Knives Episode 25 Published

keIr8jbMXxmru4jF8SmZgLewEQsJqeLDjbPX7mnqvHXuQ641S02V6HFty34Ricip_large_2This episode took a while to get out; there were several things working against it. November was a big one, but this episode resisted me every step of the way all on its own. Then in the middle of the night I figured out what was missing, tied things up, deferred a chunk of exposition to a later date, and here we are!

So what are you waiting for? Start reading already!

A couple of important things happen in this episode; Martin makes a decision about Elena and Bags has a couple of surprises. Happily, those surprises also allow me to release the rest of Bags’ backstory for my valued patrons. If I can remember how to do that.

I think it would be more fair to my patrons to commit to a regular release schedule, but I’m not sure yet what frequency I can commit to. We’ll figure that out in January; December is filled with house guests and general wassailing. I hope to get some good writing time in, but, well, the new year is all about resolutions, right?

NaNoWriMo Success!

In the last couple of days I’ve thundered past the 50,000-word line, and earned myself a sixteenth NaNoWriMo victory. The primary objective, Glass Archipelago is by no means a complete story, but I did put the words to use fleshing out a setting with three very different cultures. I could have kept going, as I as having a lot of fun, but it’s time to turn my attention back to Knives. The first few days of the NaNoWrimo effort were in fact Knives-related; I banged out the rest of Kat’s backstory, which I will be releasing in the coming week. As with Bags, the amount of backstory you can read depends on your patronage.

Also, the after the next episode of the main story, I’ll be able to reveal the rest of Bags’ backstory. So, lots to look forward to, if you are a fan of hastily-written exploratory prose. Woo!

Meanwhile, I’ll be having a sip of the good stuff this afternoon, and reviewing the plan for the next few episodes of Knives. It’s going to be tough to go to work tomorrow.

Thoughts on the Electoral College

We were taught in school that the Electoral College was an institution designed to protect the American public from themselves. That some rational group of men would stand between the public and the presidency so that candidates with foreign ties or who openly spoke against the principles of our republic would not be able to charm their way into office. Alexander Hamilton actually wrote about that at length.

Now there are people who say that our current President-elect is precisely the kind of guy the electoral college is supposed to protect us from. He covers all the checkboxes: shady foreign ties, a long record of unethical behavior, conflicts of interest, and that fascism thing. But the electors are not going to protect us from Trump. In fact, they can’t. They are bound by the laws of the states they represent.

So why does the electoral college really exist? For the same reason it’s never going away: less-populous states don’t want to get railroaded every election by the more-populous states. The electoral college was an invention to get the constitution ratified in the first place. In this country, citizens of the more populous states are less powerful by design. It was the only way to get the little states to sign up in the first place.

Personally, I think if you believe in one person/one vote, then all the votes should count equally. That, or we should go ahead and split up a few states. California becomes three states, New York two. Texas, I’m not sure about. Three? West Texas, East Texas, and Austin?

It doesn’t seem right that simply drawing lines on the map differently should change the outcome of an election that covers all that territory, but if that’s what it takes to get equal representation, then why not? Honestly, I think California would function better if it were three separate states.

Though I have to note that if the polar ice caps keep melting, a lot of people are going to be moving in the next few decades. The imbalance may just take care of itself.

2

Facts? Bah!

I was pretty pleased with myself when I realized it was perfectly logical for my point-of-view character to be claustrophobic. After all, she was born in the ocean (literally) and lived almost her entire life on a raft. Sure they had canvas structures to keep the rain off their heads, but overall, the sky has been her ceiling.

So when she’s on a submarine, that’s got to be pretty awful, right?

I got to that point and realized that I know next to nothing about: a) claustrophobia, and b) submarines. After about two thousand words in this setting, I have finally dug up a cutaway of a typical attack submarine, and, well, the sub in my story has a lot more decks. Maybe that’s why the ceilings seem so low to her; the decks are only four feet apart to fit them in a 33-foot diameter cylinder.

But that’s what rewrites are for, right?

