Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Snippet

I am going to the zoo tomorrow, so I thought I would actually get this done and up early. I know; I'm shocked, too! The little guy to the left is a Mueller's Gibbon, by the way. I took the picture last year.)

The new job is really still taking a great deal of my time, but I'm starting to claim some of it back. It's going to take me a while before I get settled in, but over all, it's not going badly.

My writing has taken a tremendous hit in all of this -- down from a bit over 3k a day at the beginning of the month to barely 500 words a day for the last week. I'll get it back up to at least 1000 soon, and I hope to build back up to at least 2k by the end of next month.

Now, about the snippet. This is a little scene from farther into Vita's Vengeance and introduces a recurring minor character who lives the war on the ground level, so to speak. Originally, I had written this chapter out in a long 'show, don't tell' sort of way, with a lot of interaction with others, etc. -- but it seemed to drag, and I really wanted it to have a more personal, quiet feel. So here is version... well, it's probably at least version ten when it comes down to it. I've redone this chapter -- and this novel -- more times than I can remember!

(And I'm certain I'm not done yet!)


At the age of eighteen, Page Clair saw his entire life change in a matter of hours.

Shortly after sunset, neighbors arrived at the farm with the first reports about the Anon invasion and their Verdi aide. By midnight nearly everyone in the sector had collected at Digger's Well for a meeting. He couldn't remember seeing this many people in the village, even during the last big fair.

Most of the farmers thought they'd go on growing food and living as they always had since the Verdi wanted the crops. What did they care about who ruled in Kaiton? It never affected them much anyway.

Page's father, Radlil, disagreed. Page respected his father's opinion far more those of the fools who seemed to think Jarak was no different than Elisa.

By dawn, Page couldn't stand listening any longer. He slid through the crowd to his mother's side, and whispered a few quick words. The woman smiled and nodded as though Page had made the right choice. Maybe they wanted to leave as well, but had to remain since Radlil was a sector mayor.

Page jogged down the North Path, and then slowed when he left the sounds of the village behind him. A breeze whispered through the corn and a rare, wild bird chirped from the brush by the road. Walking calmed him. The warm summer sun lifting over the horizon almost lulled him into daydreams of what he would do --

Not this time. There wasn't enough certainty in the future to pretend. Somewhere far north of their village, Verdi transports landed in Tyr and the half mythical Verdi Elite marched toward the Kai-Anon border -- and no one sane expected them to stop there. Page knew he would join the next batch of recruits into the Kai army. His imagined future had sometimes included border patrol against Anon -- but never a real war.

The old path rose in a steep hill about halfway between Digger's Well and the Clair Farm. Page climbed to the top and followed a little foot path to the eastern embankment. He stood on the edge of the green-clad hill, with a wide stream below and the farmlands spread out to the horizon -- nothing different from last week when he stopped here. He squinted and brushed blond hair from his eyes, looking across the open blue skies, and the endless patterned fields of green corn. Corn. Never in his life had Page Clair imaged the damn, dull corn they grew could be important enough for an off-world invasion.

Something bright streaked across the sky and fell, screaming toward the ground, off toward Center, a village to the north of Digger's Well.

It wasn't until he saw the plume of smoke that Page realized he had seen the first sign of war.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Forward Motion Problems

The site has been down twice today. This is a problem with Jatol, and I have every faith that they'll get it cleared up soon. So don't worry and spread the word.

I've been busy at my new job, which took most of my attention for the last few days. I just sent off the first newsletter and I'm already working on the next one. It should go easier now that I see how things fit together.

This has taken a toll on my writing, though! I've barely made my minimum 500 words for several days now. But, again, as I get used to the work, I don't think it's going to be much of a problem getting the word count back up again.

My ability to focus on anything at all appears to be shot right now. But I'll get back to it all!
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

I only thought I was busy....

