Search Chapter 1 – Friday, 28 September 73

I posted my umpteenth take on a first chapter of Search on 12 November 2018. I liked the idea but not what was going on in that take so (once again) set the novel aside.

Then I wrote a few short stories and completed The Shaman. One chapter in The Shaman dealt with the subject of Search. A fan and faithful reader (thanks, Joe!) told me I had to write Search next.

Who am I to argue?

As before, so now. Search is loosely based on a real incident. The incident remains, the story is greatly different. I now understand why I couldn’t write it for the past forty years; I didn’t know what it was about.

Learning as I go, now.

Enjoy. And remember, it’s still a work in progress. These chapters are rough drafts. I’ve completed seventeen chapters so far and it seems I’ll complete the novel this time. We’ll see.


 

Search Chapter 1 – Friday, 28 September 73

John Chance’s hair rose on his arms as if chased by the wind. The air around him shimmered.

He smiled. Is that you, Grandpa?

He closed his eyes and let the slope of the hill between Ramsey College’s Finance and Admin buildings guide his rake. His grandfather called raking “combing Grandmother’s hair.” The feel of the wooden handle, the tines pulling crinkling leaves, the smell of freshly mowed grass. He always smelled clove aftershave when he remembered his grandfather. “Gio, pettiniamo i capelli della nonna.” Gio, we comb Grandmother’s hair.

His grandfather always called him Gio, an abbreviation of his given name, Giovanni Fortuna. John Chance. Gio. He smiled as he pulled on the rake. Crazy old man. Always had these amazing stories. How things grew. How things were. Pay attention, Gio. Ascolta! Listen.

Gio turned his head. The wind carried a hint of salt water from the ocean a few miles away. Closer, trucks and cars traveled north and south on Rt. 128, most of them supplying Manchester-By-the-Sea, Magnolia, Gloucester and Rockport. Some, the refirgeration units, backhauled today’s catch from Gloucester, Essex, and Ipswich.

Bluejays, wrens, and starlings gathered in the branches over his head. He isolated each’s song, heard each separate from the others. Chickadees and crows hopped along the rake’s path and pecked the freshly turned grass for seeds and grubs. Crows nodded at him, waiting for his rake to turn more grass over. Chickadees took flight, their wings phht-a-phht-a-phhting to a branch only to return a moment later, realizing it was safe.

He let the early Fall coolness fill him. He held his breath a moment, feeling his body’s exchange air into blood, blood releasing air. He exhaled and the stiffness of the day’s labors flowed from him. He didn’t carry a watch. The sun told him the time. Mid-afternoon warm.

His fellow students moved between classes. Footsteps clacked and clicked on walkways. Voices called hellos, shared notes, whispered gossip.

Gio returned to his raking, to the trickling sweat under his flannel shirt, to the steamy scent of his body laboring under the sun, to the motions of his muscles and tendons under his skin, to the feel of the handle, to the roughness of his calluses.

To the screams of children, to the scent of clove.


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31 Years to Publication

It took two months to write, thirty-one years to get published. And you know what? It was worth the wait.

I am so proud. I wrote The Augmented Man in April of 1990. Now I’m holding copies in my hands.

 
And the delay wasn’t because of slow mail.

I wrote the novel side-by-side with the novella, The Goatmen of Aguirra (to give you an idea of what my mind was working on at the time).

I’d workshopped The Augmented Man and received high praise. I shopped it around, no publisher was interested. I asked AJ Budrys, my mentor and an accomplished author and editor, if he’d be willing to read it and let me know if I was kidding myself, did it just need work, should I give up my dreams of being a published author…?

What you need to know is I was an accomplished trade technical author in the late 1980s through the early 1990s, at the height of the PC Boom (I discuss this in my interview) and my work was in high demand. I knew the publishing industry at that time.

AJ read it and was so blown away he offered to agent it for me. He’d published some of my short fiction in his Tomorrow magazine and he knew my work from workshops. He was familiar with my work, my style, my weaknesses, and my strengths. But The Augmented Man caught him by surprise.

I was flattered, honored. I almost fainted when I read his letter offering to represent the novel (1990, remember? We didn’t do lots of emailing back then).

For reasons that had nothing to do with the book, AJ couldn’t land it. We met at a con and he explained the situation to me. Someday, should we meet at a con, ask me and I’ll share the story.

AJ passed and I got another agent. She loved the book. Could I add 30,000 words to it?

Sure, why?

Because (at 85k words) it was too short (I reedited it to its present 97k words). Thirty-k words longer and she was sure she could land it. I added 30k words, edited, proofed, and sent the rewrite to her in under a month.

Didn’t hear from her. Called and got “Oh, on second thought, no, I don’t think this is a good enough novel. Besides, there’s too much out there already like it.”

Really? Did you read the novel?

Yeah, sure. It’s about a guy lost in a jungle, right?

On to agent #3. Who was a joke. I finally asked point blank, “How many projects have you placed?” and she responded that she couldn’t work with someone who asked such questions. This after the head of the agency phoned and talked with me for an hour to let me know how impressed he was by my work.

