Category Archives: Netwalk’s Children

Netwalk’s Children is now live!


At long last it’s here! Netwalk’s Children is live on Amazon, iBooks, kindasorta on Nook (there’s a page link but the dashboard says it’s still in progress), and it’s in progress for Kobo and some other sites. I’m really happy with this book because it came out pretty much like I wanted, and I think it makes a good transition into the last part of the series. We’re getting away from Melanie’s point of view and into that of Bess and Sarah.

So what’s it about?

The mysterious war machine device known as the Gizmo is getting restless and trying to use Melanie’s daughter Bess and her nephew Richard as a means of escape from its confinement. Meanwhile, problems arise with potential rogue Netwalkers tied not just to Melanie’s past but to her parents and the original capture of the Gizmo. Can Melanie work with her estranged Netwalker grandmother Sarah as well as Bess to stop the Gizmo and deal with past shadows that threaten to dominate Bess’s future?

There will be hard copies available at Orycon, and the Amazon listing includes hard copy as well as Kindle editions (I’ve also enabled Matchbook which means you can add on the Kindle edition to a hard copy purchase for a minimal amount).

Technical means aside, this is the first time I’ve worked with Draft2Digital and I like it much better than GooglePlay. I’m submitting fully formated epub to Draft2Digital, though I could just submit a Word file and let them format it. I’m liking the experience so far….

This is also the first cover that I completed entirely on my own, with a little bit of advice from my son. I’m rather proud of that, though the one for Pledges of Honor makes me even happier. My personal perspective is that this book’s the best one of the series so far…and I sure hope it takes off and sells well.

One more Netwalk book to go, and then I’m pretty much done with it for the time being, I think. Netwalking Space should come close to wrapping up the series loose ends, though I could see a far future sequel. We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, I’m ramping up the Goddess’s Honor fantasy series, and the Oregon Country series is getting built and formed even now.

But today belongs to Netwalk’s Children. Happy book day to it, and may it do well.

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Netwalk’s Children WIP snippet

So I’m around 66k words today and the pacing is speeding up. Heading for that slow slide over the top and down the other side…..

Presented without context:


“I disagree.” Melanie let her voice drop into softness, so quiet the others had to strain to hear her. “There’s Gizmo trace all over the dataflows Rick rode into the Stellar Reach files. Monique Robillard was head of Security for both Caspian and Stellar Reach, plus she filed that Contract to take custody of both my daughter and Andrew’s children in Troubadour’s name without Montcrief’s approval but with Gupta’s support as a Stellar Reach secondary.” She closed the globe with a contemptuous flick. “This whole report is as Andrew calls it, a piece of sheer, utter dreck meant to absolve Gerard and Ravi from any consequences. Come on, give us at least an apology from the Courts if not Gerard and Ravi!”

“That sounds like a threat.” Her mother glowered at Melanie.

Melanie risked looking away from Diana to glance up at Andrew. He nodded, jaw set tight, anger still flashing in his gray-blue eyes so much like their father’s. Continue, his lips formed soundlessly. Operation Salt. A chill ran through her but yes, this was the path they had decided to take in this contingency. So it may come to war.

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Muddling through everything (writing process)

I’ve hit the 45k word mark on Netwalk’s Children and am well and truly in the infamous “muddle in the middle.” Even with the extensive plotting and prewriting prep, I’m writing pages and pages which feel like overwriting, blathering, and flailing around trying to find the right words. It’s a temptation to go back and rewrite, but discipline and experience tell me no, it’s time to keep pushing on through. By now I realize that this muddle to some extent is a necessary tactic, because I have expository information which needs to get transmitted at some point, and it’s only after the whole book is written that I’ll be able to prune it in an effective manner, extend it into actual scenes, take scenes out, and so on.

Having the outline, the scene tracker, and the scribbled notes helps, though. Because of the moving and life upheaval which is Immanent. Any. Day. Now, I engaged in the extensive plotting practice. It’s more elaborate than anything else I’ve done, and it’s a learning process.

