Links and Last Minute NaNo Prep

I have some links to share, because new stuff seems to be popping up every time I turn around, right now.

This year, Holly Lisle is sponsoring a team for NaNoWriMo. You can find the introductions thread on the Nano Forums here. If you’re already a Holly student, there are also threads on the Holly’s Writing Classes.com Website, https://hollyswritingclasses.com/forum/index.php?threads/nanowrimo-is-live.5856/. And if you aren’t one of her students, she does offer a free flash-fiction course. Sign up here, and you’re into all of the NaNo related forums.  Heck, you might like it and turn into a permanent resident.

PLUS… This year, Holly is also hosting an online writing room. If you want to be notified of where the room will be, and when sign up for the links at Holly’s blog.

It’s still a little early to be thinking of the Holidays, but subscriptions for the annual Advent Calendar start now! That’s a free short story from a different author and a special bonus every day leading up to Christmas. Or, you know… Sunday, if you don’t happen to be Christian. (These are short, secular Sci Fi and Fantasy stories.)

For those of you who missed it, the StoryTime Blog Hop was on the 27th, and my story (And links to everyone else’s) are here. Halloween theme, so a lot of scary stories this time.

Other than that, I’m all ready for Nano. I won’t be staying up til midnight to start, but I’ll hit the day early tomorrow.

See you there.

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.

Secrets and Celebrations

I have Science Fiction Double Feature stuck in my head. You know, from the Rocky Horror Picture Show? To be specific, this version.

(That’s Amanda Palmer, and she’s the first person to raise more than a million dollars via crowdfunding, if you’re interested.)

How do these things get stuck in my head? I don’t really know, but since it’s there, and since it’s not coming out any time soon, let’s talk about that.

I don’t remember the first time I heard the song, but I can tell you the context. My cousin (the pan-sexual nymphette) and her longtime partner (a garden-variety Lesbian) used to turn on a VHS of The Rocky Horror Picture Show when they decided it was time for my uncle (a homophobic mechanical engineer) to leave. TV goes on after dinner, the music starts up–and by the time Brad and Janet’s car breaks down–my uncle, his wife, and all but a few hip stragglers have cleared out.

Just like magical clockwork.

I was in college, before I was invited to straggle and finally see the rest of that movie.

And then, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was everywhere. Partially, recognizing references I might have missed, before, partially seeking it out. And partially, the company I keep.

And this song is stuck in my head.

Part of it, I admit, is that not-so-subtle wish that I had the power to make unpleasant, or undesirable people go away as easily as my cousin did. I don’t know if that would work for me.

Part of it is the on-going nostalgia trip I seem to be on right now. Where the hell is the guy who took me to the… late night…. double feature… picture… show? Well, Minnesota, the last I heard from him. South Dakota, by rumor.

I like the movie, and I like the versions with the live cast. The sense of people getting together, and playing together. I like the idea of a piece of art connecting people the way Rocky Horror does. I enjoy the idea of people coming together around a performance. And maybe… the idea that something made up, and fictional, and fantastic can really make a difference.

 

Putting the Pieces Together

It’s been a while, since I worked on my revision. Too long. Oh, I’ve done some rough outlining, some putting pieces into place, but still, too long since I touched the manuscript, itself.

Too much thinking, not enough writing.

And after a while, the two kinda blur in my mind. So, I dredged out the pieces this morning, and looked at them, and… well, some of the things that are so clear in my head just aren’t there on paper. I think–rationally–that I found all the pieces I have. But I’m still looking at the pages, and feeling like… hey, where’s the rest of this?

Well, after a search of my computer, and my email inbox… well, that’s it.

In my mind, there was a lot more written, and–my muse being somewhat egotistical–in my mind, it was absolutely brilliant.

In real life, it’s patchwork, with a little bit of rubber-cement oozing out the seams. There are pieces missing–pieces I can almost recite from memory. And did I write them down?

Well, I’m working on that. And after that, I can start sanding and polishing.

 

Who’s My Main Character?

About a week ago, I started a new project. It’s a cute little thing. About ten pages long, barely talking in complete sentence fragments, yet. I’m also revising my last project, working through what I have, and trying to get it all to sit still in some kind of order.

The two projects are very different. The old one is third person, multiple points of view, and basically becoming a sprawling wasteland of revision. The new one… well, maybe I’m looking for something simpler, right now. It’s first person, one point of view, and–from an ethical standpoint–a lot more right and wrong.

