Tag Archives: Smuggler’s Pursuit

On a New Manuscript High

I’ve just finished my first read-through of Denna Holm’s Soul of a Warrior, and I’m working on the first round of editing. I have to say that Ms. Holm has done an excellent job with the story. No, no spoilers, I promise, I’m not that cruel. However, I will say that it’s quite a good speculative fiction romance and Ms. Holm is a talented writer. I’m also working on the  temporarily named Pet Shop for another author who expects to use a yet-to-be selected pen name. Being busy makes me happy, so I’m quite delighted with myself.

I also just finished having a good time with Wendy S. Russo’s author interview for her January Black release blog tour. I had actually forgotten how much fun interviews can be. I’ll definitely be doing more of them; I’ve actually got one scheduled for April 7th with Shawna Romkey for her Speak of the Devil release blog tour. I’ll have to see if I can do more, though. No sense not doing something I find enjoyable, right? I’ll have to pester author friends – though I can’t imagine very much pestering will be required. All publicity is good publicity, right?

On the writing front –

I’m still working on Smuggler’s Pursuit plotting. I’ve got everything down to brass tacks except for the last… call it two chapters. I may just start writing already and let the denouement happen as it most naturally ‘wants’ to. I find that I don’t care to do that, though. I really enjoyed writing Smuggler’s Justice knowing most of what would need to happen on the way to getting the ending to fall together as it should.

On the home front –

Himself has had his beard officially trimmed before heading back to work after the Winter break over at the college. Little Man has decided that night is day and vice versa just when I have Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights off and could sleep at night. Yeah. That went well. Of course, I’m officially The Meanest Mommy Ever because I gave him a shower. I swear, you’d think he was auditioning for the role of the Wicked Witch of the West the way he squalls over getting (gasp) water put on him, then I added insult to injury by adding (oh the shuddering horror) soap, then I compounded it all by putting more water on him! Yes, there is much bathing melodrama with Little Man. Teenager is still single…  I will go all Yenta on him if he doesn’t find himself a girlfriend soon. Seriously.

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Interesting Times

Have you ever felt like the universe just said ‘well, we can’t have that‘ to every time you ever whined about being bored all at once?

I’ve gotten my impatient and acquisitive little mitts on at least two, possibly three, new editing projects. First is Denna Holm’s Soul of a Warrior, another author’s Pet Shop (though right now that author is thinking about the title and whether or not to use a pen name, so I’m not going to step on that), and potentially another piece from an author referred to me by one of “my” authors, Rusty Fischer. Yes, I’m a mom – you’re always going to be my baby, and if you’re “my” author you’re always going to be one of “my” authors, at least as far as I’m concerned. I value relationships, and I do like to form strong relationships with “my” authors. You would think they were my children for all the buttons-popping pride I have in their book releases.

I am a little puzzled by being asked to provide examples of content editing – what do I provide? After all, the works I’ve edited aren’t mine to share with potential clients. I can cite examples in their published books, but it would be quite rude to expect a client to purchase a book (even a phenomenal book), and then really only be able to say, ‘it used to be this way, I suggested these changes.’ I think what I’ll wind up doing to avoid sharing work that isn’t mine is ask “my” authors if it’s all right for this potential client to ask them what they thought of my editing process and/or abilities. If they choose to cite examples of changes I’ve suggested that they felt were helpful that’s one thing; I just don’t feel comfortable revealing any part of their work without permission. 

On top of that, I have The Job; twelve-hour 9pm to 9am shifts two or three days on, two or three days off, depending on where in the two-week cycle I am. Plus I’m working on Smuggler’s Pursuit, and I’ve finally got Beta readers for Smuggler’s Justice – so I’m writing one and ‘living’ the last one at the same time through the eyes of my Beta readers. It has been fun to see them discovering the world I wrote, and I’m really interested to find how that world is striking them as readers. I’ve gotten some great suggestions already, and those suggestions are helping to improve my approach to Smuggler’s Pursuit as well, I think.

