Monthly Archives: March 2014

Rewrite update….

And the stakes just took another jump at the Andrews Ranch….


Diana shuddered as the oval shape of one of the Landreth Technologies war machines formed in the hologlobe. Will reached in the globe and tapped on the machine. The side opened, revealing varied small devices within the machine.

“The LT 9572,” Will said, a sardonic, angry tone to his voice. “LT’s smallest and finest instrument of destruction. Capable of dispersing sedatives, poisons, toxins, infectious agents in this configuration. Limited range. Additional comblock abilities available for a price. Most commonly used in the Petroleum Autonomous Zone. I played with these daily when I was in the PAZ. Capable of converting into twenty netspiders.”

“Are you detecting one of those?” Diana asked softly.

Will glowered at her. “When I left LT, the process of countering detection by the type of tools I now have available to me was just getting started.” He rose, beginning to pace. “I get echoes that suggest yes, one is in the area. But.” He stopped sharply, spinning to stare at the device in the globe, his face tightening into an even grimmer visage. “Our data bots also use similar frequencies, because of the work I’ve done with them.”

“I think I’ve seen something like that before,” Jan said, easing out from behind Dan, swinging her legs around to put her feet on the floor. She leaned closer to the hologlobe, studying the war machine. “Over by the Martin place.”

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Dan said.

The door opened, admitting Rita, Red, and Ginger.

“I saw a shiny thing like that,” Rita said, plopping down on the floor next to the coffee table. “Spooky shied, and Ginger wouldn’t go near it. But Toby ran at it. He barked. Then he whined and ran away.”

Shocked silence filled the room. Will and Diana stared at each other.

Diana finally found her voice. “When and where did you see it, Ree?”

Rita shot a cautious glance at her mother.

“It’s all right,” Jan said. “We need to know, Ree.”

Rita frowned, looking unconvinced.

“Was that the day that you thought you’d lost Toby?” Dan asked. “Last week?”

Rita nodded. “He whined, and took off running. Faster than I’d ever seen him. Ginger stayed with me. But she and Spooky are okay! Daddy, they’re okay! I didn’t think–I didn’t see it before!”

“Honey, come here,” Dan said. He slid sideways and patted the couch next to him, where Jan had been sitting. “Tell us what happened. It’s okay. No one’s blaming you for anything.”

Rita slowly rose and went to Dan. She settled in next to her father. He put an arm around her.

“Tell us what happened, Ree,” Diana said in her softest voice, doing her best to screen out the dull dead fear in her gut.

“Wanted to get pretty pictures for Daddy to make him happy because he’s so sick,” Rita said. “I saw elk on Mud Point.”

“The Martin place?” Diana asked.

Dan shook his head. “Tribal land now.”

“I–I thought I saw baby elk. So I rode a long, long way around. And when I got there, I saw–that.” Rita pointed at the war machine’s image.

“Did you get a picture of it?” Diana asked.

Rita nodded.

“Can you show us?”

“I’ll go get it.” Rita hopped off of the couch and ran up the stairs. Diana met Will’s eyes again.

“If there’s a Landreth war machine on tribal land, things may not be what they seem,” Will said to her.

Rita returned. She handed a chip to Will. He popped it in his tablet, and handed the tablet to Rita.

“Can you show me the picture?” he asked Rita.

Rita nodded slowly. She ran her finger along the tablet, then stopped. “That one.”

Will looked at the picture. He blanched. Then he carefully took the tablet from Rita, tapping on it.

A second image popped up next to the Landreth war machine.

Except for the fact that this one was lying on its side at the foot of a Ponderosa pine tree with Toby barking at it, they could be the same thing.

“So that answers that question,” Will said. He straightened up. “We’re going to have to disarm and retrieve it.”

“How?” Diana asked, a sickening feeling washing through her even as she knew what Will would say.

A wry expression flitted across Will’s face.

“Used to be my job in the PAZ, every day. Diana, I think we’ve got some hard questions for your friend Joaquin, as well as for the CER and my father.” He drew a deep, ragged breath. “And I have to report this to the Third Force. Needless to say, this isn’t supposed to happen.”

