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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

another excerpt from my upcoming, still-untitled Western historical romance

Here's another excerpt from the draft of my first-ever, untitled Western historical romance. My POV character, Dr. Joshua Gibbs, has just returned from the long, exhausting job of treating a farmer's leg injury, relieved that he wasn't called upon to amputate. Freida Blum, an elderly Jewish widow new to town, arrives at his door shortly after he gets home.

Major is Joshua's Irish Setter.


Joshua closed the door behind the farmer’s boy, holding the empty coffee cup, and leaned against the door. He’d made enough coffee for both of them, but hadn’t ended up drinking any. Bone-tired as he was, he didn’t have the strength to deal with coffee jitters.

He stumbled over to the dresser where he kept his nightshirt, pulled off his soaked frock coat and shirt and trousers, let them fall in a sodden heap on the floor, and pulled the nightshirt on. He’d take the wet, wrinkled clothes to Li Chang in the morning. Times like this, he was sorely grateful to his sisters back in Pennsylvania who’d pooled their efforts to send him a second set of doctor’s duds. He used almost his last strength to dig the bone saw in its case out of his bag and shove it out of sight on the shelf where he kept it.

Scratching at the door heralded Major’s return. Joshua grabbed a towel from the hook near the door and let the dog in. Rubbing the dog down warmed him up a little, but the sooner he was in bed with every quilt and comforter he owned on top of him, the happier he’d be.

And then, the door again, but this time a knock, or maybe a kick, a dull thud, once and then repeated.

If he’d had the energy, he would have cussed a blue streak. Not now. Oh, God, not now. A knock this late meant an emergency. He would have to somehow find the wit and the strength to save someone, and he had none of either left.

“Dr. Gibbs!” (“Doh-ktor Kibbs.”) A woman. He knew he should, but didn't, recognize the voice.

She didn’t sound sick. Could it be the neighbor, or worse, one of the neighbor’s children? But if it were childhood disease, he might be able to treat the fever, at least, or do something for vomiting. He could handle that. He opened the door.

There stood Mrs. Blum, her fur coat making her look like a friendly mama bear, holding a covered pot in her hands.

“I saw you come in, looking so wet and tired. I brought enough for the boy who was with you, but I see he’s gone. May I come in? You won’t leave an old woman standing in the street, will you?”
He stumbled back dumbly and let her pass, shoving the door shut with a weak thrust as she barreled toward the kitchen table. She put the pot down, dropped her coat in a corner, and pulled out his chair. “Sit, sit!”

He collapsed into the chair while she rummaged around, seemingly quite at home, finding a bowl and a spoon. She opened her coat and produced a ladle, then whisked the cover off the pot. Fragrant steam rose up out of it. He leaned forward, sniffing, and smiled weakly to see Major coming toward them to do the same. “What is it?”

“What is it? Chicken soup is what it is! What else, for warming you up and keeping you from catching your death?” She paused, almost coy. “Oh, here I am telling you your business. But if you don’t already know about chicken soup, it’s time you did, no?”

She dipped the ladle in once, twice, three times, and then stopped and frowned at the bowl in frustration, looking ready to scold it for not having more room before pushing it toward him. “You start with that. I’ll light the stove to keep this warm.”

The soup had hunks of carrot and big chunks of chicken, and some sort of strange, light dumplings. He barely made himself use the spoon instead of picking up the bowl and pouring it into his mouth. As it was, his hand shook so that he spilled some of the soup on the table. Without missing a beat, Mrs. Blum tossed a dish towel his way before dragging a stool over to the table and perching on it, overflowing it on every side. When he managed to look up from his miraculous meal, he saw her beaming at him, clearly delighted at the way he was slurping the soup down with no sign of table manners. The moment the spoon clinked the bottom of the bowl, she grabbed the bowl and filled it to the brim again. “Eat, eat!”

He was filling up, but he thought it likely that if he dared to stop before the bowl was empty again, she would seize the spoon and feed him like an infant. He made his way manfully through.
Finally he was able to push the bowl away and sit back. She gave the pot one longing look before shrugging and turning off the stove.

