Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nearing the end

Hmmm... I seem to be a couple days behind on this. A shame I can't get those days back before the new year begins! I have so much work to get done!

Vision is nearly done, though. So is the DAZ newsletter. Forward Motion doesn't need much more, either, now that I look at it. So really, it's just a case of pulling it all together and working through it.

But Russ is home! Yay! We're kind of snowed in, but we'll have to go out for supplies soon. We have snow and more snow, and more snow on the way, though not much. That's good. I would really like to go somewhere, and Russ is talking about Omaha and me at the zoo while he goes and visits with some people... but I'm not sure it's going to happen.

It's good to have Russ home for a few days, though. So I'm not going to waste time on this. I'll post this to both the LJ and the Blog and get back to visiting with Russ.

Everyone have a good new year! I just hope I have everything done in time!
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

The Gift (Click to see larger version)

Snow, snow... yes we have snow. And it's messing with my life. Russ is trying to come home on Saturday, and this storm is giving us trouble.

Away storm! Be gone! But not east, because then it will just hit where he is about the time he's trying to take off.

I just know this is going to be a problem.

That's really the big news right now, of course. I'm getting newsletters done. I'm getting outlines and notes and articles done. I'm looking forward to starting my new novel on the first. It's going to be an interesting story to work with -- but then I think that about all of them I write.

This month is going quickly, at least. We'll be into 2010 before too long. I don't know if I'm really excited about that part or not. Sure, new story, fun stuff... but I can't say I'm really thrilled about anything else. Maybe this will be the year it gets better. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

So everyone have a nice few days, whether you celebrate holidays or not. I'm going to just hide out in the house and watch it snow.

And snow.

And snow.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Resting our way to 2010

I'm starting to look 2010 in the eyes and face it down. A new novel idea has taken over the 1/1/10 spot for new story of the year. I'm sorting out plan and goals rethinking all the things that didn't go right this year and I can improve on. There's always room for improvement

Next year is going to be editing year. I've been playing at editing, but I need to get far more serious again. And I need to make decisions on which stories are going to be going out in the next rounds.

But for the last two weeks of the year, I really don't have that much to do. I've finished what is likely going to be my last short story of the year. I've done most of the work on two outlines. I've done work on Vision. I'm putting together the next to the last newsletter for the year, and it's relatively easy this time.

It's odd. I'm used to having to rush to finish one thing or another before the end of the year, but it's not happening this time. I find myself anxious for the start of the year so I have to rush again, and that's not really good. I should take advantage of these nice, quiet days. But here I am tonight, rushing to get this done just before midnight. I think I'll sleep late tomorrow. I think I'll take time to just relax and not worry about much of anything for a few days. It will be a new experience.

And then, when 2010 arrives, I will have my new story ready to run. It's going to be fun.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Zette's Storybook

Don't Go Home for the Holidays -- A Story of Spies, Aliens and Really Bad Timing

Zette's Storybook

Go, read, have fun. These are silly stories and just plain fun stuff.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A bit late!

Just about the time I was preparing to write this yesterday, I suddenly blew a fuse in the house again. This is the second time recently -- the same fuse -- so I've got to figure out what's wrong there. Worse, I didn't have any more fuses in the house at all. I went to bed very annoyed and somewhat cold, though the furnace was still mostly working.

Today, I have water boiling on the stove to help keep the place warmed up and that has done wonders. I also have fuses, thanks to a friend who brought a box of the little beasts over. So the rest of the house is powered and I have my little heater in my office again. This is a good thing. I don't like cold.

Neither, by the way, do the cats.
They were entirely upset by the whole thing and let me know all through the night by waking me up as they pounded on the door to the bedroom. I did not let them in, even though they would have been warm. They also would have pulled down things and kept me even more awake.

But we are past that. It's not as cold tonight, too, which helps just in general.

December is turning out to be a rather odd writing month for me. I'm working on notes for In the Shadow of Giants, but I'm not going to write that one until March. Just far too much to do for it, and not enough time with Vision and all coming up. I'm also working on the Twitter story, which I think is close to done in the first draft. I like it so far -- mostly. We'll see how it goes by the time I get it finished.

This is an odd December for me. Most years I'm working like mad to get something done. This year, I'm trying to stretch out the projects I have. It's been rather fun, in fact. I've done more art work than I normally do. I've enjoyed that part. So much so, that I think next year is going to be far fewer words and far more art. We'll see. Come January 1, the urge to leap into the year and write all the things in my head is going to hit again. Then we'll see if 'oh, I just won't write that much' is going to stick. I kind of figure 'not' since it hasn't stuck so far!

This is the type of thing I do every December -- start thinking about what I want to do, what I want to change, what I think I want to accomplish. I have a few things lined up for next year.

Well, it's now nearly 3 am on Friday. I had work to do that got away from me. Now I'm going to finish this up and head off to bed for a few hours! Turning off the heat, shutting down the water on the stove... checking the temp, which is colder than I expected. But that's okay. Just go off to bed and sleep for a few hours! Yay!

That's it for me. I'm going to go think a bit more about my plans for next year.
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Back to the real world

We have survived NaNo! I managed 200,775 words on three first drafts. Lots of work to do on them, but I'm really happy with two already. I was really happy to be finished, too. I love it -- bit one month is more than enough. And now it's time to get back to the rest of the insanity of my life.
Today was synopsis and send day for an older work. It should have been out before now, and the end of the year isn't the best time for sending something off -- but I'm going to do it anyway. Getting something ready to go always takes me a lot of time, so I have to get everything else cleared out first. I rewrote a synopsis. And it's about to go off, so I won't sit and pick at it... and not send it out at all. I can do that quite easily if I let myself.

Not this time.

I hit my arm yesterday and it's still sore. Interesting bruise, too. And it is VERY cold here tonight. I'm ready to go crawl into bed and sleep. So, I'm getting this posted (late) and sleeping (late).
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Friday, November 27, 2009

The Truth about me and NaNo

People have often asked how I write so much. Now you know the truth. It's what many of you always susected....

From Captured Videos

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The last week of NaNo!

