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At (very) long last, I have wrapped edits on Tocara. It’s been an extremely long slog through this rewriting pass, working in suggestions made by several very helpful critters and working around two household relocations, selling one house, and buying another. If I haven’t screwed it up, I think it is a pretty good story.

We will see if La Agent thinks so, too. >:-) (She probably thinks I’ve fallen off the face of the planet. Sorry for the awful delay, Shana.)

One of the hardest things for me has always been striking a balance between boring the reader with too much detail and frustrating the reader with too little. I am trying very hard to move my pointer on that spectrum a bit closer to the “more detail” end of things. An early editing draft bore the moniker “Obvious!” as a reminder that what is transparent to me is opaque to others. Here’s hoping I’ve managed at least an incremental improvement.


What’s the story about, you say? It’s a secret history about the magic, and power, of belief. It’s set in Spanish Colonial Florida and Havana, and involves a stolen bell, and hostile Indians, and empire-building Spanish dons.

I should probably work up a good logline now that it looks like I might get to use it.

Best yet, from this point forward I get to spend time with the next novel without feeling guilty!


At the farm, there are no eggs yet. No worries; four months of age (18 weeks) is the low end of when hens usually begin to lay. I have seen indications that the hens have been investigating the nesting boxes. They’re all roosting at night now, which is good, as the overnight temperatures have begun to drop. Some day soon, there will be eggs.

There are some consolations. The pole beans have begun to fruit – after being blown over, restaked, staked again, staked again.... The weather after the hurricane blew through (hi, Irene; bye, Irene) was gorgeous and cool, so I went out that Sunday afternoon and turned and smoothed out enough of one of the empty garden rows to get some of the fall seeds in. I’m trying a couple of different kinds of radishes and some Harrier beets. I got some collards and Laciniato kale in, too.

The meadow portion of the long field in the back is gorgeous with black-eyed susans and ox-eye daisy and redtop meadow grass. The sumacs and the black gums have begun to show a hint of the scarlet color they’ll develop as September heads toward October and the cool evenings turn cold. Somewhere in there, we’ll run the bushhog over the meadow one final time for the year and neaten everything up for the winter.

We’ll be harvesting sweet potatoes inside of a month. Can’t wait to see what we end up with – we know the soil in this former forested field was not the richest it might have been, so I will be satisfied if we get a decent three or four potatoes from each of the vines, but I am hoping for enough to share (and sell – the microfarming venture has nearly recouped enough in sales to have paid for the plants we bought at the outset).

Plans are being made to bring in a big truckload of sifted topsoil, the good stuff, and a couple more pickup truck loads of horse manure to be sheet composted over the winter and turned under again in the spring, together with the straw that will be protecting it all from the weather.

I’m already salivating over plans for next year. >:-)


The earthquakes have not stopped. I thought for a couple of days they’d slacked off – and then we got hit with another whopper, 3.4, enough that the beagle hightailed it down from my son’s bed and into ours and Kay, my dog, all but crawled into the shower with me. I am so very fed up with random shaking. My nerves jangle for an entire day after one of those.



Sep. 14th, 2010 01:02 pm
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I keep plants in the deep window wells in my office downtown. I have terrific windows; they both face south, offering views of the James River and the downtown banking district. (The view used to be better before Mead Westvaco built its new offices down by Tredegar Ironworks. Ah, progress.) I am fond of scented plants – more foliage than flowers, because let’s face it, flowers just don’t last – and a lot of what I have are oddities of one sort or another.

One of those oddities is preparing to bloom.

That really is eek-worthy, as you’ll see if you explore any of the websites devoted to the genus Stapelia, like this one: Stapelia is better known as Carrion Flower.

And it’s in my office window.


No, I am not going to let the flower buds mature. >:-) Though I may seize the opportunity to pass the plant and its pot-mates along to someone better able to “appreciate” them...preferably off this floor!


My son changed jobs today. It was a change he’d been courting, and working toward, for a year or more, and he’s pleased at an increase in pay and benefits. Here’s hoping the new company will prove as good a place to work as his peers have indicated it is.

(See, now I have something new to tell those who ask how he’s doing. My usual response had been, “He’s still employed.”)


All my books at home are packed. My office there will soon be reduced to a skeleton. Kay has already started looking worriedly at the mounds of boxes appearing in the hallways and stacked against the walls. (She’s a perceptive dog, yes.) Once I finish with the closet full of craft supplies and the file cabinet drawers, I’ll start work on the china cabinet downstairs. At least, having done all of this in such recent memory, I have a good idea what we can live without for the next month and what we’ll end up needing.

And, wouldn’t you know it, I find myself suddenly with useful thoughts on the tangle in the middle of the novel known as Bells (which needs a new title). I’ve been reading over some of Alexandra Sokoloff’s tips for writers (her website is, and she’s got a book out on the subject which I just downloaded via Kindle for Mac) and, feeling energized, started picking at Bells again. It’s been hard to find enough time to really sink into the book, but the other day on the bus I had a revelation that I think might be the key to unlocking the plot.

One of the tools Ms. Sokoloff recommends is the notecard. Not coincidentally, one of the improvements I am planning for my new home office and workroom is a nice, big, blank wall for notecarding and storyboarding and tacking up drawings for review. Maybe with more space, I’ll figure out how to use notecards in multiple layers! It would be nice to master this technique everyone seems so enamored of.

And nicer yet to actually have the space and time in which to work on it....


Nov. 5th, 2009 04:52 pm
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There. Kith and Kin, the rewrite thereof, is finished. A nice, clean version of the novel exists for sharing, so now's the time to speak up if you're inclined to read it. Canum would be pleased to make your acquaintance.

