at rewrites than rough drafts–but in this sort of situation, rewrites mean lots of organization in order to pull it all together. The more rigorously plotted and planned novels don’t require significant rewrite worldbuilding. What I’m facing right now is…a lot of revision.

Both books will come out longer, but not by too much. I’m guesstimating an additional 20k for Stronghold and 10k for Witness, max. In part that’s because there will be edits and deletions and so on to balance a certain amount of the rewrite.

Ah well, it’s part of the ongoing writer development. After all, both of these books are UBPs, the first of a number of projects I’ve got lined up. Now that I’ve finished the Netwalk Sequence and am two-thirds of the way through Goddess’s Honor, it’s time for me to attack some of the UBPs I have on hand. So it’s time to figure out a new planning process, just because I want to get these UBPs out into the world.

But arrgh. The degree of rewrite I’m facing on Stronghold is daunting. On the other hand, when I’m done, the story might could just launch another series. We’ll see what comes of it–and the same is true of Witness.

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Well that was a week

An exhausting, at times exciting, but still tiring week. Husband had some eye appointments in Portland that bracketed the weekend, but there was enough stuff up in the air that I only could really plan one get-together with someone I’ve missed except for tiny grabs for the last few trips. It was probably a good thing I didn’t overplan the Portland time, as I ended up down flat sick from an allergic reaction to all the damn pollen. The same thing happened last year, and I had a less extreme reaction in March, so….yeah. I suspect this means that this is now a thing. On the other hand, I found a cromolyn sodium nasal spray and that’s really helping with things, much better than its steroidal cousin and much less harsh. So I now need to find someplace other than the Kaiser Pharmacy to buy it OTC.

We did spend two days skiing. The first day was lovely in spite of the stormy weather, and the second day was full of the heavy deep powder the Cascades is known for. Three runs and not only was my back done in but my knee was complaining. So we stopped. We’d considered skiing on our way home yesterday, but I was so tired and hurting that I determined it wasn’t a good idea. All the same, everything works really well on the slopes again. I’ve got my control back and I’m not struggling like I was so much of the time last year. I’m now thinking that everything I’m doing to address the lower back pain is paying off in this respect. Yay!

Then we spent two days hunting razor clams. OMG. Both days were hard clamming days. Lots of false shows to fake us out, which meant a LOT of digging. The first day wasn’t too bad as we were four clams shy of a full limit. The lot were amongst the biggest clams we’ve ever dug, though, consistently large. I found a medium-sized cockle on the beach, still alive, and claimed it. That day was also good for finding hermit crabs, a live snail, and sandpipers. At one point I stood still as the sandpipers scurried around me, several coming within five feet of me. Sweet.

It was also a lovely day for April on the Oregon Coast. Very light wind, sunny, and relatively warm. A good day to be down on the beach, but after the hard work clamming none of us felt like following up with fishing like we had planned.

The second day was tougher. We never did get any good clam shows, and ended up with just one limit between the three of us. It was another gorgeous warm day on the beach, though. Not as much bird action, nor did I find any crabs. My back ached so bad that I went back to the truck and brainstormed the latest rough draft work, including a quick sketch on a short story idea.

 

Then we packed up, went back to Portland, and headed back to Enterprise yesterday. Three short story ideas mugged me on the way back. I’m not sure why that part of my brain is waking up again–perhaps being finished with Netwalk, and two-thirds of the way through Goddess’s Honor is a factor? Dunno, but I’m not going to ignore it. I sketched the three stories out last night. They’re all tied to some other stories I’ve been working on, contemporary fantasy or Western fantasy.

And now for the first time in a week I’m not having to wake up and rush around to go somewhere. Later on today I’m going to introduce Miss Mocha to the wonderful world of saddlebags. But spring is erupting in Wallowa County and I’m itching to get on the front porch for a porch writing session. Ah. Lovely.

 

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Lagging and accountability

I’m getting really annoyed with myself. For some reason I keep struggling with getting stuff done, especially with my ambitious marketing and writing plans. Things just seem to take longer and…well, it’s all probably just my ADHD getting in my way. I hadn’t thought about that aspect until I read a friend’s comment and lists of projects in motion and her surmise that maybe she was being a bit ADHD about it all, and then I went…oh. Yeah. Maybe that’s the reason. But still….

Some of this is also due to changes in online culture. Ten years ago, I was following a lot more blogs with writer metrics. Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear, and others. The continual discussion of writing metrics and writing goals really helped keep me focused. Now…well, it’s all on Facebook, and for some reason I just don’t find what I read there to be inspirational. Perhaps not having a regular daily job is also a factor. I just don’t know.