I love NaNo. I really do. But the last few days are just tough, even for those of us rushing through the stories. I'm still writing about 6k a day, but it's getting difficult to keep it up. The story is there. I want to tell the story -- but I can see December looming ahead, and I know there are tons of things I need to get done before December 1. And then there is everything that needs to be tied up for the last month of the year.


I love NaNo.

This is a difficult few days. I can see the end. I can see past the end, and I want to get a head start on those things. However, I also have two unfinished novels here -- Wildlands and Autumn Storm. Since my rule is to finish them before the end of the year, I might as well keep pushing here, right?

Like I need an excuse to continue.

The good news is that my replacement part for the computer is here. The bad news is that Russ is not here to replace it. We're going to try to do with pictures, phone calls, and a lot of really good thoughts.

And here is a fun little snippet of Autumn Storm. My main character has brought a couple fae home while they try to figure out what to do next. They're waiting for another person, Tessa, to arrive. Arinith is a very powerful fae who is causing trouble in the area.

I went out to the kitchen and filled the teapot and put it on the stove. I thought I caught a look of curiosity as I moved through the room -- and I realized that York had never been inside a human home before. That might have been half of why Brandis was so on edge as well.

I wanted Tessa here and right now. Could that bring him? Did I dare try to demand it, the way Arinith had done before? That didn't seem like a good idea at all. I had to trust that Tessa would know what to do. I had to believe that this was not the entire crazed, beyond hope situation that I was seeing.

I wondered what Arinith was thinking right now. From the look of the weather outside, it couldn't be anything good.

Cookies. We needed cookies. I got them out as well and put them on a plate, pretending to be a good host. It kept me busy. That helped at first, but the longer it took Tessa to get here, the more worried I became. Even I gave a little jump when the tea kettle began to whistle. But I had the cups ready, the tray, cookies, several types of tea, honey and sugar cubes -- no more reason to linger here.

I set the tray on the coffee table and began to make my own tea, letting them see what to do. "There are many different teas there. Find one you like. And try the cookies," I said. I sat back with the cup in my hand. "I hope Tessa gets here soon."

Brandis nodded. He made his tea slowly and York seemed to copy his moves. They both sat back and sipped, and seemed reasonably pleased.

"Humans live better than I thought they would," York admitted. "Without magic, I hadn't thought you could do so many things."

He waved a hand to the wonders of a modern kitchen. I nodded. "Technology is our magic, you know. It's not as reliable has having the power within you, but that works for us sometimes, too. It means we don't have to worry about growing too weak that we cannot provide even the simple comforts. But there is a downside. Technology can fail. With a storm like this, we might lose power and then at least part of my lovely kitchen would be useless."

"Power failures, yes," Brandis said. "We have noticed those things, and how they badly affect the people here. I just had not realized what they use that power for."

"We have moved past the campfires and hunting stage," I said with a smile.

He gave a little laugh. "I had noticed when I saw the cities. I don't understand how you can crowd together so much."

"Sometimes neither can I." I reached for the remote. "Let's see what's going on --"

I turned on the TV.

My mistake.

Tea cups flew, tea splattered everywhere. Both Brandis and York were on their feet, magic aimed at the flat screen --

"No, no, no!" I shouted. It stopped them. "Television. News. Communications transmissions!"

They looked at me, eyes narrowed, hands still raised.

"Television," I repeated frantically. On the screen I saw a too cute and precocious little girl child in a witch costume. She sang as she danced around a haunted house, singing a stupid song about her favorite time of the year, which included spending more money at a certain local shop. I tried not to grimace. "Entertainment. Sometimes. And news. It's a one-way system of delivering information to people in their homes."

Brandis looked at me and back at the screen. The child had stopped dancing and now stood holding out a banner for the store. York looked either intrigued or appalled. I knew that feeling.

"It's not dangerous?"

"No. I am going to change the channel." I held up the remote. "This controls it. On and off, change to a different channel which will show us different things." The little witch appeared on another one. "Most of the time. That's a commercial intended to convince people to buy things."

"And this works?" York asked, still looking appalled.

"Sometimes. There. Weather Channel. They'll be talking about the weather in this part of the country soon, I suspect."

York looked around, and with a wave of his hand, cleaned up the mess. Well, that was handy at least. I poured more water. We had more tea and cookies as the people on the screen took the time to explain the about lows in the Gulf of Mexico and highs spreading down from Canada. We watched the local radar which looked chaotic. Then the weather people came back and talked about the horrible weather around the Omaha area -- though from the excited looks on their faces and the sounds of their voices, you wouldn't have though it was hell out there.

Then back to commercials again.

"Amazing," York said, looking at me. "They almost can make sense of the weather without ever considering the magic involved."

"Yes, and they even made some sense out of it," I said with a nod. "But that's what humans do, you know. They want to understand everything. So they make certain that they have answers."

"And what if they learn that those answers are not right?" Brandis asked.

"Then they search for new ones."
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Friday, November 20, 2009

One book completed

In January 1989, I finished reading a book called Disraeil, A Picture of the Victorian Age by Andre Maurois. It was a fascinating book about a fascinating man, and even as I read it, I knew that it was going to inspire me to write something. I wanted to write the story of someone who came to power in a place he had no right to be. I began it almost immediately.

That book was Silky, which first saw publication in 1998. Much, much later, Silky 2: Lord of the Land saw publication along with a new publication of Silky. Then I wrote Silky 3, but I felt that it just ... lacked something. For NaNo this year, I decided to write Silky 4, which would be the last book in the series. I also re-read Disraeli in October of this year, for the first time since the original reading. (I put the dates inside the book, by the way, so I know.)

I finished the first draft of Silky 4 tonight, almost 21 years after I wrote the original book.

It's an odd feeling to have it done. This has always been one of my favorite sets of characters, and while I really love the last chapter of the final book, I have a problem knowing that it is really done. The only thing that is saving me from being depressed is knowing that book 3 still needs 'something' and that I might end up melding 3 and 4 into one book, which means a lot more work.

And who knows -- since the stories do take place in the Tales from Another Place universe, a character or two might yet show up elsewhere.