He would have liked to let Major lick the bowl, but was not sure whether Mrs. Blum would be offended. Major weighed in by nudging Joshua’s knee with his muzzle and whining. Joshua looked up at his benefactor. “I am sure my dog would appreciate the remaining traces of your excellent soup.”

He was relieved at Mrs. Blum’s low chuckle. “Why not? My chicken soup should be good for dogs, even.”

Joshua put the bowl in the floor; Major looked up at him as if for permission and then set to licking it out. When Major finished, inspected the bowl in case he had missed a drop, and trotted away, Joshua picked up the bowl and contemplated the effort of cleaning it. Mrs. Blum, apparently reading his mind, grabbed the bowl, opened the door, and let the rain rinse it before setting it on the drainboard. She leaned against [the stove] and looked down at him, shaking her head. “Out in all hours and all weather, and he comes home to nothing!” (“Nutt-ink.”)

Joshua shrugged. He had a good idea where this was going.

“So where’s Mrs. Doctor? You need to get married!”

Just as he’d thought. He’d fended off similar comments from a few ladies at church when he first arrived in town. He’d ignored them with as much dignity as he could muster, and after a while, they’d given up. But looking at the massive and motherly figure looming in his kitchen, Joshua felt suddenly uneasy. Something in her tone and expression showed considerable determination. Even zeal.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Watching my words: authenticity in historical fiction

I'm well into the editing/revision process for my Western historical romance (still untitled). I'm gradually realizing just how many challenges any historical fiction entails. One of the easiest ways to trip up: language usage.

For example, I thought the word "moniker" had a nice, folksy, Western sound. Then I thought to look up when that term was first used. Turns out, per the info I found, that it reached the USA "not long after" 1881. My story is set in 1874-1875. Sigh. I substituted "nickname," then checked whether that word was already in use. Fortunately it was, though I can't guarantee it would have been spelled the way we spell it today.

I thought I might have to make a similar substitution for "rucked up," but eventually learned that it dated from the late 18th century. I don't know for sure that it was used in the USA in my period, but it seems likely enough that I'm leaving it in place.

I've made a few more changes so far, and I'm only about one-fifth done with this editing pass. My attempt at diligence notwithstanding, I'm sure to overlook some word or phrase I should have checked. I will, however, ask my beta readers to flag any language they think might be anachronistic. (If you'd like to be a beta reader, and you're familiar with and fond of this genre, please email me at and let me know!)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Excerpt from my second rough draft of 2018

My second rough draft is near-future science fiction, more in my usual wheelhouse. The premise, the availability of artificial wombs for embryos and fetuses, is close enough to fact that I'll be racing the technology to get my book out before it hits. But I'm likely to work on the other draft first, notwithstanding.

This is a scene early in the book. Toni is a main character, perhaps the main character.

       Whatever she had expected, this wasn’t it. Toni started to relax as she stepped through the doors and smelled a remarkable simulation of fresh air. The light had the quality of sunlight; the walls were painted in light pastel colors. The small waiting room just inside the door had flowering plants, or maybe very good artificial ones, in the window sills. And the young male receptionist had blue hair. She might try that color when she got tired of pink.
       She had thought they would immediately take her to wherever the procedure would be performed, but instead the receptionist summoned another young man to give her a tour. Not that the facility was all that large: a short wide corridor with large abstract photographs, streaks and blobs of fuzzy colored light; a larger waiting room with upholstered armchairs, and tablets for anyone who hadn’t brought one; more of the roomy and well-lighted corridors; and the large room full of incubators. She had expected metal, but their exteriors, at least, were something like plastic, their colors similar to the walls except a little richer. She could see hoses and control panels, the lights on the panels twinkling like Christmas trees. She frowned a little. “What if the power goes out?”
       “Each incubator has a fully charged backup battery that can last for days, and we have three generators, all inspected weekly. Nothing’s going to happen to these little darlings. They’re safer than any of us, or any fetus a woman is carrying around.” Her guide opened the door to the room so she could hear the music playing inside. “Classical guitar right now, but we play all sorts of instrumental music, and some choral, and some pop. Nothing jangly or loud — we alternate soothing and upbeat.” He closed the door again and turned toward her. “Ready to get this done?”
       There must be something else to see first. “What about the delivery rooms, and wherever the parents — the adoptive parents — get the babies?”
       “I’m sorry, but that isn’t part of the tour. I’ll take you to the procedure room, then, shall I?”
       She bit a treacherous lower lip and nodded.

