Monthly Archives: May 2023

Some talk about character building–Justine Solange Martiniere

There’s been some chat over on Substack Notes about the notion that the characters sometimes take charge of a story, and whether using that language is appropriate or not. In a lot of ways, the discussion falls into the old “plotter vs pantser” dialogue–some people require that the plot be locked down (okay, that’s an extreme representation but some are really into it) while others engage in discovery writing where they kind of know where they’re going but not how they get there. The fundamental conceit from the plotters is that if a character isn’t coming alive, then the writer hasn’t invested enough time in worldbuilding and character creation because there’s a problem with the story. Well, the pantsers admit to similar issues as well.

I’m not sure about that. Eventually I’ll write about the process wherein Gabe Ramirez metamorphed into Gabriel Martiniere, wealthy heir with a conscience who’s on the run from his family, but for the moment I want to talk about the process behind my eventually writing Justine’s book. She’s the archetype of a character type that I call “the reluctant character.” The character that shies away from any exploration of their deeper motives, dancing on the edges of the story (usually as a secondary character). You know that character has a backstory that explains every puzzle piece you’re fitting together regarding them, but what is it?

Such was the case with Justine.

Justine Solange Martiniere (sometimes Justine Solange Martiniere-Atwood) started out as a quirky secondary character with a background in security and one hell of a grudge against her toxic father. She also seemed to have a handle on conspiring, organizing, and dissembling about who she really was and what she wanted to do. The joke throughout the early Martiniere books was “Need to go somewhere? Just have Justine send a plane.” She also collaborated with a Martiniere cousin, Serg Vygotsky, in some sort of secretive weapons dealing involving not just the more paranoid Martiniere Family members based in Europe, but other wealthy families who wanted tight-mouthed, quiet security setups. And then there was her clandestine involvement with a reproductive rights activist organization that helped indentured women remove hormonal ID tags so they could no longer be controlled by powerful men.

But just how did Justine get to that level of power and authority, besides being richer than hell and divorced from an even richer man with whom she seems to still have secretive connections? Whenever I started poking at the motives behind her wisecracking, sardonic schemes, she deflected my inquires. The character Justine was not ready to talk about her past. Bits and pieces kept coming out, but it really wasn’t until Gabe’s book, Broken Angel, that she indicated she was ready to talk.

I had suspected that abuse lay behind her hatred of her father Philip and brother Joseph. But whoa, was it ever something when she talked. Gabe was her protector, along with their cousin Serg, up until circumstances forced her to find a husband to protect her from her father and brother until she was old enough and powerful enough to do so herself.

However, simply writing her story in a linear fashion still didn’t work. Justine had thoughts, many thoughts about her past. I ended up drafting a frame story, where Justine reflects on her life in an attempt to figure out a means to resurrect her ex-husband Donald as a digital thought clone, because the Family is facing attacks from a long-term foe that has also gone digital.

That created a significant aha moment, because Justine’s deep love for Donald, despite the means of their getting together, is a fundamental base for her character. Many of Justine’s regrets in later life center around her willingness to sacrifice her relationship with Donald in order to stop her father’s manipulative schemes. Her love for Donald vies with her strong sense of obligation to the Martiniere Family–not her father or brother Joseph, but other Family members trying to stop her father’s megalomania.

There was my story. Justine telling stories about her past in order to help figure out a means to counter the current threat to the Family from those unknown digital thought clones, while providing the needed recordings and information in order to create Donald’s digital clone. Does Justine have regrets? Oh, does she ever. Does she think about her own mortality? Of course! She’s in her late seventies during this story, and has lost the age peers dearest to her. She’s also the guardian of her great-nephew Ron, which leads to its own issues. And she has things to resolve with her father Philip’s physical clone, Mike, who also has a raft of issues involving Philip.

Mix that all together and the result became Justine Fixes Everything: Reflections on Mortality. The “Fixes” part of the title reflects her own sardonic assessment of what her role in the Martiniere Family has been, ever since she struck out on her own by marrying Donald. Does she want to end up with this role over a long period of time? Well, that’s a question she keeps considering throughout the book.

Justine Fixes Everything: Reflections on Mortality is available in paperback through Bookshop, and also in ebook through Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. Check it out for yourself.

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Wild lilacs, golden eagles, and grouse, oh my!

Well, we didn’t get a full load out woodcutting today because the chain on the chain saw got dulled up quickly–spouse has been nursing it along but today it let us know that A New Chain Is Required. Nonetheless, today was a pretty nice day out in the woods.

