Friday, October 26, 2012

Networking as an Indie Writer

Yesterday morning I went to a meeting. My friend Joe Lore of computer distributor Sunnytech asked me to sub for him at his Business Network International meeting. So I went, thinking I was there mainly to represent Joe and not myself or my writing.

But the format of the meeting let me do both. Everybody gives a one-minute presentation about their business, and I gave the presentation Joe sent me with, but I also had the chance to give one for myself. I chose to speak about my novel Resist the Devil.

I met a lot of interesting people, some of whom I hope to keep in touch with. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the members of BNI's Greater Salem chapter for not only making me feel welcome, but really drawing me in and letting me participate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Adding another short story to the ones available to read free on my website, and like Honor Thy Mother, I decided to share it here as well. It's called "Euthanasia" and I wrote it about four years ago for a contest.
“Euthanasia,” Grampa answered without bothering to move his magazine.
“No, Grampa, really. What do you want? Every year Mom gets you the stupidest things, because she doesn’t know what you want. Why don’t you just tell her, or tell me?”
“I told you. I got everything I need. Now I want euthanasia.”
“Well, you’re not going to get it.”
“We’ll see about that.”
“I gotta do my homework.”
I went to my bedroom and straight to my desk, grabbed my book report notes, and sat on a silver brocade cushion near the window. It was hard to concentrate.
I looked up. My collection of samurai figures stood in the bookcase to my right, with my sushi poster on the wall above them. Over my bed hung the painting of a Hokkaido fishing scene, and on the opposite wall was the poster of Mount Fuji.

I turned to my notes again, and forced myself to read them. It was so hard to concentrate.
When Mom got home, I snagged her in the kitchen. “I’m really worried about Grampa,” I said. “I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and you know what he said?”
Mom picked up Allie and scratched the top of her head, between her ears. “Well, what?”
“He said all he wanted was euthanasia.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about Grampa, Honey.” Allie began to purr loudly, pushing her head into Mom’s hand.
“Mom, he’s suicidal!”
She sighed. “I’ll have a talk with him.”
I went back to my book report. It still wasn’t easy, but with the help of frequent breaks to contemplate the strong and peaceful Fuji-san, I was able to get it done.
Putting the completed homework in my backpack, I realized I was hungry and decided to see if I could hurry supper along. 
On my way to the kitchen, I heard Mom’s voice, sounding exasperated. “All I’m saying is, you shouldn’t scare him like that. He thinks you want to be euthanized!”
“I know,” Grampa’s voice answered.
“Oh, come on! It isn’t funny.” 
As much as I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to hear what they said about me when they thought I wasn’t listening, I felt a little guilty. Or maybe I just didn’t want to get caught. I took a deep breath and walked into the room, trying to look casual.
Mom looked up very quickly. “Oh, good, it’s you. I made a doctor’s appointment for you Monday. You need some shots.”
“Mom, I’ve got all my shots.”
Allie jumped on the table and Mom pushed her off. She looked at the little side table, against the wall, where Grampa had set his organizer, and leaped. Apparently she had expected the little table to be empty. She clawed at the organizer for a second or two, then fell, pulling it down with her. Allie landed on her feet and immediately ran off to recover her dignity. The organizer tipped upside-down before it fell, though, and whatever loose papers Grampa had tucked in there were now strewn on the floor. Since I was closest, I squatted to gather them. 
“I’ll get it!” said Grampa, rushing over. Then I saw why. Lying on the floor in front of me was a beautiful, glossy picture of Fuji, and splashed across it was the headline, “See Japan!” I thought I saw my own name somewhere nearby, and looked to find it. It was an airline boarding pass. The ticket was there, too, and the little envelope to put them in. “JFK to NRT,” it said, New York to Tokyo. In my name.
Grampa shrugged. “You’re the youth,” he said, “and that’s Asia. Youth in Asia.”

Thanks to The Third Sunday Blog Carnival for including this story in your December 16, 2012 edition.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Honor Thy Mother