       The nurse who came in and gave her a gown — cloth, not paper, with abstracted flowers on it — may have thought she needed reassurance, or may have simply made the same speech to all comers. “It shouldn’t hurt a bit. Later on, you will have some soreness, but we’ll provide you with medication for it. We won’t have to put you out. We just spray your back, there —” She pointed near Toni’s spine. “— and you’ll start to feel very relaxed. We do everything we can to make you comfortable. You can watch, but most of our visitors choose to watch the ceiling instead. The controller’s right there next to the table.” The ceiling had a large screen, currently showing a series of nature photos. Some included animals, but none, Toni noticed, showed puppies or kittens or cubs.
       “You already know that today’s services are free, right? And if you want a birth control implant, that’s free as well.”
       Toni ground her teeth before she answered, “I guess I’d better. The shot doesn’t always work. I found that out. The implants are more foolproof, aren’t they?”
       “Just about 100 percent. And if you get the shot also, I don’t know of anyone who’s conceived after both. And you can get the implant removed any time — though you’d have to pay a doctor for that — and get medicine to counteract the shot for good measure.”
       Before she left to let Toni get changed, the nurse handed her a tablet “You’ll need to put your thumbprint at the bottom of the screen before the doctor gets started. The technicalities, you know.” She slid out the door, leaving Toni to make her way through the stilted official language. She would be giving up any “parental rights,” whatever those were. That made sense. She was giving up being a parent, letting someone better able to do the job raise her baby.
       Her baby, except that by the time it was a baby, it would no longer be hers.
       Maybe this was why they had people change into gowns. So they wouldn’t yield to any last-minute urge to run out the door.
       The nurse came back in, hand out to receive the tablet, and a hypo-spray in her hand.

Two rough drafts in 2018, and here's an excerpt from one

I had a productive 2018, for me, with two rough drafts completed (though the latter just made it under the wire). I'm posting short excerpts from both to celebrate -- and here's the first.

While you wouldn't know it from the excerpt, this book will be (my first venture into) historical romance, and no, I have no idea how that happened . . . .


Joshua Gibbs felt sun on his face and thought about opening his eyes. He decided to wait. He had some blessings to savor that wouldn’t need sight.
He was in a bed, a four-poster with a well-stuffed husk mattress, instead of a tent; the sound nearest his right ear not the whistle of a shell or the wails and screams of dying men, but the soft grumbly snore of his Irish Setter. And the dog’s name might be Major (or, to give its full grandiloquent moniker, Reginald Phineas Major), but that was the closest to an officer he’d find for miles around.
And what Joshua smelled, when he took a slow, lazy sniff, was a mix of Major and almost-clean bed linen, and not . . . well, no need to sully a brand new morning with the thought of what he’d have smelled this time nine years ago. 
But the thought put an end to his pleasant catalogue. He opened his eyes and sat up, stretching out his arm and laying a hand lightly on Major’s side for the warm breathing comfort of it. Major’s eye twitched, and his tail, but that was all. A dog knew, without having to think about it, what safety meant. 
Joshua levered himself out of bed. He’d get dressed and take a walk with Major before frying himself some breakfast.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Water to Water book trailer

I'm pleased, delighted, darn near overjoyed to announce that my first-ever book trailer is finished and available for viewing. I wrote the script, and Holy Smoke Photography brought it beautifully to life.