I have started a new job. One that actually pays something every month. I haven't had a regular job in quite a few years, so the change is a bit odd. But, on the other hand, it is a work-at-home editing job, so much of it is the same as what I normally do anyway. The main part of the job is to put together and edit one of the weekly newsletters from Daz Studio ( I'm doing the Platinum Club newsletter. It's not difficult, really, but learning the template and how their automated redirects and such work is taking some time.

I started a couple days ago. I have the first newsletter very nearly done. I'm only waiting on two last bits, and then I can create all the links I need to paste in... and then it goes to others to see. I'll do final editing and then I'll be ready for the next one. I have some other work besides, that includes a bit more editing, and working on the forum. However, most of my attention is on the newsletter right now.

And that's why there is no snippet this week. There's hardly even any writing, to be honest. Although this is a very small newsletter, and doesn't have much writing in it at all, it's been quite a bit of work to learn how to put it together.

Oh, and yes, I have The Book. It arrived in the mail this afternoon. I'm reading it in bits and pieces, and I hope, even with everything else, to have it done no latter than tomorrow afternoon. I'm about a third of the way through. The one thing I'll say is that the Harry Potter books, no matter how long they are, always read quickly.

All-in-all, I'm in a good mood. The idea of having a steady income again is very nice. Since Russ and I both work freelance, there is rarely a time when we can really count on a set amount of money. This one will help keep us going.

So, I am happy and grateful for the work!
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Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Snippet

It's been a busy week! I have sent out eight submissiopns, and I have at least one more to go. I got a good amount of writing done and between bouts of back problems, I even managed to clean part of the house.

I suspect the world is going to end, but we'll just pretend like that's not going to happen and keep working.

This is another, slightly later snippet from Vita's Vengeance and introduces a second POV character. While the picture on the left isn't quite Kwillian, it does rather embody her attitude toward things. (Actually, it reminds me far more of Devlin, from a nice eight book series I've written... must think about reworking those again.)

And yes, that is my art work.

I hope you enjoy this week's work!

The snippet:

Kwillian Kim had arrived on the same shuttle as Alsandor Vita, which proved a fortuitous and unexpected boon for her. People watched the younger Vita heir, and didn't look twice at the tall, dark-skinned woman who left the shuttle four people behind the councilor.

So she arrived on Dasan without incident. The genescan didn't reveal anything extraordinary about her. She had no criminal record -- but only because no one had records on Lindy Pirates. She slipped through security with less trouble than some natives had coming home.

Kwi looked forward to the work of organizing local underground groups, preparing them for battles fought more often with brains than weapons. People didn't expect Lindy Pirates to be freedom fighters, but for her people it had proven to be an easy step. Besides, Jarak infringed on their usual work, being far better at taking what wasn't his than any Lindy Pirate had ever been at the work. Her people grabbed cargoes now and then; Jarak took whole worlds.

Kwi slipped off to the side of the lobby and found a chair, putting her bag at her feet. She enjoyed watching the Vita boy take on the press like a pro -- although the line about his wife got a snicker out of her. Amusing and unintentional, if she could judge by how he blushed.

What did surprise her, and everyone else, was the attempt on Alsandor Vita's life.

If she'd had any prior indication of trouble, Kwi would have been faster to follow the assassin. Years of training had made her automatically mark the position of everyone around her when she arrived in the building. She knew where the assassin had gone and grabbed her bag, darting down the walkway between shuttle gates after him though he had already disappeared.

Then, cursing at her own stupidity, she realized half the guard in Kaiton would be looking for anyone suspicious. She quickly turned back to the lobby. As she had expected, two guards reached her as she came out of the hall. Kwi gave them her best, disarming smile -- the one she had worked on for years. She held out her ID chit and they ran it through the pocket comp one of them held. Old equipment, a bit outdated. If they'd run it through the Lindy-made pocket comp she carried it would have told them the ID was a fake.

"Kwillian Kim, Sofi Islands," the first guard said. "Do you want to explain why you were following the other man?"

