Jul 26

Who Knew…

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  July 26th, 2016

…that visa problems might still exist in the far future worlds science fiction writers write about?  Surely future political entities will have better solutions than we have…won’t they?   (Plot Daemon says “Bwah-ha-hah-hah-hah-haaaaa….”)   And rules about who is really a citizen…and problems with missing paperwork…and what happens if you’re deported from your own planet and you haven’t ever done anything wrong there?

NewBook progresses,  still generating plot and complications in a healthy way.

Addendum July 26 Comment posted by Elizabeth:

Lordy, lordy, this is being fun. No, the characters aren’t having fun. There’s frustration on all sides. Officialdom is annoyed with people who don’t tick all the boxes, fill in all the blanks, sign on dotted lines, get things notarized, and then stand patiently in line for hours… (yes, I was caught in a bureaucratic paper-pushers’ delight a couple of weeks ago, and got to watch other people have a worse time than I did. Then watch a nearby city’s evening news report on the “new mega-center” that the online stuff kept directing me to because it was “faster.” It wasn’t faster; it was jammed and people who weren’t there at 5 am weren’t going to get whatever it was they needed done. Thank you SO much, Texas legislature.) Anyway.

For the writer, the chance to make use of such experiences is one of the things that makes them bearable. The other thing is knitting. Knitting is perfect when you have to wait…and wait…and wait…and wait.

People who say they aren’t patient enough to knit sit or stand in line jittering and fussing, and miserable, while I am adding rows to a sock. It becomes a game. How many stitches or rows can I do before the line moves again? How many while waiting for my number to be called? And it amuses others who are waiting, at least some of them. At least one person in any room is either a knitter, or a relative of someone who knits/knitted or crochets/crocheted. Someone will ask what it is, or if the yarn is wool or cotton, or comment on the colors. And often we can get a lively discussion going that’s not about how slow the line is.

Post & Comment mirrored from Universes blog

31,000 words now

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Jul 17

The Dun Mare’s Grandchild, Episode 4

Posted: under Background, Story.
Tags: ,  July 17th, 2016

When the storm passed, they rode on, over the melting lumps of ice and the wet grass.  Oktar’s sheepskin, sodden with rain, hung over his horse’s rump; he walked, leading his mount, his bare feet so cold from the ice he could not feel the bruises.  His grandfather rode ahead, not speaking to him, but muttering continually to the horses, who bobbed their heads as if they understood.

Home was too far behind to imagine, that cold night.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 12

The Dun Mare’s Grandchild 3

Posted: under snippet, Story.
Tags: ,  July 12th, 2016

When he had the flasks full; Oktar splashed back to hand them up.  His feet were bruised by rocks, aching from cold.  His grandfather looked down at him.  “Drink one swallow.  Then give flask. Catch your horse.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 11

Nose to the Grindstone (Mirrored from Universes blog)

Posted: under Craft, the writing life.
Tags: ,  July 11th, 2016

In the “where are we now?” category, the book is, as of today, at 16,000 words (still short fiction of the novelette  or novella type)  and 83 manuscript pages.   The good news is that story is flowing.  It’s going nonlinear in the “threaded plot” sense, as Aunt Grace, Rector of Defense, has just gotten home to find her place booby-trapped, while Ky, at dinner in another location, is about to be unpleasantly interrupted by the persons who rang the doorbell there, and a character from Cold Welcome has taken on a new identity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun 26

The Dun Mare’s Grandchild, Part Two

Posted: under snippet, Story, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  June 26th, 2016

As light revealed the land around them, Oktar knew they were north of the town, riding north, winterwards as the horsefolk said, and the reason he hadn’t been able to feel the rein was that he had none–his grandfather held Oktar’s horse’s rein as well as his own in his one good hand.  The horses moved at a brisk walk, ears forward, alongside a stone wall with sheep on the other side of it.  Oktar turned to look behind.  Nothing of the town showed but a blur of smoke in the distance.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun 22

Important Notice

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags:  June 22nd, 2016

In spite of a post on an entertainment website about Gordon Lightfoot, no, I was not his second wife.   I’ve been married since 1969 to the same man, who is not (and, no disrespect to Mr. Lightfoot, I’m glad of that) Gordon Lightfoot.   Most of you would have figured that out yourselves, if you’d ever run into the post, but since it’s out there,  someone who knows you like my books may pull a “Did you know…?” on you and you can help me out by stomping on the rumor if it’s still alive.  (It’s on an internet site.  It will be there forever.)

I’ve informed the site, but who knows if they’ll bother to make any correction.  So I’m being pro-active or something similar.   (mirrored on Universes blog)

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Jun 18

The Dun Mare’s Grandchild

Posted: under Excerpt, Story.
Tags: , , ,  June 18th, 2016

“Again?” Oktar’s mother glared at him. “Bloody nose, black eye, shirt torn, a complaint from the judicar–you’re a disgrace!”

“They said we were dirty stinking horse–” he paused; the word they’d used was forbidden. “–droppings,” he finished.

