Not Gone

The past few months have been crazy in a number of areas. Writing has suffered unfortunately. here’s basically a summation of what’s been happening.

At the end of May I moved myself and the Squire from our old residence into the domicile of my fiancee. We have settled in nicely and are enjoying the quieter tempo of small town living.

I have returned to work on a part time basis which has done wonders for my morale.

I was involved in a custody court case and finally have that resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Hopefully that won’t need to be reopened for a few years if at all.

As well, I finally got the response from my short stories I wrote in January and February. Looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me in that regard. I have a lot of issues that need to be fixed with my writing.

Finally, I am writing this on my phone because the lack of internet, or should I say reasonably priced internet, isn’t available. That situation may change in the near future. I will be checking in more frequently as I am able.

Back to the grind and back into the dark.

Advertisements

The Lost Story

It’s gone, and probably will never be re-written or dragged out from the depths of my memory. A story I wrote years ago and in changing computers, floods, and other calamities it’s gone. Mind you, I do remember enough of it to resurrect it if needed. That’s not my focus currently and if needed it may return like a phoenix.

It began about eighteen years ago. Had a dream where a halfling was arguing with a bard and he was extolling his father’s virtues to her. I won’t go into details about that argument, let’s just say it stuck with me for a long while.

Finally I sat down at a keyboard and started writing. Not about the halfing, but about the bard and a warrior. I slaved over it and worked at it until it was done. Went back and edited for spelling and other formatting and figured it was done.

At the time I was seeing an English major and talked her into editing and reviewing my story. Bad mistake on all levels. She trashed it and told me that she had to stop marking it up because it was so bad and she didn’t know where to start or end. It didn’t help that I had referred to it as my “baby” and she understood what she was doing. She was very forthright and honest and I took it to heart. Partially.

You see, I had rubbed in my face all the mistakes I had made. I didn’t hate her for that, I took it as a learning experience. I put that manuscript aside and started looking at improving the story by exploring other aspects of the world I was trying to create.

The halfling became a northern barbarian, the bard was doing her own thing, and the old warrior? Well I know what he was looking for and I know what the whole purpose of his new quest was for. I had to stop writing that story for other reasons.

You see, I got part way through the barbarians introduction when I realized something. I was letting some of my biases get in the way of the story. Certain institutions weren’t even covered with a good coating of a veneer and I sat back and looked at what I was doing. I couldn’t with good conscience go on with that story at that time.

The purpose of writing is to tell a good story and not preach at your audience. I found that I was preaching and wasn’t ready to tell that story with the proper skill and art that it needed. The program was closed and the file saved only to disappear in the electronic ether never to be seen again.

So here I sit, mourning a lost story. One day, when I get everything else back under control it will rise up and I will finally do it the justice it deserves. The Dragon’s Teeth are waiting across the far deserts for those who dare, and need to, scale it’s deadly peaks….

On Research

Things are quiet today. Didn’t sleep well last night due to a variety of reasons. The Squire not being one of them thank goodness. He’s at his mom’s for the weekend. I had planned on doing writing and have done my weekly vignette at According to Hoyt finally. Past few weeks have been hectic so I have skipped them. So with lack of sleep and feeling a little listless I decided to do some research for my current work in progress. No, not that little snippet I posted a few weeks ago, for the current novel I am working on.

You see, I have taken a premise and gone running with it. Leave it aside for the moment. Near future present day, no big tech type stuff going on. I had thought I was finished it last year and started book two. Realized that it was the wrong book, labeled it number three and THEN started book two. Things were going great got about 30,000 words into it when I realized that I had some HUGE plot holes in book one. So, saved, closed and pulled up book one to go back over it.

I ripped out about seven thousand words that didn’t feel right. No worries, saved them for something else later. After I rework that short story or novella, depending on how much working needs to be done with it I may release it as a tease or something else. I re-examined my assumptions and started writing more words to fill in the holes.

This is about research again right? Yeah, that’s right finding the information you need in order not to trip up your readers. In this case I had to go read a few government documents. The Emergency Measures Act (Canadian law on what the federal government can and can not do from public welfare to actual declaration of war). Long boring reading for most part, a little back tracking and checking other acts referenced in the EMA. So why do I need it? Well, there used to be a government document called the “War Measures” Act, last used in the 1970’s during the FLQ crisis in Quebec. It was finally updated and brought into alignment with the Canadian Charter of Rights. Big deal actually. Stipulates what the government can and can’t do for how long. Reason why I had to look this up was because I am a bit of a fossil and only remembered it from history as the “War Measures Act”. Of course the new Act can into effect after I had almost graduated high school.