But... I am done.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nearly done with one

I am down to the last two chapters of Silky 4, as well as some pieces I want to add in a little earlier in the story. The book is nearly to 60k, so I think it will be somewhere around 65k in the first draft. For my first drafts, that's running about right and maybe even a little higher than usual. The book is going to need considerable editing, fixing, reworking -- but now that I finally have this last story written, I can see what I want. Until now, I've been playing with it, dancing around the ideas -- and afraid to face it, I think. I don't really want to end the Silky books.

But it is time.

I'm over 128k in the NaNo run. After this I'll likely work on Autumn Storm and run it to The End as well. Then I'll go back to work on Wildlands and get it at least to 50k. I'm looking at a NaNo run this year of somewhere around 180k total, I think. Very good, considering the problems I've had.

Did I mention the problem with my computer? Fan on the video card, but it's a known problem and I'll get a free replacement. However, that has to wait until Russ can help me with it, either via Skype or in person. And that's going to be a while yet. So I have to keep turning the computer off to get rid of the incredibly horrible noise that drives me nuts.

And I can't do much with graphics at all. Even just getting pictures for the blogs tends to fire it up into screeching range.

It's late tonight. Right now I'm writing in a couple little things I wanted to add into the Silky Story. Then I'll head for bed. Tomorrow I think I'm going to finish the novel. and I know the ending scene. I am really looking forward to that part.

Even though I'll be sorry to be done.

Writers are such contrary people sometimes.
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things not to worry about

We're midway through NaNo. Now is the time to think about what it's going to take to reach your goal and still have fun doing it. Your goal doesn't have to be 50k. It can be more or less than that number, and it's entirely up to you what you decide. You need at least 50k to get the winner's certificate at the end of the month, but that's just a computer-generated file and really doesn't say anything about how hard you worked. If you are happy with your work, then that's all that matters.

What you don't need to worry about is what anyone else is doing.

More words, less words, good words, 'bad' words (whatever you think those might be) or anything else. This is now between you, the blank page and the calendar. That's all you need to consider.

Complaining about what others are writing is egotistical and rude, though I don't think the people doing it quite realize it at the time. Well, at least some of them. You can say things in private. We all do. (It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of fanfiction.) But posting on the boards about it shows that your focus is not where it should be -- on your own work.

I spend a lot of time defending NaNo to people who think that it is some sort of attack on literature and a travesty against the 'real' authors of the world. Then, finding people talking about what people should and should not write in NaNo just annoys the hell out of me. It's much the same as being told that the science fiction and fantasy genres aren't 'real' writing, which is another longtime problems those of us in the genres face. It's defining what's proper based on personal likes, dislikes and goals.

It's no one's business what others write. It's not going to affect your life one way or another. Celebrate that they are writing at all and enjoying themselves and don't worry about it!

And on my own writing, I am in the midst of writing probably the most boring magical battle I've ever seen. Right now it's mostly just a set of actions and occasional dialogue to remind me of what I want to happen. When I get to the edit phase, I am going to focus on this scene and see what I can do to bring it back to life. Right now, though, I'm going to keep moving to the end of the novel. I know that there is one more major magical battle by the end. I think, when the novel is done, that this battle that I'm writing now is going to partly foreshadow the final one. So... writing the final one will actually give me more focus on this one.

With that in mind, I think I can stop fretting and picking at it and just move on. I need to get back into the focus of NaNo and past being ill for the last week.
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Thursday, November 12, 2009


I've been busy, ill, busy, busy, busy. I'm still holding on to the NaNo work, but it's not been easy. I'm somewhere over 92k. Yes, that's a really good number. I don't know how I've managed it, given the week I've had!

Oh, and I have a wonderful story in print. Info here:

I am having fun with NaNo, but it's harder and harder to fit the time in to write. More work just landed in my email box even while I'm writing this.

I hope that by this weekend I'll be feeling better and have more time.

Hey, I can hope for miracles, you know!
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Sunday, November 08, 2009

A lot of words

I'm somewhere around 68,500 words.

I'm also so tired all I want to do is curl up and sleep on the printer with Zaphod.

So, off to bed I go!

I had a good first week of NaNo, but I've put off as much work as I can and it's time to start getting back to normal.

Like I would know what that means.
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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Day 5: 8804 -- 50,171 Total

I forgot to post this yesterday.

Let's just say that it was a very busy day with a lot of real work plus the writing. I was pretty much like Wind there in the picture by the end.

And now it's time to start over.

We're doing this for fun, right?
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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Day 4: 6731 -- 40,266 Total

I didn't think I would make it to 40k today. I had far too much real world work to do, and a lot more of it to do tomorrow, too. I think I'm going to be dropping into to the 5k days now. I'm just way too warn out tonight from trying to do more.

Tonight, you get a little snippet out of Autumn Storm, which is an urban fantasy. In this part, the main character, who is human, was in a car accident and woke to find his two fae companions gone. It's a snow storm. He's not happy.

Something appeared at my feet and I started to jump back in shock, and then realized it was a pixie. The little creature was soon joined by a second and then a third. They did not like the snow. I could tell by the way they leapt through it and made little sounds that were plainly annoyed. One finally stopped and looked up at me, his teeth chattering, and his eyes narrowed in anger.

"This isn't my idea, you know!" I said looking down at him. "Take your magic weather and go back where you came from!"

He snarled. I wasn't sure if he understood what I said, but he turned and fled off with the others. They would be going after Arinith, I thought. Wasn't that what Tessa had said? That the pixies would be with him?

I followed the paw prints, which were heading in the same direction. I tried not to curse any more. I was, really, trying very hard to listen for other sounds. There were some, but they seemed badly distorted by the storm. And maybe by the magic as well. I stopped, but I dared not stand still for long. I wanted to rest already, and I knew that would mean death.

Followed the sound, the tracks -- they were getting harder to see in the fall of snow. I could see the little green pixies moving on ahead of me, though, so I decided just to follow them. They semeed to be heading the way I wanted to go.

My head pounded. I began to fear that I wasn't going to survive this after all. I didn't want to die out here in the snow. And right now, I was getting damned angry at Tessa for leaving me in this situation. I had expected better of him.

