Journal

Ginger Stuyvesant and the Case of the Haunted Nursery

This originally appeared in Talebones Magazine in 2009.
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A liveried manservant waited by the front stairs of Fairbairn Hall as if he expected to take the reins of a horse. Ginger stopped her roadster next to him, shaking her head. These Brits had such queer, old-fashioned ideas.

She hopped out of her car, tossing her cloche on the front seat. With any luck, the hat had controlled the worst of the damage to her hair on the drive up from London.

The front door of the manor house flung open. In a flurry of crepe chiffon, Lucy Rhodes hurried down the stairs. “Ginger, darling! Thank heavens you’ve come.” Even in the daylight, circles of fear rippled through her aura.

Ginger eyed her friend, trying to ascertain the cause of her unease. Flashes of blue made her think of Lucy’s son. “Is Eddie well?”

Glancing at the manservant, Lucy smiled prettily, but her aura grew more jagged. “Eddie? Or course. Lovely day for a drive.”

Ginger let Lucy change the subject and followed her up the grand stairs into the manor. Chattering about nothing, Lucy showed her to a splendidly furnished bedroom in the north wing. Heavy walnut furniture gave the room a weight which was balanced by rich green brocade curtains and bed linens.

As soon as the door shut on the hallway, Ginger said, “Now. Tell me. What is bothering you?”

Lucy stood with her back to Ginger, with her hand still on the doorknob. Her shoulders slumped. “I’m afraid I’ve invited you on false pretenses.” She turned, aura circling in a confusion of hope and fear. “It’s Eddie–I think the nursery is haunted.” Continue reading ›

When reporting harassment, you are not the problem.

Some time ago, and I’ve waited to post this so it was far in the past, I was on the safety committee of an event. We stated the policy in the opening session and identified the safety officers. After the event, which went off with no reported problems, we sent a follow-up survey asking if there were any problems that people didn’t feel comfortable reporting at the time.

There had been.

In response, one of the women said she hadn’t reported because, “I didn’t want to be remembered as the girl who had a problem.” So she dealt with it herself.

But here’s the thing. She wasn’t “the girl who had a problem.” She was the woman who stopped a problem. Someone else caused a problem.

One of the things that is so difficult about changing the environment that we live and work in is that we are taught not to rock the boat and to prioritize other people over our own safety and comfort. Let me be very clear, that when you report harassment, you are not the one rocking the boat. I applaud people who take the initiative to deal with matters on their own, while at the same time railing against a society that makes us want to avoid making things awkward.

But… when dealing with someone who has predatory or problematic behavior, you’re never the only victim.

Later, we received two more reports that there was a problem attendee. None of them had wanted to rock the boat.

Please, please know that when you report harassment, you are not the problem. You are brave and wonderful and never, ever the problem. There are some people who will dismiss your concerns, who will claim that it isn’t really harassment but they are wrong. You are not the problem.

The problem is with a society that trains us that we aren’t allowed to object. Harassers harass because they can get away with it. They are savvy and choose their targets carefully, aiming for people that can’t fight back. You will not have been their only victim.

So when you can fight back by reporting? Please do.

And when you can’t, also know that staying quiet and safe doesn’t mean that you are a coward. It does mean that we have a totally screwed up society. But you, you, are not the problem.

Valour and Vanity is a 2014 Nominee for the Voice Arts Award!

VAA_Logo_wTrophy2The Society of Voice Arts & Sciences has announced the nominees for its first annual Voice Arts Awards, and I’m both honored and excited  that my performance in Valour and Vanity has been nominated! The awards recognize achievement in voice-over acting and related roles, and they were established to help raise global awareness of what it takes to succeed in the industry and set the tone for voice-over professionals to follow.

Here’s my category and the other nominees

OUTSTANDING AUDIO BOOK NARRATION – AUTHOR PERFORMANCE

  • Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (Penguin Random House Audio), Producer: Dan Zitt
  • Living On Air by Joe Cipriano, Director: Marice Tobias | Original Music: Greg Chun | Sound Design: AJ McKay
  • Lying by Sam Harris (Audible, Inc.)
  • Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal (Audible, Inc.)

