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Archive for December, 2012

Well, it’s that time of the year. Time to look back and see what was–or wasn’t–accomplished in the last year and declare goals for next year. I’ll do the first in this post and blog about next years goals in my next post, which will actually be next year.

The full post of my goals for 2012 is here.

Teen and Young Adult Fiction

   Writing goals:

  1. BLOOD WILL TELL was e-published during 2012. It’s original cover wasn’t very good, which I’m sure affected sales. It has a new and much better cover now.
  2. I did query MAGE STORM during 2012, but I currently have it torn apart for revisions with the help of a very thorough critique partner. I expect to give it another go in 2013. I believe in this story. Plus, I have at least three potential sequels for it that I’d like to write.
  3. SEVEN STARS, which is now titled FIRE AND EARTH, has also been queried. It got chosen as first alternate in Pitch Wars this month and I’m waiting for the feedback from my mentor so I can make revisions and see what happens.
  4. MAGIC’S FOOL will never get beyond first draft, I’m sorry to say. I learned in this year’s WriteOnCon that the age of my protagonist is poison. Too old for middle grade and not old enough for young adult. I can’t make him any younger, so I’ll give the story a rewrite as young adult, including material that was planned for the sequel (MAGIC’S APPRENTICE), possibly in 2013.
  5. Keep writing. This was an unqualified success. I finished three drafts of THE BARD’S GIFT, which is now ready for readers in a few days.

As for the personal goals, well, let’s just say I did better with my writing.

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Due to Christmas baking, sappy Christmas movies that I wouldn’t miss for the world, and, well, Christmas, I haven’t gotten much writing done in almost a week. Okay. Vacation over. It’s time to get back to work.

I still have to finish revisions to my short story that won an Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future a little over a year ago. It’ll need a new title, too, since I mean to give it another chance. This time, I hope to bring it to a much stronger action.

I also have to wrap up a few revisions to the start of MAGE STORM. THE BARD’S GIFT is ready for readers next week and I haven’t heard back yet from my Pitch Wars mentor (I’m first alternate) on FIRE AND EARTH.

That’ll clear the decks for me to start a new story in the new year. It’s looking like it just might be the weird Oz story, since that’s the one my subconscious keeps throwing up ideas for.

And, as incentive for me to get my act together, here’s what I found in my inbox this morning from Amazon:

E-mail from Amazon

E-mail from Amazon

 

That’s my latest story, “Becoming Lioness”, right at the top. *Happy dance.*

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Merry Christmas

Sorry. I got all wrapped up, so to speak, and forgot to blog. I haven’t gotten much writing done in the last couple of days, any way.

Merry Christmas, everyone.Christmas ball

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. . . of the best possible kind.

I’ve finished my drafts of THE BARD’S GIFT, ready for readers next month. I’ve got two other projects–FIRE AND EARTH and MAGE STORM–currently out and I’m expecting revision notes back on both. I’ve been revisiting some short stories that have been waiting for a little attention–and I’m getting excited about one. I think I finally see the way to make it better, as opposed to just tweaking it.

But that’s the background. The new year is almost upon us and it’s time to start planning my next project and get ready to plunge back into first draft mode after all this revision stuff. And I have a number of projects to choose from:

  1. It could be a rewrite of my embarassing first novel. Most uncharacteristically, I actually have an outline for this one. There are a couple of decisions I’d still have to make, but I basically know these characters and where the story would be going. (By the way, this is the same world as my short story “Becoming Lioness”.)Becoming Lioness Cover
  2. It could be a shiny new idea I had just a couple of months ago. A twist on “The Wizard of Oz”–if Oz was much more like a magical Jurassic Park than Munchkinland. I wrote a flash story based on this idea, but I’ve got a lot more world-building, not to mention plot development, to do before I’d be ready to start.
  3. It could be a fairy-tale retelling based (loosely) on “Little Furball”.
  4. Or a retelling of an old Welsh tale, Culluch and Olwen.
  5. Or another alternate history that’s been bouncing around in my head for the last month or so. This one could be a series. Maybe even *gasp* epic.