Here's a short story about mental illness and child abuse:
The boy was missing.
“Mark, have you seen Temeni?” Sarah called to her husband. Raindrops fell sporadically on the porch railing outside the window as though the clouds were making up their minds whether to rain or not. She looked into the always-musty dining room, but Mark wasn't there.
Now that she thought about it, she couldn't remember having seen Temeni for quite a while. She walked to the back door and looked out. Three figures worked by the pig sty, spreading a large tarp over something. One was Mark. The others wore skirts. That would make them Rechah and Seraiah. Jalon was in a nearby pasture leading one of the horses to the barn. But where was Temeni?
It was time to cook supper. She went down to the cellar and picked out twelve potatoes and a squash, then put the squash back. Then she got six fish from the smoke-shed. She hadn’t thought to keep the kinds of fish separate when she and Seraiah had smoked them last year.
But Temeni...where was Temeni? He had no right to disappear like this. Who did he think he was, anyway?
Suddenly she realized the house was very cold. No wonder. All that was left of the fire was a few stray coals. She started another, shaking a little because she was seething with anger. She hadn’t forgotten about Temeni. It was insulting of him to just leave like this, without even saying anything. 
The door slammed. “Hi, Mom! I’m home!”
Sarah ran to the door. “Where have you been, young man?” she screamed.
“Fishing,” Temeni answered, trying to keep the fear out of his voice. His shoulders pulled up near his chin of their own accord.
“Fishing! When I was waiting for you?” Sarah yelled into her son’s ear, her voice shrill and shaking.
“You told me to get some fish for supper!” Temeni yelled back.
But his mother heard only the tone and not the words. She grabbed a handful of his blond hair and pulled suddenly with all the strength of rage. 
It was not in Temeni to fight his own mother, even when she was hurting him. His head crashed to the floor with a thud. He knew it was a sin to feel anger toward his own mother, but he couldn't help it. He was familiar enough with pain, but he howled anyway and his voice was hoarse with emotion.
He was up by now, and had run through the house and out the back door, not so much out of fear of his mother as out of fear that he would strike her.
Sarah chased him around the house several times. He had no intention of running away. There would be too much explaining to do, anywhere he went for shelter. And spreading rumors about his own mother would be a terrible sin--like stealing or worshiping graven images. What did it matter that these rumors would be true? He would invent some excuse for his throbbing, bloody forehead, soon half-believe it himself, and before it quite healed, forget about it. That was the pattern of things.
After six or seven laps around the house, Temeni realized that his mother was no longer following him. He found her sitting on the ground, hugging herself and sobbing.
There was no answer.
Again no answer.
“Why don’t you go inside? It’s raining.”
“Shut up and go away,” she said in a frail, thin voice, almost too quiet to hear.
Sarah had not gone very deeply this time into her habitual depression. She still performed her tasks, but somberly and silently. She ate very little, and she was physically weak to the point that her hands often shook as she worked. And she was very slow to react.
On the morning of the third day she milked the cows as usual. Since the house did not have electricity (It was a matter of principle.) Sarah always took the milk immediately to the Sheffields, who chilled it and sold it along with their own. 
She maneuvered the little Ford coupe over bumps and around muddy puddles. She glanced at the brook where it pushed its way over the driveway as well as under it. Once past its obstacle, it fell about six feet down a steep hill made even steeper by the erosion of the rushing water. This happened every year when the snow melted, and she was used to it. But her ailing mind was numb, and forgot that the water was carving invisible bumps and holes in the driveway. Before she knew it, her wheels were turned toward the banking. Her hands froze. She tried to tell them to move but they only trembled. 
When the rescue squad came, a small crowd of neighbors followed, some to help, some to gawk.
“Temeni,” said one of the gawkers, when she was getting bored, “what happened to your forehead?”
“Oh nothing much,” he answered. “Clumsy, I guess. I don’t even remember doing it.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My NaNoWriMo 2012 Project

I've finally picked a novel to write for NaNoWriMo. Here's what I said on my "novel info" page there:


Faine Channing is visiting her cousin in Chicago when she suddenly finds herself on an alien space station 350 years in the future. Too bad the aliens, in that century, are at war with Earth. She's interrogated and kept as a prisoner for years until the war is over. This book is her journal.
It's a Star Trek book, and I'm hoping to win over Pocket Books when it's all written and edited and proofread six million times and all that.
The space station where Faine finds herself is Deep Space Nine, back when it was still called Terok Nor and the Cardassians were in charge. Bajoran laborers are the first to find her, but Cardassian soldiers arrive quickly, and soon she's brought before Gul Dukat, the station commander.


(Note: This is really an excerpt of Star Trek: Quicksilver, a script I'm writing with other authors, which takes place after the novel.) 

