Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm jealous

I admit it. This weekend I'm jealous of everyone who happens to be at DragonCon or, sigh, WorldCon. I wanna be in OZ. I wanna be able to sit down and talk face-to-face with Dave and the other MGCers there. I think I'm going to hold my breath until I can....wait, can't do that. I need to breathe sometime in the next 10 years or so before WorldCon returns to OZ. Crap.

Oh well, life goes on, even in the publishing world. Still, news this week hasn't been just jumping off the presses. There have been the usual threads by those whining because they haven't gotten their new Kindle 3s or who got one and it didn't work the way they wanted it to. The counterpoint to them were all those who did get their new Kindles and absolutely loved them. There was more on the kerfluffle over whether or not the NYT is biased in favor of male authors in its reviews. One study -- sorry, don't have the link and won't go find it because it wasn't a valid study in my opinion -- said yes because something like 67% of the reviews were of books written by men. Of course, it didn't break down the total number of books written by men as opposed to those written by women and, without that key factor, the conclusions of the study are suspect at the very least. Okay, maybe I'm just cranky this morning -- a distinct possibility since I'm only on my first cup of coffee and I have a pile of editing awaiting me on my desk.

Because there hasn't been anything earth-shattering to report on this week, I'm going to throw this back at you guys again. Here's my proposal: if you have something you want critiqued or if you want to toss an idea or question out there, here's your chance. You can post up to 500 words of a current work-in-progress. Anyone reading it can offer a crit -- as long as it is a substantive crit. No grammar and punctuation only sort of things and no attack crits.

If there is something you want to discuss, toss it into the comments. This will probably be the last open topic day for some time on the blog. Labor Day weekend is our last hurrah here in the States for summer. Then it is back to the grindstone.


MataPam said...

This is the start of a novel sized expansion of my story that's up on Naked Reader (Brazen Advertisement Alert!)

It's too long, but I've already chopped pieces off. Any suggestions as to what else can go? Or anything that is confusing and needs clarification?


Captain Sid Hollis took a slow inhalation of coffee, the rich aroma an antidote to the sterile, over-filtered air of the underground office complex. "Good morning Beowulf." He leaned back in his chair to eye the minicam above his comp. "What's new in the world?"
"Dirty politics, but that's hardly new."
Sid opened his standard programs and prowled through the headlines. "Anything up our alley? After all, our job has nothing to do with politics."
"Don't you wish. I'm still getting the runaround on the Turkey incident. I wish they'd asked for our assistance sooner. With so many tracks all over the evidence, I can't tell if the data substitution was our Super Hacker AP or a mere human with AI assistance. The national police are not impressed with my opinion, and they seem so delighted to have gotten something on Tazak that I think we've done all we can do.
"They don't believe you?"
"What? I should tell them they're talking to the only hal, the only Artificial Personality, semi-legally in existence? They'd either not believe me or they'd freak."
Sid grinned at the vid pickup beside the speaker. The hal himself was, of course, located elsewhere. "Now tell me you wouldn't enjoy scaring them."
"Ha! I get enough of that from the people I putative work with. Want me to replay you stuttering through introductions? Although you were a lot more accepting than our new commander." The artificial voice was glum.
Sid leaned back in his chair and propped his feet on the desk. "What we need is a nice solid situation to investigate, show him how we run a field operation and so forth. Can't you find some emerging Artificial Personality we can exterminate?"


"Hi, welcome to this edition of 'Fancy Farmer of the High Frontier'"

C Kelsey said...

I'm working on my fight scene in my current short story. The whole thing takes place from the perspective of a werelioness in lion form. I've been trying to balance the human aspects of her thoughts with the lion aspects. Unlike conventional were's mine maintain near human intelligence. Their thoughts can alternate between essentially human, and "other". Trying to keep the action balanced and not flat is a challenge. Any ideas or advice?

MataPam said...

That would be interesting.

The lion would probably be more immediate in her thoughts, and heavy on the scent impressions. The human might just surface occasionally to take an overview, and make a tactical decision as to where in the battle _she_ ought to be, or whether it was time to retreat, extend an offer to surrender, see a developing threat or opportunity that the lion might not.But would she carry the plan out, if the lion part takes over in the immediacy of the battle?

You shouldn't have any trouble keeping it "not flat."

T.M. Lunsford said...

I've been wrestling with this short story for about a month now and I'm completely lost on what to do. Earlier this week, I chopped over half of it, so I want to make sure it is still even worth pursuing.

