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On names and Klone’s Stronghold

Back when I was in junior high, I discovered that someone else shared my first and last name (but thankfully not the middle name). Since the other Joyce had a propensity for getting into trouble, I started using my middle name at school and other kid activities. But it wasn’t just a simple use of my middle name, Marie–I used variants of my name such as J. Marie, Marie J., Marie Mary, and so on.

That pretty much continued from 7th through 12th grades. Then the other Joyce and I took different routes, with only occasional confusion between us (there was yet another Joyce, an insurance saleswoman), such as the time the other Joyce had a baby with an ex-brother-in-law, and people got confused because they thought it was me.

So I tend to be a bit blase about people using multiple names for themselves. That hasn’t caught up with me until Klone’s Stronghold. Reeni and her uncle Jayanesh exhibit the same casualness about Reeni’s real name, which is Marie Irene. But it gets flipped around by Jayanesh and Reeni herself. I thought about correcting it when working on the final draft, but decided to let it stand because I wanted the usage to make a statement about Reeni’s confused identity. From Jayanesh, it shows his contempt for what Reeni truly is. From Reeni, it reflects her own confusion about her identity. It also gives me an opening to explore just why Reeni flips her name around in the next book–I could have put it into Stronghold but it just didn’t fit.

However, when I start work on Book Two next year, I intend to work with this concept of identity a bit more.

I promise.

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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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Adventures of a Hybrid Writer–Hitting the Wall

Between weather, summer obligations, and other things going on, I haven’t been getting much writing done lately. Late summer harvest needs, life needs, preparing to go back to the part-time day jobbe needs…everything clustered about and combined with politics, horrible heat, and all, I just couldn’t get the words down on the screen. Oh, I did get some words down for a possible side project, but other than that? Nothing on either book.

That said, I did get some reading done, and I’ve worked a little bit on promotion. But otherwise, it’s been a lot of other stuff happening and going on, and I see the prospect of a lot more of it ahead because, well, August, and August is somewhat nuts. You’d think I would remember that from year-to-year. Of course I don’t.

Looking at my overall word counts, too, I realize that working on two books might end up slowing down my actual long-term production. I’m not entirely positive about that yet, but we shall see how it flows. But coping with the dog days of summer, the heat, the urgency with which I realize we have to use these long days of sunlight for other purposes…well, alas, the writing isn’t going as well as it should.

But that will change. I know it will. The temps are going down. Soon the smoke will go away. I’ll be able to breathe better, and I’ll be able to do more.

I hope.

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Adventures of a Hybrid Writer–Word Count

Hi. My name is Joyce and I used to be a diligent word count tracker. Back when I got serious again about writing, I started keeping a daily word count to keep myself honest–I think I was influenced both by Nanowrimo and by the trend at the time amongst many of my writer friends to keep counts. I admit, there was probably a bit of competitiveness about it.

So I kept count of words by project on a daily basis, and used to break out my writing by type–not blog posts, but I tracked novel vs short stories. Then I started hitting the wall, and realized that I was focusing on quantity, not quality, and fell away from the practice.

But I still think it is and was a good thing. Why? Well, for one thing, tracking my words helped me think about where I was in a project. While this isn’t such a priority if you are writing short stories and essays, if you are creating book-length works, then it’s helpful to know if you’re in the first third or the last third, or if you’re flailing around in the middle. It gave me perspective enough to know that “okay, I’m on track,” or “Crud, I need to do something different” when working on a book. Tracking also gives me the ability to notice the difference between pacing of short stories vs novels. At this point, if I’m working on one project, I don’t really need to be tracking things. But if I do something different….

Which is why I’m tracking words again this summer. I am doing something different, working on two novels at once. Though I was well into Challenges when I started tracking, and had an existing start on Klone’s as well, I wanted to see if either project suffered.

So far, it hasn’t. The count is roughly 2x Challenges to Klone’s. But both books are at about the same place in the story. The difference is that I am shooting for Klone’s to be a shorter book than Challenges. I’m learning the pacing for that shorter book, and counting is helping with that. Plus the word count helps me realize that having two different projects at once might actually be useful for productivity because I can still run with more words out of the day if I switch projects. That’s good to know.

