Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The time with Russ went far too quickly, of course. And now I'm working at trying to get things done, and that certainly isn't going very well. Focus is completely shot, of course. I need to get the newsletter and Vision done, and neither of them are cooperating.

And it's getting far later, isn't it? I just realized I hadn't done this yet. Hmmm... I have gotten a little bit more done on the Newsletter. I need to work on Vision, though, which is actually do out the day before the Newsletter. However, since I get paid for the Newsletter, I feel an obligation to make certain it is going to be done on time.

I do admit to being somewhat sidetracked by and going over there to drop a few more of the things sitting around on the shelves into my collection. Much like, it is addictive to see the collection grow. I only found it last night, and I have 204 comics listed. These were the ones I had stacked on a shelf in the library -- just some extras sitting around. Apparently, they're worth about $1000. These were back from our days as owners of a comic book store, so they're bagged and most of them never even saw a store shelf. Multiple copies of some of the original Crisis on Infinite Earth series have turned out to be worth far more than I ever expected, considering how much they flooded the market with them.

Writing. Yes. Yes, I am writing.

Actually, I'm just a few pages from finishing up Vita's Vengeance. As it draws closer to the ending, I am finding a few things that I need to go back and write in, but overall, I like how it came out.

Here's a little bit (I think I may have snippeted this before, a year or so ago... but I still like the scene and really didn't even have to do much to it this round!):

Devon watched until the cutter came down and the swirl of dust blinded him to the world. He followed Tashin to the little ship, remembering how perfect the cutter had looked the first time he saw her on Paradox. Now he could see patches and scorch marks, far too many signs of near destruction. Tashin hoped to get her a new black coat soon, but such niceties would have to come when they had time -- and they never did.

Devon paused at the airlock and looked back. Sand and dust had settled again. Lastor knew the cutter would draw attention and a path straight back to Mesa would invite discovery. His little aircar headed for the low rise of hills close to the north.

Devon slipped inside and palmed the airlock closed, and stepped into the cabin. Filtered air immediately flooded the room as Devon gratefully settled into his familiar chair.

"Prepare to launch. We're heading out," Devon announced.

"Where are we going?" Modesta inquired. The woman seldom cared about destinations as long as they kept moving.

"We're doing some surveillance work for the Jadian underground. Those transports we noticed were taking people. The Verdi are calling it relocation and Lastor wants to know where they're going."

"Does that mean we're going to follow a Verdi Transport in slide?" Modesta asked. He had her full attention this time. Devon glanced back and saw her dark eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Can we do it?"

"We're going to try," Tashin said and shrugged. "We know the basic direction, and the round trip time limit. There isn't much out in that sector. We might get lucky."

"Prepare to launch, ten seconds," Devon warned, pushing the power of the engines up again. "We're going straight up."

"And then what?" Tashin asked as the ship pushed upward, the pull of gravity pinning them back into their seats. Tashin's hands rested against the weapon controls, a precaution they took instinctively these days. "We can't sit out there and wait for the ship to take off. They'll notice us. And if we're not close enough to follow, we'll lose them if they make another slide."

"I'm taking out us on a slide, letting them think we're leaving the system. We'll slip in to the asteroid belt and wait close to the area where they've been sliding out of the system."

Jade's hold lessened and the on-board gravity took over, a pleasant change after their stay on world. Lights glowed green across the boards. Devon brushed bits of sand from around the controls.

"I have a fighter on the sensors within firing range in thirty-seven seconds, Captain," Tashin said.

"Time to go." Devon quickly put half a planet between them, but the fighter obviously wanted the prize of Vita's Vengeance and the Verdi held tight. Devon managed another thirteen-second gain on them before he turned out of orbit and headed toward Paradox.

"They're still back there," Tashin announced. A flash of laser fire swept past them, still bright in the high, rarified atmosphere. "I think they want to anger us into coming back and fighting them."

"As much as I would like to have one more Verdi ship to our credit, we do have other places to go," Devon said. He let his hands move across the board. "We're going to slide in 63.72 seconds."

"That's a little soon, isn't it?" Modesta asked, her voice rising slightly as it always did when she wondered about something unusual Devon was doing.

And with good cause.

"This is going to be a bumpy trip," Tashin warned, making adjustments to his own board. "Jade is going to have a lot of pull against us this close. What are you locking on to for a path?"


"Are you crazy!" Startled, Tashin turned to his Captain as though there wasn't another danger anywhere else in the universe.

Modesta made a hiss of noise behind them, but apparently couldn't get control enough to speak. Emery, at least, seemed as oblivious as ever.

But Tashin had plenty to say. "We can't slide to Paradox! It's too damn close!"

