Archive for the ‘writing’ Tag

Change in the Air

The evil day job and I have parted company (and it wasn’t evil at all, I quite liked that job) and I’m looking for work in western Oregon and Washington. The reasons are varied and, well, personal. My point is that there is likely an interstate move in my future, after fourteen years in the same house.

So I’m working on that, and I’m editing The Unique Solution (the long-awaited sequel to Blade’s Edge; that heroine has been a pill–I pill, I say) and working on the third novella in the Strike Force series, “Kindness of Strangers.”

Kindness will set up the second trilogy of Strike Force stories, what happens with the ‘ghosts’ — those strikers whose bodies didn’t survive the friendly fire incident: Captain Dressler, Whisper, and Grimtoo and LC.

It also starts the process of connecting the Strike Force Stories to the Human Diaspora universe, which actually was a bit of a surprise. Apparently my subconscious likes connecting storylines. Speaking of the Human Diaspora series, Tetsuo and Akiko’s story is next on my to-do list.

In non-writing, non-day job news, all the furbabies are happy and healthy, and Spooky Man has a new project cat, a completely gray intact male shorthair known as Shadow. As soon as he’s domesticated enough, we’ll get him fixed. He’s still too shy for me to get a decent photo, so stay tuned.

 

Update — No, I have not entirely abandoned my website

After recovering from the breast cancer reconstruction that refused to cooperate (no, I will not go into details as I don’t want to freak out anyone; let’s just say I burned off some bad karma), I dove into The Ocasek Opportunity, the story of Tasha’s little brother and how he saved two civilizations from the boogeyman aliens.

Currently, it’s resting before I start editing the first draft into a book.

Now I’m fighting with Kindness of Strangers, the Ganymede Survivors story of Colonel Singh and the elusive Chandra Ramasamy.

And I’ve got one more editing pass on The Unique Solution–the redemption of the evil twin from Blade’s Edge–before I can get it published.

I’ve written more in the last year than in the previous several, just none of it on my website/blog. So now you know.

Thanks,
Val

The Importance of Syntax

Way back in the nineteen-mumbles, I took a programming class. I was in the very last class at my university that started Fortran programming on punch cards. Yes, punch cards. You can buy them on Etsy as antiques. The professor thought we should know how bad his generation had it so we would appreciate dumb terminals (insert eye-roll here).

At any rate, the mini-mainframe system was so amazingly primitive that your program output might be a single sheet of paper (with tractor-feed margins still attached, of course) that bore the message “Syntax Error”. Which meant you had screwed up in punching one or more of your cards and the resulting code would not compile correctly, let alone run and give you the results you had to turn in for a grade.

It’s an excellent catch-all message that can be used to describe so many grammatical errors in English:
“Try and do it” = syntax error
“Graduated college” = syntax error
“Happened on accident” = syntax error
“Your so right” = syntax error
“I could care less” = syntax error

Luckily, English is extremely redundant and the human brain is highly resilient (unlike computers). We can interpret statements full of syntax errors, although a personal opinion of the speaker/writer’s intelligence might be revised down in the process. Unless English is not his or her first language, of course; syntax can be tricky to port between different grammatical systems.

For example, French uses postpositions, positional-descriptive words that are placed after a noun phrase, as well as prepositions. When French is transliterated to English, you sometimes get sentences that sound like Yoda came up with them — full of syntax errors…in English.

Genre fiction publishers are reluctant to include semicolons in books, because they believe (or so my editors have said) readers can’t understand them. Not fair, really, to either readers or the semicolon, but there it is. The result, if the writer is using the punctuation correctly, is unnecessarily choppy prose or (shudder) comma splices without appropriate conjunctions. In other words, syntax errors.

Many syntax errors are so common they’ve become idiom (a nice way of saying everybody does it so grammarians have given up), which is why idiom is almost untranslatable — it didn’t actually make sense in the first place, so moving it into a different language is tricky at best.

Study your syntax, be aware when you’re using idiom. Control it; use it for effect and not just because it’s the first thing that comes to mind. Just because everyone is doing it does not make it right, or good, or readable twenty years from now when idiom and syntax have moved on.

If you do that, you’re less likely to include the word “hassle” (origin in the late 19th century, rarely used before 1950) six times in a Regency romance novel.