Decisions, decisions.

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Since it’s time sensitive, I’ve decided to post this story a couple of days earlier than planned. Just a bit of whimsy for the end of the Mayan calendar.

Since WordPress apparently won’t let me post downloadable files, here’s a link to Smashwords, where you can download a the story for free in a format for just about any ereader or computer if you’d rather read it that way.

 

AMNH --- Maya Stone Calendar

AMNH — Maya Stone Calendar (Photo credit: David Cesarino)

Apocalypse Cruise

Evening, December 19, 2012:

Jackie adjusted her telescope. She’d only agreed to come on this Apocalypse Party Cruise with her boyfriend for the good viewing out here away from the lights of the shore. She didn’t have a chance at getting closer to a really powerful telescope since Professor Banks had labeled her a “cryptoastronomer” as if she was just like some cryptozoologist out beating the woods for signs of Big Foot.

Studying ancient texts was a perfectly valid line of research, whatever the closed-minded old blowhard might think. It had worked in other disciplines, after all. Or how else did Heinrich Schliemann find Troy and Mycenae? The Mayans really had known a great deal about astronomy, including some things that modern science wouldn’t discover for hundreds of years. So the question of what else they might have known was a valid one. It wasn’t as if she really expected the day after tomorrow to be the end of the world. Just a very interesting day for observations with some unusual alignments.

No matter what she found, though, the label of cryptoastronomer was going to stick. Her chances of ever getting a legitimate research opportunity now were nil. She might even have to change her major and start over. Jackie had a solid minor in archaeology, but all the ancient texts had already been thoroughly mined in that discipline.

The loss of time required to start over was even more frustrating. When Matt left for Hawaii next year to study volcanoes, she’d hoped to have a chance at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy telescope array. That way they’d be able to stay together. That looked like a lost cause now, though.

So, they’d be separated for at least a year–more likely two. And Matt would find someone else. In Hawaii? Of course he would. She half suspected Matt had suggested this cruise as a kind of goodbye. And all because of one reactionary professor who wouldn’t even listen to new ideas.

With a sigh of frustration, Jackie set the telescope’s camera to take a photograph every fifteen minutes and download it to her laptop. All those bigger, more powerful telescopes would be pointing in the wrong direction tonight. All looking at the boring galactic alignment. Jackie’s research had convinced her that another quadrant of space would be more interesting.

She’d be able to go through the photos in detail tomorrow. Now, as long as she was on this cruise, she might as well join the party and have some fun. Matt would know how to get her to forget about her problems and enjoy the party.

At least neither of them had to lecture tonight. They’d gotten their cabin for free, and a place to set up her equipment, in exchange for giving talks to the passengers about the Mayan calendar and astronomy from her, and geology and volcanoes from Matt.

 

Morning, December 20, 2012:

Jackie woke late with a splitting headache. She wasn’t much of a drinker. Matt had talked her into trying something that looked like jell-o, but wasn’t. Everything after that was fuzzy, but it certainly had helped her to relax for a while.

She had to scroll through the photographs three times before she could convince herself of what she was really seeing. Almost dead center of each photograph was a light that shouldn’t be there. Jackie had to scroll through twice more before she believed the rest of it. Not only was there a “star” where there shouldn’t be. It was getting bigger–or coming nearer.

Holding her breath, Jackie ran the last few photos through her enhancement software. Some blurring was inevitable, due to the motion of the ship. She fiddled with the settings and drummed her fingers on the bed while she waited for the results. She sat back in surprise when it finally came up. That image made no sense at all. Much too perfectly circular to be an asteroid or anything else that might be moving out there. Even planets tended to be a little out of round, thicker around the middle, due to gravitational forces. It was hard to tell, even on the enhancement, but it looked like it wasn’t solid, either. She thought she could glimpse stars through some of those large black areas. What was it?

Matt came out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist. Ordinarily, Jackie would look up to enjoy the view. His rock climbing hobby really did make him worth looking at, especially half naked, but right now she was too absorbed in last night’s photos.