Here's the YouTube link.

(The preorder links -- which will be full-fledged purchase links in two days -- are here: Amazon, Google Play (where it's discounted at the moment), and several other retailers.

Excerpt from later in WATER TO WATER, still spoiler-free

It's getting trickier to find excerpts from Water to Water that don't include spoilers, but I think this one from Chapter 16 qualifies.

For reasons the reader will understand by this point, Honnu, a young member of the Vushlu species, and two of the Weesah species, a brother and sister named Kititit and Tototee respectively, are investigating a phenomenon involving fishing villages. They've come up with a tactic that involves some deceit.


Honnu balked at first. “I’m not a good liar. And I’d be ashamed to lie to people who are grieving.”
Tototee looked at him as if she could see every lie he had ever told carved into his armor. “Don’t think of it as lying, then. Think of it as acting.”
Kititit made a gesture that must have been sibling-speak for back off, then bent down to look Honnu in the eye. “This is a strange business we’ve thrown ourselves into, and we’ll all be doing things we haven’t done. How about you think about ways this lie, and that’s what it is, could help the family instead of hurting ‘em. They’re likely to be lonely. Most people steer clear of folks who are grieving, not knowing what to say or how to act. You show up and give them company and a listener for their memories, you could be doing a rare kindness.”
Honnu looked at Kititit, looked down at his front feet, looked back at Kititit. “I’ll try. Once, anyway.”
Tototee patted his arm in a rare reassuring gesture. “It probably won’t come up. Anyway.”
But it did, in the very next town. One of the Vushla celebrated in a competitor’s song had studied sea creatures, spending most of her time moving up and down the coast, going out with the fishers or, later on, in her own specially equipped boat.

Honnu approached the house, half hoping the family would be out on some errand, half wanting to get the ordeal over with. As he reached the door, he saw that someone had hung a familiar symbol, a broken shell similar to the shell Terrill’s father had used to make his harp. He had not known that any Vushla except fisher folk marked their doors in that manner after a death, but maybe the scientist’s profession explained it. He stood long enough to fight off a sharp pang of homesickness, then knocked.
The female Vushlu who answered, neither young nor old, might have been the scientist’s daughter or niece. She stood in the doorway, gravely polite, as Honnu stammered out his condolences. When he came to a halt, she asked, “Did you know my mother?” (Daughter, then.)
“I live — usually live — by the sea. My family are fisher folk.” True. “We don’t get that many visitors, so we remember the ones we get.” Still true. “Most of them aren’t nearly as interesting as your mother.” True again.
The daughter opened the door wider. “Won’t you come in?”
Inside, there was another female about the same age as the daughter, and a male who seemed to be the daughter’s mate. The daughter introduced Honnu as “someone who knew Ma from her field work.” Honnu forced himself not to flinch.
They brought him pastry and fruit, which he accepted with unease he hoped he managed to hide. He tried to think of some kindness he could offer in return, and came up with another misleading truth. “It was awfully brave of her to go out on the water. Nobody does that except us fisher folk, usually.”
The daughter stood a little straighter. “Yes, she was brave.” She laughed softly. “Or so curious she didn’t care if she was nervous. . . . Would you like to see her collection of specimens? Many of them are elsewhere, of course, but she kept some favorites here.”
He could hardly say no. “Yes, please.”
The daughter appointed herself guide to the collection, and — to Honnu’s relief, as he had wondered whether this intrusion would end up pointless — had stories to tell about many of the objects. “Ma took the most awful risks for this one. She actually fell out of the boat, and if there hadn’t been two strong fisher folk with her . . . . She drew many of her specimens, but the drawing she did of this one was her favorite . . . . I went with her the time she found that, but I dropped it in the boat and she was afraid I’d broken it . . . . This one here is from her first trip, and this one over here is from her last, thirty years later . . . .”

He was exhausted by the time he left. But Kititit and Tototee made him recite everything he could remember, right away while it was fresh in his mind. He could hardly talk by the time they took pity on him and sent him off for a nap.


