Reading From The List

I’ve made it to part 9/10 of the Sandman Comics. Progress is slow, at least in part because everybody is naked, so I can’t take the thing to work to read. (I want to quit, not get fired.)  I’m also squeezing in little chunks of my read all the Hugo AND Nebula–the ones who won both prizes– winners project, which you’d think would go a little faster.

There’s something about choosing reading materials off a list that more or less guarantees that 1.) You will broaden your horizons and 2.) You will have to force yourself through at least some of the material.

It’s not necessarily that I dislike the stuff I’m reading. Maybe it’s more a matter of my enthusiasm wearing off before I ever pick up the book. That initial… that sounds cool… is long gone from having been waiting around on a list for so long, and it’s replaced with something more like… well, what next?

And in some cases, Oh, look! A comic book!

I don’t remember that sense of trudging through a list when I as in school. Maybe the introduction to the book, and the actual reading of the book were too close together for that effect. Enough–hey, that does sound cool–excitement to carry you through.

So, I ordered Ringworld in paperback. It’s one of the ones that isn’t available on my e-reader, yet. Not in it’s original form, at any rate. There is a graphic novel version, which… well, I almost did buy a copy of. I mean… that counts, right?

And then, I wound up finding an e-book bargain for Dune. $1.99, and it’s even on the list.

And this month’s free book from the Tor book club is Old Man’s War (which isn’t on the list, but I am finishing up my last distraction book.) It’s available HERE until the 21st of June. if you want to read it, too.

In related project news, I’m pretty behind on my 52 stories in 52 weeks project. I’ll have to get a move on there.

True Self

I don’t know why I took the pills.

It wasn’t smart. Just a moment of try-anything desperation, and a gulp of water, and two slightly luminous capsules the size of castor beans went sliding down my throat.

Half a second after I swallowed, I decided to put my finger down my throat. That was the sane thing. The only choice. Throw up. Throw up. THROW UP!

I wasn’t fast enough.

The room didn’t spin, and nothing went black. My vision didn’t even blur.

I was going to puke up those pills, and then, I was on the floor. The cold tile and the sound of lukewarm water still running in the sink. Yeah. I knew the old woman’s promises were lies. I probably knew the pills were a rip-off, too. After all, the damn things glowed like theater props in her hand, and nobody ever said what they were supposed to do. I was hoping for something—anything—but there I was, waking up. Painted horse tranquilizers. Maybe Nimbutal.

Six hundred dollars down the drain, all because some poverty stricken fortune teller reminded me of my grandmother.

I stayed where I was, and listened to the water run.

Thought about calling an ambulance.

But what was I going to say? Passed out for a while. No, I don’t know what I took. Feel better, now. Feel better than I have in a month. But, maybe check my blood pressure?

No.

I got to my feet, and brushed off my bathrobe.

The clock on the counter said a barely-believable number. Time had passed, and lots of it.

If it was already evening, that was bad.

It wasn’t evening. The grinding progress of a garbage truck insisted it was morning.

And that meant I’d been unconscious for at least an entire day.

I’d have to be at work in a few hours, and for the first time in nine years, I wasn’t ready. The project I was working on wasn’t finished—not unless the pills had magical properties even the fortuneteller hadn’t predicted—and the company was relying on me. Failure was—

Not an option.

It was inevitable.

I was going to be fired, and the truth… Maybe the pills were working. Maybe they were–as advertised—resurrecting my true self.

Resurrecting? It had been so long I couldn’t remember for sure what my true self had been in the first place. I know people asked, once… what do you want to be when you grow up, little girl?

And I answered.

I must have answered.

But what I said?

I don’t remember.

My true self. Maybe I would have known, when I was eleven, and maybe… if I could remember… maybe knowing my true self would be enough to make me happy, or at least, to let me know where to look for happy.

I splashed some water on my face, and reached for a towel.

I couldn’t call in hung-over. I’d have to pull it together and make it through the day. I was a grown-up person, with a grown-up job, and after all, not everybody gets to be an astronaut when they grow up. Glowing pills. What was I thinking? I’d never go back to believing I could be a rock star, or a fire woman, or a sea captain. Whatever thing it was, I’d forgotten it for a reason. And a pirate? Why not just dream of being a serial killer? The only difference is a hat.

I threw the towel in the hamper.