"Following?" she asked, glancing over her shoulder, feigning confusion. The accent was a very good imitation she had learned from her grandfather, whom Kwi had mimicked from an early age. It made her perfect for this assignment. "I didn't see anyone else in the hall."

The guard held out the comp and showed her a vid sequence. She watched a man who knew how to keep his head bowed away from the cams -- yes, well-planned, he knew the place. A professional. Nice of the guards to share so much information with her, she thought with a concealed grin. Then she watched herself, tall, dark and lanky, moving along at a good clip not far behind him. She wished the sequence hadn't ended before she saw where the assassin went.

"Oh yes," she said, and nodded emphatically. "That's me."

"Why did you run?"

Kwi looked down at her feet and then back up. "I just spent a year on Enil. When there's trouble there you get away as fast as you can before the Verdi Elite show up. I was half way down the hall before I realized there aren't any Elite on this world. So I turned around and came back."

It was a good answer, and it worked because they knew she hadn't met the man. Their questions allowed her to do a little of her own work, giving answer hinting at the trouble people faced with the damned Verdi Elite in charge.

"Thank you for your cooperation," the guard said, handing back her ID. "May I ask, given the situation on Dasan, why you're coming here now?"

"I wanted to go home," she said. "I haven't been here in years and I thought... Well, the other choice is to leave the Aquila Fringe completely. At least I have family here."

He nodded and asked no more -- and that, finally, unsettled Kwi. The acceptance said volumes about the current atmosphere in the army in ways she couldn't have gleaned from Vidline reports. These people expected Jarak to arrive and they expected him to win. It was a logical belief, but the attitude would make it harder for Kwi to do her own work.

"We'll have this business settled soon. I see you're taking the Sofi shuttle in two hours. It shouldn't be delayed."

"Thank you."

She went to the nearest row of chairs and sat, trying not to fidget as they worked their way through the rest of the room, interviewing everyone. She watched as General Taren arrived, and not long afterwards a shaken Alsandor left with him. At least he walked away, and from what she heard the medic say to the reporters, it had been a matter of luck.

Kwi wanted answers, but she knew she didn't dare ask for them. Instead, she bowed her head, closed her eyes, and concentrated on listening to the people around her.

"I don't know why," a man said a few chairs away. "Why would anyone do that to Elisa?"

Odd line, since the attempt had been on Alsandor's life, though the man did have a point. Elisa Vita Taren would have suffered at the loss of her brother. Did someone want the President of Kai occupied with a personal crisis right now?

Jarak might, of course, but he wasn't the only one. Director Ivas of the Anon District certainly might like a distraction if he planned to make another push at the border. She had heard rumors of preparation for such an action, which annoyed the hell out of her. She liked to think the people she came to help were better than the Verdi.

Being a spy was such a damn, tedious strain on her morals.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Busy Night

Okay, first... is this a great picture, or what? That's a cicada, just out of his shell, so to speak. Russ found him and came and got me. I love this shot!

I know I've been lax here for a while, but I was ill, and then I was busy, and then I was ill and busy... and I pretty much ran out of all energy. I thought I was past the worst of it until the afternoon of the third, when I leaned over to clean the cat litter and felt something go 'rip' through my lower back. Oh my, did that hurt. And I said things that even sent the cats running. I somehow managed not to fall -- lucky for me, considering the job I was doing -- and hobbled into the office, and then finally to bed. It's been five days and it still hurts, but today I could finally stand up straight, cook dinner, do some dishes, and generally get on with life.


In fact, for the last two days I really got back to life the way it should be. I pointed out that I've fallen behind on submissions, something that really bothers me since I've kept it up for ten years. Russ suggested that I rewrite two short stories and get them out this weekend. And you know what? It worked. I pulled three stories up (Yeah, yeah, always overachieve when it comes to writing) and started rewriting. They were basically good ideas with bad development. I worked on nothing but those stories for the last two days and I'm printing out one of them now. Cover letters are done, SASE is ready for the first one, and tomorrow they will go off into the mail. Or Monday.

