Category Archives: Netwalk Sequence

Retconning the Netwalk Sequence–Winter Shadows and its impact on the storyline

winter shadows

So all along in the Netwalk Sequence continuity, I’ve held that Will and Diana got together in the face of parental opposition to their relationship–his father and her mother both being passionately opposed to the marriage. As recently as The Daughters Cycle this past summer, I had Diana leaving Stephens Reclamation to found Do It Right when Sarah discovers that Diana is still dating Will (this is a world where corporatism extends into family life and relationship, including the founding of corporate dynasties). I have some lovely emo stuff lying around the hard drive to that effect.

And then I started writing Dahlia, Winter Shadows, and Problems at the Andrews Ranch. All of these stories deal with the early relationship of Diana and Will as well as the foundational period of Do It Right. While there is some estrangement that happens between Diana and Sarah as a result of Diana’s choice of Will, as I’ve been writing Winter Shadows, I have come to realize that it’s not opposition because of who Will’s family is and all that leads to the eventual estrangement; it’s due to other reasons. Diana and Will disagree with Sarah and to some extent she ends up getting co-opted by Gizmo–along with Francis. It’s just that Sarah breaks free while Francis embraces it.

Arrgh. Originally these stories were just filler that I was going to write before plunging into Netwalk’s Children. But now I’m realizing I’m writing crucial backstory that needs to exist before I can start Children. I’m starting to understand just how revolutionary Melanie’s rebellion against Diana was at the end of Netwalker Uprising–and why Sarah condones it–and why Bess ends up being such a huge game changer. Yikes.

Meanwhile, back to work. I’m not getting in a lot of words over winter break because–well, decompressing from the insanity of teaching and other stuff going on, but I am working on slow but steady process. I just need to get today’s scene finished. Which…have a taste, raw writing fresh off of the word processor, warts and all:


“You’re springing my son from the PAZ prison he belongs in. I want him.”

No,” Diana said, before her mother could speak. “You had your chance to help him. We’re not going through all this work just to give him to you.”

“What my daughter said,” her mother added.

“He needs to debrief. He carries Executive classification Corporate secrets.”

Sarah snorted. “If you were truly worried about that level of disclosure he wouldn’t be in a PAZ prison right now!”

“He knew the risks. He was supposed to have died rather than disclose. He had the pill if the sentence didn’t go through.” Parker Landreth’s voice went cold. “He chickened out.”

Her mother straightened up. “I suggest you tell your staff to stand down.” Her voice matched Parker’s for chill.

Parker Landreth stared at her for a moment. “Or what?”

“Or I’ll shoot,” Peter’s voice came from above and behind Diana, to her right.

The click of more weapons being armed resonated from around them. How the–Stealthsuits. That’s right. He’s been researching stealthsuits with Francis.

The question as to how and why Landreth Security hadn’t detected the stealthsuits could be answered later.

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Rewrites–Winter Shadows, from yesterday

winter shadows

So one interesting piece I’m noticing about putting up these snippets from the WIP is that with both of them so far, I’ve noticed glaring errors I’ve had to correct. With the first one, I had to specify that Diana’s headset had limited vocal com access settings–of course if you’re wearing a headset, you’ve got com ability!

Yesterday’s blooper had Diana holding a blaster just as the skimmer she was in took off for high-G evasive maneuvers. Um. Yeah. Oooops.

All just a part of the revision process. Here’s what the revised version of yesterday’s scene looks like:


Movement. Her mother put the tablet down steadily, precisely, locking it into secured position. The slow, careful motion alerted Diana.

“What’s up?”

Her mother picked up a blaster. “Arm up, Diana. Incoming–and they aren’t friendly.”

The automatic security belts clamped down solidly across her body. Diana reached for her blaster, heart pounding in her ears as she activated the disabling rounds, then secured it on the scabbard locked into the arm of her seat. With incoming, evasive maneuvers would likely follow. She didn’t want to hold onto that blaster when it happened. “Any idea who they are?”

