Writing. It’s a mental illness.

The group blog of Liberty’s Torch is well worth your time and well worth your follow. I think I may have wandered in there via Gab but I drink much and recall little. Anyway. The lead blogger there, Francis W. Porretto, had a post today about writing. Many of my heart-cockles were warmed by it. Rather than hijack his comment section, I hope to take excerpts of his essay, Post Partum, and add my observations.

“It’s a difficult period in any novelist’s life: he can’t go forward while his thoughts are wrapped around the book he just finished, and he can’t go backward with the revisions he’s already thought of until the others involved have registered their various contributions.”

That only briefly happened to me once, at the conclusion of “Echoes of Family Lost.” It was a follow-on to “The Fourth Law” and once complete I had no idea what to do next. Was I a writer? Did I have more stories to tell? Five years ago, I carved out a space here on WordPress and started throwing 800-1500 word-salad at the screen. Some stuck. I kept going. By the time I got a cover design for EoFL, I had met Chris and Kat, from “Cursed Hearts.” A romance/horror? WTF? I hate both of those! I shut up and wrote what they told me to.

“The first requirement of any storyteller is a mating between characters and crises: people upon whom to impose problems they must solve, or at least cope with. I developed a bunch of attractive character sketches almost by accident – I still wonder from time to time where those fictional figures really came from – and immediately found ways to cast them into conflict with one another.”

I take exception to almost every word in this. The first requirement of a storyteller is to tell stories. It is the height of arrogance to think you really know what the characters’ problems really are. As to where these people come from? Well, if you’ve read along these few years, you know how I have addressed that. Further, I’ve never made a single ‘character sketch;’ they walk onto the stage/screen and act. I just write what they show me.

“But characters don’t struggle with their problems and one another in some sort of white space separate from all else; at least, mine don’t. They need a place to be. I had to pick a place, or conceive of one, that would provide a suitable stage on which to act out their destinies.”

My parents married unemployed with no money. I didn’t grow up poor, but summer vacations were KOA’s and the grandparent’s place in Los Alamos, NM. I saw a lot of the US Mountain West. Later, I learned some of the Kentucky/Tennessee regions. All of that curled up in the back of my mind… and waited. When I needed to put ‘boots on the ground,’ I had scores of places to choose, right behind my eyes.

“Of the sixteen full-length novels I’ve written to date, only four have stayed completely outside Onteora County: three far-future science fiction novels and one magic-based high fantasy. The others have wound up there regardless of where they started or where I wanted to put them. Worse, the characters from my other Onteora Canon novels keep insinuating themselves into my new fictions.”

Knoxville, Tennessee is my game park as Onteora County is for him. I’m thinking about moving there in 5-10 years; Knoxville, that is. It will be easier for me than, say, St. Petersburg, Russia… Osaka, Japan… or Mars.

“And by jingo, it happened again! Characters from just about every other Onteora Canon novel started insisting that they belonged in this new one. I managed to fit a few new faces into the tale, but the “old Onteora crew” is there in force.”

This is where I decided to write this huge response. One character leading to another… As I mentioned, “Echoes…” was a natural continuation of “The Fourth Law.” “Cursed Hearts” lead to an unpublishable novella (I set it in someone else’s sandbox). But the two books of The Saga of Nichole 5? That main character shows up in many more books. Three year old Gary, holding little Henge’s hand at the end of “Echoes…” announces they want to be married. Ten years later, they have their own novel, “Worlds Without End.” Writing that, I met Gary’s kid sister, Faustina. Nine years later she puts together a private army and decided to attack the Chicom PLA garrison in Savannah, former Georgia. To-date, I’m finishing a damn trilogy about her, starting to come out in November. The father of the young women from “The Fourth Law” and “Echoes…”? He’s got a book. I’ve dozens of people like this, scattered all over my stories. Just because they do not have their own book today means nothing for next week.

“I don’t feel an urge to go back and “straighten it out.” I plan to publish it essentially as it is. There are a few elements I’ve decided need buttressing, but not to the extent of “de-hybridizing” the book as it stands. I look forward to hearing what its readers will think of it.”