Last time we were out, and drove home by way of Crow Creek, I noticed that there were isolated wild lilac bushes along the creek. Most of them were nowhere near any place that could have served as a homestead, so odds are pretty good that the seed or roots washed down from someplace that was a homestead at one point. The bushes are all sizes, so I think some are propagating on their own. This time, on the way to the places where we could cut, I saw a similar phenomenon of wild lilacs scattered here and there. So I stopped and took a picture of this one. Keep in mind that these bushes are under several feet of snow or more during the winter. Hardy plants.

Then, as we drove up the steep, winding gravel road above the Chesnimmus canyon, we saw a golden eagle circling in the thermals. It’s not the first time we’ve seen goldens in that spot–I suspect there’s a pair that return to that area every year.

On top of that, when driving on the forest road next to the creek, we saw a ruffed grouse just hanging out in the middle of the road. Ruffies come in two modes–either EI-YI-YI I’M OUTTA HERE or “what are you? I’m gonna scold you forever!” This one was number two. It didn’t spook out of the road until spouse got out and then it promptly ran downhill, tried to fly up, hit its head on brush, and fell down, before taking off running again. No, it was an adult, not a fledgling.

It’s also prime butterfly season. I saw swallowtails and possibly a monarch as well as a painted lady and lots of those little blue butterflies. I have a butterfly book but can’t make heads or tails of what’s what in it. I am a very casual butterfly observer. Probably should work on improving my observations simply because the Wallowas are a prime butterfly location, but….

Otherwise, in spite of the saw chain dullness, it was a nice day out in the woods. I spotted a very pretty camas field, and oh are the calypso (ladyslipper) orchids out and about. No morels with them, alas. Usually if you see the calypsos you can see the mushrooms. But this has been a sparse year for mushrooms.

Here’s the orchids:

Then it was back home. The sheep herds are back along the highway–three separate herds, each with their own shepherd. Then it was gather up the grain, go visit the old mare in her field and grain her (somehow it is raining where she is but nothing at all here in town). After a short visit, then it was back to town. I went out and picked a big batch of lilacs and honeysuckle from the back yard. It made a nice bouquet in the old Roseville vase that was a wedding present to my parents.

Have some lilacs and honeysuckle.

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Writing Accountability Post #20–Time to regroup

Post number twenty, and it’s pretty darn clear that I need to revise my organizing system. Oh, it worked pretty well for three months, but the last couple of months have been a slog and a battle. Oh, there’s logical reasons for it in many ways–a Covid booster here, gut stuff there, a convention here, other things happening there. It all adds up to one thing, however…things aren’t getting done as quickly as they have been, and not as much is getting done.

Well, at least I did get the final Federation Cowboy chapter drafted. It still needs reworking before I upload it to Vella, and I have a pretty good idea of what the sequel is going to feature–it came to me in the last five pages, just about literally. But it will be a standalone sequel.

In the end, the romantic elements ended up being lighter than I thought they would be. And I’m not certain but what I may end up tearing the whole thing apart and redoing certain pieces before releasing it. I just don’t know yet. It will depend on what betas think. I’m not that confident about this story now. But I’ll probably feel better once I do the second round of editing work on it.

Meanwhile, the lack of promotional activity on social media is showing up big time. I haven’t done much of anything in April and May, and it shows up on my dashboards (haven’t looked at the Ingram one yet, though).

So what needs to happen re-organizationally? I’m not sure yet. I keep thinking back, and it seems like I’ve been floundering to set up a routine ever since Daylight Saving Time started. I am one of those who absolutely hates DST, even in retirement. Part of the issue is trying to adjust to different routine times for the horse, but also just finding time to do everything that should be getting done. Doing the weekly accountability meeting and the monthly summary worked for about 90 days. Now, that is frequently the way these schemes function in ADHD–the organizational structure works for a while, until it runs up against some roadblocks, at which point it runs off of the rails.

Granted, April and May are transition months. Light and weather change during this time, and it’s also my prime allergy season. There are also events happening, and that puts me off my stride. They’re also summer season preparation months, just like September/October are preparation months for winter.

What to do, what to do?