Intrigued? Here are the preorder links for Amazon and for other retailers.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Another character interview from a previous book -- Cassidy from Wander Home

Here's another character interview rescued from disappearing blog links.

Cassidy is an important character in Wander Home. Wander Home is an afterlife fantasy, a family drama, and a mystery, with romance elements as well. (Whew.)

In the book's vision of the afterlife, you can be any age at any moment, depending on your mood and what you wish to do. You can also visit places you and others remember, and relive memories.

Cassidy died in early childhood, but assumes a range of ages in the afterlife. She is often a teenager.


1.   Cassidy, please tell us a little about your character.

I guess I'm a basically happy person. I think I was meant to be, anyway. I like to meet people, and they seem to like me when I do. There are some things I get angry or sad about, when I let myself think about them.

2.      Who is your best friend? 

That's kind of complicated. My only friends from before -- from when I was alive -- are Grandma Sarah and Grandpa Jack and my great-grandma Amanda. I wouldn't have called them "friends," before -- but now, we can all be the same age and play together, if we want, and we do that pretty often.

I've made lots of new friends, and probably my best friend I've met here is Becca. We do all sorts of things, at all sorts of ages. And when one of us is sad, the other one slips old enough to comfort her and take care of her.

3.      Now be honest, how is it working with Author Karen A. Wyle?

I don't always like the things she makes me remember. But she sent me to some pretty awesome places. And she brought my mother back. That matters more than anything -- even if things were more complicated and harder than I thought they would be.

4.      Is there a special someone in your life?  Tell us a bit about them.

I'm not exactly sure. Becca and I are really close, and sometimes we make each other's bodies feel good. I haven't done that with very many people. But we're not each other's special someone the way Grandma and Grandpa are special to each other.

Most of the couples I know came here as couples already, even if one of them had to wait a long time for the other. But some people pair up here, and I guess that might happen to me.

5.      What’s a secret you can share with us?

Sometimes I kind of wish I could have a baby of my own, some day. I won't get to do that. I'll probably take care of some of the babies that come here, and help them learn how to be kids and grownups.

6.      What are your hobbies and interests?

I love to do so many things! I ride horses, and I climb anything I can find to climb, and I go new places -- lots of places -- and I dance, and I watch Great-Grandma dance, and I talk to Grandma and Grandpa and Great-Grandma about all the things they did in their lives.

7.      What is your most embarrassing memory?

It's in Wander Home. I misunderstood something, and got really mad at my mom about it. I feel like an idiot when I remember that.

8.      Where can readers find out more about you and your author?

Karen has a website at She doesn't take care of it very well, though. It tends to stay the same until something big happens, like a new book. Sometimes she remembers to put up new interviews and reviews and such. She's better about her Facebook author page, at She reposts articles that writers or readers might like, and puts up bits of her books. And she's on Twitter as @KarenAWyle.

9.      Where can they find books about you?

So far, I'm only in Wander Home and in a story called "The Library." The story happens before Wander Home does, and it's mainly about another girl named Rachel, but we meet in the library, and I try to help her a little.

Previous books' character interviews -- Levi from Twin-Bred

Here's another character interview from Twin-Bred. I've tweaked it a bit. (For example, back then I apparently didn't use the Oxford comma. Hard to believe . . . .)

Introductory Note: this would be, to say the least, a difficult interview to arrange. "Levi Thomas" was the name that would have belonged to Mara Cadell's fraternal twin, had he survived to be born. He died shortly before that point. Mara, emotionally traumatized by that loss, coped by keeping Levi alive in her mind as a companion. (The traumatic nature of her loss is based on reports from many twin survivors.)

Q: Let's start with the obvious. Are you real? Or a creation of Mara's imagination?

A: Wouldn't you like to know?

I could tell you to ask Mara -- not that she's in a particularly good position to answer that question -- but of course, she doesn't like to talk about me. She'd be quite perturbed that you even know of my existence (if that's what we call it for purposes of discussion).