While I cut my SF reading teeth as a kid on the hard science fiction of Niven and Pournelle, and my future history of Machine Civilization is bedrocked on sentient, sapient machines, I admit I take fantastical, Clarke’s-Third-Law leaps with the tech in my stories, so long as it tells the story. I read much, do research, make sure I’m talking about qubits in the right way… but if I need to use handwavium, that is what the story gets. I’m talking about people; some of whom are bags of bolts; some of whom are bags of blood. They are people.

“I can’t help but wonder how many more books I have in me. I’m old, and not in the best of health. But storytelling is an addiction, a tough one to shake. And I imagine that those damned Onteora characters, settings, and institutions will continue to have their way with me. At least, they have so far.”

I am a semi-professional alcoholic with chronic hypertension just turned fifty-four. Once the trilogy of Faustina’s “American Imperium” is released to the wild, I’m spending Winter 2021 recording audiobooks. I’ve no idea how long I have, either, but we have been given a priceless gift: to touch other’s minds with our ideas. I will keep at it until I die, later or sooner.

Having said all that to say this: thank you for your inspiration and your hard work, Mr. Porretto. As Empress Faustina cries to her legions, Deus vult!

Life imitates…oh, you know…

Shot:  Real-Life Cyborgs? Groundbreaking Material Can Merge AI with the Human Brain

“The team started looking at organic electronic materials that would reduce or eliminate scarring and eventually discovered Pedot.

Pedot is commercially available, antistatic coating for electronic displays. It is very chemically stable, making it ideal for use in medical implants.”

 

Chaser (from Cursed Hearts):

Chris was finishing his brief Saturday lecturing – tutoring, really – of his three 4th-year students about the neuro-mesh that had been developed in Singapore just over thirty months ago.  That company made their customers pay; and not even in the new currency, ria, but in precious metals, only.  And pay the world did:  paraplegics were walking and he was alive.  It was an age of miracles in the East while the West, outside of a few pockets, seemed to be sinking into a second Dark Age, driven by unrestricted immigration.

El Paso del Norte

After what I last wrote, I was stuck for once.  I thought about Sylvia’s long drive across west Texas (I’ve done it a few times; it takes longer than you think) and how it looks like that odd place where she met the Ninon person.  Still, I have already written “road sequences” for this story before… boring!  Done and done!

Saturday late morning, just before noon in fact, in the IV Room, having just finished the Batch, it hit me:  this is one of Director Barrett’s three chief underlings.  She would fly to El Paso to meet with the Mexican diplomats about the coming partition of New Mexico!  And the moment I saw her in a small jet, I knew what Ninon’s True Form was…

Into the night, out of the dark, take to the sky chasing the stars

All that we said, all that we are, waiting to fly, this is the start!

That then gave me the “machine dream” sequence I needed.  A quick stop at a bridge over the dry Rio Grande and an encounter with a Special Guest from “Cursed Hearts,” and our Deputy Director is off to the National Labs in Los Alamos to continue laying plots for the eventual termination of ExComm.

And, I just broke the 30k word barrier!  Woot.

Continue reading “El Paso del Norte”

The World Imitates my Stories, really

From the news, today.

From Chapter 13, page 207 of Cursed Hearts:

They walked quickly, generally to the southeast. Emma had told her new acquaintance that the Geisel Library was at the center of campus, so it was easy to find local food vendors set up around it all through the day. As Miss Barrett’s stomach continued to growl – embarrassing her for some reason – the sooner they got there, the better.

“…came here after getting my BS at Portland State.” Emma sighed. “The Breakup began just afterward. Most people left, but there was nowhere for me to go… so, like some friends of mine, we stuck it out here.”

“I do not understand how the world’s superpower could have been so stupid as to walk into that trap.”

“T… trap?” Taller, Emma worked to keep pace with the young woman. “But I thought just a coin-”

“Idiot.” Emma was learning quickly that her new acquaintance lacked manners. “Your President removed via extra-Constitutional means just as Russia, China, India roll out a new currency?” She stopped and turned so quickly, Emma almost ran into her.

“Look at you.” The scowl was there, but Emma hoped it was a spark of mirth she saw in those odd eyes. “You’re a walking cliché: blue jeans and blue eyes; blonde hair and an unnecessarily large chest! All the while knowing nothing about how this world really works! Bismarck was right!”

“Bi… Bismarck?” Maya shook her head and turned back around, looking at the Library.

“They should crucify this architect, too.”