So here’s what I’ve learned about doing the more detailed planning in advance so far:

Lesson # 1. Ambush plot developments still happen. But it’s easier to integrate them into the story flow with a means of tracking scenes and plot developments, especially if you can go back to notes to find exactly when foreshadowing breadcrumbs need to be inserted.

Lesson #2. The actual writing is where you find the holes in your prewriting/plotting. It’s all well and good to say in your outline that “Bess will do x, y, and z,” until you actually write that scene and discover that “y” doesn’t fit with the character interactions within that scene.

Lesson #3. Prewriting/plotting helps you the writer focus on the deeper elements of your story. I’m finding more brainspace to think about how my characters interact with daily elements in their world because I’m not worried about where they are going/what they are doing.

Lesson #4. All that said, prewriting/plotting doesn’t get rid of the need for rewrites and editing. It just provides a means for me to move past the tough parts and notice what I’ll have to go back and rewrite, while not stewing about “what do I do next?” I think it will prove to be a better tool for faster editing and rewriting, which is a very good thing.

Basically, I’m operating from the point of view of getting the words down fast, and focusing on book completion rather than perfection the first time through. Doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what I’m writing, because I do. While my current daily goal is 1500-3000 words a day, I’m not blithely dashing those words off in an hour or two (except for the coffeeshop morning write with a friend, and that writing is usually scripted/choreographed).

It’s an interesting process. We’ll see what happens in revisions. I’ve completely dropped one icky subplot because the characters didn’t like it (whew, that was a tough one to contemplate creating). A second major subplot is on its way out the door because I really don’t need it for character development across the series arc and I can see where continuing with it will only lead me down the wrong story trails. I’ve gone off the charted path in some arcs because, well, it just works better.

It’s an adventure, for sure.

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Netwalk’s Children: Story Mutations continue

Okay. I’m nearly a quarter of the way through the book; almost done with Page One of a six page matrix outline, and…I’m already veering from the outline. Hugely. Massively. Need to recalibrate things variation.

TL:DR–it’s turning into a family relationship novel. Futuristic family relationship novel with space, fun electronic gadgets, pew-pew moments (oh come on, I even have a pew-pew-pew sound effect in the first few paragraphs, I DARE the Sad Puppies to read it when it comes out!), true. A delicious mashup of two genres I like without some of the stupid stuff that makes my head hurt in both genres (ie, Look Boys, the Girls Are In Charge Here, Don’t Be Idiots).

It’s a good variation, really, because it’s taking some rather dubious threads and breathing them into a reality that is better than the original. This book was always going to be about the transition from one generation to the next one in storytelling focus for the Netwalk Sequence. But to be honest, it’s now clear to me that I hadn’t thought very much about what that really means–and that’s what is fueling the story changes.

Point One: the character of Andrew is changing immensely. He was a bad guy in Netwalk, starts to soften in Netwalker Uprising, and now–is at the point where he and Melanie collaborate against their mother in Netwalk’s Children. I assure you, he was not going to unbend this much in my original conception. He was going to quite happily go out being the bad guy who absolutely hates his sister’s guts up until he dies, just like their uncle did to their mother. Only he was to die for a good reason–okay, then, I guess that happens to his son Richard, with an ill-fated name (no, not gonna tell you why until Netwalking Space).

Yeah, well, Andrew’s pissed off, alienated death not happening now. Why? I gave them kids. A daughter for Melanie, a son and daughter for Andrew. Then I put them into danger, the same danger. From their grandmother, who means oh so well but is being manipulated by a malignant entity, the Gizmo. Melanie’s better set up to defend the kids than Andrew, so of course they’re going to cooperate to protect their kids, especially once they realize that the Gizmo is driving the game. But they have limitations as well. The kids have to come up with something.