Then, I looked in the mirror, and stopped breathing.

I leaned in to look at my own face—at my true self, a voice in the back of my head repeated, not quite mocking— just to be sure I wasn’t leaving for work with the imprint of a shoe or a wrist-watch on my face. The mirror stared back at me.

And there was nothing there.

Nothing left of my true self.

So, there you have it. Something I whipped up for your entertainment. Let me know what you think, and be sure you beat the hell out of those share buttons.

And Under a Hail of Gunfire

There are guns in my very, very soft almost-fantasy, but really, it’s sci-fi novel. I already knew that. The soldiers have them. And apparently, some of the civilians, too. One of guardsmen keeps offering to shoot my main character with one. They’re not ray guns, or ballistic nuclear weapons, or any other kind of excitement. And they’re certainly not flint-lock, light the wick type guns. (Because it’s not fantasy, after all.) Just pull the trigger, launch a bullet type guns.

There’s no in depth exploration of them. They’re just there.

Cards on the table, I know more about guns than the average city-person, and a whole lot less than the average country person. They go BOOM, so as a child, I really, really disliked them. (also fireworks, loud stereos, backfiring cars, and motorcycle engines. I do not like the BOOM, even now.)

One of my uncles (imagine Ben Stein, but a gynecologist) collected World War II era Mausers. (They’re a small handgun made in Germany, and various formerly-German territories. You know the gun from the Rocketeer? That.)

Do you know how many Mausers there are?

Trick question.

The answer is ONE. Just ONE. It comes with or without the folding stock, and will be repeated several million billion times in the course of the grand Mauser tour. The size of the gun safe is just a ploy to convince you there’s more than one, but there’s not.

This is a Mauser from (Germany, Czechoslovakia, Turkey…) it was made in (Year, probably from 1937-1945) It is really snazzy because it is absolutely identical to the other 400 Mausers you’ve seen today. Identical, can you imagine? I bought it for thirty-seven cents back in 1974, and all I had to do was replace a spring.

There are no Mausers in my book.

But my characters did find themselves under a convenient hail of non-Mauser gunfire.

It suddenly struck me as interesting that of all the methods of killing people in my book, the guns are the least… fatal. The aim isn’t good. Or even intentional, and my guardsman never gets permission to shoot my MC (obviously.)

Stepping Back to See the BIG Picture

After a month of NaNoWriMo, I’m finally getting back to my pre-existing revision. I don’t want to say I was getting bogged down, or anything, but the novel in question is one of the longest things (word-wise) I’ve ever written. Going from thriller-length thrillers to sci-fi length sci-fis is a culture shock. And I’ve been staring at the leaning tower of manuscript for much too long.

I’ve been working my way through an outline. Something like an outline, anyway. Whatever you call an outline that’s written to organize after you’ve already written.

And I’ve been working on a scene-to-scene level.

Not too bad, and I’ve been making progress, but I’ve been overwhelmed. The sheer number of scenes was dragging on me.

I have this thing–you know–and I’m not sure how many books it actually is. I was posting some of it here, for a while. I can tell you it’s a big thing, and that there’s at least one semi-well-thought-out companion thing.

So, today, instead of looking at scenes, I decided to sit down and look at parts. You know. Part One, Part Two, Part Three… Part 126.   I wasn’t really sure if I was looking for Part One or Book One, but I was taking a step back to think about what I actually have, and what I want it to be.

So, the part I’ve already pounded into shape is in the neighborhood of 37k. I’ll probably trim that down, some, but that’s the number I have, so we’ll work with that.

That leaves me 80–yes, I’m going to cut down–thousand words to play with. And due to some chunky outlining, I’m aware that my novel has three parts total. (No, I have no idea why I thought there would be more.) That would mean roughly thirty to forty thousand words per section. (I’ll be aiming in the neighborhood of 110k, but I did math with 120k.)

So, with some revision and a little bit of word-parsimony… drumroll… I have ONE book, and a companion-thing.

**faints from pure relief and exhaustion**

 

And Approaching That Last Minute

Today, I finally got a serious start on the short story I’m working on for the blog hop. I hate to say I’m pushing the last minute here, but it’s been one of those weeks/months/years. I’ll probably finish the story during my early-morning writing session tomorrow, and throw a little spit-polish on before I post it.