Ah! First one done! Stolen Moments is ready to wing its way to Asimov's! It is all nestled away in its nice little envelope. I never fully believe that the stories will sell, but you know, it's still exciting to get them all ready and allow myself a little whisper of hope that this one might the right one. It's a good story. I don't know that it's right for Asimov's, but I'll try anyway.

Even more daring, I've got one to go to Analog this time. Oh yes, and the other will go to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. Might as well do the big three all at once. F&SF is a fast turn around.

I'm printing out Tanon for F&SF now.

I'm not certain the last time I thought I had anything even remotely right for Analog. That is, by far, the hardest of the three to break into because of the tech side of the stories. I write adventure SF, and while those stories can (and usually do) rely on some tech, it's not enough to fall into their work.

But this one... well, we'll see.

Okay, it's later now. I've printed off two stories, and then I made myself do the final edit on a preface and first chapter that I needed to send off to a publisher who had asked for a chapter. It took me too long to get it done because of being so ill. I didn't even realize how ill I'd been until I got better again.

I sent the stuff off through the email. We'll see if he likes it or not.

I guess it's my night to be daring, although I made such an odd noise after I hit send on that email that I startled cats. But it's done and gone, and that's good.

You know, this has been a fun night. A shame it's already 3:36 am!
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Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Snippet!

I'm going with the next section of the chapter from last week. Right now I'm in the midst of working on nonfiction and rewriting short stories, so neither would really work.

Besides, Vita's Vengeance is a fun story, and I've edited a couple bits even while I fix it up to go here. Every little bit helps!

So, Chapter 1, Part 2:

"Call Madame President!" the man shouted.

"No!" Alsandor caught the ankle of another who had started to pull his commlink. The touch hurt like hell, sending pain radiating in waves through his body, but he didn't let go. He had to fight to speak. "No! She'll come here. Don't tell her! Assassin might... want her. Someone -- Trine --"

"Get the port's medtech!" another ordered. He heard shouted orders about sealing off the building, but Alsandor knew they were already too late to catch the man. He'd been good, quick, professional....

Soldiers swiftly moved Alsandor into a small, cluttered office. The movement made him ill. By now color and sounds began to blur. Someone brought the medic. After a quick scan he pushed an injection into San's neck, followed by another scan before he started to look less worried.

"Damned lucky," the man said. Alsandor could already hear better, and the room colors had stopped melting into each other. "You've already taken Anticol recently, didn't you?"

"Y-yes," he said in a gasp for breath and words. "Two doses, earlier."

"You'd be dead without them. Trine has a chemical make-up very close to alcohol. With the proper flavoring added, most people can't tell the difference, and if there's alcohol already in the blood stream, it acts as a catalyst and speeds up the reaction. Anticol, praise God, is the best antidote we have. You were hit with an extremely strong, concentrated dose of Trine."

Alsandor barely nodded, the world still too bright and painful.

"Here, this will help deaden the nerve fire." The med carefully pulled off Alsandor's jacket, and gently pushed up the shirt sleeve. He placed an injector against Alsandor's wrist below an ugly red and brown spot where the stranger had touched him.

Someone had tried to kill him?

The door slid open, startling Alsandor, though he nodded with relief at the sight of Micah -- and then worried again when he saw his brother-in-law's frantic appearance. Nothing ruffled General Micah Taren, but there he stood without his uniform cap, brown hair looking wind-blown, and his jacket unbuttoned.

"They called me as I was getting ready for Council," Micah breathlessly reported. "--and said you'd taken Trine Poison --"

"Not taken," the medtech corrected so brusquely that Alsandor felt chagrined. He didn't realize he needed defending on a charge of suicidal tendencies. The doctor indicated the discolored spot on Alsandor's bare right arm. "Someone tried to kill him. He's lucky he survived."

