Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New computer, More Kat

Russ is supposed to come home this weekend. Yay! But... we might get an ice storm tonight. Now I shouldn't think the two are related, but if there is any way for the ice storm to affect Russ coming home, it is bound to happen, even though it's a couple days out from when he should get here. That's just the way things work lately.

The partial is off to the agent. We'll see if anything comes of it. I expect it might take a try or two more. (grin)

I am working from my new computer, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. It's amazing how much faster it is, how steady it is. I have a lovely HP Pavilion running Windows Vista 64 bit (or whatever it is called) with a lot of memory and it is wonderful. I even like Vista. I haven't had a single problem with it. I suspect that I just don't ask a lot of such programs, so I'm a fairly safe user. All I want is for it to allow me to type up stories and occasionally work on graphic stuff. Paint Shop Pro works very well. In fact, the entire program loaded in faster than it would have opened in the poor, previous computer.

Changing computers at this time may, however, not been the wisest move. It is a short month, I have a ton of stuff to get done, and Russ should be here on Friday. I don't want to be working on things when Russ gets home.

Providing, of course, that the ice storm tonight doesn't somehow make it impossible for Russ to get here. It shouldn't, really. It is not going to reach as far south as Omaha, where he would fly in. But it might be hitting elsewhere when he flies out and that could be a problem. I expect a problem, in case you can't tell.

Writing is going very well. I finished the rewrite of Glory, though I am still looking at cutting the opening down drastically. It just meanders too long, I think. Too much of the journey, and not enough of the action. I wanted to show a changed world... but it doesn't feel very changed when I read it. I think I can cut that part back a bit more and get to the action faster. I have trouble with openings. I almost always over-write them. It sometimes takes quite a bit before I can figure out what I really need to set the scene and what I don't. I am getting there, though.

I have rewritten Joey Mousekin's tale. I have no idea what to do with it. It's about 16k and a children's story (though I'm uncertain of the age it fits, not having dealt with children in several decades). I really like the story, though. The new version is really great with an opening that actually works now. Oddly, this was just the opposite of most of my writing. I didn't have enough information off the start for it.

And now I'm on to rewriting Kat Among the Pigeons (see previous post for opening). This one is really fun! The characters are great to write, from the not so sure of herself main character to the obnoxiously fun cat.

Here is another fun little snippet:

I went to the kitchen to get David a cup of coffee. Cato followed me.

"You try to trip me again, cat, and you'll be out hunting food with Pawford and the boys."

"I'm just trying to remind you of your obligations," Cato answered.

David laughed. "That's funny. He meowed just like he's answering you."

"Oh, he is," I said and smiled. "I'm sure he has a lot to say, too."

"Good thing you can't understand him," David replied. He came and took the cup from my hand.

I smiled and hoped I didn't turn red or anything. Cato looked from me to him and shook his head. "Uh oh. I know that look. If you're going to get involved with this one, please try to be a little more discreet than you were the last time. That was just mortifying to walk in on the two of you doing it --"

I almost batted him on the head, which would have been a really bad thing to do with David there. Oh, I wouldn't have hit him hard enough to hurt, but it would have gotten his attention.

"Let me get him some food so he shuts up," I said, forcing a smile.

"He does seem like a nice, talkative cat," David said. He leaned down and scratched Cato behind the ears and down the neck.

"Okay," Cato said, standing still and purring. "You can keep this one. And I don't care what you do with him."

"Well, you're easily won over," I said. Lucky for me it didn't sound odd. I sometimes forgot myself. It's hard when you can understand cats and birds and forget that not everyone else can. In the fae lands, they at least know what's going on. But on this side... well, it draws odd looks sometimes.

I gave the cat more food. I even found another treat from the fridge for him, just to keep him busy and away from me for a few minutes. David and I went out to the dining room table and sat down to discuss business while we sipped our coffee.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Opening to Kat Among the Pigeons

Chapter One

The incessant tapping of small bird beaks against the bedroom window brought me out of a deep and blissful sleep.

