Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Home World Reax coming in June

Wings is publishing my book Home World Reax this June.

I enjoy placing characters in new worlds of the future. In this story, Reax is a world whose initial colonists wanted to improve the human genome through selective breeding alone. Soon specific genomes chose names based on their lore from their initial home, Earth. These 'houses' chose the names of animals based on their history of Earth and what characteristics those animals showed. Maera is from Falcon House, the home of keen investigators and peace constables. The very fact Reax has a house specializing in police work tells you much about Reax's success in breeding better people, but in any world times and goals always change

Maera is a young woman abused by her caretaker throughout her childhood. She is smart enough to plan her escape.

Here is an excerpt from Maera's escape on the way home from "Engagement," an initiation Reaxan elites use, sending 'tyros' to foreign places for a year to earn their place in their house. Maera is making sure her best and only friend makes it home from Engagement, too.
Nothing seemed worse to Maera, as a halfbreed, than returning to Reax, not when freedom came within her grasp. No one from the Falcon or Swan Houses expected either of them to return, nor did the Genome Council’s Engagement Committee. They had purposely sent Sareen to this location, anticipating her failure. Well, not exactly this location, but one more hostile than this place, and me to one far more dangerous. Sareen would return, and they would accept her back, look closer at her genome, and perhaps scratch their collective heads. Luckily, she would not return. Her cavalier rearrangement of assignments would never come to the council’s knowledge. Her situation of being ‘unseen’ and marginalized ended. Now she began a life dedicated to achieving her own goals.

Sareen’s Engagement dislocation they would attribute to a mix-up in assignments, and who but the swaggering Wolf House’s Vulk, one of the councilor’s sons originally assigned an easy location on Ubret should serve Sareen’s much harsher assignment? The young man most likely had survived his Engagement, so his merit would certainly increase. Maera grinned at the thought. That young man had bragged about his easy placement location. It made a lie of the committee’s claims of fair assignments based on assessments.

Which made her own return too dangerous an act of defiance. She wondered if her house had specifically asked for a terminating assignment. Did hateful Uslina have influence there? Had the Genome Council cleansed the houses of unwanted genomes throughout the ages through this ploy? She believed it. House tyros who refused placement went to the gen’rals, condemning their children to life outside any house.

It no longer mattered. She could not afford to go back, not after all her illegal snooping and modification in protected databanks, nor did she want to return. She wanted escape. Freedom. Her homecoming would have sparked an investigation, and even one tiny thread unraveling could entangle her in a mass of trouble. Her failure to return would please many. They would call it proof she did not deserve house recognition.

If Falcon House had unintentionally taught her anything, it taught her survival. And self-reliance, she amended. Truth to tell, her house accepted neither her genome half nor her wild, unknown half. From her aunt’s harshness, she had learned how to avoid and escape bad situations, how to help herself, how to prevent others from discovering she helped herself, and most important, how to keep secrets… and how to discern them.

Learning the Genome Council orchestrated who passed Engagement only confirmed her suspicions. It did not matter anyway. She did not care about the members’ secrets, except how they might have affected her and Sareen. That she achieved—safe return for her friend, self-determination for herself.

She heard Sareen approach and stop next to her. Maera turned her face toward the far off horizon, giving Sareen time to recover from the last segment of their walk. Finally, she lowered her gaze to Sareen. Her friend’s gaze looked downward, encompassing the port, her tired satisfaction in her
achievement apparent. Maera could not hide the self-satisfied smile she felt cover her face.

“I’m not joking, Sare. I’m not going back. That life is for you and the other genome pures.”

“You should not use that gen’rals slur, especially as we go home,” Sareen said in a very soft, non-confrontational voice of warning. “You don’t know who you could offend.”

Maera shrugged. A few unmentionable gen’rals had helped her survive. She started brushing the dust off her pant legs. Thoughts of past hurts and future dreams wrapped in a tumbling jumble of anticipation she could taste. “Anyhow, even if I did return, they’d probably only find cause to send me to the gen’rals. You know they would. I wouldn’t even mind that, not the supposed shame, or nothing else.” She looked at Sareen, “Except I have other plans.” Her voice throbbed with an excitement hard to hide.

