Tag Archive: Writing

12:1:12The sun will rise at 10:27 this morning, and will set 4 hours 28 minutes later, at 2:55 this afternoon. At its highest it’s barely 3°, 6 times its own diameter, above the horizon, which explains why the light throughout the day looks like sunrise – pink with blue shadows. The birches are well covered with frost, which gives a fairyland effect.

It doesn’t feel much like a fairyland. November averaged -8.8°F, 11.4°F below normal. We haven’t had a maximum temperature above -10°F for more than a week. On the other hand, it wasn’t really cold by our standards in November, and there’s been no ice fog to speak of. (What’s really cold by Alaskan standards? 40 below and colder, which coincidentally is where the Farenheit  and Celsius scales cross.)


8:00 this morning, 10 degrees below the official temperature of -38.

More of the same is forecast, though some clouds are expected, Still, no above-zero temperatures in the forecast. My thermometer has been reading lower than the official temperatures, and Sunday morning it was somewhere below -40. How far below I’m not sure–the electronic thermometer starts reading LL whenever it’s that cold. Too cold to go outdoors, anyway! It warmed up a bit during the day yesterday (somewhere in the low – 30’s) but by sunset it was back to LL. The dial thermometer, which wasn’t too far off the electronic one while both were working, said 45 below at 9 pm yesterday. This morning, with the electronic still reading LL, it was at -48°F.


Final report: the manuscript of Rescue Operation is now ready for my editor when she gets back.

Wolf Run RestaurantThe sun won’t rise until 9:42 this morning, and after a mere 5 hours 47 minutes will set at 3:30 this afternoon. It now gets only about 5 ½° above the horizon at its highest, which makes driving a real problem, especially driving south. The trees casting their shadows on the roof of my favorite restaurant at noon are a considerable distance to the south.

We’ve had a few flakes of snow this past week, but no measurable accumulation. It’s getting pretty cold, though, with daily highs often below 0°F at the Fairbanks airport, and colder where I am. With clear skies, the nights are fairly consistently below -20°F—a little cold for aurora watching. Wind, which is unusual up here when it’s cold. is making it feel even colder. At least the forecast doesn’t look like 40 below for Thanksgiving, which has happened in the past.

Afternoon update: it’s crystal clear, temperature around zero, and a brisk wind blowing. I just heard on the radio that it could reach 40 below tonight in low-lying areas, and since I live in a frost hollow, that could mean here, especially if the wind drops. Thank goodness my house is well insulated!

#Writemotivation: I’ve done most of the first-round edits on Rescue Operation. I might do a couple more bits from Zhaim’s POV, but I think I’ll have it ready for the serious edits by the middle of the week.

Maroon PhaleonopsisSunrise this morning will be at 8:54 am – still well after I get up – and the sun will set at 4:14 this evening. (Which means I have to arrange transportation to my OLLI classes with Van Tran, since I cannot drive home in the dark.) We’ll have just 7 hours 19 minutes of alleged daylight, but this time of year the sun never gets much more than 9° above the horizon.

Time for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) to kick in. (Personally, I think SAD’s an urge to hibernation triggered by the long nights, and makes perfectly good sense.) I use full-spectrum bulbs in most of my lights, especially the plant lights, which seems to help. Having something growing and blooming also gets me through the winter.

The weather remains cold, with nights below 0°F and days above. Some snow showers, but no heavy accumulation. I’ll check the snow stake as soon as it’s light enough; when it got too dark to see last night it was at 5″.

White PhaleonopsisIt’s a check-in month for #writemotivation, and I’m going to try to get at least the first round of edits for Rescue Operation back to my editor this month. She wants more of a story arc, and I realized that keeping the reader in the dark about Zhaim’s machinations behind the scenes isn’t working, even though the POV characters are in the dark. So I have to let readers know what’s going on behind Roi’s back. This will involve:

Rearranging some chapters. (done)

Write several bits from Zhaim’s POV. (2 written so far, 3 to go)

Rewrite several pieces to give more showing, less telling. (Started.)

Put in Jacyn’s POV and actually show the hijacking, instead of letting him tell Tod. (Decided where to put it, but not written yet.)

More of the grief over two former characters’ deaths, even after 50 years. (Thought about.)

The way I have it split up for writing purposes, there are 63 chapters of widely varying lengths.  I’m working on Ch 21, which is a reasonable progression toward my goal.

This is the first volume of a trilogy, so there are definitely some loose ends!