Blogging is one area which is really suffering. I have a list of ambitious blog projects that I want to do, commentary about writing and the intersection of writing and politics. Maybe I need to post a monthly or weekly accounting of active projects, what progress I’m making, and so on. Not the daily word count metric–though I may resort to that at some point just to jump-start everything.

It may also be the mood of the current era. On the other hand, I blogged regularly throughout the Bush era, so maybe I just need to take myself in hand and do some accountability measures. Okay. So perhaps I’ll do that right now. What I’m trying to do right now is clear the deck of half-finished projects so that I don’t have them hanging over my head.

Planned Book Releases for 2018 and current progress

Challenges of Honor–due for release this month, needs formatting for ebooks and hard copy, blurb and MS size to cover designer, promotion plans needed. Planning to do some work on it today. Epic fantasy.

Klone’s Stronghold–in rough draft, about 58k words, needs to be FINISHED this week to stay on schedule. Purchase cover, write blurb, prepare promotion plan, anticipated June 2018 release. Contemporary fantasy.

Bearing Witness–in rough draft, about 30k words, needs to be finished in May but is a short novel. Purchase cover, write blurb, prepare promotion plan, anticipated July 2018 release. Western fantasy/Weird West.

Seeking Shelter expansion and revision–Revise and expand book that I’ve gotten the rights back from the publisher. Notes made for revision, about 30k new words needed. Purchase cover, prepare promotion plan, anticipated August 2018 release. Apocalyptic/cli-fi sf.

Federation Cowboy–in rough draft, about 20k words. Purchase cover, write blurb, prepare promotion plan, anticipated October 2018 release. Space opera with futuristic cowboys and sentient nonhuman beings uniting to defeat the Plasmid invasion.

Ski Days–Compilation of ski blog posts. Need to edit and write introductory material. Cover, blurb, promotion plan. Anticipated November 2018 release. Memoir.

 

Sounds ambitious but these projects have been on the table for a while. It’s time to get them cleared out so I can focus on THESE projects:

Oregon Country–What if John McLoughlin, fur trappers, Native Americans, and non-missionary whites banded together to form Oregon as its own anti-slavery country in the pre-Civil War era? With magic and unicorns, somewhat of a wish fulfillment about what should have happened in the Pacific Northwest. One of my rare male protagonists. Weird West.

Choices of Honor–Last book in the primary Goddess’s Honor trilogy. Epic fantasy.

Becoming Solo–Sewing, witchcraft, and coming of age. Urban fantasy.

Rust and Flame–Secret supernatural warfare that has been happening in and around humans for years, warring groups brought together by an outside threat that endangers supernaturals and humans alike. Urban fantasy.

Alice Mary/Coyote–A virus turns some children into superheroes, which is not widely accepted by society at large. Some short stories already published in this world. Urban fantasy.

Star Shepherds–Far future extension of Netwalk Sequence world. Humans partnered with alien entities to battle a mutual threat.

All this can change depending upon what happens with sales…..or if I get hijacked by a really good new idea.

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Guests and Learning in Space

I missed writing yesterday for various reasons, including day job, housework and prepping for today’s guests–well, not entirely as I was also doing editorial work. No horse as by the time I got done with day job and other stuff, it was raining, getting close to dark, and not worth heading out to the barn. Today was bright and sunny but I had day job, guest prep, and…drumroll…prepping Learning in Space: Bess and Alex.

Learning in Space includes my three almost-winner stories: Tranquility Freeriders (Writers of the Future SemiFinalist), Too High to Fall (Anthology Builder Finalist), and Of Archangels and Fuzzy Green Mascots (Writers of the Future Honorable Mention as In Archangel’s Arms).

I’ve got almost everything finished for it except the front matter and a couple of other minor details, and then it’s going up wide. I’ve got a tentative blurb but need to work on it yet:

Bess Fielding and Alex Jeffreys are committed to a future in space with Bess’s family company, Do It Right. But that future comes with a steep learning curve in a place where the simplest mistake can be deadly…and not all those mistakes are naturally caused. Being a leader in new space technologies doesn’t stop sabotage from happening, however. As one of the leading production companies in space, Do It Right can be a target for the disgruntled and the ambitious. Nonetheless, Bess and Alex learn more about space and each other, until…good times come to an end….

With this book I’m just about done with Netwalk Sequence publications, except for the Disruption Chronicles.

Besides book work we had friends over for snacks and a casual card game session. A pleasant afternoon for all. The house is nicely mucked out and reorganized as a result, just in time for the holidays. Not that we have many visitors, but one never knows. I took the explicitly Halloween decoration down but the fall decor will stay up through Thanksgiving. I’m really tempted by a big ski-themed decoration I saw in Safeway as it’s hard to find nice ski-themed stuff. OTOH, we’re winding down on the skiing, possibly, so we shall see.

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