Well, I’m thinking. Finishing Federation Cowboy has lifted a load off of my shoulders. It gives me time to think about the next projects–and I have three of them on board that I need to brainstorm. First is Tales of the Raven Alliance, which is a alt-history steampunk Weird West story with dragons. Or perhaps I should call it something else–the Raven Alliance is a secondary factor to the use of dragons (both real and artificial) as part of a combined Civil War/Western Colonization battle. Or something else, just set in the nineteenth century West with dragons. But who’s really at war? The dragons or the humans, and who is using whom?

Then there’s the final touches on the Martiniere Multiverse. I think The Cost of Power series is going to wrap it up. Two books or three? Not sure yet. Plus there’s the third book of the A Different Life series, where things really go dark for Ruby and Gabe. The Cost of Power universe is the one where the final digital clone multiverse battle gets resolved, however.

Finally, there’s the Goddess’s Vision series.

And…releasing a short story collection, either in June or July.

Okay. Maybe I do have enough to consider and produce this coming month. Maybe things aren’t so bad. It’s all just a transition season, and I’m ready to make the next move.

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A reflection on equine friendships

One thing that’s come about during my now eighteen years with the same horse has been an awareness that yes, she has an emotional life.

As herd animals, horses will form attachments to other horses, other creatures, and humans. They are predominantly hard-wired to be social beings and find safety with others. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have opinions about other beings, whether they be other horses, other animals, or the humans around them. Sometimes those opinions mean that the horse only cares for certain beings, and would prefer to be alone rather than with beings they don’t prefer. Even other beings of the same species. In other cases, relationship bonds–sibling, dam and offspring, friends are so powerful that the horses remember each other even after a long separation.

It’s also true for horses and the humans in their lives. One truism I’ve heard passed around in training barns is that it takes a year after purchasing a horse to form a bond with it–from the horse’s side of things, that is. Horse and human have to negotiate all those little details of a relationship–what are the behavior boundaries between horse and human, what are the handling preferences of horse and human, and, most importantly–how responsive are horse and human to each other’s language, both verbal and non-verbal?

I think the latter piece–learning each other’s specific language–forms a large part of that “one year to create a bond” element. Unlike dogs or cats, horses are not particularly vocal. Oh, there’s the various nickers you get, but that’s just the tiniest bit of the communication process, and is shaped more by the tone of the nicker or human voice than actual words expressed. For example, the other day, one of the broodmares in the herd Mocha was running with was starting to get pushy–communicated by lowered head, flicked back (but not pinned) ears, and swishing tail as she approached me while Mocha was also coming. I snapped the mare’s name and Mocha–plus the others in the herd who knew that tone of voice from me–all froze. Mocha got a worried expression, even though it wasn’t her name, because she knew I wasn’t happy with someone.

Well, we got it worked out. Mocha got her medication and her treats, and the offending horse went away.

But that emotional piece and relating to other horses as well as humans plays a large factor in working out situations like this.

Mocha’s natural inclination when in a pasture is to be somewhat standoffish except for certain horses and only a few people. It’s odd, because when she was in the training barn where college classes were held, she was friendly to nearly every human who came in, prone to begging for treats until I got firm and said “no, treats only from me.” However, she had strong opinions about the other horses in the barn. Some horses–like her neighbor Adam–were very good friends. When she was on stall rest due to severe white line disease, the two of them tore a hole in the wall between their stalls so that they could touch noses. Other horses–like one brightly marked Paint gelding–were seriously disliked. The Paint gelding tended to bully other horses and would double-barrel kick some he disliked. Mocha ended up provoking him into chasing her, then evading him by ducking and weaving through other horses, or turning more sharply away from him than he could turn. I watched her do this in turnout, several times. She tends to be more agile than a lot of horses, even in her old age.

But it wasn’t only bully geldings she disliked at that stable. There was one mare who made a big deal out of Mocha getting treats. Well, this mare wasn’t exactly the best-behaved, either in the stall or the arena. Mocha’s ears would go back, then she would dramatically begin to lick her lips in a rather exaggerated fashion while the other mare made a fuss. If another horse was misbehaving in the arena, Mocha’s ears swept back every time she went by them. Once past the problem horse, the ears went forward. The behavior carried over to her current living situation, where if she sees a horse acting out, she frequently just refuses to look at them.

