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.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Character Interview with Willan, Terrill’s Father

Here's another interview with a character from Water to Water, my upcoming SF novel.

Terrill’s father Willan, whom Terrill calls Da, is terminally ill and on the way to the ocean. When he reaches it, he will, as dying Vushla do, swim or wade in and let the water dissolve him. Various relatives, including Terrill, and a few friends or neighbors are escorting Willan on this final journey. The interview presumably takes place during a rest stop. Willan’s voice is weak and his speech halting.


Q. What can you tell me about your life?

A. Where to start . . . . I have a mate, Lilit, and three children. The youngest, Terrill, is over there. The older ones work in cities and couldn’t get home in time. I don’t have much time, I think.

Q. Is Lilit here?

A. No. We said goodbye at home. Most mates do. Dragging things out . . . would have hurt her more. And she’s never been much for traveling.

Q. What work did you do?

A. I did a lot of teaching, teaching children. In our town and nearby. Most ages. I like teaching. And people seem to think I have a gift for it. [a pause] And I make things. Different things. Sandals – lots of sandals. Many people in our town wear my sandals. Boxes, with carved designs. I like carving. [a pause] And I made one hand harp. I’d have made more, I think, if I’d had time.

Q. If you don’t mind my asking, what are your thoughts about the end of this journey? About swimming out to sea?

A. [a quiet sigh] That it’s a little soon. I’ve had a good life. I would have liked it to have lasted a little longer. [a pause] But it’s all right. Good things come to an end. [a small smile] And I like to learn new things. I’ve been to the ocean, and to funerals, but this is the only way I can learn about going into the waves. What it feels like. What the ocean sounds like from the inside. Whether there’ll be anything to see.

I’m not afraid, really. I’ve never heard of anyone struggling or crying out in pain.

I wish my children and Lilit didn’t have to grieve, and to reshape their lives. Terrill – he’s too young for this. . . . He always looked forward to that first trip to the sea, with the friends of his year. He had so many plans for it. I’m sorry he’s had to trade those plans for this.

[Terrill starts heading toward Willan as the other Vushla move back toward their cycles]

We’ll be going on now. And I should save my voice and my strength for talking to my son.

No need to wait for the October 17th release -- the book is available for preorder from Amazon and several other retailers.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Time for another excerpt from WATER TO WATER

This excerpt, from Chapter 4, has some information you won't find in the blurb or the earlier excerpts -- but it isn't a spoiler, really.

(And here's Amazon's preorder link and a Universal Buy Link for preorders at some other retailers.)


Given how they had met, it was no surprise that some of Terrill’s curiosity ran to matters of death. How often did Vushlu processions come to the beach where Honnu lived? Did Vushla come there from all over, or only from the region Terrill came from? Did anyone get to the shoreline and refuse to go in? Did anyone stand up and declare they would recover, that they weren’t dying after all?
Honnu was embarrassed not to know more of the answers. He had never known where the groups came from. He had never seen someone turn around and go home again. He had never seen anyone refuse to wade in, and then die on the beach. Though he had seen bodies of those who died on the journey. That got tricky: the family and friends could hardly carry the body into the water, lacking proper protective gear. A couple of times recently, now that Honnu was old enough, he had been drafted into the burial party. He had been just as glad to be wearing his gloves, so that he didn’t have to touch the dead flesh with his hands.
That tale brought more questions. “Haven’t you ever gotten wet, at all?”
Well, yes. All the young Vushla did, sooner or later, dared by their friends or daring on their own. In his case, his brothers had egged him on; but he had waited until they were busy to sneak off to the water’s edge. Careless, maybe, but he preferred the risk to having them see his reaction if he flinched.
“What was it like?”
Like nothing, at first. No more than if he had spit on his own hand. Less than that, at first, where the spray hit his armor. But after a few moments, there was a tingling. Like what sparkle would feel like, if one could feel it. . . .
Sometimes Terrill asked about Weesah. During one rest stop, he asked, “Have you ever seen a group of Weesah show up, or a mixed group with the Weesah dying?”
“No, never. I think they have some other way. But I don’t know what.”
Terrill glanced around for the peddler, but he was out of sight, rearranging something in the wagon. “Don’t you wonder what happens?”
“I suppose, now that you mention it.” And Honnu wasn’t sure Terrill would work up the nerve to ask the peddler.
Well, Honnu didn’t mind.
He walked over to the back of the wagon and called up, “Need any help?”
The peddler stuck his head out. “Not just now. I’ll need something from the pair of you soon enough, I’m sure.” Then, with that shrewd look Honnu had seen many times by now, he added, “But might there be something you’re needing, or wanting, from me?”
Honnu tried for his most earnest expression. “Not exactly. It’s more about what you might need from us. Not that I’m expecting it. But we’re your crew now. We should know what to do if —” How to put it? “If anything happens to you. Suddenly. If you should . . . where would we take you? Would we need to get to the ocean, as soon as we could?”
“Oh, lad, I think you know better than that. You’ve seen Weesah come and go on wagons, but you’ve never seen one show up in a wagon, have you?”
Honnu’s fingers went warm, and he fought the urge to retract them into his armor. The peddler beckoned to Terrill. “Come on, then. You may as well hear this.”
Terrill shuffled over, his fingers retracted almost all the way. The peddler slapped him lightly on the back. “It’s all right. Got to ask questions.” He nodded toward Honnu. “That’s how you learn, isn’t it? You two want to know how Weesah die. Only natural. Well, here it is. When we feel our time coming, we climb. Well, we ride, unless we live close enough to climb on foot. We go to high places. Up in the mountains I’ve told you about.”
Honnu opened his face plates, agreeing; so did Terrill, who had heard about mountains by now, if not so often as Honnu had.
“Or if we can’t get to the mountains, we find the tallest tree we can. Either way, we need some place out in the open, where the wind can reach us. That’s important.
“And then — then, we just reach our arms out wide, to welcome the wind; and as soon as we die, the wind blows us away. As dust.” He paused and tilted his large head to one side. “I’ve seen it twice. I’d have to call it pretty. You see how our skin catches the light?” He pointed to the shiny bits of skin on his arm. “It’s like that, except all the bits, on all sides. We blow away, shining in the sun.”
Terrill finally found the nerve to speak up. “And that’s only — I mean, how does the wind feel the rest of the time? Before the time comes?”
The peddler shifted a bit from side to side. “It feels good, lad. It feels, well, fine.” He gazed off into the distance for a moment, smiling a little. Then he shook himself as if shedding something and pointed to the wagon. “Now let’s have the two of you get in there and help me sort things out, before we get to the next town. I’ll want the goods that sell best to be nice and handy.”

