Archive for April, 2013


Homecoming coverLetter ZZhaim is Lai’s oldest R’il’noid son, and as long as he has the highest fraction of active R’il’nian-derived genes of any of the R’il’noids alive, he is his father’s heir – if anything happens to Lai, Zhaim will take over. He took this position from Derik (who was just as glad to be rid of the responsibility) when he came of age several hundred years ago, and has come to define himself in terms of how he will improve the Confederation when he takes over from his dowdy and senile (in his opinion) father.

Zhaim is quite handsome in his way, vain about his appearance, and very fashion-conscious. His complexion is dark bronze, like his father’s, and his hair is black. His eyes are almost clear with silver veining – “ice and silver” is how they are often described. His hobby is making “artistic” sculptures out of living things (including slaves) and he considers himself a great but misunderstood artist. He likes and admires cats, but is violently allergic to them.

He is an important character in both Homecoming and Tourist Trap and will continue in the trilogy. Here he is speaking from the Bounceabout, early in Homecoming.

The Bounceabout. Ha! The Nausea would be more appropriate. And twice in one day?

Damn the old man! He knows how those rough jumps affect me. And he damn near ordered me to come. Blast Derik. I should have been the one left on charge, not that soft-headed fool. He’s even older than my father!

And now my father even admits he doesn’t have the slightest idea of where he’s going. Just that some possible jump points feel more “right” than others. Well, I knew it was a useless quest.

Still, he has a habit of being right. And if there’s even a chance of other R’il’nai out there …. If one of them were female ….

Damn it, the R’il’noids are better than either race! We’re smarter than the Humans; more practical and creative than the pure R’il’nai. We don’t need the R’il’nai any more. But if the old man finds others ….

I’m his heir, the son who has inherited the most of his R’il’nian genes. He mustn’t have a child by a pure R’il’nian!

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books, both characters and background information. For characters I’ll introduce them quickly, say what point of time they’re talking from since their situations change drastically through the books, and let them talk. The format of background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. Bold type indicates that more information has been or will be available in another A to Z post. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.

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AtoZ 13 logoIf you’re looking for the A to Z posts, click on the logo to the left or scroll down.

White ice breakupI remember a year when the first faint traces of tree-leaf green were visible by the beginning of May. Not this year! The snow stake still shows a foot and a half of last winter’s snow. We’ve had just enough thawing that the white ice on my road is getting rutted 6” deep on warm days, and then freezing solid at night. I tried to shovel a path to the plant trays Saturday, and the snow was like concrete. At least the paved roads are dry.

There are signs of spring. The birch tree visible out the north window of my office now has bare ground at its base, thanks to the dropped seeds and wild rose bushes absorbing the sunlight. The snow is dripping off the roof. I’m generally driving with shoes on, rather than boots (thought the boots are still in the car.) And the sun is definitely back

birch treeSunrise this morning was at 5:23 and the sun will set 16 hours and 52 minutes later at 10:15 this evening. It’s now almost 40° above the horizon at noon. But we no longer have nautical night (the sun never goes more that 12° below the horizon) and civil twilight lasts until half an hour before midnight. Star gazing? It barely gets dark enough for that.

I don’t know if we’ll set a record low temperature for the month (probably not, though I’ll be checking) but I can say that temperatures have not been at or above normal since the first three days of May. Where’s spring?

P.s. added 3:50 pm: Probably the third coldest April, we set a new record low of 2 below last night, and it was snowing shortly after noon today.

Homecoming coverLetter YThe Central calendar is based on the solstices and equinoxes, with the northward equinox marking the start of the year, a planetary holiday called Yearday. The Central year is actually slightly more than 364 Central days, so Yearday is always defined by the northward equinox at the longitude of Confederation headquarters, and if necessary an intercalary day is inserted on the day after Yearday. This occurs roughly every 9 years.

The year is divided into twelve months of 30 days each, with holidays (which are considered not to belong to any month) between them. Yearday is the most important of these, and the only one firmly tied to the astronomical calendar. Northday is approximately on the northern solstice and Southday near the southern solstice; Feastday is near the southward equinox.

The school calendar starts with the first day of the fifth month, a month after Northday. There are two month-long vacations, starting with Northday and Southday.

Both Feastday and Yearday are times for parties and celebrations, but most students do not have enough time off school to travel home at these times. Only those whose parents are able to teleport them home normally get anything but the celebrations planned at school.