The sounds were odd again. Then I realized why. The ground sloped down a little. I hadn't realized it until the Pixies suddenly just disappeared, and then I took a step forward and found nothing there --

I landed on my ass and slid down. It was not pleasant, but maybe better than trying to walk it. I wasn't sure.

I was cursing again by the time I stopped at the bottom of the embankment. I couldn't breathe for a moment . I couldn't move. i laid there with the snow falling on my face and knew that if I didn't get up that I would die there.

I wanted it to matter more to me. The apathy came from the accident and the cold. The little logical part of my brain knew it and tried to convince the rest of me to listen. Unfortunately, the rest of me had been hanging too long with fae and working for woo woo news. We were kind of strangers, logic and me.

What did finally startle me back to reality -- well, my currently warped version of it -- was when another half dozen pixies came tumbling over the embankment and down into the snow about a foot to my right. They all squeaked and growled, flailed around a bit, and then gathered themselves up and kept going. I watched them disappear into the white wasteland and it annoyed me. I was not about to let those little green fae creatures out do me!

Oh yeah. Logic retreated back into a dark little corner of my mind and whimpered for awhile.
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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Day 3: 10,125 -- 33,535 total

Current novel counts:

Wildlands -- 11586

Silky 4 -- 11110

Autumn Storm -- 10839

So, I did better than I expected today. The 10k days will come to an end soon, though. I did get some paying work done today, but I'll need to get more of it over the next two days.

It's been fun, though!
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Day 2: 10,301 -- 23129 Total

Day 2 went better than I thought it would. I had work to do for DAZ, and then I kept having trouble with the outlines. But they came through in the end, so I'm happy.

But tired. Really, really tired. I was going to try and find some snippets for today, but I don't think I can stay awake that long.

The books are going like this so far:

Wildlands: 7858

Silky 4: 7679

Autumn Storm: 7592

I hope they keep doing as well tomorrow and that I can get at least 10k on each of them.

But now...

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Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNo Day 1: 12,828 Words

I did not expect to do this well today, and for a couple reasons. First, Russ left to go back to New York at about 6:30 this morning. That was, of course, depressing. However, he helped get me going by staying up past midnight last night, cheering me on through the first 2k hour, and even baking me cookies to celebrate. That really did help.

We slept for a few hours, then he was up and leaving. I got up to see him off, then slept for a few hours, and woke up again -- with a horrible cough and sore throat. I took stuff and slept for a couple more hours.

Then I went back to work on writing and doing some DAZ stuff. I don't dare let that fall behind.

Russ and I wrote together for a little while on Skype tonight (just the message board, not video), and that helped, too. He was waiting to see if his luggage was ever going to show up -- worrying stuff since it had all his work suits and stuff. It did, finally.

I am doing something a bit odd this year for me. I normally write two or three first draft novels during NaNo. This year I am going to do three. And I am working on them at the same time. I needed something a little different to get me going. I couldn't decide which of the three outlines I wanted to start with, so rather than fussing over it any longer, I decided to just go with all three of them. If any of them don't make it to 50k, I'll subtract that one's word count from the total.

It was far more exciting than I expected it to be.

So, I'm up and moving far better on my first day than I expected.

I hope everyone else is having fun!
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Sunday, November 01, 2009

First Attack at NaNo

I wrote 2052 words to kick off NaNo. Now, however, I am just beat and I'm going to get a few hours sleep before I come back and start at it again.

I have started with Wildlands. I am thinking, though, that I might work on several novels at once this year, just to make it different. We'll see how I feel when I get up in a few hours. I might be sane by then.

Time to get some rest, though!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday. Right.

Okay, so I'm not fully tracking anything right now. I still haven't gotten my final outline done for NaNo. I have gotten much of the DAZ newsletter done, and barely on time. I still have work to do for Vision. That one just keeps slipping away from me.

I am suffering from a massive headache tonight, which I do NOT appreciate at all. It might be sinus or it might be weather change. Whatever it is, I'm just not happy to have it hit now. I've taken enough pills that it's either going to clear up or I'm going to sleep. Or maybe both. I don't care at this point.

NaNo is just a couple days away. Am I ready? Not as much as I would like to be. I do have a couple more days, so there is hope. I'm probably closer than I think -- with this headache it feels as though everything is overwhelming. Hate days like that. I'll get the work done, though. I always do.

I should say that I have at least two very good stories for NaNo. The current outline isn't done, but the story is a lot of fun, and I could probably go to the end of it without any trouble, even without an outline. I would like to get it done, though. I don't want to risk hitting the 'what next' problem on any of the stories. As busy as my life is these days (you noticed, right?), I don't want to unnecessarily waste NaNo time to figure a story out.

Besides, I stress this so much with other people that it would be awfully embarrassing for it to happen to me. I will have the rest of the outline, even if it's only a few lines for the last quarter of the book. I do still have several small pages of notes to get transcribed into the outline yet, so we'll see where I am after that. I can see the end is near, I'm just not quite there yet.

Of the outlines I have, Silky 4, Autumn Storm, Wildlands and I'm not Who You Think are the ones that are going to make it for this NaNo. I could not get enough research done on In the Shadow of Giants or Foundling: The Story of Tom Luck. I'll be working on those in December and one of them will be my January 1 story and the other probably my March (birthday) story.

I will likely do snippets here during NaNo, and not just on Wednesdays. That might be fun. Providing, of course, that I can find the time.

Okay, yeah. Time to work. Get things done. I can do it!


Can I have a few extra days to slip in here before November?
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back from A Writing Vacation

Yes, I missed last week. I was away from home! For several days!

Since I hadn't been out of the house overnight for several years, this was a really big thing. My husband (who lives about 2,000 miles away), had to be in Minneapolis for the week. He flew into Omaha, picked me up, and we drove up to Minneapolis. He did work stuff. I stayed in the hotel room having a wonderful little 'writer's retreat' during which I finished a short story, wrote two and a half outlines and did research on two other books.