Heavy reading and important reading. How much will I use in my current work? That depends on numerous factors. Not much honestly, and only in passing here and there probably. The big important deal is knowing how the government is going to act and react, when it will, how it will escalate, and so on. Reasoning is that it has a lot of powers in what it can do to keep things moving. How effective would it be in practice? Well it depends on numerous factors.

So, research done and I have to rip more words out and get more writing done. After that maybe I will look up something easier like how to build a solar oven and bake beans off the grid.

A Little Pest Control Snippet

A couple weeks ago I did a vignette for a Sunday challenge at According to Hoyt blog. Great practice and sometimes it lets me work out scenes. Unfortunately, the vignette I did kind of spawned. It’s still a work in progress and needs a lot of tidying up as I pants my way towards the end. So here’s a bit of a teaser of the current first third. I will hopefully figure out the ending in the following week as I deal with Squire stuff and other real life things that need taking care of. Enjoy.

A Little Pest Control

“Oh look at the cute kitty. Chris, you didn’t tell me that pets were allowed here. If I had known that….”

Athari opened one eye lazily looking at the young human female and snorted, “I’m not a pet sir.” He deliberately got the gender wrong just because he could. “I am just relaxing awaiting my host to return.”

The female started turning red, either in embarrassment or anger. The spluttering could have been either. “Chris, that cat talked and insulted me! Are you going to do anything about it?” Definitely anger.

The human male tried to hide his smile, “Yes dear, I am going to apologize to the Methorian and then we are leaving.”

The male approached Athari who was sitting up on the cushion in the alcove. He held his hands up in the proper Methorian position of peace and lowered his head. “My apologies for the accidental insult, may your hunts be fruitful and please allow us to leave in peace.”

Athari cocked his head curiously, aside from using human language the forms were mostly correct. At least as correct as one without a tail could manage. He stood from the cushion and restrained the need to stretch. He reached out his hands over the humans and snarled in the proper form, “Apologies accepted, you may leave in peace and may your hunts be blessed in turn.”

The human nodded once and took a step back before turning to the woman and grabbing her by the arm and guiding her away from the Methorian. Athari waited until they were out of sight before stretching sinuously. Proper protocols always trumped ones needs unfortunately. If he had stretched before accepting the apology that would have been far too insulting. Especially when the human male tried to approach him as an equal. Of course they never could be equals. Too much separated them for that to ever happen. At the best their species and his managed to work together without too much bloodshed.

He sat back on the cushion, all thoughts of napping fled. He mentally checked his time chip and twitched his whiskers in annoyance. His host was late and there had been no communication to inform him if or when he would be showing up now. Blasted hairless monkeys, always saying one thing and doing another. Patience was something he had to relearn apparently. Very well, he was where he was supposed to be so he would wait.

It was a few hours later after his meeting with his host that he ran across the Chris human again. He was sitting in the local station bar slurping a drink from his saucer when his solitude was interrupted. Athari looked up and tried not to snarl at being interrupted. The human male was looking appropriately apologetic though so he didn’t challenge him right off the tail tip.

“Apologies, I was directed to find you,” the human started speaking.

With a wave of his hand paw Athari silenced him and put down his saucer, “I take it you were sent here by my host?” Chris nodded. “And for what purpose may I enquire that he selected you?”

Chris looked a little nervous, “I am supposed to be a liaison while you are working off your debt sir. I am one of the station anthropologists and working on my internship while here.”

Athari paused and examined the young man in front of him. Slim, reddish tints to his head hair. Facial skin that looked like it had been depiliated permanently. He sniffed slightly trying to pick up his scent over the aromatic crowd already in the bar and just got a hint of soap or cleanser. He shrugged as a human would, a bad habit he had picked up over the years.

“Well, I guess it could be worse. At least you have studied something of my people and culture. Shame about the lack of the tail,” Athari muttered grudgingly.

“I try to do my best sir,” Chris replied.

“Well neither here nor there, get a drink and inform me why you have to follow me.” Athari waited while Chris consulted the table menu and selected a beverage of his choice and biochemical compatibility. He clicked on the table screen and tapped his wrist communicator on the read pad. He waited for a second confused when his drink didn’t appear immediately.

“Guess the transmatt is out of order,” Chris said looking around for someone to report it too.

