Aug 30

Finis!

“Sea Change” first draft is complete at 4222 words. After I let it cool for a day or two, I’ll go back and add some foreshadowing of the unexpected events that cropped up along the way and a tad of necessary backstory. After editing for long-windedness and passive voice (both longstanding bugaboos of mine), I expect to see it somewhere around 4500 words.

Now the question is what to work on next: somewthing out of my personal slush pile or something new? I do have some novel notes I need to commit to paper and an idea on how to rewrite the first chapter to give it a good hook, especially the all-important first scene. I shall think about it tomorrow, for, after all, tomorrow is another day.

Latest Blog Changes

There’s a new item in the sidebar just under the hit counter. It’s a cool Javascript from OnceWritten that generates some extremely odd and hilarious writing prompts. I like just reading them and refreshing the screen. I’ve been LMAO since I came across this one. Enjoy.

I also added Blogger’s new anti-spam feature to the comments. It’s a pain in the ass, I know. It is for me, too, but it’s worth it to block the crap. It only takes a couple of morons to ruin things for everybody.

Aug 29

Wasted Weekend

So Saturday afternoon I decided to finally sit down and fix all the DLL version conflicts that have been aggravating me for the past…ummm…6 years. My system is Windows 95 upgraded to Win98 upgraded again to Win 98SE. Yeah, it was a mess. And no, I’m not going to get 2000 or XP or whatever-the-Hell-piece-of-shit Microsoft is pushing today. 98SE is mostly stable, and I can work around the few glitches it does have, and it has all the features and does everyting I need an operating system to do which is mostly stay the Hell out of my way. So there. :-b

Anyway. Anybody that’s been around Winduhs can guess how this went. NOT TOO GOOD!!! Let’s just say that I got everything more or less working before I left for work this afternoon. Actually, just about everything is working way better than before, including some software that I had never been able to get working until now. Maybe it was all worth while.

Problem. I seem to have lost all formatting in my Word documents. The text is still there, but all bold, italics, tabs, headers, etc. is gone. All of it. Luckily, this doesn’t affect my manuscripts, because I long ago made a template using Courier New 12 and all the fancy substitutions turned off. A lot easier to cut and paste into Web forms that way. Oh well, it’s done now, and it only too most of 3 days. Whew!

Needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want), I got crap done on any writing. “Sea Change” is at a critical point right now. I think I need one more scene to push Brent right to the edge. The cards have been trying to tell me something, but I’m just not getting it. I’ll keep trying tonight and in the morning.

Also trying to get some plants started for the fall garden. Everything except peppers and okra is pretty well played out now, and it’s time to start getting cool-weather stuff ready. It’s just awful hard to get out and do garden work in this heat. Ugh.

Aug 25

Mo’ Better

Another 700 words on “Sea Change” today. 3750 so far. One, maybe two more scenes to go, and I can call it finished in first draft. Today’s scene was…umm…interesting. I see another theme emerging that reflects some of what’s going on in my life right now.

This weekend, I’m going to make my first simultaneous submission. I’ve heald off on that so far for two reasons:

1.) It’s too complicated to track.

AND

2.) I’ve held to a belief in exclusivity, letting one market have a chance at a time.

I have changed my mind. Hey, I’m allowed! As long as I don’t go overboard, I will be able to keep up. The software I use will let me see what is where any time I want to, and, since I don’t have an excessive number of stories circulating at any one time, I should be able to deal with it. As far as exclusivity goes, who has time for that? When it takes 3-6 months for a market to reply, that means only 2-4 markets will see this story in a year. Not enough. I would like to get something published sometime before I turn 90.

So, “Carrion Comfort” goes out to four markets this weekend. They all accept simulsubs, and 2 of them even encourage them. Ask and ye shall receive. I’m debating changing the title again, too. I don’t really want to, because I think Hopkins’s poem is really appropriate to this story. On the other hand, I’m afraid the title is turning people off. What to do, what to do…

Aug 24

Good Work Day

1200 more words on “Sea Change”. 600 yesterday. It’s now just over 3000 words and approaching the climax. My “perfect” ending went into the shredder a couple of days ago when the story took a sharp left turn into the weird. More craziness on the way tomorrow. In my reply to Melly’s comment on the snip the other day, I said that this is a story about change. More than I knew, apparently. It keeps changing course and throwing me off balance. Sometimes that’s a good thing.

I’m trying an experiment with this story, a new way of working, and it’s goign great so far. I am combining my Tarot fascination with my developing meditation habit to get past the fear roadblock. By drawing a card and then meditating on how that card relates to the story, I have been getting tremendous insight and clarity. It’s both exhilarating and frightening. When I sit down to write, I feel like I’m plugged in to a 880-volt trunk line, like I tried to stick a vein and got a main artery instead. The words are just throwing themselves out so fast I can’t keep up. They’re good words, too. I think so, anyway. Keep your opinions to yourselves. 😉

Words are magic. They are conduits for enormous power. The power of my words over me and my audience (assuming I can get the damn thing published) is both awe-inspiring and terrifying. I am bringing something into the world that has never existed before, a beast both fair and foul.