You can see the full list of 2014 Nominees.

Bad Writing Advice explained

There’s a bunch of aphorisms about writing that started as good, pithy advice in part of someone’s lecture. Then they got pulled out of context and then misapplied.

Write what you know

  • What people think it means: People think this means that authors should stick to subjects they have personal experience with.
  • What it actually means: When you don’t know a subject, such as what it’s like to live on Mars, you extrapolate from your own personal experience. Never lived on Mars? No. But I have walked in a dusty place and seen the clouds of dust kick up around me. I’ve worn thick winter gloves, and know how hard it is to pick things up. I’ve been far away, without the ability to call home. When I combine what I know, with research, writing what I know can make a story more compelling.

Show, don’t tell

  • What people think it means: People think that it means that you have to write every single moment of the story in excruciating detail.
  • What it actually means: It mostly applies to your character’s internal life, emotions and physical sensations. “He felt angry because the man kept talking. He thought about stabbing him, but upon consideration, thought that would be messy,” reports on your character’s state instead of allowing the reader to experience it along with him. This has the effect of distancing the reader from the character.

    “His jaw ached as he ground his teeth together. That asshole would never stop bragging. Joe slid a hand down to his knife and gripped it. Later. He could use it later.” You know what? That’s still telling. All of writing is telling. What is different is that it gives specific sensations that your reader can experience with the character, creating more of a sense of immediacy. BUT there are times when telling is exactly the right thing to do. Unless it is important to the story, we do not need to experience every moment of a character getting out of bed and getting dressed. “He got up and got dressed” is telling, not showing and that’s perfectly okay.

Raise the stakes

  • What people think it means: People think that it means that they need to make things worse for the character by adding in more explosions and threats.
  • What it actually means: You do need to make things worse for the character, but raising the stakes refers to the character’s personal stakes in the situation. It’s not so much about the external circumstances as how much it matters to the character. For instance, an insult that goes straight to the heart of a character’s self-doubt can be just as much of a stakes raiser as introducing an evil overlord. Raise the personal stakes for the character.

Edited to add:

Kill your darlings

  • What people think it means: Delete the thing you love best in your manuscript. (Seriously, I’ve seen people take it that way.)
  • What it actually means: Just because you have written a beautiful turn of phrase, scene, or character, doesn’t necessarily mean that it belongs in the story. IF it is getting in the way of the story, even if you love it, sometimes you have to cut that bit. Sometimes, but not always, it’s appropriate to kill your darlings.

Writing Excuses 9.44: Getting in the Writer’s Mindset with Peter Beagle

We were thrilled to have Peter Beagle join us for an episode, recorded live at Westercon 67. We talked about the writer’s mindset, and how to get into it. Peter schooled Brandon before the episode even began, and then proceeded to school all the rest of us.

Peter is an absolute delight to listen to. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.

via Writing Excuses 9.44: Getting in the Writer’s Mindset with Peter Beagle » Writing Excuses.

Gender and writing for Defense Grid 2

I recently wrote for my first game, Defense Grid 2, by Hidden Path Entertainment.

When I turned in the script and got notes back about structure, there was one that stood out. “Make sure not to use gendered language to refer to the player. We want to make sure that everyone feels included.”

Let me just point that out again. We want to make sure everyone feels included.

You know how hard that was to accomplish? I had to swap out one word. One. Word.

But it reminded me to think about it with everything else I wrote for them. Mind you, I’m someone who usually does, but it was so easy to fall into the trap of repeating tropes that I’d heard and internalized. All I had to do… it was so simple. I just had to think about making sure that anyone could find themselves in the character.

We want to make sure everyone feels included.

It’s not hard.

Writing Excuses 9.43: Writing Mysteries

Live from Westercon 67 and Fantasy Con, Mette Ivie Harrison and J.R. Johannson join us to talk about writing for the mystery genre. We begin by talking about the key differences between thrillers and mysteries, and then move into how this understanding can drive our story structures. We discuss how characters with arcs and iconic characters drive different types of stories, and how each of us go about building these kinds of things.

via Writing Excuses 9.43: Writing Mysteries » Writing Excuses.

