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[writing] Onward and onward I go

Once I got a fairly horrendous amount of house cleaning done, I put a little over two hours on the Sekrit Projekt today. It’s a combination of editing, redrafting and new wordage, so word count isn’t really to the point. However, here’s a little WIP…

The Marine guard on duty nodded to E.E., though whether he recognized E.E. personally, or just the dark suit and hurried pace of a bureaucrat late for a meeting, was debatable.

In either case, E.E. was buzzed on into the secure area without any particular effort at formality. That suited him just fine, personally, though if he had been the chief of mission, he’d have been all over the Admin officer about sloppy procedures.

Better for thee than for me, he thought, smiling at recognition of the mild twinge of hypocrisy.

Up the stairs to the second floor, down the hall, walk like you mean it. He’d learned that lesson years ago from his father – never act as if you’re waiting for permission. It was a corollary of the old principle that a man with a clipboard can go anywhere. E.E. was reporting in to his new boss Martin Ennis, chief of the political section, whom he’d never actually met, and wasn’t too thrilled about the rumors that had reached his ears so far.

[writing] And we have a short story

For now, at least. I fear the rewrite. At any rate, “Torquing Vacuum” came in at 5,800 words in first draft.

A bit of wip:

Well away from the locks-and-docks sector, he finally let go of Austen. Kid would be bruised for sure. “Alright then,” Spanich said. “You’re on your own.”

“Wh-what?” Austen seemed dazed.

“Snap out of it, kid. You’re free.” Spanich swatted him on the ass. “Now time to scoot.”

“But I don’t know where to go.”

“Sure you do. You been living on Estacada Orbital for months.” Platinum-coated genetics or not, the kid had survived on his own. Hustling wasn’t the worst way to get by.

[writing] Another 1,200 words

“Torquing Vacuum” progresses slowly. Sometimes that means a story will be good. Heh.


“What are you doing, Engineering Tech Spanich?”

The words slipped out of him like bullets dropping from an open clip. “Preparing to die like a man.” Truly, he had no idea.

“Mother,” Austen said, his voice so low it was almost a squeak.

She gave Olivez Marquessa Inanometriano Parkinson sub-Ngome another significant look. Spanich took his cue and swung the toolbag hard, letting the strap pay out so fifteen kilos of metal and ballistic cloth took the bastard right in the temple. Two-dozen generations of exquisite germline engineering dropped to the floor like a stunned drunk.

“Guess you’ll have to kill me yourself, Duchess,” Spanich said, breathing hard. Austen was splayed flat on deck, hiccuping or laughing or crying or something. “Or is it Princess?”

“Is this how a man dies?” she asked, deceptively conversational.

“Yes.” Spanich tried to catch up to his adrenaline, slow himself down. “Oh his feet, fighting for his life.”

[writing] Some more wordage

Almost 2,000 more words on “Torquing Vacuum”. I’m afraid it might turn into a novelette. Oh well.

Meanwhile, WIP:

When the water hit them at 0.5 celsius, Austen sputtered into some fairly creative profanity. “You gruyere-scented douchenozzle, I’m going to kick your ass from the throat down, then yank your nuts—”

Spanich slapped him. “Hush up, dearie,” he growled, dragging Austen’s face so close they might have been kissing again. Somehow, being naked and wet with the kid wasn’t doing much for him this morning. “You know how many times in all my years that flash brass has rung my bell?”

Austen found his voice. “Th-they put their jocks on one strap at a time like everybody else.”

“Maybe. And maybe they have platinum-plated jeweled nut sacks snapped on every morning by hermaphroditic dwarves. How the fuck would I know? Because never in my entire pressure-bleeding life have I had to take a call like that one.” He shook the kid hard, banging that pretty head against the scrubstall’s algaplastic lining. “And I’d bet my last gene scan you have something to do with it. You and your Mayor Eye-breye-um.”

Mare Ibrium.” This time he got it right.

“That’s Mare Ibrium, thirteen pairs, to you, my friend. Shipminds are damned proud, and have very long arms indeed when they’re riled up.” Even talking about it here in the scrubstall made him nervous.

[personal] Miscellaneous updatery, a WIP, and a poem

Good weekend here in San Francisco. and I saw District 9 [ | LiveJournal ], cooked for each other several times (mmm, fava bean risotto), had a lovely dinner with , got lots of word count in and general did couple bonding things.

I walked Twin Peaks this morning again, and saw absolutely no wildlife, but did manage to compose a poem about fog that blows over the heights at 30 or 40 miles per hour before dawn.

