Category Archives: writing thoughts

No more short stories

In a lot of ways, this is a hard post to write. I’ve sold plenty of short stories. Earned placements in competitions including Writers of the Future (SemiFinalist, Honorable Mention x 2).

But I’m done with submitting unsolicited short stories to markets. Period. It is no longer worth the misery and the time it takes away from writing books.

I’m not writing this as a disgusted or frustrated amateur. I’ve been writing and selling short fiction off and on since 2008, plus a short stint of submitting shorts in the 90s before life complications pulled me away from writing fiction for a while. I know William Shunn’s submission format backwards and forwards. I have Ralan and the Submission Grinder bookmarked. I’ve had things published in anthologies, including ones that have placed in competition. I actually have a sale to a SFWA-qualifying market (and a couple of those anthologies paid SFWA rates).

What I haven’t done has been obsessively turning out short work and putting the effort in that is required to make the sales in this era. Look. At one time I had twenty stories out at a time for submission. Most of them have sold. For a while there I was trying to build up that number while writing novels, but then the short stories kind of fell by the wayside and I started focusing on novels and self-publishing, which means…writing a lot of novels and building a backlist. In the last year I’ve completed five novels in rough draft (two now published, the next three this fall as part of a quick-release trilogy). With that sort of focus my short story production and tracking kind of died. But now that the trilogy is progressing through edits, I have time to look around. I had thought about working on some shorts that I’d made notes for future composition.

And then I opened up my submissions record spreadsheet. The sense of dread that clutched my gut almost made me cry. Still, I carefully noted the stories I had recorded as out for submission, then searched through my email to see if I could account for all of them. Here’s what I found:

8 stories total

4 stories clearly rejected (2 within 48 hours with the good rejections…ie, not a fit but we like your work, please send more. Longer sub periods were similar. That’s my standard rejection these days)

2 stories at markets that died

2 stories that appeared to have fallen through cracks somewhere in the submission process (and yes, I had sub confirmation emails, one had been requested for a further hold)

I almost burst into tears at the thought of the several hours of work ahead. Clicking through open markets at Ralan and the Submission Grinder. Winnowing out the weird formatting requirements, the cut and paste in email only markets, the “if you don’t hear from us you’re rejected” markets, the weird subscription processes for submitting to some markets. And then the speedy rejects anywhere within 24-48 hours. If I were truly dedicated to writing short stories, I’d be writing and updating my submissions weekly. Write a new short story every week. Rejects back out within a week. That’s the sort of grind that short fiction success requires…and the markets are narrowing. Additionally, I have this suspicion that part of short fiction success may be visibility on social media, especially on Twitter. Networking through workshops. I’m not connected very well these days, certainly not as well as I was back when I was selling more short fiction. Plus I’m cis-het, white, female, and over sixty. Not exactly the burning demographic for a lot of short fiction markets.

Did I really need to keep flogging this dead horse of short fiction writing for traditional markets?

After all, I’ve republished some of my short stories as ebooks and chapbooks to sell at bazaars and in-person events as loss leaders. I’ve self-published short stories that are outtakes of events in my two series, The Netwalk Sequence and Goddess’s Honor. They do sell.

I looked back at those statistics. Half clearly rejected but with the sort of positive rejects that writers keep getting told “that means you’re getting close! Keep it up!”

Yeah. Tell that to someone else. Been doing this for a while.

But it’s the other four that pushed me over the edge. The dying markets. The work involved with submissions falling through the cracks. And then contemplating the work that needs to be done to send out the six whose fates I know. And at that point I just said enough. I’ve had it. Had it with quirky formatting requirements. Had it with weird submission portals. Hell, some of those portals make Kindle look simple. Had it with digging through market listings where when you click through, you can’t back away fast enough because of political considerations (some of these stories are horror and hoo boy, there’s some weird and toxic stuff out there).

I. Have. Just. Plain. Had. It.

So I’m dropping out of the commercial short fiction market. I’m going to make covers for my remaining stories as I have time, and they’re going up for sale. If and when I ever do in-person events again, I’ll make more chapbooks, or perhaps offer a chapbook collection through an online store or something. But now it’s goodbye to that damn submission sheet. Goodbye to formatting games. Goodbye to bizarre submission portals. Goodbye to trying to trace stories that fell through the cracks.

Nobody’s gonna miss me in that market anyway. But I can and will sell a few stories in ebook and chapbook, and they’ll get read. I know that one for sure.

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The things you learn from looking at old notes

One of the projects I have in the works for 2020 is the reissuing and updating of the entire Netwalk Sequence book series, including new covers, updating outdated tech, fixing continuity errors, updating the back matter references, consolidating related short stories into one volume, and modernizing the layout for the first two books (I reread the whole series and hoo boy, the pre-2016 versions are…rough). While it’s interesting that I’m seeing comments from other writers on Facebook about doing similar work with their science fiction series, including the tech updates, the fact that I’m doing it isn’t what triggered this short blog.