Point Two: I’ve dispensed with the clunky use of two devices to access digital/virtual world. In both Netwalk and Netwalker Uprising, I had Dialogue as the primary wireless implant chip and Netwalk for those planning to upload at death/managing the dead personas known as Netwalkers. Now it’s all Netwalk, and the upload is not a given. Fifteen years difference, so yeah, tech has changed. Bess is reviewing the old Netwalk 3 chip development process as part of her training and there’s a Netwalk 5 in prototype.

Point Three: I’ve already thrown in ONE WHOLE NEW PLOT THREAD, OUCH which involves Sneaky Doings That Will Make Everything Worse. Hey, the story needed it. And Richard’s being stupid ends up revealing what the Stupid Sneaky Doings were, though maybe that doesn’t stop them. The fallout from that action is in the next book.

And so on.

Mind you, I don’t regret creating the matrix and I think it has really helped with the development of this story. What I’m discovering is that the use of this planning technique seems to help me get through the fleshing out of some smaller threads that needed more development in first draft rather than leaving this sort of integration into a second draft rewrite. My hope is that this leads to a tighter first draft. I’m already finding it useful for getting my head back into the story during packing, painting, and traveling. April will really put this system to the test.

And. With most of the scenes plotted out, I’m discovering this leaves me free to think more about characters, interactions, and story development.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what this story looks like when I’m done with it.

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Proof that even careful planning doesn’t constrain a novel…

So I created this lovely six page matrix to track the actions of my characters. I thought I had every possible ramification and consideration under control.

Yeah. Right. I just hit 20k words today.

They’re just getting sneakier about introducing whole new plot threads.

Here, just to tease you and out of context, is a snippet from the 3000-some words I wrote today.


“Montcrief, is this true?” Diana demanded. “Zoë, has he filed Contract on Melanie and Andrew?”

“See it for yourself,” Andrew spat out, flipping a hologlobe cube onto the floor in front of them. The hologlobe shimmered open, and a short clip of Troubadour Security confronting Do It Right Security at the first entrance to the compound played.

“We demand entrance to Do It Right under Contract,” the lead Troubadour Security said.

“Entrance disallowed.” The lead Security bristled. “No Contract filing has been released to us.”

“This is a Concealed Filing.”

“No it’s not.” Sarah identified this Security by voice as Angela Garcia, Melanie’s Head of Security. “Or if it is, it’s highly illegal.”

Is that Nik Morley leading the DIR troop? Sarah studied the clip closer. She could have sworn Morley stood behind Melanie–he was the authorized Courts Security representative from Do It Right. But the leader–no, the Second behind him–moved like Morley. Not Morley, though. Too short, shoulders slightly thinner. She couldn’t see faces through the helmets of course, and ventured a small datastring to see if she could tease an ID out of the clip.

Chaos erupted in the vid, ending with the Troubadour Security team under restraint. Several bodies lay strewn around the entrance, but Sarah noticed they were moving slowly. Stun, not kill, thank God. Montcrief. You idiot.

<Holy Mother of God he did do it,> William speeched. <Idiot. Fool.>

She agreed with William. <Montcrief should know better.>

“Then I demand–“ Diana began.

“Mother. Stop.” Melanie raised her left hand again. “We’re the ones offended against.”

“We demand full sanctions for unauthorized Contract actions,” Andrew said. His voice dropped lower, full of menace. “Or has the Executive Council declared war on Do It Right? Because if it has, then I tell you, I will consider any action you take against Do It Right to be an action against Stephens Reclamation as well.”

Go, kids, go, Sarah thought.

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#am writing #Netwalk’s Children

First 1000 words achieved today. May write more later. But for now, here’s the first snippet, as it stands without editing…sound interesting?