What the hell was Carl Sandburg on about
With the fog and the cat’s feet
Here in Baghdad by the Bay
Fog is the wind’s teeth
Or maybe a caul
Drawn over the dreaming mouth
Of the city

It comes roaring out of the west
With jaws that bite
And claws that snatch
Seizing me as it passes
Within its frumious bandercatch

Her wordcount was on Our Lady of the Islands, mine on a short story called “Torquing Vacuum” that I’m writing for the heck of it. Blue collar SF set in the Sunspin continuity. A bit of WIP:

In that moment, Spanich suddenly wondered what it was he’d found so alluring about Austen. Sure, the kid was smoking hot, like fire in an oxygen plant, but had he never noticed how dumb Austen was. Maybe some dirtball farmer wouldn’t know the difference, but how could anyone survive in an orbital habitat and be so ignorant of the basic etiquette of ships and shipminds? The kind of ignorant that got people spaced out an airlock, or their breathing license erased from the station records.

“Look….” Spanich felt obscurely deflated and betrayed. “Don’t worry about Mare Ibrium. The captain-owner’s wife is in command this trip, and she’s deep-fried trouble on a fuckstick, if you catch my datastream. Let’s have a drink and, I don’t know, go dancing. Forget about starships, kid. They never mattered to you before, did they?”

Austen shrugged and smiled. The wattage seemed to have gone out of his expression, but maybe that was just Spanich. “I need something, Dommie. Something only you can help me with.”

“Only me, huh?” The words just slipped out of his triple-shift exhausted mouth. “And that’s why you’re sucking down a thousand-thaler drink on my tab? To get in good?”

Flying back to Portland this afternoon. will be heading up there late next week, so I won’t have to miss her for too long.

Onward through the day.

[personal|writing] Progress of the day

Worked the Day Jobbe today. Popped out for shopping over the lunch hour so I could cook dinner for while she worked on Our Lady of the Islands after her Day Jobbe day ended. Futzed with twitterfiction. Began a new collaborative short story, though it’s just a stub of 300 words or so right now. Read the dailies on Our Lady of the Islands. Now we’re packing for ‘ wedding, which we’re hieing off to tomorrow after workage. I’m back to Portland on Thursday afternoon.

And just because, a bit of short fiction WIP:

Sleep was gone now, vanished on the biting chill that cut through her blankets, and the light leaking past the rags and shutters. Winter in Copper Downs was not for the faint of heart nor the flat of purse. Laris reached down by her feet and found her thick woolen gown – skirt buttoned up the front and back for easy access – and slid the garment over her cotton undershift without turning down her covers. Then she slipped from her bed, kneeling to build a small fire of scavenged scrapwood in hopes of warming both her hands and a bit of washing water. Lucifer matches were a rare luxury in her life.

[writing] New fiction

Knocked out a 2,300 word short on the plane yesterday, “Every Night a Virgin”. That one’s a standalone.

Today I did an 8,900 word novelette, “Coming For Green”, in part repurposing some excised material from Green and setting some pins for Endurance.

I loves me some writing.

And a WIP, of course:

The captain sat on the steersman’s bench with his hand braced upon Atchaguli‘s tiller. His appearance was dominated by his moustache, which had colonized his face like a fungus covering the trunk of some fallen forest giant. His cheeks were rounded almost to puffiness, folding into his eyes until they glinted like raisins in a suet pudding. Dark hair swept away from his forehead in a manner doubtless intended to be dramatic, though mostly Sulla thought he looked as if he should have worn a hat before going out into the wind.

“Hello, pretty girl,” Padma said. He always called her that, aboard ship. He’d been nervous and fearful on the docks of Kalimpura, but here at sea where his word was literally law, Padma fancied himself a big man.

Sulla knew what happened to big men at the point of a knife – the same thing that happened to men of any size, if the knife was fast enough. “Captain.” She steeled herself for the usual evasions. “Any new thoughts on Chittachai?” That was the ship on which Green had departed, with no word of any kind back these past months.

[writing] Progris riport, day 8, The Heart of the Beast

Odd day today. Two and a half hours of effort, netting about 400 new words on the manuscript. I’ve been going though Jeff’s hand-written material in detail, first all the looseleaf sheets and now the small spiral bound notebook. Most of that is stuff I’ve transcribed as notes into a scratch file, partly to internalize it through retyping, and partly to capture some specific prose elements. Another day like this tomorrow, and maybe Saturday depending on how long the notebook takes me. Then I think I’ll be completely done except for new compostion.

Even in this, a WIP:

The lost-soul wailing rebecs echoing across the crumbing roofs of the western quarters, the lone and mournful note of a desert pipe played by some goatherd down from the hills, the gentle patter of a xylophone being pressed into music by some early-rising drover waiting to greet the first bright sliver of sun.