Sarah shook her head. “They refuse to ID themselves. We’re going to try to outrun them, but they fit the profile of Landreth skimmers. Not the PAZ.”

Maybe they’re coming to help– Diana dismissed that notion quickly. Not if they wouldn’t ID themselves.

Francis spit out a series of code phrases she couldn’t identify over her com. The com suddenly went silent, dead silent. Then their skimmer shot straight up, pulling some Gs and pushing Diana down hard in her seat. It banked hard and tight, and then accelerated, faster than typical for most skimmers. Of course. Mom would have the highest performance skimmer she could get her fingers on, then mod it up.

An impact knocked them sideways. The skimmer rolled. Red lights flashed in the passenger cabin as a warning buzzer screamed. Clamps snaked across Diana’s forehead, thighs and arms as the skimmer rolled again. Diana made herself breathe. In. Out. In. Out. She forced herself to relax against her restraints, remaining loose in case of further impact. Tense muscles would make things worse.

The skimmer stabilized, plunging down hard. The buzzer stopped blaring and the lights held steady.

What the–? Did Landreth just shoot at us?

The skimmer leveled and rocketed off faster than before. Her restraints eased slightly but did not release.

“Decoy. Us. Lower altitude. May evade,” her mother snapped out tightly against the pressure pushing hard on them. “Other. Team. Priority.”

“Got. It.” Diana forced out. “Sorry.”

“Bastard,” Sarah growled. “Not. You. Parker. Shouldn’t. Be. Necessary.”


And now back to writing….

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More Winter Shadows

winter shadows

Of course I have to get ready and head off to work, just as the writing starts getting good and exciting. Only 955 words today, damn it.

Snippet from today’s writing. Mother and daughter are in–kind of a bind here, to say the least.


Movement. Her mother put the tablet down steadily, precisely. The slow, careful motion alerted Diana.

“What’s up?”

Her mother picked up a blaster. “Arm up, Diana. Incoming–and they aren’t friendly.”

Diana reached for her weapon, heart pounding in her ears as she activated the disabling rounds in her own blaster. “Any idea who they are?”

Sarah shook her head. “They refuse to ID themselves. We’re going to try to outrun them, but they fit the profile of Landreth skimmers. Not the PAZ.”

Maybe they’re coming to help– Diana dismissed that notion quickly. Not if they wouldn’t ID themselves.

Francis spit out a series of code phrases she couldn’t identify over her com. The com suddenly went silent, dead silent. Then their skimmer shot straight up, pulling some Gs and pushing Diana down hard in her seat. It banked hard and tight, and then accelerated, faster than typical for most skimmers.

Diana’s hands tightened on the blaster in her lap. She sat silently, waiting.

Something knocked them sideways. The skimmer rolled tightly three times, then stabilized, plunging down hard.

What the–?

The skimmer leveled.

“Decoy. Us. Lower altitude. May evade,” her mother snapped out tightly against the pressure pushing hard on them. “Other. Team. Priority.”

“Got. It.” Diana forced out. “Sorry.”

“Bastard,” Sarah growled. “Not. You. Parker.”

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Snippetry….from Winter Shadows

winter shadows

Here’s a snippet from the WIP, written today….

Close, but not close enough. Diana slumped back in her seat in the darkness of the skimmer parked on the edge of a landing strip in God-knows-where-on-some-Mediterranean-island, careful not to disturb her headset. Three days. It had taken three nerve-wracking days to put the plan together. She’d played her part, including a dramatic, tearful interview where she’d managed to slip the phrase shadows unfold into several of her angsty comments. The buzz media had eaten it up.

Would Will be able to see that?

Depends on what they’re doing to him, Francis had answered when she’d asked. They wanted him to talk about you. Odds are he’ll see anything you say to the press. You’re a leverage point they have over him.

That’s the problem of romantic connections, her mother had answered wryly, raising a brow at Francis.