"Oh damn." Micah abruptly sat down on a chair. He put a hand to his mouth and away again, a gesture San knew reflected agitation. "Why didn't someone call Elisa?"

"Told them not to," Alsandor said, taking short breaths, hoping to ease both the pain and the panic. "Didn't know where the assassin went. He might have tried to kill me just to lure Elisa here."

"That makes sense. You aren't important enough --" Micah stopped, and looked horrified. "I'm sorry, San. That was a damned impolite, and thoughtless, thing to say!"

Alsandor managed to lift a shaking hand and wave away the apology. "It's all right. I was thinking the same thing."

"That's not fair to you. You are important. Why do you think Ranifyn spends so much of his energy trying to convince people you should be removed from Council?"

"Because he likes easy targets."

"Then why do you make it easy for him? No, never mind. I'm being unfair again. You're obviously not in condition to be badgered."

"He will be better as soon as the poison works its way through his system. Probably by tomorrow -- though it may take longer. It's hard to say." The medtech started packing up his equipment, glancing at Alsandor and then at Micah. "The amount of Trine would have killed him within the hour if he hadn't already had the Anticol, which immediately neutralized the worst of the poison. There would have been damage no amount of regen could have fixed in time." He stopped and looked at Alsandor. "Be careful. It doesn't matter why this person tried to kill you. He wasn't playing games."

"Thank you," San said, and carefully shook the man's hand, though his fingers still tingled with a latent hint of fiery pain. He had to fight to keep the panic from showing as he watched the man leave.

"Tell me what happened," Micah said drawing his attention. The General looked more himself again, at least.

Alsandor related the incident as best he could. Micah listened and nodded. The vidcams, both in Port Authority and from the reporters, would probably reveal more.

With the tale done, San carefully pulled the shirt sleeve back down over his arm. The skin looked discolored and puffy from wrist to elbow. By the time he finished he realized Micah had been quiet for far too long. Alsandor looked up to find his older brother-in-law staring at him again.

"This is a hell of a way for you to come home, isn't it?" Micah finally asked.

"I --" He stopped short of telling Micah he'd considered not coming back. "I'm rattled. I'm sorry."

"You needn't apologize to me. What you do need is to see the family medic and have an escort home --"

"No, no. I'm going to Council. I received a message from Elisa to get there as soon as I came in."

"Don't be ridiculous, San. You're pale as a ghost, and shaking. I don't think you really want to sit through a meeting, do you? And for a little extra incentive to go home instead, Ranifyn has already announced he will make an important speech today."

San winced at the thought of listening to one of the senior Councilor's special important speeches. Councilor Ranifyn loved to hear himself speak. San didn't want to sit through it -- but then considered the alternatives.

"Better Rani then Idela. I'll go to Council. I don't want anyone to make points on this one, Micah."

"You weren't listening to the medtech. This isn't a game."

"Did you tell Elisa what happened when you left? What you thought happened?"

"No," he said with a grimace. "I didn't really think you had done it on purpose, San. You wouldn't do that to Elisa. I was just so rattled and scared when I saw you -- you looked like you were going to fall over dead at any moment."

He hadn't expected Micah to sound so emotional about it. "Elisa will know you were called away. She'll probably know you went to the port, and suspect it has to do with me. She's going to be worried," San said. "I'll go to Council, sit through Rani's speech -- what is it on this time?"

"A statement of vast importance is all we've gotten. Elisa and I think he heard you were on the shuttle, and --"

"He has a spy on the ship," San suddenly surmised.

"That's what Elisa thought, too. Amazing how much alike you two think. And it's why Elisa ordered the ship's captain to make certain you were stone-cold sober when you reached landfall."

"And saved my life." He rubbed at his sore arm, and winced. "So, I have Rani to thank for being alive."

"Unless he's the one who sent the assassin." Micah shook his head before San could protest. "No, the last thing Rani wants is for you to look like a martyr."