The other factor for summer counting is so that I can quantify how different factors may interfere with production–travel, conferences, stuff like that.

The thing to keep in mind is that word count is an analytical tool and not the end-all, be-all. If you’re using word count to quantify what you are doing and not using it as a means to analyze your production process, you’re not fully exploiting the possibilities that tracking your word count can do. That tracker can tell you a lot about your process–if you let it.

And with that, I’m off to rack up some words for the day. Tomorrow is a travel day.

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Adventures of a hybrid writer–working on two books at once

I hadn’t really planned on writing two books at once this summer. Originally, my goal was to just work on Challenges of Honor. But I had about 15k words in on Klone’s Folly, and since I wanted to have it as a short novel to shop around to various presses…I decided that perhaps it was different enough from Challenges that I could work on Klone as a break from Challenges. Klone has also suffered from being put aside for other projects and I simply wanted to get the dang thing off of the hard drive and out into the world, whether as a submission project or a self-publication project. If I clear it off of the schedule, then I can get to more projects on the list.

I also wanted to find out if it was possible for me to do this sort of writing multi-tasking.

So after about a month of doing this, I’m finding the results to be…interesting. As I anticipated, when I hit a writing wall in one book, switching to the other gets me another 500-1000 words before I’m done for the day. Working on two books doesn’t seem to negatively impact my overall writing totals–I’m averaging about 2x the amount of work on Challenges that I am in Klone, but am roughly at about the same point in the book in both places. I’m shooting for a rough draft of about 60k-80k with Klone and about 90k-100k with Challenges.

Meanwhile, I am finding that yes, with two different types of books, it is possible for me to multi-task like this. Klone is a first person POV, somewhat of an urban fantasy in a rural setting. My current quick summary is that it is Frankenstein’s Monster meets Jane Eyre in contemporary NE Oregon with Sasquatch and other supernaturals and music festivals (though the opening is the only music festival piece so far; I may need to throw another one in). I’ve been going back and forth as to whether it slides into a romance, and I think it might, which would lead to the music festival reprise. My main character Reeni has just revealed herself to be a fire elemental. Hijinks ensue.

Challenges is straightforward epic fantasy, with two third person leads who are strong females with kids–and dealing with Gods, magic gone awry, a dying strong female elder, and all sorts of slight-of-hand political games involving the Gods, an ambitious colonial empire that wants to recapture a rebel colony, and all sorts of stuff. I’m writing a lot of active female leads, not so many men. Hey, it’s a self-pub project–part of my Goddess’s Honor series–and a direct sequel to Pledges of Honor. There is a market for it, albeit not a huge one. My Goddess’s Honor books and short stories keep selling at a decent rate, which makes me happy.

Both books seem to be nourishing each other. I hit the wall on one, and find that winding down with the other book seems to free up my mind to work on the first book reasonably well the next day. It also appears to be less mentally fatiguing than devoting the same amount of time and word count to just one book. Most typically, I’ll get in about 2k on Challenges, then swap over to Klone and get in 500-1000 words for the day without flogging myself along. The switch also seems to work well for summer writing, where I might be breaking up my writing day to do horse things or other outdoor stuff early on in the day, then writing during the heat of the day. I’m also finding it easier to write after dark and later into the evening.

But most of all, I don’t feel as hammered as I would if I were working on both books.

Interestingly, too, both books have seriously jumped the rails with regard to my detailed outlines. In a good way, as I’m throwing in more complications and shoring up plot holes in the process.

Will I do it again? Well, I have other, older projects that need to be dusted off. Now that I’ve finished the Netwalk Sequence, I need to get to these other ideas that have been sitting around. At last count I had about 9 book-level projects I wanted to work on. I don’t know if this concept will work on two books that I’m starting from scratch as it really helped that I was picking up on Klone after I’d gotten some work done on it already.

But that may be the next adventure of a hybrid writer.

