Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Finished Body Language

Finally. I finished writing Body Language at 2:00 a.m. I spent every spare moment today editing it and I’ve just posted it for critique. We’ll see what folks say.

Meanwhile, back at the camp, my kids–the good ones–really focused today and finished the set. I really didn’t think it was going to happen this time. I had to give one girl a really sound talking to, but I don’t think it made a difference.

And finally, I worked on the Portland Spirit tonight. Whee.

If you want to read Body Language (8900 words), drop me an email. Here’s a teaser for you.

Body Language
Mary Robinette Kowal

     Saskia knelt inside the giant man-eating plant checking the repair to the puppet’s control bar. The puppet stank. She never noticed the months of sweat impregnating the foam and fabric when she was performing, but the odor was overwhelming now.
     She could hear the muffled murmur of conversation. The techies probably wanted to know when she would clear the stage. One of them said her name, sounding like he had forgotten she was in the puppet. Saskia ignored him and opened the jaw to test it.
     As the giant puppet moved, he yelped. Saskia grinned. There were days when she loved her job. Then the techie said, “Saskia? There’s a detective here to talk to you.”
     Saskia almost dropped the puppet. Detective? As she clambered out of the puppet, she started running through the list of friends and family who might be in trouble, but came up blank.
     The techie stood next to a stocky man, maybe Indian, maybe South American; she’d never been good at guessing. The man wore AI interface glasses, which meant he had an Artificial Intelligence as an invisible partner. His crisp suit made Saskia acutely aware that she still wore the sweat-stained bike clothes she performed in. Her hair was probably a snarled rat’s nest.

YES! It worked

I tried my plan for dealing with Mr. Uh-uh at camp today, and it worked. I gave him a model of the fire I needed built and told him to make a large version. When he got bored with that, I also assigned him to draw the plan of the jail, and that I’d get another kid to scale it up for him later. I told him to bounce between the two projects and he worked the whole class. I feel like a teaching god.

Of course, I had another student who decided to play darts with the colored pencils, but that didn’t last long.

Since I’ve finally finished the Lessons Learned project, I’m actually free to spend the afternoon writing. I’m shocked too.


I spent today trying to write. I’m working my way through a new short story, and it’s slow going. I think I’m putting too much pressure on myself after how well Salt of the Earth went. I like this one, or at least the idea for this one, but I only got about 1000 words done today.

Besides that I also worked on Shimmer and a little bit of gardening.

Writing & baking fiend

The last two days I’ve been writing and baking. Well, actually the baking only happened today, but I made a Breton butter cake and a batch of Almond macaroons.

Here are the first thirteen lines of the story I wrote today. It’s only 500 words, and I’d be happy to send anyone the rest if they want it.

Beauty Will Come
      Queen Reine stared out the window, wishing the scene below were normal. Her son, Armel, lounged in the courtyard, laughing with his friends. The young men leaned away from him slightly, as if afraid he might break into one of his rages. Only his title, Prince of Laorea, kept them from fleeing his unruly temper.
       She turned to his Fairy Godmother. “Can we do nothing?â€?
       Dieudonné shook her head, “I said only that his trouble is not magic-based. He is not cursed, but it is possible that a curse may be his cure.â€?
       “How say you?â€? Reine fought to keep the hope from her heart.
       Flexing her wings, Dieudonné looked uncomfortable. “These rages govern half his life. I can not diminish them, but I can remove the intervals between.â€?
       Reine’s hope died. “How is this a cure? Without those intervals in which he is himself, his bestial nature would rule him.â€?

Boot Camp is over

This was an amazing experience. I wrote a story here, that I truly believe I would not have been able to write before the workshop. I hope that I retain even half of what I learned.

The first two days we were in a lecture with about fifty other people. At the end of Day One, Mr. Card gave us an assignment.

Take 5 notecards and come back tomorrow with five complete stories–complete as in, begining, middle, end, but not Flash Fiction. These are the Hollywood Pitches of complete ideas.
2 based on research
2 based on observation
1 based on an interview

On Day 2 we picked and presented one of those, knowing that we would spend all of Day 3 writing it to turn in Thursday morning.

On Thursday, I was the third story in the lineup. We went around the room with people saying very nice things, and offering comments. And then it was Orson Scott Card’s turn. The first words out of his mouth were, “This is a nearly perfect story.

I was hard-pressed to appear calm. Especially when he went on to say, “This is fictional anthropology at its best.” “Marvelous story”

And then he went on to point out the holes in it. But, they are all things that I feel very comfortable in handling. One of them turned out to be a stupid omission on my part from writing at three o’clock in the morning.

I’m exhausted now, but very excited. I’m looking forward to my next story, and to polishing this and sending it out.

Writing Boot Camp

I just got accepted into Orson Scott Card‘s Writer’s Boot Camp this summer. He is the author of one of my all-time favorite books, Ender’s Game and teaches this intensive workshop every summer. I’ve been wanting to attend for years and finally got up the nerve to apply. He only takes fifteen students. I’m one of them this year.


So I’ll be writing up a storm in Utah June 20-25th. Meanwhile, Rob and I planted some vegetables in the garden, did some weeding and generally had a nice day. I also applied for some parttime jobs to help fill in the gaps.

Safe Arrival

My flight was entirely uneventful. I slept for most of the trip, which calls for a hearty thank you to Mom and Dad for multiple eight hour car trips to Chattanooga. I learned at a very young age that if I could fall asleep in the car then I would get there faster. So, thanks Mom and Dad, for teaching me to sleep sitting up.