Tap, tap, tap.

"Go 'way," I said, pushing my head under the pillow. Cato, a big lazy lump of a yellow cat slept on another pillow. He made a sound of protest and burrowed back into the blankets. I started to fall back asleep...

Then I began to hear the little voices.

"Big wings! Big Wings!"

Tap, tap, tap.

"Don't care," I mumbled.

Tap, tap, tap-tap-tap-tap. "Big-big-big wings!"

I rolled over, pausing for a moment to stare at the ceiling as I considered what kind of ecological disaster would be sent upon the earth if I wiped out the nuthatches.


Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.

It sounded like a badly sung round robin, with the drummer out of beat as well -- and it was not a sound a person could sleep through. I sat up, brushed hair from my eyes and looked toward the window where a dozen or more panicked nuthatches held to the wood around the frame, some of them hanging upside down, and all of them tapping ceaselessly at the window. Their little voices rose in high-pitched cries of frantic worry.

"Big wings, big wings, big wings."


"Yes, yes. I got the idea. I'm getting up!"

I yanked on my robe as I stood. Pale, grey light drifted through the window; it couldn't be more than a few minutes past dawn. Cato lifted his head from the pillow and blinked sleepily.

"What is wrong with the little nuts?" he asked and yawned.

"Not nuts," I answered batting at his head as I went past. I missed and he just stretched again. "Nuthatches."

"All the same to me," Cato said and laid back down, his tail curled up around his nose. "Do you think you could quiet them down a bit?"

"Sure. I could throw you out the window and they'd probably find that interesting enough to shut up about the eagle or hawk or plane that upset them this morning."

Cato snorted and mumbled something I didn't quite hear. Probably just as well.

Understanding animals is fairly common among the fae. It's what makes us good at our work, even on this side of The Edge. But. . . . Well, I'm not blessed with the ability to understand all animals like most of my kind. No, I got lucky enough to just catch two: birds and cats.

It's not a good combination.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcom to Chaos

I'm late tonight with this. It's actually Thursday... but it's been a busy week and a very busy couple of days!

I ordered a replacement for my dying computer last week. I hope that it will arrive before Russ does at the end of the month, so we can set it up together. I'm looking forward to it. It's not the most powerful computer in the world, but it's a lovely HP and it will be much better for my work. Especially since this one has been having increasing problems. That's not a surprise, considering how much I use it.

The other news is that I sent out a query to an agent on Monday and had a request for a partial yesterday... so, as you can imagine, I've been working on that to try and get it right. It's a good first showing, even if the agency decides against Ada Nish Pura. We'll see.

And, as I mentioned, Russ will be home on the 27th. He hasn't been home since the first week of November, so this is a full four months. That's far too long. He will only be here for a couple days, and we probably won't even have a car -- but I can't wait to see him.

And that's it for tonight. I still have other things to do, and it's already almost 2 am! I have Vision still this month, plus updates for FM, and I am creating a class on writing short stories. Busy. Far too busy

But I got this posted, at least!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The new book

The snow is nearly gone. We're supposed to get a little bit of it back later this week, but for now, I can see grass in many places. Granted, it's dead brown ugly grass, but still... grass. Ground. No snow up to my hips as I try to get the trash out to the street. And even if the damned white stuff comes's mid February. It won't be here for long!

Soon I'll be out doing walks down to the river again. It's still a bit too chilly -- 43f today, and a brisk little cold breeze -- but as soon as we start getting closer to the 60's, I think I'm going to be heading down the bike trail again. It's been a long few months. I think the last time I was there was October. Winter hit too early and stayed too cold for me to go out. I don't do well in cold.

But... let's talk about writing instead of weather!

