Archive for April, 2013


Homecoming coverLetter TTimi is the third of the friends Roi (Snowy) manages to keep together as a dancing group. He is black. Not African or looking like it, but from a starship-based, inbred civilization, the Clan. His hair and skin are true black, not dark brown. His eyes, however, are reddish amber, with a protective reflecting layer below the amber pigment. His hair is curly, but only loosely. His culture uses dance as a method of challenge, but it is dance in free fall, with randomly changing artificial gravity fields. He appears in Homecoming, Tourist Trap and Horse Power.

Timi was older than Amber when enslaved in a pirate raid, remembers more of freedom, and fiercely resents being a slave. He had also had considerably more education than Amber and was able to teach what he had learned to the others, to some extent getting around the custom that slaves were not taught to read or to understand numbers. Here he is speaking from before the beginning of Homecoming

Should I go along? I like Amber and I’d like to stay with her, but she’s freebred, a captive like me. That Snowy’s slavebred, and every slavebred I’ve met is pretty stupid.

I don’t think Snowy is, though.

Amber said he’d learned to read faster than anyone she knew just from her reading a few things to him, and was just as quick on what she could remember of arithmetic. And that idea of his: keeping us all together as a dancing group, that we’d be worth enough that way to get decent treatment …. I’ve seen enough to know how slaves can be mistreated. Makes me want to scream, but they’ll just activate the control collar if I do.

And I’d like to be friends with him.

That’s the dangerous kind.

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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The sun rose this morning at 5:49, long before I did, and will set over 16 hours later at 9:52 this evening. It’s only 3 more days until we lose astronomical twilight, and the sun never dips more than 12° below the horizon.

carrots

The last of last year’s local carrots. They’re a good inch through, but so tender I can eat them whole.

It’s finally warmed up and started to feel like spring, or as much as it can with over 20” of snow still on the ground. But we have icicles and puddles, and the birch tree outside my north window is surrounded by seeds dropped onto the snow. Natural selection in action: birch trees that hold on to their seeds until they can drop them on the snow have the snow melt faster around them, which in turn means the soil warms faster. Smart birches!

There are more signs of spring. The Farmers’ Market is taking applications for vendors, and the first market is scheduled for May 11, though of course the first week or two will be mostly handicrafts, not produce! Even garden starts are likely to wait until it warms up a little more. I’m thinking of trying Horse Power in CreateSpace, both to learn what’s involved and to have it to sell this summer at the market.

It will likely be well into July before carrots show up, though, and I’m eating the last of last year’s, bought at the Christmas Bazaar put on by the market. I don’t know how they got them to keep that long, as they must have been harvested in September at the latest. I’ve just kept them in the refrigerator, and they are still crisp and far sweeter than any I can buy at the supermarket. Alaska grows really good carrots; it’s too bad our season is so short.

Homecoming coverletter S(Possible spoilers for the first 30 pages of Homecoming.) Saroi, better known by her nickname of Cloudy, does not appear onstage in any of my books, but she plays an important role as Lai’s former lover, the woman who left him bereft. She was his nurse after his father, the only other R’il’nian alive, was killed in an accident, and it was her love and caring that pulled him back from near-suicidal grief. They became lovers, but Cloudy owed her white hair to a dominant gene that kept the nervous system from developing properly. An affected child born alive would be in severe pain and not sane in any normal sense. Cloudy had another dominant gene that confined the effects to white hair, but in theory one in four of her children would carry the Coven gene without the protective gene. The Genetics Board did not want to risk even a remote possibility of a projective telepath with Coven syndrome, so Cloudy was forbidden to have her sterilization (normal for all Central children before puberty) reversed.

She never spoke these words aloud; she remained silent until the end. But she may well have spoken them to herself.

I loved you, Lai, more than I could ever have told you. It tore my heart in two when I wrote you that note, begging you not to try to find me, and then tried everything in my power to hide my traces, to destroy my identity so thoroughly that even you could not find me.

I succeeded all too well. I was kidnapped and sold as a slave.

I lied when I said that life with you was destroying my privacy, but how could I have told you the truth without the Genetics Board finding out? It was a choice between you and the new life I carried within me, and I had to give your child, your son, a chance. Believe me, my love, nothing else could have induced me to leave you.

They have taken him from me, now, and I can only hope I have taught him to hide his abilities, so like yours, well enough that he can survive and keep clear of the Genetics Board.

I love you, Lai.

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books of the Jarnian Confederation, 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 HH34My 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 baby and an alien have suddenly found themselves on an alien, hot, unfamiliar jungle planet. Coralie (the baby’s mother) has suddenly been told she is in charge.

They were looking to her for leadership? But her lessons in wilderness survival were deep-rooted, even if they applied to a different wilderness. “Inventory,” she replied after only a moment’s hesitation. “We need to know everything we have, no matter how useless it seems. Uh—‘Red?’ ‘She?’”