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Character Interview with Honnu, a young Vushlu

Here's another character interview, this time with Honnu, one of the main Vushlu characters in my SF novel Water to Water. Honnu's family are fisher folk and live by the sea. This interview takes place around the time the story begins, on the beach, in late afternoon. Honnu is cleaning a fishing boat.


Q. Hello. I hope I’m not disturbing –

A. Watch out! I’m using seawater here.

Q. It’s splashing all over you. Isn’t that a problem?

A. Not with this suit on. [He gestures along his body.] It’ll keep the water out for years and years yet.

Q. Do you have such suits for visitors? For rent, perhaps?

A. Sorry, no. They take a long time to make. We only get them when we’re done growing, and then we keep them for a long time. Let me just finish up here, and we can talk.

[a few minutes later]

All done! I have a few minutes before I go do chores.

Q. I gather you fish for a living.

A. That’s right.

Q. Do you like it?

A. [a slight pause] Pretty well. I like working with other people. More when they appreciate my help, which they mostly do. Of course, I like it better some days than others. In hot season, it’s cooler out on the water than on land – though the suit does make me warmer than I’d be otherwise. Cold season, that can get, well, cold, suit or no suit. And I get pretty tired by the end of the day. But it’s better than being bored. [another pause] Not that I’m never bored.

Q. Do you picture yourself doing anything different, later in your life?

A. [scuffs a hind foot in the sand] I’d like to see more of the world, someday, somehow. I hear stories – mainly from the Weesah peddler who comes here – and I want to see for myself whether they’re true, and what other stories might be out there waiting to be found.

[someone calls Honnu’s name from a nearby dwelling]

I’d better go. Chores, like I said. It was nice talking to you. If you want to come with me, you could maybe stay for dinner. The peddler brought sausages, and we’ll be having a campfire.


(Preorder links: Amazon and other retailers.)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Yup, another excerpt from upcoming SF novel WATER TO WATER

How many excerpts can I extract from my October 17th release, WATER TO WATER, and still avoid spoilers? We'll find out!

This one is from Chapter 3.


Terrill was almost home.
They would be home too soon. A bleak prospect, that. Da would be gone; and everyone would be talking about him, on and on. And Terrill would have to take on some new role, whatever it might be, or whatever his family might decide it should be.
It could be a long time before he went anywhere again.
The pain of giving up the journey he would have made with the friends of his year, the joyful adventure that he would never experience, pierced him afresh, a pang as cold as the season to come.
And this cold season, Da would not be there building up the fire, or draping a blanket over Ma as she slept, or preparing the garden for its coming nap. Terrill would never again see him come in from the garden, smelling of soil and fresh air, rubbing his hands together to warm them, spreading the dirt on them in the process.
A scene he had forgotten — that he had wanted to forget — came back to him, as clearly if he had remembered it over and over. He was very young. His father’s mother had been sick, moving slowly, not talking much; and then she had gone away, hugging him as tightly as she still could, and Da had gone with her. And after a long time, more days than Terrill could count yet, Da had come home again. He had come through the door, and looked around, stared around, as if everything had become strange and different while he was gone. It had scared Terrill enough to make him cry.
What would it be like for Terrill to walk through that door, with his father gone?