This is the second book in the series; the first book is with the agent, looking for work. I'm hoping that the lack of a follow-on novel is what stalled possible sales, and so the completion of Kith is a big deal for me. That, and I'm just plain tired of rewriting.

Oh, man, am I tired.


I also managed to get that flu shot on Wednesday afternoon by standing in line for two and a half hours to ensure I'd be one of the 1,000 people they had vaccine doses for. Well, I was sitting in line; knowing it would be a long wait, I brought a chair, my lunch, a bottle of water, and a book. (Elizabeth Bear's Carnival, probably my favorite of hers to date.) As with the regular seasonal flu shot I got in early October, this one has resulted in my neck being a little stiffer than usual, so I've been taking Tylenol and ice cream to remedy that. *g*


And now I have time to read. A trip to the bookstore is warranted, as several new books have come out recently that I've been wanting to read but could not, on account of (a) focusing on the rewrite and (b) tired. (That originally came out "ired," which fits, as does "mired.")

What have you read recently that you liked?


Here, have some seasonal color:

Lake in autumn

That photo was actually taken a couple of years ago, but it's pretty enough to be a keeper. If you like colorful leaves, you might want to check out the viburnum photo, too.
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I expect to wrap up the final handful of items in this rewrite of Kith and Kin before the end of the week, and I could use some eyes on the changes I've made. My primary concern is continuity and tone - I can promise a clean draft.

If you think you'd like to read this second book in the Canum 'verse, please speak up! I need some readers. I'll be happy to reciprocate.
clarentine: (Mastiff)
Note to self from the middle of this novel's climax:

Chasing two armed men, you definitely go armed yourself, and while these may be lower-rank Orators they won’t be idiots--this is not a MUNCLE episode, and they are not stupid Thrushes. Give them credit for native intelligence and survival instincts!
clarentine: (Default)
Hey there, all you clever people, you Masters of the Universe in disguise, you manipulative masterminds. I need to borrow your brains.

I have an antagonist who has a problem. He wants to provoke a neighboring nation (let's call it Ess) into declaring war or something like it, but he doesn't want that provocation traceable to him; he has a king who'd be on his case in a big way if that got out. This antag happens to have control of the standing army in our little city-state, Gee. He also has friends in low places, people who will happily break a few heads just on his say-so. There are plenty of Ess's former citizens living in Gee. They like to hang out together but they don't live in a walled enclave or anything like that. There are also other citizens of other neighboring countries in the city to keep it from being too black and white.

What might you suggest this antag do to provoke the Esses into unwise action, so that the antag has an excuse to counterattack?


(I need a new icon. My default is a cavalier, which was perfect for the time spent working on Cavalier Attitude, but this is a different book and a different protag and I really need something different. Does it tell you something about this rewrite I've undertaken that I'm looking forward to wasting time looking for that icon? *g*)


Said rewrite - this book is In the Shape of a Man, called Shape for short (because no one in their right mind wants to roll the whole title out unless they have to, even if it is perfect in numerous ways for this book) - is coming along. The hardest thing I had to do was rewrite the first chapter, because there are some fundamental changes in my understanding of this story and they had to be there from the start. Now that I have that first scene, it becomes a matter of analyzing the succeeding scenes with an eye to how well they play with the book's new focus, determining what needs to change, and tweaking here and there until the words are aligned appropriately.

I had to cut a shitload of exposition out of my first scene before I was happy with it. It was important exposition, however, and it's taken me most of three subsequent chapters to get those background details back into the narrative.

In addition to unearthing additional external plot nuggets for my protag to fall over, I've got to go through each scene and make sure the attitude change is correctly reflected. I've discovered that this makes for an extremely tedious and frustrating time. It's difficult to hold the breadth of this story--in both its former and current configurations--in my mind's eye so I can compare and make changes in keeping with the new tone of the story. I think I am going to have to print the damned thing out and resort to pen-and-ink and highlighters to track those changes.

Kill me now, please.


(Don't worry, [ profile] jmeadows; I'm going to bake those cookies first. You should be able to smell the gingery-lemony-buttery goodness all the way up at your place. *g*)
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I didn't think I'd get to this point with this damned book. I just wrote a brand-new final scene for Kith and Kin, and I like it. I've fought this book for so long that it feels surreal to have reached this point.

There are still things that need fixing, and I'll get to those, but for the moment I'll just be thoroughly happy and surprised and leave it at that. ::grin::
clarentine: (Default)
A quiet day at the day job, so I've made some progress on this rewrite of the WIP, Kith and Kin. This is a real rewrite, rather than a polishing; the ms was first put together some ten years ago, and has seen minor edits since, but changes made in the book that precedes it (In the Shape of a Man) forced major plot thread changes. That, and my skill level has changed, shall we say, since I last poked this tale. (For the better, I think. Less angst, more intensity--see last rock.)

It's no fun reworking for plot. I had to resort to writing out a synopsis to find the holes in my plot and subplot arcs, and am now plugging along, mopping up the mess. The good news is the fleshing out is providing much needed wordage, as the draft I started with after cutting all the unnecessary scenes and boring dialogue left me nearly 100 pages shy of my usual goal of 300. The bad news is, I've now been working on this rewrite for the better part of a year.

My intention is to finish this blinking rewrite before starting anything new. I want both Shape and Kith done, clean, and ready for eyeballs before I start hunting an agent for what I think is my best work to date, Cavalier Attitude (a fantasy cross between Zorro the Gay Blade and James Bond, believe it or not).

At the moment, I'm roughly at page 194, chapter 7, scene iv (of about xiii; it's a long chapter, 34 pages or so). If reporting wordage is any incentive, maybe I'll see the end of a couple more of those scenes before the weekend is through. >;-]



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