“Does it have to be you?”

“Yes.” Will’s tone brooked no argument. “I won’t take the risk of it going rogue on us. Di, this is what my father meant by a Lakely situation. I’m sure of that. Even the Third Force won’t know how to disarm that war machine without triggering it.”

“You’re sure?”

He nodded slowly. “Di, I’ll need your help. You and Red are the most skilled bot wranglers on site. My father knows about this. That’s–” his voice quavered but he quickly corrected it. “That’s the version that–went rogue on me. With Lakely. My father knows I know how to disarm it. It’s a message to us.”

Diana shivered. “What do we do?”

Will’s face hardened. “We disarm it, and hope to hell there’s no traps.”

“How soon?”

“We leave in five minutes,” Will said.

“So is this the cause of all of our problems?” her father asked.

“Not all of them,” Will said. “I’ll know more when I get my hands on it.” He looked down at his tablet. “Rita, do I have your permission to save this to my files? I need it.”

Rita nodded.

“Can I delete this picture from your chip? This is–” his voice faltered again. “This is not the sort of picture you should have on anything of yours. It’s not safe.”

“Am I in trouble?” Rita whimpered.

Will knelt in front of her. “No, honey. You are very much not in trouble.” He swallowed hard, his face tightening even more. “But it is a very dangerous thing. Spooky and Ginger were right to be afraid of it. If you ever, ever see anything like this again, do not go near it. Okay?”

Rita nodded again. “What do I do?” Her voice was very small.

“What you did was very brave,” Will said. “But. If you ever see one of these things again when you’re out riding, use this to take a picture.” He brought a small camera pen out of his pocket and handed it to her. “You were lucky. That thing could have killed you just for taking a picture of it with your camera. Use this.”

Rita nodded solemnly as she took the pen from Will, even as Jan gasped. Rita studied the pen, then looked up at Will. “I push this button?” she asked.

“Point this end and push the button,” Will said. “It will automatically send the picture to me. And then you ride as hard as you can to get as far away from it as possible, and call me. When you get to the house. And don’t leave the house. Okay?”

“O-kay,” Rita said slowly.

“What do you do?” Will asked.

“Take its picture with this pen,” Rita whispered, her eyes fixed hard on Will’s face. “Ride hard to get away. Call you.”

“When you get to the house,” Will prompted. “That’s important.”

“When I get to the house. But do I have to stay in the house?”

“Yes,” Will said softly. “Until I tell you it is safe. So what do you do after you ride away from the device?”

“Go to the house,” Rita breathed. “Stay in the house. Call you. Wait until you say it is safe.”

“Good girl,” Will said.

Diana watched as Will slowly, carefully, saved the file to his tablet and handed Rita’s chip back to her.

“I’ll put this back,” Rita said. She ran up the stairs to her room.

Will sank back on his haunches, rubbing his face and shaking his head, his body trembling. “Jesus God,” he moaned through his fingers. “Dear sweet Mother of God. I saw kids killed by those machines for doing less than that in the PAZ. Oh my God.”

Diana knelt by him. “You okay?”

Will dropped his hands from his face. The barely controlled rage in his tight face rocked her back. “My father is going to pay for this,” he said through tightly gritted teeth. “I don’t care what my parole says. He will pay.

“Don’t do something stupid, son,” Dan said quietly. “We’ll not let Rita out alone any more.” He sighed. “I thought she was safe enough with the dogs.”

Will heaved a heavy sigh and rose. “Luckily it was a slow trigger. Your poor dog probably got the full force of its defensive response. Saved Rita. Di, I need to spend time with our Security training them on safe response for these–these monsters.” His voice grew firmer as he spoke. “But I will break my parole and design the remote killers that pen can trigger. I’m not supposed to play with that tech any more but damn it, she’s your little sister, Di!

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She’s making jewelry now….revisited

Portlandia–She’s Making Jewelry Now

I finally got around to sorting the remnants of the paperwork from my jewelry-making business of the mid 90s-2002. The big plastic box that held all that stuff when I finally decided that I was done with jewelry making needs to be used for other things, and it’s been well over ten years since I last sold any jewelry on a regular basis. The past few years, I’ve either traded small pieces at music festivals for things I wanted, or given the remainders as gifts to friends and colleagues. But I’ve not made any new pieces, much less even thought about selling the jewelry.