But now it was happening. Diana wore a headset with communication capabilities, monitoring outside coms along with Francis’s com team, a backup just in case until they got Will. Then she just had to keep talking to Will to keep him calm.

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The horses of the Netwalk Sequence

Horses? In a high-tech science fiction story?


Guess I’m in a horsey mood these days, post-horse show. Whatever the reason, last night I started thinking about a post on the horses in my Netwalk Sequence world, et voila! The concept came into being.

Granted, some folks are going to raise their brows at this. Horses in a neuropunk family saga? Horses as a part of a futuristic world where digital personalities upload and an unknown entity wreaks apocalyptic havoc on the world until restrained by an international coalition of corporate interests? You betcha. After all, it’s my world, my creation, and if I want flying cars, horses and skiing in it–yep, it’s going to happen. Besides, the horses function as a grounding purpose as well as being part of the identity of the Andrews-Stephens-Landreth-Fielding family, with heavy roots in Eastern Oregon ranching country to contrast with the timber barons on the other side of the family. I’ve not brought this in, but certainly the ranching background was a formative influence in a young Diana Andrews Landreth’s life and a factor in the development of the skills that made her a formidable bioremediation leader. The ranching background affected Diana’s mother, Sarah Stephens. Even though Sarah’s marriage to Dan Andrews didn’t last very long, horses were a much-loved part of Sarah’s few years on the Andrews Ranch. Diana made sure that her son and daughter, Andrew Landreth Stephens and Melanie Landreth Fielding had horse experience, though only Melanie really took to it.

And there’s more. Without further ado, here’s some of the horses of the Netwalk Sequence world.

Missy. Missy appears in my unpublished short story, “Alien Savvy,” about a sweet little buckskin cutting horse mare who saves her owner Hank Martin from alien attack by her ability to maneuver safely around aliens and lock into herding behavior which scares the aliens off. The Martins are neighbors of the Andrews Ranch, and the deal that Pete Andrews strikes with Hank Martin to get him back on his feet after the devastation on his cattle herd caused by alien attack leads to the foundation of the famous Andrews Ranch strain of cutting and reining horses. “Alien Savvy” hasn’t sold and probably won’t sell to a traditional sf market because of the horse and alien factor. It is very early in the Netwalk Sequence, and maybe I’ll just self-pub it as a Netwalk Foundations piece (do NOT get me started on my perception of editorial short story biases about horses in the sf genre, okay?).

Mocha. Yes, this is my sweet little Mocha in several different guises. Missy’s great-granddaughter Mocha put the Andrews Ranch on the performance horse map with her cutting ability. Diana rode a Mocha daughter to several championships when she was a girl in her late teens and early twenties; one of the few things that both Dan Andrews and Sarah Stephens agreed upon with regard to their daughter during this time was their pride in Diana’s horse show accomplishments. Melanie rides a Mocha granddaughter, also named Mocha, during her flight in Netwalk: Expanded Edition, and Mocha also makes a social appearance in Netwalker Uprising.

Kokanee. A little dark bay mare that is the original Mocha’s descendant and a daughter of Diana’s championship mare. She’s a low-key presence in the upcoming Problems at the Andrews Ranch, and Diana gets righteously angry at her estranged father-in-law for wanting to buy her. Kokanee is Diana’s hope for continuing her father’s breeding program, even as she also struggles to build Do It Right as a viable international bioremediation technology company. One of her foals sires Melanie’s Mocha.

Charlie. Fiesty and grumpy Appaloosa ranch gelding who is Dan Andrews’s last mount. Charlie never did have the temperament to go to shows but he could go miles on a daily ride and had a comfortable amble gait that was easy to sit–perfect for an older rancher. But he had enough spark to pretend to be a bronc when first saddled up on a cold morning. It was all bluff and play, though. Dan never let it become more than that, and he enjoyed Charlie’s antics up until his last rides.

Griffen. Rental Appaloosa that Diana rides in Problems at the Andrews Ranch, when she goes to meet Nez Perce land acquisition negotiator Joaquin Ridge, a former boyfriend and old high school buddy.