Looking slightly disappointed, Matt came to sit next to her. “What have you got?”

Jackie tilted the laptop to show him, pointing to the object. “That.”

“What? A star?”

“It’s not a star.” With a couple of clicks, she brought up the star map she’d studied for weeks in preparation for this trip. “See? There shouldn’t be anything that large or bright in that position.” She switched back to her photos and quickly scrolled through them. “And it’s moving this way.”

Matt’s eyes narrowed. “Doesn’t some theory or other say that everything in the universe should be moving away?”

Jackie smiled at that. Geologists. So planet centered. “You mean The Big Bang? Yes, the current theory is that the universe is expanding. Not everything is moving away, of course. Asteroids, comets, and meteors, for example.” She switched to her enhanced photos. “But this is much too regular to be any of those.”

Jackie fumbled for her cell phone. No signal. “Damn. Someone with a much more powerful telescope really ought to be looking at this. I’m going to have to go up to the bridge. Their equipment will be powerful enough to reach the mainland.”

 

Evening, December 20, 2012:

Jackie stood up to stretch. She wasn’t making any pretense of going to the party tonight. This was far more exciting.

Only when she concentrated on the phenomenon, whatever it was, could she shake off the exasperation of the afternoon. She’d called every astronomer she knew and some she didn’t, trying to get someone to take her seriously. Even the photographs hadn’t helped. Professor Banks had gone so far as to accuse Jackie of doctoring the photos. Well, they were all fools. She was front and center for the greatest discovery of the millennium.

She looked in the direction her telescope pointed and blinked. She sat back down and sighted through the telescope again, then drew back to look at the sky. No mistake. There it was, visible to the naked eye now, if only as another star where no star should be.

Jackie groped for her laptop and some scrap paper. Without knowing size or distance, her calculations could only be rough but she had to make at least a guess at how fast the object was traveling. She blinked again when she got her answer. That shouldn’t be possible, at least not according to Einstein. If it kept up at this rate, it wouldn’t be long before those stiff-necked professors had to admit she was right.

Over the hours, Jackie watched as the “star” resolved into a central sphere and two concentric rings that moved together without seeming to have any physical connection. Between her observations, she searched her e-reader. There was something, somewhere about that configuration. She knew she’d read it, but she couldn’t place it. If she only had access to the internet here, maybe she could find it. Even so, she had several references downloaded.

The only thing she could find that even remotely fit, though, was Plato’s description of Atlantis, left over from an old philosophy class. Well, that was no help. She’d never done any in-depth work on Atlantis. Why bother? It was pretty well established that Plato’s Atlantis was really Thera, modern day Santorini. Not much opportunity for new research in that.

The telescope was jolted from its alignment as the ship’s engines roared to full and the ship started a tight turn. Jackie looked up. The object, whatever it was, had grown large enough in the sky that it was probably spooking the ship’s crew. She stood up to go talk to them and sat back down again. There was no reason to think that they’d listen to her any more than her professors had.

Those professors had to have noticed it by now, too. Each of them was probably scrambling to take credit for the discovery and none of them would even think of mentioning her contribution. Not that it was likely to matter for very long. Not once that thing hit Earth, anyway.

As the incoming object had passed planets of known size she’d been able to make a calculation of its dimensions. Even assuming that it was possible to accurately predict the point of impact–and there was going to be an impact–there was no way this ungainly cruise ship was fast enough to get out of the way. This disaster wouldn’t just affect the immediate vicinity. It could just be the end of the world after all. The only real hope was her last few calculations which seemed to indicate that the object had started to decelerate.

Apparently, the news of the object was spreading. Other passengers gathered on the deck, looking up.

Matt appeared at her elbow. “How far away is it?”

“Not far. It passed Jupiter a few minutes ago.”

He sighed in evident relief. “That’s pretty far.”

“Not in astronomical terms it’s not.”

Matt gripped Jackie’s arm. “Do you think it’s going to hit us?”

“It’s going to hit somewhere. I don’t have the tools to calculate where. And at that speed, wherever it hits, it’s not going to be good.”