I did make some nice-looking stuff. Amongst the paperwork were pictures of some of my designs. For being just a bead-stringer, I did do some interesting designs that I’ve not really seen done by others. Not top-of-the-line award-winning, by any means (though one piece did win at an art show in Sandy), but midline pretty stuff in nice color combinations. That was the market I aimed for–the person who wanted reasonably priced nice stone beadwork but didn’t want to spend a fortune on pretty rocks.

I sold jewelry at neighborhood shops and craft fairs. Designed some sf and fantasy work to sell at various science fiction conventions, including a Worldcon (LoneStarCon 2), I think at least one Westercon, and some small local cons. Had a website at Bigstep for a year or so. But my bread and butter came from selling on eBay and Amazon auctions, early on in their tenure.

Looking back over the papers brought back memories. Auction descriptions evoked images of the necklaces and earrings I designed. I was surprised by how quickly I remembered a particular piece by just looking at the description. I did have a handful of dedicated and regular clients who didn’t just look for my auctions, they contacted me separately for design work. There were days when I was either at the computer writing or in the basement designing, and summers became about making jewelry for the big fall sales online, while winter and spring focused on the writing. I got a flow going, but….

It was never a big source of money. My skill level was too low, for one–I didn’t do metal work, just simple bead stringing design. The materials I used were not the most expensive quality beads. As beading became a more popular hobby, more people figured out how to make their own earrings, creating designs pretty similar to what I could do.

But that didn’t really push me out of jewelry. What did it was two-fold–the need for me to bring in more money to the household, but even more than that, 9/11 put paid to my jewelry selling. Up until that morning, I was poised for my best sales year ever.

And then it happened. My online business withered away that fall, between 9/11 and anthrax scares. Other commitments cut into what I could do at bazaars and craft fairs. The 2002 online sales scene was just a shadow of what it could have been…and I had been accepted into a teaching program.

Shades of Portlandia.

Will I do it again? Probably not at that intensity…but I might make a few pieces here and there. Just no more earring marathons. There is a certain calming rhythm about laying out a piece on the bead board and putting together the shapes and colors.

But I sure as heck won’t count on it for much.

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Bluebird ski day


Ski grrrl in the back of the Subaru at the end of a lovely spring bluebird ski morning.

We got up to Timberline about 8 this morning. I resorted to buying a cup of coffee in the lodge, because after chasing kids on Thursday, then canning like a madwoman on Saturday, I knew I needed something more. A 12 oz coffee with two doses of Chocolate Caramel and one dose of Hazelnut creamer worked right nice.

It was clear and sunny, although there was a thin layer of brown haze that floated over the Cascades and obscured Mt. Jefferson (and we probably breathed it in as well; it was aimed at Hood too). Chinese pollution? Slash burning in the Coast Range? Hard to say. But it was in a distinct air layer and it blew on through.

The snow was definitely spring snow, and Timberline had Palmer chair running. We didn’t venture up to Palmer but our only flirtation with lower levels was the short run down West Leg to Norman. Riding up, we got second chair, and I briefly flirted with the idea of a warmup run down Norman before moving over to the Mile. But as I eyeballed the snow, I made up my mind that we were going to the Mile.

And it was lovely. Gorgeous spring snow. Hard, with a little softness from the grooming. No death cookies of ice up high. I thought about Palmer, and then thought about this year’s boot struggles and everything else. The Mile was good enough for today.

The boots are working well. I wore my lightest socks on Thursday; washed them and wore them again today. No pinching, no tightness, and just a wonderful smooth flow between leg, boot, and ski.

Afterward, we stopped by the barn and I gave Mocha her slow-mo workout. We worked on trying to get her to take a cue as to which leg to start with over a pole. Um, not there yet. But working on it.

And now home, and the big computer’s messed up. Sigh. Oh well, such is life. At least I still have the laptop.

Nonetheless, it’s spring, and I’m enjoying the mild weather.

