It’s not happening quickly, but I think the Tanner and Miranda stories are slowly coalescing into something with the vague form of a novel. There’s still a long way to go, but I’ve got decent outlines for almost all the stories I want to include in the “collection” masquerading as a full-length book, and that’s a great feeling. Now I just have to turn those outlines into a real story, and we’ll be good to go!
For today, here’s a snippet I wrote this week that I was particularly happy with. Enjoy!
“‘Adventure. Lots of it.’ Those were your exact words.”
I sat on the back of the rented hovermule, kicking my feet in the air and gnawing on the hard protein bar I’d grabbed as a sorry sort of breakfast. Off to the east, the sun rose up above the Badlands, casting long shadows and painting the planet a dusty yellow for miles around.
From his spot next to me Tanner grinned. “That sounds like something I’d say.”
“I feel so lied to.”
“We got attacked by the local wildlife within forty-eight hours of your arrival,” said Tanner, still grinning. “What more do you want?”
“So much,” I said. “So very much.”
This month has seen a bit more behind-the-scenes work with the structuring of the Tanner and Miranda stories… which makes it feel like I’m not getting as much done as I was last month–which is true, all things considered, but also okay. But, if I do it right, it’ll also make it a whole lot easier to get the whole thing out there and ready to be edited into a worthwhile second draft and beyond. So, while I work on that, enjoy the first paragraph of one of the stories that is currently getting figured out.
It was never a good sign when our room started looking more like an infirmary than just a place to sleep and keep our things. Despite appearances– the crutches leaned against the wall, the bandaging implements tossed on the table and over the back of the chair, the bottle of pain-killers on the nightstand– we did know what we were doing. We’d just had a hard run of it lately between me still being new to the planet and a bit of genuinely bad luck. What we really needed was something easy. A nice, simple job to get us back on our feet. Something that involved a little pay and even less getting shot at, and the more boring the better.
After the mayhem of NaNo, it’s sometimes (read: usually) easy for the slower pace that takes over in December to feel distressingly unproductive. And certainly, when it comes to word output and time committed to writing, the last three weeks have seen a definite drop-off. Yet, while I might be loathe to admit it at times, that’s not always a bad thing.
For one thing, having the time to guiltlessly devote to friendships, everyday chores, and all the other things that make up day-to-day life, while being good in and of itself, is also the sort of thing that can help improve one’s writing. They say to write what you know, and if you have a good working knowledge of the way life seems to tick, that’s going to show in your writing.
But the slower pace means I have time to start the restructuring and editing process. Which is terrifying. And a lot of work. And weird, because for the first time in my life, I’m writing out of order. I recently got my hands on Scrivener for the first time, and now I understand what all the hype is about. Consider me sold. Being able to drag chapters and scenes around and divide them up into more thought sized chunks is already invaluable. And it makes it so much easier to write what’s coming to mind right at the moment without worrying about how I’ll move it to where it belongs later. I think it’s going to help speed up the entire editing/rewriting process in the long run, which is good because my dad has sent another bag of chocolate covered espresso beans with the understanding that I finish a revised draft sometime in the near future– preferably the end of January. With the espresso beans, it just might happen!
Another NaNo has come and gone. And while I’m looking forward to relax a little from the marathon, I’m mostly excited because it looks like this might have actually given me the jumpstart I was hoping for to get me writing a lot and regularly once again. It’s a lovely feeling.
I’m also inordinately proud of myself for blowing my previous NaNo wordcount record out of the water. My final count for the month is just over 75k words, which means that I completed 150% of the official NaNoWriMo goal. Tanner and Miranda are nothing if not fun to write. As always, it’s all incredibly rough and unpolished, not to mentioned only barely structured at best, but it’s a whole lot of grist for the editing mill, and I’m so excited to get to working on it.
So, here’s a last (for NaNoWriMo 2018) snippet of the adventures of a couple of siblings who don’t know how to stay out of trouble. Thanks for reading!
There were two bandits in the doorway. There might be more in the ship behind them, but we couldn’t see them, and we couldn’t hear more than the two we could see. Decent enough odds to make us think that they were the only ones there right at the moment. Well. Some people might think they were good odds. If it was the difference between surviving and not surviving this mission, it might be more ideal to wait until we had a better idea of what was going on, but as they say, time is of the essence, and this was about as good as it was probably going to get. And right now, the door was unlocked. And open.
Tanner and I exchanged a look, took deep breaths, and charged.
Now, these two were probably entirely deserving of whatever justice we might mete out on them during this whole crazy backwards heist. But there was more at stake than just their just deserts, and frankly, unless it was blatant self defense, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about killing anyone and getting that on my conscience. Self defense is one thing. Going in, guns blazing, is entirely another. And while it’s got its time and its place, and I’ve done it before, I didn’t have to right now and I was absolutely fine with that.
So instead, we charged straight forward, fired several shots into the hull above their heads, then broke off to the sides and didn’t let ourselves run in a straight enough line to let them get a bead on us. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t have worked. I mean, it really, really shouldn’t have worked. And yet, it did. The two guards panicked and ducked and fired off a couple of crazy shots into the air above our heads. They missed us entirely and wasted a couple of moments that were more than enough for us to cover the ground between us and them.
