For the most part, quite good. As expected. There are also a few notes that require discussion, plus some that are just WTF.
Also as expected.
I’m not really sure how this is supposed to work mechanically. The Ed. sends me the chapter in Word (which is what I use) with his notes directly placed to the side of the text. I gather I’m supposed to rewrite the docs in those files and send them back, so that the notes remain.
I’m gonna ask.
This is not my favorite way to work. In part because I am used to having the file zoomed bigger than will allow the annotations to appear. Admittedly, I’ve also never tried to work this way before, so we’ll see.
i suspect it won’t actually kill me.
Also I plan to make things a bit harder on myself by once I start the actual rewriting part – by comparing the annotated text to the rewrite version I got interrupted in the middle of. That’s because I know that revision is way better than the submitted draft. And it addresses a lot of the issues The Ed. and I have long agreed were most significant. Such as the need to simplify, especially the prose. I was happy with how that went, so I feel it’s worth trying to preserve as much as feasible of what I did there. And, despite adding a bit to the load, it could in the long run cut down on the “re-inventing the wheel” parts of the operation.
Anyway, I’ve been sleeping too little for much of the last week. Mark it down to poor sleep management. Last night I managed better, got to sleep when I intended (rather than an hour or two later) and managed to get back to sleep after the usual morning interruptions. Of course, I also slept two hours later than usual.
And – still not caught up. Tired early.
So having done the read-through on the notes, I deem I’m done. For today. I admit I was dreading them. Especially since, right off the bat, I hit a Big Issue I have with the notes. Which scared me about the general tenor of them – but as I said, for the most part they’re fine.
I have an email off to The Ed. about that first hitch. I can’t proceed very well on the rewriting until I hear back, so I hope that’s soon. Especially since there may be some back-and-forth called for….
So this morning at 4:48 AM The Editor sent me another chapter of editorial notes.
In honor of the fact that this thing is finally becoming really real (really!) I’ve decided to post Chapter 03 of the submitted (what I call beta) version of The Dinosaur Lords. In which we wrap up the min-arc begun in Chapter 01 about the Battle of Gunters Moll.
This one’s all Karyl, all the time: our first (and last – for a long time. Or maybe ever?) look inside the man’s head. Through his POV we meet a mythological figure … and make some fine, feathered friends.
Not the actual annotated pages. Yet. But a letter from The Editor, giving preliminary notes, and promising actual pages tomorrow. Which counts, so I’m not looking that gift-Tyrannosaurus in the chops.
And speaking of which, I think we all know what that means:
Yes, my beloved friends and fans, you may trust that I will duly give the appropriate Dinosaur Roar. Indeed, I paused in writing this to do so. So please join me now, my loyal Dinosaur Army: Rawr because RAWR!!1!
So I was thinking a thing even as my birthday rolled around here on Jupiter, and I thought I’d go ahead and write it down.
I’ve already been replying to a mess o’ Happy Birthday wishes on Facebook – thanks, everybody! And I expect – if last year was any guide – to spend much of tomorrow, or later today if you’re picky, doing the same thing.
There are worse ways to spend a day.
Of course I’ll be doing other things, too. Such as trying to remember my swell low starch/low-sugar chocolate cake recipe (flaxseed and almond meal were in there – pretty solid on that) from last year.
Anyway I have read, and heard it said, that a person can’t possibly have more than a few good friends. Possibly even no more than one or two.
The fact I’m alive for this, my 58th birthday, refutes that notion. And I mean that in the most literal way possible.
It really hit me for the first time how many more good and real friends I had than I was aware of when my life went seriously to pieces for the first time, in 2000. The people already I thought of as my friends all were right there for me.
And … so were a bunch of people I never expected to be. Mostly in the Albuquerque Science Fiction Society – a great many fans, even ones I knew casually at best, really went out of their way to be kind to me and show me support. I’d had a fairly tenuous link to the club for years; that was the beginning of a far closer association on my part. I’m still grateful for it all.