Back to the word mine….

Val

Quick update – still alive here, just busy writing

Just wanted to put up a quick note to mention that I’m still alive (although temporarily short a breast that was thinking about killing me again—I’ll tell you about it later).

I’m deep into the middle of the story of Tasha Ocasek’s half-brother Stephan, who—ten years after The Valmont Contingency—is busy saving the universe from an Ancient Horror (yes, that’s their official name) while trying not to fall for the intriguing Ekaterina Avondale. And failing, at least in the not-falling-for Kat department.

Kat was raised in a society of dragons. In this particular instance, “dragon” is the slang term for an alien species formally known as Saurians because they come from a parallel line of evolution where the “dinosaurs” became sentient rather than extinct. So they are part velociraptoroid, part parrotoid, and, like T-Rex, the girls are bigger and stronger than the boys.

So Kat scares the bejeebers out of most men, but Stephan is a little different from most men. His big problem is that she’s the result of a union between to major cartel families, and after the way his father died, he’s extremely allergic to cartel families.

It’s going to take both of them to destroy the group-mind insectoidal colony ship that uses carbon-based life forms to incubate its eggs and larvae. I know, right? It creeps me right out, so Stephan and Kat had better get it together and destroy these things for good, and they only have another 30,000-40,000 words to do it.

For anyone waiting impatiently for Talyn’s story, I’ll be doing the final edit on it just as soon as I get this first draft finished. My goal is to get it published by the end of the summer.

Back to the story now,
Val

Braggin’ on a Friend or Two

Just as an FYI, my writing buddy Sharon Joss ( @JossWrites ) won the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future competition.

Sharon writes delightful stories; her first novel, Destiny Blues, has magic, fate and a touch of horror (although I’ve also laughed out loud while reading her stuff). The L. Ron Hubbard win is a well-deserved honor and I’m so happy for her.

And she has a substantial backlist, so you won’t run out of her work much too soon. I’m just sayin’.

Another buddy, Ken McConnell ( @KenMcConnell ), is giving away — yes, for FREE — the first novel of his Star Saga series. You can get it from Kobo as an epub or from his website in a format of your choice.

A note about Ken: He makes the spaceship models, then photographs them, and then has his graphic artist (who happens to be his brother) make his book covers from the photos. That’s the kind of work he puts into his novels.

Thanks,
Val

Unique – the sequel to Blade’s Edge

Where have I been for the last five or six months? Writing! Well, fighting with a story.

This is the book that has been fighting me for five years and counting. But I’m 10,000 words shy of a first draft and I hope to have it finished this month (if I can’t write the last 10K in two weeks, I deserve ridicule). Then I can let my first-readers look at it and start poking it into something coherent. So I’m finally winning this fight. Bwah-hah-hah-hah.

Remember Crown Prince Talyn, the evil twin from Blade’s Edge? Yes, this is her book; where she goes and what she does after the psychotic break / nervous breakdown when she wakes up…wait for it…in a spaceship, on her way to a society of clones — where she is unique (yes, I loved the irony too much not to do it).

All I can really tell you right now is that she has an epiphany, gets a few things out of her system, truly falls in love, and learns to use her powers for good rather than eee-vill. The rest, well, it’s complicated and not completely settled yet.

If you want a ping when Unique is published, sign up for my newsletter, over on the right side of this page. I can assure you that you will not get a gazillion things from me in your inbox. I’m too busy and much too lazy go newsletter-nuts. Shoot, I can’t even manage a blog post more than three or four times a year.

Thanks for bearing with me,
Val

Best-Laid Plans

I am the president of my local chapter of Romance Writers of America this year (and probably next year, unless someone wants to mount a write-in campaign). As part of my administration, I started a new project, which I call Finish the Damn Book–having shamelessly stolen the name from Cherry Adair’s much spiffier program at the Greater Seattle chapter of RWA.

Actually, I started it because I needed motivation to produce more output this year. Last year I finished a 70,000-word manuscript. The year before, only a 35,000-word novella. This vexed me, so I decided to do something about it, and drag the chapter along with me, or at least those members willing to be dragged.

This morning I did a progress check on myself; thus far this year I have written approximately 73,000 words of fiction. That’s not bad, but….that was spread over four different titles.