"We're going to slide in less than thirty seconds, Tashin. Complain to me afterwards. I'm busy now."

"I think you're being exceedingly optimistic about there being an afterwards!"
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Russ Home, Draw the Line

Russ is home, so I really don't have a lot to say today. We had a wonderful time at De Soto Wildlife Refuge this afternoon, but now we're back home and both of us back to work. I'm running out of days this month, and worse yet -- running out of days with Russ.

I've kept up on my minimum amount of writing, so that's good. I am almost done with the DAZ newsletter, too. I might be running late with the next issue of Vision (again!) but that's not a real problem. I'm not going to fret over it or take more time away from spending with Russ to work on it.

Here is just a little bit out of Draw the Line. It's still moving steadily forward, and I like the characters, but I really need to figure out a better structure and get the story to do something!

They had a wonderful meal, really. He almost didn't bring up the subject he'd wanted to breach from the start for fear he would ruin this evening, but he also feared he would not get another chance -- not very soon, anyway. They were heading into trouble, and they all knew it.

So, over dessert and wine, he finally charged ahead.

"There is a problem, Neva. There is someone here who is afraid to report things, for fear of it annoying you."

"We're talking about Rafael," she said, her face turning red as she held the wine glass.

"No. We're talking about me."

"That's ridiculous, Morgan!" Her voice rose and then lowered as she put the glass down, frowning at him. "You can always come to me. You know that!"

"I'd like to think so, Neva... but things are odd here. There are a lot of things going on. Ritter thinks that he's getting closer to finding a link to Xenation, and that could be interesting and dangerous. "

"I trust that you can judge what needs to be done, and will do your best to keep everything in line, Morgan," she said. She leaned forward, looking very serious. "I wanted you for a reason. I can trust your judgment."

"The Norshi are up to something, but you don't need me to tell you that. The question, really, becomes if they're doing something truly bad, or if they are just covering themselves because they don't trust us. And then we have to ask how much we trust the Kasa to be saying the truth."

"You don't trust them?" she asked, looking surprised.

"I want to trust them. I'm not certain I can trust that feeling. It might be blinding me to other things, you know. It might be blinding all of us."

"True. I've thought it myself. But I think it's important to keep looking at the actions. The Kasa have helped from the first day they arrived, while the Norishi have created problems. And that whole incident with the alien ship keeps me awake at night, Morgan. It was heading here. I want to know why the Norishi wanted it stopped. I want to know what battle they were fighting. I've sent off questions, of course, in hopes that someone else has seen something ... but even if they have, it's going to be a while before word gets back to us. And by then..."

"You feel like something is going to go wrong."

"And you don't?" she said, her eyes gone a little wide. "Granted, you've only been here for a short while, but you have to have seen that things are more than a little crazy here right now. "

"True," he said. "I've had some interesting conversations with some of the others. Rafael thinks --"

"I don't want to hear what Rafael thinks -- shit. You did that on purpose."

Her face had turned red.

He nodded and she had the grace not to start ranting, though she had to clamp her mouth shut over whatever she wanted to say.

"That's the problem, Neva. I'm sorry that it exists, but it's there and we need to do something about it. Rafael is in the thick of things. He does have things to say about it, and it's important that we all listen."

"You trust him."

"I trust him. I don't trust Xenation. How can I? We don't know what it is doing and what it wants. And because the two of them are linked, that means there are times when I will not trust everything he says without having some proof. But that's not the problem we're talking about here, Neva."

"You have a problem with me."

"We all have a problem with you. We all dance around it, and pretend that Rafael doesn't exist when talking with you. And that's an entirely different problem. Even I have mentioned things and let you believe that information came from me or someone on my team when it actually came from Rafael. We all do it. And that's dangerous, because Rafael is working outside the group, and what he sees may or may not be right. You won't know if you should trust something because you think it came from us."

He saw her eyes narrow, her mouth open -- and close again. Neva was good at her work. And while Rafael was a blind spot for her, he trusted that she would see it now that someone had told her about it. It was just that no one else dared.

"It's been a mistake," she said finally. He'd never quite heard that tone before -- the loss and the regret all rolled up into those few words. "I don't know how this happened, Morgan. I really don't."

"As stupid as this sounds, the truth is that things just happen sometimes. The trouble is always dealing with the aftermath."

"I have put so many people in danger because of my relationship with Rafael --" she began, new emotions beginning to rise in her voice. "From start to finish, I have endangered --"

"The only person you have truly endangered is Rafael, and that's because he's become a pariah, Neva, and I don't think you did that on purpose."

