The Turtle Will Write

The Turtle Will Write

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finish What You Start

I'm sure I've said this before, but experience is teaching me how true it is.

Finish what you start writing.

It doesn't matter if it's a lousy first draft with terrible characterization and a sappy ending. What's important is that it's equally lousy throughout.

If you don't finish, then you get a hunchback of Notre Dame kind of monster where parts are extremely overworked and polished, and parts are spindly and lousy, and parts are just missing, and who wants to attach garbage to fine jewelry? It's paralyzing.

Nope. Better to puke the whole mess out at the start and work on cleanup later when you can stand to look at it again.

That's not really the best analogy, since most people don't make sculpture out of vomit, but it's the best I can do this morning.

Finish what you start.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


A tiny garden spider took up residence in my bathroom several weeks ago. No idea where she came from. One morning, she was there in the corner, sitting in her invisible web. It was cold outside, and she had caught two ants, so I let her be.

She later caught another spider. She was earning her keep, and staying close to her web, so I let her be.

In the last week or so, she has caught nothing. The ants aren't coming inside anymore. I worried about her. A spider has to eat to live and spin webs. The longer she went without food, the less likely she became to be able to do anything about it. I should move her outside.

But she's a house spider. She doesn't know The Big World. She isn't prepared for temperature extremes or thunderstorms or birds or bigger spiders.

What spider is prepared? Spiders know only what God programmed them to know: survival. They do what they can because it's all they have.

This morning, I caught her (very carefully, because a spider can get trapped in her own web) and took her out to the compost pile, where I hope ants are plentiful enough even for a starving arachnid, and there is some shelter from rain until she gets established. I hope she does well. I hope she grows and meets a mate and has a sack full of baby spiders. I have no way of knowing, but I choose to hope, even though my heart says I waited too long and her best hope is to be eaten quickly.

I wish I didn't care so much about spiders and wasps and flies and earthworms and crows and - well, you get the idea. I wish I didn't believe from my heart that all life comes from God and is therefore precious and deserving of respect and kindness. I wish I was OK with nature's cruelty, and didn't believe it is only a result of The Curse that Adam and Eve and every human since brought down on creation.

If wishes were fishes, we'd all eat steak.

God's blessing, little spider. By His grace, we'll meet again, and you can tell me your adventures in The Big World.

Friday, March 27, 2015

I Am Not a Feminist

With the release of Daughter of Anasca, this suddenly seems important to say. DoA has many capable female characters, so it's tempting to think I'm all about woman power.

I'm not. I'm about people power.

I don't think woman are oppressed any more than anybody else. I don't think we need special laws, or special interests, or special salaries, or whatever. I think every person is responsible for himself (yes, I even still use the masculine as a generic pronoun because that's how English works). I hate things like that test - whatever it's called, starts with "B" - that women dreamed up to quantify how much time women spend talking to each other about "not men" in movies. Every time I see a reference to that sort of nonsense, I want to put on an extra bra in protest. Stop telling me I'm oppressed. I'm not.

If I'm anything, I'm a female male chauvinist, because I do believe whenever possible, men should be "in charge." I find it sad that we live in a culture that thrives on emasculating men. This is a worldview issue for me, created not only by my family of origin, but my training and education. I wish more men would step up and stop letting the women do all the work.  

I didn't write DoA as a book about oppressed women overcoming society's unfairness, although I understand if some readers take that away. I wrote about two girls and two boys growing up. I put Cahnar and Spidraax in there because boys grow up, too, and they also have trouble doing it. 

That's all I have to say about that. Today, anyway. Breakfast is calling.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Procrastination or Inspiration?

With the release of Daughter of Anasca and my current Farmville fast, I have no excuse not to be writing. My official WIP is Dangling Justice, the prequel to Star of Justice.

However, I just read a not-good book by a best-selling author about psychics in New Orleans, and it left me with a strong urge to write something better. I haven't felt an urge like this since college, when I listened to secular music and got writing ideas all day long.

TT: I've tried listening to secular music nowadays, but the stuff is so coarse and inappropriate, I don't want to write any stories it might inspire. 

The prequel to Dangling Justice, and the story that really started it all, is Past Ties. This idea also sparked 20 years ago, like Daughter of Anasca, and could be considered the first story I ever "finished." It was about 50K words and ended on a cliff-hanger, but I'd never written anything that long before with a continuous timeline.

Past Ties is more sci fi than fantasy, set in future Kansas and involving time travel, psychics and cyborgs, inspired by Arnold Schwartzenegger's Total Recall, Jon Larroquette's Second Sight, and a campy B movie called Jack's Back starring James Spader as identical twins (that remains unavailable on DVD, even though I check Amazon every year). Originally it was set on Mars and Earth. I ultimately scrapped it because a) it was melodramatic crap that served mostly to boost my word count to the magic one million, and b) because I didn't want to do the loads of research necessary for all that egghead stuff.

Anyway, I've realized a couple things. One, I write space opera, not sci fi. I don't claim to prognosticate the future or even accurately describe current scientific possibilities. All I want to do is suggest that certain things might be possible, and hopefully not be too wrong. Two, and I give credit to Kessie Carroll's guest post on NAF for this, I don't have to write a brick to tell this story. It might make a fine novella. I did have plans to write two other books to complete the story, so three novellas might first be ebooks and eventually, a combined print novel.

Finally, and most importantly, Past Ties makes Dangling Justice make sense. It introduces the main characters in their own element and explains why they end up causing so much trouble in Ah'rahk in the first place.

So, there's a good chance Past Ties will appear as an offering to the reading public. It may be the death blow to any future non-fantasy writing attempts on my part, but it might not. I do know a few die hard geeks I suspect would be happy to provide some balance on the science. Or mock the compost out of it. 

I'm transferring the file to Scrivener. I'm determined to let go immediately of every 20 year old word that doesn't fit in my new idea of what this story could be. I will accept the challenge. I will Spock my own fiver.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spock My Fiver

I saw this article on Facebook shortly after the death of Leonard Nimoy.

"Spocking the hell out of fivers" instantly became my happy thought of the day, combining both the idea of the stereotypically infinitely accommodating Canadians bucking the system and my favorite Vulcan (sorry, Tuvok, I loved Spock first) and his foray into the world of bad language (even-numbered Trek films don't suck). It also became my mission.

I began a one-woman campaign to bring "Spock my fiver" into the American lexicon. To do this, I offered definitions. The phrase must be useful, but also respectful of both the human Leonard Nimoy, and the Vulcan philosophy of logic and order.

"Spock my fiver" is the positive, which connotes "icing on the cake." To Spock my fiver is to do me one better, take it to the next level, put bacon gravy on those biscuits. It can also connote friendly one-upmanship, as in "you did that? I can Spock your fiver. I did this."

"Don't Spock my fiver" is the negative, which is still respectful but in the other direction. Telling a story and someone else finishes it, probably better than you would have? "Man, don't Spock my fiver." Akin to "Live long and don't steal my thunder."

I will autograph books to young writers with "Spock my fiver" as an encouragement to dream bigger than my success (not hard at the moment). I've already signed one, matter of fact. I will use it in at least one of my books, right alongside Solar Roadways.

I have made progress. Today, a co-worker used the phrase in context. Several Facebook Friends seem intrigued by the idea. I hope they, too, are spreading the seeds of the Canadian Vulcan fiver mythology. Perhaps, one day, it will find it's way into a Heavens to Betsy book. Dare I dream the Turtle may even have a footnote? What a fiver that would Spock.

Spread the word, my friends. Spock my fiver. Spock the hell out of my fiver.