Sigh.

The book I wanted to finish is only half done, and I have only three months left in the year.

Granted, I’ve published two titles (the novel and novella finished last year and the year before), and I had to write blurbs and an author bio for those. I also finished the first draft of another novella. And I’ve written probably another 5,000 words of workshops, essays and articles about writing fiction.

But I need to get my behind in gear, or I’m not going to earn my romance writer’s sparkly tiara. I might have to make do with a coffee-cup full of chocolates and a purple feather boa, our consolation prizes. Quelle horreurs!

I’m off to, you know, Finish the Damn Book.

 

 

 

I am The Nexus of All Great Fictional Starship Captain Families

Not really, but… a couple of days ago, I got to thinking about my dad’s sister. She married a man named Kirk and they had two children before she died tragically (there was a crib death and a suicide; it’s all very sad and it happened before I was born), so I never got to know my cousins.

But I know I have cousins named Kirk. As far as I know, they’re Montanans, not from the Midwest, but they could move in the next few hundred years.

One of my mother’s sisters married a man named Pike and they had two sons. So I have cousins named Pike. They live in Arizona. Lovely people.

Have I ever mentioned that my mother’s maiden name was Reynolds? Yup, all kinds of relatives named Reynolds, including a bunch of cousins; Mom had nine brothers and sisters, so it’s not all that surprising.

So that’s two famous Star Fleet captains and the iconoclastic head of the Serenity crew that could possibly carry some of the same DNA I do. That is, if they weren’t, you know, made-up characters.

As far as I know, though, I don’t have any relatives with the surname Khan or Adama.

Yet (she typed with an evil grin).  And now, back to editing Getting Lucky.

 

Cover Reveal for ‘Getting Lucky’

Ta-dah! Cover by Kanaxa (the awesome). This is the third cover she’s designed for my stories — the first one was Blade’s Edge.

GettingLucky_Web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story is in editing right now, but it will be out before Christmas.  The third in this trilogy of novellas is the story of Strike Force Colonel Ramsin Singh rediscovers his humanity, with a little help from some asteroid miners and — no, no spoilers. Yet.  Bwah-hah-hah-hah!

Second in a Series of Firsts–My First Second Book in a Series

The Nobinata Gambit is officially out among the virtual bookshelves, which marks another turning point for me; it’s the first story I’ve written about a character that had already appeared in a story, making it the second book in a series. What’s the name of the series? Beats me. It all started with a novella called “Finding the Briar Rose” which is a Sleeping Beauty retelling that I’m going to rewrite and publish as a freebie next year (early next year, I hope), because I like the characters and they should live somewhere besides my dead-manuscript file. The first published story in the series is The Valmont Contingency.

The Nobinata Gambit is the story of Shak and “Lilo” (her real name is Yuki) after the end of Valmont; they save the emperor of the Empire of Nippon and Allied Cultures from an assassination attempt by one of his distant cousins, with assorted tragedies, murders and goings on, a love story, and more sequel bait thrown in because life never lets you do one thing at a time.

The universe for this series is the area of space colonized by humans after Earth’s magnetic field fails–it doesn’t actually FAIL fail, but it flops poles (again, it’s done it before), so it effectively fails for a few thousand years. Geologically, that’s an eyeblink, but for humans it’s a real problem since the magnetic field keeps out lethal high-energy particles from the Solar wind. Privately, I’m calling these books the Diaspora series. Let me know if that works and I’ll put it on the books I control.

My next title will be Getting Lucky, also the second in a series (my second second book, so to speak); it’s the story of Sasha from Open Mike at Club Bebop and the personage he finds lurking in the sealed archive he’s searching for more information on that tantalizing piece of video Colonel Singh turned up in Bebop. Yes, Sasha is smitten by someone as sneaky as he is, and…Martians, although not live ones. I know, right? More on that when it gets beaten into shape.

However, The Nobinata Gambit has an excellent cover, created by the talented and beautiful Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs (The Killion Group):

The Nobinata Gambit - Cover

  In case you were wondering, you can
buy it here:

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Kobo

 Sorry, Apple readers, I can’t figure out how to get a direct link to the book in iTunes.

If you know, leave a comment with directions.

%d bloggers like this: