Tag Archives: let no man put asunder

A “disorder under heaven” week

A line of Mao Zedong I’ve occasionally quoted is that “there is disorder under heaven but the situation is excellent.” That sums up this week. It started off frustrating but turned out much more productive than the shakedown cruise of the first week in January.

Monday I had to deal with Plushie’s puking, plus help TYG out with some stuff. That sucked up much more time than expected and chopped up the day into small bursts of time where I couldn’t accomplish anything. Tuesday TYG and I had more stuff to take care of, plus I had my dental cleaning in the afternoon. Once again the day broke up into periods to small to build any focus.Still, I’m pleased with my work. I got another 4,000 words done on Let No Man Put Asunder, which is harder than I thought. After waffling in December, I’ve committed to keeping protagonists Paul and Mandy in the city of Blue Ivy (which I’ll probably rename) at least for the early part of the book. That means instead of having them on the run, alone, they’re having to deal with Mandy’s family, the city police department, plus the bad guys who are after them. All of that changes things up and my mind keeps suggesting more changes. Plutarch, a psionic boy from an alt.Greece is now Flavia, a Nubian slave from an alt.Rome, still psionic but also blind. She gets to keep Plutarch’s living-metal bodyguard, Talos, however.

I rewrote Paying the Ferryman and I think I’ve fixed the problems. I’m going to have my writing group beta-read the second half, however (it’s 8,000 words) to see if it holds up as well as I think, and what to do if it isn’t. I rewrote Bleeding Blue and I think that definitely works: I’ll wait until the end of the month, then make a final proof in hard copy.

The one where those missing two days hurt me most was Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I did get some work done on the book but nowhere near as much as I’d have liked.

On the downside, Adventures of the Red Leech came back from the Sherlock Holmes/Lovecraft anthology I submitted it to. I may send it out again, or save it for Magic in History, the historical fantasy collection of my own stories I plan to put out (needs a better name, though). More disappointingly, Gollancz sent back Southern Discomfort. I’m not shocked — a big publisher announces a window for unagented submissions, the competition’s bound to be tough — but it’s frustrating. I’ve hit almost all the specfic publishers who accept books without an agent and the remaining ones are currently closed to subs. Perhaps it’s time to self-publish again?

Over at Atomic Junk Shop I’ve published a late MLK Day piece and a look at the new generation of comics writers — Roy Thomas, Cary Bates, Denny O’Neil, Jim Shooter — who debuted at DC or Marvel in 1965 and ’66.

I’ll close with a look at Trixie and Snow Drop nuzzling. I wouldn’t say our cats and dogs are friends but they get along okay.#SFWApro. Cover by Gil Kane, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Let No Man Put Asunder: Finding the Sweet Spot

So last month I finished the first chapter of my rewrite of my second novel, Let No Man Put Asunder. I rewrote it once some 15-20 years back; I’d have rewritten it again by now except most of the manuscript is gone. I did get a couple of chapters beyond the cutoff, but somehow every attempt to progress further hit a mental dead end.

This version though is a radical break. My protagonists, Adrienne and Neil, were mostly in good shape when the bad guys kidnap them into another dimension. To their surprise, it turns out that a weekend of death and danger (the story moved pretty fast) also gave them things that were missing in their life. Fresh adventures would have lain in wait …

New protagonists Paul and Amanda aren’t in such great shape. Mandy has been de facto mother for her five siblings and caregiver for her terminally ill dad since she was fifteen — as we learn in the first chapter, Mom decided terminal illness wasn’t something she wanted to deal with and walked out. However it’s been twelve years and Mandy’s recovered from Mom’s betrayal (but has not forgiven her at all).

Paul is in much worse shape as his big blow came less than two years ago. His academically prominent parents pushed him to excel from elementary on. He’s had no social life, has no idea who he’d be if he didn’t have his nose buried in books all the time, so finally he told them, right before senior year, he was taking a year off after college. When he arrived back at school Paul discovered his folks hadn’t paid his tuition, had broken the lease on his apartment and drained the joint bank account they used to provide him with ready cash. But no problem, just take back your foolish decision, son, and everything gets back to normal!

He didn’t take it back.

The Adrienne/Neil version had a first chapter set here on Earth, then we were off into other, wilder dimensions. I’m not sure that’s the way I want to go. The town of Blue Ivy, where Mandy and Paul meet in 1976, feels like a good setting. It’s a grimy industrial town but it also has several colleges, with the usual college/townie conflicts. It seems a shame to just forget about it and go elsewhere, particularly in America’s bicentennial year (I don’t know if I’ll keep using that year but if I do, I should be able to make something of it).

The trouble is, I don’t want to go the urban fantasy route. I enjoy reading books where the normal world is just a shell hiding a reality full of magic but I don’t seem inclined to write them. Southern Discomfort is closer to intrusion fantasy: the normal world works much as we see it but something magical has intruded in, disrupting things. In Questionable Minds there’s no hiding: the world is full of psychic powers but they’re being wielded in plain sight.  In Atoms for Peace the mad science that’s made the world so different from our 1950s is also commonly known. In Impossible Takes a Little Longer, super-powers are the same way.

If I set Asunder on Earth, I want it feel like magic is an intruder, not a regular resident. That was doable in Southern Discomfort because the magic almost all stems from the elves Olwen, Aubric and Gwalchmai and it’s limited to one small town in Georgia. Asunder has a lot more magical people running around with much flashier powers. And the different characters — Mountebank, Grainge, Cordelia Winters and Hypatia, to name four — don’t fit into the same magical mythos. They didn’t have to in the original version and I see no need to change that. But it would, again, make an odd urban fantasy

So do I go urban fantasy anyway and find some way to make it work? Go back to dimensional jumping and kiss Blue Ivy goodbye? Maybe make Blue Ivy some kind of Hellmouth where, like Sunnydale, things are weirder than the rest of the world?

There’s also the practical point that I’d like my protagonists isolated, at least for the first few chapters. That’s harder to do in a setting where they know everyone.

Normally I’d plunge ahead and pants these questions as I go but the first chapter ends with Mandy and Paul falling through a magical gate of some kind. I need to know where they land.

Wish me luck!

#SFWApro. Cover by Samantha Collins, rights to the image are mine.

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