However, she is and was capable of fast friendships as well. There was one mare that she only saw at the same horse show, for three years in a row. The other horse’s owner and I were in many of the same classes, so we would wait together at the in gate and visit. The two mares took a liking to each other and would stand together quietly, sometimes lightly exchanging breath. When Mocha first moved to pasture life, she formed a very tight bond with one mare that was somewhat problematic at the time. Over the years of herd and pasture life, she went through bonds with weanlings (although after a few encounters, she reversed her attitude and is now “stay away from me, kid.”), other mares, and even one obnoxious connection with an elk yearling that joined the horse herd (and was rather problematic–trust me, you do NOT want your horse adopting an elk as her “baby”!). These days she has more relaxed friendships, though they’re enduring even though Mocha and her herd friends are frequently separated during the summer (the other mares may be raising a foal, or in a different field, or performing).

One close relationship she has developed during her summers, frequently spent alone in one field, is with a neighboring gelding. Last summer the spouse and I joked that it was a tale of “As the Pasture Turns” because there were times when one or the other horse would go into a snit fit where they wouldn’t respond to the other horse’s call. When the gelding would call Mocha when she was in one of those moods, she would utter a deep, groaning sigh that was clearly “again? He’s so NEEDY.” Then go back to licking the salt block or hanging around with me for scratches. Or she would call and call and he would just hang out in his shed or a spot of pasture where she could see him, but he wouldn’t answer her calls.

I rode her back to that summer pasture today. I had seen him earlier in the week when I was checking the fences to make sure they survived the winter (three feet plus snowdrifts can sometimes do things to a fence). About halfway up the hill to the gate where I would put her into the field, she started nickering, clearly remembering the presence of her gelding friend. Her friend answered. Back and forth calling between the two until I turned her loose. She galloped to the fence to meet him. Very shortly after, the two were grazing across the fence from each other, together once again for the summer. She hadn’t seen him since October.

So it will be “As the Pasture Turns” until October comes again, and she’s ready to rejoin her winter friends.

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Writing Accountability Post #19–Back to the Forest

Seasonal shifts come quickly. This year’s late spring has had several effects on things, including how quickly we get back into the forest to cut firewood–which, of course, also affects my productivity. Actually, we also had a family visit, which meant not only preparing but spending an actually glorious day in the woods, including getting some absolutely gorgeous shots. But I slipped out of the habit of doing my daily to-do list, which of course also impacted my overall productivity. Plus, getting back into shape for woodcutting–the first day was hot, which always slows both of us down. On the other hand, we’re sixty-five and seventy-one, so just being able to get out into the woods and cut up already-dead trees is a significant victory. Especially when the dang trees don’t cooperate, and fall so that hauling those chunks back to the pickup means a longer walk. In 80-degree temps. At elevation. Nonetheless, we survived. Next week’s firewood cutting will be during cooler temperatures, yay.

Federation Cowboy continues to be a struggle. Some of that is due to the brain throwing still more complexity into the works. I have to think through the implications of something that cropped up in this week’s writing, which means there will be a sequel, because a late character deserves to have her own story. However, it’s going to be complex. On the other hand, it’s the sort of story where thinking about it while in the woods would be just perfect. I’m hoping to wind it up this week, because drafting it has already taken longer than I want it to go.

Promotion has been meh. Seriously meh. I need to amp up my game again, perhaps by running those arrows and phrases slides. And I need to get that last pass of Netwalker Uprising completed so that I can upload it in paperback. Plus think through my 100% Human branding plan. That’s been another issue in productivity this week–just studying and thinking about all the AI stuff coming down.

In any case, it’s going to be a busy week. The horse has three major events coming up–a dental visit which was postponed because the clinic’s dental equipment needed repair, a farrier visit, and her move to summer pasture. That last will require a couple of steps–getting her salt block, checking fences, and cleaning out a water barrel. I want her to graze in a smaller corner pasture before letting her go into a bigger upper pasture. Otherwise, she doesn’t really graze it down like she should. But I need to check fences and gates there first.

All the same, I also need to get back to it on the writing front. April and May are both turning out to be sad, and I need to fix that.


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Sometimes you don’t see the block until after you’re past it

It’s the season for lilacs, so have some lilacs again. My latest picking (recovered from DH’s pruning of low-lying branches) is not quite ready to bloom, so no pictures yet. I have hopes that they’ll blossom into something fragrant, gorgeous, and nice. Like…the writing.

I still can’t quite explain what happened in April. No sales through Draft2Digital, some sales on Ingram and Amazon. That’s not my usual state of affairs. It just felt like I was slogging through thick mud as I hacked through the words. Federation Cowboy seemed to be a never-ending slog and The Cost of Power hit a high point and then…blah. Nothing seemed to work. My gut was cranky and I just plain felt tired all the time.