Actually, this is the second story I’ve gotten out of the current blog hop, so I’m not doing too badly. If you want to read a different Halloween story, Mrs. Willoughby’s Heart is up, right now.

Oh, yeah… and in case I haven’t mentioned it, lately. Story Time Blog Hop on the 27th of October with the amazing and ingenious Juneta Key hosting. We have a great lineup of writers, this time around, so be sure you drop by to read the stories for the Halloween edition. They’re free… for now, anyway.

I think you’ll find mine is particularly terrifying. I was working on it at a new coffee house, where the barista scammed me into drinking a cup of something with “Earthy undertones.”

As it turns out, “Earthy Undertones” is posh for “Tastes Like Dirt.”

My characters suffered for that one.

Gathering Courage to Write

Story Time Blog Hop Logo

I have a few good friends–mostly scattered over the internet–who are writers. I’ve been part of some great communities. Gotten to know people. Had fun with people. Shared ideas with them. And I’m incredibly grateful for the internet. It’s the thing that makes it possible to find people who share my interests and goals.

And one group of friends has put together a Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Spec-Fic Blog Hop. (I’m hosting it for the Month of July. You’re invited to join us, if you want. As a writer or as a reader.)

We kick around ideas for promotion. I know we’re all in it for fun, but hey… fame and fortune wouldn’t be bad, either.

Some of our ideas aren’t too bad. Some of them are pretty good, if you could just see the tightrope from inside that chicken costume.

Well, we do what we can to keep the readers coming.

So, our blog hop has Juneta Key, from  over at the Writer’s Gambit. And for those of you who don’t know her, Juneta’s one of these incredibly talented, incredibly outgoing, shirt-off-her back types. She’s been promoting tirelessly, and getting the kind of results I could only dream of.

She invited some friends.

And today, one of them–Alex J. Cavanaugh from the Insecure Writers’ Support Group promised that if he couldn’t make it to our Blog Hop, he’d at least help us out with some promotion. Thank you, Alex!

IWSG is a really big, long standing, blog hop that posts on the first Wednesday of every month. I’ve only been involved for three or four months, but it’s done great things for me. It’s an incredibly supportive group, and I’m in awe of it. And I’m so grateful for Alex’s help.

But wait a minute. If other people have faith in me, that means I’ve gotta come up with something brilliant, and really, really good for the blog hop.

**Slinks off to write stories.**

K is for Kissing… and stuff.

Click the image to visit other A-to-Z Challenge Participants

Click the image to visit other A-to-Z Challenge Participants

There were a lot of great words today. Kindness and Knowledge and all sorts of things with maturity and depth. There’s wisdom and life lessons out there on other people’s blogs.

Unfortunately for you, I just got off the phone with my sister, and that pretty much took us both back to junior high, and I’m still sugared-up from an impulse trip to Baker’s Candies. So, today’s blog post is about Kissing… and stuff.  **hee hee**

So, the book I’m working on–the one I’m posting here on my blog–is somewhere in the soft-science fiction to fantasy range. It’s the story of two cultures reconciling after a long–and sometimes vicious–war. My main characters are the queen who inherited the winning side, and an ex-soldier turned resistance fighter from the losing side. In a bid to foment rebellion, and expecting his own execution, he has married her. (Lepterians practice unilateral marriage. He married her. She didn’t marry him. It’s a thing.)

And then, she also didn’t execute him, so he’s pretty much stuck.

In a lot of ways, they’re vehicles for the cultures around them. And their romance, such as it is, is a parallel to the cultures coming together. Awkward as hell.

And I’m not exactly a romance writer. The romantic high point of my last novel was my main character’s husband helping her block a hostile takeover. **sigh**

And at some point… I can’t escape this–she’s going to have to kiss him.

**shudder.** Maybe if I just throw in a few more executions. You know, like at the very beginning? “She executed him, and then he died. The end.”

Honestly, I’m not sure where the problem is, but I’m a little squeamish. Or nervous. Or… something. I’m not sure whether that’s just that I haven’t written a lot of romantic scenes before, or if there’s some deep seated prejudice against romance (based old-school bodice-rippers and cigarette smoke, which I cannot separate in my mind) or if my muse is just telling me that I’m doing something wrong with this.

So, any thoughts or advice? Some of you are really good at this. What do you think?