Here are some pictures:

I loved it. Not only did I get to spend some time with Russ, I had a very quiet, peaceful time. I did not do any other kind of work during that week. It was a much needed vacation from my four jobs, as Russ pointed out. (DAZ Newsletter, FM site, Vision Editor and publisher, County websites... oh, and then there is that writing stuff.) Of the four, DAZ and Vision would likely be considered full time jobs by most people. The DAZ newsletter is weekly, so that takes up a lot of time. Vision needs more time than I can give it, to be honest. FM takes a lot of my time, but it's not steady. And the county website stuff has slowed way down lately.

Which brings us to writing. I want to write. I want to write more than I do now. I don't see how I can get any more time without quitting one or more of the jobs, and that's not going to happen if I want to have food and Internet. Not to mention paying for FM, though I did have some nice contributions this time, and we slipped over the edge so I could pay it. Next up will be a site just for Vision if I can swing it next year.

Oh, did you see that? How I start out talking about writing and it goes right back to FM and Vision again? That's the way things are going in my life.

But I have two and a half outlines for NaNo. They all are fantasy this year. One is just a straight fantasy adventure, Wildlands. The second is the last of the Silky books. That one is really calling to me to get it done. The third is an urban fantasy that I hope to have outlined before November 1. It's the sequel to Summer Storm. I also have one lone, little Young Adult contemporary mystery outline that I've had for a while that I'll throw into the group and see if I want to do it.

My plan, as always, is to write a full novel for NaNo. I often do more than one novel, but I plan on one. If that goes well, great. If it doesn't, I'm not worried about other stuff I think I should be doing. I just haven't quite decided which is THE novel this year. I suspect it is going to be the Silky one.

There are two other pieces I'm working on, but I can't see that they'll be anywhere near ready for NaNo. That's all right. I need something to start out 2010, too. I always start a new book on the first day of the year, and this will give me December to finish up research and to outline. The two books are Foundling: The Story of Tom Luck, which is a Victorian Fantasy, and In the Shadow of Giants, which is a sci-fantasy. I've loved doing the research on these two. If I had more time....

But I don't. So I'm looking at the 3 or 4 outlines that I have in hand. That should be more than enough for anyone to think about. I'm working at getting fired up for NaNo, too. Last year was pretty bad for me. I was depressed about spending a second set of holidays alone. This is year three. I don't want to think I'm getting used to it, but I guess I am.

I hope that the DAZ work doesn't take too much of my time in November. I would love to really fall into NaNo this time and get a lot of writing done.

Oh, and it looks as though I'm going to adopt myself out to a different region this year. I'd really like to find a place with a lively on-line presence at NaNo and one that would actually be interested in what I'm doing. We'll see if I do it and now that goes!
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Time to start NaNo work

I am somewhat preparing for NaNo now that I am done with The Servant Girl. I keep having twitches to reopen the novel file, though, and start editing it. It's too soon, though. I know it. And if I do it now, I'll just have to redo it in a few weeks. So, no looking at it yet.

Instead, it's time to really start thinking about the next novel, which will be the NaNo one. Or two. Or even more if I get moving this year. I have four possible outlines, plus a fifth I've been holding onto for a few years until I get the urge to write it. This might be the year.

The outlines I'm working on now are:

Wildlands (fantasy)

Autumn Storm (Urban Fantasy)

Foundling: The Story of Tom Luck (Fantasy)

In the Shadow of Giants (Science Fiction and Fantasy)

I'm Not Who You Think (Contemporary YA Mystery -- the one I've been holding onto for a while)

A little heavy on the fantasy stuff there. Maybe I should try to come up with something just straight out science fiction, like a new Devlin novel. She could be fun to write about again. I think the reason the last story is calling to me is because of all the fantasy. It gives me something different to write about.

Foundling and Shadow of Giants both need background work. I have my books stacked up, and I think I'll get a good amount of that work done next week. We'll see. If not, I have the other three novels to choose from, so I'm fine anyway. I can get either of the research-heavy outlines done for the start of the year, if nothing else.

I love working with outlines and background material. I enjoy finding new things to slip into the novel, and being able to do it easily in the outline, rather than fighting to shove something into material already written. Not that it doesn't still happen sometimes, but I would rather find the ones I can before I start serious writing. And it lets me not worry about getting sidetracked by work and messing up the story because I lost track of what I was doing.

Outlines allow me to just write and be creative, and to explore the story possibilities and the characters on a level that I couldn't if I didn't have a basic plan on where they were going. It allows my story to move logically and build on things that I know are going to happen as well as things that have occurred in the story.

It's like studying maps before you take the journey. I know the path, I just can't be certain what I'll see or who I'll meet.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A busy day!

I just only now realized I need to do this post for the day. It's been crazy here today, with far too many things going on. I think I am almost done with everything that absolutely has to be done. It's been a rough last day of the month.

I am not quite done with The Servant Girl. I had hoped to be and just go into October with nothing but outlines, submissions and a short story to worry about. I don't think I have more than two or three days left on it, though, so that's fine.

And I really do like this book. It seems to work. I like the characters. That's all you can ask for from a book.

So here is a little snippet of it. I'm going back to writing! Darva had been taken captive. Toman got her back.

"I'm all right. I had a bit of a run in with the local guards is all," Darva said and cast a frown at the men who stood guard. "How did you manage this?"

"I had a talk with a local Robber Lord," Toman answered with a shrug.

"What did you pay him?" Darva suddenly asked, stepping back and looking worried. Too smart, their Darva.

"Nothing we can't do without, Darva," he said and slapped her on the shoulder. He looked so relieved and happy that Beth smiled. "Come now. Let us get the rest of this picked up and move on. The sooner we are out of Traderville, the better."

"Yes." She looked at him, eyes narrowed. "Toman --"

"We need to go."

Darva nodded. She started picking up the few things that were still lying in the street... and then she stopped and turned back. "Hell. The gems. How many?"

Beth looked surprised that Darva knew about the gems. Toman just sighed as though he had expected her to guess and had hoped for different.

"How many?" she said.

"We didn't need them. I thought we might have to buy our way closer to Oris. Now we're close enough that we could walk if we want."