It’s only three days into the festival, and already I am getting confused as to which handout goes with which day. Please correct me if I give the wrong assignments.

Daryl discussed introduction by mapping, using mapping, with Eaven Boland’s Object Lessons as an example. His assignment:

Rob handed out a character essence sheet used by actors, and suggested we fill it out for a character in our fiction writing. The one I scanned was the one I filled out, but you should get the idea. We also discussed “Three Soldiers” by Bruce Holland Rogers.

Jeanne suggested we read “The Time” by Naomi Shihal-Nye, “Loading the Boar” by David Lee and “Let Evening Come” by Jane Kenyoon. The last she identified as a specific type of list poem, a litany poem. This is a series of petitions. She had us write a first draft of a litany poem in class, with “Let” starting each sentence. Our Home Play was to revise this draft into stanzas of three lines each, with particular attention to the way the words sound.

Lunch Bites was the children’s day, which is always fun.

In the afternoon we had a guest instructor, Nicole Stellon O’Donnell, who just published her first book of poetry, Steam Laundry. These are persona poems, based on the letters of an early resident of Fairbanks. She spoke about persona poems, and and handed out some pages from Bite Every Sorrow, by Barbara Ras, as examples of persona poems in the voices of animals and inanimate objects. She then had us each write a persona poem using a persona which was not a person. (I used a computer.)

I’m off for the second day of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. Between the museum and the Writers Group this evening it’s going to be a busy day. I’ll try to get a post on content up this afternoon, but here are a couple of scans I didn’t get up yesterday:

First is the overall Festival schedule, if you live in interior Alaska and want to attend any of the performances:Click to enlarge to make it more readable.

Next is a sample Lunch Bites program:

Lunch Bites programSorry I can’t get today’s program, but they’re finalized at the last minute. I know I’ve volunteered for a reading on Friday July 20. Again for local residents, the University is allowing free parking during Lunch Bites, though good luck on finding a space.

Finally, our instructor’s take on how creative non-fiction can be broken down.Breakdown of Creative Non-fiction

I’m lazy.

I also have homeplay to do, so rather than retype the things that were handed out today in the first day of the creative writing class, I’m going to scan them. If the type is too small to read, click on the image and you’ll get a larger version.

Homeplay? Well, this is a class were the rule has always been, your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is….  So this year it was officially renamed homeplay.

The schedule was handed out, and I’ll put it here for reference.schedule p 1schedule p 2schedule p 3schedule p 4

Rob Davidson

Rob Davidson

Rob Davidson started us out by reading the story “Reunion,” by John Cheever. We discussed the story, and he assigned as homeplay that we experiment with 1st person reflective narrative. Via Email: Reading: John Cheever’s short story “Reunion”

Home Play: Write a 1-2 page first-person reflective narrative with some attention to structure & repetition.

Jeanne Clark

Jeanne Clark

Jeanne Clark discussed lists in literature and daily life, ranging from Homer’s catalogue to the humble shopping list. She had us read a couple of catalogue poems, and as homeplay assigned us to start a catalogue poem. (I know what I’m going to use.) Via email after I finished this: Readings: list “poem” by Kato Indians from Technicians of the Sacred, ed. Jerome Rothenberg; list/excerpts from The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch; “Next to Me,” poem by Jeanne E. Clark

Home Play: write a draft of a list/catalogue poem, stacking & arranging images & details.

Daryl Farmer

Daryl Farmer

Daryl Farmer, who’ll be teaching nonfiction, discussed the line between fiction and non-fiction, as well as the art of revision. He said that non-fiction writing (and to a large extent fiction) is a blend of memory, observation and internalzation, and that the line between fiction and non-fiction can be blurry. The one thing we must not do is break whatever contract with the reader we have made. He handed out a sheet on forms of nonfiction prose (we decided my popular science writing falls under nature) and a packet (of which I scanned only the index page) on revision. I’ll put those up later, on a less scan-heavy post. His homeplay assignment was written out, so I’ll put in a scan of it.assignment I also have this via email: Readings: untitled excerpt from Winding Roads by Joy Harjo; excerpts from Boys of My Youth by Joanne Beard

Home Play: read “In the Current” by Joanne Beard; write in response to the memory prompts on the handout by Joanne Beard.

Revision Session.  Afternoon.

Readings: Daryl’s handout; Rob’s revision essay in Psychology Today <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/one-true-thing/201203/author-robert-davidson-trusting-your-artistic-sixth-sense&gt;.