And then two and a half years ago – well, the same thing, but upped by an order of magnitude or two. If you don’t know the story I won’t belabor you with it here; just suffice to know that without massive help – I’m talking heroic – from my friends, I would have died then.
That is fact.
And again: people I’d considered friendly acquaintances stepped up and joined with my closest friends to help me. We’re talking time, monumental (and often grueling) effort, money expended on my behalf. It blew me away.
It blows me away.
Even when I was a child, I had a devotion to the power of friendship. And I found out … that wasn’t just a naïve and childish fantasy.
The support was concentrated, as before, in SF/Fantasy fandom. I’d also long believed that more than just a subculture, fandom constituted an actual, vastly extended family – a tribe. And when I say “fandom” I include the professionals, writers and artists – since the two are inextricably interwound. And yes, that was proved to me too.
Now it’s true that it’s just logistically impossible to have a great many close friends – in the sense of, people you frequently spend lots of time with.
But good ones? More than you can imagine.
My friends are my best birthday present – including my beloved animal family, TJ, Squeak, and Emma.
(Ha! There’s an SEO-friendly title! Have at thee, caitiff rogues!)
I’ve gotten fed up with not being able to breathe through my nose, much less smell or even taste very much … after the better part of a year, now.
So I’ve opted today for the Nuclear Option: full-on Sudafed, (generic) Afrin spray, heavy-duty nasal irrigation (don’t ask), and the (mostly) daily dose of nasal corticosteroids.
And … it seems to be working. I can breathe through both nostrils now; yay. Enough that I did get my nasal Fluticasone shot way up in there where it’ll hopefully do some good – which was one of the objects of the exercise, yo.
Just not working enough. Not yet, anyway. There still is some obstruction, away high up. And we’re not draining as I’d hoped.
On the plus side, I guess: I am COMPLETELY WIRED.
This is not something I care to repeat too often. I’m too fond of those “normal” blood pressure readings. It took me long enough to attain them.
I’m also dealing with a minor but annoying annoyance: Netflix dumped the anime series I was watching (Robotech) as part of my Morning Wake-up Ritual.Again. (Yes, Bleach, the series I mentioned in the post linked went away midstream. As did Hikaru no Go.)
Oh, and as for that ritual: that’s another thing I’ve done to clear the damn sinuses – cut way down on dairy the last couple weeks. Meaning: good-bye red chile cream cheese fudge! For now. (Sniff.)
Anyway. So. That’s another rant – that will duly devolve into a philippic against the Cloud – so I’ll save it for another blog post. I want, and no doubt need, to blog more regularly – following the lead of my boon pal Scott Phillips. (Who has wonderful taste in blog titles, not to mention header quotes! Check it out; I’ll be here when you get back. Or at least this post will.) Which entails learning to post more succinctly. Or at least less anal-retentively.
Also I owe you a health update. (Spoiler: aside from the chronic obstructionism of my nose, it’s just fucking awesome!)
But especially because I’m wired and weird(er than usual) I’m not getting boatloads useful done right now. As in, writing someone will pay me for. So I’m off to walk Emma Dog before the heat gets hot and the ground gets dry. Although undoubtedly the humans will give no love already, so I must prepare myself.
Then I’ll come back and boil my face a spell. That should really get things running, if anything will.
So today I got an email from Victoria Curran, my excellent editor at Gold Eagle, saying that my most recent Deathlands title, which just hit the stands in early July -
Because everything’s better with zombies!
- has made the Indigo bestseller list. (Which it turns out is Canada’s biggest bookseller, which I only know because I Googled it just now) It’s also making a strong showing on Barnes and Noble. No, no link to the Chapters Indigo list; I’m too big a chicken to check.
Anyway, the real proof of the pudding is that B&N’s already reordered it.
What sparked this was Victoria got a puzzled email from their marketing department, asking, basically, WTF? There’s no special promo on the book, yet it’s moving fast enough to attract attention. Even for a series that still apparently sells pretty well, given that it still exists and all.
The answer, of course, is – zombies.