"Exactly. Let's go to Council. It doesn't matter of I'm not drunk, Micah, if I'm not there anyway. And I really don't want to go home to Idela yet. Yes, I'd much rather face the entire Council and a speech from Councilor Ranifyn instead."
"You should divorce her."

"Not until Elisa says so."

Micah's head came up with a start. Amazing to see General Taren startled twice in the same hour. "Is that what you've been waiting on? Good God, Alsandor Vita! 'Lis and I have spent months trying to figure out what the hell was stopping you!"

"Well you could have mentioned it to me," he said and knew he sounded cross this time. "Elisa is the one who suggested I marry her, you know."

"Oh, damn. I'm sorry, Alsandor. That's been a stupid mistake from the beginning! She hoped to bribe Jarak with the promise of a claim to the Vita Fortune until outside protests against his other aggressions finally slowed him down. Unfortunately, no one outside really gives a damn."

"I know. I came back from a very graphic exercise in learning how little they cared." He carefully pulled his jacket into place.

"And you went along with the marriage," Micah said.

"Absolutely. I don't want Jarak to take Dasan, either. A shame it didn't work. I think all Jarak really wanted was an heir to the Vita fortune."

Micah tilted his head as he looked at Alsandor. "And you've been damned careful he doesn't get an heir, haven't you?"

"This something else you and Elisa talk about?" San asked, feeling unexpectedly amused by the thought.

"Oh yes. Your sex life is such a nice diversion from the threat of war."

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

The View from the Top

This is in answer to this blog:

I'm not going to post it there because it's obvious, in this case, that we will not agree and I don't see any reason to go through all that again. But I do have a very definite view on this one, so here you go!

Show me your credentials before I listen to anything you have to say. What? You haven't been published? Then you cannot possibly know anything of worth.

I guess critique groups, which usually don't have the luck of having someone who is published among them, are useless then. And advice, no matter how good it might be, should be ignored unless the person can prove it worked for them. Never mind if they got the advice from someone else, or even -- unthinkable! -- they happened upon something helpful all on their own. That, of course, has never happened to any of the already published authors.

I agree that published authors have better insight into a good many aspects of publishing that those who are not yet published do not. People should listen to them, and should weigh their advice above everyone else's. It drives me nuts to see them ignored and insulted -- which is usually done by the people who are desperate for attention.

Published people have been there. They know what they're talking about, and someone looking for answers should always listen to them if they're willing to offer help.

However, don't summarily dismiss anyone who hasn't reached publication. Let's look at how silly this is: Writer A comes to chat and suggests to someone looking for help that he should try doing 'this.' But Writer A isn't published, so the suggestion is bad and should be ignored. However, a week later Writer A has a major contract from a book company, so now what Writer A offers as advice is good -- even when it's the exact same thing.

Writer B is working on his first novel. He's found something that helps him chart out chapters. But he hasn't finished even one book let alone a couple dozen, so his advice is no good.

Advice has to be weighed for what it is, not from whom it comes. I've seen bad advice from published authors, especially at conventions, and I've had some good advice from people who rarely write at all. Your best bet, always, is to get advice from a number of different places. Check it out. See what works for you. Be willing to try different things, but be wise when it comes to the finished product.

Credentials? My own include small press publications, dozens of ebook publications, ezine and print magazine publications, hired as an assistant publisher for one of the larger ebook companies, took a year long class from Writer's Digest under Holly Lisle... Oh, and I've written over a hundred novels and nearly as many short stories. Guess what? I still listen to others when they give advice, no matter where they stand in the writing/publication path.

Listen to everyone. It doesn't hurt. Try different things. Be wise when you are getting advice from professionals and make certain that advice applies to you and your work, because not all of it will. Be even wiser when you listen to people who don't have the kind of credentials that make them an acknowledged 'expert' but don't dismiss them just because they haven't reached that spot yet.
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