When I got to baggage claim Magnús was there as well as Kay, one of Nick Jr. producers (I’m not sure about her real title). This is the second time I’ve been to Iceland and Magnús has been on both flights. Wierd. What’s even stranger is that I didn’t see either of them while I was waiting for the flight. Notice the absence of other travellers…

Granted, I was facing away from the gate so most people were behind me, and I was reading or writing the whole time. Okay, and a little surfing on the internet too.

You might be wondering about the photo. I was not the sort of flake I thought I was. I was a different sort of flake; the cable was in an inside pocket of my computer case where I normally only keep discs. Whew.

So, safe travel. Nice hotel. All my things arrived. But we all know about the disastrous travel karma I had last year. Is this year simply different, or is there a price?

There’s a price.

While unpacking my bag, I was reaching into the front of my suitcase–you know those flat narrow pockets–sliding my hand around looking for my eye cozy, because I planned to take a nap. I felt a sting, but didn’t think much of it, it felt like I’d bumped a sharp corner on something. Until I pulled my hand out of the bag.

Am I building the suspense?

I’ve been told that this can be an effective dramatic technique. Notice, how, even now, I’m delaying telling you that my safety razor had shaved the corner of my finger off. The part right next to the finger nail on the ring finger of my left hand was sliced away. It was surprising, all the more so because it didn’t hurt.

The nice man at the concierge desk gave me a bandaid and I delayed my nap to sit with my hand over my head applying direct pressure. It stung. A lot. I had a sudden understanding of why grown men in movies who have been shot, stabbed and beaten by bad guys then wince when the love interest cleans the wound.

Anyway. It’s fine. It won’t interfere with my job at all, although I’ll probably wear a fingercondom over it just in case the scab comes loose under the bandaid.

Whew. That was a long entry, and it’s only lunch time.

Iceland via Baltimore

I wasn’t in Minneapolis long enough to explore the wonders of the internet. This will not be true of Baltimore. I will be here for another three hours. Woo-hoo! My attempt to stay awake on the first flight failed utterly. I think I managed to confine it to quick naps interspersed with attempts to read.

The second flight went much better from a staying awake point of view. I even got some writing done.


I spent the afternoon in my favorite coffeeshop, writing and editing websites. They are perfectly willing to let me nurse a coffee and a pastry for hours. And they have WiFi.


I biked fourteen miles today. That’s six miles to the studio and then home again, as well as a one mile to meet a writing group and then a mile home. I’m a little tired, but feeling very satisfied. Rob is doing situps. I think he’s feeling left out.


I spent the day rewriting a short story. Rob worked on an audio gig.

Novel developments

Today I have been writing. I’ve been a little stalled on my novel because I knew what the antagonist needed to do to move the plot forward, but I’d failed to give them a reason to do it. I had a motive, the bad guy did not. After Rob and I went to bed last night, the solution popped into my head along with the next three chapters. I got out of bed and wrote two and a half chapters.

Needless to say, I slept in this morning. Rob has gone off to the winery to help Ben, his replacement, get settled in. I’m not expecting him home tonight, but would love to be surprised. I have done nothing on the pantry floor yet, though it’s looking like it will be a lovely form of procrastination from my novel.

NaNoWriMo Finish Line!

Official NaNoWriMo 2004 Winner!
At 10:00 p.m. I crossed the finish line on my goal of 50,000 words in a month. I think I still have three or four chapters left to write, but the major bulk of my novel writing effort is past. Now I’ll have a lovely road of rewrites ahead of me.

Latest wordcount

20,331 words which is 41% of my goal. Whee. The last three nights I’ve gone to Hresso to write. Getting out of the apartment makes it easier to focus on writing instead of tending to household chores. On the other hand, that means that it takes longer to get my laundry finished. But my novel is speeding along.

Latest Word Count

I’m very proud of myself. I spent yesterday writing, with time off for good behaivor to run some errands, and reached 12,519 words last night, which means I’m a quarter of the way through my goal.

I also talked with Fanney, who is a local NaNoWriMo participant. I think it is possible that we have nothing in common except the effort to write a novel in a month. She is nineteen, into vampires, and obsessed with the t.v. show Alias, which I’ve never even heard of. Nonetheless, we are going to meet at a coffee house tonight and spend an hour or so writing in company. I say coffee house, but really I think it will be Iða, which is a bookstore/cafe, because Fanney does not drink Coffee or Tea, only coke.

Meanwhile, I’ve been writing this morning and am at 13,797 words. Just to amuse you, here are the first thirteen lines of Chapter 1. I don’t usually show you rough drafts, and that’s what this is because I’m writing and not going back to reread. I’ll go back and flesh out a section, but no rewrites till the whole thing is done.

Virus Attached
Chapter One
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Scott Huang ran out of the Tube with the rest of the rush hour crowd and sprinted toward the door of the precinct. He was not late, but he wanted some time at his desk before his shift started. The officers on the night shift were just coming back to the station to log out, but the other members of the homicide department had not turned up for work yet. Most importantly, Cameron M. Oakes the Fourth had not shown up yet. He liked his F&B collegue, but the flesh-and-blood detective was not as much fun as his A.I. counterpart.
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp As Huang reached his desk, Metta’s cameras swiveled in his direction. He held still to let her make the I.D. Faster than he could draw a breath, the A.I. knew him and powered up his desktop interface.