And the home front is always interesting as well. Little Man’s IEP was Tuesday, I had a meeting on Thursday, and Himself had a doctor’s appointment on Friday – at which I gleefully tattled on him to his doctor, since he didn’t tell the doctor that his blood pressure wasn’t actually under control, not such a good thing considering he had a nasty heart attack 10 months ago. Teenager broke up with his girlfriend, so he’s moping around the house or hanging out with the rowdy friends she didn’t approve of. *eye roll* Personally, I rather enjoyed the relative peace and quiet. I suppose I’ll have to hope that he finds a new disapproving girlfriend.

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Dreaming Up a Series

I was just chatting back and forth with Shawna Romkey, author of Speak of the Devil, which I edited for her and Crescent Moon Press. Since Speak of the Devil is the first book in a planned trilogy, she’s found herself needing a name for the whole series.

This, of course, led me to the realization that while I have titles for several of the books in my series I don’t know how long the series will be, and I don’t have a name for it! As far as I’m concerned I’ve got enough material to compete for length with Piers Anthony’s extremely long-running Xanth series, so that’s a thorny problem all by itself. Added to that is the problem of a series title. I could just call it Smuggler’s Universe, a la Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden Universe, or Smuggler’s Saga a la Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, but that seems a bit… done. While either would work with the titles of the books, I’d really prefer not to be quite so derivative. I’m much more seriously considering Smuggler’s Journey, since the overall story arc fits that much more neatly and I’m not likely to be writing short stories about other places and people in the story universe like Lee & Miller or McMaster-Bujold have done. I have to admit that when I write a story, short pretty much never describes it. Heck, when I write anything short never describes it.

So far the story lines for Smuggler’s Pursuit, Smuggler’s ‘Flu, and Smuggler’s Necessity, with some thought put towards Smuggler’s Gamble, Smuggler’s Pardon, and Smuggler’s WarSmuggler’s Justice is done, so that’s seven already, and definitely in need of a series title. Of them, Smuggler’s Pursuit and Smuggler’s ‘Flu are best developed, particularly since I’ve spent the last 5 years or so messing around with Smuggler’s ‘Flu before I realized that Smuggler’s Justice and Smuggler’s Pursuit were necessary in order to refrain from confusing the reader with an annoying lack of background.

The series is bringing itself to life in my dreams. I was reading a blog kindly recommended by Seumas Gallacher in his ongoing Blog Scratcher’s Union efforts ( #TBSU – yes, there’s even a hashtag!). The fellow’s name is Donovan and in his blog post titled ‘Casting the novel…’ he posts pictures of actors and actresses who come closest to the characters he envisions for his novel. This gave me the fun idea of doing the same so that perhaps everyone else can see what I’m thinking when I’m talking about my characters, particularly when I’m talking about them as if they’re real people.

So, for Sophocles I’m thinking David Faustino – not prettied up, though, scruffy like this picture I grabbed from Wikipedia, taken by Gage Skidmore:

David Faustino by Gage Skidmore

David Faustino by Gage Skidmore

Just the right age to show a little life battering, right hair color, right blend of homely to be handsome (I can’t stand a ‘pretty’ man – a man should look like a man, not a woman with potential for growing a beard!), and fit enough to withstand the rigors of being Sophocles. He’s good at playing the smartass little jerk, which is the front that Sophocles puts out much of the time when he’s not being dead-serious and competent. Personally, I think Mr. Faustino could manage the role admirably.

For Magdalene May, I propose Zooey Deschanel:

Zooey Deschanel 07-07-2009Zooey Deschanel 2009-07-07

I think that Miss Deschanel is good at playing the innocent, but has enough tartness and spunk about it to be a convincing Maggie. The only problem I have with the young lady is that I don’t know how convincing she’d be at playing a girl so scary-smart that the government would Imprint her mind and personality into crystal, then kill her so as to not have to deal with the costs of upkeep. Yeah, the government that produced the partnership between Sophocles and Maggie was pretty damned evil. I think her appearance of shining innocence would point that out without having to do too much extra explaining about how it’s just plain not okay to kill people off for governmental convenience.