So I put it on the shelf. I went on with life.

Because I’m patient.

And now I’m holding the novel in my hands.

I’m so proud.


Would you like a personally autographed copy?

(and feel free to pass this on to every one)

Litcon 2021 World Building Panel with Science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopia, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, and Liz Tuckwell

 
Enjoy the panel discussion. Information on the participants is below.

 
Continue reading “Litcon 2021 World Building Panel with Science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopia, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, and Liz Tuckwell”

(Video published – see link below) Join science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, special guest alt-history and dystopian author Liz Tuckwell and myself in a two hour talk on #worldbuilding this Saturday, 6 Mar 21, noonET on Facebook

UPDATE: You can watch the panel discussion at both Litcon 2021 World Building Panel with Science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopia, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, and Liz Tuckwell and YouTube


Watch it live Saturday, 6 March 2021, noonET on Facebook!

 
About Minnesota based Claudia Blood
The Relic Trilogy – Which is YA sci-fantasy (or soft sci-fi)
Book 1: Company Assassin
Book 2: Horizon Found
Book 3: Time Rift — Goes live March 15th

 
About PEI based Geoff Genge
Terra Obscura series
My genre is alt-history/steampunk/sci-fi. What can I say… I’m complicated.
I like romantic dinners, stiff drinks, and long walks down abandoned country roads. Ya’know… since you asked.

 

About Temecula based Theresa Halvorsen
heresa Halvorsen has never met a profanity she hasn’t enjoyed. She’s generally overly-caffeinated and at times, wine-soaked. The author of multiple spec-fiction works, including Warehouse Dreams and River City Widows, in addition to various short stories and non-fiction articles, Theresa wonders what sleep is. Because she didn’t have enough to do, she also started No Bad Books Press with S. Faxon and edits for other spec fiction writers.), Theresa enjoys board games, geeky conventions, and reading. Her life goal is to give “Oh-My-Gosh-This-Book-Is-So-Good!” happiness to her readers. She lives in Temecula with her amazing husband, occasionally her college-age twins, and the pets they’d promised to care for.

 
About Lyon, France based F. Stephan
I have now 4 science fiction books in the same universe
The first two will tell you of Brian’s path to become a fully qualified starpilot and to overcome his worst fears
The third brings you back to Earth and the first trading space station above it, unsupported by the planet below
The fourth introduces you to a new character. She is forty, her birth has been deleted from the databases by the Federation until now and suddenly she has to find out what happened then.
I have pushed back the anthology of short stories
I am writing a fantasy book, set up in an alternate roman-styled world. When Giants attacks Antiago’s ally and northern border, General Torkal has only one choice. Step in. But the Giants are only the first threat he faces. We follow Allus Vernal, Scout Master of the First Legion, protegé of the General, from reconnaissance to battles, from throne rooms to secret fortresses

 
About North East England based C.G. Hatton
I write fast-paced action adventure military scifi (Thieves’ Guild), far future, galaxy at war, lots of intrigue, character-driven, complex, six books in main series, two so far in YA origins series set ten years before the main drama, new book out in April is the 3rd in that origins series…
Also editor of the Harvey Duckman Presents series of scifi, fantasy, steampunk and horror short story anthologies…
Background is degree and PhD in geology, worked at Durham Uni for five years, worked as a journalist, sub editor and editor on local newspapers for six years or so… started Sixth Element Publishing in 2009… mentor writers, run writing workshops, edit work, publish stuff… did some other stuff here and there

 
And from Special Guest alt-history and dystopia author Liz Tuckwell
I have written one dystopian short story and I’ve written several alternate history fantasy short stories about an alternative Rome. And a urban fantasy novella.

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J.N. Williamson’s “How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction

First, a different kind of how-to-write book; each chapter is written by a different notable in the field – Williamson, Bradbury, Tem, Grant, Bradley, …

The variety of perspectives is interesting. I wonder if each author chose their chapter subject or were assigned it by Williamson, who served as editor.

Bradbury’s chapter, for example, is about where ideas come from and nurturing them, not specific techniques. Tem and Castle each take a turn at character but each from their own perspective.

Bradley’s “World Building in Horror, Occult, and Fantasy Writing” marks the first time I’ve seen the “world building” term outside of writers’ cons (I’m hosting a World Building panel at LitCon 2021).

Beyond chapters on technique – Plot, Character, Setting, World Building, Revision, Submission, … – How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction‘s contributors explain the whys of their suggestions. Example: William F. Nolan’s “Involving Your Reader from the Start” chapter contains several examples of opening paragraphs (I don’t agree that all of them are good). Near the end of his chapter he writes “In the no-TV, no-video, no-comics world of Charles Dickens, readers were conditioned to deal with complex, dense, often-wordy opening pages in books and stories. It was an era of leisurely reading when the pace could be slow and unhurried. Not so today. …”

In other words, writing evolves with a purpose. Yes, there are fads and they pass quickly. What survives is what out-competes others in the environment.

Amazing how evolutionary science affects everything, isn’t it?


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