Q: How is it that you two function? Does she just hear you, like a voice, or is there something more? Emotions, sensations?

A:  Let me check my notes. Or rather, Mara's therapist's notes. Yes, here's what she told him. "We talk. It’s more immediate than, say, hearing music in your head — but it’s not like someone’s in the room.”

Q: Do you ever have control over Mara, in any way? Like an alternate personality taking over a body.

A: I don't possess her. I'm not a dybbuk. I may influence her behavior on occasion -- by distracting her, or making her laugh when she shouldn't, that sort of thing. And I try to talk her into doing what I recommend in various situations. I have a surprisingly good record there.

Q: Do you play any part in Mara's artwork -- her drawing and cartooning?

A: Not directly. I don't think I would have been that visual. I'm more about the words. We often talk about her drawings. Sometimes I lack the context to understand them, and she explains. And her cartoons show a sense of humor that she doesn't normally indulge. That side of her, that hidden mischief, is where she and I are most alike.

Q: To what extent do you see yourself as separate from Mara? And a related question: do you form your own attachments to people, ideas, or things?

A: Shall I say, we're inseparable? . . . There have been cases of conjoined twins where surgical separation would have killed one of the two. Sometimes that has been necessary, so that at least one could survive. If it's ever necessary for Mara's sake that I cease to be part of her life, that'll be all she wrote, as far as my existence goes. Or so I assume. It's a strange universe, and I'm hardly an authority on what surprises it may have in store.

I do have opinions. I may trust some people less than Mara does, and let her know it. I doubt I've ever trusted anyone more than she does. I'm the suspicious type.

Q: Is Mara better or worse off for your presence, do you think? What do you think would happen if people found out about you at the Twin-bred project?

Let's take those questions one at a time.

Mara would be better off if I had lived. And it's possible she'd be better off if I had never existed. I'm not sure "better to have loved and lost" applies in these circumstances, if it ever does. . . .  But there we were, twins. There's no getting around that starting point. And she's tenacious, in love as in other things. It wasn't in her nature to simply move on. All things considered, I think she's better off isolated and secretive than seriously depressed. And of course, I'm good company.

But it's quite important, I believe, that I remain a secret. If people found out about our little ménage a deux, it would very likely endanger the Project, and might end Mara's career.

You must understand, Mara is not the easiest person to get along with. She's prickly and doesn't suffer fools gladly. And she has a very low tolerance for organizational politics. All of which means that only her exceptional scientific ability induces people to put up with her. There are many who would like to be shut of her if they had a good enough excuse. Delusions of twin-hood? Good enough.

Q: How do you feel your presence affects Mara with her work at the project, dealing with twins all the time?

A: I exist because she needs me to help her cope with life in general. Without my presence, or shall we say my availability -- I'm not muttering in her ear nonstop -- I doubt she could handle being around twins day in and day out.

I should add that despite the pain involved, there are ways it's been healing for Mara, being surrounded by Twin-Bred. All around her, she sees humans and Tofa, most of whom would never have had a twin if not for her. You could say that she's ensured I didn't die in vain. Though I doubt she's thought if it in those terms.

new links for previous books' character interviews - Dr. Mara Cadell from Twin-Bred

In updating my much-neglected website, I discovered that some of the links for my character interviews have expired. So I'm bringing those interviews home.

Here is an interview with my very first fictional character (not counting juvenelia), Dr. Mara Cadell, founder of the Twin-Bred project.

Introductory Note: Mara has a secret to keep, and her answers to these questions reflect that. The secret: that her fraternal twin brother, Levi, died shortly before birth, and that she has dealt with the trauma of that loss by keeping him alive in her mind as a companion.

Q.        When did you first conceive of the Twin-Bred project?

A.        In one sense, the idea first occurred to me when I was quite young -- a child, in fact. I       believe I was seven years old. I was -- I was aware of the deep bond between twins, and I          thought what a shame it was that humans and Tofa couldn't be twins, so they'd get along     better. It was several years later that I learned about host mothers who carry fetuses for      other women. I immediately recalled my earlier fancy, and wondered if the physical obstacles to cross-species implantation and so on could be overcome.