There are other horses I’ve not put a name to yet. Bess, Melanie’s daughter, doesn’t take to horses in the same degree that Melanie does, and yet she finds peace in interacting with horses. Alex Jeffreys really takes to horses and he rides a black silver dapple Rocky Mountain gelding. Alex and Bess find uses for miniature horses in space settings, and develop a strain that–well, let’s wait and see where that goes, shall we? That part still needs development.

Needless to say, the equine element of the Netwalk Sequence is an understated but very real presence.

Hey, it wouldn’t be my world if I didn’t have horses in it, now, would it?

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Netwalk Sequence and environmentalism

It’s not always that I run into articles that summarize the foundation of the environmental politics behind the Netwalk Sequence so neatly, but this nails it in a nutshell.

One of the original triggers behind the horror novel that was the foundation of the Netwalk Sequence were the very real-life experiences I observed on the periphery of the environmental movement in the Reagan years. Naomi Klein’s observations about the tensions between the elite and the leadership of conservation/environmental groups are spot on. I saw this stuff growing and developing when I was doing a lot of research with a dear friend who was also politically active. She lived way out in Northeastern Oregon and didn’t have the information accesses I did, back in the pre-Internet era when if you couldn’t physically handle the information, you didn’t have it. I spent a lot of time in the local library’s business section looking up business stats, and tracking down interlocking corporate ownerships.

But I also heard stuff from my grunt-level positions in the Democratic Party. And what I heard, and what I saw, caused me to start writing a twisted little story about an environmental activist whose ill-fated romance with a timber baron’s son ends up destroying everything she ever thought or believed about her life. Kind of a romantic turn on some of the real-life co-optation I was seeing. No one would believe the real stories.

Sarah does get her own back. She is genuinely concerned and worried about the environment, and riding through the early rocky days of the explosion of climate change plus her status as a Stephens heir leads to the conditions which transform Stephens Timber into Stephens Reclamation. So far, I haven’t felt the need to write that story as part of the Sequence.

Maybe I’ll do it after I write Netwalking Space. We’ll see.

Nonetheless, go and read that Naomi Klein article. Like I said, it reflects a lot of my own observations.

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On revising previously published work

Generally, much as I wince when I see bits and pieces of errors and mistakes in my previously published work, I don’t consider revising and republishing it, for several reasons. First of all, the story I sold was the story the editor wanted to buy. Changing the story would mean changing the collaborative work which is the combined effort of my vision and the editor’s vision and, so far, I’ve had the great good fortune not to have editors who’ve mangled my work. So far. For better or worse, if I’ve sold a story or a novel to someone else to publish, I’m inclined to let it stand (I will probably feel different when I finally encounter the circumstance of having my work butchered. Like I said, I’ve been fortunate. So far).

But self-publication allows the fatal fallacy of re-editing one’s own work. Again, I don’t generally support revising previously published work because it is, after all, the product of its time. Additionally, since I’ve sold this work to buyers, really, in good faith it would require a significant change in the world I’ve created to justify a revision of previously published work.

So why did I just spend several days revising and preparing the copy for what is going to be the revised Netwalk, otherwise known as Netwalk: The Expanded Edition?

One word.


Or, rather, the creation of the object known as Gizmo, which hadn’t happened when I wrote Netwalk. I created the Gizmo about halfway through my editorial rewrite of Netwalker Uprising, when my editor told me “something more is needed.” I thought on it, and, ergo. Gizmo was born, and with it, a missing major driver for the Netwalk Sequence came into being.

Except–oops. There was an entire novel in the Sequence which did not take Gizmo into account, and Melanie being Melanie, if she hadn’t run into Gizmo before then, she would have done so during the events of Netwalk.

Oops. Big oops.