Death sucks more for some than it does for others. She’d always expected it to be blank. Heaven was just a pretty story to keep people from being complete assholes all of their lives, right? Apparently, she was dead wrong, so to speak.
Esme didn’t know how she got there. One minute she was rushing around New York City, trying to get to work on time, and the next she was sitting in a chair in this horribly gray room. She didn’t know how long she’d been sitting there, since clocks obviously weren’t necessary in heaven or hell or wherever she was, but it felt like she’d been there at least an hour.
A thump next to her startled her enough to cause her to yelp in surprise. The previously empty chair next to hers had a new occupant. A rather attractive occupant, at that. He looked vaguely familiar. His black, curly hair tumbled artfully around his hair and into his ice blue eyes. Tanned cheeks hinted at dimples that regularly creased them when he smiled. Admittedly, she was a bit alarmed to see that all he was wearing was some sort of sheet, but he at least provided better scenery than an empty chair. “Office of Celestial Placement? Where the hell am I? What the fuck is going on here?”
Obviously he wasn’t going to take this whole death thing as well as she had. “No clue. They haven’t exactly been forthcoming with details,” she said dryly. “Any time someone official comes out, all they’ll tell me is they’ll see me when they can.”
“Where am I?” he repeated. “One minute I’m shagging my brains out with a gorgeous blonde on the table in my castle and I hear this awful creaking noise from the chandelier and the next I’m sitting here in all of this gray. And all I’m wearing is a goddamn sheet!”
Esme chuckled, a twinge of bitterness in the sound. “That’s a much more…interesting death than mine. Getting hit by a car is so…pedestrian compared to death by chandelier in the middle of sex.”
“Wait, death? What death? I can’t be dead!” The man jumped out of the chair, just remembering to keep a hand anchoring his sheet. Esme found herself on eye level with his extremely well-sculpted abdominal muscles.
“Sorry, sunshine, but you are quite dead. So am I. It sucks, but yelling about it doesn’t do anything. Nobody here seems to care how loud you complain, so you might as well sit down and start getting used to it.” Esme sighed. She dealt with enough high-maintenance people in life; did she have to deal with them in her after-life as well?

T.M. Lunsford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C Kelsey said...


You make it sound really cool. Now if I could just pull it off. I'm going to re-read it in the morning and the try to write it again with your comments in mind. You're actually making me look at it in a more effective light than what I currently have. Thanks.

Chris L said...

C Kelsey,

Have you ever seen a lion in the wild? I lived in Botswana for a few years and regularly went in search of cats. Lions in the wild are absolutely the masters of their domain. They exude supreme confidence in that languid, bestial way that's really hard to describe. I've only ever known one human with that kind of assurance, and his case it was 100%misplaced.

Their paws are massive. Think really big, and double it. And the sound that comes from deep in their chest cavity is like thunder, only more terrifying because it's right in front of you.

Who is your lioness fighting? Because unless the opposition is superhuman, there's no fight scene to write. Only slaughter.

Amanda Green said...

Pam, I'd need to see more but, having read Fancy Farmer, I'm wondering how it will fit in with Sid and his HAL.

My other issue is, reading about the "Turkey" incident after reading Fancy Farmer, I had visions of turkeys running amok or exploding in microwaves or something. But then, you know how warped my mind is.

To answer your question, I'm not sure you need to cut anything else off. In fact, I'd like a bit more detail to the opening, more scene setting. But, again, that's just me.

Amanda Green said...

Chris K, I like the way your weres maintain a lot of their human aspects when shifted, but you need to make sure the animal is there as well. Maybe even have the human struggle against the animal, knowing that if she gives in to the baser animal instincts she'll never be the same again.

Amanda Green said...

Taylor, don't cut anything else. Seriously, no. At least not unless you get a consensus from several others AND it feels right. I love your voice in this and want to see where you go with it.

C Kelsey said...

Chris L.

Never seen them in the wild. Have seen them in multiple zoos etc.

My main character is small for a lion, but that's just small *for a lion*. She's fighting The Beast of Gauvadon... Think 8 foot tall slobbering werewolf from hell. Oh... and it's her friend. Som I'm playin the physical and emotional all at once.

The images of size you are presenting are a help as well though. Thanks.

C Kelsey said...


Here's the thing. With my were's there is no "if I give in I'll never be the same". They have no choice. It's not fighting an animal, because the simple fact that they do change means that the fight to remain completely human is already lost. They fight the change, sometimes. But for the most part being not quite human is their normal. Fighting it would be like us fighting to not breath. Doesn't make sense. Instead of the maladjusted were's of most UF, they are accepting and happy. That lets me mess with them in completel, far more asshole-ish ways. Like taking the dog and removing his leg, violently... I'm trying to do the relationship thing on a different level. I want my characters to be reasonably happy as were's, rather than constantly fighting it like most. The idea is to do the same, differently. Still working on it, of course. :-( :-P

MataPam said...


Sniff. You cut us off at 500 words, but then you want more! Maybe instead of Turkey, I should say Ankara. Although I fear trying to control reader's straying thoughts can never work 100%.