Want to see the original Glamour in Glass outline and the synopsis with which we sold it?

Yesterday, I posted the Shades of Milk and Honey outline. Today, I have two things for you.

First, is the synopsis with which we sold Glamour in Glass. Now, I need to be clear that this was part of a two book deal and that even now when I’m selling a new book to a publisher with whom I have an established relationship, that I write a significantly more detailed synopsis.

In the reprieve after Napoleon abdicates, Jane and Vincent go to the continent for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed Emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil.  With no easy way back to England, they struggle to escape.

When Vincent is captured as a British spy, Jane realizes that their honeymoon had been a sham to give them reason to be in Europe.  He has been using a new technique to capture glamour folds in glass in order to send vital information back to England, where the court has great interest in the politcal unrest in the region. Jane is angry, not at the reason for going to Europe, but that Vincent had lied to her.”Had I know, I would have come willingly. Do I not love King and Country as much?”

Jane must use all the glamor at her disposal to rescue her husband from the prison.  In doing so, she creates a glamour in the glass to disguise herself. Inside, she finds that Vincent has been tortured and is in shockingly ill health.  As she helps him from the prison, he stumbles, causing her to drop the glass.  Their illusion broken, Jane and Vincent work together to flee, narrowly escaping to the coast, where they are returned safely to England.

From there, I had to expand it into an outline. So…

This is the original outline for Glamour in Glass. There are two things I want to call your attention to before you take a look at it.

First thing: People talk about outliners vs. discovery writers, as if there are only two ways of approaching writing. Outliners plan and then begin writing. Discovery writers (or pantsers) launch in and discover the novel as they go. I think it’s a spectrum. While I am more heavily on the outliner end of the spectrum, I also discovery write parts of the novel, too. For instance… there’s a chapter than consisted entirely of “Sailing!” I knew that I needed to get my characters from point A to Point B and that this was the job of the chapter. Within that, I just needed to make it interesting.

Other chapters have a more complicated job, by which I mean, they tie in to previous chapters and later chapters in ways that will cause the story to break if I get them wrong. Those often get more detailed outlines.

Notice that M Chastain’s family is NOWHERE in the outline. I discovered them while I was writing, and worked them into my plans later.

Second thing: You’ll see numbers below. Those aren’t chapter numbers. I often don’t figure out chapters breaks until I’m in the process of writing, because they exist to control pacing. For instance, Number 1 wound up being two chapters long. While 2 and 3 got rolled into the same chapter.

Here’s the email I sent to my editor with the outline when I turned it in.

Here’s my preliminary outline for “Glamour in Glass.”  Left to my own devices, I would start writing from this and fill in details, adjusting as I worked. I can see that there will likely be an additional chapter or two and a minor subplot, but until I get into it, I likely won’t know exactly what those are. I’m guessing this’ll come in around 80k.

As I researched I decided to move the main action from France to Belgium to take advantage of events leading up to Waterloo.  The border region, in particular, had strong tensions between the Bonapartists and the Royalists.  Binche is a border town on the route that Napoleon takes as he marches to Waterloo.  People living here would have been able to hear the gunfire during the battle.  Plus, it has a mask festival that’s been going on since the 1400s which provides some nice local color.

Overall, while you are reading the outline, the arc I’m looking at for Jane is that she’s struggling with in this book is her role as a wife vs. her role as a glamourist.

And now, the outline itself.