It’s what I saw in my notes when I decided to look back at them.

Now this series has had a heavily political foundation, even if it hasn’t always been front and center. Even as far back as the summer of 1992, when I first lay out the timelines which led to the Netwalk series, I had projected real-world events based on if Bush won or Clinton won the Presidency. Those outlines were shockers when I went back to look at them in 2012, simply because I had called a few trends based on my political science background, political activism, and regular reading. I don’t know where I’ve filed those outlines but I do have them on hand. I just haven’t dug them out yet.

What blew me away were some of the notes I made in 2012–specifically, March, 2012. I projected an economic downturn and a Republican presidential victory in 2016 that led to further political fragmentation. Now while I went out on a limb thinking that biofuels were going to be a thing (they aren’t, but in 2012 with gas prices they seemed feasible), I did make some comments about 2020 being the hottest summer ever, with massive power failures leading to infrastructure collapses. Which led to the rise of a third party with midlevel corporate support for stronger environmental policies as a driver. I completely missed electric cars. But I have hit growing economic marginalization within regions.

I did find that system collapse in this projection happens in the 2020s-2030s. My notes read as follows: “The darkness I haven’t wanted to face is my projection of major systems collapse happening in the 20s-30s. For one thing, I’ll be an old lady when that happens and I really don’t like that idea. My projections have come scarily close to the reality (note: referring back to 1992 outlines here) and that’s not a good feeling.”

What I do seem to be missing (and will be addressed in these updates) is today’s concerns about climate change. But still. Coming across those notes from almost eight years ago was a bit startling, to say the least.

On the other hand, it’s increased my confidence that I’ll be able to call short-term, near-future developments which will be a part of the next book project. Which does not have a title other than “The Ruby Project” yet (the protagonist, Ruby, is named after a local mountain), and the McGuffin that drives it is robotic agricultural technology (pinpoint agriculture) as well as advances in plant technology which will address carbon sequestration and such. Yep, I’m gonna be working on the agripunk book once I get Judgment of Honor through production. I have some exciting leads for local agronomy information, a good basic conflict, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a bit of a thriller-chiller. Quite a change from Judgment, or even the Vortex Worlds book that I’m also poking at through research. But the Ruby Project should also give me good material for the Netwalk updates as well.

Fascinating times ahead. But Ruby is going to be a bit more cheerful than Netwalk–for my own sanity, if nothing else.

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Writing short vs long

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we shall see where this takes me.

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Writing process thoughts

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

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

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

What to do, what to do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Beyond Honor and Glorianna

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

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

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

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New things on the writing front

Right now I find myself playing with some of the writing things I am doing. Between editorial work and my own stuff in different stages of production (both self and small indie press), I’m juggling about five different projects and figuring out how to advance work on some others.

Additionally, Mocha’s white line disease flared again, in the old site, and I’m having to check on it daily, plus get her out of her stall for a little bit to do some light work. We are at the stage of doing White Lightning soaks (at 45 minutes) three times a week on the affected foot and last weekend I did maintenance soaks on the other three hooves. I was doing iodine and Epsom salts soaks every other day, but I’ve decided that maybe that’s a bit of overkill. So I’m just doing an iodine flush on the days I’m not doing White Lightning. Which is a chlorine compound (oxine) that, when mixed with vinegar, creates a gas that fumigates the hoof and kills the dang fungus that causes white line. This fungus is the same dang fungus that humans get in fingernails, and oxine/White Lightning works on it. It’s just a challenge to find ways to get the White Lightning to where the fungus is in a horse hoof, especially since the horse is walking on it.

Ergo, the gassy soak. Mix White Lightning and vinegar, and pour it into a bag that can contain the gas for an extended period of time. Regular hoof boots don’t retain enough gas by volume to be effective. So it has to be a bag, and the bags for sale are not cheap. But finding a bag that is a.) cheap and b.) durable requires some thought. I’ve found that gallon generic freezer bags reinforced with duct tape works nicely. Yes, I was raised redneck. Anyway. Tie the bag with a strand of whatever you have handy to tie with, and proceed to bribe entertain the horse for 45 minutes of hanging out in the crossties.

Yeah. Time consuming. So very glad I’m not teaching right now. As it were, once this hit, I realized I had to focus a bit more on the writing organization if I was going to keep the writing AND the book production together.

It’s not perfect, but I think I’m starting to develop a system. Which is good, because:

Shadow Harvest needs pictures, perhaps a cover revision (must do research first), then compile and check, plus PR copy. I still plan to release it at the end of October.

