The rumble and bang of a wagon made Grace Carrington glance up at the lighthouse. She was on the beach below the rugged cliff the lighthouse stood sentry on, stark against the morning sky. A wagon pulled by four horses stopped at the base. A tall man in a black waistcoat and stovepipe hat dismounted stiffly like he was filled with sticks. From the Lighthouse Board.
No swimming today.
It was hard enough managing even in the isolation out here. The world kept pressing in on places like this lighthouse, like it was trying to push the old out. Soon there wouldn’t be any place for her either. A hunter had stayed with each generation of light keepers for over two hundred years. It wasn’t the first time she thought she might be the last.
She didn’t look like a hunter. She wasn’t very big or tough, but the daily swims in the ocean had made her arms and legs strong. She wore a plain cotton dress, in violet with broad white stripes. A wooden hairpin held her fine, coffee-colored hair in a bun at the nape of her neck, but the wind always knocked strands loose around her face. Her feet were bare, because she always wanted to connect with the sea. The shoes were back near the lighthouse.
She decided she would continue walking and give the man time to leave.
She went around a clump of seaweed reeking of decay. A small crab picked its way through the tangles, searching for food. Up ahead, the beach broke up into rocks that jutted out of sand, black and sharp.
She waded close to one that was partially submerged in the tide. The waves, almost as if recognizing a kindred soul, rushed in around her feet with a swirl of froth and sand.
Sea life liked these rocks. The tongue lashers in their volcano-shaped shells reached for the water, and a many-armed flower was clogged with sand in a hollow. The waves played with a cone shell near her feet. She knelt to pick it up.
The scent of magic rose, carried by the wind.
Her mouth ran dry. She recognized the scent.
An echo or a trail left behind?
The sea washed up everything, sometimes from many miles away. She always found bits of glass smoothed out by the waves, barrels or crates that had fallen off ships, and even fishing nets carried away by the currents.
That’s what Grace tried to tell herself. The seafolk were more discreet than that. They had to be. To come ashore within spitting distance of a hunter was plain stupid.
Then she spotted the footprints.
A lot of good links this week.
Brett & Kate McKay from The Art of Manliness
I’m using a military obstacle course for my third GALCOM Universe book, Cursed Planet. What better way to train for heavy gravity? While hunting down resources online for it, I ran across this nifty link about the history. Lots of historic photos.
John Allsopp from A List Apart
This is a fascinating look at how web design evolved, which starts by using the example of how TV evolved from radio. The eBook industry is still very early in its own development (only about 10 years–can you believe that?), so it provokes the question about how ebooks might evolve in the future.
Piper Bayard and Jay Homes on Bayard & Holmes
With all the inaccurate news getting into major newspapers, it’s hard to navigate through what’s true and what isn’t. This gives some guidelines for figuring out what’s fact and what might not be. The guidelines are pretty sensible and allow you to make the decisions.
C. Hope Clark on Funds For Writers
This was a survey of about 5,000 people on Facebook, and the results are pretty interesting. Most readers pick a book based on genre. Which makes sense. If you walk into a bookstore or a library, you have to go to the right shelf to find the books you want to read and those are categorized as genre.
The lecture description doesn’t do this justice, I think because she’s focusing more on the EDITS system. This lecture covers writing in depth–five senses, character opinions. Best coverage I’ve seen of rhetorical devices and how to use them in novels. And one hidden benefit…it covers an aspect of pacing (backloading). Loads of examples from best selling writers.
My version was from 2011, so there may be changes. It came in a zip file with Word document. Formatting made it hard to read.
Watch for this story to come out in the next few months (I think I’ve overloaded my copy editor!).
I’m trying my hand with content curation this week in conjunction with writing in public. Enjoy the stories!
Alessandra Codinha in Vogue Magazine
When I look for photos of women on the military websites, I can’t find much. Those available are pretty limited, like an afterthought (I imagine someone in command is saying, “Oh, that’s right, we forgot to add a photo of a woman.”). This article has stunning photos of military women, from all the different services.
Mary Elizabeth Pratt in We Are the Mighty
This was written recently, but even twenty-five years ago it was all true. My most popular blog post of all time was on hair for women in the military.
K. Gitter on Do You Remember?
I just saw the musical production of The Sound of Music at the Kennedy Center–my first live Rogers and Hammerstein production, so this caught my eye. Behind the scenes filming of movies that we all like is fascinating. This one talks about the hazards some of these actors went through.