Glamour in Glass outline

  1.  Jane and Vincent at dinner with high society in a home where Vincent has been commissioned. They are still but recently wed and it is their first joint project. As the dinner continues, we meet the Prince Regent, who has made the commission. Discuss Napoleon’s abdication and the end of the war. Rumblings of Bonapartist’s who want to put his son on the throne. The prince shuts down the conversation as not being suitable for ladies. Dinner ends and the ladies exit to the drawing room. As they exit, the men immediately begin talking about the situation in France again.
  2. The conversation in the drawing room consists, as it always does, of gossip. One woman comments that she wishes she could do glamour like Jane can. When Jane says that it is a matter of practice, the woman replies that the doctor won’t allow her and Jane realizes that she is with child. This is shocking since the woman is unwed and Jane realizes that she’s talking to someone’s mistress. It causes her to reevaluate her position since the only person freely talking to her is also somewhat shunned and yet also has more social power than Jane does.
  3. The men reenter the drawing room, and have clearly been talking about the commissioned piece. Jane feels left out of the conversation and struggles with the fact that it is supposed to be a collaboration between Vincent and her.
  4.  Vincent suggests they go to France. He has a colleague, Mssr. Chastain, that he hasn’t seen since they studied together with Herr Scholes. Plus he and Jane haven’t had a honeymoon and it seems like an ideal time with Napoleon in exile.
  5. Sailing!
  6. Welcome to France! Meets Chastain.
  7. In their rooms, the maid drops something and apologizes in English. Jane is delighted that Chastian arranged for an English speaker. This is Anne the daughter of an Englishwoman who was left behind back in the French Revolutionary war. She offers to help Jane navigate the social differences.
  8. Gets idea for glamour in glass from prism. Can’t find Vincent to tell him about revelation initially. When she does find him, he is vague about where he has been.
  9. Social scene. Struck by how differently women are treated in France.
  10. Try fail cycle to tie off a simple glamour in glass. Tries an invisibility bubble, because the shape lends itself naturally to blown glass but it’s still a failure.
  11. Jane faints but isn’t doing glamour. Anne runs to fetch Vincent, who should have been in the lab, but isn’t. The doctor is called and realizes Jane is with child. She’s now unable to do glamour. Struggles with this disassociation from self identity. Will Vincent love her without her glamour? When he arrives, he is deeply apologetic for being away and delighted with the news.
  12. Work scene where she can only offer suggestions but not actually do any labor. Frustrating for both.
  13. There are hints that Vincent is keeping something secret from her. But he has much interest in her day, which mostly consists of conversations she has with Anne and other ladies so she tries to make the best of it, while feeling certain that he’s lost interest due to the pregnancy.
  14.  Takes bubble out into sunlight. Vincent comes looking for her and doesn’t see her. She realizes that the glamour in glass needs strong light to work.
  15. Napoleon comes out of exile. Subject of much conversation.
  16. Privately, Vincent tells Jane she must leave France. She points out that they are out of the line of Napoleon’s march and that she is not worried in the least. If Vincent feels free to stay and study, of course she will too. He finally confesses that he is there to spy for England. Someone in Chastain’s household is a Bonapartist and so Vincent must stay to keep an eye on things, but it means that they are in more danger if discovered than other Britons. Jane is extremely upset, not that her honeymoon has been co-opted but that Vincent has been systematically lying to her by omission. “Do I not love King and country as much as you?”
  17. Interesting scene which builds tension with local characters. Jane realizes that Anne is the Bonapartist and has been using her French-English connections to help with the overthrow of Louis XVIII. Tells Vincent her suspicions. He is impressed with her wit and Jane realizes that she might have something to offer besides glamour.
  18. Napoleon’s soldiers come for Vincent. He realizes at the last minute that it’s because of the military potential of the glamour in glass. Hands it to Jane, yanking the velvet covering off and shoves her into the sunlight where she disappears. Jane watches him taken away, muffling her sobs with her hands and wishing she could do glamour to save him but knowing that she has to keep the glass safe.
  19. Finds out he’s being taken to the front lines to work the invisibility glamour for Napoleon. Has to wait for a sunny day to attempt to rescue him.
  20. Jane confronts Anne, who denies spying on them. Not believing her, Jane explains that she is with child and that she is now in exactly the position that Anne’s mother was in when her husband was killed in battle. Crumbling, Anne protests that she didn’t realize they would take him, when she told Napoleon’s men about the invisibility glamour. Had she known, she would never have done it. Jane says, “And now you do, so will you help me?” Anne agrees to help, despite her loyalty to Napoleon.
  21. When they find him, Vincent in bad shape from being forced to overdo glamour. As they are leaving the sun goes behind a cloud, revealing them. Sun comes out and they are again invisible. Run frantically. Vincent stumbles, the glass drops and breaks.
  22.  Jane works the spell herself, knowing the risk it places on her unborn child. Both of them loaded into Anne’s laundry’s cart and hauled away. Chased. Cart breaks axle. Must flee bareback. Barely escape but catch up with English army.
  23.  Report situation to General Wellington.
  24. Jane miscarries. She is heartbroken and yet filled with relief that she will be able to do glamour again. The guilt at the relief is very strong and, as Vincent is trying to comfort her, she confesses it to him. He kisses her and reassures her that she will be his muse always, whether she is doing glamour or not. She takes some comfort in this and falls asleep in his arms.
  25. Back in England at dinner. Prince Regent says that he wants to hear a full report while the ladies withdraw. Vincent asks Jane to stay. “I have learned that it is to my folly to do anything without my wife.” Happily ever after.

