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First Week on the New Schedule

So I’ve tried it for a week.
In order to make the switch from work to music, I set my husband’s alarm-clock to turn on the radio. This worked fine for stopping me from editing, but on Friday when I was coding, I just ignored it. ::rueful::

Still I not only got a better balance of stuff accomplished, I also got more total accomplished. Stopping working before I hit brain-dead apparently has fringe benefits.

(I used to know that. Once upon a time my wordcount goals were actually there to tell me “Time to stop,” not to push me to write more. But I guess I sort of forgot that in all the excitement of doing the publication thing?)

Anyway, here’s what I got done last week…

  • Writing: I fixed many errors in Eyes of Infistar, installed a copy on our tablet for my husband to read, got back several chapters worth of notes, made more fixes, and put a new copy on the tablet.

    I also ebook-ified a book written by my daughter, put it on the tablet, and did a read-through.

  • Art: Compiled 19 pages of ink scans for Scent of Spring.
  • Music: Practiced 5 times (inc. 3 “vocal workout” sessions). Worked on scoring Scent of Spring. (Yes, the song has the same title as the graphic novel… There’s a reason for that.)
  • Coding: Started work on an image carousel for inserting on the bottom of certain webpages. In the process, discovered that the ‘$’ jquery shortcut doesn’t work consistently when used on a page that is integrating wordpress content. The discovery process involved a certain amount of hair-pulling. ::rueful::
  • Tatting: Worked on a design that still isn’t right. (I do a lot of that.)

Plus, I did 11 holes of disc golf, played the Eldritch Horror Boardgame with my family 3 times (we just got a new expansion, so we were eager to try out all the new stuff), helped one daughter build a website and helped another make bead lizards* to give away to friends. All in all, a good week.

*My design from over 15 years ago. They were actually the body of a dragon, but the wings were futzy and delicate and the older kids and I ended up making a bunch of dragons without the wings, back when. Examples were still inhabiting my bedroom, and she wanted to make a couple. Her first one is pictured below.

More itty-bitty images

So last week I finished working on the sewing project I was doing for my friend Yoon Ha Lee, and this week I was supposed to be working on Lioness, a story set in the same world as Cantata and Pavane, but on the other side of the continent, (and with a more adventurous plot — also, a heroine who weaves and makes lace: and it is very challenging to weave and make lace while simultaneously being the protagonist of an adventure story, let me tell you!) I started it five years ago, but it got sidelined by Across a Jade Sea.

Anyway, I haven’t managed to get Lioness going again yet. What happened instead, was that I made twelve new sprites for that video game that’s based on my world. (Okay, so it’s a user-made-content expansion to an open-source computer game. Close enough.) My programmer is ecstatic. He’s been being very patient over this business with me publishing books and therefore needing covers for them, and how that was absorbing all my artistic oomph. But, we had almost finished replacing all the placeholder art, and now it looks like we’ll finally get there! (If I counted correctly, only 9 sprites left to go.)

So, here are some (very tiny) “Westlanders” (mentioned very, very briefly in Cantata and Pavane):

Another thing I did this week was make an ebook version of my pulp sf “romp” Eyes of Infistar, for my publisher to look over and decide if that’s going to be our next release. It’s got strange planets, a mysterious alien artifact, primitive temples, space pirates, plus an empath, an intelligent blue ape, and a political/economic entity that calls itself a galactic empire. And lots of action scenes. I even have a sequel written, although not edited. (Editing the sequel was another project that got pushed aside when Across a Jade Sea attacked me.)

But I have said very decidedly that I am NOT doing any more covers right now, so if he wants to release it this year, he’ll need to find a different cover artist.

It was only ever an estimate, after all.

Sails of Everwind just passed the 100K words mark, and so is at an estimated 100+%, which breaks my progress bar.

I guess now would be a good time to remove the 8K or so words right at the beginning that I have decided I don’t want… that’ll give me a little more working room before I break my progress bar all over again.
(I’m close to the end, but not that close to the end. I’m guessing the first draft will run… 115K? Something like that.)

Close enough to count

I passed the 50K word mark on Sails of Everwind today. As I’m not sure how long the story will actually be, I can’t know where halfway point will be. But 50K is half of my target wordcount, so I’m going to celebrate that, whether the story itself is halfway done, or not. 🙂

Making it look like a book

My husband was home today, and is very determined about getting his own private copy of Eyes of Infistar as soon as possible, so we spent most of the day turning the submission manuscript into a print ready pdf. He’s mucking with the cover as I write this. (We’ve been getting a lot of ‘can’t save, program error’ messages with that one, I think just because it’s so huge.)

He said that his design goal for this project was “just slightly tacky”.
I told him the correct term was “camp”.

However, as he has included on the cover the line “The Greatest Adventure since Zargoth and the Death Ray.” I think maybe “tacky” has won the day. 🙂

I did try to get some stuff done on my own projects, but forward progress there was minimal. Ah well.

Forward Motion

Dicing With Flames is back in production.I’m not up to full speed yet, but while nattering in rec.arts.sf.compostion about what all I’m working at, I got a ‘sounds fascinating’ about Song of Asolde, a ‘sounds fun’ about Eyes of Infistar, and a ‘will you get these stories finished already!’ about Black Flag all within a 24 hour span, so I’m feeling too happy-bouncy right now to angst over being 1105 words shy of my week’s quota.

Another one done

Eyes of Infistar is submitted.
It is now too late to worry about it anymore.

Hopefully I have a year before I have to think about it again much, and I can finally get back to Asond, Samanth and company.

