Monday, November 26, 2012


The holiday weekend was quite a productive one for writing, I managed to complete the first, then a second, then a third, and then a fourth draft of THE MIDNIGHT COURT.

The short story is not terribly long at just under 6500 words, but it is the first of what I hope will be a serial that leads to other cool things. Best thing about it: I was asked to write as a sort of proof of concept for the Grantville Gazette. I was given guidelines, the historical figures I should focus on and then set loose.

Special permission and mandate in hand, I went to work.

One thing about Eric Flint's 1632: it's rigorously researched, and people will catch you slipping if you do. Knowing this, I was a bit daunted.  I had to do a great deal of study and research before I could even write word one. Every other thing I have previously written or tried to write involved the use of knowledge I already possessed or things I made up from whole cloth. I had a great deal of research on historical figures from a culture and religion alien to me and anything I had studied before.

It wasn't all drudgery: I have always loved history and learning of times and places I have no experience of, so the research had its pleasing moments, but I did cram reading about 3000 pages of different history texts and biographies into my brain over the course of about a month and a half.

About half-way through the research I started to figure out where I was going, and how to get there.

Then, about two weeks ago, I sat down and started to actually write.

I think it came out well.

Initial feedback was pretty good, though I did get caught on an error: did you know that arab warmblood horses have only been around for a hundred years or so? Arab horses were awesome then, but the sub-breed of warmbloods hadn't been created.

Now, I wait for further word from the editorial board.


Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Latest Thing

For the last few weeks I have been doing a great deal of research on a project for Eric Flint's 1632 Universe. Today I felt ready to begin writing, and put this together in relative short order:

The honeybee took flight from the flower, releasing the siblings from the stillness that held them. They had barely greeted one another when it flew between them to land on the orchid and crawl into purple folds of the flower, seeking the nectar within and drawing them to watch in silence.

As the bee disappeared deeper into the gardens, wingbeats joining the hum of others of its hive, the brother and sister leaned back and regarded one another, much as they had many times before and, God willing, would have opportunity to do for many years to come. 

She noted his smooth brow was furrowed under the gorgeous yellow turban he wore. She had not seen him so troubled since father had sent Aurangzib from the court. Jahanara folded hands in her lap, waiting. It was not often that the eldest came to visit, but when he did, it was nearly always to ask the same questions. 

“And what of Father, sister mine?”

She smiled inwardly–but not wanting to show how easily she had read him and therefore hurt his feelings–she didn’t let the smile curve her lips. “He still pines for our beloved Mother, of course. The only thing he looks forward to is the daily meeting with his advisors regarding her tomb.”

“His remaining wives?” Dara asked.

She smiled openly. She had been composing a verse this morning, a playful little thing, and used part of it now: “The harem persists in its perennial practices: showing their love of Father and whining at his inattention.”

Dara nodded absently, but didn’t return her smile.

It was rare that he missed an opportunity to show his appreciation for her work. Resisting the urge to show her displeasure, she asked, “What troubles you, brother?”

“I wonder what it will take to shake Father from his grief.”

She strangled a sigh. “Must he be shaken?”

“Our brothers are not idle, sister.”

“No, but neither are they gathering armies to usurp father’s place.”

“Not that we know of, at least.”

“Our friend Mian Mir, in his wisdom, would have you set aside your fear, brother.”

Dara sniffed, “I know. I would argue that it is no sin to fear for one’s family.”

“If you only feared for your family, rather than fearing certain members of it.”

Another sniff, this one companion to a bitter twist of the lips, 
“It has always been thus for the sons of this house.”

And the women of our house, they have free reign to do exactly as they wish, do they? She refused to let him see how much his self-pity annoyed her. “But our Father has chosen otherwise, for you.”

Looking through the walls of the garden, Dara whispered, voice so low it nearly drowned in the buzz of industrious insects about them: “Some days, I think he might have chosen the wrong son…”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Angsty Angst

I am returning home from Toronto, having spent a pleasant five nights here for World Fantasy 2012.

I enjoyed catching up with friends and socializing with other writers and industry folks I had not met before. The disaster which struck New York and New Jersey prevented many people coming; about one hundred and forty, according to one count. I, personally, missed them all the more because I am almost certain I will not be able to attend WFC 2013 in Brighton (my budget will not bear travel costs to the UK).

One of the better things about WFC is the opportunity to talk to other writers who appear to be in a similar position to oneself and use their experience as a sounding board for perceptions I might have about where I am and where I should go.

The convention also presents opportunities to speak with individuals who are more experienced and get their sage advice, when offered.  I add "when offered" because a WFC attending membership is not a license to pump near-strangers for information, but rather a chance to talk with people who might know a great deal more than you do about the many aspects of the business  and craft of writing.  One must tread lightly, be someone others want to socialize with, and then set the mind and ears to record what is said by the company you keep.

It is not often, at least in my daily life, that I find I am fully engaged by the people and ideas around me. When full engagement happens for me, it's like being hooked to a power source that hums through the mind, making me restless and eager to write something, anything. The difficulty is, that, while WFC can be enlightening, inspiring, and engaging, it is also exhausting.

I call this time, the return trip home and the first few days back, "limbo". Too tired to process it all, I take a few days to let the experience settle, then the excitement of that 'full engagement' returns and I generally produce a great deal of material in a very short time.

I cannot wait, yet I have some other things I must consider in the meantime: I have the oral board of the sergeant's exam to take, something I do not relish doing for a number of reasons; most of them concerning where I thought to be at this moment. Regardless, I will do my best, and having done that, hope for full engagement to carry me through a feast of fine writing.

So, in the meantime, some research regarding the Mughal Empire and its dynasty's most famous daughter, Jahanara.