And we tackled them. Shoulders down, wrapping our arms around their waists, driving them to the ground. Tanner took the one of the left, I took the one on the right who stood a little further back. Just one of the benefits of being smaller. You can sneak through spaces that wouldn’t be big enough for a lot of people. And it doesn’t meant that you’re not strong enough to go after anyone. As evidenced by the fact that the fellow I tackled went down, and went down hard, despite having about fifty pounds and half a foot on me.
Thank God for the element of surprise and a low center of gravity.
I don’t know quite where I’m going with this. But I think it’s going to be fun.
This was my kind of job. The kind that had gotten me into this field in the first place. Both literally, in the sense that Tanner and I were currently crouched in a sage-brush filled field a little way outside of Dalton, and also in the sense you thought I was talking about first. It was the kind rife with adventure and mayhem, and, just as importantly, it was the kind that promised a healthy payout at the end of it.
We just had to finish the job and get back to the client in one piece. Easier said than done, of course, but that’s where the fun comes in.
The whole point in my moving out to the absolute end of nowhere that is Verdant is the fact that instead of doing this notoriously dangerous freelancing job solo, I’d get to do it with Tanner watching my back. And I’d be able to watch his. And in the process, both of our life expectancies would jump straight through the roof. Simple.
Of course, when you’re a freelancer, you don’t exactly have the luxury of being super picky about the jobs you take. Well. Not always. And even if you’d like to be picky, there’s always that pesky fact of paying the rent and buying food that reminds you that downtime itself is a luxury, and one that most of us can’t afford all that often. And sometimes, the only jobs available are the ones that only call for one freelancer. And try as you might, they have no interest in hiring the two of you, even at a discount rate. Cheapskates.
As you might have guessed, this would be exactly how Tanner and I found ourselves working different jobs at opposite ends of the colony just a few months after my arrival. Both of them were simple. Well. Were supposed to be simple, but you know as well as anyone else by now how that usually goes. Still, even while keeping in mind that these jobs would inevitably go sideways, one half-way competent freelancer should be able to handle either of them, and I like to think that Tanner and I are more than halfway competent. So while the whole thing was annoying, we took it. It wasn’t like it was the first time either of us had worked alone, of course.
I found my job first. Or I should say, my job found me first.
By this time, Tanner and I were both decently well established throughout the colony. We had reputations. Good ones, for the most part, and our names were starting to come up regularly when folks started looking for “reliable” and “affordable”.All in all, not a bad place to be. Plus, even though we usually worked side by side, we’d managed to set up separate reputations for ourselves as well. You had a sticky situation that required careful wording and a deft touch? Get Tanner. Got a situation where someone was being stubborn and a couple of heads might need knocking? Tanner would probably manage it, but everyone knew I had a certain flair for it, and you’d get results fast. Tanner’s methods tended to keep him on the right side of the Marshals better than mine did, but even mine usually didn’t land me in that much hot water. Because by the time someone was asking for me by name, the heads that needed bashing were probably so far on the wrong side of the law that they’d probably getit coming to them one way or another. And I didn’t leave a trail of bodies.
could be gold,” I said. The sun was high above us, and far too
hot for comfort. Our only solace was the fact that the boys’ tracks
were particularly easy to follow at the moment, almost as if they’d
stopped trying to hide where they were going. That was our theory on
why the tracks were so weird for our first couple of days on the
trail. It didn’t make any sense if you were looking at it like it was
a couple of treasure hunters actively looking for new treasure. But
if you assumed they’d already found something and were trying to make
it look like they hadn’t, it got closer. It wasn’t perfect, but
nothing is, and if you wanted to assume that they didn’t necessarily
know how to lay a misleading trail, everything matched up pretty
my assessment that they had found a whole vein of pretty, yellow
nodded. “Gold. It could happen.”
they even discovered gold on this planet?”
shrugged. “Don’t know. Probably?” What can I say. I’m many
things, but a geologist is absolutely not one of them. It all looks
like rocks to me, with the only variations that I can usually pick
out being substantial changes in color.
Sure. And gold is pretty, but it’s not that good for much these days.
Diamonds, on the other hand. Those are useful. Expensive, too. I
could see how one of the underworld bosses might try to kill someone
to make sure he got to keep them all for himself.”
be a particularly large one,” I said. “A fabled diamond,
larger than any ever found on earth. A previous treasure hunter
caught a glimpse of it but had to leave before he could grab it. The
story’s gotten around, these two actually found it, and your
underworld boss found out that they knew.” I paused and thought
about it for a moment. “That could be it.”
I finally reached that point where the characters are starting to do things I don’t expect them to. I’m not sure if this means I’ve reached a new writing zen or if it’s just another sign that the monkeys now run the circus. Check back next time to see if I’ve figured it out, or if I’ve just gotten more confused!
You want to stop for the night?”
stopped walking and waited for my brother to do the same. I hadn’t
noticed it while my legs were still moving, but a weary tingling
throbbed in my calves and thighs. It was probably going to turn to a
dull ache before the night was through, though if I admitted that to
myself or anyone else, I’d also have to admit that I’d been taking it
too easy and relying too much on mechanized transportation for the
last few months. Somehow, it hurt even more than yesterday, which I
had hoped wasn’t going to be possible.