Well, then there was the Covid booster #6 followed by the Nebula Conference. Suddenly, getting 2000 words down a day became easy again. I had to tear apart a chapter of Federation Cowboy several times, but after that? The story began to take life again. I just finished another chapter and hurray, hurray, I’m back on the outline and have 10-12k left to go.

But what’s even nicer?

Everything’s falling into place.

And I mean everything. I had been throwing in some breadcrumbs throughout the story–oh, I had a rough outline, I somewhat knew where I was going with the story, but there were some elements I threw in that I wasn’t sure about. However, considering that the issue of rella popped up out of the blue, and that I roughly knew the end, I had confidence that the breadcrumbs I was tossing in would come together.

Did they ever, in these last two chapters.

Two more chapters to go. I have a rough idea of where it’s going, but…it could still take a twist.

But even better–story is flowing.

That’s even better.

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Writing Accountability Post #18–When everything falls apart

So you may have noticed there wasn’t a writing accountability post last week.

That’s because life happens sometimes. I’d been fighting a low-level IBS flare that was somewhat slowing my thoughts down–and then I got my second bivalent booster. Everything was cruising along fine for the first twelve hours after the shot, maybe a little bit of fatigue. I worked the old mare in the arena, pleased to notice that she was doing really well with her pads and not going sore on me. Ah-ha! Possible solution to a problem that had been showing up for a while, where she would go gimpy on me in part of the arena footing. She seemed to be feeling pretty good about it, too, happy to be able to do some pattern work for a change without hurting.

I was just a little tired, and I was feeling cocky, like maybe my immune system was gonna behave this time.


It started with tooth-rattling chills, then puking. I wasn’t able to keep anything down more than cautious sips of water for twenty-four hours. Then the worst receded, leaving me with a nasty IBS flare and a huge amount of fatigue. I had to baby my body, being careful about what I ate. I read a little, hung out on social media–and that’s when I noticed that something else was wrong. I was making stupid typos. Not the usual typos (I know my typo tendencies very well) but phonemic typos as well as synonyms, and I was making a LOT of them.

Enough that I didn’t trust myself with any story. Short takes on social media? Yeah, although I took my time in writing responses, longer than I normally would do.

Things didn’t start improving on that front until about Wednesday, when I sat down with the most recent Federation Cowboy chapter. I hadn’t been happy with the way I synopsized events prior to getting the shot–far too much telling rather than showing. I ripped that chapter to pieces and reassembled it. It’s a crucial chapter at the 60K point, where things really get dire for my protagonists, so it had to flow right. It had to work correctly.

I got that completed and posted on Kindle Vella, then sat down and worked out the remaining three chapters (um, well, there were supposed to be two chapters after this one, but guess what. There’s three). I knew I had to do something because the Nebula Conference was coming up and I was attending online. I knew darn good and well I wasn’t going to have a lot of time and brain space available to do a lot of story drafting, so I wanted to keep the flow going for when I pick things up again tomorrow. I even got started on the next chapter. All well and good, and with any luck I can manage to get the story finished in the next couple of weeks.

The Nebs have given me plenty of food for thought, as well as many pages of notes. I changed things out this time and listened while skimming parts of social media–this time the process seemed to work. Some panels had more engagement and interest than others, and I have a list of more that I want to listen to over the next week or so because even with a hybrid convention, interesting panels get scheduled across from each other. One thing that seems to have been useful this time around has been the discussion of branding. During this morning’s panel, I ended up creating a branding statement (in the raw) that somewhat sums up what I write, across multiple genres. I also made notes about how my current work resonates with what other people are saying about their work, and other useful points.

Interestingly, unlike Worldcon but LIKE World Fantasy, there’s been some interesting and useful side conversations in the breakout rooms. That’s the hardest part to replicate in a hybrid or virtual convention–the casual interactions with other writers that end up being productive.

I’ll blog more about the Nebulas later on. But I have thoughts simmering about what is and isn’t working for me when it comes to accountability and productivity in the writing world, and I hope to be able to write about them over the next few weeks. For now, it’s time to put the headphones back on (and OMG do headphones ever make a difference for someone like me with ADHD when listening to a panel) and see what’s what for the remainder of the conference.

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Plodding along in the writer life

Today, I really needed to open up Wyoming Summer, Mary O’Hara’s somewhat fictional account of the real-life ranch in My Friend Flicka, to read this quote in a section where she discusses her latest story rejections. There are times when O’Hara’s creative struggles—with writing, with the piano compositions she also wrote—simply ring true. This snippet comes from a minor rant about how her idea of story differed from those of her era (in her case, she takes on Chekhov and the notion that stories needed to be slice-of-life vignettes).