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Starting a series of writing process blogs, or, adventures of a hybrid writer

One of the resolutions I made for myself after this past week at the Fishtrap Summer Gathering was to start working on a series of writing process blogs. This got inspired by a gathering organized by Kim Stafford the next-to-the-last day of the conference where we were to bring books that inspired us as writers. I went looking for some of my writing books and rediscovered Jay Lake’s Process of Writing: 2005-2010. As I thumbed through the book, I remembered how much I enjoyed reading Jay’s writing blogs–but I also realized that the earliest blog posts were written when Jay was at a similar place in his career as I am now.

The thing is, though, Jay wasn’t setting out to establish himself as a writing expert. He was analyzing and recording his growth and process as a writer. Because of the type of Day Jobbe work Jay did, that involved a lot of metrics. Word count. Time it took for him to turn out a book from first draft to publication, broken down into each step. Other analyses using data and stats to look at how he was progressing as a writer.

But that wasn’t all. Jay talked about voice, about rewriting, about looking at his overall writing process. He discussed themes and how political issues impacted his writing. If you’ve read any of Jay’s works, you realize that he was a very literary, slipstream speculative fiction writer who was just coming into his own when cancer took him. Jay wasn’t just a writing machine; he was a mindful writer seeking to improve his work’s quality as well as the quantity of his production.

(and right now why am I hearing Jay’s voice saying “Joyce, stop canonizing me!“? Gotcha, Jay)

In any case, I realized that one way to revive this blog posting habit of mine as well as perhaps help myself and maybe some other writers is to commit myself to writing a regular analysis and commentary about the process of writing. I am no Jay Lake. I know that. I aspire to high levels, but instead of soaring with the eagles, I’m pecking around on the ground with the finch fledglings (like the hordes that have descended upon our bird feeders). But I deal with some situations that may be unique to me–or not. I change locations pretty regularly, splitting my time between three places. I appear to be plodding along acquiring more readers over the past year and a half. I occasionally sell a short story. I’m trying to get the rights back to a cozy apocalyptic novella that I want to expand and self-publish. I’m preparing to edit my first anthology (I hope…haven’t seen any submissions yet, and it’s a closed group).

I also want to take my self-publishing to the next level, with a completed science fiction series and a fantasy series in progress. At the same time, I am working on an urban fantasy novel that I hope will be saleable to a mid-level small press publisher. I’m getting ready to shift gears to some Western-themed fantasy and science fiction work.

But most of all, I want to increase my accountability–and if doing that means I have to write about my writing at least twice a month, then that’s what I will do. It’s likely that I’ll have a flurry of posts in the next month or so, because I want to write about the lessons I learned at Fishtrap. Mood management. Marketing thoughts. With any luck, that’ll be enough to prime the pump and keep me going.

And oh yeah. Feel free to ask me questions. That’s good for both me and the asker of questions.

Onward.

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Writing short vs long

One thing I’ve really noticed about my writing process this year is the difference between writing short and writing long. When I write a short story, it seems as if it’s a struggle to wrest 500-1000 words out of my brain and onto the page. I end up making a lot of erasures, eliminate pieces, and often can’t see my way through to the end of the story in one sitting.

On the other hand, when I’m working on a novel, I can easily go through 1000-2000 words a day. Right now my current goal is to get 2000 words down on one novel, 1000 words on a second one. If I have several hours to work, it’s doable. When I’m working on a novel, it’s usually in 700-1000 word scene chunks and it just seems to unfold much more easily.

In part this is because my natural writing length is that of a novelist. Many of my short stories start out reading like the first chapter of a novel and need a LOT of pruning to eliminate that aspect of the story. I like complex plots with lots of twists and turns, but…you can’t do a lot of that in a short story (note the phrasing there; short story complexity often is not plot-driven but theme and character-driven).

Additionally, the novel can sprawl while every word in a short story has a purpose–sometimes even multiple purposes.

This year I’ve written four short pieces and am working on a novel. Of those shorts, one is a 6k word self-published short (Inconvenient Truths) tied into my Netwalk Sequence world and coming out on July 4th. Truths was intended to be a submission for one of the many new anthologies out there reacting to Donald Trump’s election. It didn’t fit (well, I thought it did, but I’m not the editors) and, since it was a Netwalk Sequence story, I decided that it could go out on its own.

