excerpts New Post

A little bit of Prodigals

Here’s a bit of my other beloved work in progress,  which I do feed and water and pet occasionally so it doesn’t feel neglected. I will begin taking it for walks and polishing its rough scales as soon as I complete Grace’s adventures.

WHEN YOSHI CHECKED INTO the infirmary to begin his week’s swing shift, Keene was busy reading instructions for repairing a diagnostic unit. He cleared his throat to draw her attention off the screen. “Hey, boss, what’s up first tonight? I see Jean’s on dinner detail. Want me to stop her from finding a new way to ruin vegetables?”

“I would, if I was a merciful woman.” Keene glanced up and tugged on a wayward sprig of hair. “But I’m not. Let her destroy supper on her own.”

Jean, the newest member of the Support team, felt anything other than medical support was beneath her dignity. She was not adapting well to the idea that her job included cooking, cleaning, equipment maintenance, and supply chain logistics. Yoshi said, “It’s turning into a joke, you know. There’s a pool on what she’ll manage to burn next.”

“That figures.” Keene snorted. “She thinks I’ll reassign her if I get too many complaints.”

Yoshi knew his boss better than that. If Jean didn’t get her ass in gear soon, Keene would assign her twelve-hour shifts cooking every meal alone until she shaped up or quit. “If I’m not helping her, where do you want me?”

“Carl’s quarters. Wanda called down after his morning wash and wax to warn me he barely made it back under his own power. I don’t want him passing out on the stairs. Do a house call for me.”

In case anyone is wondering…

…it’s time to officially admit Prodigals will be delayed until spring. I could say, “I’ll aim at late winter” and live in denial a few months more, but meh. Honesty is the better part of valor.  I want Prodigals to be as good as it can be, it needs significant revision–and I need to finish Heartwood.

Alas, I cannot take the wide, well-traveled obvious path and revise one while writing the other. Filed under “epiphanies of the last 18 months” is this gem: I cannot world-switch. I can juggle multiple casts, and plots in one environment, but add a second whole world, and I drop pieces everywhere. Forward progress crashed to a halt in both projects unless I concentrated on one or the other.

I am an efficient task-switcher, but only within a single headspace. I made the decision/mistake to dive into Heartwood while waiting for PRodigals beta reads, and now there’s no turning back. Right now, Heartwood fills my imagination. (Well, Heartwood, the first full novel in that world, the short story that’s percolating…) I’m dreaming in that reality now, and I’ll stick with it until the current tale is done.

Enough navel-gazing.

2. Writing Work excerpts

Another Weekly Snapshot

Things are about to get awkward for Grace.

Elena scooped up her papers while Grace spun open the combination lock on the side entrance to the yard. The tall wooden gate swung wide, and Elena hurried through. Grace expected her to take off running, but instead she turned on her heel, hugging the briefcase to her chest like a shield. The tall viburnums beside the house arched over her head in a green bower.

“I’d love for you to meet Jack and Heather,” she said. “I mean, I think you’ll have to meet eventually, but I—may I introduce you to them? Or am I asking too much?”

The question didn’t make sense at first. Then Grace put two and two together. “Jack is your tro—T-series friend. And Heather? Another active poz?” Another demon, she didn’t say aloud, but even thinking it made her feel ill.

Elena nodded, her face solemn. “Heather teleports. She’s my ride. She also has feathers. Wings. Neither of them are evil demons, I swear to you on a stack of Bibles, but if it makes you too uncomfortable, I’ll just go now.”


2. Writing Work excerpts

Saturday Snapshot

A little bit of the calm before the storm that’s about to hit my work in progress. There’s a reason I titled it Heartwood. Here’s a glimpse. I hope you enjoy.

“This is my pride and joy,” Grace patted the dappled gray trunk of her apple tree. “Come up close. It’s the only way to really get the full effect.”

“You have apples already?” Elena’s hair swept over her shoulder in a dark fall as she ducked under low-hanging branches. She picked her way through the windfalls underfoot. Flies and bees hummed irritably, but none rose from their feasting. Elena lifted her face to peer at the fluttering green leaves overhead. “There are so many! Like little gold ornaments against the sky. So pretty. What kind are they?”

“I have no idea. The arboretum is researching it for me. I didn’t expect fruit this year, or I would’ve had it ID’d sooner. It’s some heirloom variety. Super-sweet but easily bruised.”

Decades of neglect had reduced the tree in the southwest corner of the yard to a gnarled tangle of rot and suckers. Grace devoted several spring afternoons to pruning out dead branches, but the raggedy remnants didn’t inspire hope. She resigned herself to spending several seasons on the tree’s renewal. Instead, to her surprise and pleasure, the plant responded with exuberance, as if it had needed only the promise of new love to shake off its past hurts.

There was probably a lesson in that. God offered a lot of lessons people overlooked. Grace watched leaf-shadows flicker over Elena’s smile and wondered what today’s lesson was—and who it was meant to teach.

2. Writing Work excerpts nuts & bolts world building

How Did It All Start?

World-build day! I’m alternating worlds. One week I’ll focus on the glittery superpowers of my contemporary alternate-universe, the next week I’ll scatter sparkly factoids of future history from the Restoration Stories.

The following excerpt may look familiar to beta readers of Flight Plan’s first edition. I cut it from the book because  interrupting the story flow  made me itch even when I wrapped the information up in a narrative blanket. It’s still hard to find the right balance between immersion and confusion.

ANYhooozle. Here’s this week’s cheerful data dump, presented as an introduction to a historical text covering the period 50-100 years before the Restoration novels begin.

Excerpt from the introduction to “Doomed to Repeat: Revision, Restoration and the Coming Crisis”

The global sociopolitical meltdown now classified as The Great Revision was in many ways a self-inflicted disaster. One stagnant government after another collapsed, choked by debts, strangled by diplomatic obligations or torn apart by internecine conflict. Civil unrest and military conflicts crippled vital industries, and critical infrastructure fell prey to violence as well. Bioweapons and poisons were released to devastating effect. Technological standards backslid by decades in some areas and centuries in others.

The disintegration could have been the start of a new Dark Age, but while the future went up in flames and crumbled to rubble, it never quite died. Day-to-day life continued amidst the ruins,  and principalities all around the world found their own solutions to stave off total destruction. As the tumultuous decades of Revision drew to the close around the world, new national governments were slowly constructed by those who still remembered life under the rule of the old orders. Civilization emerged from the crucible of anarchy in new forms that were in many ways indistinguishable from the old. Familiarity bred comfort rather than contempt.

Widespread violence  and rule of might became the norm in the semi-organized territories and city-states that remained of the United States, but even during the worst of the disorder, people fought and died to keep the broken pieces of civilization from eroding into utter chaos. An alliance grew up between international corporations who feared extinction, surviving elements of the military branches who clung to traditions of honor and service, and the leaders of individual communities who wanted more than bare-bones survival for themselves and their descendants. Compromises were struck, deals were made, and the basis for a new political construct was pieced together on the ruined foundation of the old.

This book will examine the forces that broke apart the old world and demonstrate that, as a political entity, the Restored United States has failed to learn the most important lesson of its own history.

I’ve mentioned previously I thought I was building a shiny idealistic world in Restoration America. It turned out to be a much grittier, unjust, and complicated place than I intended. Reality is sneaky that way, even imaginary reality.

That’s all for now. Thanks for coming to the show. Enjoy the free words, remember to tip your server, and keep on keeping on.