I said again when it looked like he hadn’t heard me. “We’re not
going to find them tonight. And I’m tired.”
took a few more steps but his pace had slowed, and he turned a moment
later. “Yeah,” he said. “We can stop.” He sounded tired.
okay?” I asked.
shrugged once and nodded. “Yeah. Just tired.”
narrowed my eyes. “Just tired and also annoyed that this isn’t as
easy as you thought it would be?”
I asked. “Because I’m pretty sure you thought this was going to go
quicker than it is. You were going all white knight and everything.”
wasn’t. Come on, Miranda. I’ve been doing this for years. I know how
search and rescue jobs go. Probably better than you do, honestly.”
I said. “You do. And even I know that this is par for the course.
So what’s eating you?” I waved my arms more expressively than I
needed to. “This is normal!”
so?” He was shouting. I was yelling. Our voices echoed off the
canyon walls, and any plans we’d had for being subtle were straight
trail is wrong. Too obvious, not natural enough, too old.”
Tanner? They’re a couple of lost treasure hunters, not mob
don’t know that.”
glared at him. “You’re kidding me. Did you drink enough today?
Because right now it sounds like you got a little too much sun.”
fine. And I mean it. This doesn’t make sense. The whole trail is too
cold. We should be gaining on them, not just barely keeping pace.
It’s like they tried to leave the tracks we expected to see, but
they’re moving just as fast as we are. It doesn’t make sense. Tell me
Current word count: just over 20K. Writing is going weirdly well from a word count standpoint, and I’m slowly, slowly learning to accept that the first draft is terrible no matter what, and that’s okay. Most of it is currently filled with plotholes and outright plot changes halfway through, but I’ve got a lot of good stuff to work with, and I’m excited to see what happens when I get to edit in December.
Also! I just “finished” the first story that’ll be part of the finished project, and I’m getting more of an idea for an overarching arc. So overall, not too bad for nine days into NaNoWriMo.
Amos Masters is many things. An idiot isn’t often one of them, as much as I wish I could say it was. He was up to something, and while he couldn’t be sure that I knew exactly what it was, he had every reason to believe that I knew something. Combine that with the fact that I was clearly baiting him, it wouldn’t take a genius to realize that I was working an angle. What can I say? I’m not a subtle person.
But I can work to my strengths. Maybe I can’t trick someone into betraying their intentions without them realizing it. But I can definitely piss someone off enough that they do it anyways. Especially if that someone is a hothead like good old Amos.
“I’m warning you, girl. Get out of here before I do something you regret.”
I kept grinning. All he was missing was the long, waxed mustache and the ten gallon hat and he could’ve been a villain out of any old Western. He already had the growling drawl and the nasty sneer down pat. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that, friend. I don’t regret half the stupid things I do. You might manage to annoy me, or maybe even irritated me, but regret it?” I shrugged and spread my arms expansively. “Nah.”
It’s already Day 5 of NaNo, and I’m a little ahead of schedule. So far, this feels way different than any NaNo I’ve done in the past. The words are coming easier, though it feels like there’s an absolute ton of chaff I’ll be sorting through once this is over. Okay, so that part’s normal enough. Anyway! Enjoy another snippet down below.
The first indication that things weren’t going to go the way we expected them to was the fact that we woke up the next morning to the sound of rain. Lots of it. Normally, that would have been a good thing. Despite the name, Verdant is usually anything but—at least, our little corner of it. And while mining and a burgeoning manufacturing business based on the stuff that gets taken out of the ground provide the basis for most of the economy here, there’s also a fair amount of agriculture that goes on as well, since that’s the only way you’re going to be able to feed everyone unless you want to ship in food from another planet. That might have worked back when the colony was smaller, but now that there’s a good half dozen towns with more than ten thousand people in them, it’s just not feasible anymore.
Hence, agriculture. And anytime you’ve got agriculture, you need water. I mean, anytime you’ve got people anywhere you need water, but step that up a notch to water the animals and the plants you’re using to feed the people and things jump into a new realm really fast. But you’re not here to listen to me and my uneducated views on economics and ecosystems. So let me get back to the point.
While rain in the general sense is a great thing for the colony at large, it’s not the best thing for a twenty mile hike with a bunch of cows over the course of two days that’s going to involve some sort of camping. In fact, it’s probably about the worst sort of weather you could have.
Fine. Not the worst. That would be snow. Or maybe record breaking heat. But rain’s not great either, and while it was bad enough for the cows and the horses and the people who were going to be herding them east to Move, it was going to be even worse for the jeep. And by worse, I mean that it was a deal breaker. The road between Orsmith and Move, while it exists, is mostly dirt and occasionally gravel. Which means that when it rains, it becomes mud. Thick, nasty mud of the sort that sucks wheels down to the axles and doesn’t let go. There’s a centuries old joke about the difference between a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a rental vehicle being that you can take the rental everywhere. The jeep might have been both, but when physics itself starts conspiring against you, there’s not a whole lot you can do.