"How -- Gods. All of them." She looked white and sat down on the steps again.

"It was worth it," Toman said. She shook her head, but Toman reached over and caught hold of her hand and made her look up at him. "It was worth it. I don't need the damned gems. I do need you."
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lists and Talent

My life runs on lists. I have lists pinned to walls of everything from story questions (Is the MC actively pursuing a goal? Is the event building excitement?) to lists of words I need to avoid. I have work lists, writing lists, life lists (Have you walked today?) and I'm fairly certain I have a list of lists somewhere around here. I live by lists, and as some people have figured out, if something is not on one of my lists, I'm apt to forget it.

I outline my novels, which is just another form of list because it allows me to apply questions to the base core of the story and see if it is following through on what I want to achieve. I list stories that need additional work and list more questions to apply to them. I am working on a massive database that lists all my manuscripts, all the characters, places and things associated with them so that I can make lists of them. I even have Excel lists of my daily word counts going back to January 1, 1998.

The first thing I do each day is list out what I want from the day -- not only what I need to do, but what I would like to achieve. Sometimes those things are solid, easy stuff things like finish reading a book or write X number of words on a story. Other times they are far more esoteric like figuring out how to reconcile emotional needs with reality. Outlook pops up with recurring lists for me every day. (And yes, doing the Joyously Prolific post comes up every Wednesday to remind me.)

However, a discussion on FM has reminded me that not everything can be confined to lists. I believe trying to define talent, for instance, is too individual to make a check list to say if someone has it or doesn't have it. I think lists of that sort no longer define something, but box it in. That doesn't mean the list won't help some people who need definitions, but for others looking at the list would be the way to define themselves out of talent rather than into it. What one person lists as important, another would define in a different way. Or they might not list something one writer feels is the most important aspect of talent. Did we ever mention anything related to 'vision' in that discussion on FM?

Writers are artists, and artists are, on the whole, the most individualistic people in the world. They have already looked outside the normal world that boxes most people in with definitions of who and what they are. They have moved beyond definitions into a world where they don't accept the lines drawn that others don't cross.

Artists vary in that indefinable quality we call talent. How can we define it in ourselves when we can't even agree on talent in others? How many times have you read a review of something that was described as 'talentless' in one way or another, and yet which you enjoyed? Would you take the word of a reviewer over your own, personal feelings -- even if you cannot clearly define those feelings? If you enjoyed something, then the person who created it (book, artwork, music, whatever) had the talent to reach you. Not reaching everyone else isn't important.

If we only measure talent by individual success in the field (and some people do, of course), then you would have to put Rowling and King on a modern top ten list. I don't like King, but I enjoyed Rowling's books. I don't think they're great art, but she has the talent to reach readers on a level that entertains them. King does the same, just not for me. Of course, if you start equating talent with personal success, it gets really tangled. Emily Dickinson? Never had personal success, of course -- so does that mean she wasn't talented during her own lifetime?

So maybe not success, but ability to reach the audience is a part of talent -- but then, in order to define if you have that particular aspect of talent, you would need to define who your audience is, and that might not be so easy. I love Dickens, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Virgil, C.J. Cherry, Jim Butcher, Chip Delaney and the nonfiction of Michael Grant. Am I your audience? I might be -- my tastes, like most readers -- is eclectic. If someone tried to define me into a specific audience, they'd have trouble.

So the ability to reach an audience may be a part of talent, but you know what? You can't know if you can do so until after you have written, and probably written far more than one thing. So asking if you have this talent before you've done the work is pretty much useless. And even after publication... well, I am reminded of the innovators in The Modern Art movement who were scorned and derided (and who still are) as talentless. I don't particularly like modern art like Cubism -- and while I like some Minimalist music and design, I don't particularly care for the art pieces.

I don't think the people involved are talentless just because they didn't reach me. And if someone set down a list of 'what you need to be talented' then a good many of these artists would be denied the title of talented because they don't fit into ... well, into the box that the list created.

Lists have their places. Ones about 'what is talent' can even help an individual with personal questions. However, if you find yourself looking at a list and you don't meet the qualifications, it may only mean that you are thinking outside that particular box.

And that's a good thing.

And here is a little piece of The Servant Girl and then I'm off again to take care of more things off of lists!

She reached the library door and ran her fingers over the familiar wood before slowly pushing it open. She stepped into the library and looked at Master Noah where he sat at the table, a decanter of wine and two goblets before him. He looked up from his book.

"I am going," she said softly. "With the merchant, back to Teloris --"

"I know, I know. Come and sit down. Have a little wine. We'll draw out maps, shall we? Ways that you might need to take to get there ... and back here again, next spring. It's going to be a hard journey in the winter. They'll have you fitted out for it, won't they?"

"Oh yes, sir," she said and gratefully sat. This proved easier, having gotten past that part, since he had already known. "Bell and Darva are seeing to it now. Darva will be going with us --"

"Will she indeed?" he said, a little startled by that news. "Well, I think that's good. She's a remarkable woman, our Captain Darva. Though I dare say this will be very hard on Bell. I'll have to remember to ask her to have lunch with me some days. We'll keep each other company while you both are gone."

"That would be good, sir," she agreed. She stared at her hands for a moment and then looked up again. "But ... But ... I might not come back. There may be things in Teloris that require me to stay --"

He lifted a hand and quieted her. "I'm not a foolish old man, Beth. You are far too smart and well-educated to waste your life locked away in this tower at the edge of civilization. I always knew you would move on."

"I like it here. I wish I could stay," she said, and meant it in all seriousness. He seemed to understand and nodded as he poured them wine. "I don't want to go."

The wind blew hard against the window. They both looked to see the trace of snow against the glass.

Master Noah looked back at her and shook his head. "If I had my way, you would never leave. I hate to think of you out there in that weather and so far from safety. But the world does not run on my will, as I have learned so late in life. Sip your wine. I'll get the atlas and we'll go over them so I can pretend I am helping you."

"It will be a help!" she said and meant it. "I would like to know the best way to go. I came here by chance. I don't want to trust to chance to get me back to Teloris again."