NaNoWriMo 15-day Checkup

November is half-spent, and I’m still pretty far behind on my novel, at 18.5 kilowords. I was even farther behind before this last weekend, but I fell into a good rhythm of 1000-word sprints — write a thousand words, take a little break. I have 32 more sprints to go, but honestly I’m not too worried; I’ve taken some time off work in the coming days to be around for an influx of home repair and new appliances, and I should be able to get in three sprints a day on non-work days pretty easily, and sometimes more.

Meanwhile the story itself has really just been an exploration of the setting, and the cultures of the people in what was once Miami. I’m getting a good feel for the raft culture, though sometimes I wonder if perhaps their traditions are too well developed — after all, there are people who can remember Miami before; has enough time passed for a navajo-inspired system of intermarriage to have evolved? Probably not; but if that’s the thing people pick out to complain about then I’ll feel all right.

Several characters have had “audition chapters”, in which I experiment with whether they would fit in an actual story. A couple of the scenes were pretty fun to write, others fell flat.

Fun idea: if algae blooms suck all the oxygen out of the water and kill off marine life (look up “dead zone Louisiana”), a few vegetarian air-breathing species might flourish. Some sea turtles are strictly vegetarian, for instance, and in the absence of predators (except of course for starving humanity) they might do well. Also, I may introduce manatee farming.

There have of course been some of those crazy first-draft no-time-to-go-back moments. There is a floor in one of the buildings that at first is empty, every sound resonating as a storm rages outside. Then, maybe half an hour later, that same space is crammed to the gills with industrial equipment and supplies. Perhaps that place is a portal to another dimension, but nobody in the story said, “Holy shit! Where did all that stuff come from?”

If things get tight around Nov 28th, that portal may reopen, and who knows what would come out. Just sayin’.

I’ve also managed to find a couple of little touches to communicate the magnitude of the disaster, to go along with the skeletons of fallen high-rise buildings. An Igloo cooler sitting on the seat of a submerged utility truck, with a lunch packed inside that would never be eaten, things like that. Jaqi, who dives into the wreckage and into the past, usually isn’t affected by them; things have been like this her whole life. But when she is separated from her raft/family, those old clues of the humanity of those who died can touch her.

Will I have an interesting yarn at the end of this exercise? Honestly, probably not, though it does have moments. But I think I’ll have a pretty good place to put a yarn, and a few interesting people to play the parts.

Friday Afternoon, Way Behind

This has not been a good week for my writing mojo. This weekend I want to poop out a few thousand words of Glass Archipelago and also get a draft of the next episode of Knives to near-ready status. That’s a lot of writing.

To improve things and give myself a shot at a moderately productive weekend, I’m going to continue what has been very relaxing tactic for the last two days: no Facebook. Although it might appear that I’m over there, rest assured that my presence is really that of a robotic doppelgänger, taking my words from here and gluing them into my feed over there. Jerry the human will not be appearing until he has caught up a bit. If Jerry the human finds himself happier as a result of the exercise, he may continue it.

Keep in mind, then, that at least for now comments you make to my posts on Facebook WILL NOT BE READ BY ME. If you click “like”, I’ll never know. If you want to comment on my words, do it here on the blog. If you think they’re sweet, there’s a button for that, too.

Now, back to the task at hand.

1

That Can Never Happen Here

A long time ago I was in an intense conversation with a co-worker. I was speaking in defense of the right of the citizenry of this country to own guns. My friend disagreed. My friend is Jewish, and to further my argument I posited the dubious assertion, “If the Jews in 1920’s Germany were well-armed, things would have been different.” Honestly, it might not have made a difference, with the steady, insidious erosion of Jew’s rights across Europe at that time. But it makes a good argument.

My friend scoffed at my assertion. Not at the idea that well-armed Jews might have turned aside the oppression of their people in Nazi Germany, he scoffed at the very thought that a national socialist scapegoater would ever rise to prominence in this nation.

And here we are. I have never been a stronger proponent of the loose-ass interpretation of the 2nd amendment.