Dreaming the Dreams of the Just

…or something.

Insomnia occasionally plagues me. Last night I lay awake until oh-dark-thirty, when my brother-in-law the lieutenant colonel says he gets up, and when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed about… Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. (If you have never read any of their books, you are in for a treat. Run, do not walk, to the nearest ebook seller of your choice and pick up Agent of Change and Fledgling. They’re free. Go ahead, I’ll be here when you get back. All done? Good! On then!)

The door to the Lee & Miller abode, which I know only from pictures they have posted, was open, so I walked in. My main interest, it seemed, was to see what hardware they use to write. Sharon’s computer, in my dream, possessed an ergonomic keyboard made of futuristic-looking plastic and (I somehow knew) light-weight titanium. Very cool.

Steve’s could only be described as Steampunk. That one held my attention, in the dream. It was a square of something that looked like brass, with 10 levers placed 5 and 5 on two adjoining edges, sticking out like inverted ant legs, arranged to fit the human hand. I knew, upon looking at them, that Steve had only to place his fingers and thumbs on the levers, and it would transmit whatever was in his mind to the paper.

In walked Sharon, as if it was perfectly normal to find me in her house, ogling her husband’s keyboard. I greeted her and explained why I was there, and she allowed as how many people found Steve’s keyboard fascinating.

Then, more’s the pity, I woke up.

Where Has She Been?

Ummm. It’s been two months since my last post, hasn’t it? [sheepish look]

The short answer: I’ve been rather snowed under with Life, Tolari Space, and Everything.

The rather longer answer sits on my hard drive (and backed up in the cloud) at 93,292 words. The Fall is in its final form (I hope) and my alpha reader has it. Depending on the feedback I get, I may need to write another scene, and I may need to move things around a bit in the first third of the novel (boy, do I ever not want to do that), but it’s basically done. It only needs polishing, and then I will submit it for editing.

This makes the third time I have rewritten the entire book. The first two rewrites were my own fault, but this third rewrite — is also my own fault, for doing the second rewrite after signing with Sky Warrior and before revising Daughters of Suralia. I will never, not ever, rewrite a book if I have any clue that the previous one in the series isn’t entirely settled. Ever. Again.

The Fall is Laura’s story, in the main. She returns to Parania and the Paran to live happily ever after, or so she thinks. The universe has other plans, and Laura has to fight to find her place, both in her new home and in the Paran’s heart. You’ll get to see interstellar trade relations, Tolari inter-provincial politics, and what can happen when a Tolari ruler loses sight of who he is.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you about that. For now.

It’s time to get cracking on Farryn’s War.

You’ve met Farryn. You just don’t know it yet.

SFR Brigade Presents: Daughters of Suralia

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http://sfrcontests.blogspot.com/

The SFR Brigade Presents is a weekly snippet blog hop. Click the pic above to check out what the other participating authors posted and find out more about their books!

This snippet is from the second edition of Daughters of Suralia (Book 2 of the Tales of Tolari Space). The award-winning first book in the series, The Maraan, is also available from Sky Warrior Books. 

     The letter came in the morning, enclosed in an
envelope of
rough paper, hand-folded, smelling of something like cinnamon and
tied with a strip
of cloth the same green as the Paran’s robe. A slender, willowy
woman in brown
handed it to Laura at the high table.

     Laura laid it on the table in front of her,
unopened, and
ran a finger along one edge. The envelope bore a subtle empathic
resonance,
like a vibration. It had exchanged hands before it reached her,
not many times,
but a few. The strongest resonance on the outside of the letter
matched the
woman who now walked away toward the tables of food near the
kitchens. The
inside—

     Marianne’s voice burst through her thoughts.
“Aren’t you
going to open it? It’s not every day you get an actual, physical
letter on any planet.”

     Laura looked up. Every eye at the table watched
her. Even
Cena and Storaas, who sat side-by-side next to Thela, had stopped
feeding each
other to stare.

     
“Um,” she said, which would disappoint her
long-ago
deportment tutor, but the woman had never covered Proper Behavior expected of a Widow upon receiving a
Letter from her
Lover during Breakfast
. She scooted her chair back. “I think
I’ll read this
in my quarters.”

More about Daughters of Suralia:

http://astore.amazon.com/skywarriorbooks-20/detail/B00JQUBW7A

Three women, two planets, and a whale.

For Marianne Woolsey, linguist and tutor, being empathically
bonded to the leader of the Tolari turns out to be a bed of roses – complete
with thorns. Especially thorns.
With diplomatic relations severed and humans kicked out of
Tolari space, the Earth Fleet ship Alexander
is gone … for now … but Earth Central Command hasn’t given up trying to get
Marianne back. As she struggles with surprises, nightmares, and a bond-partner
who can’t be tamed, she just wants to figure out where she fits in a society
that isn’t quite human.
Laura Howard, the Admiral’s widow, only desires to be left
in peace to gather the fragments of a shattered heart, but Central Command has
plans for her, too.