“No, not broken. This is a bar where there’s actual servers. Something about keeping people gainfully employed,” Athari corrected. “Give it a minute or so and a serving sentient will along shortly with your drink.

“Well, that’s rather backwards. Why not use perfectly good tech?”

“Don’t ask me, I am just passing through here eventually. You monkey’s come up with some of the most bizarrest ideas though. Now, while we are awaiting your beverage you can start telling me why I have to put up with you,” Athari flicked an ear signifying annoyance and impatience.

“Well, I don’t know the exact details why I was assigned you,” Chris started slowly. “Part of the reason goes back to Confederation training of anthropologists. Before we are assigned an exploration ship we have to have some of our book learning smoothed out. So after we graduate and complete a small training syllabus, we are assigned to a way point station to interact with other known sentient species.”

“Okay, that’s a good start. Why?”

“Actual experience is better then book smarts, is what we were told. No matter how well documented interactions with other species is done, it doesn’t quiet match the actual interaction with something that’s unscripted.”

Athari picked up his saucer and lapped the liquid in it up. Pondering on this information. He had heard about how stringent the Confederation’s training was. Being part of the training just seemed to be adding insult to his injured pride already. A server swung by and dropped a glass in front of Chris and hurried off. Athari narrowed his eyes and watched the human pick up his glass and sip the bubbling amber gold beverage. He tried to avoid twitching at how a being could drink something containing so much gas infused liquid. Humans, weird.

Chris set down his glass and smacked his lips in satisfaction and waited for Athari to say something. They sat there staring at each other, one being patient and the other waiting for something to be said. Athari chuckled mentally to himself. Monkey’s were always the impatient sort and didn’t have the stamina to wait like the hunters of his species. So he continued lapping at his saucer while the human started to fidget and drink his beer.

Chris ordered another beer after Athari ordered a saucer of his drink. He had to admit that even with all the fidgeting, the human was being rather patient waiting for Athari to speak or do anything besides sit there. It was a waiting game and Athari figured that he would give himself one more drink before letting the human down easy. If the human didn’t breakdown first and started talking. A test of wills and a test of training. No need to make the humans task any easier. The universe was a cold dark and thankless place. Young hunters were always taught this.

Chris broke first, “So, the head of my department never really informed me why you are here. Anything important? Trade mission? Diplomacy? Something important?”

Athari snorted, “Nothing of that sort whatsoever. I’m on probation and fulfilling ‘uplifting community service’ before I can get the stars out of here.”

“Probation? You mean you broke the law or something?”

“Something like that, don’t bother asking. It boils down to none of your business. Besides, if my host wants you to know they will tell you,” Athari peered into his saucer trying not to think about how he ended up here.

“Okay, if I can’t ask what you are being punished for may I ask what your service entails?”

“I guess, nothing really major. No feeding of orphaned litters directly that is. I am hunting. Pest and vermin control actually,” Athari twitched an ear in resignation. “No matter how good pest control measures are on space stations vermin get into the ducts and systems. Rats, vesques, large bugs, you name it. If it’s a breeder and is a problem it will infest stations. Not an issue with starships really since they are routinely vented to vacuum when needed. Much harder to do with a station.”

Chris looked aghast, “They’re using you to hunt rats? Don’t they have robots or anything less sentient for that?”

Athari quirked his whiskers in amusement, “Sure, every now and then though you get a rather particular vicious infestation that needs a sentient to do the job. Real hunters that can out think and out manoeuvre the vicious pests.”

“So, there’s a bad vermin infestation here currently I take it,” Chris muttered. Looking around and under the table as if looking for a rat or bug.

“That’s right. So I got cuffed into this task. I am in charge of a few bots and some hunting creatures that have been trained. Need my expertise though to really get things back under control. Once that’s done I am free to light drives and get out of here.”

“So, how long have you been working on this task,” Chris asked curiously.

“Several lunar segments, it’s been a really bad infestation,” Athari lapped up the last dregs of his saucer viciously. “Make yourself useful and order both of us a round. The stipend I earn isn’t that much and besides keeping me in air, kibble, and room, I barely have enough to get properly soused.”

“If you don’t mind, what are you drinking,” Chris pointed at the saucer.

“Traditional drink. Combination of blood, fermented fruit juice, and a few extra herbs to enhance the effects. Don’t bother trying any of it. Definitely not compatible with your species. Look for Fruit blood, I believe the translation is.”