Life Imitates My Art; again

From chapter six (beginning page 90) of Cursed Hearts.  Christopher, Cat, and Anton are finishing dinner at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego:

“Brother,” Chris ventured, liking the sound of it, “does not the sea look odd to you, this night?”

In Anton’s exhale before turning left to look, Chris guestimated their host’s level of drunkenness.

“Hmmm!” Anton narrowed his eyes. “For the security of the state, I shall investigate this!”

He stood, not at all unsteady, and began walking purposefully toward the beach. With a glance at one another, Chris and Cat did, too. They wound their way through the few outbuildings of the hotel, catching up with him just at the sand. Leaning on a lamp post, Anton shucked his shoes and peeled off his socks.

“Follow me!” He called.

They did similarly. Not knowing if Cat saw, Chris did note the driver about eight paces behind them. They trotted to catch up with Anton. The tide was in, so he was only a dozen yards ahead.

“What… what’s with the surf?” Cat asked.

Each small breaker that came in was foaming in an odd, almost electric blue. Lines of the same blue were flashing up and down the strand, as if parts of the sea were sending messages to itself.

“Amazing!” Cat breathed. “What’s going on? Anton! Wait!”

He was rolling up his slacks to his knees. Was he thinking of going out in that?!

“Bioluminescence,” Chris said.

“What?”

“This is a rare event: a type of algae-bloom that emits light.” He pointed right to where a wave seemed to crackle in with blue fire. “Wait for that to withdraw, then run and jump hard on that spot!”

“Jump…?”

“Now, Cat!”

With enough wine in her to follow anyone’s orders, she sprinted the fifteen feet then jumped into the air. Her feet came down hard onto the wet, compacted sand.

A bright pulse of light blue light surged up and down the beach.

“Oh my God!” Cat cried. “That was sooo cool!”

Bioluminescence in the sea off San Diego.  Who would write about such a thing?

MachCiv Dreams 1

Yeah, it’s not the best title, but it captures what these are:  micro (micro, tanjit! no 18k light novels!) stories from my world of Machine Civilization.  It keep me writing and sane, at least one of which is a good thing.

Below the fold is after “Cursed Hearts.”  A friend of Cat’s begins to get her life back together, just to see that interrupted.  Spoilers.

Continue reading “MachCiv Dreams 1”

Feed.Back

From a few in-person, including my wife, but mostly via email.  Why almost no one ever leaves comments here, I don’t know.

There was much unhappiness how I wrapped up Defiant Act 2.5:  at the pool with Joe’s diagnosis.  If I were to distill is all down, I guess “casually tossing out a main character!” would be the flak I caught.

Yeah.  I did.  Because this was never meant to be a coherent novel, but a nine-month long writing exercise, the break from Acts 2 and 3 was huge.  2.5 was meant to be a bridge; but, it seems that like the Lewis & Clarke, it was a bridge too far.  The anchor issue is that Joe MUST have cancer and go to Japan for treatment:  he’s on the boat back to Portland with Maya in “Cursed Hearts.”

Is it the hyper-sexualized environment of the pool, and the emotional whiplash after, when Nichole5 realizes her First Friend is sick?  A human girl would have no idea about his illness and banged him then and there.  Nichole5 chose to shatter the moment for everyone in face of what she sees as a medical emergency.

Perhaps I went too far, too fast.  I’ll give some thought as to how I might re-write this.  Suggestions welcome, as I see nothing, right now.

“Cursed Hearts” – published!

At long last, I am very pleased to announce the release of my fourth book – and third novel – of Machine Civilization:  “Cursed Hearts.”  The paperback is available via Amazon and Goodreads.

To make it easier for y’all to celebrate along with me, all three novels, in their ebook form, are available at Smashwords for only US$0.99 each! (note:  you might need to toggle Adult Content: On in the upper right to see CH)

Thanks for everyone’s support and encouragement!

Amazon link!

Goodreads link!

Smashwords link!

Smashwords_eBook

Pirate Twins, 5; End Act I

Europa’s appearance was originally in Part 4, but the break didn’t fit.  This installment is a little shorter, but my action sequences always are.  You’ll see more of that next week once ‘Cursed Hearts’ is commercially available.

Editing of Proof Copy this weekend.  Shall I come back to Logres & Europa?  Move onto something else?  I get many ‘Likes,’ but comments & quesions are very welcome, too!

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Continue reading “Pirate Twins, 5; End Act I”