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24 March 2013 @ 12:58 pm
Morven Westfield invited me to guest blog and to talk about my SF next book, which is slowly progressing. Very slowly. I got side-tracked by the publication of my first thriller mystery, "In Adam's Fall," from Wolfsinger Publishing. But here, due to Morven's generosity and patience, is the text of my response to her good questions.

1. Working title of next book…

Still unknown… J3 is what I’m calling it in my head, but that’s not the final one and it’s doesn’t make sense. Probably something like Jemma7729: The Legacy. Or maybe Jemma’s Legacy…

2. Where did the idea come from?

Since this is a series, where the idea came from really goes back to why I wrote Jemma7729 six years ago. It was because I was so pissed off about George Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the terrible waste of people and money. I was listening the news and thought, “WHAT IF…there were a government so repressive it lumped all crimes and misdemeanors—from petty theft to murder—into one category: Inappropriate Behavior. That was the original title of the book. EDGE changed it when they published it.

3. Genre…

It’s science fiction. Sometimes additional categories… dystopian, futurist. The novels are set in the early 23rd century in North America.

4. Actors …

Hmmmm. Hadn’t really thought of that, although I do have ideas about Jemma7729 as a SciFi Channel movie. A younger Paget Brewster type would be terrific as Jemma. At the time I wrote it, I thought about Angelina Jolie. And, as I am still totally in love with Stargate SG-1 (I want to go through that gate SO much)… I always saw Teryl Rothery, who played Dr Fraser, as Annie.

5. One sentence synopsis…

Unfair question! I’ll quote what Louise Marley said… “Brave New  World” meets “The Handmaid's Tale,” with some serious ass-kicking along the way.”

6. Publisher

J2 is published by Dark Quest Books and they will publish the third book. EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy published Jemma7729 but did not want to do a sequel. Dark Quest is publishing the first as an ebook.

7.  How long?

I developed it from a long short story to the first novel draft in about a year.

8.  Compared to  …

I guess what Louise said, above. Actually, I had not read very many sf books by women when I wrote it. Have since, though.

9.  Inspiration…

The idea. I’m interested in how we govern ourselves; how we make laws and what we consider putting bars around.

10.  What else might be of interest…

J2 is a clone. She’s like Jemma, but not really. She has no real-life experience, outside of the lab. Plus, she is aged artificially. The scientist who made her was investigating longevity in clones. I wanted to think about how we learn things, what can be taught, what’s in our genes… Her brain is “enhanced” with microchips. She can’t control that. She HAS to keep learning. It’s a minor but important theme in J2 and comes back to bite her in the third book.

20 January 2013 @ 12:50 pm
Dad's landscape
29 September 2012 @ 04:46 pm
HOUSE OF PAPER ... written for the pugnacious bald-faced wasps which invade my front porch every summer ...