Chris pulled up the table menu and tapped twice with his finger before tapping his wrist comm to pay for the drinks. Athari waited patiently for the server to bring the drinks before saying anything else. Chris seemed to have relaxed a bit and wasn’t fidgeting as much as before. The glass and saucer were placed in front of them and Athari lapped up a bit before putting it back down.

“So, why are you following me around? Actually that’s going to be a little difficult because I can’t see you fitting into a lot of the crawl spaces I have been hanging around lately.”

“Well, I can see how that would be a problem as well. Figured I would be talking with you and hanging around you on your off times then?”

“Great, just what I needed. A monkey tracking my every move and giving me no peace,” Athari plucked at the collar he was wearing. “Bad enough station security knows my every move, now they are putting eyeballs on me as well.”

“Sorry that you feel that way. Would it help if you considered it part of your community service,” Chris asked trying to put a lighter side on the issue.

“So, you mean to say that you are a more onerous task given to me,” Athari threw back at him. “Look , monkey, I don’t like it here. I hate hunting vermin and I can’t wait to get things under enough control that my service is done. We are mostly solitary hunters, if you have read thoroughly in your information sources. Which I am sure you have since you have most of the correct and proper responses down. Only reason that I haven’t tagged you like an errant kitling. Oh, by the way, I am not a good example of a typical Methorian. I am cantankerous, prone to insults, and just a touch xenophobic.”

“So I noticed,” Chris said with a grin. “You have a bad case of ‘get off my lawn’, syndrome if I ever saw it.”

Athari twitched a paw in puzzlement and requesting further information. Chris went on, “Just an old movie from our world. Pre-stellar, old character was what we called back then a racist cantankerous old coot. Just wanted to be left alone. Good story, great high points and redemption tale. If you’re interested I can send you a link to the file in the media archive.”

“Thanks, but no thanks. Monkey shows don’t really interest me. Like that whole ‘get off my lawn’ idea though. Anyway, thanks for the drink.” Athari held up his paw-hand with his wrist communicator, “Guess we should exchange contact info? I need some more rest because tomorrow it’s back in the crawlspaces again. Don’t call me, I’ll call you when I’m done so we can talk. May as well satisfy our lords and masters, right?”

Chris chuckled at that and held his wrist comm next to Athari’s. Green lights blinked on both comm’s and a chirp signalled the exchange of comm codes. Athari stood up out of his chair and walked out. Just his luck that he had been assigned a liaison. Someone it seemed didn’t like him too much, either the powers that be or the higher powers. He prowled back to his assigned space and looked forward to hiding from the made world that he had been thrust into. Tomorrow at least he would hunt. One bright side to his community service was that it had been almost tailored to his skills and proclivities.

The quarters assigned to him was in the temporary living section of the station. Humans called the cubicles “coffins” for some obscure reason that Athari wasn’t curious enough to look up. All he knew was that they were the perfect size for his species. low ceiling, narrow, almost like a den from home. He had a small refresher tailored to his needs and a sleeping pad set up in the back area. The sound proofing was sufficient to keep most station noises to a bare minimum and he was told in a pinch it would be an emergency pod if the station had any emergency that caused it to lose atmosphere. He removed the leather harness that carried anything that was needed and the small “loin cloth” type covering to keep him within the bare minimum required amount of public decency. The temperatures on the station were set to human norms and was hotter then a typical desert from home. Higher humidity as well. He had acclimatized mostly and couldn’t wait to get the stars out of here. Just a quarter arc of orbit until his service was done.

 

Life With a Toddler

Things aren’t easy being a single parent currently. The Squire (what I call my son on-line) is an interesting character. We are going through that annoying phase where he will only eat certain items. Thankfully grapes are one of them so he’s getting a fairly balanced diet considering. As well, he’s just starting to talk words and get some of his issues mentioned by him. Late talking runs in my family so it’s not really an issue.

So life and fun. Last week was a funny time though. We had gone to the local drop in for pre-schoolers that we have been going to for over two years now. He’s grown up with some of the other kids that go as well. This is not about that though, this is about after. One the way home we stopped at the local grocery store to pick up some sustenance for the two of us. Walk from their to our apartment and I get to the front door and realize that I had left my keys behind.  The weather is going through that phase where one day it’s winter, and the next it’s spring. I knew exactly where my keys were. The winter coat that I had worn the day before. Which was currently in the front hall closet behind two sets of locked doors.

Yes, we were locked out and lunchtime was thirty minutes away. Luckily I still had my phone. Called the landlord and explained the issue and was told thirty to forty minutes before he could get there to help us out. Understandable, he’s a busy man apparently. Building is small so there’s no superintendent on site either. Luckily it wasn’t raining or snowing, and the temperature was rather mild. Front of the building has a fenced in area and a park bench so the Squire was playing around while waiting.