Although, maybe that's being a bit too hopeful. Boyd wants a private printed copy of Eyes, and thus has got cover pictures on his brain. What do I think, he wants to know, of having Algernon striking a heroic pose while Peluge holds up a couple fingers behind his head?

I think that Peluge and Algernon, fun as they are, are not the main characters and shouldn't be allowed to dominate the cover.

Besides, I don't have *time* to work on cover pictures, which are BIG and require a great deal of time consuming attention to detail. Black Flag is behind schedule, Dicing With Flames is supposed be done in February, and I promised myself I would complete the storyboards for Scent of Spring before the end of December.

I'm also in the middle of an overhaul of my writing site.


I have 116 pages worth storyboards for Scent of Spring now, and have reached page 53 of 60 in my script. My calculator says that's 88%, which would make the total length estimate 131 pages. Fifteen more pages to go. My estimated start of 'actual writing' date was today, which I'm obviously going to miss, but I might not be more than a month behind. That's not bad considering this is a third or fourth string project.

Dicing With Flames continues to remain on hold while I do revisions on Eyes of Infistar.

When I'm doing revisions I have a much harder time sticking to a do-so-much-and-no-more type schedule than when I'm writing, so I have a tendency to do a whole lot one day, wear myself out, and spend the next day doing nothing much at all. I'm probably doing just as much actual “work” as I do normally, but the stop and go format is a lot more frustrating. Today I'm on stop, so I need to find something I can do while brain-dead. Blah.

What I did yesterday while brain-dead, was read aloud the first three volumes of Girl Genius, while my kids followed along over my shoulder. I'm pretty good at reading aloud (even if I do say so myself) and it's great material to work with. As I've already read through what's available on my own at least three times already, I only ended up laughing when I was supposed to be delivering lines once or twice. It's a bit awkward working off a web-page, though. Sometimes I don't scroll down far enough, and I miss a speech bubble or two down at the bottom of the page.

Eyes of Infistar

The Donald Maass Literary Agency has a page “This month we are looking for….”, and the latest is Quirky detectives we would like to meet. It just so happens that I have this story I'm supposedly revising, which features quirky detectives. Of course, they seem to be expecting detectives to be found in mystery genre queries, not science fiction, but this way I can give them (almost) what they ask for and surprise them at the same time. Sounds perfect, right?

Okay, maybe not perfect. But it was a tempting enough situation that I have written and snail-mailed a query letter, hoping it would arrive while “this month's” request was still in effect and maybe, therefore, get a smidgen of extra attention. Which means I really can't afford to delay working on Eyes anymore, because you never know, they might ask to see it. (It seems a pity to abandon the characters of Dicing With Flames in the situation they are in, but the mountain can't collapse on them if I'm not there to tell it to, so they can wait.)

So, if you have read Eyes, and sent me comments, and I did not respond saying, 'yes I got them, thank you very much', then I didn't get them. Could you please try sending them again? I would love a chance to thank you for the effort you have gone to on my behalf.

And if you haven't sent me any comments, well, anything you can get to me in the next three weeks or so, will be greatly appreciated. 🙂

Maybe not quite the right approach?

I have been trying to devise a hook for Eyes of Infistar.
And I'm having trouble. (No surprise, I guess, this hook writing business is hard).

My first temptation is to say something on the order of…

From the hackneyed tradition of Lin Carter, E. E. Doc Smith, James H. Schmitz, and Edgar Rice Burroughs comes…

THE EYES OF INFISTAR (Space operatic adventure/mystery.)

It's got a stolen alien artifact (because all space operas need mysterious artifacts left carelessly lying about by progenitor aliens). It's got a galactic empire (because no space opera is complete without a galactic empire no matter how politically implausible that might be). It's got a gorgeous kick-ass heroine whose sister is an eight foot tall empath and whose brother is a blue ape. (I am credibly informed that space operas don't require that one's heroine have hairy blue relatives, but I figure even a devoted tribute like this one can use a few original elements.)

The swinging planetary romance plot predictably has our heroine (and stud-muffin admirer) chasing cunning villains across an alien landscape. And the climax is a high octane shoot out with space pirates taking place in — you guessed it — a primitive temple. With every cliche in the lexicon, how could it possibly fail to be fun?

…Okay, not quite every cliche. Gotta save some for the sequel.

I somehow suspect this doesn't qualify as a hook. It certainly doesn't follow the recommended format. 🙁
And the 'how could it possibly fail to be fun' line is just asking to be slapped, (but it fits perfectly with the tone of the rest of it.) ::sigh::

Author's Note on the Cultivator Universe

I had created two fantasy worlds, and wanted to do a science fictional one. But I kept having problems. I could build a science fictional universe around a story (see Black Flag for an example of a universe built around a specific story) but to just build one that stood on it's own was for some reason giving me trouble. I finally realized that it was because I was tripping over the fact that science fiction universes are often seen as a continuation of ours: a possible future. My imagination was choking over my conviction that I was incapable of guessing what the future would be.

So instead of creating a possible future, I created an impossible one.

As soon as I had detached the universe I was building from the real world and real life, by centering it on a concept that was scientificly impossible, I was free to be as scientificly rigorous as I wanted to be in everything else. At the same time I remained free to ignore scientific realities when I thought they were getting in the way of a good yarn. The best aspects of both worlds were mine to play with.

Sayings from Racciman's World
'Card sharping is for people whose fingers are more clever than they are.'
-- Prince Asond
Copyright © Michelle Bottorff

Email mbottorff at lshelby period com