She had started to stand, rage there for a moment -- and then gone. She dropped back into her chair as though she hadn't the strength left to hold herself up. She looked at him, blinking several times, but he thought something saner was starting to take over that part of her brain where she had shoved everything dealing with Rafael.

"I don't trust him, Morgan. I don't. He said he would deal with Ashur. And then -- and then --"

"You really don't think he meant anything more than he would speak with Ashur, do you?"

"He knew -- he knew what was --"

"And he tried to prevent it from happening. He saved lives. He tried to get the ship to pull back but it wouldn't. Why haven't you blamed the pilot instead of Rafael."

She looked at him, saying nothing.

"Ashur was piloting, wasn't he?"

She nodded.


She nodded and picked up the wine glass again, though she didn't sip from it. Her hands shook. "Whom should I blame, Morgan?"

"No one. Rafael didn't understand what was happening and Ashur didn't see the trouble at all. No one was to blame, Neva. It's time to accept that part. And if you can't, I'm going to put in an official request that you be removed from Xenation as commander."

"Why -- why would you do that to me?"

"Not to you Neva -- for the others. Because you've let this blind spot get way out of hand and it is causing trouble, and you know it. Rafael is on the outside, and we need him in. Hell, he has more contact with the Kasa than he does with us. He's safer with the Kasa."
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Short Story

And here we are on another Wednesday. I'm not very coherent tonight. The dogs across the alley are barking, and after about an hour of that the mind just can't lock onto anything much at all except for bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark...

They stopped. I don't think I trust it.

Ah, there they are again. Not quite as loud, at least. But the damage is done. I have quite a headache from it, and I'm not entirely certain I can get back to work on the newsletter, or anything else. It's just not easy to think through this tonight.

I'm still working on Vita's Vengeance and it's going very well. I'm happy with it. I'm also happy that Russ will be home this weekend. Yay! I don't know what all we're going to do, but it will be great to see him and nice to get out of the house again.

Okay, I have no brain and nothing else to say. So here is the opening to my as yet untitled new short story. First draft. I think it's going to be fun to write.

The mages had promised him a clear day for the work, but no more than an hour into sculpting the statue, clouds rolled in and rain fell before he could do more than throw a quick ward up over the half-finished clay

Keris cursed aloud, and then called that back with a quick slap of his hands. He was still too caught up in magic, and the incautious words had almost gotten loose and out into the world. He had to get away from the work area, so he backed up, lifted his hands to disperse what magic he could -- and put it into the shield since the storm seemed to be getting worse. Then he spun, stalked across the yard like an angry mountain cat, and headed into the house.

The door slammed behind him, but that hadn't been his work. The wind had picked up, and he could hear the rumble of thunder nearby. Damn and damn! If a lightning storm hit the area, he would likely have to destroy the work. Magic drew such storms and he didn't want to have lightning strikes -- probably several -- pounding the work area in the back.

He rushed through the house, past the sparsely covered walls and the mostly empty rooms, and out onto the veranda that looked down toward the road --

Oh yes, storm coming for certain. The mages were going to pay for this one. He lifted his hand, wondering if he had power enough to divert the worst of it --

Lightning struck a tree to the right of the house. He hadn't expected it so close and the sound and power startled him. He lost his hold on what magic he'd started to call up.

Lightning struck another tree.

And at the third one, Keris finally realized this was no normal storm. It was coming for him.

"Oh hell."

He dashed back inside just as lighting struck at the veranda, splintering wood. The house took the brunt of the attack, though, dissipating the power outward. It was an old place, and built during the magic wars of another century. He had chosen it for a reason, knowing he had enemies --

They hadn't come for him in the last four years, and he'd finally gotten comfortable and even lax. He hadn't been paying attention to business in the capital much. He didn't go to any of the events, and everyone seemed the happier for it. Since Princess Chloe married her foreign prince -- and his men took over protecting her -- he had retired, left the guard and the city. It had been better for all of them.

But he had missed her. They had been friends, he and the woman he had guarded. Nothing more than that, despite all the gossip and rumors. Oh, it wasn't that he didn't love her, but he knew his place and she knew hers.

When Prince Apris had married her -- for the good of the line, for the good of the country -- it had become apparent that they could no longer pretend others didn't speak about them behind their hands.

So he had gone away. He'd taken a home far away, not used his magic for anything more than working around the place, and finally accepted the quiet and solitude.

