Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Meme and a Preview

Paul Decelles ("The force that through...") has tagged me for the meme that asks for a quote from page 123, sentences 6 through 8, of the "nearest book." His tag included a not-so-subtle hint that maybe I could take something from my manuscript of Covenant....

The quote from his book-at-hand is simply luscious prose from Barbara Hambly's Circle of the Moon. Enough to leave me feeling thoroughly intimidated, especially since the corresponding spot on my marked-up printout is rather short and sweet by comparison. But here goes:


When they were far enough from the house WindTamer said, "Don't worry, I have meat for him."

She whispered, "I was going to go tomorrow. What's so urgent?"


Sounds bare-bones next to Hambly's rich tapestry. On the other hand, this gives me a chance to scout around for some of my own descriptive passages, just to show that I can do those, too. For instance, these four sentences are from the point of view of my female protagonist's mother:


Passed from villager to villager in Basc's collective outpouring of grief, ShadowGrass stumbled more from vertigo than pain. Her identity had settled somewhere beyond her body, floating in the open, out of her reach. She was a cloud passing between the pines, casting its shadow on the dirt roads, marveling at the wailing crowd convulsing like a great beast--finding, losing, finding herself again, the lone Masari woman they had swallowed whole. She was a red-tufted rag wrenched at the seams, crumpled into a wrinkled ball, and finally tossed frayed back into the woods as the bloody sun sank.


And a bit with my protagonist, TripStone, taken from Covenant's opening chapter:

Leaving his provisions behind, the Yata turned his back on the hunter and walked away. He looked upon an arched gateway shimmering in sun and shadow, raising mist. Yata scripture told of such a portal sent by the gods. If a Masari hunter were a skilled shooter, one might step effortlessly into the next existence.

The gateway floated ever closer. The calls of hatchlings above him transformed into chimes resounding from the world to come, summoning him. He was not afraid.

TripStone dropped to her knees and lifted her rifle, seeing only Ulik. As he moved in mid-stride, she fired a single bullet through his heart and watched him plummet forward into the grass.

She pocketed the parchment in her vest and spilled the remaining ink from its vessel onto the ground. She replaced the vessel and the other provisions in their pouches, then placed the Yata's belt in a satchel woven with Masari and Yata hair and lined with a stretched Yata stomach. She slung the filled satchel over her shoulder.

She reached the dead man and spent a moment in silent meditation. Then she carefully plugged the entry and exit holes left by her bullet with bone and resin, draped him over her shoulder, and followed the paths back to home and family.

On this Meat Day she was not the first Masari to return with prey, but neither was she the last. The other successful hunters were already back in their cottages, preparing the bodies. TripStone stood numbly as the census takers recorded her catch. When quota was met they would blow their horns to call the remaining hunters back to Crossroads.

She did not acknowledge the small crowd of villagers gathered to watch their providers, fixing her and the others with looks of gratitude and fear. Their hands have remained clean, their guilt not her guilt.


Nothing like feelings of intimidation to bring out a little self-promotion. Thanks for the nudge, Paul. :) Theoretically I'm supposed to tag people, but I'll just invite anyone to jump in who wants to.

I'd heard at a panel during Necronomicon that when a publisher asks for "three chapters" (as opposed to a specific requirement, like "the first three chapters"), that still means three sequential chapters. In one of my marketing forays I'd gone for variety instead, choosing chapters that differed in their pacing, tone, etc. One with a sex scene, one with a drunk scene, one with a little levity and another with some catharsis. (I'm talking trilogy; I had nine chapters to play with.)

Nope. Doesn't work that way. Sequential chapters, I was told, to show that one can hold a coherent story line together. Good to know.

I've been popping back and forth between tweaking Book #2 and drafting Book #5. Going over the first has given me a device to use for the second, a way to convey information that draws parallels between volumes and characters without being an out-and-out recap. Time will tell if I'm pulling it off right.

Well, time and my workshop group, but they have to get through #4 first.

Early Birds

I've taken better shots of robins, but these guys (they're all males) are far ahead of the usual curve. Normally we see them around the last week of January, but Mary believes she'd seen them as early as late December. The birds here are enjoying a drink courtesy of our rain barrel cover. They skedaddled when our cat Daisy hopped up to the window to get a better look.

Meanwhile, I've donated two framed photos to an art center fund-raiser coming up at the end of February:

Swamp Lily

Swamp Lily

and Silver Dollars

Silver Dollars 2

The swamp lily (a member of the amaryllis family) blooms all year 'round and alternates between the gorgeous petals shown here and this hideous thing, plus stages in-between. Several lilies grow outside a relatively new housing complex in the neighborhood.

The silver dollars (tweaked using MS Paint and MS Photo Editor) have been around for as long as I can remember. I fashioned the crystalline frame from the vase in which they've sat for decades. Here's a more subdued shot, taken without flash, of the actual dried plant. Although I was never told so explicitly, I assume the silver dollars had been given to my parents on their wedding day in 1956.

The fund-raiser will include both a regular and a silent auction. The regular auction is juried, so it would be cool if either of these shots gets into that. In any case, it'll be interesting to see what they end up going for -- or if they go at all, for that matter.

I spent part of today hedge-trimming, dressed in a tee shirt. We've got a bunch of holly bushes that harbor azaleas. They also include a hodgepodge of trees courtesy of seeds dropped from passing birds. I love the wildness, even though it can make the hedge rather shaggy if I let it go for too long. Normally the azaleas bloom in March, but with the robins' early arrival I'm on the lookout for any changes in the flower calendar. Even this early in the year, the air already fills with the sounds of riding mowers.


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