(Here's the Amazon preorder link and a Universal Buy Link for preorders at some other retailers.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Character Interview -- Kititit the Weesah peddler

It's time for you all to meet some of Water to Water's characters.

Kititit, the Weesah peddler, is what you might call an important secondary character. Look hard enough at something that happens, and you might see his long fingers stirring around in it. And I, for one, find him entertaining. Here's an interview with Kititit.


Q. How did you become a peddler?

A. Well, now. That’s a ways to think back . . . . When I was a young sprout, we had a neighbor who was a peddler, wagon and all. I thought her wagon was about the prettiest thing I’d ever seen, all painted up as it was. And she used to let me help load the goods in the back – leastways, helping is what she called it. Getting in the way is what I’d call it, remembering. And when she’d been away and came home again, she always had stories to tell about the places she’d been. I’d never been anywhere, and I got to hankering after a life like she had.

Q. Your wagon – did it used to be your neighbor’s?

A. Right you are! Though by the time she figured she was ready to stay home and play with her grandchildren and take it easy, the wagon was what you might call used up – the canopy, anyway. My folks gave me a new one, and I picked what to paint on it.

Q. You have a mate and children, I hear. How have you managed to strike a balance between traveling and family life?

A. Well, I don’t have just any mate. I made sure to find a lady as liked to hear stories. I promised to always bring back plenty of stories. And she’s an independent sort – doesn’t need someone at her elbow all the time, telling her how to do things. A mate as hung around every day might get annoying for such as her. So we suit each other. And the longer I’m away, the longer I stay home and do my bit with the young ‘uns and the beasts and the garden and all. And now that some of our young ‘uns are grown, she has plenty of help when she needs it.

Q. You’re acquainted with Terrill and Honnu, I believe. How did that come about?

A. I’ve known Honnu a good piece of his life, I’d say. I visit a few different fisher villages, and he lives – or lived, I’m not sure which is right just now – in one of ‘em. I was the first Weesah he ever saw, I reckon, and how he would stare! Anyhow, he’s a curious fellow and always likes to hear my traveler’s tales.

Q. That brings up an interesting point. Aren’t you somewhat given to exaggeration in those tales of yours? Should Honnu believe everything you say?

A. (laughs) No, I can’t say as he should. But I reckon he knows that. Now, I wouldn’t say he knows just what to believe and what not to. But if he ever asked me, serious-like, I’d tell him.

Q. And Terrill? How did you meet him?

A. That was luck, if luck is something that happens, as to which I’ve no firm opinion. His da took ill, and Terrill was one of the funeral party as took him to the sea. I left Honnu’s village about the time they left to head home again, and we got to talking on the road. A nice young fellow. On the serious side, and tending to worry more than is comfortable for a youngster his age. I did my bit to cheer him up, when I could.

Q. And how did Terrill and Honnu meet each other?

A. (chuckles) Well, I’ll maybe let you ask one of them about that. I’d best be packing up and heading on, pretty soon. Any last questions? Or might you be wanting something from the wagon before I go? I’ve got some good knives I picked up a few towns back. Or if you’ve little ones at home, I have toys -- balls for juggling, and these dolls. See the bits of shell that make up the armor? And of course, I have fish. Always plenty of fish.


You can preorder Water to Water on Amazon and elsewhere.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Another excerpt from upcoming SF novel WATER TO WATER

Time for another short excerpt from my upcoming SF novel, Water to Water? Why not? After all, the book is now up for preorders on Amazon and elsewhere :-).

This one is from Chapter 2. Terrill, a young member of the Vushlu species who has just watched his father's death ritual, is on the way homeward.


Terrill should spend this time remembering his father, calling up all the memories he wanted to preserve. What was his earliest memory of Da?
His earliest memory of any kind . . . he would have liked a more pleasant one. Someone had smacked his hand, on the unarmored palm, for making some mess or other. But he couldn’t remember who had done it. It wouldn’t have been Da, not for such a young child making a mess. Ma, maybe, in a moment of exasperation. Or his uncle, visiting.
Terrill might have been a couple of years older the time Da gave him a ride, telling him to put his arms around Da’s torso and hold tight, Terrill’s baby legs splayed wide across Da’s broad back. Da had put just a little bounce in his gait, enough to be thrilling, but not enough to loosen Terrill’s clasped hands . . . .
What arose next was from a few years later, but still from childhood. A hot day, the hottest so far that year, with the end of the season seeming forever away. Da going from creek to creek to find the coolest one, and pouring a bucket of almost-cold water all over Terrill, Terrill gasping in pleasure and relief . . . .
Another memory, very different, almost as far back: Terrill standing outside, watching the sky colors shift from day to night, wondering if the sky looked the same everywhere, even in the far-off cities where his older siblings wanted to go. He had turned to go back inside and only then seen Da, walking back and forth, slowly, in the road a few paces away, his shoulders slumped, a posture Terrill could not remember having seen before. Something was wrong, and Terrill had no idea what it was. He had never had the courage to ask about it.
He would never know.