Alien Savvy is chugging along for release in November. This is a 5500 word short story that I’m blowing up into a novelette. The way it’s going (I added some scenes), I think it could easily crack 15,000 to 20,000 words. It’s an interesting little Cuban Missile Crisis-era Western story with aliens and UFO conspiracies, and features a nice little buckskin cutting horse mare. I have no freaking idea what the market will be for this story, but I’m having fun with it.

I plan to release an omnibus edition of Winter Shadows and Shadow Harvest in December.

Netwalk’s Children. Dear God, what can I say about Netwalk’s Children? This is the toughest book of the series, in part because I’m trying to be so mindful about it and I’ve also written a lot of words just playing with this world. I have also decided that this is going to be the book that I compose entirely in Scrivener, including the notes. I’ve gotta have a system with this series. It’s getting too big and too complex. That said, I’m finding it to be a help. Now I just have to get to the point where I’m ready to write.

Seeking Shelter at the End of the World (eTreasures Publishing). I should be getting galleys next week for a projected October 27th release. I also need to start promotional work, but the release date needs to be firmed up.

Plus there are editing jobs and beta reads to keep up with. How on earth did I ever do this when I was working? And there are move-related things which will become more imperative as time passes, and, and, and….

I am developing systems. I am trying things out. I’m reading books about writing and being mindful and conscious of what I am doing. I’m also thinking about where I want to go with this career, which comes back to–what do I want to write?

Growth is happening. I need to find my place to thrive. Perhaps that is coming…soon.

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Slowing down on the blogging because of Revision Deathmarch

I’m not sure why I’ve been slowing down on the blogging.  A lot of it is probably because I’m spending more time on actual writing these days, y’know, including some self-imposed deadlines on a really tough rewrite.

It’s not for lack of ideas.  I get them when I’m riding the horse, when I’m running errands around town, even when I’m working on, y’know, the rewrite.  But when I get to the computer, instead of opening up WordPress, I’m opening up Word and doing the writing thing.

We’ll see what happens when I get done with the rewrite.  I am devising a writing process post because I’m using a different technique that I couldn’t have done before the iMac came into my life, and I may end up adopting the process for future long-form works.  Having a chapter outline open while I work on the MS is turning out to be rather productive and I can make my notes about a rather complex plot structure and what I need to do in future chapters/modify outline right there and then rather than scribble ideas on PostIts and scraps of paper that I can never find when I need them.

But yeah.  Netwalker Uprising is possessing my brain right now.  When I’m not writing or doing house stuff, I’m reading Anathem.  For some reason I bounced off of it before (probably because like all Stephenson’s work except for Zodiac, the first third is world building and slow, and I tried to read it during the school year).  Between the two, there’s not a lot of extra stuff available at the moment.

The last Allan Schore seminar blew my socks off as well.

I am not quite at the point where I need to list posts I’m planning here.  For one thing, I’ll lose them.  But until July 1, I’m pretty much in the state of “possessed by Uprising” brain murble.

On to the Revision Deathmarch

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Of writing, and horses, and maybe a wee bit about teaching.

So I am deep into the Netwalker Uprising revisions, and I’m not sure yet who’s winning, me or the story.  Part of the challenge is that my editor (freelance, since I’m indie publishing the Netwalk Sequence I’m paying her for the edit and MS preparation) came back with some serious suggestions about story revision.

They were spot-on.

And then, in the creative frenzy that happened during the snow day this winter……

(remember this?  Yeah, this is that project)

I came up with a sweet little twist which carries across the whole damn series and pulls things together that I didn’t realize fit into my world’s backstory.  It explains one hell of a lot that happens there.  It gives the whole McGuffin solid legs.

Yeah, I like it when a Cunning Plan finally comes together.

But damn, the execution of said plan can be a challenge.  I have been wrestling with Chapter Three for dang near three days now.  Not the little half-hour grabs I do during the working year but solid, multi-hour sessions where I sit for the duration of a Pink Floyd CD (Momentary Lapse of Reason) and write something, scroll back to cross-check, write more, delete, accept changes, chew on my lip, add something, scroll back….get up at the end of the CD, brew more tea, stretch, stare at the birds, check e-mail, get back to writing something, delete, accept changes…..

Meanwhile, I also have the chapter outline I wrote to help me whip this MS into some semblance of order also up on the screen (I’m writing on an iMac so the screen has room for two documents at once without having to tab between them.  So.  Freaking.  Cool!) and I’m editing later chapters on the fly as new thoughts occur.

And trust me, this is a painful slog.  The two earlier chapters weren’t this hard, but this chapter, this Chapter Three, this one is foundational.  It sets the rules for what comes after.  It has to be coherent.

Plus I’m not just establishing and extending the McGuffin, this chapter turns out to have a LOT more character work than I expected.

And, well, fireworks!