So why now? Four years -- he had no standing any more. He had no use. He had given up the only thing that really mattered to him so that Chloe could have --

Chloe. If someone put Chloe in danger, they would know to come after him --

In the panic, he lost his control for the first time in years. Magic leapt out from his hands and sparked against the wall beside him, and in that moment the storm found him again, even inside the shielded house. Lighting struck at the roof several times in succession, the sound deafening and the surges of power tingling all the way through the walls and the inlaid floor beneath him. He went to his knees at the last one, gasping at the feel of both nature and magic. It nearly overwhelmed him, and if it did, whoever was attacking him would win --

Chloe in danger. Chloe needed him.
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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

On to the next book

It's been a long week. My oldest cat, Lady Jane Pudge'ums, got sick last week. She died on Monday at very nearly 17 years of age. She had a good, long life -- Russ and I tried to remember if she had ever been to the vet for anything more than being fixed and shots. It's made this a difficult week in an already difficult year -- I've lost three cats in the last year and a half since Russ moved to New York, including Guy who was a very sweet cat and who had just showed up at the house one day. And my beloved Pip, of course. I still miss him.

Russ is going to be home for a few days towards the end of the month. He has classes to teach locally, but we'll have quite a bit of time together. It'll be good to have him here again, and not just because we need to get some stuff fixed.

I'm done with Kat Among the Pigeons, except for a final read-through for whatever little things I messed up on. I think it's a very solid story, and I entered it into the Knight Agency's Novel in a Nutshell contest. I may enter another book before it's over, if I can get anything to fall together properly. I've been working on something for Glory and considering it for Vita's Vengeance, which is currently getting one more rewrite... though, to be honest, it's looking so good that I can't bring myself to count it as a real word-for-word rewrite since so much of it is barely getting a word or two changed in some lines -- though some pages are getting extensive changes or cut completely. Anyway, I'm only counting 1000 words for every ten pages, which was about what it worked out to be in changes for the first thirty pages. It does mean a LOT of work for each day, but that's been good lately. It's kept me very busy so that I don't have time to think about other things. So type, type, type little fingers.

Sometimes even I need busy work to keep my brain engaged and out of darker thoughts.

And if a rewrite of this type seems an odd thing to do when I've decided that the book doesn't really need so much work... well, I have found that I'm able to see problems more clearly when I read and type than when I read and fix. I've already come across a couple 'huh?' moments in the story. Part of this is because I have been doing line-editing on other stories, and doing the same on VV gets confusing. I need variety.

Unless there is a major change in the story at some point, this will be the last retyping of it, though. It's a good story and the prose is finally, really just about right. Really.

(Glares at the story again... you will be right this tiem!)


(Well, maybe not....)

Here is a bit from the book:

Rain sliced the air like needles and with a hint of ice in each hard drop. General Jarak stood on the edge of the landing ramp and let the cold hit him. Planetary atmospheres always amazed him. He never understood why people chose to live where they did, especially in places so uncomfortable. They had worlds to choose from, after all -- but here they gathered, in this cold, dirty and gray place.

He walked down the narrow ramp and into the stinging rain with his Shadow following. Verdi Elite, marching in perfect formation, saluted him and moved on.

He found the tiny Tyr port ill-equipped, and barely large enough for three shuttles and his flagship to put down at once. The constant exchange of transports cost him time and any element of surprise. It annoyed Jarak that he had to come into Dasan through this awkward back door, but he had learned enough about the Kaiton defenses to know he couldn't risk his troops and precious ships in a forced landing there.

So here he stood in Tyr, an honored guest of the great Dictator Ivas, who seemed to think Jarak had brought all these troops just to help the fool conquer Kai. Ivas also mistakenly thought the two of them were equals and allies. As soon as General Jarak had time, he would disabuse the man of that odd notion. When Jarak finished, Ivas might still remain in nominal control of Tyr, but he would have no doubt whom he answered to.

Jarak disliked needing this backward, farming world to cement his hold on the Aquila Fringe and make himself independent of outside influence and dependencies. After he had Dasan in his control, he could stand up to the Inner Worlds Council with impunity and let them know the Aquila Fringe would not become another sector sucked into the morass of their laws and taxes.

No, not these worlds: These worlds would remain free as they had been intended when the first settlers came this way, already fleeing the nascent power of the IWC.

Jarak finally walked down the ramp from his ship and crossed the rain-drenched cement, heading toward the squat gray port terminal. The rain began to fall harder as he stepped inside the building, and he managed not to frown. Crimson uniformed Verdi Elite patrolled the inner room, and only a few locals stood back watching him enter. Behind Jarak, his Shadow moved almost exactly in step with his master. The burly, nearly mindless guard existed only to make certain Jarak remained safe. The convicted murderer had made amends by volunteering to serve in the Verdi Army under strict mindblock controls. Jarak chose such burly halfwits for his personal protection because he didn't like his guards to have much mind left to distract them from their work.