So they worked through the nice, quiet afternoon. He finally folded the three maps they had made and handed them over to her.

"Go on now. Get a good night's sleep, because the Gods know when you'll have such a nice, warm bed again."

"Oh, I wish you hadn't mentioned that part," she said with a rueful shake of her head.

He gave her a little smile and a pat on her arm as she stood -- and then, quite unexpectedly, he pulled her into an embrace. "Take care, Beth. Take good care. Write to me from Teloris if you don't return. Tell me what is going on in the city so that I can live it vicariously."

"I promise. I will. Take care, Master Noah."

"Now go to your dinner. Your friends will want to say goodbye, you know."
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Weather Changing

Autumn is settling in here already. I'm surprised at how fast summer disappeared. Not that we had a horrible summer this year, though. I just hope that means a mild winter, as well. I do need to find my sweaters and stuff and get them cleaned. It's already starting to cool down enough at night. In fact... think I'll go find something warmer right now!

I am starting to work on outlines for NaNo. That, along with The Servant Girl, is taking a lot of work. I don't know which outlines I'll have done, though. A couple of them are fighting me, and two need serious worldbuilding done. They're fun anyway.

I'm also working on another story. It's going well, too. So far it's just called The Twitter Story. I'm writing it in lines that could be pasted into Twitter. Eventually, I will post it at (I think) ten lines a day. It might be interesting. We'll see! I'm up to about 70 entries. Nowhere near enough to start doing it. In fact, I think it would be best if I finish the story before I start to post. I don't want to find myself trying to rush through the ten lines just to get something up.

So, as writing goes, this has been a pretty good year. I've put out some submissions, gotten nibbles but no buys -- and learned a few more things about improvements I need to make. So as long as you can learn something, you can move on. If you don't want to learn, you're not going to do any better.

That's true of all things, of course. I need to apply that attitude towards all kinds of things. House cleaning. There's something I could stand to learn 'better.'

And here is the snippet of The Servant Girl for this week. It's going along wonderfully.

"It's a bad time for such a journey," Master Noah suddenly said. He looked up at her and frowned. "And not just because of the weather. There is trouble brewing out there. Trevor told me that there have been brigands running the crossings between Ranasian lands and Eleria, and the Elerians are no more happy about it than we are."

"Where do they stand, Eleria? With the civil war?" she dared to ask.

"They stand by whoever is the strongest because they want a strong northern ally."

"Wouldn't they want us weaker?" she said, sitting down for a moment. It helped to talk about something -- anything.

Don't think about him leaving.

"If they didn't face constant trouble with the lands to the south and east of them -- including the Kosten -- it might be so. However, they don't want chaos here, and they especially don't want the Opne moving in on their northern border. They supported the Ranas Council because it was made of wise men who didn't allow weakness. But now ... now I can't say where they will land in this war. I don't know that it will really matter to us, here on the edge of Ranas. The other border lords are creating anarchy with each fighting the others for power. It won't help."

It would help -- it would help Lord Melton if he didn't have to worry about the border lords uniting against him. And didn't Lord Terrance add to the same trouble by obviously creating a large army of his own? She didn't say it aloud. She still kept to Lord Terrance's rules about speaking of the civil war, though it grew harder each day. Besides, she feared to learn that Lord Terrance would side with Melton, as unlikely as it seemed. She had managed not to believe it, because Lord Terrance was not the sort of man who would take up with someone so obviously greedy for power. It was not his way, and she believed it in her heart.

But Eleria presented a problem she hadn't considered at all. Could Lord Terrance take allegiance there? Would that be worse than going to Melton? The Westmark lords had feuded with the royal family for too long. Lord Terrance might see no reason to remain loyal to a missing princess, and the line virtually disappeared.

Master Noah had leaned back in the chair and tilted his head, looking at her in silence for a moment.

"Lord Terrance has done and kept us all somewhat safe. No one wants him as a potential enemy. He is a powerful man, out here on the border lands. He's always maintained a well trained and supplied army and he's kept his councils to himself, Lady Effie, Trevor and maybe Captain Darva -- because he knows he can trust those three. That's not to say that he doesn't trust the rest of us, but he cannot show favoritism by imparting secrets to some and not to others."

"And there's reason why he fears letting the secrets out. There are spies in the castle, aren't there?"

"Oh yes. We know some of them worked with -- or through -- Mrs. Wynith. We're not entirely certain whom she reported to, though. Someone had found the key to get into the castle by playing on her anger. Lord Terrance removed her, but that doesn't mean that her people went with her. So, do you understand Beth?"

"Yes, sir. Dangerous times," she said with a nod. They'd had spies at Teloris, too, of course. They played a game of it, sometimes -- giving out odd bits of information to different maids and seeing where it turned up again. This was not a game. "And there are more people, now, with the refugees. There are bound to be some who are not what they claim, and how could we tell?"

"Exactly. So Lord Terrance keeps what he intends to do close to his vest, and he waits until he needs to give out the information. That doesn't mean he isn't preparing. We have all seen that part, with the soldiers training and the supplies stored. It's more than a hard winter he's preparing for this year."

It made sense. She had known it on one level, and now she nodded and let it all fall into place. Her heart told her to trust the man and to believe in him. She liked Lord Terrance. She had to believe he would make the right choice.

As she gathered up the last of the papers she found Master Noah still looking at her, his head tilted a little.

"You do well keeping your own secrets. I wonder what goes on in your head sometimes. I can see you come to decisions and I can't guess what they might be or what I've said that created them."

"I just have ... things to consider, sir."

"Yes, I imagine you do. Here is one such thing to consider. Whatever happens, Lord Terrance will do what's best for his people. He holds the trust and care of the people as very important you know."

"Yes, sir. That's true. I know he'll do the right thing." And it was true. It may not be the choice that she would make, but she had different priorities.
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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

One of those days...

It actually started a couple days ago, when I noticed that Zaphod's nose was swollen on one side. I told Russ, and he looked it over via Skype (that video stuff has really helped) and decided we better be safe and get him to the vet. That was set up for about 4:30 pm today. A friend agreed to come over and drive me there. (Don't worry -- Z is mostly fine!)