Melly also asked where this story came from. I have to admit I have no clue. This is one of the ones that just sprang into my mind late one night about three years ago. I had a vision of the final scene, the denouement, and the first sentence. It’s been incubating ever since. Sometimes, I don’t really want to know where these things come from. There are things hiding in the depths of my mind that should not be disturbed.

Aug 22

A Whack Upside the Head

Following Holly’s recommendation, I tracked down and bought Your Heart’s Desire and The Psychic Pathway, both by Sonia Choquette. I have finished the first and am almost through the second. Let me just second Holly’s recommendation. Excellent additions to my bookshelf.

So I was thinking this morning. Should-can-will I follow Choquette’s Prcinciples to my Heart’s Desire? Over the past few years, I have come to trust the Tarot to help me see my way. So I held my favorite deck (Rider-Waite) for a few minutes while I meditated on this question. Then I drew a card. Ace of Pentacles. In layman’s terms: What the hell are you doing sitting there playing with cards? Get your ass in gear!

On the Ace of Pentacles, a hand descends from a cloud holding a golden disc inscribed with a Pentacle. The scene includes white lillies blooming against a hedge. In the hedge is an open archway. A path leads to the opening, through which we can see distant mountains. This ain’t symbolism; this is a whack upside my head. All I need to do (all!) is take one step forward, then another. When I get to the archway, I can step through. Eventually, I can get to the mountains. One step at a time. The Pentacle-inscribed coin is a talisman, an investment in me by the Universe. The Universe believes in me. I only have to believe in myself. Only.

OK. First Principle: focus, attention, intention. Determine my Heart’s Desire, pay attention to it, and intend to get it. I find an eerie parallel here to The Teachings of don Juan by Carlos Castaneda, which I am re-reading for the God-only-knows-how-many-th time. “Choose a path with a heart”, don Juan says. Focus on it. Pay attention to your path and the world around you. Follow it with “unbending intent”.

So what is my Heart’s Desire? Good question. Right now, I have several areas I need to look closely at: finances, writing, spiritual growth, etc. I see deep thought and meditation in my future.

Ultimately, the quest for my Heart’s Desire is the search for an answer to one of Life’s great questions: Why am I here? What is the purpose in my life. If I am to excape the bottomless angst that has plagued me since I could think, I need to answer that question. It is intimately bound up with the question that is my major concern right now: Who am I? In order to identify myself as an authentic, self-respect-worthy human being, I have to know what I am doing here and how to go about fulfilling my destiny.

I’ll deal with the fear as it arises. I have to focus my intent on my purpose and always keep in mind that the Universe want me to succeed. It told me so in no uncertain terms.

Aug 20

WIP Snip

A quick snip from “Sea Change”, my current short story project. Rough, but improving. PG-13.


The sea was wild that night, a terrible hag, foam-stranded hair blowing wildly in the wind, shrieking and clawing at the shore. Brent watched her fury from behind the plate glass window overlooking the beach, then turned back to the fire and Alicia sleeping gently under a quilt, her long red hair splayed around her head.

The flicker of the flames played shadow games on her face. Her breath mirrored the hiss of the fire, as her hair mirrored the flames with its blazing, honest color. No brassy bottle color or wimpy strawberry-blonde there, just pure Celtic fire. Her skin showed her ancestry as well, pale and freckled. She never tanned, only burned, peeled, and burned again.

He tossed back the remainder of his drink and grimaced at the watery, lukewarm Scotch. A couple of ice cube and three fingers of Glenlivet refreshed his glass. He held the cold drink to the bite mark on his shoulder. That would be a bruise to remember in days to come.

He wasn’t sure if they had been fucking or fighting. Whatever they had done, it had certainly not been making love. Love was markedly absent from the lives of Brent and Alicia Williamson lately. Brent wondered if she was that wild with what’s-his-name, the other guy. Oh yeah, Randy. He snorted. Appropriate. He wondered if they made love or just fucked. Then, he wondered why he cared. He turned back to the window and watched the storm assaulting the beach and the house.

Brent was fundamentally a gentle and sensitive man who had loved Alicia with all of his heart. She fulfilled him, completed him, she was the missing half of his soul, as wild and free as he was controlled and civilized, and his heart hurt to know that he had lost her. His frustration at being helpless to prevent it tore him apart.

He took a gulp of Scotch and enjoyed the warmth of it in his throat and stomach. The storm was getting worse, the wind shrieking like a banshee and the surf booming against the shore like a battering ram. He settled into the rocking chair in the corner and alternated between watching his wife sleeping and the sea-hag shrieking as long as the darkness lasted.