“You’ve been mated, my darling. Sleep now and all will be well,” Mother said.
“Will you sleep, too?”
“Yes. A very long sleep.” Mother’s smile was wistful. She touched my cheek lightly. “You will have beautiful children and a lovely summer. Not everyone mated, as you saw. You were sought after, and that made me proud.”
Her words made my heart beat faster. She was proud of me! “I’ll see you after Winter, then.” I turned in my cubicle and snuggled down.
“You won’t,” she said rising up, “but that is at it should be. As it is. Our kind have no regrets.”
I sat up to ask what she meant, but she was gone and the room was getting very cold. We have “no regrets?” What regret could I possibly have after a summer of being cared for by my Mother and other females, and then later, the boys arrived and we played endlessly and finally paired off. Or, some of us did and had ecstatic days and nights. I certainly had nothing to regret.
There was the one day when some of our houses were under attack, but we were defended by the barrens and boys. Some mothers had built their houses too near a place of noise and dust.
Mother instructed us: “Enjoy yourselves this year. Next year you will work. When I tuck you up, sleep soundly and gather strength.”
That’s all I can remember. I don’t remember Mother’s eyes, nor the face of the boy with whom I mated and thought I loved. I didn’t remember faces of anyone, but I did remember what I was to do.
From the moment I awoke, I was busy supervising the building of a new house — my house. We workers were speedy and efficient. It was round and made of paper, sturdy paper, layers and layers of it, that held off the rain and ignored the wind.
We attached it to the limb of a tree and made a doorway at the bottom. No one told me how to do this, I just knew. Inside, we made snug and lovely cubicles, like the one I had slept in through the winter. Pleased with the work, I went outside to see if my neighbors had finished their houses, too.
Small round paper houses were scattered among the trees in the meadow. Only then did it occur to me that we were all females doing this building, but not all were mothers. I wondered when the males would emerge.
Oh, I was full of wonder. I wondered if all of the females had the pressure inside, as I did. A tingling. A squirming. A humming that I felt instead of heard. It made me hungry, so off I flew, looking for blossoms, and, if I were lucky, some fat carrion flies.
In a few days, I stayed inside the house. I was drowsy and needed to rest. Then my beautiful babies came. I carefully tucked them into their cubicles, pleased that all were healthy and shiny and fat.
It was a busy time when they woke up and started moving around. A rainstorm had torn some of the outer paper off the house. We fixed that easily enough. While we were doing that, the boys emerged with a great buzzing and flying about. They were shiny new, too, and very handsome. I was sure my girls would attract their attention.
The summer days went by. The boys and girls played, and two of my girls mated. I was very proud. We added more paper to my house. It had to last through a winter of snows and rain and wind. It had to shelter my beautiful children.
The days shortened. The shadow of my tree got longer, like a dark finger pointing toward winter. I was thin and tired. I knew that my time to take the long sleep had come.
At the first chilly day, I tucked the children into newly-cleaned and repaired cubicles. “Two of you been mated, my daughters. Now, beautifuls, sleep and all will be well.”
The smallest daughter laughed. “Will you sleep, too, mother?”
“Yes, my darling. A very long sleep.”
“Tell us a story!” she demanded.
They settled snugly and I spoke of blossoms, of winds and rain, of early morning dew, of winging things and dangerous noises, and as they slept I whispered of their kind and their mission, what they would do the next summer. I touched them one last time and went outside.
It was late afternoon and the air was golden, sifting through the trees. Carefully, I papered over the doorway to my house and left it forever, winging off toward the sun, flying until I fell out of the sky beside a red leaf.
Current Mood: amusedamused
28 September 2012 @ 03:57 pm
I say I'm an indifferent blogger, and that's silly. I "blog" all the time, when I'm away from the computer. I'll bet most writers do...I have stacks of pieces of paper AND spiral notebooks full of random thoughts, phrases, silly things they hear or see on radio/tv/the agora. Here's an example: "loses toes." That's all it says. I must have been asleep. Who loses toes? Not anyone in my books. "Steps into a world without humans and bit by it upsets the balance." Well, maybe that's a short story in the making. It hasn't shown up yet.

Blogging is what? People tell me it's a good marketing tool. Well, I surely need that. Anyone working in small press needs that. But, the blog itself has to be "marketed." Is a puzzlement.

And, I say, blogging is too much like writing. Why blog when I can be working on a new book or story? But I do those many shards of paper. My computer is in my office, upstairs, and normally I'm downstairs watching the news or one of the few series I like. Lucky me, I live in a big house.

Raining all day. A big gloomy. A good day to read and think about Ibsen.
12 February 2012 @ 08:43 am
... but my mind wandered to all the media, and most especially the constant flow of violence on television. The brief images from Syria yesterday: explosions, buildings crumbling, horrific scenes, but somehow sterile. Am I just immune to them? Before television, the "News of the World" and other film documentaries showed such images (the London Blitz, for instance), but they were not constantly in front of us and were more shocking because of that.

Instead of just looking and frowning, I wondered how I would describe that, were I there? Imagining instead of noting...
a building suddenly shocked into fire and collapse with an ear-numbing roar...
a dark-haired boy squatted against a wall, clamping his ears shut with dirty hands, eyes tight shut, teeth clenched...
a woman's foot sticking out from a pile of rubble...
an empty shopping cart on its side in the middle of the street...
a sharp-nosed man in suit and tie clutching a woman, turning her face into his chest, screaming...
a young woman with a baby circled in her arms hiding in a doorway...

And, what if that were downtown Ayer?
The front of Kelley's card shop blown outwards, colorful cards scattered,some burning, over Main Street, glass shards everywhere, and a man running up the street, protecting his head...
The facade of the 19th century Town Hall crumbled into a pile of red bricks and the smooth oak inside stairway suddenly naked and split in two parts, like illicit love discovered...
The Mobil station flattened, with continuous explosions and flames shooting skyward...
The Korean market gone, a mess of bodies and stone and dirt in its place...
A woman running up Washington Street, her clothes on fire...
A dead dog, a dead cop, a dead tree, a dead woman in a red dress...
An SUV crashing halfway into Ayer Liquors, shattering the long glass windows, fire starting...
Sirens, explosions, screams...
And nowhere to run.

How can any of us be immune to such images? How can any of us perpetuate, or celebrate, such behavior?