(We won’t talk about why I’m finding it extremely difficult to write political fiction without placing it in the Netwalk Sequence world and evoking Sarah Stephens. Let’s just say that it’s my head thing and leave it. I could write several–many–political stories, but that would be violating the trust of people I know. The perils of being an ex-activist….)

Needless to say, I hadn’t really planned for Truths to happen, though it illustrates a crucial turning point in the Netwalk universe.

Another story, Exile’s Honor, is a Goddess’s Honor novelette that was somewhat planned for, and lays a foundation for elements within the current Goddess’s Honor novel, Challenges of Honor. I tend to use short stories as means to explore the series I’m writing, and Exile looked at an important development in Goddess’s Honor.

But then there are the other stories. Both are somewhat solicited, in that they’re aimed at anthologies that I was invited to participate in. One’s somewhat goofy and not at all political; the other has political elements but doesn’t move into territory that makes me want to revert to the Netwalk Sequence. Still, I agonized over both of them, and the goofy story requires more attention from me before I send it out. 500 words a day was the best I could do on either story.

Ironically, when it comes to publishing, short stories fill most of my traditional credits. Part of that reality is market-driven. Even in today’s tight publishing market, there are still more options to sell short stories to a legitimate publisher than there are novels. That’s just the way things work. The shorts may not earn me a lot of money, but they do earn something, which is what the novels (except for Pledges of Honor) don’t exactly do. On the other hand, given the amount of time it takes to produce a short story (especially on spec, where it can take anywhere from 2 months to 10 years to sell), I’m better off working on the longer works. For whatever reason, I find that the older short stories in my portfolio are the ones who sell.

So it is a puzzlement at times. Short stories earn me visibility and a shot at higher recognition. But they require a lot of energy, attention, sweat, and blood for me to make them work. Really, I need to write them, then shove them in a closet to marinate and mature before I send them out. I can’t count on them to be easily saleable, especially when writing a spec story instead of a solicited story.

Novels, on the other hand, are a lovely unfolding of a story, a pleasant ramble through the tale (even when I’m trudging through the midpoint of the novel). I can get them written, put them aside for a few weeks, then spend another month in revisions which creates a clean usable draft for editing purposes. It takes me about six months to turn out a decent 90,000-100,000 word novel from rough draft to final independent publication. But given the realities of today’s novel market, I’m better off marketing them directly to the reader (which requires production, cover work, editing work, and a lot more effort) rather than to publishers.

That said, one reason I’m working on two stories at once right now is that I am crafting one novel to send out to small and mid-level publishers. It’s a high-concept idea that has a nice little tagline and quick elevator pitch, and it might just be quirky enough to fit the demands of today’s market–or not, depending on what Marketing thinks. There’s only one way to find out, though, and that’s to send it out. I’m not planning to hit the Big Five with this one because I don’t feel like wasting my time waiting for it to take two to five years to work its way through the slush pile. But I would like to find a decent mid-to-small press where I could market some of the quirky standalone ideas I have.

The series stories? Not ready to market those elsewhere yet, especially since I want the freedom to be able to sell related short stories and the like. But the quirky standalone books? Oh yeah, if I could find a market for those…that would be a different tale.

So we shall see where this takes me.

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Writing process thoughts

If you had asked me a couple of years ago whether I was a pantser or a plotter when it comes to writing novels, I probably would have leaned more toward the pantser side of things. Yes, I had some rough outlines and ideas about where the books were going, but I also wasn’t about to tie myself down to the limitations of detailed plot planning. Nope. My process worked just okayfine for me without resorting to spending a lot of time on plotting. Worldbuilding, yeah. I had this concept that building the world and the characters would be enough–the plot would come.

Well, that worked for what I was doing at the time, when I was spending most of my time in one location, maybe writing a novel a year along with assorted short stories. Certainly I wasn’t working on anything book-wise that I needed to keep track of continuity of in earlier works. Plus I was working part-time and didn’t have the mental energy to spend working through detailed plotting exercises…or so I thought.