A brief list of my events between now and the end of the year.

Want to see me Live! In Person! Here’s where I’ll be between now and the end of the year.
  • Chicago: Tues, Oct 21, 2014 – Story Club south Side, 8pm, Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607
  • Surrey, BC: Fri, Oct 24-Mon, Oct 27, 2014 – Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, 15269 104th Ave, Surrey, BC, Canada V3R 1N5
  • Chicago: Sat, Nov 1, 2014 – Chicago Humanities Festival: Chicks Dig Time Lords, 1:30pm, School of the Art Institute of Chicago Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
  • Washington, DC: Tues, Nov 4-Mon, Nov 10, 2014 – World Fantasy Convention, Hyatt Regency Crystal City, 2799 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Arlington, VA 22202
  • Chicago: Tues, Dec 2, 2014 – Reading at Wit Rabbit, 7pm, Quenchers Saloon, 2401 North Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Will I see any of you at any of these places?

Want to see the original outline for Shades of Milk and Honey?

I know a lot of you are getting ready to begin NaNoWriMo. I’ve mentioned before that I wrote Shades of Milk and Honey for it. I’ve also mentioned before that I had planned a completely different ending for the novel. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Since this was the first time I’d written to an outline, I stuck with it through the end of November, even though I had a sense that I wanted the novel to be doing different things.

At the end of the month, I read my 50k words, thought “Yep” and tossed 20k to get back to the point where I was still excited. In subsequant years, I go ahead and revise the outline and count those words towards my overall total. The moral of the story is that if your outline isn’t pleasing you, change the outline.

Edited to add: Bear in mind that this was my first outline for a novel. When writing now, my outlines are longer and, at times, more detailed.

And now… Here is the original outline for Shades of Milk and Honey.

SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY

Character List:

Miss Jane Wentworth – The oldest daughter of Mr. Charles Wentworth.
Miss Melody Wentworth – Her younger sister. A great beauty.
Mr. Charles Wentworth – The second son of an old British family, presiding over an entailed estate. Respectable, gentlemen farmer.
Mrs. Charles Wentworth – Much given to neuralgia and vapors.
Mr. Edmund Dunkirk – The eldest son of the Baronet of Downsferry. Stands to inherit a sizeable estate.
Miss Elizabeth (Beth) Dunkirk – The only daughter of the Baronet and sister of Mr. Dunkirk.
Mr. Christopher Dunkirk – The younger son of the Baronet of Downsferry
Lady FitzCameron of Banbree Manor- Dowager with an eligible daughter.
Miss Livia FitzCameron – Daughter, known to use magic to cover her horse teeth.
Mr. David Vincent – Artist who creates murals with magic for nobility. Currently in residence at Lady FitzCameron’s
Captain Harold Livingston – The nephew of the Lady FitzCameron