For Melia, on the other hand, I’m thinking Gwendoline Christie:

Gwendoline Christie

Gwendoline Christie

Because she can look like a lawyer, but she can also look like a complete badass:

Gwendoline Christie in Game of Thrones

Gwendoline Christie in Game of Thrones

As amply demonstrated by her acting in Game of Thrones. Naturally, something much different would need to be done with her hair, since Melia has a thick braid of dark auburn hair, eventually with the trinkets won in battle woven into it in the style of an Amazon Warrior. She’s an inch shorter than Melia should be, but David Faustino’s an inch shorter than Sophocles should be, so the height difference is preserved.

I’m considering Dot Jones for Barbara, Kim Blacklock for Hippolyta (even if she would have to play much older than she actually is), Suzie Plakson for Susan, Lindsay Hayward for Sonya (again, the hair issue), Jodie Kidd ( with a lot of padding, possibly even a ‘fat suit’) for Carrie Filbert…  The casting for the Amazon women from Smuggler’s Justice is mostly taken from the IMDb Tallest Actresses listing since they’re all very tall women.

For Crandal? How do you cast a lizardman when you know that whoever the actor is will be covered in some serious makeup? I want someone tall and brawny, but excruciatingly dignified and noble-looking in a sort of Norman Invasion kind of way. At this point Dolph Lundgren is looking like the most likely candidate:

Actor Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren

He isn’t really 100% ideal, he’s a bit too old to carry off the idealism convincingly, but he’s got the right look to carry off Crandal’s stiff almost-medieval formality, and he might be about right. I like Brad Garrett’s voice, but he’s too typecast as a comedic actor playing deadpan to pull off a role where the deadpan is “for real” rather than “straight man” to a more hyperactive “funny man”.  I’m thinking Crandal should remain quite human-like, rather than having some sort of alligator face, but not a human with bad tattoos like that Erik Sprague fellow.

There you have it, that’s the cast of characters that bicker and laugh and carry on all through my dreams. Now, for those of you familiar with my five years of prodding Smuggler’s ‘Flu,  you may be familiar with Calliope as well. For her, unfortunately, I haven’t had much success in finding an actress’s picture (and career/talent) that matches. I have yet to find someone with Marilyn Monroe’s general “look” (and curviness – what the hell is wrong with Hollywood that actual curves puts those poor girls on the ‘fat actress’ list? What the hell is sexy about looking at someone else’s skeleton through their skin?) and Eartha Kitt’s glorious purring voice and talent for being just plain evil – at least on the surface. Add to that the problem that she has to be a Pocket Aphrodite (little bit of a thing height-wise), and you’ll see my problem!

On the editing front –

I’ll be editing a new book for Crescent Moon Press – Soul of a Warrior by Denna Holm. I’m looking forward to getting the manuscript via email soon.

 

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Courtship in the Swamp

So what, exactly, gave our Crandal the idea that the neighboring lord’s daughter would want to marry him? Was it merely that he and the girl’s father were on the same side in the civil war and they were neighbors, in a display of lordly oblivion to the actual wishes of the young woman in question? Did she lead him on, flirting with the neighbor boy for practice while waiting for bigger fish to fry? Would she have been surprised, even horrified, that Crandal had the expectation that she would marry him, or would she have known all about it and viewed it with amusement and disdain?

Since Sashira needs to be an incredibly horrible and heartless individual to support plot points, I’m leaning towards making her a heartless flirt with a distinctly mercenary bent. How obvious should it be to others? How oblivious should Crandal be? I think he should be completely oblivious and in full-on courtly love with the girl. It’s just a nastier thing to do to the poor boy. He’s going to be having an irredeemably awful time of it in Smuggler’s Pursuit, though, so why not throw something else at him?