So it’s appropriate that the book almost killed me and all. And to learn the rest of that story you’ll just have to click “Continue reading,” now, won’t you?
So yesterday Emma Dog and I went for a walk in a place we hadn’t been in a while.
The Way Ahead….
When we got there, I was struck by the particular beauty of that place, that day, that time. One of the reasons I bought a house down here in Albuquerque’s North Valley was the proximity to such areas, which have their special beauties at all times, all seasons.
But this scene just struck me as epitomizing what I find there. And for once I remembered I had a camera….
This is a place I particularly love – it’s the ditch that flows under Rio Grande to the clear ditch, right south of Montaño. Then I followed the clear ditch north for about half a mile.
The whole way (well, most of it) was shady and pretty. For more pictures – what I term “a photo memoir of just a nice afternoon in my life” – hit the pic above or here for a Flickr set.
Things go well with me. Less well for some of my friends, so spare ‘em some hopeful thoughts, please? Still no editorial notes on The Dinosaur Lords; still writing fairly briskly on The Dinosaur Princes, as well as my next Deathlands yarn. Also trying a (relatively) minor change in my eating habits; seems to be kicking me into losing weight again, though giving up dairy for the nonce still hasn’t cleared up my longstanding nasal congestion. We may need to use Nuclear Force.
Yes, that happened. I was in a doze, somewhere between asleep and awake, when the perfect opening to the scene I was writing simply played through my mind. I love it when that happens! As it does sometimes, when I’m in that particular state – more frequently than I dream usable material, though yeah. That happens too.
So I just spent a happy, productive late morning/early afternoon designing, oh, I don’t know – just La Majestad, the capital city of the Empire of Nuevaropa.
Enjoy this picture of an adorable fossil dino that has paleontologists suspecting all meat-eaters – or possibly all dinosaurs – had feathers.
Because, if you haven’t yet sampled the senses-shattering free preview of my epic fantasy novel, The Dinosaur Lords, upcoming from Tor, um, Real Soon Now (and why haven’t you? Now’s your chance!) that’s where it all takes place: in an Empire set on a giant peninsula called the Tyrant’s Head. Its action takes place in locations far removed from the Imperial Palace and attendant city. Book II, which I’m writing now, brings it on home.
Now, what we don’t see here – you’re bright and have no doubt observed – is, well, writing.
Except it is. Kinda.
It’s called … set-up.
Back when I trained at what was then T-VI as a machinist in the Nineties (long story) I learned … well, first of all what a machinist actually does. No, seriously. I had no idea. That’s one of the many curses of receiving a liberal arts education.
Anyway – aside from, long short, making freaking everything, the real heart-meat of what a machinist does is set-up. While the object of the whole affair is cutting metal (usually) until it turns into a part, the cutting tends to be a relatively minor part of the operation. Especially now when so much of the actually cutting is done by CNC machines, which are wondrous and awesome. Indeed, the advent of marvelous robots to do the actual machining (which is what they are) has if anything made the craft of the set-up both more challenging and if anything more vital.
It’s simply preparation. You need to plan what cuts need to be made and how. What tools need to do the cutting. And – this is really freaking important – how to hold the work in place. Securely – yet in such a position that the maximum amount of work can be done (metal cut; holes drilled) without moving it. Moving the work piece is something there are good and compelling reasons to do as little as bloody possible.
Anyway … that was a revelation for me. Especially in line with my own – frequently traumatic – discovery that – while I’m bloody talented at improvisation, and write best when I let the inspiration just flow as freely as I possibly can (Let Go, Let Leo!), I badly need structure: a plan.
If I don’t, I freeze. That’s all we need know about that now.
Because the key thing is: I am developing techniques to free up my inspiration so I can write my drafts the way I know, beyond all doubt, allows me to write the most and best: as quickly and literally carelessly as possible. (Careless meaning: if I care about what I’m writing, I’m doin’ it wrong. Yes, that’s true.) So what I try to do is map as much of a scene out as possible before I actually launch into writing it.
And because the Imperial capital plays a key role in this book and the final volume of the trilogy … well, mapping became more literal. Although I have yet to draw any sketches … need to get to that…..