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Aug 18

Talyn


“Duty, Honor, Country”. For 200 years the motto of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, has inspired its graduates to give their very best to the service of their country. Many of them have given their very lives as their duty demanded. One of the questions Holly Lisle asks in Talyn, her new fantasy novel, is: Can there come a time when honor outweighs duty?

This is one of the questions that Talyn, the eponymous heroine of the novel, has to grapple with. Another very important one is: Can your enemy become your friend and ally? Along the way, she also must come to grips with trust, love, abuse, and death. Altogether, Talyn has a full life, and the lessons that she learns are vital for all of us.

Holly Lisle has a true and enviable talent with characters. She is able to take her readers deep inside her characters and let us see and hear and feel right along with them. Their pain and heartbreak, joy and love quickly become real to us. Each character speaks with a different voice and has a different personality. Through Talyn, we can see the conflict that tears her heart, and we know the scars will heal slowly. As she faces betrayal after betrayal, as her choices become harder and more painful, Talyn show us just how hard a Mistress honor is. Ultimately, she must learn to trust a former enemy instead of her own people in order to confront their common foe.

Lisle’s mastery of worldbuilding shines through in this novel, as well. This is her first novel set in the world of Korre. I hope to see many more. In Korre, she has created a culturally diverse world populated by varied peoples governed by varied political systems and religions. The interactions between these people are always colored by their regional prejudices and beliefs. The richness of this world promises many possibilities for further novels.

Talyn is a long novel at 524 pages, but so absorbing that I lost an entire weekend living in Korre. The printer did an extraordinary job on the paper and binding, making this a book that will last a long time and survive many readings. It feels solid in your hands, but not too heavy, and would make a nice weapon in a pinch.

Duty, honor, country. In Talyn’s case: duty, honor, Tonk. When these three come into conflict with each other, the result is one damn fine story told by a master storyteller. It engaged my imagination from the first page. The story climbs glorious heights and plunges to hellish depths. From triumph to defeat to love to betrayal, I was never sure exactly where I stood. The twists and turns were dizzying as Talyn struggled to come to grips with a world turned inside out and a relentless evil that would not rest until it possessed her literally body and soul.

Talyn haunts me. The many layers of theme and depth of meaning have kept my mind churning. A second reading awaits me in the near future. Lisle’s willingness to face harsh realities and their consequences always gives her books a cutting edge and the impact of a sledgehammer. Talyn is no exception. It is an intense and absorbing story told very well. Any thinking person will find a lot here to occupy their mind.

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Aug 18

Silver Linings

1.) “Best Teacher” is online. I didn’t win, but…

2.) My wife’s car blew its water pump. It did the same thing last summer. It seems they put in a 55-week part with a 52-week warranty. The Service Manager was really embarrassed. He can’t give it to us, but he did cut us a really good discount. While we were checking the car in at the dealership this stray kitten wandered up. Very friendly black kitten with a small charcoal blaze on her (we think, sometimes it’s hard to tell) chest. Now we have to wait for her to tell us her name.

3.) Headache yesterday. That’s like saying Niagara Falls is a waterfall. It was the worst one I’ve had in at least 25 years. A real migraine, not just sinus. Hurt so bad I cried most of the day. What’s so good about that? I took 2 Tylenol #3 and got the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long, long time. I actually feel pretty good today. Mentally, as well as physically. Hoo-aah!

Aug 16

Progress is Being Made

“Best Teacher” will be posted on the Bitten Vampire Short Fiction Contest site as an Honourable Mention. It should be up in a day or two. Stay tuned for further bulletins as events warrant.

I’m still working on the review of Talyn. Still working on a lot of things right now and getting damn little done, it seems. Ah well, patience is a virtue. Or something like that. It’s late. I’m going to bed.

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Aug 15

Another Blow to the Ol’ Ego

“Best Teacher” didn’t make the cut at the Bitten Vampire Short Fiction Contest. I haven’t had a chance to read the finalists yet, so I don’t know right now if I ought to be pissed off or not. 😉 We’ll see.

I’m not sure yet on the next market for this one. Research ongoing.

In other news, I finished Talyn last night. Wow! Review forthcoming. It might take a day or two to sort through everything I want to say about this one. Preliminary reaction: Congratulations, Holly! Damn good! Now I can’t wait for Hawkspar.

ADDENDUM (4:30pm)

Kick a man while he’s down, why don’tcha!

Son and Foe rejected “Carrion Comfort” today, too. Anybody else want to take a shot? I think there’s one spot on the bottom of my foot that’s not bruised.

Ah, editors. Can’t satify ’em, can’t horsewhip ’em. 🙂

And so it goes (sorry, Kurt). The glamorous world of the writer. Off to feed another chunk of my soul to the Devil in exchange for a few more words.