“You should ignore them,” his mother said. “They are ill-bred; you should not dirty your hands with them.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr 23

Still Alive & Kicking

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  April 23rd, 2016

March and most of April were eaten up by illness, aftermath of illness, another illness, and attempting to get the rewrites done on Cold Welcome and catch up on things left undone while sick.   Including church music.   I am well again (fingers crossed) though far, far behind in physical fitness, housekeeping, and progress on the book after Cold Welcome.    Energy level is slowly coming back.  The rewrite has been delivered to Editor (April 15), and her remaining comments, if any, will be dealt with in the copy edits.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar 04

Whirlwinds

Posted: under Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  March 4th, 2016

(Mirrored from Universes blog)

Working on the rewrite of Cold Welcome.  On Monday, I sent Editor the latest draft of the new ending, and in light of Editor’s comments worked on it some more, then started in on front-to-back run (actually crawl!) through combining her original letter, the marked up manuscript line edits,  and the changes that would be required by the new ending.   This also involved having two versions of the first chapters on the monitor at once, the letter, a stack of reference printouts, and the marked ms beside me on the desk. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb 23

Tuesday Toolkit for Writers

Posted: under Uncategorized.
 February 23rd, 2016

Every person has a toolkit, a set of skills (physical, mental, emotional) that they use to navigate their life.   When you learn something–anything–it becomes part of that toolkit, and the more tools you have, the more of life’s challenges you can handle with less strain than the person without those skills, that knowledge, that attitude.

It’s easy to imagine what tools you need for “basic getting along” when you look at small children who don’t have them yet, and how we help children develop: they need to be able to communicate with others, manage their own bodies and their own emotions, complete the “activities of daily living” (dressing and undressing, keeping themselves clean, feeding themselves, etc.)   I have a book, written maybe 25 years ago, that lays out in detail the skills those authors thought a disabled child had to learn before he or she could live independently.  I was a grown woman who’d been living independently for decades and I hadn’t mastered all those skills!   (I call a plumber or electrician to do some of the things that book mentioned.)

But what about writers?  What is–or should be–in a writer’s toolkit?  What skills, in and out of writing, does a writer have to have,  what’s nice-to-have but not that necessary and what are the specialized tools that are only needed rarely, or by some specialists?   On some Tuesdays I’ll be writing about the writer’s toolkit, and today’s tool is…

Curiosity.  Whether writing nonfiction or fiction or plays or poetry, a writer needs a good stout lump of curiosity.  Trained curiosity.  Focused curiosity.   Curiosity about words (what’s the word for that thing on the end of a fabric shoelace?   What did nice mean before it meant what it means now?), about language as a whole, about, well, everything.   People–what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.    Machines–how they work and how they fail.   Plants, animals, soils, rocks, landforms, weather.

Curiosity keeps new information flowing toward the writer, and that fills the well of imagination, where it can combine with older sensory impressions, facts, opinions, ideas and provide the meat that clothes the bones of a story.   Curiosity makes the research fun, rather than a burden.   The person without curiosity has little motivation to learn, to do any research, to pay attention to other people, to the sights and sounds and smells and flavors of a location.   And that makes for very shallow, very dull writing.

Writers with a high Curiosity Quotient never run out of ideas because they never run out of questions.    “I wonder…” is a thought that should be in every writer’s head at least once a day.  “I wonder why that guy just slammed his mug down and left the coffee shop.   Angry?  Scared?  Just remembered something important?”   “I wonder what’s under this street?”   “I wonder what exactly happens when a goose is sucked into a jet engine–what breaks first?”

Curiosity bothers some people.  It bothers parents when their kids ask embarrassing or inconvenient questions.  It bothers many teachers when a student asks a question that’s off-topic or unexpected, not in the book.  “Don’t look–don’t touch–don’t ask–” is thrown at a lot of kids (at me, too)  and so as adults many people have trained themselves not to let their curiosity out of a box.

But to be a writer, you need curiosity, the kind that leads you to read more, explore more, listen more, look more, smell more, taste more.   A writer’s curiosity is broad, not confined to one topic or one field of knowledge.   Encourage your own curiosity (exercise it if it’s weak!)  It’s OK  to spend a week or a month or a year following a new rabbit trail down the hole and through the whole burrow.   Next week or month, something else will grab your interest.  That’s fine.  Even if you’re working a full-time day job, raising children, and short of money…there are ways to keep your curiosity busy and your imagination’s well filling.

When I was much younger, and of a lower economic status than most other students, I was asked why I wanted to study physics (that being unusual for a female in those days) and answered that I was very curious.  Some wag in the group sneered “I can see that!” and everyone laughed.   (I didn’t yet know that retorting “Fourth term fallacy” might have turned the joke back on the sneerer.)   I did learn that admitting have wide-ranging curiosity–just wanting to learn–wasn’t acceptable for girls like me, but the habit was formed.  I didn’t quit being curious; I did quit talking about it.

I have no idea what that person is doing now, but I can say that being curious–wanting to learn, to understand what I learn, to stretch my mind and stuff more into it–has been a great strategy for me in more than writing.

(mirrored on Universes blog)

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