So that’s one Capital Idea: set-up is key. (See what I did there?)
But as for those Capital Cities I dreamt up (details of) today? Yes, more than one -
La Majestad (Majesty): Capital of the Empire of the Fangèd Throne. Which is another name for Nuevaropa – and yes, the throne in question has fangs. Or anyway whacking great teeth; there’s a bit of license here. Anyway, it’s built on a plateau that forms kind of a ledge abutting some pretty steep mountains. On north and south the part of the plateau where actual city stands is cut off by gorges, one deep and steep, one basically kind of a rocky arroyo. The latter’s easier to bridge, so the city (including the largely pro forma, and entirely resentful of the fact, Dieta Imperial or Imperial Diet) has mostly expanded into suburbs in that direction.
The city proper occupies its own little mesa. It’s surrounded by walls, which, while predominantly for show – an Imperial capital is supposed to be imposing, yes? – are definitely good to go should an enemy threaten. Although since the Emperor (or Empress) is primarily a figurehead, and doesn’t rule so much as reign, why would an enemy want to?
(Well … you’re gonna need to read the books to learn the answer to that one, aren’t you? Heh, heh.)
The city is also cut down the middle, más o menos, by a river, which I haven’t yet named. Which hurtles off the sheer cliffs that form the fourth side of the city in a spectacular waterfall to the valley below.
The mountains that back the city are steep and sharp, though not particularly high. The Imperial Palace, La Corazón Imperial (Imperial Heart), is built into a crevice in the side of an even sheerer cliff. Another waterfall, that gives rise to the river running through the city, cascades down the mountain right beside it.
(Just another bit of Inside Baseball: I do devote consider effort to working how how everybody eats and how everybody drinks. Poops, too – really – though that … plays less in my actual narrative. So you can breathe now.)
Anyway, the Palace is very showy. Like La Majestad, it’s meant to impress. It’s also meant to be open to (theoretically) all the subjects of the Empire. It’s easily approached by a wide road up a ramp. Of course it’s also extremely defensible – especially when the élite Imperial Nodosaur (infantry) engineers drop the specially-constructed bridge the road crosses….
The other major capital in question is -
La Fuerza (Strength): The capital of Spaña, which is the Empire’s dominant nation and culture. A near neighbor of La Majestad, La Fuerza’s character is markedly different. And by that I mean paranoid. It’s built in the same mountain range, on a cluster of (relatively) low hills – which form districts of the city, have their own walls, and can serve as discrete outlying fortresses in case of attack. The palace itself is a soaring, spiky Gothic castle (that’s Gothic architecture, not The Crow Gothic) called El Nido del Dragón: the Dragon’s Nest.
Yes, that’s symbolic – and yes, it’s literal: Here Be Dragons, Dinosaur Lordsstyle!
Yep. Giant fliers (pterosaurs) nest on those cliffs – that are as tall as Earthly giraffes when they land to wing-walk in search of prey to stab with their huge awful sword-like beaks. But if you think the ruling Spañol familly, Torre (Tower) Ramírez, is nuts enough to breed and keep their own dragons to eat their foes … well, they totally do.
You’ve met me, right? Of course I’m going that way. Because – another pro tip here – my main guiding light is what I think is freaking cool.
Now, that’s not everything – which I hope is clear. Story is paramount. And what I strive to do is characters you care about in vivid action before well-drawn backdrops.
Also, there’s, not a capital per se, but the actual castle of the Empire’s ruling family – the literal Tower of Torre Delgao. It’s tucked discreetly away higher up in the mountains and called La Reposa, which means The Rest in Spañol. Which, while it’s Hispanic, isn’t Spanish, so don’t bother pointing out the noun’s supposed to be masculine. For I will mock you. Anyway, La Reposa is also large and eminently defensible, and overlooks a surprisingly fertile green, pastoral valley of a small village and farms. Which possesses its own Terrible Secret.
(No. I’m not going to tell you here. Then it would just be Terrible.)