One of the items I had picked up was a bag of two bite brownies as a treat for the two of us. Got his attention and told him to sit down on the bench which he did with enthusiasm. Opened the grocery bag and pulled out the bag of brownies. He  sees it and his eyes light up. He points to it and in a questioning voice goes, “Cookie?”

Yes, cookie is one of his words. I open the bag and hand him one brownie which he gobbles down in no time. I give him one more which disappears into the maw that can only belong to a toddler. He’s smacking his lips and I put the bag of brownies away.

“Cookie?” He points to the grocery bag hopefully.

“No, no more cookie. Lunch time soon.”
“Cookie!” points at the bag demanding now.

I shake my head, “No, no cookie.”

Well he leans back and lifts his head up to the sky and howls like the world is coming to an end, “Coooookkkkkiiiieeeeee.” Much wailing and gnashing of teeth as the great tall daddy has denied him his rightful spoils. He sobbed for a bit and complained to Brown Bear, who he had dragged along with him that day for the adventure of course. I tried my best to ignore him. Carefully moving the grocery bag out of his reach every time he tried to grab it. Yes I can be a cruel man at times. At least I wasn’t eating them in front of him while denying him his dues.

Landlord arrived after about forty minutes and inside we went. Got him out of his coat and boots and started lunch. No more brownies until the next day. I don’t think I would have been able to handle a toddler hopped up on sugar and chocolate.

I think, next time, I will discuss why I think he’s part cat. Seriously….

IMG_20180325_093329.jpgThings have been busy lately. Far too busy. The writing has been happening in spurts and drabs as I try to get things in my life more organized. It doesn’t help that my writer’s block is three feet tall and screams when he doesn’t get his way. Then there’s the other stuff.

I am in the process of starting to pack and move and getting things organized. Which requires me to figure out what I need, don’t need and the usual crap when it is done. Bright side of that is that I have time and things aren’t panicked or rushed.

This whole writing thing is one of the easiest things and one of the hardest. After the short story challenge I tried diving right back into the novel I was working on. This required me to read through it and get my headspace around what was going on and where things were going to go next. Needless to say I found a few minor issues that needed to be corrected. Worst part was that I had to go back to Book 1 to fix the issues.

So that’s where I am right now, adding material to the first book I though I had completed so that I have plot elements to use in book 2. Good thing I had decided to delay on pulling the trigger of launching it. Otherwise I would have done myself a great disservice.

So here I am, caught up with some of the chores staring at the computer trying to get words down for the work in progress. Not happening and the word count for the past month has been rather meager. Things have been stressful though so getting anything done is an accomplishment. In the meantime I will return to my word processor and continue to stare at it for a little longer hoping that words come.

 

Two Months

So, I am finally at the end of the challenge I set myself. I failed, partially. As I said previously I was trying to write thirty short stories in January and February. As I sit down now, I have managed to complete twenty-two stories. I have two partial stories as well that I haven’t been able to get completed and I am having difficulties writing them. So, a partial failure, and yet a great success.

I have managed to sit down and complete twenty-two ideas from start to finish, pulling ideas out of thin air or from a list I had made that usually comprised of a single sentence of what to write. Three stories are set in a world/universe that I will be exploring when I get a chance. Two of those stories are following a certain character. Two more stories are following the growth of another character in another universe. One of the incomplete stories is about him as well. Just what I needed to heap on my overfull plate.

Where they all good? No, not really. At least in my opinion. A few of them are going to require some work to file off the sharp edges, possibly. Some ideas were great fun and others…well there’s one story that will never be reworked or published in any format. I will be getting some feedback in a few weeks on what was written and my personal opinion of some of them is probably all wrong. Don’t care at all. I tried and did the best I could and will move on trying to hone my craft.

Today, is going to be catching up on the novel I was working on before I started the challenge. Probably doing a little rewriting as I review it and figuring out where everything is going now. After that, go back to the first novel I finished and see how I can improve it with out ruining it. So, things will still be happening and hopefully I can blog more now that I am not tramming to hammer out short stories.

Finally, I may just try writing a short story a week as a break from my larger works. I figure I can get a few more done with everything that has been going on. Will have to do some research on wear to send them for publishing. If all else fails, bundle a bunch of them into a collection and go the Kindle route. Options, options, options.

Now back to the grind.