Meanwhile, the Sural’s apothecary is a serene and
gifted healer who knows what – and who – she wants. Circumstances have
conspired to deny her the man she’s always loved, but in the pursuit of his
heart, she has an unexpected ally – in the depths of Tolar’s oceans.

Cover by Laura Shinn

New and Improved, With More Space Opera!

Little did I know in May 2012, when I sat down to write about a little girl splashing her peds in a sparkling brook on another planet, that her father and the woman he loved would take over the story. Or that I would end up in April 2014 writing about interprovincial trade and internecine politics on said planet. I’ve never considered myself a political animal.

Really, I’m not.

The Fall is Laura Howard’s story, starting from the moment she leaves Suralia on her way back to Parania. This being fiction, however, a happily-ever-after is not a beginning; it’s an ending. You can’t make a story out of a lifetime of passionate nights followed by idyllic breakfasts and happy days, however interesting they might be. Therefore, I had to torture my characters with antagonists and trouble in paradise. Leaven with Tolari politics, add in the logical consequences of a certain Tolari ruler’s towering arrogance, and voila: Space Opera.

It’s not actually how I originally conceived the story. But the changes in Daughters were so far-reaching, the only way to keep the ending of The Fall was to change the beginning. I should be able to preserve the last chapters pretty much intact, while rewriting the beginning of the book almost from whole cloth. There wasn’t much in the first two chapters of the second draft that I could keep, given the massive changes in the ending of Daughters, so those are rewritten entire, and the third draft also now has a prologue, stolen from… elsewhere.

Today, I am attempting to thread in another political chapter near the beginning, and marveling at where the story has taken me. There is still the plot arc of Laura’s relationship with the Paran, and how that develops. But it’s woven into the overarching storyline of the planet and also what’s going on in human space, places I hadn’t thought to go, before. In the beginning, I never thought to leave Suralia; the idea of a planet was, at first, too big for me. Yet now I take my character across Tolar and into Parania, Monralar, and points north.

I’m still brooding on where to start and where to go with the political wrangling in the chapter currently under my microscope, and I may not begin the actual writing of it today. But — it’s in there. Soon.

The Daughters of Suralia Re-release

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JQUBW7A/

Some readers might be wondering why the new edition of Daughters of Suralia does not update their old one. The answer lies in the way books are assigned their ISBN/ASIN — one factor this number depends on is the publisher. Different publisher, different number. Different number, different book, as far as booksellers are concerned. No free update. There’s literally nothing that I, as the author, can do.

So why buy it again? Well, and this is the most important question.When I signed with Sky Warrior Books, they bought my backlist. They then had the right, and they exercised it, to ask me to revise my backlist books up to their standards. Truthfully, I was happy to do so. The Marann didn’t require a lot of revision, but Daughters of Suralia — that was another story. My editor commented that the book didn’t have a plot arc, which was true. It didn’t. After tossing a number of ideas at me, I realized what it needed to come up with one. Then began the work of stitching it in.

At times, it was like deja vu all over again — during the same period of time last year (January to March), I was working on the same issues with the same book the first time around. The changes were small, at first, but as I went through the story, the entire last quarter of the book changed and expanded. I closed some plot holes and picked up some loose ends. The novel grew from 74,000 words to 95,000. The lingering question of what Central Command will do next — that will be answered in future novels. Just so you know. <grin>

Meanwhile, do buy the 2nd edition of Daughters of Suralia. It’s a much stronger story now, and I am very happy with it. I hope you will be, too.

Monday, Monday

As those of you who know me on Facebook know, I love Monday. Today, my friend Sharon Lee asked her readers how the start of their week was going. Being as I’m a reader, I put chin in hand and thought about it. Being as I’m a writer, I decided to blog it, too.

I completed the major revisions on Daughters of Suralia yesterday. Last night, The Husband read the first six chapters and made notes, and I began the day by going through them, evaluating his suggestions and combing the manuscript for errors great and small. I moved a scene from one place to another, where I hope it will fit better. While I wait for him to read through more chapters to check for Continuity Errors and Other Such Things, I found time on my hands. Actual time. After doing very little else since Jan 21st than sit at my computer and stare at a manuscript, you could color me Restless.

What did I do with the time, you ask? Well.

I played a little Venice Mystery on my smartphone, on Hard.

I read a little of Dragon’s Tongue, by fellow Sky Warrior author Laura J. Underwood.

I stared at The Peshawar Lancers, by S.M. Stirling, of which I have read the first chapter, but I did not pick it up. Perhaps I will later this evening.

I completed a few quests in Free Realms, which game is due to be shut down in 3 weeks, more’s the pity. A very simple game, designed for children, but I enjoy it and have played it off and on since beta, as I had sprung for a lifetime membership.