At first I hadn’t planned to rewrite Netwalk as a result of Gizmo’s creation. Yes, there were glitches in the ebook version. Small formatting pieces that I wanted to fix. But I thought about the tweaks I’d have to make in Netwalk to bring in Gizmo, and my head started hurting with a side dish of minor panic attacks as I contemplated what could be a huge effort. My editor recommended that I didn’t sweat it because the nature of the conflict in Netwalk was such that the absence of Gizmo wasn’t that big a deal.

And then the son and I talked about putting out a hard copy Createspace edition of Netwalk. He recommended (based on his experience in the gaming world) that if I were to go with a second edition, I should not only include Gizmo references in the revised Netwalk but add new material to make it worth the changes and add value. I thought about it, but quailed at the thought of the Gizmo rewrites.

Well. It’s pretty much done. Surprisingly, the work wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. When I went back and looked at the Netwalk MS, there were holes where I spent more time flailing around trying to up the ante and didn’t quite make it work. It seems like my subconscious writing brain was already devising a Gizmo-like device, only my prefrontal cortex hadn’t gotten the message yet. When all was said and done, the additions were maybe about 1000-1500 words. 2000 max. And, in the process, I fixed the formatting glitches that had been bugging me, smoothed out some rough spots in the language, and introduced a bit more nuance in the characters of Sarah and Andrew, nuances which arose in Uprising.

I don’t anticipate doing the same for Uprising. For one thing, Uprising is post-Gizmo. I don’t necessarily foresee the need to create another significant canon change which would require such a drastic rewrite. Nor do I want to create the habit of doing such a thing when working independently. However, Gizmo was such a major change in the game that I finally decided that Netwalk: The Expanded Edition needed to happen. Additionally, I’ve put some effort into creating a series bible which, while not perfect, will hopefully keep me going with a certain degree of consistency from now on out. Though the Netwalk: Foundations pieces blur the edges as I explore my characters even further. That said, another wise writer and editor reminded me that Marion Zimmer Bradley always held that consistency glitches in her Darkover series were things that needed to happen for the integrity of the story.

I already have several notations where the Foundations stories deviate from the main canon of the Netwalk Sequence. At some point in the future (probably when I’ve completed the next three novels which will make up the main body of the Sequence), I’ll publish those notes for completeists but I’m not going to knock myself out trying to reconcile Foundations worldbuilding noodling with published work. Netwalk: The Expanded Edition will be the most significant and only full revision of previously published work in the Sequence. Period.

So what additional material will be in the EE besides the Gizmo updates?

First of all, I plan to republish two previously published stories in the Sequence, exactly as they were originally published. For the record, those two stories are “The Ties That Bind” (Random Realities # 3, Summer 1993) and “Cold Dish,” (M-BRANE SF 9, October 1, 2009). In addition there will be two new short snippets to go with these two stories, “Some Words,” and “To Walk Toward Your Doom.” All four of these pieces happen either just before or simultaneously with the early part of Netwalk. “Ties” and “Cold Dish” are pre-Gizmo and to some extent pre-date a lot of my later thinking about Netwalk processes. Nonetheless, both stories will be reprinted exactly as they were originally published, with no revisions.

I also plan to insert a foreword talking about the changes in vision that happened between the publication of Netwalk and Netwalker Uprising.

Projected publication date is late August. Stay tuned for more information.

And once I’m done with this (and a few more Foundations pieces, to carry me through the first months of Ye Olde Day Jobbe resumption in September as well as help me create some more pieces of crucial backstory), it’s off to write Netwalk’s Children. I’ve not done the formal plotting for Children yet, but I’ve been thinking hard about both it and the book to follow, Netwalking Space.

Are we having fun yet? I sure am.

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Netwalk Foundations Monday!

It’s the first Monday of June, which means….yep, another Foundations Monday!


So just what does Sarah the Netwalker experience when she blows up and has to be exiled to virtual space? This is a rare look inside the thought processes of the most dangerous Netwalker who exists in the Sequence. Sarah, ultimately the mastermind and inspiration for Netwalk.

But all is not peaches and cream in Sarah’s world. And once she ends up in the White Room–there’s trouble. Go here for a free download of the latest addition to the Netwalk Foundations series!