On January 1, I started a new novel. I always do. It's fun to have cleared everything else off and have the ability to start in on something new and exciting. Draw the Line has been a different sort of work for me. I have been limiting myself to about 500 (never over 600) words a day on it, and it is the first thing I work on each day. I'm now over 23,000 words into the story. I have a lot of worldbuilding notes that I had done over the last year, and a lot of scenes sketched out that I want to write, but I don't really have a nailed-down outline like I would usually work with in a case like this. I've printed off all my previous notes and I look them over whenever I come to the end of a segment. There are elements that have to occur, and I look for the next step when I need to move on. It's worked very well so far.
Writing at 500 words a day (at least on this project -- I do have others as well) is partly to see how a lower pace affects the book itself, and also to see if I can hold to this all the way through to The End. If the novel goes to about 120,000 words (a good length for this kind of sf novel) it should take me eight months to complete the first draft. That's not too bad at all, even if it is a lot longer than I normally would have taken for a first draft.
So here are the first few pages. Remember, this is a first draft!

Draw the Line

There hath gone up a cry from earth, a groaning for the fall

Of things of old renown and shapes majestical

Prometheus Bound, Aechylus

Chapter 1

Morgan Michael Doreet had prepared himself not to be impressed with the station. He'd read a lot about it and seen pictures and vids -- everything from the first few reports (when most of the news teams back on earth still dismissed it as an elaborate hoax) to the last reports sent by the science team based out here. The surprise of finding an abandoned alien space station had passed and even the general enthusiasm had given way to a sort of annoyed frustration by the people stationed at the site. The station remained, for the most part, closed to them. They lived in the outer areas, a band along the edge. The station kept its secrets.

In that narrow area, the station accommodated the humans -- and the Norishi , the Kasa and the Click, bringing four alien races together who normally would not live in such close proximity, even if they did share a close affinity in habitats. That they had all taken up residence here to study the station seemed far more noteworthy than the scanty reports on the makeup of the station's structure.

Morgan leaned forward as they came down off the slide path, waiting for the first glimpse of his new home. Just another station. Just another edge of exploration, where humans went to see what they could find, because curiosity was their worst -- and best -- trait.

The Blue Star came out of slide relatively close to the station. Morgan stood on the View Deck and nodded at the sight. Blocky -- not the shape a space station should be by human standards -- grayish-green, glowing slightly (self-rejuvenating phosphorescent bacteria in the walls, it seemed -- he read that in the reports), and altogether unpretentious.

Then he began to realize the size. Not just know it, in some abstract number terms -- more than three hundred square kilometers -- but to actually comprehend what that size meant. The small bubbles he only barely saw at this distance were the grow domes tethered to the larger station. Each one held one hundred acres of land, and they looked like peas set against the edge of the station.

While he tried to take it in, he noticed a shift off to the left and a huge block of the station rose, narrowed, turned... rebuilt itself in the area where humans, Norisha, Kasa and Click had not yet penetrated. The station had not let them into the interior, and the inhabitants lived in a narrow strip along the outer edge.

Seeing the station -- truly comprehending the size, power and alieness -- took his breath away. Xeno Station -- Xenation as the people here called it -- turned out to be far more impressive than he had expected: Frighteningly so for the man who came to take over the science section. He looked on something he could not even begin to comprehend.

One of the Blue Star crew stepped up beside him, stared for a moment, and then shook her head.

"It's made a lot of changes since the last time we were here, half a year ago," she said. "A lot more blocks out here toward the edge. Maybe that means it's going to open up more?"

"Maybe," he said, and wondered if he should hope for it. It would be an important coupe for him, taking over from Samplin, who had resigned to go back home. Samplin would be leaving with the Blue Star in about three days. It was going to be a quick change over, but that wasn't what worried him. "Have you seen it change often?"

"This is the second time I've seen it," she said, leaning a little closer to the screen -- it wasn't really a window, but they did a damned good job of making it look like one. "I've made six trips in the last four years. I don't know. Just looks like it's been more active. A lot more bulges, a lot more blocks. I don't know if I like it."

She gave one last shake of her head and headed away. He tried not to let her attitude worry him.