And then I decided I wanted to amp up the writing schedule. I needed to get two books a year cranked out, if not more, in order to get what I wanted to say down on paper. Plus I was facing a complex book, Netwalk’s Children,  part of a series where I had a LOT of stuff going on in a very short time frame. Added to the complexity was the reality that I was writing this first draft of a book I’d been struggling with during a long-distance move of most of our household to our second home in Enterprise. I couldn’t just putz around with editing and easing my way into the story every day before heading off to work. I needed to be able to snatch an hour here and there between packing and loading without doing any special invocations of the Muse to get back into the flow of the story.

What to do, what to do?

About this time, someone published a link to the matrices that J.K. Rowling created to track her characters. I looked at that matrix, and decided that something similar would fit my needs. Enter the Plot Matrix. For the Netwalk books (Netwalk’s Children and Netwalking Space) that meant I listed the major characters down the short side of a yellow legal pad. Then I went through the story pretty much scene-by-scene, noting what each character was doing at the time at this scene, color-coding by pen color to indicate which of the three POV characters was on stage.

It worked that first time. Not perfectly–I ended up tearing it apart and rewriting it about halfway through Children. That was a tough book to write in many ways, but having the matrix handy was priceless for drafting on the fly when I had the moments to write, and when I had to tear things apart midbook? It saved my rear.

The Plot Matrix was followed by the Scene Matrix for the rewrite. I sat down and created a similar document on the computer, landscape layout, where I started by listing page numbers for each scene, identifying viewpoint character, location, other characters in scene, scene summary, and rewrite notes as I went through the creation of the Scene Matrix.

OMG. The Scene Matrix was priceless for continuity rewrites. It gave me an understanding of the book that I had previously lacked.

Of course, next I decided to prove to myself that I didn’t need to use matrices for the next work. Beyond Honor was conceived as a short novel or novella and I didn’t think I would need the matrix for it. Ulp. I spent far too much time scrolling back-and-forth trying to keep track of things in that book, and I swore never again would I avoid the matrix.

So. Next up was Netwalking Space. Four POVs. Fast-paced story. I did the full-blown plot matrix for it–and guess what?

To start with, I somehow managed to avoid the muddle in the middle. I started work on the first draft on July 31st and finished it in early September. I was able to maintain a daily word count of 300-3000 words without killing myself over it. Disruptions didn’t mess up the work flow. Then I let it sit for a week before going back to create the Scene Matrix. Rewrites were relatively simple and it’s out to beta readers right now with a projected publication date in January.

And here I now go again. I have a short urban fantasy novel start that kind of petered out about halfway through 2015. I’d started it after Netwalk’s Children but before I got the rights back to Pledges of Honor, then dropped it when I got the Pledges rights back. One problem with Welcome to Klone’s Folly was that I didn’t have a clear picture of where I was going with the story. I had a rough idea of what I might want to do, but no details.

Well, that’s fixed. I sat down with what I have of Folly, and over the past week have hammered out a plot matrix for the darn thing. It was a bit harder than either Netwalk book because different characters, a standalone book, somewhat different genre. I might end up tearing this matrix apart in about 30,000 words…or not. It will be a good way to find out if this particular method works for a single POV urban fantasy or not. In any case, after I wrote the matrix, I found it easy to write the blurb/pitch/whatever.

It will be interesting to see if the method continues to work.

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Musing over categories

COVER

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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Beyond Honor and Glorianna

I’m really pleased that Beyond Honor continues to flow so well. Threads I hadn’t expected to unfold are starting to unfurl and help explain stuff I put in earlier in the book.

Love it when the subconscious has been working on the story for certain. I think one reason things are flowing well at the moment is that I am not trying to force massive words; instead, I’m just shooting for around 1,000 words a day. Considering I am also taking a class where I have to write several essays plus I have made a commitment to putting out new short stories and essays, that’s enough.

Right now, it’s working. The other project I’m working on is a significantly revised version of an older story for an anthology. I hadn’t looked at “Glorianna” for at least ten years, but pulling it out of the archive and dusting it off revealed the roots of a semi-decent tale–and I could also see where it failed. Lots of notes later, and I’m good.

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