  1. Jane Wentworth has an attachment to Mr. Dunkirk, as does her sister Melody. Jane determines that she should suppress her own interests in him, so as not to hurt her sister’s chances.
  2. Jane comforts Melody.
  3. At nuncheon, the family learns that the FitzCamerons plan to hold a ball to welcome home their nephew, Mr. Harold Livingston, a Captain in the Navy.
  4. In which Jane and Melody go to town to pick fabric for new dresses for the ball. Mr. Dunkirk is there escorting his sister for the same purpose.
  5. Dunkirks come to call. Melody is jealous. Jane faints.
  6. At the ball, Jane sees Mr. David Vincent, an magic arts muralist (glamourist) who is creating a diorama for the FitzCameron’s dining room. Captain Livingston flirts with Melody.
  7. Berry-picking party. Jane is pressured into creating a pantomime with Mr. Vincent.
  8. Berry-picking party continued. After the pantomime, Mr. Vincent takes his leave. On the way home, Melody falls and sprains ankle.
  9. Livingston and Dunkirk come to call on Melody. Some posturing between them. Jane realizes that Melody has not sprained her ankle after all.
  10. At home. Jane evades Dunkirk, believing that he has come to call on Melody. Spends time with his sister instead. Mr. Vincent arrives at end of Chapter
  11. Mr. Vincent has been sent by Lady FitzCameron to amuse Melody. Jane goes to check on her mother. Captain Livingston arrives, both men flirt with Melody.
  12. Jane goes to Dunkirk who and spends time with Miss Dunkirk, who hints that she is in love. Receives invitation to FitzCameron dinner party.
  13. At dinner party, Jane is seated next to Mr. Dunkirk. After dinner, when the ladies retire to the drawing room, a chance comment, overheard, hurts Jane’s feelings. “Plain Jane? I should judge her fortunate if she were only plain.” She flees to the garden where–
  14. She seeks seclusion, but is almost caught (in an overwraught state) by unknown people, so she uses the invisibilty thingie to hide. Overhears lovers, uses invisibility thingie. Realizes that it is Captain Livingston, but not certain who the girl is. He is apologizing for paying attention to Miss FitzCameron, but must in order to keep their love secret until its proper time. Jane is appalled. Lady FitzCameron asks her and Mr. Vincent to do another tableau vivant for them.
  15. Mr. Vincent collapses from the effort of too much glamour. Jane, as the next most experienced glamourist, is pressed to service as his nurse until the surgeon arrives. Over the course of the next several days, Captain Livingston brings word as to Mr. Vincent’s recovery. Jane is praised as having saved his life by her quick thinking. She and her father arrange time for Captain Livingston to be alone with Melody, thinking he might propose.
  16. Melody and Jane escape Mrs. Marchand’s recital of her ailments and have a conversation in the garden, during which Melody admits to having a secret lover, but will not admit who.
  17. Lady FitzCameron, removes to Bath, taking Mr. Vincent with her. Several days later, Jane goes to Robinsford Abbey where Mr. Dunkirk says that he is worried about Beth and confesses her history to Jane. They agree that she probably had a one-sided attachment to Mr. Vincent and that the immediate danger is past now that he is gone. Mr. Dunkirk accidentally calls her by her maiden name, apologizing by saying, “Forgive me, Beth so often calls you by your Christian name that it has become familiar to me. I apologize deeply for the presumption.”
  18. Jane calls the next day, as she arranged with Mr. Dunkirk, but Beth is in deep melancholy. She soothes her.
  19. Beth awakes. More comfort. Mr. Dunkirk gives her a horse.
  20. They all go riding.
  21. .Jane talks to her father about Melody. They both agree to keep an eye on her.
  22. The Dunkirk parents arrive, and other guests for a house party to keep Beth amused.
  23. Soon hear that Captain Livingston has returned to Banbree Hall on business for Lady FitzCameron. Daily expect him to call.
  24. Jane wakes and hears Melody slip out. She has conversation in the garden with Captain Livingston. Jane captures their words, hardly knowing why, and ties the thread off in the garden, making a silent loop.
  25. Jane learns that Captain Livingston has asked for Miss Dunkirk’s hand and that she has accepted. Jane realizes that Livingston is making love to both Miss Dunkirk and Melody, and that Miss Dunkirk is the young woman that she saw him with. In turmoil, realizing that it will destroy the girl’s happiness, and also knowing that it is a conversation which she has no right to have possession of she asks Mr. Dunkirk to the garden to listen to the recording. Devastated, he determines to write to their father and tell him to deny permission for the union.
  26. Jane returns home to tell Melody of Miss Dunkirk’s engagement to Captain Livingston.
  27. Miss Dunkirk runs away.
  28. She is found.
  29. Recovering, Miss Dunkirk receives Jane and in passing mentions that she hopes to be well by the time of her brother’s marriage. “Oh, yes. They settled the engagement in Bath.” Scene where Jane congratulates Mr. Dunkirk on his good fortune. He is confused and then says, “Oh, my dear. My younger brother is marrying Miss FitzCameron.”
  30. She winds up with Dunkirk and her sister winds up with Vincent.