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books, both characters and background information. For characters I’ll introduce them quickly, say what point of time they’re talking from since their situations change drastically through the books, and let them talk. The format of background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. Bold type indicates that more information has been or will be available in another A to Z post. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.

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It’s Sunday again, and time for Weekend Writing Warriors, a blog hop where a number of authors post up to eight sentences from their writing, published or unpublished. Click on the logo above to get to the list of authors. The one at the bottom gives the facebook page for snippet Sunday, with more authors.

Hubble NGC 6302My snippet this week is again from War’s End, the story I’ve been giving excerpts from for some time. A group of five adult Humans, a month-old baby and an alien have suddenly found themselves on an alien, hot, unfamiliar jungle planet. Coralie has just asked Audi for clarification of why she referred to the Maung as “she” and “Red,” and Audi is answering.

“It’s a lot more than just ‘Red,’ of course, but we needed a short, easy-to-remember nickname. As for the ‘she,’ I didn’t ask specifically, but the first thing she asked was whether we knew anything about where her children were. If Michelle needs them, I did find the diapers.”

Coralie glanced down at her fussing daughter, and shifted her to the other breast. “Latrine trench,” she said firmly. “Somebody make a note of that. Ginger, is Michelle all right? Am I all right?”

And why is she asking that?

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Homecoming coverLetter XXazhar is Zhaim’s son, raised by his father. He is the top student and the student leader in his 10th year class at Tyndall, an elite boarding school for R’il’noids. He is not only highly intelligent, but a top athlete as well, captain of the school plasmaball team. (This is a goal-and-ball game played in free fall with ball lighting for the “ball.”)

His father has led him to believe that Roi is in fact Derik’s catamite, and that Derik enrolled him in the school as a practical joke. Xazhar is somewhat of a bully anyway, and he does his best to make life at Tyndall miserable for Roi.

Like his father, Xazhar has bronze skin and pale gray eyes veined with silver, but his hair is never seen in its normal shade. At the time he is at Tyndall, he is wearing it in an elaborate braided style, and the color is mahogany on top and coppery at the sides, with twin flares of gold running back from the corners of his forehead.

It’s disgusting, that’s what it is. Derik was a student here himself, for Jarn’s sake, and he’s on the Board! How could he consider a so-called joke like this? And the brat’s not even healthy – runs around in a mechanical float chair, no muscle at all, acts like it hardly has the strength to raise its arms.

If you’ve got power, use it – that’s what Dad says. I may not have my full powers yet, but I’ve sure got enough to stymie this crap. Physical education – what a joke. It can’t do anything, except maybe paddle around in the pool. Well, I doubt it’ll try that again, after the dunking we gave it. Would have drowned it, if the instructor had just stayed away a little longer. And then it fainted, the weakling, when they tried to get it back in the pool.

No, it won’t last the first half-year here. I’ll see to that.

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books, both characters and background information. For characters I’ll introduce them quickly, say what point of time they’re talking from since their situations change drastically through the books, and let them talk. The format of background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. Bold type indicates that more information has been or will be available in another A to Z post. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.

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AtoZ 13 logoIf you are looking for the A to Z post, click on the logo to the left or scroll down.

Year 6 Day 46 evening

I am not a Healer, though there are times I have wished I were. Today was definitely one of those days.

I knew it would take Songbird a while to reach the hunters, so I intercepted the runner and had him tell me what he could about Little Gnu’s injuries – which wasn’t much. The runner was the youngest of the hunters, and from his description, Little Gnu (named for his shortness of stature, not his age) had been tossed in such a way that he had landed with his leg doubled under him, and the bone was sticking out. No telling what kind of internal injuries he had sustained, and at his age, he couldn’t be expected to recover as fast and as thoroughly as Songbird had. All I could do in preparation was check everything available in the computer about compound fractures, find several suitable splints and bandages, and pull together the handful of remedies I had been able to make with the computer’s help. These, thank goodness, included a wound dressing that minimized infection.

I stayed open for Songbird while I wrapped all of the things I thought I would need, including an extra warnoff, in one of the hides Meerkat had tanned for me. Meerkat herself had deputized one of the other women to watch WildDog, and was making up a pallet for the injured man in her dwelling. “His mate will tend him,” she told me, “but this place is easier to clean.” The arrangement would give her a good excuse to be important in the temporary village, I thought with some amusement.