He stayed there and watched all through the rest of the approach. They moved quickly, heading inward and didn't slow until they reached the grow domes: bubble-topped, clear crowned so that the light from inside shown out making them look like little captured stars. They were tethered to the bulk of the station by long filaments of bonding cords, snaking their way through the dark, glittering now and then as light caught them. The clear covering on the domes allowed them to capture as much ambient energy as possible, and the domes became enclosed and self-sustaining eco-systems. As they went by, he had a close hand view of what looked like a wheat field, the stalks waving slightly in a created wind. A little farther on workers had begun putting together another dome to help support the expanding population. So far, the other three races seemed content to have all their food imported, but humans liked to be self-sufficient wherever they went.

Moving closer to Xenation made it seem less daunting now that he really couldn't see the whole of it. Besides, there were other, far more interesting things to see. He caught a glimpse of a Click ship leaping out from the station like a small round ball, and then darting into slide drive so quickly that his breath caught, expecting an explosion, disaster -- but instead he only saw a little flash of red as the ship disappeared onto the slide path.

And almost immediately, a long thin Norishi ship pulled out from a dock to the left and lower down. He watched as it moved past; dark, arrow-shaped, and without a show of any of the weapons for which the Norishi were so well known. He would have wished the Norishi hadn't made a base at Xenation, but it seemed the aliens were determined to make certain of their presence wherever humans and Kasa had settled.

Which, from all he could tell, was very odd since the Norishi apparently hated all races but their own. The Norishi had secrets, too. In all the contacts, both friendly and unfriendly, not a single male had been located, even though the females appeared to be very close to human females in appearance and in biology -- at least that was the rumor, since no one had admitted to doing a real examination of one of the dead.

Morgan would much rather not have them around. They complicated matters in ways that were already too unstable, and which included far too much politics, which he generally detested.
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Wednesday, February 04, 2009


There is a discussion on the boards at FM about blogs that sparked a few thoughts today. The person who started the thread about blogs later brought up the 'new technology, impersonal, etc.' statements that I see so often... and that made me think about it in a different light.

In 1440 a huge change came to the world of words -- Guttenberg used is printing press. Some of the people who had collected, copied and horded those wondrous manuscripts of the Middle Ages and earlier viewed it as a disaster because it brought books to a wider range of people. The same laments were heard when the paperback books took off in the late 1930's -- though there had been something like them in the legendary dime novels of the Wild West and the like. However, paperbacks were for the masses, where hard bounds had been for the elite.

We're seeing the same attitude in a lot of things related to the Internet. Every time there is a change in technology that involves the written word, people will decide that it is a problem of some sort, and that it is ruining some aspect of writing. It's not really -- it's just that, like with each of those previous changes, it is making the ability to present words, for good or bad, to a wider range of people. Like the boom of the 'pulp age' in book publishing, people are leaping in and 'publishing' things that are not always great.

Technology does not make the words we type any less 'personal' than the words we would write on paper, or type on a typewriter. If you could read my letters from 25 years ago, they wouldn't be drastically different than what I write here, except for some individual pieces aimed at specific people. Those now go out via email, and not in the general missive to the public. What makes the blog less personal is that it is directed out at more people -- but that doesn't mean it is the only form of communications that a person uses, and people are just as likely to write letters and emails and make phone calls as they ever were.

Blogs help to keep family and friends more aware of some of the basic aspects of a person's life, without having to repeat the same story about the silly cat trick to five different people. It allows the person who writes it to be both personal and impersonal at the same time.

It's not bad. It's not good. It's just words for a new world. It adds to the wealth of communications and it allows people to reach a far wider range of people than they would have with each individual letter -- letters they wouldn't have written anyway, because it takes to long to write to all the fringe people that you know.

Blogs have the potential for wonderful writing. Some people manage it. The rest of us will just use them to explore self-expression, to write about what bothers us, and to be boring most of the time. It doesn't matter if someone finds it an annoying waste of time because it wasn't written for them. It's just who we are. We can't all be briliant, but that doesn't mean we don't have things to say.
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