Besides, it’s Julie Andrews.
Max Booth III in LitReactor
This link comes from Day Al-Mohamed, who used to belong to my writing group. A lot of magazines don’t pay writers, but instead promise to give the writer “exposure.” Unfortunately, this type of payment also means they don’t get good stories that will draw readers to read your story. Everyone else is going to try to take advantage of us. We don’t need to jump in and help them.
This is an ebook, which I found this book via Angie’s Desk. I know a lot about graphics, though I was never trained formally in it, so I almost passed it by. But after I saw Angie’s description, I decided to buy it. And I learned something new about building covers, which you would have seen (and probably not noticed) on the Granny Logic cover.
This story has been taken down. But it will be out in ebook in September.
Can you imagine a librarian taking off with a load of books, mounted on a horse, like a Pony Express rider? Braving the snow or rain to get those books to the person who wants to read them?
Horse-riding librarians from the Smithsonian.
Five stories of futuristic women, from an artist who makes a first contact in “Sky Hair,” to the private who finds herself in hot water after aliens eat her officer in “Rejected by Aliens.” In “New Robot Smell,” a female soldier has to choose between the military and her life. In “The Scientist’s Widow,” a detective tracks a woman she thinks murdered her husband, and in “Theater Ship,” actors defend a planet from an alien invasion.
Available from your favorite bookseller.
Robotech was a cartoon series that I watched in the 1980s. It was, at the time, a stunning story because it wasn’t just about blowing aliens up or selling merchandising, but it was about characters in a tough situation.
And way cool battles for the action woman.
It had three parts to it. The first, and the best, was the Rick/Minmai/Lisa series. Nothing more spectacular than how the humans won the battle in the final part of the story. Next up was the Dana series, and followed by the Rebel series. The later two felt like they were added on … you know, where the first story was finished and told but did so well, they wanted a sequel.
I rewatched more recently–post military– and found myself cringing through the first part of the series because of fact checking issues.
I’m generally not picky about research details that aren’t quite right. Sometimes you have to change things to tell the story the way it needs to be told. But I found myself cringing over the way the military was presented. The military ranks were all over the place, enlisted were disrespectful to the officers, and officer/enlisted romantic relationships (gets you in to big trouble in the real military).
I could have ignored some of the rank issues–because I have done that for many movies and TV shows (notably Law and Order this morning had an Army captain with a rack of medals only a general could have). But Robotech was so sloppy in that area that it made it hard to revisit the good story I remembered.
Now Robotech being brought back as a comic book retelling. Cool art. And at least one of the same problems.
I know everyone’s image of the military is what we see on the news and in film. It’s one of the reasons I did the Writer’s Guide to Military Culture.
Link takes you to all formats.
I didn’t know it’s been twenty years since the Harry Potter books came out. We didn’t even have ebooks then, and that’s hard to believe now.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I didn’t read the first book when it took off, primarily because the reviews–rightly so–said that the girl characters didn’t get much attention. I grew wanting to see girls have adventures in books and mainly seeing them stand by while the boys had all the action.
But once the series started really getting attention, I went back and got the first three books. Went each book in one day. They were so good, they triggered a reset. After I hit that last page, I had to go back and read it again because I wasn’t willing to let it go.
I haven’t had too many books like that.
Unfortunately, the above assessment about Herimone was true. She was smart, intelligent, and Harry got most of the adventures. But I later read that J.K. Rowlings wanted to make Herimone the main character … and it wouldn’t have sold to the publisher.
That’s why I’m indie publishing.
The Price of Commercial Success
Invariably though, the naysayers wandered out and sneered with contempt at the books. Somehow, the elite readers think that even if the writer is a good storyteller, if the books aren’t to a standard they set, they’re no good.
Where does this stuff come from?
We have movies competing with books. We have iPhones competing with books. We have internet games competing with books.
So naturally we’re going to shoot down a successful book that got people in to read more books instead of doing something else?
Is commercial success really that bad? It’s missing the entire point. The books got people to read, and we need more like that.
Especially with girl characters.
I’ll be “writing in public” here starting July 2, with a short story going up here for two weeks. Originally it was supposed to be on another site with three other writers, but the technology isn’t there yet (or no one would think someone would be as crazy as us).
My goal is to write one short story a week, so that means going from idea to story to done in one week. And this, with a full time job and working on a novella.