“Block it, block it, block it!” Bess Fielding yelled at Alex Jeffreys. “Don’t you dare let Don and Sophie beat us to this one—ah!” As Alex wheeled to lay down a warning fireline behind them, she found the shortcut code she was looking for in her overlays. Tracing the link, she located their target, centered her sights, and fired her blaster, cranking up the volume of both the pew-pew-pew firing sound and the bass-heavy speed death metal music at the same time. The 20th century tank exploded with a satisfying BOOM. Virtual shards spalled past Bess and Alex and faded as they intersected the limits of the hologlobe. Several pieces clattered harmlessly against Bess’s armor, disappearing as they hit.

“Yes!” A rare grin quirked Alex’s lips as he high-fived Bess.

“You slime, you’re cheating!” Sophie Morley-Garcia scolded, pushing back an unusually errant strand of black hair that had worked free from the tight French braid favored by longer-haired Security in Do It Right. “You went into Netwalk, didn’t you, Bess? That tank’s not supposed to be this easy to find and blow.”

Bess shrugged. “In a real fight there’s no rules. Especially in virtual.”

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Netwalk’s Children…and so it begins.


I just texted the above picture to a friend with the note that I needed to break out the notecards…what one does with the third book of a series. Hoo boy, is this ever a writing change. While I’ve never been a complete pantser (oh dear God, after years of lecturing about prewriting to kids, I At Least Do Some Prewriting), at this point I am Officially Tired of having to go back through and tweak everything after the first draft. Or digging through piles of handwritten notes on assorted scraps of paper. I have some significant series threads that need to surface in this volume (one reason I have been procrastinating the writing of this damned book, this Netwalk’s Children, for at least two years). I need to track reveals, clues, and character arcs.

I admit that I was wowed and amazed by the release of J.K. Rowling’s outline for chapters 13-24 of the 5th Harry Potter. Am I likely to go into that much detail? No, probably not, because I don’t think I have that many subplots. What I’m having to track are character arcs, because I have some series-long arcs as well as several-book arcs.

Sigh. It’s late. I’m blathering, but…I’m still working things out.

Over the past few years, too, I’ve written some short stories to help me understand and play with aspects of this universe that I want to develop–not so much the tech but the characters and how they react to the tech. I’m leaving the tech as mostly handwavium until I get to the actual writing, simply because I can’t base the plots too heavily around the tech. It changes too quickly. What I can write about is the implications of what that kind of tech will do to characters and their way of thinking. I’ve spent two book volumes and an omnibus volume of novellas laying the ground for this book (and am developing a short story series along with this book to develop the themes)–and now, we’re in the third generation of the Netwalk/Dialogue tech. It’s time for the kids to react–and carry the wave of tech forward.

Yeah, yeah, vagueblogging. I’m tired, I’m toying with ideas, and this is supposed to be a writing process blog, not blathering about the book itself. But that’s another reason why I am settling in for some serious prewriting and blocking of this book. This damn world gets away from me, more than any other I’ve been playing in so far. I can’t say that Seeking Shelter, Pledges of Honor, or Alien Savvy have demonstrated the ability that the books in this world consistently do in twisting out of loose pantser plotting and creating more complexity which requires elaborate rewrites. I’ve spent too damn many hours going back and doggedly revising because I didn’t think through what the probable answer to a single scribbled sentence would be before I had to write it. Part of that is because I was already detailing lesson plans, IEPs, evaluation plans, etc, etc, etc. But I can’t count on snow days any more to deal with midbook vagueplotting issues.

Well, no more. I’m a working writer, not a teacher-writer, and I have to get into the groove of turning out a good, consistent book on a predictable cycle. I know I do better with a framework–it works for my short stories when I have to purge too many Big Ideas. With this many threads that I want to maintain, I need the help of the structure.

Additionally, this book is going to be written and revised during a moving process. I can’t count on having time to dig continuity out of my brain. I also have a personal hard deadline as I want it out by Worldcon. So…to the grindstone I go.

My hope is that having the reference structure will allow the words to flow, because I also want good words. I really want that good language to dance and sing.

Yeah. Process. Fun.

Seriously, I am enjoying it. Really. It’s nice to be possessed by a story again.

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