I woke up early with a horrible sore throat and stuffed up nose. I took stuff and went back to sleep. Woke up later feeling much better. Got up out of bed -- and realized my back had gone out big time over the last few hours. I could barely take a step forward. I could not lean over at all. Massive problem since I had to grab the nearly twenty pound cat and stuff him into a small purse-like carrier. I waited until about ten minutes before the ride was going to show up, and then the two of us went out to the porch. Waited a few more minutes with the bag sitting there -- he'd figured out what it was for by then. Finally grabbed him up in a towel, shoved him in and zipped it shut. It worked great. Got him out to the car. And off to the vet we went. Zaphod has an ulcerated sore on his nose. It should clear up and he had a shot for infection. He's doing fine -- sitting right here in front of me, in fact. Z actually loves car rides, so on the way home I let him stick his head out. He never made a noise the entire trip. The friend was really impressed with how well behaved he is. And he purred the entire time he was in with the vet. This is a great cat.

And... I had them stop at the Taco Bell on the way home. Heaven! Taco Bell is my 'fun' food, and because Russ isn't here, I rarely get it. That made me feel much better.

Except for the back which is still out. I can barely even sit here right now, though that's still better than standing and walking. Ugh. This happens every now and then, and I know I'll survive it, but it is horribly painful at the moment.

I had to take the trash out to the street. That was pretty miserable, too -- not made any better by the number of bugs. I couldn't have been out more than five minutes, and I still have six bites. This is so annoying -- the mosquitoes have been so horrible this year that I can barely go outside most of the time. I even use spray to keep them off and it does nothing. They've always been enthusiastically drawn to me.

So, really, it's been an up and down day. Glad Zaphod is good. Wish my back would settle back into place.

The Servant Girl snippet:

Shouts rose louder and the rush of people -- all colors and movement -- spread around her once more. The wall proved to be unsafe when she found herself almost crushed behind a line of fighting men who didn't care if they pushed her against the stones. She charged out, shoving one man into another, and then ducking down as someone swung at her.

The scream of a terrified child drew her off to the left. She shoved people aside and heard a woman calling a name somewhere else. The child screamed for his mother --

She found the boy first and grabbed him up, holding him close and trying to find some way to get him to safety. He sobbed against her shoulder, but when the woman yelled -- somewhere near by -- the boy lifted his head again. The woman seemed to be not far away. Trevor, on the horse, was close as well and seemed to clear some of the way. The woman appeared and gladly took the child into her arms. She looked frantically around --

"Arkin! Arkin! Help me get Davey out of here!"

A huge man moved up beside them, and the woman sheltered beside them. Beth tried to move along with the two as well, but within a half dozen steps the crowd surged back around her and a blow sent her sprawling. She held to the basket and scrambled back up, ducking between yelling men --

She found a clear spot and stood again, turning frantically to find the next path out. The best way seemed to the right. She jostled her way through with yells of her own -- as though she had caught the anger, as well now. Push through -- push through. Someone knocked her down again. She fell and pulled the basket to her chest as she tried to get back up. She didn't make it before the people began to yell and charge in around her --

She began to call the magic up, too frightened not to use it for protection.

"Get out of the way! Get away from her!"

People moved away from her in haste. She saw the horse first, and then Trevor came through, sword in hand, and leading his horse.

"Get away from her, I said!" he shouted and lifted the sword again. People backed away in haste.

It took Beth several heartbeats to realize he had come to help her. The shock almost made her freeze, but she finally got to her feet again.

"Thank you ... sir," she said. She couldn't bring herself to call him by name.

"I saw you help that child, and then go down. Come on, then." He waved to the horse. "Can you ride? I'll get you out of this mess."

"I can, sir," she said and limped forward, basket still in hand. The trouble was falling in behind them again, growing louder. "I'm going to the castle."

"Good." He transferred the sword to the same hand that he held the reigns and offered a hand to help her up. "Hold on tight. I'll try to go slow. Side-saddled --"

"Safety is more important," she said and pushed herself up by the stirrup and a leg over the saddle -- unladylike, but she wanted out of here. "Be quick. Don't take chances."

He blinked, trying very hard not to look at her leg, uncovered almost to the knee. She blushed.

And he swept off his cloak and threw it up over the front of the saddle, mostly covering her legs.

"Thank you."

He nodded and started leading the horse away.

She thought he looked very dangerous, the young man leading the fidgeting horse and using his sword to flat-blade people when they didn't get out of the way. Only one burly man tried to stand his place, holding an old battered sword of his own. Trevor didn't have any trouble disarming him, and the man retreated very quickly.

They had left most of the riot behind by the time they reached the fountains. Trevor led the horse at a quick trot to the gate where people already prepared to go out.

"Good to see you home, even if trouble always follows you, Trev," one of the men said, slapping him on the shoulder. He looked up at Beth on the horse and shook his head. "And you --"

Beth carefully slid back off the horse, handing the cloak back to Trevor with a nod of thanks. She still held the basket tight in her hands and looked up in time to see Captain Darva coming at a quick trot, her own troop forming up behind her.

"We're going to stop letting you out of the castle, Beth," Darva said with a shake of her head and a slight smile.

"I hope so," she said with an emphatic nod.

"Trevor." Darva looked at him, blinked and smiled. "Good to see you home."

"Thank you, Captain," he said, but glanced at Beth again. "I better go report to Terrance and tell him what I saw out there. Don't worry -- it looked to me to be nothing more than locals. I'll see you later."

Beth couldn't tell if he meant those words for her or Darva. From the look on the Captain's face, neither did she.

They both watched Trevor walk away, and then Darva looked back at Beth with a sigh. "You had better tell me what happened."

"He just came through the crowd and found me, that's all. He offered to help me out --"

"Not with Trevor," she said and laughed again. Beth felt her face flush. "Tell me what you saw happening out there."

"Oh." She swallowed her embarrassment and glanced at the gate where one group of soldiers were already heading out. "I think it was a disagreement at one of the food stalls, and it just suddenly ... grew. It was like people felt the anger in the air and started arguing everywhere. It was horrible."
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