Oh yeah, I finally did conquer Chapter Three.  I split it in half.  That section was easy.  The foundational chapter is now Chapter Four.  Too much for one chapter.

And then Chapter Five will be All! New! Material!

We shall see how that plays.

Meanwhile, Miss Mocha was in one of her–ahem–energetic moods.  Not like the picture above, where she’s relaxed.  I rode her indoors because, well, monsoons (we don’t get that necessarily in Oregon but the June Damp is still holding on desperately).  Additionally, I don’t want to ride her too many times in a row on the hard outdoor footing.  She’d started to pussyfoot her stops and that’s a clear sign it’s jarring her hocks.  The softer indoor footing gave me a more energetic horsie, for sure.

I also worked on myself, focusing on sitting up, dang it, and visualizing a string pulling my head to the roof.  When I collapse my core, part of what’s going on is all about me rounding my shoulders.  Amazing how much difference thinking about position, visualizing the string pulling me up, and imagining my heels dragging on the ground can make!  That gave me a softer horse in the hand.

We had a long work, doing string of pearls at all three gaits with flying changes for the direction changes at the canter.  We schooled figure 8s.  We two-tracked.  We did a few baby two and three-tempi changes in S curves and I was able to get them in a somewhat straighter line than before.  Part of the challenge is convincing The Girl that the lead does NOT always have to be the inside lead (after all those years convincing her otherwise, sigh, but neither one of us was ready for this earlier).  She’s understanding the need for change when the line curves a little.  I figure once she comprehends the rhythm of tempi changes, she’ll like the feel of it (she’s that kind of geeky horse) and then it will be easy to cue her off of seat and leg.  I’m steadier in cueing these things off of seat and leg and leaving the hand as a support, not a leading cue.  Timing’s better.

Then we went down the road and she had a Brain Fart Moment.  Luckily, Brain Fart Moments in twelve-year-old cowhorse mares looks like halt, raise head high (instead of low head surfing for possible munchies–she’s very much like a Shetland pony in this one), and stare in the direction of what worries her.  Give her a moment to figure it out, then ask her to move on.  She might stop after a couple of steps but giving her time to study and think about it is key.  I figured out that one thing was someone working in a yard who she couldn’t see clearly, just see the movement and hear her walking around.  Another part was the low hum of something–whatever it is, it’s connected to the city’s waterline that runs through the area.  But there were other things going on that I couldn’t see.

When we turned back to the barn, she started walking faster than I’d like, almost a trot.  So we spent time walking, then turning back, then walking, whoa, back…until she got sick of it and relaxed, approaching the Difficult Section with lowered head (though still tight).  I got her to slow her pace slightly, though she still walked fast.  Then we crossed over to our regular stroll and she relaxed further and slowed down.  So yeah, more stuff was worrying her than I could see or hear.  Probably something she smelled, possibly elk, coyotes, bear or even cougar.  All have been spotted in the area.

And that’s it for tonight.  The only teaching comment I’ll make is that I’ve been musing over the stats on teacher turnover.  Still thinking about that.

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The madness of the day


Yesterday I had a snow day.  While I could have gone skiing, instead I tackled a major marathon of worldbuilding for the Netwalk Sequence.  My editor had pointed out some issues and I realized that I really, really needed to coordinate and plan things out, starting with a coherent timeline and then some filling in of backstory, not just character but historical and outlining what research I needed to do.  After all, the last time I did this sort of planning for Netwalk?  It was still being called Netspider (which changed to Netwalk a couple of years later) and it was 1995.

Not good for a world built around concepts that postulate major political and environmental upheaval as precursors to the recovery I’m writing about.

Well, I have the bare bones outline.  But the process looks something like this.  Above was the preparation layout, with binder and papers from pieces I’d put together both in hard copy and in Evernote editing clips.

Then I went to the easel.  Early takes:


At this point, I’d already created the broad outline sheet (pinned to the bookcase) of Things I Need To Build.  I kept on adding stuff.  The sheet on the easel was the dateline posted here on the website (which will need to be updated seriously).

A later iteration of this same sheet:


Already you can see the scratch outs.

But wait!  There’s more!


And while that’s the last picture version, there were further additions and corrections.

There’s also the third sheet.


Like I said, a six hour straight through marathon of worldbuilding work.  I still have a lot more to do, but the bare bones have been laid.  A productive day, IOW.

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A reason not to support Writers of the Future any longer

Warning: may be triggery to follow the link below.

Summary: Deirdre is a former Scientologist and current sf writer.  She knows whereof she speaks.  She’s not openly opposed WotF until now…but after this testimony, well, yeah.

She’s asked those of us who post this link to warn you all that it’s triggery for bullying issues, amongst other things.

I stopped sending stuff to WotF a few years back after Deirdre’s first cautious postings.  I definitely won’t send things now.

Link here.

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