Q.        Do you regard the Twin-Bred -- emotionally speaking -- as your children?

A.        Not really. The relationship isn't that -- personal. I don't hover and worry over every little bump and bruise, or concern myself with fusses and tantrums. The ones whose host    mothers have left would be much more likely to go to one of the nurses, possibly Chief            Nurse Gaho, for something close to maternal attention. I think my feelings are more like    those of a teacher who takes pride in her students' progress and achievements.

            Although I am quite protective of the Twin-Bred's safety and well-being. You might say intensely protective.

Q.        The official name of the Twin-Bred project is the Long-Term Emissary Viviparous             Initiative, or LEVI. Is it a coincidence that those initials spell a name? Is the project named after someone in particular?

A.        That's a personal matter. Next question?

Q.        Would it be accurate to say that LEVI would never have gotten off the ground without    funding and support from the governing Council?

A.        Certainly. I'm no fundraiser. I have no particular gift for stroking egos and such. I suppose that if I'd happened to know someone both wealthy and interested, we could have managed with private funding. Most likely, we would still have had the same problems -- excuse me, occasional issues -- about the time frame in which results could be expected, and exactly what return on investment we could produce. Although we would have had personal continuity, instead of the turnover we've naturally seen on the Council over time.

Q.        I understand you're an artist. What are your favorite subjects?

A.        I don't usually call myself an artist. I like to sketch. I've done a little painting, but I rarely have time for it. My cartoons tend to be about things that annoy me. It helps me keep my temper.

Q.        I see you have a cartoon on your desk. May I take a closer look?

A.        (pause) Yes. Of course.

Q.        This cartoon shows a woman sitting up in bed. It's you, isn't it? And she's holding a           pillow at arm's length, and the pillow is sticking out its tongue at her. And one of the moons, the larger one, is showing through the window -- but it's making a really nasty face.

A.        I don't always sleep well. And on occasion my dreams can be less than pleasant. Now I     don't wish to be rude, but I really do have a great deal to do, and I'd best get back to it. Thank you for stopping by. I'll have someone give you a tour of the facility on your way out. It's worth seeing.

Character Interview with Terrill

Terrill is a Vushlu. He would have become an adult next year by taking a ritual first journey to the ocean with other Vushla his age. Instead, he attained adult status prematurely, accompanying his dying father to the ocean, where his father went into the water to be dissolved.

Interviewing Terrill is a tricky task. As the book begins, he is understandably morose. Later, when he is less so, he has good reasons not to reveal his activities and concerns. I’ve dealt with this dilemma by splitting his interview into two, and working within the limitations Terrill sets.

The first interview takes place at a rest stop during the funeral party’s return trip. Terrill speaks in a quiet monotone most of the time.


Q. I’m very sorry about your father.

A. Thank you.

Q. It will take you quite a while to get home. How are you occupying yourself along the way?

A. I’m trying to remember as much as I can about Da. [a pause; he clenches and armors his fists] But the things I remember keep reminding me of things I don’t know. Questions I never asked, and never can, now. [long pause]

Q. Have you found any ways to keep your spirits up?

A. There’s a Weesah peddler who’s been traveling alongside us. He likes to tell stories. When I listen to them, it takes my mind off . . . other things. I’ve even laughed a few times. [glances to the side] Not that my uncle approves. Of the listening or the laughing.

[An older Vushlu approaches; the interview concludes]


The second interview takes place around three months (or the equivalent) later. Terrill is now traveling in the peddler’s wagon, as is Honnu, another Vushlu about his age.


Q. Is this where you expected to be, at this time?

A. No. Nothing about what I’m doing these days is as I expected. One unpredictable event has led to another.

Q. What can you tell me about these events?

A. [a slight smile – which for Vushla means a rounded mouth] Very little, I’m afraid. Except that one of our funeral party, my aunt, became very ill on the way home. The others returned to the sea with her. I [a short pause] chose not to. That led to my becoming better acquainted with Honnu. And that led to everything else.