First person really narrows my focus. The main character–the one who’s going to spend the most time on stage–is the I character. (Haven’t named her, yet. Of course.) Yes, you can find exceptions. But in general, that’s it. And that’s it in my new project.

I’m hoping that focusing on ONE character will reduce the revision time. And that first person will force me to do that. Can you tell?

In my last project?

There were five major characters in the last project, and that leaves me with two suspects for THE main character.

And three, if I’m allowed to count the world as a character in its own right.

It’s a big story.

But I’m still not sure whose story it is.

That makes me wonder if some of it’s more repetitive than I’m seeing. The two story lines are pretty closely intertwined. In the end, I’ll pick one, or reasons will appear and make one a clear winner.

Science Fiction Politics

film, projector

I’d love to be able to ignore politics entirely. In the perfect world, I’d be in the doomsday bunker with all the other intellectuals and artists, reading a book, and checking the periscope to see if it’s time to come out and repopulate, yet.

In the real world, stuff happens, and you realize…

The whole pre-season training camp presidential campaign can be expressed in terms of clips from your favorite sci-fi franchises.

And if you’re having trouble with some of the words on that teleprompter, buy a dictionary!

Conspiracy Theory: JFK committed suicide by means of a second gunman on the grassy knoll.

Fact: FDR used a wheelchair.

Scheduling Quirks, and Hollywood

I had post written and scheduled to go at one o’clock today. When I finally got back to the computer, I realized that it had not gone, and I can’t quite figure out what I did wrong. I had the same thing happen a couple of weeks ago, and then some smooth sailing. I’ll have to look into that.

Then–given a second thought about posting that piece–I decided to write a new piece, and re-schedule that one for later in the month. There are reasons. It’s potentially a little political, and more ambiguous than what I’d like to introduce to strangers on their very first run on my blog. And most of the new readers I get do come in at the beginning or end of the month. Which means that ambiguous, slightly political posts should probably be in the middle of the month.

I read stuff today. Apparently, there is enough alcohol in the world to get Hollywood seriously drunk. And they’ve been casting A Wrinkle in Time by throwing drunken darts at random head shots. Reese Witherspoon as Mrs Whatsit? Mindy Kaling as Mrs Which?  What in the name of the unholy, bubbling hell-froth? Am I the only one who envisioned Mrs Which and Mrs. Whatsit as much, much, much older? Like Phyllis Diller’s much older sister older?

I’m willing to negotiate. You can make a movie of one of my books and put Mindy Kaling in that. We’ll work out the details later.

Goals, Pet Rants, and You are SOOOOO Not the Father

I’m only six days into September, and I’m already behind. This “goals” stuff is hard!
I’ve been writing long hand in pencil, and now I have a backlog of paper scraps that are supposed to be typed in and organized, at some point.
On the bright side, I have posts scheduled in advance for a couple of days in September, and as long as I keep writing on the scheduled days, I’ll end the month with a nice cushion of posts.

For some reason presumptive paternity came up on Twitter.
Oh, all right.
For some reason, I brought up presumptive paternity on Twitter.
I am not a fan of presumptive paternity, and I’m especially not a fan of the fact that despite the availability of modern paternity testing, we keep expanding presumptive paternity to more and more situations.
I could rant about it, but let’s just say that it’s one of those outdated laws that  saves committed couples twelve seconds of paperwork and causes some massive problems for other people. You can google it, and I’ll  shut up, now.
The novel I’m working on now features a polyandrous society with contractual paternity.
A child’s “father” is the man the mother thinks is best suited for raising children. Usually, he’s one of her older husbands, but she’s free to choose her brother, some other relative, or a nifty gay friend.
It’s a system that acknowledges that the skill set involved in creating a child is not  the same skill set involved in raising it.
The end result is that by giving the mother options–even if she’s young, reckless, and too drunk to work a condom–the child is wanted.
It’s not a huge part of my novel, but it’s there, in the background somewhere.
I know. Weird cause for the non-procreatively oriented. I’m not even sure if there are any children in my novel.
But I do think that children deserve better than to be caught in the middle of some bizarre parenting chain match. And the worst-case scenarios? Well, some of them are weird enough to keep men and women up at night.
So, what about you? Any hidden rants in your fiction?

Dragon Smoke and Wind

The morning the Dragons came, the cat was in a questionable mood at best. That was understandable. When he was a kitten, and Mr. and Mrs. Dragon were still very young, Mr. Dragon pulled his tail. And Mrs. Dragon set him on fire. Simultaneously.