Between the Shadow and his very fine personal armor an assassin would have very little chance to kill him. He took what precautions he could against the fools and madmen who considered him a greater danger than the IWC and all its mindless, powerful allies. The drones were lucky to have him, Jarak thought, or they would go mindlessly into IWC slavery without a complaint.

Ivas finally came into the room with a half dozen gray-uniformed guards around him. Gray, gray -- everything seemed gray in this ugly place.

"Ivas." Jarak spoke the name in a cool greeting while his hand dramatically brushed away a line of rain water running across his forehead. He had noted the vidcams his people had carefully arranged, and he knew how to play to them.

"Forgive me," Ivas mumbled -- words he plainly didn't say very often. "No one informed us your ship had landed. I would have sent a proper transport to bring you from the flagship to the terminal."
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Nearly Done with Kat

Not a great day. My oldest cat, Lady Jane Pudge'ums, has not be well for a while. The vet person just came and got her, and I don't expect her to come back. The vet checked and she is very nearly 18, so this isn't even unexpected. But still... you want the little guys to last forever.

It has been a hard few days, and really this is the best choice.

So, I am looking back at writing again and trying to do something to keep busy. I am almost up to 50,000 words on Draw the Line. I realized I was having an odd problem with the 500 words a day -- I wasn't really moving the plot forward in many cases, but rather dealing with 'right now' in the story. I also realized I had resolved one conflict far too early. I'm writing the rest of the story as though that conflict was still ongoing, and then I'll edit the first part of the book to reflect that change.

I am very nearly done with Kat Among the Pigeons. Then I go for a massive fast edit so that it's really done, since I'm entering it in the Knight Agency contest. I don't think the editing is going to be a lot of trouble. I've been very good in this rewrite and I hope that it shows. I'll soon find out. At any rate, I'm going to be editing about 35 pages a day, which is an insane amount, but as long as I don't have to do much else, I can get it done.

Here is a little snippet from Kat:

A little later, some of the cats came in. None of them had liked the feel of rolling magic, either, but they stayed at their work.

"No more to report," Jules said, scratching at his ear where something had bitten him recently. He looked bothered, so I reached out and did a quick repair job. "Wow. Thanks, lady. That feels much better. Can you make all the teeth fall out of every dog in town?"

"I'll think about it," I said. "I'm a bit tapped right now."

He snorted. "Yeah. Can see that. The northern part of town lost all power while I was out there scouting around. Looks like it's working down through the rest of town. I saw power crews out, but they haven't found the trouble yet."

I had been a little distracted, but those words drew me back. "They haven't found the nests of peripix?" I asked.

"Nope. I keep thinking they should. But it's like they look at them and don't see anything at all."

"Hidden. Magic," I said, which again pointed to someone purposely doing these things. I couldn't find a trail to him though, even when I knew where to look. That made everything all the more frustrating again.

Cato had been standing by the door. He suddenly growled and then backed up. I came out of the chair, knowing there had to be trouble.

Aletta ran up to the porch -- breathless and looking startled by the cats, or by me already on my feet and stepping forward. She lifted a hand and gasped for a moment before she spoke, standing there on the porch. The ward wouldn't let her inside.

"Okay, you're right. Something odd is going on out there. I started doing my own checking, Kat. It's out of hand. What's The Edge doing so close to town?"

"I don't know," I answered. I wished I had an answer that sounded wise and strong. I accepted with relief that she'd come to me, at least.

"I tried to go see," she said. "I couldn't get very close. I saw something up there -- something big and dark. I don't know what it was, but I realized I had better come back and get you. It's near The Edge, and I think it was casting magic."

"You can find it again?"


"Let me get my coat and we'll go."

She nodded, looking relieved.

"I'm going with Aletta," I said to Cato and the other cats as I stepped back into the house. Cato gave her a wary look. "She found something, and it could be what's causing the trouble."

"Kat --" Cato began.

"I have to do it. Keep things calm here, okay?"

"Yeah." He looked glum.

I walked over to the birds and told Gaylord the same thing. He looked over at my shoulder and shook his head.

"She looks like trouble, boss," he said, his voice softer than usual.

"She is trouble. But at least she's trouble I know," I answered.

Shakespeare nudged my hand with his beak. It was as friendly has he had ever gotten. "With loitering eye, till I have felt, the letters -- with their meaning -- melt, to fantasies - with none."

Was he trying to say something? He looked into my face with more earnestness than I had expected, almost as though he would begin to speak at any moment --

"Kat," Aletta said, impatient.

I grabbed my coat and went with her out into the cold night.
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