Keep in mind that O’Hara, despite her apparent focus on horse books (I steadfastly maintain that the Flicka books are most definitely NOT children’s books, especially the last two where the difficulties in the McLaughlin marriage come to the fore), came to fiction writing from a rather storied history as a script doctor during the silent film era. Her autobiography Flicka’s Friend slightly touches on the challenges of that sort of compressed writing. At one point she jokes that she should write a memoir about the experience, titled Are You Available?

Alas, she never did create that memoir.

But given my low mood today, just glancing at those two pages was helpful. It’s been a rough day. My desktop was being cranky from the very beginning, and since it’s a fairly new iMac, this shouldn’t be happening. I think I’ve managed to defeat whatever it was that caused the issue, but all the same, wrestling with it and the printer as well took up a big chunk of the day. Add to that running into snags and snarls involved with trying to get my Covid bivalent booster (#2), a couple of places in town not having the supplies I needed (in one case selling an item I thought was being held for me to someone else), running into a buzz saw or two on social media, my hairbrush breaking, plus no book sales AGAIN, and, yeah. Today felt like marching through muddy slop up to my knees. Maybe even my waist.

Part of the challenge is, simply, finding my readers. Which was part of the social media blowup (that it happened while I was wrestling with the desktop and waiting for stuff to process while I tried everything I knew to fix it didn’t help). Folx from a certain platform are rather free about equating romance/romantic writing with porn, and I was told that I should be advertising my science fiction western romantic stories on porn sites rather than pollute their perfect social media platform with my promotions and story snippets. Which was almost word-for-word what was said to prominent romance writers by people from this site back in February.

Well. The degree to which that commenter revealed their lack of knowledge was laughable, but…it still led to a depressive mood that probably would have made that person rejoice. Because it is hard to promote the sort of story I write. I prefer to write within the speculative fiction genre, but many of the stories I write are not about gizmos and gadgets. I like to think about the impact of said gizmos and gadgets on relationships, often with those wrestling with them at a high management level. I also like to write such things in Pacific Northwest settings.

None of this makes me trendy and popular in current speculative fiction, whether in indie or traditional publications.

Taking out the speculative elements and marketing to upmarket or other non-speculative readers doesn’t appeal to me, either. I’m not a match for that market.

Thinking about these things does make me sad. It’s a melancholy that visits on a fairly regular basis. Ironically, reviews that say “oh this is something good and different” or “the best writer I’ve never heard of” just continue to pound the message home that I’m a niche writer.

It’s not so much about me, either. I’ve been working on a book that originated in a short story that I couldn’t manage to sell. I liked the story, not as much as others I had written, but enough to try to make it something that might just get read. The longer I work on it, the more I like the story and its characters. It’s far-future political space opera, with drug smugglers, assorted sentient species including a rabbit who’s a military intelligence guru, and pokes a little bit at the idea of defining sentience.

I’m almost at the end of the story. And now I wonder if it’s just another one that will be shoved aside by more traditional space opera stories, because there’s also a slow burn romance.

Part of my melancholy is also shaped by aging. I’m starting to hit a low energy wall because I just can’t do everything in a day that I used to be able to do even two years ago. I can’t write a blog post a day plus work plus draft 1000-2000 words a day like I could ten years ago.

I dunno. I’ve been at this game for a number of years, and don’t have much to show for it. No awards, just also-ran placements. Stories that have a handful of fans but…not a wide readership. There are times when I think I should have taken a different route—gone for the political pundit game, for example. Or buckled down to write more about special education (one of my pieces written for a monetized parent blog ended up being acknowledged by a professional association, after all). Or taken advantage of several friendships in order to promote myself.

But it’s never been the sort of work I’ve loved to write. A so-called friend years ago managed to distract me away from fiction into nonfiction, claiming my voice was better for that.

Yeah. Right. Along with a bunch of other people. And it still turns out to be stuff I really don’t want to write.

So what do I want to write?

I want to write those big, sweeping stories with Pacific Northwest-inspired settings. Matters of high drama with high stakes and characters that entice me into following their exploits. Old people, middle-aged people, and some young people.

Ah well. Probably time to sign off with this ramble. Things will be better tomorrow. But for today, I’m just not in the best of moods.

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