After all, he’d just fallen in the pig sty, and didn’t their own mother burn them clean, when they got dirty? In retrospect, even the cat could admit it was an honest mistake.

When his fur finally grew back, it had an iridescent sheen, like dragon smoke and wind. His tail—where a young Mr. Dragon had grasped it—was unchanged. Garden variety gray tabby.

Of course, the cat came out to greet the Dragons; that much was common courtesy. He and Mr. Dragon bowed to each other, and he even deigned to let Mrs. Dragon scratch his ears. He shook hands with each of the hatchlings, and commented on how big they were getting.

It was a compliment: none of them was any bigger than a baby goat. The hatchlings remembered their manners, and thanked him.

After that, the cat disappeared. He stalked off into the hydrangeas in the corner of the garden, and stayed there.

Mr. and Mrs. Dragon made themselves at home, and chatted with the hag on the veranda. The three of them—kept half an eye on the hatchlings—and drank cold tea and lemonade for more than an hour.

The hatchlings were bored. The green hatchling and the brown hatchling sat in the grass and made long chains of daisies, and answered the hag’s questions, when she thought of asking any, which wasn’t often. She wasn’t interested in children.

The red hatchling roamed the garden. He wandered past the roses, and the violets, and the little pond with the big goldfish. Then, he went to look for the cat. The cat moved fast—from the hydrangeas to the lilies, to the big evergreen at the end of the lot.

The red hatchling followed; boredom and mischief, and just a hint of excitement. He caught up, and tunneled under the spreading green branches.

Mr. Dragon looked away. The hag raised an eyebrow, and Mrs. Dragon forgot what she was saying, and turned to watch.

And then, they saw the cat emerge from under the burning fir tree. His back was still smoking, but he was only half-bald this time. From the waist down, his iridescent fur was unscathed.

Cats do not stoop to laughter, but the cat did smirk at Mr. Dragon. “Your kid’s smarter than you are,” he said. “Only took him two minutes to figure it out.”

The red hatchling crawled out from under the tree, and collapsed on the grass. He was out of breath, and the fact that he was panting for air did nothing to hide the shock on his face.

“You didn’t tell me he was enchanted.”

Mr. and Mrs. Dragon glanced at each other. “Of course, we didn’t,” Mr. Dragon said.

“If we told you, you wouldn’t have learned anything,” Mrs. Dragon said. “But, yes. Mr. Whiskers is enchanted. People, themselves, feel whatever pain they inflict on him.”

The cat licked his bare paw, and did not stoop to laugh.

“It hurts,” the red hatchling said. He trembled, with pain and humiliation. Without the enchantment, he would never have felt fire burn. As a dragon, he couldn’t.

The hag shrugged, as if the pain was nothing, but the brown hatchling looked worried. Mrs. Dragon took a jar out of her purse, and rubbed the salve on her son’s back.

“It doesn’t matter whether the cat’s enchanted, or not. It’s a cheap lesson,” Mr. Dragon said. He produced a gold coin from his bag, and gave it to the hag. Mrs. Dragon thanked her and the cat for everything they’d done. “In a few years, you’ll be as big as a house, and if you don’t learn to think and treat others as they want to be treated, they’ll come after you with spears.”

Read more of my work here, or Follow Me:
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Be sure to visit my friends to read more stories:

Katharina Gerlach Lobster One
S.R. Olson Malakai’s Gift
Wendy Smyer Yu Into The Light
Emily Plesner Time Stops When I’m With You
Barbara Lund Separate Space
Shana Blueming A Melting Heart
Juneta Key Don’t Drink The Water
Angela Wooldridge Midwinter
Lee Lowery All Aboard
Elizabeth McCleary OverWhelmed
Viola Fury The Day The Cat Got Out
Karen Lynn Dragon Smoke and Wind

Three Days till The Blog Hop

Update: Please see the Blog Hop page for dates and details about the next blog hop.

It’s been a few hours since I mentioned the fact that I’m having a blog hop, so I thought I might mention I’m having a blog hop.

My blog hop is on the 27th of July.

Huh. I feel a little bit like a kid having a birthday. My blog hop is on the 27th. Are you coming?

The Storytime Blog Hop is a fun collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction stories. No graphic sex or violence, and no swearing. (Yes, I’ll go back and edit. Again.) And since it’s the genre, not the age range that ties it together, there’s a really nice range of writers involved.

If you want to check out some stories from our last blog hops right this second, I have a whole page of them.

And be sure to join me back here on July 27th for new stories from twelve talented writers. (Oh, fine. Eleven plus me. ;))