If you are interested, I’ve also posted the outline for Glamour in Glass, and the synopsis with which we sold it.

Seeking recommendations for writers and historians in Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico.

I could use some help… When Writing Excuses goes on the cruise next year, we’re going to be docking in a couple of different countries and are hoping to line up authors and historians as guest speakers. I can research names, what is harder is finding out who is a good teacher. Particularly when I’m looking at a country where I don’t speak the language.

So… people of the internet.

Who would you recommend that we try to contact in the following locations?

  • Labedee, Haiti
  • Falmouth,Jamaica
  • Cozumel, Mexico

We’re looking for people who are able to unpack their craft and relay their theories to students. Not all writers can do that. If you have personal experience with a teacher, that would be fantastic. If not, someone whose writing you admire.

We’re also looking for historians who can give an insider view of local history.

In both cases, someone who is a geek and digs science fiction and fantasy would be a bonus. So… got any recommendations for us?

Marlowe, Sadie and the mystery of doors.

Sadie and MarloweMarlowe is very sweet and tractable, but not always the brightest cat. At the age of 15, he still has no figured out that you push doors open from one side and pull from the other. My other cats have all figured out that if you hook a claw under the door, you can pull it open.

So, this morning, Marlowe followed me into the bathroom, as he does. And the door shut, but didn’t latch behind him. He did his usual routine of standing on his hand legs and pawing at it to get it to open, which only makes it thump repeatedly against the frame.

And then the door magically opened.

Sadie, standing on the other side, pushed the door open and let him out. So… okay. Fair enough, Marlowe. When you bat the door long enough, it WILL open.

Sadie, by the way, is starting to reach for the doorknobs. It’s a good thing she doesn’t have opposable thumbs, is all I have to say.

 

SALE! “Like Native Things” to Asimov’s

I am very, very happy to have sold this short story to Asimov’s. I have to give a really big thank you to all the people who beta-read for it when it was titled, “Wary of Iguanas.” In particular I need to thank Daniel, who finally unlocked a problem with the story for me.

It’s like this… For months I’ve been trying to fix a problem with the story. There’s a type of power station that takes its energy from ocean waves, and I have one in the story. I kept getting comments like, “I don’t understand why the wave generator is such a big deal.” So I kept trying to tweak it to make the wave generator’s importance to my main character clear.

Then Daniel commented, “So to me, wave generators, are things found in amusement parks, and scientific reproductions, it would be pointless in open ocean.”

D’oh! All of those people thought it was a machine that created waves, not a power station.

God. I could fix that with three words. MONTHS of effort because of a definition.

Meanwhile… here’s a teaser.

The iguana was probably some kid out for a joyride. A wetware patch covered nearly its full back in a web of gold and silicone. Tilda opened the window and leaned out to pluck the iguana off the branch. Thank heavens animals with amateur mind-riders tended to have slow instincts.

She dropped the iguana into a carry-crate and threw a cloth over it. “No trespassing signs apply to anything with an intelligence on board, but I’ll drop your critter near a street sign.”

“Most people would euthanize the thing.” Helmut pulled a fresh wetware patch out of the fridge and opened the sterile packet. “You’re a softie.”

“It’s not the iguana’s fault his person is an idiot.” Still, given the nature of her contract with the government, it was better to be on the safe side. Tilda carried the crate past the row of benches that dominated the saddle room and set it outside in the hall. “Go ahead and start calibrating and I’ll join you in a minute.”