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Queen of Jelly

Yo. I am still a jelly/jam-making studette.


Loganberries getting cooked for juice to make jelly.

We went down to our friend S’s in Clatskanie today to make jelly. He had five gallons of loganberries thawed plus a gallon of raspberries; we had a gallon of blackberries. Between the guys doing the cleaning and prep work while I did most of the cooking, we cooked something like 31 jars of jelly; 22 pints and 9 half-pints (plus leftover 2/3 pint of loganberries and miniscule bowl amounts of raspberry and blackberry jellies); 5 half pints of raspberry jelly, 4 half pints and 1 pint of blackberry jelly, and 21 pints of loganberry jelly.

I feel quite accomplished (and quite tired) tonight.


Loganberry jelly


Blue lids plus white ring in foreground are blackberry, red lids are raspberry, and the rest is the remainder of the loganberry.

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So. Farpoint.


Yeah. So we bought this house in Enterprise, Oregon. There’s a bit of a history with us and Enterprise, all wrapped up in how DH and I got together and politics and my inchoate longing to live in an arid mountain climate that isn’t Bend (I spent too damn many years getting drug up to Crane Prairie and, well…a toxic former boss lives in the Bend area. Do. Not. Want. Encounters).

Or…after ten years of teaching there…not the Mountain, either. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Mountain in its own way. It just isn’t…me. In the long run, it’s too damn wet. If there’s one thing that can sum up JRW after all these years, it’s my consistent longing to be someplace drier than Western Oregon with mountains. IOW, NOT the Cascades, lovely though they are. Nor the coast, nor the Coast Range. I’ve flirted with the Rockies, but…nah. Their Blue Mountain offshoots, primarily the Wallowa Mountains offshoot, are my heart. I discovered Montana in 1978, and the Wallowas in 1980, and the Wallowas always took primacy of place.

DH and I got engaged and married while living in Enterprise over 33 years ago. We always swore we’d come back, but, as time went by, it became clear that this would be a retirement return, not a return while we needed to accumulate money. So…until about a year ago, it didn’t seem possible. Then I found those jobs, and then we talked, and then we thought and…well.

Those of you who know me and DH well know that this sort of decision from us is not a hasty sort of choice. To outsiders, when we act, it may seem as if it’s a quick, impulsive decision.

(And the damn server just ate half my post. Or more. Grrr, 400 words just…gone. Pfui).

Nonetheless, when we move on something after about six months or so of discussion, it only seems fast to the outsiders.

So. Farpoint. We had been watching listings online, and this place kept calling to us. Other places (ironically, within easy sight of the house) attracted us and got sold. We made an appointment in December to drive up and look at the house, as well as a couple of others. One thing we were firm about was that we wanted a view. This house had a view, and the others? Um, not so much.


Things about this house called to us. It’s not a fancy house. The place is rather stark and plain, industrial in design. It was built in 1917 as a boiler shack to provide steam heat for a local greenhouse complex (none of which remains). In the 60s, the owner jacked it up, put in the original basement, and added two bedrooms. It has radiant oil-fired heat, with both baseboards and the classic old iron radiators. One level.


This pole light came with the place.


The kitchen.


The window and radiator in what will be my office, the original bedroom off of the living room.

And, of course, the reason for This Place:


The view.

The house belonged to an elderly woman who had gone into a rest home. In talking to the local service people, it was clear that folks had gone out of their way to support keeping her in her home as long as possible, before that no longer became an option. The woman and her late husband were clearly handypeople in their own right, as well as folks who couldn’t throw anything away. I sorted through a lot of stuff our first weekend in the house, when we took possession. I found some neat stuff, but also a lot of junk. Nonetheless, the house is plain, with solid bones, and an interesting history. I’m hoping to find out more about it as we spend time there. Our friends who have lived there a while kind of remember the greenhouses and all. And our little steam boiler which powers the heat is a remnant of that steampunkish history…

We had started jokingly calling the house “Farpoint” before we even left PDX to take possession, just because of our SF connections and the number of Enterprise-related jokes we encountered when talking about it. Then, the lamp, and the discovery of the house’s history, and then, this…


Drawing discovered when I was mucking things out.