          FAINE (Human from 21st Century)
Yeah, Deep Space Nine, but back
when it was run by Cardassians, and
Gul Dukat was in charge. Dukat kept
me as his personal . . . prisoner,
and a few days after I got there he
had a guest. It was another gul,
and Dukat played the good host and
lent me to the other gul for the
night....He didn’t touch me all night, or in
the morning, either, and then he
left. I was sure Dukat was going to
kill me, and then I started
worrying that he wouldn’t kill me.
          SINIJ (Suliban Cabalist)
Kill you? For what offense?
Dukat sent me to that room to
please Gillek, and I failed.
Couldn't even get him to look at
          MOWROGH (Klingon)
     (turned off my by Faine's appearance)
Maybe humans just aren't his type.
          TEJAT (Cardassian former spy)
     (to himself)
Try telling that to Dukat.
          YOUNGER NADO (Half-Bajoran Starfleet Captain)
It looks like he decided not to
kill you.
Eventually a guard came and took me
to Dukat’s office, and Gillek was
there with Dukat, and I was just
thinking, please kill me, please
kill me. It was all I could do not
to say it out loud. I knew if I
actually asked him, he wouldn’t do
it. And then Dukat looked at me and
said, "I’ve sold you, Terran. You
belong to Gul Gillek now." And that
was all. I left with Gillek on his
ship, and I remained a prisoner on
that ship until the war was over.
Oh, and the title. Yes, the title, tentatively, is An Analysis of the Cardassian Language.

Related posts: 

It Couldn't Possibly..., What I Learned from Last Year's NaNoWriMo, My Actor Wish List, Star Trek: Quicksilver, Catching Up

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It Couldn't Possibly...

What if something happened to you, that couldn't possibly happen to anyone? Something so clearly against logic, against physics, against your gut, that the only possible conclusion is that it didn't happen, and yet it did?

That's the question I'm exploring in my novel Pyte It's about how two women's lives change when the distinction between what's real and what's impossible suddenly disappears.

Jade Massilon is a freelance translator and single mom from New Hampshire, and she didn't ask to be thrown into a world full of creepy paranormal 'investigators', flaky UFO enthusiasts and downright weirdos. And she certainly didn't ask to be kidnapped.

Piper Provencher is a college student in Illinois, and she didn't ask to be kidnapped, either. Or be left in the desert to bake to death in the sun.

Pyte is a blend of psychological drama, family saga and science fiction, and is based on my short stories "Pleased to Beat You" and "The Mammal Cage". (The links are to the collection, The Claw and the Eye.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What I Learned from Last Year's NaNoWriMo

Pyte was my project for last year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, in which participants try to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days). It was quite an experience. Here's what I learned:

  1. 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1,667 words a day, sounds like a lot but isn't. It's really not very hard to produce that much first-draft fiction, on topic and following the plot plan, every day for a month.
  2. The advice I see all over the place: 'Just write! Do your editing later,' isn't for everyone. I 'just wrote' for 30 days nearly a year ago (NaNoWriMo happens for the month of November every year.), and managed to turn out a manuscript that looks suspiciously like an elephant-sized knot of badly-tangled string. I've only recently screwed up the courage to start fixing it. This year I'm going to edit as I go along. I'm sure my wordcount graph will look like the Dow, but I think the idea is to actually produce something readable.
  3. In Pyte, Piper Provencher is rescued after
    nearly dying from exposure in a black-rock
    desert. Photo:
  4. You get to meet fabulous people. I frequent other social sites for writers, and mostly I meet people who fancy themselves writers but aren't. Maybe there's just a bigger pool of members to choose from, but NaNoWriMo has been a great place to connect with people who understand me as a writer and help me out with great feedback and advice. 
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? What was your experience like?

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Actor Wish List

Cecile de France
No, this isn't a post about my (OMG! He is like, so hot!) favorite eye candy. It's about the screenplay Star Trek: Quicksilver that I'm involved with, and who I would love to see play its characters.

Starfleet Captain NADO Merinish, half Arbazan, half Bajoran. My pick: Cecile de France. Her character in Hereafter was everything Nado: strong, resilient, intelligent, deep and sensitive. And she has the presence and grace to play both a charismatic leader and a skilled negotiator.

Starfleet Commander Robert MACLOMOND, Human. My pick: Ya got me.

Starfleet Lt. Commander K'VEL, Vulcan. My pick: Suzie Plakson. She's got the talent, the grace, the fire and the subtlety that are indispensable for a major Vulcan role. Oh, and she's even played a Vulcan before.
Suzie Plakson

Starfleet Lt. Commander MOWROGH, Klingon. My pick: Geno Segers.

Starfleet Lieutenant Erin LOBI, Human. My pick: I'm not telling yet.

Starfleet Ensign SHRAGA, Andorian. My pick: I'm not telling that yet, either.

Faine CHANNING, Human. She was born in the late 20th Century and transported to the 24th Century by the terrorist's weapon. My pick: Claire Forlani or Sabrina Lloyd. They both portray a haunting sense of insight that seems to go far beyond their ages, maybe beyond a human lifetime.