Just then Songbird’s mind touched mine, and I picked up the hide bundle and teleported to her.

hyenas, MorguefileIt was a good thing I had thought of the warnoff. Hyenas, jackals and a couple of scavenger birds were already encircling the carcass, and the women could not have taken the meat back to camp safely without the aid of the hunters. Several spears had been broken in the desperate attack on the elephant, and the hunters were mostly using thrown stones to keep the scavengers back.

Little Gnu was barely conscious when I teleported in. A few of the hunters has seen me teleport before but most had not, and I was afraid I would have to waste time reassuring them. But Songbird promptly started explaining that this was simply the way I traveled. And I was able to concentrate on the injured man.

Setting the leg was not beyond me, and I hoped that with the aid of the wound powder it would heal properly. I suspected that Little Gnu would probably have a permanent limp, though. I thought getting him back to the encampment would be the real problem, but the other hunters had already rigged a stretcher. Their main concern was the scavengers, since several who would normally be protecting the group would be needed to carry the injured man.

I had set the warnoff to maximum range, and the scavengers were staying well back. When they moved Little Gnu to the stretcher, I bound the warnoff to it, as well. “This should tell the scavengers to stay back,” I told them. “Take him and the meat you have butchered back to camp.

The first runner had already come back with more hunters and replacements for the broken spear shafts, so I decided to leave my own warnoff with Songbird and teleport back to camp.

Jarn’s Journal is the fictional journal of a human-like alien stranded in Africa roughly 125,000 years ago. The entire journal to date can be found on my author site.

Tourist Trap coverLetter WWif is the son of Roi and Feline (feh-LEEN), conceived when both were forced into a sex show as slaves. As a result of this episode and its aftermath, Feline was not quite sane and was extremely possessive of the child. Roi carries the Coven gene and is barred by the Genetics board from having any other offspring, but Wif did not inherit this from his father and as an adult has numerous offspring. He looks strikingly like his grandfather, Lai, except for an eye color that matches his father’s: gold with flecks of metallic gold. In our time, that of the upcoming trilogy, he has become the Guardian of Earth.

He appeared briefly as a baby in Homecoming (where he played an important role as a catalyst) and again when he is three and a half years old at the end of Tourist Trap. I am letting him speak shortly after the end of Tourist Trap.

I rode my pony all morning, even when we cantered! And I wasn’t the least bit tired. Well, my legs were just a little stiff. But this afternoon Daddy said we’d go in the canoe on the river, because he wanted to show me some fish like we don’t have on Central. I had to promise not to jump up and down, though.

I don’t know why Mother didn’t want me to come to Falaron. She never wants me to do anything that’s fun. Even my pony back home. She kept screaming about how dangerous it was, even with Flame leading me. I like auntie Flame better’n Mother, but Daddy says I mustn’t tell her that. He says I have to be polite to her. Even Grandma Marna says that. Grandma Marna made Mother let me come, though.

Oh, look at that bird! It just swooped right down and caught a fish in its feet. Talons, Daddy says.

Flame and Penny are leading my pony and Daddy’s horse along the bank. There’s a path there. I like Penny. She doesn’t scream like Mother. She says I ride really well, and she showed me how to put on my pony’s bridle. Not the saddle, though, I can’t reach that high.

I wish Penny’d come back to Central and be my Auntie, like Flame. I asked her if she would, after lunch, but she just turned red. So did Daddy. Did I say something wrong?

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books, both characters and background information. For characters I’ll introduce them quickly, say what point of time they’re talking from since their situations change drastically through the books, and let them talk. The format of background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. Bold type indicates that more information has been or will be available in another A to Z post. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.

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Homecoming coverLetter VVara is R’il’noid, though not High R’il’noid. She is a breeder and trainer of performance horses, and lives near Nik on Seabird Island. Like most fertile R’il’noids she is subject to the Genetics Board as far as having children is concerned. Her last pregnancy was, by Board decision, to Derik. Trouble was, she knew Derik in his misspent youth and gave in only reluctantly to letting him have anything to do with their son, Coryn. Needless to state, Coryn was conceived by the laboratory procedure, though Derik did insist on using conditional precognition to determine the timing and which fertilized egg was implanted.