So Farpoint it is. Right now, we’re not sure if it will be a second home, or an eventual retirement home. We’re doing upgrades, because while the house was maintained, it wasn’t maintained for current levels of electronic use, for example, and the windows are single pane. The plumbing is a mix of plastic and iron. We’re going to replace windows, fix the front porch, and…then we have a lovely porch to watch sunsets from. Or mornings. Or just about anything else. Farpoint is three blocks from the downtown area, an easy walk to just about every service available. The Fishtrap house is two blocks away. The nearest bookstore is three blocks away.

We plan to make a slow transition when/if retirement actually happens for DH. Me, I plan to start scrambling for more writing, tutoring, and editing work, starting June 16th. We’ll see where that goes.

Meanwhile, we keep dreaming of Farpoint, and longing for a change.

Gonna be a big one.

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Today’s rewrite snippet

Backtracking a little bit, Will and Diana are en route to the ranch.

A little relationship time, you might say….


Diana leaned forward to examine the canyon walls as they threaded through the narrow chasm. According to the map on view in her tablet, they hadn’t yet crossed the boundary of the ranch yet. This was Third Force repossessed land, and it didn’t look as bad as the ranch did. Here, she could see dried grasses on the creek bottoms under the tall pines and some bushes still had dried leaves clinging here and there.

“When are you going up?” she asked Will, instead of answering his question right away.

“Crystal Creek drainage,” he said.

“Good.” That would give her an opportunity to look at the creek bottom on her father’s ranch. “We can eyeball any changes between this Third Force land and Dad’s land.”

“We’re going slow enough to release a data bot.”

“Do you have one ready?”

“I programmed several for on-the-fly release on the way up from Portland for just this sort of contingency.” Will’s gaze darted sideways, briefly, one brow raised.

“Oh yes, Will. Let’s do it. Do I have to get up?”

Will shook his head. “Loaded in an outside compartment. You tell me when and where to release. I loaded three.”

“Oh God, William Parker Landreth, I love you to death. That will be perfect. Saves us time.” Diana blew Will a kiss.

A grin flitted across Will’s face, and his hands relaxed slightly on the yoke. “I thought it was best to be prepared for any contingency.”

“And I love you for it. I was planning on having to take time to do this once we got to the ranch. Now I can do other things.” Diana checked her map. “Can I program release coordinates?”

“Protocol 9-47,” Will answered.

“Got it.” Diana pulled up the protocol and quickly inserted the autorelease settings into the three bots’ programming. All that was left was the pilot’s confirmation of release settings. “Back to you. I’ve set the autoreleases.”

Will nodded, scanning his displays. He clucked a setting into place. “Autoreleases confirmed.”

The bright blue blossom for RELEASE GO flashed in triplicate across her tablet.

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Ouch. A grumble.

I’m a hurtin’ cowgirl this morning. No, I’ve not fallen or anything like that–rather, the family history of aches and pains is catching up with me. The rheumatiz. The arthritis. Overuse syndromes. Tendonitis. Yuck.

There are various causes for the aches and pains. Not fibromyalgia; already ruled out. Myofascial pain syndrome was diagnosed years ago, during another winter of aches like this past one. A past inflamed bursa in one foot now flares up when I’ve been on my feet too long at work. Then there are different overuse syndromes in places ranging from thumbs to shoulders to knees, etc, etc, etc.

No advice needed regarding managing it, please. I’ve been through this dance for many years and I have the management kind of figured out. I can’t take NSAIDS due to the effect on my gut and it’s not bad enough for steroids or other arthritis meds. Acupuncture helps with immediate trauma but not the long-term stuff. I already get body work done, and I’m not willing to spend lots of $$ chasing probable remedies.

Part of the problem is a cascade of fatigue-pain-backing off from stretching/workouts that help manage the pain and fatigue. When I’m tired, I have to back off from doing my stretches (which keep the pain at bay). I end up doing stuff that triggers the overuse syndromes otherwise, and sometimes it happens anyway. The pain keeps me from stretching, and it interferes with sleep. Nasty cycle.