I had my usual lunch of fruit and yogurt with protein powder, and a supper of a half-plate of PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef, hold the onions, with white rice.

The Husband is now reading a few more chapters of Daughters, which I believe I shall not touch again until tomorrow morning.

I’m feeling quite peaceful, at the moment.

Taking a Spork to Suralia

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Five chapters left to edit. I’m down to the very hardest part.

This time last year, I was struggling with the first edition of Daughters of Suralia. Talking it over with The Husband, bouncing ideas off friends, taking my husband’s old college roomie out to lunch to pick his brain because he was (and still is) a political science geek. Now, I’m working over pretty much the same material I overhauled then.

It’s like deja vu all over again.

Today, I’m working on chapter 20, which used to be chapter 19. The big changes began to show in chapter 17, which I had to split in half because it grew that much. I may or may not need to add/split more chapters to do what I have in mind. It’s hard to tell until I get there. This current chapter is comparatively short, so the material I need to add won’t necessitate splitting it into two.

It’s not coming easy though. I’ve got that “digging to China with a spork” feeling. Or maybe it’s more trying to reach Suralia with a spork, though the idea of digging–or rather, flying–through more than 146 trillion miles boggles the mind. And you thought it was a long walk to the corner grocery (thank you, Douglas Adams).

I’d best get back to work.

The Writing Process

Australian science fiction writer AC Flory recently tagged me in a blog chain focusing on how writers write. Meeks, as her friends affectionately call her, is writing a series of books from an alien point of view, the first of which, Vokhtah, is out in e-book format. She has also collected her short-short stories into The Vintage Egg. You can find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

So what about the writing process? Well, tagged authors are asked to answer 4 questions about their writing. Here are the questions, along with my answers: 

1) What am I working on?

That requires a two-part answer.

First, my current editing project is re-editing Daughters of Suralia for re-release by Sky Warrior Books. When I did the same for the re-release of The Marann, I didn’t do much more than chop off the first chapter, tighten up the writing, and add a few new scenes. This time around, my editor is asking for plot changes, because Daughters doesn’t have a single, overarching plot. I knew that going into this, but I couldn’t see a way to construct one from the threads of the current story. My editor made some fantastic suggestions that gelled everything together. I’m hoping what I’ve come up with will make it a much stronger story, but it does make major changes to the plot in the last quarter of the book. I hope my readers will bear with me on this one — I’m injecting significantly more space opera into the plot.

Second, my current writing project is Farryn’s War, which isn’t getting much love at the moment because of the Daughters deadline, but it’s never far from my mind. This is book 4 in the Tales of Tolari Space, and it’s not light and fluffy. We head into human space for this one, and with Earth’s oppressive government, you know that can’t be good. The going gets dark and gritty; I’m trying for SF romance noir.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
 I’d venture to say the worldbuilding I do. There’s SF romance as a subgenre of romance, and that’s distinct from SF romance as a subgenre of science fiction. I’m trying to write the latter. You could also call it space opera, or space opera romance, but what distinguishes it is the worldbuilding. I’m hoping to live up to the standard set by the likes of Bujold or Lee & Miller. 

3) Why do I write what I do?
The off-the-cuff answer to this is, Because I can’t stop. Seriously, though, if you mean, Why do I write SF romance, it’s probably because I spent my teen years reading every bit of science fiction I could find while also sneaking into my mother’s Harlequin romances. The two seem to be having love-children together deep in my subconscious.

Besides, making up my own world is a lot more fun than writing stories set in the real one, and fantasy as an alternative setting doesn’t come naturally to me. Astronomy began to fascinate me in second grade, when my mother bought a coffee table book with a stunning full-color image of the Orion Nebula on the cover; deep space is where my heart is. And I can pull elements from history, mix them up with speculative elements, and come up with the 26th century aristocracy’s obsession with all things Regency. It’s fun!

4) How does my writing process work?
I wrote The Marann entirely seat-of-the-pants. It actually began life as a story about Kyza, but the relationship between the Sural and Marianne soon took over. Daughters of Suralia, too, was a seat-of-the-pants project.

The Fall (book 3 — under contract, not yet published) started out seat-of-the-pants and stuttered. I did a silly thing and skipped over the middle because I had trouble with it. When I came back to it, I had to write out an outline of the plot as it stood, and worked in an outline of the middle. Then I found it necessary to rewrite the second half of the novel due to changes I made in that middle… and then I had to rewrite the first half due to changes I made in the second half… It’s tucked away right now, and I refuse to look at it until I’m done re-editing Daughters.

Book 4, Farryn’s War, is such a departure from the first 3 books, or anything else I’ve ever done for that matter, that it required detailed plotting before I attempted to write certain parts of the story. The final chapter is still a moving target — I don’t plot everything or I’ll lose interest in writing it — but I had to plot out the capers first.

Capers? Oh my, yes. What capers? Spoilers!