I sometimes think that half of writing this novel is finding nasty things to do to already-benighted characters. The charm of that is in allowing my overactive and evil imagination to run wild. It’s a far safer occupation for that particular beast than setting it free in public, of course, a service for which all the world should likely thank fiction most heartily.

Speaking of the sort of things my diseased imagination has in store for these characters, how crazy will the convoluted form of feudalism on this swampy world make our Melia? Worse, she’s an Amazon, how will she react to women being even potentially traded around like currency in some sort of land-grabbing board game? What reaction will she have to the concept of droit de seigneur? Just in being from Amazon the concept of ‘women’s liberation’ won’t have crossed her mind any more than an American middle-class white man from 1930 would grasp the concept of ‘men’s liberation’ that is just beginning to really take root on Amazon. She would certainly have roughly the same reaction as any American to feudalism, though I do note that some of my fellow Americans don’t seem to have nearly that level of psychic dissonance with other versions of totalitarianism, even though in practical application those forms of totalitarianism have certainly led to essential serfdom for the largest part of the population so afflicted.

Sophocles, and of course Maggie, having had first-hand experience with the American government as a totalitarian system as well as with many and varied other forms of totalitarianism in their long lives won’t be particularly all that shocked by feudalism. While it’s somewhat Trekkie and Whovian of me, they may actually be more offended by arms dealers interfering with the development of the society on its own.

Naturally, Sophocles hates the idea of the serfs being defenseless against the depredations of the nobility, but Melia may not be as horrified since it is only in the last hundred years on Amazon that people other than the Warrior Caste were allowed to own weaponry, as the Warrior Caste served as both army and police force until the Annexation. Having this to look back on in her own world’s history, particularly the essential serfdom – though not direct connection to any one Warrior – of large swaths of her own world’s population, would she disapprove of much about feudalism other than the actual ownership of the serfs and the abuses directed toward women? After all, her grandmother, aunt, and cousin are Warrior Caste and she could have been herself if she’d cared to take that path. I think, given Melia’s choice to refuse the honor, that she would disapprove of the feudal system setting up the nobility as protectors of the serfs even in ideal conditions.

How will Melia react to Crandal’s courtship of Sashira? How patient will she be with his reactions once the full-scale of his humiliation is revealed to him? Melia is a bluff and hearty individual with little time for – or inclination toward – sentimentality. She has a driving urge towards justice, of course, but not out of a sentimental sense of what is ‘fair’ by any means. In practical terms, she has a very set idea of the rights of human beings (and, with a nod to our Maggie, the rights of ‘derivative beings’), and will fiercely defend those rights, but she doesn’t much care for touchy-feely ‘well it’s only fair’. She firmly believes in equality under the law rather than preferential treatment under the law. Feudalism is going to tick her off for that alone, but she certainly has no time for Crandal’s moaning that the girl he’s formed a tendre for doesn’t love him back, nor for his concepts of courtly love. I imagine her reaction to his fumbling attempts to compose a ballad to his lost lady to be more Simon Cowell than second-grade music teacher.

On the home front –

Little Man goes back to school today, and while he was deeply displeased with the idea of waking up at the normal time and getting dressed in school clothes instead of play clothes (easily distinguishable by the presence of ankle-foot orthotics), he does seem to be pleased at the prospect of going to see his friends, particularly since Wednesday is ‘farm day’. Nearly anything can be made palatable by a visit with bunnies and llamas and cows (oh my!).

Teenager actually did his chores. I haven’t noticed any news flashes claiming that hell has actually frozen over.

Himself is still on vacation, so he’ll be at loose ends today without Little Man to play with. I’m guessing he’ll have a nice day watching the Roku – and be bored out of his mind by the time the afternoon rolls around, if not before.

As for me, two days of work coming right up, so I’m hoping for better weather than is currently being predicted!