The 80 mile daily round-trip commute doesn’t help things, either. This is the second year that I’ve developed tendonitis in my thumbs that we can attribute to the daily drive. The immediate trigger was something else, but the driving doesn’t help. Ah well, after June 13 it won’t be an issue.

Meanwhile, this spring break, I plan to get back into stretching and working out. I’ll have time to rest, as well as work on the writing and other stuff that needs to get done. Take the time to get this stuff under control and prepare for the last long slog.

I can do this. But man, it sure does ache.


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Rewrite snippet du jour

Diana and her little sister Rita, at the ranch…

BTW, Rita appears in Netwalker Uprising as a cousin. Ulp, no, she’s Melanie’s aunt. Now I’m thinking that Melanie might not know this detail because, reasons.


“And now we get another look,” Will said. He angled the skimmer around a rocky point and sent the skimmer straight up, paralleling the canyon wall.

“God, it’s bare,” Diana said, shaking her head as she looked at the slope.

“We’re here.” Will throttled back as the ranch buildings came into sight. Diana spotted Rita racing her sorrel pony across the pasture, riding bareback with only a halter and lead rope, as they glided in for a landing.

“I’m sending a request to Stephens to see if they’ve got any access to mineral data,” Diana decided out loud. She quickly drafted a short message to one of her contacts inside Stephens Rec and sent it off as Will settled the skimmer, then moved around it gathering up their things. She packed away her tablet and picked up her own bags. Will opened the door and Diana heard the hoofbeats as Rita galloped up.

“Will! Diana!” Rita slid off of Spooky, quickly unbuckling the halter and setting the pony free before crawling through the fence rails to bounce eagerly outside the skimmer door. “Mom said you were coming!”

“Just a moment.” Despite herself, Diana smiled. Her younger sister’s excitement was contagious. She lugged her bags over to the door and Brenda grabbed them, leaving Diana free to step out of the skimmer. Rita charged into Diana, grabbing her in a fierce hug, fiercer than usual. As Diana held Rita, she felt Rita tremble and realized her little sister was fighting back tears.

“Ree-ree, what’s wrong?” she asked in a soft voice, worry rising. Rita wasn’t a crier.

Rita snuffled and buried her face deeper into Diana’s belly, arms wrapping even tighter around Diana. Diana gently stroked Rita’s cheek. Rita moaned something into Diana’s torso.

“I can’t hear you, Ree,” Diana said, dread gripping her as she eased Rita’s stranglehold on her waist. She dropped to one knee so that she looked upward into Rita’s face, twisted as it was with the effort not to cry.

The Andrews’s don’t cry. It had been part of her own indoctrination when growing up.

“Is it Dad?” she asked, her voice even quieter than before.

Rita nodded violently, drawing in a deep, shuddering breath. “He’s really sick today, Di.”

Diana pulled Rita into a big, deep hug of her own. “It’s okay, Ree,” she whispered. “You can cry about this. I–I want to cry, too.” She buried her head in Rita’s shoulder, and they leaned into each other, trembling with partially contained tears. She heard Will, in a low voice, directing Brenda and the rest of Security around them and was grateful for his quiet support. Rita’s reaction brought the fact home even more than ever.

Their father was dying.

She had to save their home, so Rita could charge around on Spooky. If it’s even still safe for her here–I’ll make it safe for Rita.

At last Rita’s shaking eased. She straightened up and blinked down at Diana, rubbing away the dampness that trickled down her cheeks with a grubby hand.

“Let me do that,” Diana said. She used her thumb to brush away the tear tracks.

“This might work better.” Will nudged her shoulder. Diana reached up and he tucked a tissue into her hand.

“Thanks.” She flashed him a quick smile. He nodded, resting his hand gently on her shoulder. Diana gently wiped Rita’s eyes. “We’re still tough Andrewses,” she told Rita. “We can cry but still be tough. ‘Kay?”

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Of Writing, Teaching, and An Announcement (at the end)

TL:DR–announcement at the end. I’m evil that way.