Vara appears in Homecoming and Tourist Trap, and will have a continuing part in my upcoming trilogy. Here she is speaking from about a third of the way through Homecoming, after Coryn has invited Roi to visit over the school holidays, and she has (reluctantly) allowed Derik to visit as well, since at this point in time he is one of Roi’s guardians.

I’m glad I sent those extra food packages to Cory. I thought he was just trying to take advantage of me, but after seeing what his “starving, motherless tutee”  looks like, I really don’t think I sent him enough. If he could walk, the boy would be a walking skeleton!

What on Central was Derik thinking of, to send a paralyzed child in a float chair to a school like Tyndall! Oh, Cory says he’s bright enough, But I can’t believe the others aren’t giving him problems. Not with the way he pulls in on himself at any sudden move. I’ll certainly let Derik know how I feel about the situation when he gets here!

At least Roi doesn’t seem afraid of the horses, and Cory says he was quite a rider before he was paralyzed. Still wants to be, I think. At any rate, he really lit up when Cory offered to take him riding double this morning. I did insist that they take old Cotton, instead of that feisty mare Cory had started to saddle! I’m not so sure about letting them go bareback, though when I mind-touched Coryn to check on them a time or two, Ander was the one having problems. I thought that bay might be too much for him, but Cotton’s really the only quiet horse I have right now.

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books, both characters and background information. For characters I’ll introduce them quickly, say what point of time they’re talking from since their situations change drastically through the books, and let them talk. The format of background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. Bold type indicates that more information has been or will be available in another A to Z post. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time. Click below for the list of participants.

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Quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien

AtoZ 13 logoIf you’re looking for the A to Z post, click on the button to the left or scroll down.

Here are the contexts of the quotes tweeted from @sueannbowling over the period from April 18 through April 24, 2013. All but the last are from The Fellowship of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Note that the quotes are from the book, not the movie, and in fact come from a section left out of the movie.

Map of Eriador

Map showing the early part of the Fellowship’s journey. This was a foldout in the original edition.

“It does not seem that I can trust anyone.”  Frodo, when he finds out about the hobbit conspiracy.

“You cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word.” Merry, when the hobbits let Frodo know of the conspiracy to watch him and leave the Shire with him.

“Cruel things and kind things, and secrets hidden under brambles.” What Tom Bombadil is talking about to the hobbits.

“Gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning: destroyers and usurpers.” Tom Bombadil, explaining how trees feel about people.

“I am no weather-master, nor is aught that goes on two legs.” Tom advising the hobbits that he cannot guarantee the weather.

“Make haste while the sun shines.” Goldberry to the hobbits as they are leaving Tom Bombadil’s cottage, and meant quite literally as it is a bright morning but may not stay as pleasant.

“I never thought of helping a ship through a storm as sexy.” Sue Ann Bowling, Homecoming. Lai to Marna, as they share minds in preparation for helping a space shuttle get through a storm.

Tourist Trap coverLetter UPlanets not occupied by Humans or R’il’nians are often found by the Jarnian Confederation. Most are outside the parameters Humans need for life, but when a habitable planet is found, it may be treated in any of several ways. If it is barren, it may be terraformed and colonized. (Example: Horizon.) If it has life but not sentient life it may have some Terran or R’il’nian species imported and then settled by Humans. (Example: Eversummer.) Some planets are of special scientific interest, and they will be kept as pristine as possible. (Example: Mirror.) But if a planet has a native, sentient species, or a species that appears to be evolving toward sentience, that planet will be left alone, and warning beacons will be placed around it.

No contact is permitted with the inhabitants of such a planet: a species must earn its own way to the stars. If the planet is deemed attractive to lawbreakers, it will be assigned a Guardian, a R’il’noid who is responsible for keeping the planet safe and insulated from contact with star-faring species. Such planets are known as uncontacted planets.

Earth is an uncontacted planet. There is a Guardian, and in fact Roi was at one time the Guardian for Earth. It is considered a special planet, as the Humans of the Confederation are well aware that it is their ancestral home. But they keep their presence well-hidden from the Humans of Earth.

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books, both characters and background information. For characters I’ll introduce them quickly, say what point of time they’re talking from since their situations change drastically through the books, and let them talk. The format of background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. Bold type indicates that more information has been or will be available in another A to Z post. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.

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