The Turkey incident is not part of the story, just an indication of their field of expertise. Tazak gets a mention at the end of the story as "running for President, even if he has to do it from his prison cell." Thaz it.

And yes, Fancy farmer is indeed the next Artificial Personality who must be destroyed. Sales Chef vs Professional Hal Hunter. Ah! What I do their poor little military base.

MataPam said...


And interesting view of purgatory. Foul language tends to have a larger impact in print than in real conversations.

Esme, is coming across very crudely. Which is fine if that's what you want. A little more indication of what sort of person Esme is might help. Is rushing to work her whole life? Is she wondering what her mother is doing, right now? Or if, since there seems to be some sort of after life, she's going to see her Granddad, or her old cat?

She seems as dull as the decor - again, if that is what you want, you've got it. A professional with no thoughts about other people. But would it be better if a little emotion seeped around the edges? You might want to try it.

Of course it's hard to judge from a small tidbit. Once the other guy shows up, the dull feeling is gone. Maybe she should have some interaction with the other people out there? Or is the change due to the guy being ne of those in charge, and she is now being "seen?"

Sorry, I seem to be picking, I hope it's of some help.

Scott said...
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Scott said...
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Scott said...
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Scott said...

This is the possible start of book 2 of a series. This is a character not mentioned in book 1.

The other possible start is on a space ship flown by a human, elf, dwarf, halfling, giant and an alien (we lean how they all got there in book 1.)


The night and storm retreated, slinking away like a pair of half-drowned cats to leave the morning fresh and cool. Two of Kiva's three Sister Moons rode the cloudbank westwards.

Scree sat on a rock, looking out across the valley and scratching a three-day-old wound on his bare chest. The hills on the far side, a couple of kilometres distant, were rugged thrusts of landscape, higher and steeper than anything near where he sat. But most of the slopes over there were covered with trees and were less stark. There could've been some magical line running along the valley floor, following the curves of a road; life and greenery on the far side, mud and stone on this. The village that sat in the centre was neither here nor there. The people lived on the divide between life and death and didn't even realise.

Scree smiled and licked his teeth.

The previous night, when the storm had been at its fiercest, he'd known there were people about but he'd been too tired to know where, and too tired to find out. Now he knew and intended to take advantage. He flexed the muscles in his shoulders and back. He wiped a slick of dew from his bald scalp.

"Yo, Scree," Gravel called.

Scree turned to look at the other troll who was poking through a pack as if he might find some long-lost morsel of food hidden in a seam.

"What we gunna do today?"

Scree sneered. "What do you think?" he replied. "We's going to run." They'd been running non stop for more than a month. It wasn't likely to change any time soon.

Most of the Redworm pack was stirring. Grumbling and scratching, they put hands to weapons before they'd even risen to their feet.

"We gunna mangle that village first?"


"Yeah, but..."

Scree didn't hear what the other troll had to say. His attention was fixed on the dozen buildings a half kilometre to the east, clustered like flies around the muddy scar of the road. There was a small stone chapel to the south with a stable beside it. A tavern, of sorts, hunched like a beggar beside the road leading north. Between those two outposts rough timber houses huddled together, butting shoulders despite the kilometres of vacant space.

Scree made his way back to the camp. Everyone was awake, sitting in silence for the most part. Flint and Shale had just finished rutting. They ignored the clinging mud as they quickly pulled on their clothes.

Scott said...

Sorry about theat. kept telling me it couldn't publish the post (much like publishers) when really it could.


Chris L said...

Hi Scott,

When I read this I was impressed by its muscular grit. For me your descriptions could use a little work.

Specifically things like:

"The hills on the far side, a couple of kilometres distant, were rugged thrusts of landscape, higher and steeper than anything near where he sat."

We can't all be geologists, but a few simple rock, or formation, names could help here. Terms like granite tors, basaltic thrust sheets(volcanic rock), dolerite cliffs, breakaways etc, can help solidify an image in the readers mind.

Just a suggestion.

MataPam said...


The drowned kittehs goes with the tone of the rest. You might want to ruin that pretty second sentence, just to keep the reader from thinking it was the first sentence that was "wrong."

And, umm, "a human, elf, dwarf, halfling, giant and an alien" sounds like either the start of a D&D joke, or an attempt to novelize a game session. Be warned that a whole lot of editors have seen a whole lot of D&D inspired fantasy, and you need to tip toe around them putting this in the same category. "Oh, great, D&D in Spaaaaaace!"

Scott said...

There is no confusing the first book with D & D. It starts with an alien attack at Sherwood Forest and goes via Area 51 to a starship hangar on the far side of a 'wormhole' in Macchu Pichu (can never remember where the double 'c' goes). There is more humor than action and the characters stick to the stereotypes while also playing with them a bit-- it's hard to explain.

And, how about the moons 'stalked the clouds' westwards.