Benjobi woke from a dream of a desert of skulls; he woke with the taste of blood in his mouth; he woke to the unfamiliar knowledge of snow, a tactile understanding borne in the cold tips of his fingers, in the unfamiliar chill across his body

[writing] Heart of the Beast, progriss riport

Day six of this project. 10,000 words today on The Heart of the Beast over four and a half hours of effort. About 3,000 of that is new prose, the rest line-edited/revised work from the recent OCR episode. Manuscript now stands at 47,700 words, and is at the interlude after part I.

I’m nearly to the point where I’ll be trolling through the handwritten notes to align scenes, revisit existing material and provide supporting information for the upcoming sections. The book will be a bit less than half-way in place, structurally, when I break into all-new drafting (or as close as I will come to all-new on this collaborative project).

Just as with a solo project, the setting is firmly embedded in my mental bookspace now. I can see the place, the people, the action, I am starting to see the subtler connections between things Jeff established (knowingly or not) in his setups, notes and earlier drafts.

Of course, a WIP:

In every life, there is at least one miracle. For some, most perhaps, that is the first breath or the last. Others are blessed to be lifted from the cataracts by an angel, or to find an ancient hoard in their potato patch at time of great need. Some miracles raise up prophets or cast down presbyters.

Dr. Bliss’ miracle came to him that night out of a life filled with noise — the tumult of flame and destruction, the pounding of surf, the gnawing of rats, the cry of a newborn child never seen — and that miracle was thus:


The glass of Greed’s cage shattered in a burst of splintered darts silvered in the sudden moonlight. Where the snow had fallen for hours in fat, slow flakes, this shower rained outward in a race of ten thousand tiny knives.

Yet they moved, swifter than the eye, almost swifter than thought, in the eerie, muffled silence of the vanishing snow. Perhaps the long-lasting desert storm had stolen all sound from the world. Perhaps the new-fallen snow was still covering over every ear, stilling every guard and sleepless parent for a moment, so what should have crashed like the falling of a bell tower was barely a whisper on the wind.

[writing] Update on The Heart of the Beast

10,700 words on The Heart of the Beast today, to 24,300. That’s about six hours’ work, 90% of it revisions. By the end of my work session tomorrow I’ll be breaking into the portions of the book where I have outline and notes, but only fragments of complete text to work with. At that point this effort will shift from an odd form of revision to something of a pastiche of my core process and Jeff’s.

What I’ll do then is build the outline into the working file. I’ll be combing back through the notes to capture layered versions from his original palimpsest, and drop in scenes transcribed from the handwritten or printed out material. After that, I’ll be straight drafting, essentially, albeit with a very different source and scaffold than is my wont. Still having a lot of fun here.

As usual, a small wip:

Around them lay the Mansions of the Moon, in their shattered state following death of the Beast. It was something of a magical world, for all the forlorn emptiness.

A half-moon shone through the broken roof, the sky around it spackled with stars scattered across the blackness. By this light, the floor — a ballroom once, or so she believed — spread before them, the walls and ceiling having broken long ago to leave behind mere props, impotent columns to hold up the sky. The floor was warped, crumpled inward at the center and curled upward at the edges, to accommodate the rocky hill beneath it that had shifted upon the Beast’s death. The tile of the floor was laid in a mosaic of an enormous toad, counterpart to the emblem on the trapdoor in the Can Man’s courtyard. The first time Moot had seen it, she had laughed — and fallen silent immediately because the acoustics so utterly smothered the sound once it had left her lips.

This trapdoor had been cut from the eye of the toad, and stood in a relatively sheltered corner of the floor. Directly ahead, at the opposite corner, floor and hill alike both ended abruptly in a ravine.

[writing] The diplomatic thriller develops a sample chapter

3,500 words today on the sample chapter of the diplomatic thriller, to 3,800 words.


Yevgeny Kharkov

His morning was heralded by the jangling of a telephone. Unimpeded by drunkenness, the Russian agent slid a slender female arm off his chest and reached for the interruption. Pleasantly exhausted and fully alert, he tugged the handset off the cradle. “Da?”

“Yevgeny.” It was Nelson Yuan, his controller. Slippery American-born bastard. You never knew whose side Nelson was on, even when he was holding a briefcase of your money. Especially not then.

“I’m busy, Nelson,” Kharkov said, slipping over to English. Yuan refused to speak Russian as a matter of principle, and Kharkov’s Chinese was much better than he wanted any putative NSB listeners-in to have confirmation of. “Importance conference.”

Pai-mei murmured something indistinct and licked his ear.