And why am I, a pretty cool and peaceful person who celebrates love, music, art, teaching, animals...why do I write stories in which such events occur? Am I fooling myself that they are cautionary tales? Do we ever learn from them? The heroine in my novel, "J2", calls it, with remorse, "road kill." Is that true?
10 February 2012 @ 10:26 am
I filled out a bio questionnaire for Dark Quest Publishing yesterday (they're publishing the sequel to Jemma7729) and one question has stuck in my head. I was asked if anything I'd written made me uncomfortable. My answer was that the violence in the book did. None of the violence in Jemma7729 is gratuitous. It's a civil war. Bad things happen. I wonder at myself, though, because I am decidedly not a violent person. Don't celebrate it. Don't like it. Don't seek it out. It scares me. So why did I write it? Is there something I'm not facing?

The sequel --J2-- has violent sequences, too. In a war, do we just suspend our conscience? Do soldiers (of either sex) just point their guns in the general direction of the enemy and shoot? Or (and I'm seeing this in my imagination), do they find a face, a body, a living person and squeeze the trigger? Is war like hunting deer? Or is the person merely a target without humanity?

Unlike hunting, there is a "kill or be killed" law in operation. Isn't it still murder?
03 June 2010 @ 09:43 am
This was my 10th time at WisCon in beautiful Madison, WI. What a nice city! There were fewer people than last time. It's the economy, I guess. I did some panels. The one I suggested, "Pshaw! Pssst! Aargh!" was supposed to be about how to spell the weird noises people make so they can be used as a part of dialogue. It morphed into "sound effects" but was crazy fun and finally there were some ideas. We concluded that there are SOME noises a writer should describe because to spell them out might be funny, when humor isn't wanted.

Several panels dealt with the ageing fan base and writer base ... My stories always seem to have older or mature characters. It's unnatural, seems to me, NOT to have differently aged characters, unless you're rewriting "Logan's Run."

Mostly, though, I enjoyed staying with my long-time, beloved friend Pam. And her rowdy corgi, Ernie. It was nice to walk Ernie in the early morning. Where she lives is a haven for birds. The morning concert was spectacular.

We got some Broad Universe business done, and my novel sold out at our book table. That was surprising, since I've been selling it there for two years. Made me happy, though.

Nice to come home, too. My cats were ecstatic to see me. Maybe they were especially happy because this trip was the first time I've left them since Mouse died last year. Jenny is under my chair as I write this, and Max has abandoned the couch downstairs twice to check on me.

Now, back to work!
Current Mood: happyhappy
18 July 2009 @ 10:01 am
I've missed Walter Cronkite's presence. I wonder what he thought about the talking heads we are bludgeoned by now? More and more they seem like just a lot of noise.
11 July 2009 @ 10:56 pm
Readercon is always lovely because it's about The Book. The Book. No gaming, media, other stuff, just about books, and primarily books we hold in our hands.

So I'm retro. I think a lot about what will morph sooner or later. My novels are, after all, set in the 23rd century. I worry about the "fit" -- stuff changes. We mess with time. Everything runs fast. We like fast. I like fast. But a three-minute egg remains just that.

I like the days when things slow down, for no ascernible reason. The winter afternoon when you look at the clock and it reads 3:25, and you look at it again after a while and it reads 3:30. No, more than five minutes passed. Didn't it?

I thought of time today, running the book table for Broad Universe at Readercon. Sales are very slow. The financial climite, I guess. I thought somewhere around 2:10 that my watch had died. It wasn't moving. Of course it was. I was bored. Don't like that. I believe boredom is an unnatural state. So I started to read a book. I'll write more about that later -- it's a 1975 Ursula LeGuin book about an experimental writers' workshop in Australia. David Hartwell (who has the book table next to BU) saw me looking at it. I remarked that it looked really interesting and he gave it to me. Nice man. It IS.

It's late, and more bookselling tomorrow. And a Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading.

I note that other groups are now doing RFRs, but they're not giving BU credit for it. We invented that. Praise the bridge that passes you over, but don't build your house on the bridge.
25 January 2009 @ 11:06 am
Okay, so I had no hot water and there was a funny buzzing sound in my downstairs bathroom. Didn't sound like water... But, when I finally dared the drifts around the door and got inside: Yikes! a burst pipe in the back of my house -- a kind of addition built who knows when (house was built in 1860) that is my d.s. bathroom (no insulation!).

Chris the plumber came and fixed it, but insulation will have to be replaced. However, he tells me I have bees and squirrels in that little shed. No bears, thank god! I'm terrified of bears even though I worked on their conservation for years and have many stuffies that are bears. Anyway, if there are bees I am delighted. I hope they are honey bees. If so, I'll call my local bee keeper. I'm sure he will want them.

The "buzzing" sound was NOT bees. The leaking pipe was dripping on a sheet of plastic. Made an odd non-water noise.

The squirrels, well, I won't throw them out in the winter. It's probably a good deal for them. The shed is adjacent to my table bird feeder, where the squirrels are regulars.