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DNA and Trickle Down Economics

I’ve been thinking about the dynamics of self-modification, DNA, and genetic trickle down economics. We live in a society that encourages modification of one’s self. If those modifications were made on the genetic level, and those modifications happened to be dominant, what would the population look like in 100 years? 500? 1,000? For the sake of Smuggler’s Pursuit I’m taking a look at that. Granted that the world in question is hot and  swampy with large, nasty predators, what kind of modifications would be most popular in the wealthy segments of the population that would be able to afford to have them done?

Yes, I’m headed off in the lizard man direction. Mammalian apex predator-based modifications would still have fur and nasty dampness to cope with, and exoskeletons are impractical on a wet world.  On this world, considering the feudal system of government, it’s quite likely that only the Lords and their families would be able to afford to be directly modified, so the nobility would tend to be most reptilian, perhaps even to the extreme degrees that I’m positing for the civil war. However, if those modifications are genetic and dominant, we would run into the spread of those modifications through the serf population by means of lordly indiscretions, droit de seigneur, and youngest sons marrying higher-ranking serfs or skilled laborers in guilds.

Naturally, the nobility would keep the much more extreme levels of the modifications, but the genes would spread, particularly over an extended length of time on an isolated colony world. In some demesnes the serfs would be much closer to ‘pure’ unadulterated human, if the lords were particularly moral about taking advantage of them for many generations, in other demesnes the serfs might be nearly identical to the nobility in cases where the nobility’s depredations were pervasive for many generations.

Throwing Melia and Sophocles – 100% pure human Amazon and 100% pure antique human stock with a huge dash of metal enhancements – into this scaly society should prove interesting. Since Amazons are violently opposed to any enhancements or modifications whatsoever, what will Melia think of the relentless ‘self-improvement’ of the nobility and its spread to the serfs? What will Sophocles think of serfs at all, considering his views on the evils of government with too much power over the populace?

In other news –

I have at least one more Beta reader; thank God for volunteers! I may have another, but I haven’t heard back yet. I’m honestly surprised by the difficulty I’ve had in finding Beta readers. I’ve immersed myself in reading science fiction and fantasy since I was 7 or so and discovered J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov, so I’m pretty firmly attached to speculative fiction, which may explain why it never occurred to me that so many people don’t like the kind of fiction I like.  I really want informative reactions, though, so I’ll keep trying!

On the home front –

Little man pulled out another tooth, but he wasn’t upset about it this time. Now, Himself freaked out when Little Man was giggling happily while spitting out blood, but at least it wasn’t the huge trauma the last three teeth to come out were. We still haven’t found the tooth, though!

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Feudalism and a Space Race

I’m working on concepts for the setting for Smuggler’s Pursuit and mulling over the interaction of a Feudalistic society with space travel and trade. It seems to me that it could work quite well, particularly if you look at how modern totalitarian regimes manage.  It would work very well indeed for a Lord with a space station – no run-away serf problem at all.  I’m envisioning the Lords in rural areas using serfs traditionally as farm labor, but those in urban and manufacturing areas using them as assembly line workers, construction workers, and so forth. The usual little wars between Lords would still work even in the cities, as gang warfare if nothing else. That said, I’m wondering if my nasty civil war is between the Lords and the serfs or if I’m going to stick with the genocidal war I had been planning.

I’ll need to make a decision on that fairly soon, as Melia and Sophocles are walking into the middle of this civil war on page one. I’m leaning towards genocidal Lord vs. Lord, since both sides are going to need comparable firepower for several plot points to work correctly. Melia really needs to be just as concerned about one side wanting her dead as she is about the other side wanting her dead. If it’s serfs vs. Lords, she would be considerably less likely to take the rebellious serfs as a serious threat.