Golim TEJAT, Cardassian. Tejat was a member of the Obsidian Order, the Cardassian state intelligence service. My pick: Haven't found him yet. I'll admit it's a tall order: he'd have to fit the very big shoes of Andrew J. Robinson and Martha Hackett, who played Obsidian Order agents before him.
Geno Segers

SINIJ, Suliban. He was born in the 22nd Century and transported to the 24th Century by the terrorist's weapon. My pick: No clue.

Gul Caybin GILLEK, Cardassian. He's one of his people's top military leaders and comes from one of their 'best' families. Very few actors can meet the standard of regal bearing, haughtiness and cunning set by Linda Thorson as Gul Ocett, and Gillek has the added element of having survived the war that reduced his planet to rubble and killed most of his people. My pick: Hugh Laurie. He'd be perfect.

DREM, Xindi Reptilian. My pick: I haven't picked yet

The Terrorist, Cardassian. He's a psychopath: he survived the same horrors as Gul Gillek, only he cracked. My pick: Robert Picardo.

Have you written a script? Writing one? Thinking about it? What actors would you want to cast in it?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Star Trek: Quicksilver

Gul (General) Dukat of the Cardassian military
ruled the station where Faine Channing landed
when she was taken from Earth by the
terrorist's weapon.
Photo: Memory Alpha
A little about the Quicksilver script I'm working on (with others): for those unfamiliar with some of the Star Trek references, I have linked to wikis to fill you in. If something doesn't ring a bell, click on it.

Not long after the Dominion War, there’s a Changeling hiding on Earth, and Captain Nado has assembled the quadrant’s foremost experts to catch him. But he isn’t a Changeling at all; he’s a Suliban Cabalist and he doesn’t belong there. (He's from 200 years in the past, for one thing.) Neither does the human from 21st-Century Earth who just appeared one day on a Cardassian space station. Investigation uncovers a terrorist behind it all, and he’s blowing up whole cities at a time. The terrorist himself eludes the team for now, but they are able to locate and destroy his weapon – only to learn that what they destroyed was just a decoy. Captain Nado visits the Justice Minister on the planet where the terrorist is hiding, to ask for his arrest and extradition, but returns empty-handed. Here's what she tells her team:

CAPTAIN NADO (half-Bajoran)
I learned something about who we're dealing with on that planet. Their procedure for apprehending suspects is simply not something the Federation could have anything to do with. They cordon off a ring around the suspect and arrest everyone who happens to be within it, whether they have anything to do with the case or not, and subject them to the most horrible cruelties. I've seen victims of this barbaric practice, talked with them. Some were missing fingers. One woman had her lips cut off . . .

SINIJ (Suliban Cabalist)
So we have to kidnap him?

Apprehension of criminals in non-Federation space without the consent of the local authorities: not only is it illegal, but I can't think of a more surefire way to start a war with about six different species and coalitions at once.

GILLEK (Cardassian military) nods in agreement.


TEJAT (Cardassian former spy)
Captain, I believe you're faced with the kind of decision we Cardassians have been forced to make often. Do you participate in the torture of innocent civilians, or stand by and watch while our friend destroys the entire quadrant, one city at a time?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Catching Up

It's been forever since I've said a thing to you. I won't bore you with all that's happened. Here's what I'm doing now:

  • Tweaking Quicksilver, a Star Trek script. Yes, I said Star Trek. I wrote it with two other people, tailored to a particular actress, who had expressed interest in some public remarks. She declined it, so now we're revising it to be suitable for lots of actresses, before we send it off to Paramount.
  • Plugging away at Pyte. The plot is good, the outline is good, but it reads like 57,000 words of drivel. I wrote it too fast, as an experiment. I kept reading that editing as you write is a bad habit: just write, and refine it later. Apparently that advice is not for me. I'm rewriting it, but it's slow going.
  • Getting ready for NaNoWriMo. I'm excited! Still deciding which novel to write:
    • 1. The Suitcase Man. Gretchen is on a road trip, heading back home after a frantic drive to see her father when he had a heart attack. Dad's okay, but now Gretchen has locked her keys in the car. She's broke and far from anyone she knows. That's when she meets Jeremiah, who's offering to pay her $5000 to deliver a suitcase. The reason I hesitate: It's the third book in the series that starts with Pyte. Not sure if I'm not going to write myself into a corner if I don't do them in order.
    • 2. An Analysis of the Cardassian Language. Faine Channing is visiting her cousin in Chicago when she suddenly finds herself on an alien space station 350 years in the future. Too bad the aliens, in that century, are at war with Earth. She's interrogated and kept as a prisoner for years until the war is over. This book is her journal. The reason I hesitate: It's Star Trek. Which means if I don't sell it to Pocket Books, I don't sell it at all.
Which one would you write?