Audi grinned and tapped out something on the reader. The Maung responded by changing color to a tapestry of reds, threaded with gold and black. “That’s her name,” Audi said.

I’m on the A to Z Challenge this month, introducing some of the characters from my books. Drop in for an introduction. The baby’s father, Roi, was introduced yesterday, and her grandmother will be talking tomorrow.

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We Have Puddles!

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We have puddles again! I know, that hardly sounds like reason for celebration, but after one of the coldest Aprils I can remember, seeing liquid water outdoors again is a delightful change. The snow is starting to drip off the roof, the snow in the back yard has settled a couple of inches, and I actually saw puddles yesterday.

The first was on a white ice road. Not my road, that’s still white and solid. But I was so overwhelmed by this, coming out of lunch, that I snapped a picture.

Snowmelt on road

The Safeway lot actually had a fairly deep puddle — up to the hubcaps of passing cars. The low spots have drains in the summer, but this time of year drains and culverts are frozen solid. The steam truck will be out soon — another sign of spring.

Parking lot puddle

Homecoming coverLetter RRoi starts life as a slave named Snowy by his mother, though she wasn’t able to keep him past childhood. He was sold as an entertainment slave, but his mother’s training, to hide his odd abilities as they could get him killed, was deep rooted. He has golden eyes flecked with metallic gold, but the contrast is so slight it is hard to see. He is white haired like his mother, with dark bronze skin, lightly built but very well coordinated and athletic. He is a superb dancer and choreographer, and learns new sports, such as horseback riding, very quickly.

Roi is the protagonist of both Homecoming and Tourist Trap, appears in Horse Power, and will appear in the trilogy I’m working on, if I ever get it done. He is speaking here from the early part of Homecoming, shortly before he meets Coryn for the second time. (The first time was when Coryn’s father, Derik, owned Roi.) He’s about fourteen and a half, here.

I wish I could figure out what they want from me. Learn, Kim said, and I am. I understand everything they’re saying in class. It’s just that buzzing in my head. I can’t do anything without feeling exhausted, certainly not use that computer the way they want me to for homework. And with Xazhar making threats at mealtimes, I have to lift my arms to the food, and I’m not getting nearly enough to eat. He sees to it I don’t make any friends, either. Peer pressure discipline may work, but it’s sure not working for me.

I wish I were back just being Derik’s slave, with Timi and Amber and Flame. I knew where I was, there. I knew how to get by as a slave, and I could keep my friends with me. Here …. I’ve figured out what they want me to believe, but why? What they’re telling me can’t be true, but what is? And now I’ve even got Kim mad at me.

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 post, click the logo to the left or scroll down.

Jarn’s Journal is the journal of a (fictional) human-like alien, a R’il’nian, who was stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago. He has been adopted as a god (much to his annoyance) by a group of primitive humans. The entire Journal to date is on my author site.

Year 6 Day 46

elephant, MorguefileI sat at the entry to my home, and watched Songbird, Giraffe and WildDog happily interacting with their friends. To their left, Rain Cloud was toiling up the hill toward me, and I waved and gestured him closer. He paused once, looking where I was looking, and then frowned and continued up the hill.

“They do not show you proper honor,” he said, but I shook my head.

“They have missed their friends, and WildDog needs to play with others his age,” I replied. “They have aided me well. But it is not fair that I take all of their time. I think that perhaps I should make a rule that no one with a child should stay with me more than the time from one Gather to another.

His brow creased. “But surely we must find a way to honor you!”

Before we could carry the conversation farther, there was a sudden commotion in the camp as a runner arrived. He was shouting and waving his arms, and he came from the direction toward which a hunting party had left this morning. Several of the group, including a fair number of women, were grabbing carry lines and hides and jogging along his back trail, probably to bring back meat, but that did not seem to explain the agitation of the runner. I glanced at Rain Cloud, and we both started down the hill.

“Is something wrong?” Rain Cloud called as we got within shouting range.

“Little Gnu is injured,” the runner called back. “An elephant attacked us as we were stalking a zebra. It caught Little Gnu up in its trunk and we thrust our spears in its belly to distract it. We killed it — there is much meat – but Little Gnu cannot walk.

There was one person in the camp that I could find and teleport to anywhere. “Songbird,” I shouted, as loudly as I could. “Go with them. Think at me when you have found the hunters. Leave WildDog; Meerkat will care for him.”

She nodded and took off, running after the others.

Letter QQ is for query letter, and I fully intended to have a sample for today, from the first book of the trilogy I’m polishing. Alas this is, as far as I am concerned, one of the most difficult parts of writing. So this isn’t a proper query letter as much as it is a summary of the conflicts at the start of the book. From this, I hope in time to work out a proper query letter, back cover material, and elevator pitch.

Horse Power cover

Yes, this Horizon, a couple of centuries later.

Roi Laian doesn’t really want to be Regent of the Jarnian Confederation. He’d much rather be Healing people and animals, or creating art. But he was his R’il’nian father Lai’s heir by reason of having the highest Çeren index of the R’il’nian-Human hybrids, and he feels he’s stuck with the job. Certainly he doesn’t want his half brother, Zhaim, in that position.

Zhaim would love to be Regent, or anything else that would give him power. But while Roi follows his father’s teaching that the Confederation was formed for and at the request of Humans, Zhaim views Humans as animals, fit only for the convenience of R’il’noids. He’s not quite ready to let the Çeren index be the only way to judge people, since Roi’s is higher than his, but he considers that an aberration. After all, his decadent half brother, not allowed by the genetics board to reproduce, actually adopts Human slaves as his children. He thought he’d put a stop to that, pointing out that Roi was neglecting the Confederation with the time he spends with his “kids.”

But Zhaim, left in charge while Roi is away handling an emergency, “solves” the problem of the planet Horizon refusing to pay its taxes by authorizing slaving on that planet. Voting rules in the Councils make it impossible for Roi to reverse that decision, and in part to salve his conscience he begins again to rescue and adopt abused children—this time from Horizon. Zhaim is furious. and again does his best to convince other members of the Councils that Roi is neglecting his duty.

It doesn’t help that while Roi remembers quite clearly that Zhaim once tried to kill him, even his closest friends and colleagues have stored that memory away, and insist that Roi is paranoid for mistrusting his brother. Roi also remembers that his foster mother, Marna, dealt with the situation by giving Zhaim an artificial conscience, but warned that it needed to be reinforced every quarter century. Roi has done this twice since her death, but he has increasing doubts that he is succeeding.

He is right to doubt. Zhaim is slowly recovering his old powers and his old determination to take over the Confederation.

One thing I’m not sure of. This book is the first of a trilogy, with a cliff-hanger ending. All three books are written, and I’d like to release them about 6 months to a year apart. Should I mention this in the query letter?

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Tourist Trap coverLetter PPenny is a guide who works for the Falaron Company, hoping some day to become a trekmaster. She has been assigned to guide Roi and his three slaves (who to her surprise do not even consider claiming their freedom on Falaron) on a Challenge journey from the Spine Range down the Surprise River to the port at the river mouth. She has broken up with her boyfriend, who resented how her job brought her into close contact with off-planet men. She is speaking from near the beginning of Tourist Trap, after the first day on the trail.

So far, so good. They’re certainly not the spoiled brats I usually get – no problem at all getting them to help with the camp chores. In fact, they seemed to enjoy bringing in snow to melt and wood for the fire, and helping feed the dogs. And for a group that admitted they were new to dog sledding, they did a darned good job of handling. Of course the helpfulness may disappear once the novelty wears off!

And if I didn’t know Roi was free and the other three were slaves, I sure couldn’t tell from the way they behaved. If anything, Roi seems the most willing to put himself out for the others.

At least they’re all in good physical condition, and if the way they took to dog-sledding is any guide, they should be able to handle the things they’re supposed to be experienced with, like the hang gliding and horseback riding. Sailing – well, Timi’s supposed to be good, but he’s the one that bothers me most in terms of attitude. I’ll have to teach them how to handle the rafting and rock climbing, but they seem willing to learn. Not like some of the clients I get.

Of course that’s assuming everything goes all right, and we don’t have any problems. Since it’s a Challenge, I can’t call in help unless it’s a real emergency. Well I hope we don’t have any.

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.

P.S. I’ve been so busy keeping up I haven’t bothered to check how may posts I’ve put out. Knew I was approaching 1000, but it turns out this is number 1018!

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Here are the contexts of the quotes tweeted at @sueannbowling from April 11 through April 17, 2013. All but the last are from The Dolphins of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey.

“The mind can only absorb so much.” Menolly, fretting at the sheer amount of new knowledge coming from Aivas.

“Nighttime confessions and doubts generally are regretted in daylight.” Menolly is trying to laugh off her own worry.

“I’m always after my patients to exercise and get fresh air and I never listen to my own advice.” The Healer, Oldive, after the first day with the dolphins.

“Games can be as necessary as work.” Robinton, talking to Lessa who he thinks has been driving herself too hard.

“Bad ships smell, leak, ’n’ leave badness in our water.” The dolphin method of telling “good ships” from “bad ships.”

“How can you think of something like school when the whole world mourns?” Master Robinton has just died, and Readis is being lectured by Kami.

“I don’t invite myself to meals empty-handed.” Sue Ann Bowling, Horse Power. Roi is talking to Amber in the food market, just after he has added some off-world delicacies to her food order, which he intends to pay for.