You’re Doing Brilliantly

*Sigh*Everyone’s struggling right now. Funny how it comes in waves. Or maybe it doesn’t, but that’s what it feels like – everyone’s struggling. Every writer I know seems to be second-guessing themselves, wondering if they’ve got what it takes. If it’s even worth it, if they do. As if in the shift from summer to…

via You’re Doing Brilliantly — Kim M Watt

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To beta or not to beta

This is the second blog post in a row I’ve written on etiquette and the irony hasn’t escaped me: yes, I am a potty-mouthed, socially inappropriate reprobate who struggles not to tell parents their babies look like elderly wizards. It’s also ironic that I’m advising people how to be graceful. I’m roughly the size and shape […]

via Critiquette: Giving and Receiving Writing Feedback with Grace — Anna Kaling – Romance Author

What Readers Want

I posed a question to writers and readers on Twitter, Facebook, and in real life: As a reader, what plots/characters/themes/tropes would you like to see MORE of? I got some really cool responses! The most common replies were overwhelmingly: better representation for LGBQT characters fewer coming out stories non-tragic characters less romantic plot lines more […]

via What Readers Want MORE Of… — Jette Harris

Transportation Module 3076

Following the re-allocation of my work assignments from Area 6 to Area 8, I am applying to the Sector Director’s office for the issue of a Personal Transportation Module, to reduce the commuting time and increase my work-effectiveness.

– Human Resource KT9, Worker Class 4.

HR KT9 is hereby informed that this decision has been referred to the Transport Sub-director, who will adjudicate within the next standard workweek. As I am sure you are aware, PTMs are in short supply, and allocation is strictly on merit. Please stand by.

– HR JD24, Secretary Class 2.

I await the sub-director’s adjudication with hopeful expectation. And aching feet.

– HR KT9

Levity will not assist your case, KT9. Please show a more respectful attitude.

– HR JD24

A thousand humble pardons, JD24. I throw myself on the mercy of The Directorate.

– HR KT9

Following adjudication, the Transport Sub-director has graciously consented to allocate you a Personal Transportation Module. PTM 3076 will be delivered to your work-unit on day 4 of the next workweek. You are hereby notified that on receipt of delivery you will henceforward be responsible for the care, upkeep and good order of your allocated PTM, and will be liable for any loss or damage thereto. Annual maintenance will be carried out at the PTM Station nearest your work-unit, but otherwise the PTM will be stored at your home-unit when not in use.

– HR MNE3, Transportation Engineer Class 3

I am deeply and humbly grateful for this allocation, and await delivery eagerly. Already my production rate has risen by 4% in anticipation of this boon.

– HR KT9

Your PTM has now been dispatched, and delivery to your work-unit is imminent. Please familiarise yourself with all aspects of care and operation before using, and consult the supplied user guide in case of any difficulty.

– HR MNE3

A thousand thanks for the safe delivery of my PTM, MNE3. PTM 3076 appears to be fully functional and all working parts are present. I was perhaps hoping for a higher grade of PTM, but I accept that my lowly status does not justify such. Having consulted the supplied manual, I do have one outstanding question. What does it eat?

– HR KT9

It appears that due to an oversight, this information is not provided in the user guide. PTM 3076 is a Class EOR module, and I am informed that the optimum fuel for such is oats, carrots, grass or, at a push, thistles.

– HR MNE3

Thank-you for this information, MNE3. But I regret to inform you that so far PTM 3076 has been nothing but trouble. On being directed to transport me back to my home-unit, the PTM refused to move, and attempting the recommended starting manoeuvre resulted in a narrow avoidance of injury on my part, and two storage units being kicked over. I ended up walking home as usual, but this time leading the PTM on a rein. This was the occasion for many ribald remarks from passing HR units, which I did not deign to reply to, for fear of making an ass of myself. I trust that the operation of my PTM will be less troublesome in future.

– HR KT9

EOR class PTMs are unfortunately prone to early malfunctions of this nature, KT9. I am assured that keeping a regular supply of carrots about your person alleviates most of the difficulty.

– HR MNE3

Further operational problems have been encountered concerning the storage of the PTM, again, not mentioned in the user guide. To this end I should now like to apply for the allocation of a Loose Material Redistribution Tool.

– HR KT9

 A shovel has been dispatched to your home-unit, KT9. Please dispose of the said materials in the approved manner, as laid out in Health Regulation P00/SH/1T.

– HR MNE3

I have been trying to use PTM 3076 for three workweeks now. So far, it has kicked: me (numerous occasions); two mail operatives; all five of my co-workers; one Management Class HR; and a dog. And not once has it carried me anywhere by so much as a metre. Not only that, it is costing me a fortune in credits keeping it supplied with carrots. I wish to return this malfunctioning and malevolent unit forthwith, and apply instead for a higher grade of PTM. I might add that this application is fully endorsed by HR CJ4, Management Class 2, who still can’t sit down comfortably.

– HR KT9

In view of the strongly expressed objections raised by HR CJ4, we have approved your application, and in order to make some sort of amends for the inconveniences suffered by your fellow workers we have allocated you the highest grade of Personal Transportation Module available. Please exchange PTM 3076 for your new PTM on day 3 of this workweek. We hope you will find your replacement more user-friendly, but given the prestige attached to a Class 1 PTM, advise you to use it as discreetly as possible.

– HR MNE3

I am overwhelmed by your generosity, MNE3, and am now the envy of not only all my co-workers, but also all classes of Management. Thank-you so much; it is a very nice bicycle.

– HR KT9

What I Have Been Doing

I’m sure you’re all dying to know how my writing is going.

Oh. Well, I shall tell you anyway. Aiella has been pretty much finished; it’s been edited through twice (by me, not being able to afford pro editing) and is now in the hands of kind people who will rip it to pieces … There is still a doubt as to the optimum ordering of the stories, but other than that (and whatever the readers throw up), it’s done.

I don’t want to publish it yet, though, as I’d like there to be a sequel ready to follow it as soon as possible. So, this is what I have been working on. Sequels are always a problem, it’s that Difficult Second Album Syndrome, but this one has some peculiar issues all of its own.

I do have a plot sketched out, and if I say so myself it’s not bad, as plots go, but there is a long way from three lines of outlining to a fully formed narrative. This is actually my second go at a sequel, as the first was abandoned after negative reader reaction. In that first attempt, the story opened with the death of the main character, Aiella herself. This was, to put it mildly, unpopular. Quite a lot of this story ended up being folded into Book One, with our heroine re-instated and entirely alive. So far, so good.

The plan was to then use as much as I could of Sequel Attempt One in Sequel Attempt Two, but this is proving difficult. Aiella still being very much alive has changed the whole tone and dynamic of the sequel, and also robbed it of its unifying theme. I’m having trouble coming up with a replacement line to hang the story on, a focus as it were.

Um, not explaining this very well, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers. People are still reading Book One. (I hope). But, in essence, the death of Aiella and the consequences thereof formed the emotional thread that ran through the heart of Sequel One; although dead and buried, Aiella was a constant presence in the life of my new MC, who was driven to find out the secrets of Aiella’s life, a quest which drove the plot.

Now, of course, Aiella is right there, and all the secrets have been discovered long since. My new MC has a new name, home and family, but is otherwise the same character. Except that now the MC has no focus for their life, and I as the author have no handy line to hang successive scenes on. It’s all a bit wishy-washy, and to tell you the truth I’m still hankering after that first story, which had all the depth and power this one lacks. So it goes.

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

(As for my other work in progress, I’m afraid the Huldrasaga is still stuck where it was, and for much the same reasons. I have a plot outlined, but what the story doesn’t have is a heart).