I think real feudalism will give Crandal the arrogance, interest in apparently frivolous pursuits, and the lack of experience in some ‘normal’ things that he needs as a character as well. I’m envisioning him as a young Viscount trying  to marry the very pretty daughter of a neighboring Marquess. This helps to shape her character as well, as she’s quite vain and feels that she can make a much better match. Her father is a land-grabber, so marrying a daughter off to a lower-ranking neighbor might serve his purposes.

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And they call it…

I’ve got ‘Bella Notte running through my head and I’m muttering to myself about the title of book #2 in the series. The first, of course, was Smuggler’s Justice. Should the second be Smuggler’s Capture or Smuggler’s Pursuit? I’m leaning towards the latter, since it focuses more on the pursuit of Melia’s quarry. The former could be seen as misleading the reader. I don’t know about you, but as a reader I get pretty peeved with writers who give books in a series titles that sound like spoilers and then go in an entirely different direction from that hinted at in the title.

I’m still hunting for Beta readers for Smuggler’s Justice, so even that isn’t as complete as I would like. I also need to do further research into agents and publishers, particularly with a view towards a publisher who would be interested in a science fiction series rather than a one-off. At this point I can’t see an end-point for the series, so I don’t know how long it’s going to be. So far I’ve got six books rough-plotted and material enough for at least three more after that.

I’ve turned on my Spotify for tonight’s writing. I believe I like Spotify better than I like Pandora because I don’t get “stuck” listening to songs that I don’t like. On the other hand, Pandora gives me a new song or two to throw on my Spotify playlist. Of course, my writing playlist – Writing – is already a day’s worth of music, so I’m in no danger of running out. I may throw some more mellow music at it tonight, though, since I’m in the mood for a more Dean Martin / Perry Como / Frank Sinatra vibe. Probably not great for writing dystopian science fiction with a space opera bent, but there you have it. I could just listen to my Mellow playlist, but I do want to get some writing done tonight.

Editing – sadly, at least for me, I’m all done with editing January Black. I enjoyed working with Wendy S. Russo and I’m really going to miss her characters. I know, as an editor I need to learn to distance myself more so I don’t get so sad when I’m done with a book! On the other hand, it’s probably a good sign for the book’s prospects if I do get a book hangover rather than being heartily sick of the characters by the third – or fifth, or fifteenth! – read-through. I’ll probably wind up e-mailing Marlene at Crescent Moon Press for another book to edit before dawn, but that’s just because I don’t cope well with no work to do.

On the home front –

The teenager is at loose ends, since the girlfriend is heading off for an out-of-state visit with family… I think. I get a lot of information second-hand around here; it’s one of the hazards of sleeping during the day and working nights. I still haven’t heard one way or the other if the girlfriend plotzed over the pendant and chain.

Little Man is quite delighted with himself, his bucket of plastic horses, and his twinkle lights. He’s added his dozen or so new horses to his plastic and resin menagerie of toy animals, introducing them to the rest with a lot of ‘horse noises’, which are apparently going to be a somewhat drier version of a raspberry. He loves farm things. We had a short chat via Facebook’s chat feature with his very best friend, who goes to the farm with him on Wednesdays. He’s missing her and his weekly visit with the Angora bunnies something fierce!

Himself would be enjoying his vacation more if Little Man would sleep past 3:30 a.m.

As for me – I had a sad spell. For just a moment, that moment between sleeping and waking, I could almost believe that the last 5 years and 5 days was a terrible dream and the voices I could hear of a gaggle of little girls were my little girls. I try to push all that emotion off and ignore it as much as I possibly can, but I did wind up having a crying jag. Thankfully, most of the time I don’t have a sonic assault creep up on me when I’m vulnerable so I can keep it under control and soldier on. On the up side, the neighbor’s daughters and their friends seemed to be having a good time selling hot cocoa despite what is shaping up to be another miserably cold evening. It was good to see their happy little faces and get Himself some fairly watery warm cocoa – it definitely wasn’t hot cocoa anymore by the time I got it back across the street, not in this weather!

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