Q. So do you think you’ll become a peddler?

A. [another smile] I don’t think so. But for now, I’m a peddler’s assistant and have my duties. I’d better go.

Q. Perhaps we’ll meet again along the road.

A. I . . . don’t think that is very likely. But stranger things have happened. [a quiet chuckle] Indeed they have.


(Preorder links: Amazon and other retailers.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Next excerpts from upcoming SF novel WATER TO WATER - a little later on

Posting excerpts helps me wait more or less patiently for my upcoming book release -- so here are two more little ones, from Chapters 6 and 11 respectively, both mentioning waterfalls.

(Here's the page for Amazon preorders and another for some other retailers.)


(ten years earlier)

It sure felt different up here. Kititit would have said, before, that of course he’d been in the mountains. After all, he lived near that waterfall, and what else did the water fall down if it wasn’t a mountain? But after making his way up and up and up the road for the funeral and seeing what it was like, he’d have to find another word for the heights near home.
Actually, he felt different in a couple of opposite directions. The air didn’t seem to quite do the job air was supposed to do, and that made him feel a little woozy — except the air was so completely transparent that he felt, at the same time, wider awake.
Maybe those two effects, pulling in different directions, had something to do how the old fellow had acted just before the wind took him — giddy, laughing, almost drunk. Kititit might have thought it was always that way, but some of the others at the funeral seemed surprised. When Kititit’s time came, he’d kind of like to go like that.
Good thing the beast seemed to be feeling the thin air less than he was. Why would that be? Did the first beasts, before the Weesah found any, come from up high somewhere? Was there more grass and bushes in the mountains, back then? Or was there some different reason altogether? Well, if nobody knew, he could imagine it however he liked.
Hmmm. Look at that — a path heading off to one side. He couldn’t see too far along it. And he also couldn’t see any trace of wagon tracks, or cycle tracks for that matter — just scuff marks that might have come from feet, or maybe just from puffs of wind.
He could head that direction for a while. Maybe there’d be water. They’d passed the last stream a while ago. And maybe, just maybe, nobody had ever gone that way, or not for a good long time. . . .
 Yes, he could go a little ways down that path. Just to see what he might see.

[and the next one, back in the present timeline . . . .]

It had been quite a while since Honnu thought about the tales Kititit used to tell the fisher folk around the fire. But it was with a shock of recognition that he looked out the window to see water tumbling down a cliff above the road.
He had never imagined that water could take such varying forms, or catch the light and throw it around as colors, or hang in the air. And the sound! At home, water lapped like a beast drinking, or hissed on the sand, or dragged pebbles in a grumble, or crashed when the surf was high. This water roared, and not in one voice, but in a chorus of voices.
Kititit sat back and laughed at Honnu’s reaction. “Thought I was making it all up, did you? I’ve known this waterfall since I was a lot younger than you. I’ve even climbed up it, in hot season when the water dries up and you can find places to grip. Almost managed to fall down again, all the same.”
It would take a Weesah, with their long arms and legs and fingers, to climb that fractured stone surface even if the water dried up completely. Honnu shivered at the idea. But the mighty music of the water drove the thought, all thought, out of his mind. He let it fill him.
Terrill stirred beside him. Would his friend think his wonder was childish, or provincial? But Terrill’s face showed the same awe.


Sunday, October 07, 2018

Preorder links for Water to Water, my upcoming SF novel

If you've been reading the character interviews and excerpts I've been posting every three days or so, you've already seen the preorder links. But I thought I'd do a short post with just the links, for use on social media not specifically devoted to writing and publishing.

So here: you can preorder Water to Water on Amazon. Or if you prefer (e.g. if you read .epubs), you have your choice of a host of other retailers including B&N, Kobo, and Apple Books (with more to come), all from this Draft2Digital link.