I’m looking forward to the museum tomorrow, but it’s going to be a busy day – our faculty will be speaking at the Alaska Writers Guild meeting tomorrow, so I’ll try to post from the campus before the meeting.

http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/nebula/pr2005012b/As I said last week, the Jarnian Confederation acts only to prevent Human-occupied planets from preying on each other or on other sentient species, or to provide emergency aid. But it needs some structure to do this. The interaction of my characters with this structure provides much of the plot of my fiction.

Originally (and still to a large extent in Homecoming and Tourist Trap) the Confederation as a whole was ruled by the R’il’nai. As their numbers dwindled, the Councils were developed to provide the remaining R’il’nai with information and a part-Human sounding board. Membership was originally determined by tests to determine the fraction of traits R’il’nian-Human hybrids showed that were clearly of R’il’nian origin. Those with over seven-eighths R’il’nian traits were considered part of the Inner Council.

The Outer Council was composed of High R’il’noids, those with more than three-fourths R’il’nian traits, and was primarily an advisory, fact-finding and enforcement body subject to the Inner Council. Those with more than half R’il’nian traits were considered R’il’noid. R’il’noids were essential to the running of the Confederation and were subject to Confederation law but not to planetary law. This was primarily because of problems that had arisen in the past because of planetary laws (such as a ban on travel at the new moon, punishable by death) which prevented R’il’noids from carrying out their professional duties. At that time virtually all adult R’il’noids had the R’il’nian empathy at least to the extent that they could be trusted not to take advantage of their immunity to planetary law.

R’il’nian-human hybrids were rare, is spite of official encouragement for R’il’nian males to father offspring from Human or R’il’noid women. Such matings were often sterile. A R’il’nian scientist, Çeren, developed an in vitro fertilization method that greatly increased the production of crossbreds, and also developed a more objective method of ranking R’il’noids by the fraction of active R’il’nian-derived genes. The unintended consequences of both these developments (which were desperately needed at the time) set up the problems in my science fiction.

By the time of Homecoming the Inner Council was actually making most of the decisions to run the Confederation, though the only surviving R’il’nian, Lai, had absolute veto power at least in theory, though he rarely if ever used it. Barring that veto power, the Inner Council was ruled by a majority vote providing at least 5/6 of the Inner Council members were present and voting. Reconsideration of a vote already taken required a 2/3 plus majority. By the time of the trilogy veto power no longer exists, and this is how the Confederation is ruled and the Horizon War was started.

The sun rose this morning at 4:54, and it won’t set until 10:44 this evening for 17 hours 50 minutes of daylight. We’re still gaining about 7 minutes a day. The real daylight, if you include civil twilight, is even longer – civil twilight ends after midnight, at 12:07 in the morning, and begins again at 3:27. Yes, that means it’s still pretty light at bedtime. Even at solar midnight the sky is dark blue rather than black, and the super moon Saturday night never rose above the trees to the south.

Seedlings May 6

Beans and herbs hardening off.

It’s warming fast, though nighttime frosts are still more likely than not. The beans have not only sprouted, they are growing so fast I’ve started putting them outdoors during the daytime. We’ve even had our first thunder of the season — earliest in 27 years.

#Writemotivation Check in:

1. Get the garden going. Given the earlier springs up here lately, I’ll try to get the beans started indoors by April 25 and the squash by April 30; plant outdoors before Memorial Day. Get seeds in before Memorial Day if possible. This will involve getting the hoops to support plastic covers up on all three raised beds.

Far too early to plant anything (it’s still freezing at night) but the beans are up and hardening, the squash is beginning to sprout, and I made the hoops yesterday.

2. Keep up daily blogging using my existing schedule: Alaska weather Monday, review Tuesday, quotation context Wednesday, wild card Thursday, Jarn’s Journal (back history on my sf novels) Friday, Science/technology/health Saturday, and Six Sentence Sunday Sunday. https://homecomingbook.wordpress.com/

So far so good.

3. Keep up Context? Tweets daily @sueannbowling

So far so good, also.

4. Put at least two interesting science links a day on Homecoming’s page

Almost didn’t make it yesterday, but so far I’ve kept up.

5. Get outdoors for at least a couple of hours a day when the weather cooperates, either gardening or tricycle riding.

This past week the weather hasn’t cooperated much, but I’ve done at least an hour a day (usually two) on the stationary bike and/or rowing machine.