Matt turned her to face him. “I haven’t wanted to add any pressure for you this year, with things going so badly for you, but . . . you know I love you, don’t you?”

Jackie folded herself into his arms.

 

Morning, December 21, 2012:

The ship rocked violently in the displacement wave. The object–Jackie still shied away from calling it a space ship despite the evidence of her eyes–actually settled on the water quite gently considering its size. Jackie was impressed with the control. The cruise ship was neatly bracketed by the outer two rings, completely undamaged.

The cruise ship’s engines started up again. As the object had descended on them, everyone had been able to see the large break in the outer ring. It only made sense that the crew would make for that opening and escape to open water. Jackie wasn’t so eager to get away. She wanted to know more about this unprecedented phenomenon.

The rings rode low and steady in the water, almost as if they were a group of islands that had always been there. As they cruised past, Jackie noticed the shiny metallic sides of the rings becoming translucent and then transparent until finally they disappeared altogether. Inside the outer ring, to starboard, she glimpsed what looked like very ordinary fields, with recognizable vegetables growing in rows.

She looked to port at the inner ring. Rows of buildings that seemed to be a mix of modern and classical styles climbed a slight slope. Beyond, where the center sphere would be, was a conical shape very reminiscent of a volcano.

Jackie whirled in place looking from one side to the other. “I’ll be–”

“What is it?” Matt asked.

“It was Plato all along.” Jackie grinned. “They were wrong. It’s not Thera. It was never Thera.”

“What are you babbling about?”

“This. This is Atlantis. And this is what the Mayans predicted.” Jackie grabbed up her laptop and bundled-up telescope. She dashed to one of the long boats, stowed her gear, and started to winch it overboard.

“What are you doing?” Matt asked.

Jackie turned to him and took his hands. “Matt, I can’t miss this opportunity. This is the greatest discovery in history and I’m right on top of it. Those stuffed shirts aren’t going to take this one away from me.”

Matt reached up to push a stray lock of hair behind her ear, caressing her cheek. “Go get our bags.” He took the winch from her. “I’ll get this launched.”

“But–”

“You’ve followed me on enough hair-brained expeditions. It’s my turn. Besides, just look at that mountain. Good thing I brought my climbing gear.”

 

The End

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I attended a webinar yesterday evening about creating successful author websites. I haven’t begun to internalize all the information, yet, but I’m starting to plan some changes to this blog. Some things covered in the webinar won’t work for me. In the first place, this is a blog, not a full-on website. Still, there are things I can do better.

The first change is planned for next week. I bet a lot of you hadn’t discovered some of the other pages on this blog. (In fact, WordPress’s stats tell me this is true.) If you look up at top, you’ll see that there are other pages. One has just been retitled “Free Stories” (used to be just “Stories”). Okay, right now, there’s only one story there. I was already planning to put another one up next week, anyway. (Just in time for the end of the Mayan calendar, next week be on the lookout for “Apocalypse Cruise”.)

Now, I’m trying to plan a bit more than that. I’m going to look into (and I’m not sure yet how well WordPress supports this) providing a couple of download buttons for those stories (Kindle and ePub). That way, even though both stories are short, you don’t have to read them on my blog. I’m also going to experiment with that audio file thing again. Precisely because these stories are short they may be a really good place to start. And, again, I’m not sure how well WordPress supports making those audio files downloadable.

There’ll probably be some other free stuff from time to time as well.

Updates will still be Wednesdays and Sundays, though. That schedule seems to work pretty well for me.

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“Becoming Lioness” is now available at Smashwords or Amazon for $0.99. It’ll be available on other sites as soon as it gets into Smashwords’ premium catalog.

Living among a people who distrust magic in any form, Kiara has a secret. She can sense magic in others and she’s maddeningly sure that she has the potential for magic, too. She just can’t quite reach it. Considering the way her people react to magic, that might be just as well. 

When her people are threatened, Kiara must make the choice whether to reveal her hidden talents in order to save them. And to trust the one man who can help her learn to use her magic–the same man who betrayed her trust once before.

 

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