Sareen’s distressed gaze made contact everywhere except Maera’s eyes, showing her evasive agreement with the prognosis. Maera raised a hand over her eyes to look at the view below them. The port spread in a vast meadow of architecture, machinery, and paved confusion, the only place on Ubret where technology reigned. People going places and doing things filled the area.

Maera wanted to run, jump, and leap her way there. She side-glanced at Sareen, read the stubborn look, and then looked at the spaceport again. “It’s just, Sare. Really it is. I want this. You want to go
back. That’s just, too.”

“I’ll go with you. We can’t waste a miracle.”

Sareen’s words, barely above a whisper, interrupted Maera’s speeding anticipation. She spoke without thought. “No miracle, Sare.” Then she realized her admission. Sareen still believed their meeting a sheer accident.

Nine years after Maera's escape, Reax has suffered a civil war and a devastating plague that has decimated the population. The colony is in a dire situation, and Raven Jencet, formerly of Eagle house and now of Raven House, is sent out to bring this successful soldier and financier home, but he considers her a renegade traitor.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Establishing a Story

When I thought about this topic, I thought I didn't have any established method for organizing a story. Thinking about it I discovered maybe I do, I just approach it from a different angle each time. It's like a macramé where an assortment of threads are wrapped, knotted, or twisted together and in different directions to create a finished design.

For me, I usually have a vague, downtrodden female character arrive first. That sounds very gender divisive, but in defense of my genderism, I do tend to write for female readers, and also want to relay that I have recently had a male character emerge along with a story idea and a crew of associates. Since I've been writing, I've also had secondary characters from one story attract my attention, which has led to their own story and the creation of a series of related stories. I think good stories are made to promote the growth of thought and ideas for both reader and author, so maybe this is normal.

After the characters come, determining a rough story idea and where the story will take place. I do tend to follow the advice in Propp's Morphology of the Folk Tale, Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey, and Joseph Campell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces, so one of the next steps is to find characters who will become allies, antagonists, mentors, gatekeepers, or other archetypes. I often worry about my characters being too much alike since they are coming from the same brain, so I have used John M. Oldham, M.D. and Lois B. Morris' Personality Self-Portrait, Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do, to help structure some of my characters.

Then I think about a world where these characters and their story takes place. From my previous stories, I have already created my writing worlds based on different readings, too. One is a galactic world and another a fantasy Renaissance type world for stories. I continue to use these imaginary worlds, but new locations pop up in these two very different types of worlds. World creation takes place in any Earth-bound story, too, because all locations and local cultures differ. If these do not have a ring of truth for the reader, they will be disenchanted with the world.

I've read about authors being either pantsers or plotters, but think I am a blend of the two, leaning toward being a plotter. I do map out a general outline from start to finish including all my ideas about the story and where it might go, including points of tension, the trials, and triumphs, but once I start writing things always go in very different directions during the process. Sometimes I need to take a break from a story and think about what has happened and where those events might lead. It can be a slow process.

Please visit these other participants and read their views on this topic:
Skye Taylor
Dr. Bob
A.J. Maguire
Marci Baun
Beverley Bateman
Margaret Fieland
Connie Vines
Judith Copek

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April Fools

The end of March had been going out like a lamb, until the last day. I knew when we had a heavy snowstorm on that last day, April Fool's Day had struck early. With Easter also being on April first, it was a double jibe. I didn't expect it to last throughout the month. April is supposed to indicate an end to winter's vagaries, at least it is here in Michigan. Today, the 19th, is one of the few days with sunshine this month.

Yet that first storm was only a predictor for a wild and woolly April. One storm after another has blown through the Midwest and up into the Great Lakes Region. Traverse City has had about 30" of snow. This was not feather-light, fluffy snow but heavy half-ice snow.

Last week I heard a talk on NPR with a local climatologist. He said this was part of global warming and part of Michigan's tendency to have weather flip-flops. Well yes, that's true, and April has always been an unpredictable month... but I think in some respects it was a cosmic slap to wake us all up as to what fools we have been. We should have taken the warnings of global warming serious fifty years ago when scientists talked to President Lyndon Johnson about the dangers of carbon dioxide's increase in the atmosphere.