6. Read over entire trilogy for flow; put bits on Six Sentence Sunday; find a beta reader or two if possible.

I’ve read through it once; still need a beta reader. Any takers?

 Year 2 Day 337

I couldn’t find Storm Cloud’s group yesterday evening, or the evening before! I wasn’t  too worried about them; they were getting into an area where they could find ground melons, if not surface water. But I wanted to talk with Storm Cloud about the other groups I’ve seen, especially about the one with only a single survivor.

Luckily I remembered how easily Patches backtracked the hyena, and this morning I teleported her to the last place I’m sure was on the group’s trail, and asked her to find Songbird. She set off at once, though somewhat puzzled by my wanting her to follow such an old trail. I flew above her, coming back to earth often to rest my mind, and by late in the afternoon we had caught up with the group. Obviously they did not need water; they were camped not far from a lake.

“Storm Cloud,” I said, “I need your advice,” and I poured out my problems: Lion’s group, the lone woman who was regaining her strength but was a magnet for predators, and the three other groups I’d seen. (I’d spotted another while searching for Storm Cloud’s group.)

She was a little shocked at my asking her for advice – she is still more than half convinced I am a god. But she was able to identify all of the other groups I had seen when I described their clothing, and confirm that they should also be heading for the Gather. In fact, it seems the woman who barely survived was her mother’s mate’s cousin’s niece, and Lion was some kind of a relative, too.

Songbird had been listening, and she was wiggling in a way that suggested she had something to say. “Speak, child,” Storm Cloud said.

“You could take me to see Uncle Lion,” she said. “I could tell him how you helped us.”

My doubt must have shown on my face, but Storm Cloud nodded. “I will give you a token.” She took off a shell necklace and handed it to Songbird. “Take great care of this, and bring it back to me safely, but this will tell Lion that you speak for me. When you return, we will speak of the woman.”

Did I have a choice? Songbird was the one person I was sure I could teleport safely, little though I liked reinforcing her love for being moved in this way.

The Jarnian Confederation, the political structure in which I’ve set all of my science fiction writing, is neither a utopia nor a dystopia. It is a pragmatic structure which has evolved over time to govern a number of planetary systems, and its primary purposes are threefold:

1. To prevent Humans from bothering other sentient species. In my universe most space-traveling races are basically cooperative for the simple reason that in order to reach technology sufficient for interstellar travel, they must go through a stage when self-destruction is possible. Humans are an exception to this: one of the R’il’nai hybridized with early proto-humans and led his offspring back to the stars, and the R’il’nai have felt responsible for them ever since.

2. To protect Humans from one species in particular, the Maungs. The Maungs are friendly, but they are a symbiotic species and one of the symbiotes, which enters a free-living state during Maung reproduction, is capable of infecting and taking over the mind of any Human in the vicinity. The best prevention, recognized by both R’il’nai and Maungs, is separation. Luckily the Maungs prefer planets both hotter and with a higher gravity than those Humans prefer.

3. To keep Human planets from attacking each other. This is actually the hardest one.

R’il’nian-Human hybrids with a preponderance of active R’il’nian genes, known as R’il’noids, actually do most of the work, and tend to regard purposes 1 and 3 as the real reason for the Confederation, with 2 being one of the main reasons the Humans accept it.

Human planets have their own governments of many types: democracies, dictatorships, patriarchies, matriarchies, oligarchies, meritocracies, anarchy (though usually not for long with any sizable population), theocracies, and just about anything else you can come up with. The Confederation government has absolutely no voice in local affairs with one exception: any Confederation citizen has the right to emigrate to any planet which will accept that person. (This may be an empty right because of finances.) But it is also true that any Confederation planet has the right to refuse entry to any person. New planets are being terraformed and settled frequently, but companies settling desirable planets generally require a substantial premium. (Undesirable planets often have a very high death rate.)

In addition to settling interplanetary disputes, the Confederation may assist in major crises, most often novel diseases or natural disasters that affect a large portion of a planet.

Because hybrids tend to have very low fertility, they are scarce and a number of Confederation laws have been developed specifically to protect R’il’noids. Before Çeren’s time this worked very well, as all the early R’il’noids inherited the R’il’nian empathy and sense of responsibility. At the time of my stories this has fallen apart, and there are a number of R’il’noids lacking empathy entirely.

I’ll give some details of the practical side of the Confederation government later.