So I’m kind of behind on what my writing schedule says I should be doing by now. Some of that has been due to things like, oh, um, work life, other writing projects, reinventing the work life, um, horse rehab life, ski life or rather the lack thereof, real estate craziness, um, reinventing work life yet again, and, and, and…

But most of the delays have been due to the plain and simple fact that I really don’t know what to do with Netwalk’s Children yet. I’m still figuring out why that is, but to a certain degree, the issue comes down to the reality that this book is a crucial point in the Netwalk Sequence. This book hands over the major part of the Sequence to the next generation; from Melanie and Marty to Bess and Alex, Sophie and Don. Plus friends and relatives.

Additionally, it becomes a turning point in the series arc, because Bess ultimately has to directly take on Gizmo. Not only does she defuse an immediate threat but she lays the foundation for further protection against the power that Gizmo represents. She becomes a foundational element in a human-digital fusion which has the potential to affect not just one world but many worlds. Bess transcends worlds…but as of yet, I’ve not gotten a full picture of what that looks like. I have imperfect realizations but they’re far from what I want. Yet.

I do have this image of a young woman with long dark hair, cinnamon skin, and high cheekbones gazing up as golden bytes flow over her, on a blue background. I have some idea of what that event is. But it keeps changing, even as I keep working and writing.

I’ve been ducking this story for nearly a year. There is a completed outline. It’s insufficiently reflective of current canon, and one reason is that I’ve spent the past year writing stories to flesh out the Sequence’s backstory. They’re available for free on the website under the Netwalk Foundations tab. I also have the illustrated trilogy, Dahlia, Winter Shadows, and Andrews Ranch. All but the last one are currently available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play. I’m working on Andrews Ranch right now and having a lot of fun with it.

The whole writing world hasn’t been just Netwalk Sequence, though. I’ve also rewritten a couple of stories and managed copy edits for a short story and a novella. I have two short stories coming out so far this year, one in the inaugural edition of Fantasy Scroll Magazine and the other in Trust and Treachery (Dark Quest Books, April). My novella, Seeking Shelter at the End of the World, comes out from eTreasures Publishing in June. I’ve not exactly been idle.

But I am feeling tired. I do have projects to write. It’s just…getting to them in the face of the Day Jobbe.

Which leads to…Life In General.

I signed the final paperwork today. I am not renewing my teaching contract. After ten years, I’m not going to be going back to school in August.

This isn’t really new news. I’ve mentioned this in comments, and emails, and etc. It’s more of a matter of being tired, and tired of driving 80 miles a day, and tired of having to break off from a story because the clock says it’s time, damn it, and tired of being tired. Teaching, even part-time, is a physically difficult job. You are on your feet constantly, usually on tile-covered cement slabs. As a middle school teacher, you deal daily with the drama and agonies of early adolescence, and have to do so with a measure of equanimity and unflappability.  February and March are their own peculiar hells, and I’ve been experiencing those hells in a rather excruciating slo-mo this year.

I’m done with formal k-12 teaching for the moment. I want to leave while there are moments I still enjoy and savor. But I need to go. There are too many days when I hurt. Too many days when I am angry about what modern education has become. My ten years of teaching manages to span the effect of No Child Left Behind, and the taste is bitter in my mouth. No, better to choose the time, and go when I feel best. This year is a good time, not just for me, but for my memories of the place I have worked in and loved so dearly. I can make good memories with leaving this year–so it is time.

Doesn’t mean I won’t be a teacher of some sort or another. Even thinking about possibilities of some sort of teaching work that doesn’t involve a daily commute perks me up. I like tutorial work, and I’m a darn good remedial writing teacher. Heck, I like teaching writing, period.

But it’s time for me to move on from the daily classroom grind. What that will look like in a couple of years, five more years, ten more years–who knows? I get ideas all the time.

Where I go from here, whether that becomes Portland, Enterprise, or somewhere else–who knows. It’s a new adventure. The Next Adventure.


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Rewrite du jour

With a father-in-law like Parker Landreth, who needs enemies?


What. The. Hell? Will wouldn’t have set up a solo meeting with the Coalition if he thought his father was involved. Diana glanced about. No sign of Landreth Technologies Security.

“Let me check with Residence Security to ensure the conference space is secure and your Security is assured it’s clear.” She tapped her alert code into her wrist sensor, acutely aware that Parker’s eyes followed her fingers.

Damn. He’s even more alert to possible sensors than Will is.

“I came without Security,” Parker said.

Her glass confirmed it when she blinked the inquiry. “I’m surprised.”

Parker smiled but the smile didn’t touch his lizard-like eyes. “Let’s just say that I saw an opportunity to get to know my son’s wife a bit better.”

Diana tagged another code to alert Residence Security. “I guess I’m flattered. How long has it been since Will and I got married–five years? I’d have thought curiosity would have sparked an interest in me sooner.”

Parker offered his left arm to Diana. “Then it’s even more important that we talk.”

She’d have to give him her right arm. With her wrist sensors. Not a good idea.

Diana let her bag slide off of her left shoulder. “Darn bag,” she muttered, catching it with her right hand and swinging it over her right shoulder. “Sorry.” She offered Parker her right arm, the arm without sensors. “My bag’s more stable on this side.”

A brief scowl tightened Parker’s lips before his face went expressionless. Without comment, he delicately twined his right arm with her left, bringing his left hand over hers to keep Diana from feeling for his sensors.

Diana stifled the absolutely inappropriate giggle. God, Parker’s everything Will said he was. But she couldn’t keep the corners of her mouth from turning up.

“Something amuses you?”

Was that irritation in his voice? Almost too easy to provoke him if that was the case.

“Just the delicate dance there,” she murmured, glancing sideways at him with faked demureness.

“My son taught you well.”

Was that a hint of admiration?

“Don’t assume I learned everything I know from Will,” she snapped. They reached the house.

To Diana’s surprise, Brenda, her personal head of Security, opened the door. She’s not supposed to be here until Conclave.

It didn’t matter. Brenda was here, and a welcome sight with Parker Landreth on her arm.

“Brenda, could you please escort Mr. Landreth to the conference room?” Diana deftly untangled herself from Parker. “Please give me a moment to freshen up,” she said to Parker.

“I came here without Security,” he growled, glaring at Brenda. “That implies a level of trust.”

“I understand.” Diana exchanged a glance with Brenda. “Please make Mr. Landreth comfortable, then return to stations, Brenda.”

Brenda nodded twice curtly, acknowledging the phrase stations, their code for remain out of sight but be ready to move. “We just got here ourselves,” she said. “I believe we’ve got fresh coffee made, brought the beans with us from Brazil.”

Fresh coffee. Code phrase for urgent summons in this context, brought the beans identifying Will as the one issuing the call. Cold prickles danced down Diana’s spine. Something set Will off. But why didn’t he say anything about it last night?

“Fresh coffee from Brazil?” Parker’s voice was noticeably much more cheerful. “I definitely can’t pass that up.”

“Right this way,” Brenda said, guiding Landreth toward the kitchen.

Diana hurried into her bedroom and grabbed her tablet. A message from Will came up. Forgot to tell you last night. Too much. Sent for Brenda and Tony. Should be there by midmorning. Something about this ranch situation doesn’t feel right.

Diana snorted. “I’ll say,” she said out loud. A second, urgent message flashed on the tablet, from Will.

What’s going on? MESSAGE ME.

Had she sent him her schedule this morning? She’d been in such a hurry to meet Joaquin that she couldn’t remember if she had done that or not. And she hadn’t sent an explanation with Joaquin’s file. Met with old friend Joaquin who’s the tribal contact, she typed. He’s the source of the file I just sent. Brenda and Tony are here. So is your father, claiming to be the rep for the Coalition for Environmental Responsibility. What the hell is going on?!

She slid out of her riding clothes and popped into the shower for a quick cleanup, then pulled on the formal suit she’d brought for meetings like this. After dressing and scowling at her lanky form in the mirror, she picked up her tablet again.

Dad’s had many interests over the years but this is new to me, Will had texted back.  Confirms my suspicions about CER, but I’m not certain of all the linkages. He could be drifting in the same direction as your mother. Damn glad I got Brenda and Tony there. You be careful. I’m on my way.

“Now what the hell does that mean?” Diana whispered, staring at her tablet.

Whose game am I playing?

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