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Announcing Netwalk Foundations

cover-kathy-millerI’ve been a bit of a slacker this week and not gotten the info out on Netwalk Foundations.

Basically, twice a month (first and third Mondays), I’ll be putting up a freebie short piece connected to The Netwalk Sequence on my web page. Some of these pieces will be brief character sketches, some will be worldbuilding stories tied into the Sequence in different ways. Some of this material is original writing from the early 1990s, just updated to reflect the current worldbuilding process, and some of it will be brand new.

Kathy Miller is the rewrite of a worldbuilding story from the 90s. I’ve updated it to reflect current continuity. I won’t do that with every piece I put up, but this one needed some revision.

Foundations has its own tab on my webpage toolbar, and each story will have its own page. Go here to read Kathy’s story–available in Kindle, epub and PDF versions!

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Conquering the ski boot issue and writing process stuff

I think I’m finally getting this boot thing back under control. It’s been freaking annoying, really, because I’ve spent this ski season fighting my boots, my goggles, um, what haven’t I been fighting? Oh, yeah, the skis.

Anyway. After crashing in a stupid spot last Sunday, I went boot shopping and ended up with a pair of high level boots at a major, major discount (Dalbello Electras, for those who want to know). They’re as stiff as stone, but I feel the fit adjusting with each turn I take in them…and as I get used to these little darlings, I grow to like them even more. I’ve had three days on them now and today, they finally started softening up. Of course, I’ve been sticking them on boot warmers before I put them on, which I think is also helping…but learning how to best buckle these boots has also been a help. My feet are reluctantly relearning the proper ski form after being able to caper as they please in the other boots. They’ll still need a few more days to reset the bad habits, but…given that we had a huge dump of very nice, crispy snow up on Hood, and that I’m mostly through a lot of my extra paperwork sessions at work…I think I can work in a few ski days before work.

No Palmer this year, though. Not in condition for it, still working through the hip and leg issues as well as the boots.

It was a lovely snowy spring day, as well. Spring snowstorms can be cold and crispy but not as cold as winter–or they can be icy and sloppy and wet. This was a cold and crispy day, which produced nice fresh powder, lighter than our usual stuff. DH and I did three turns on the Jeff Flood runs before bagging out and heading for Norman. Flood was getting hit heavily and chopped up. Norman, on the other hand, was less popular (most folks riding that lift head for the terrain parks, not the run) so it was pretty nice skiing. We got four runs in on Norman, then got our sack lunch and ate in the lodge.

Then we did errands on our way home, chores, and then I finally got into writing. It’s been a while since I’ve been using the laptop instead of the desktop to write, so I pulled the laptop out and sprawled in bed. That ended up being a pretty good place to work so I got a major chunk of my rewrite started. Problem is, this was supposed to be a light edit before we put it up as the first freebie in the Netwalk: Foundations series. It’s a story I wrote sometime around 2000, before I really even knew much about Netwalk, about Kathy Miller. What I wanted to do was throw it out there to show a little bit of writer worldbuilding in process (which is what the Foundations series is going to be about; putting up bits and pieces of the world as I write sketches and stories to share how things fit together).

Four days after I first started, it’s turning into a major rewrite. Some of that is due to changes in the worldbuilding since the story was originally written. After all, I’ve had thirteen years to think about it, off and on. And yet the bones of the Netwalk Sequence are in it, as solid now as they were then.

But it’s not really a commercial story, it’s a worldbuilding story. Ergo, I’m figuring out some character development that will become important in the next piece of the Sequence (family interactions, family interactions, a big chunk of the Sequence rests on the conception that these people form a dynasty based on some significant dysfunctional elements…plus space! Family dysfunction in Spaaaaace!. Just not space quite yet. Getting there).

That said, I’m trying to make it entertaining infodump.

More later as it develops. For now, happy ski girl needs to go crash…to rest up for what looks to be a very busy week.

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