And zip goes the summer

The hickory leaves are turning gold, and the sugar maples are entering their brilliant vermilion phase. Other trees have faded to that olive shade that precedes more profound color change. Occasionally, the nighttime temperatures drop into the 50s (F), and all the grocery stores are selling pumpkins. Autumn is here, and while I’m looking forward to the cooler days and (fingers crossed) a little rain, I’ll miss the flowers and the longer days.

Still working on Echoes of War. I’ve made vague mention in other places that the ending had been giving me problems. In fact, I had reached the point when I thought I was only a week or two from finishing when the story. Just. Stopped. I was halfway through a scene featuring the secondary POV, and it died.

Derailment happened in each of the previous Jani books, but it did so in the beginning. I would hit around page 200, and the story would grind to a halt. I tried try to reuse what I had written, but the bulk of it invariably wound up in the ‘gone and soon to be forgotten’ file, the virtual cutting room floor. Sometimes I thought of it as pulling out all the packing material from a package and shoving it in the trash. The real goods were still in the box.

This time, during what would be the climax, I apparently tried to force characters into reactions and actions that didn’t fit. I also realized that I hadn’t thought through the details of the politics, the action. So I’ve spent the last too many weeks picking at that roadblock scene, and thinking. I’m pretty sure I have it now. Three plot points flipped. The ending changed somewhat. Right now, it all feels better.

That’s the thing with being a pantser who occasionally plots. I have a general idea of what goes where, but there’s just enough that doesn’t become evident until it’s written out, and that’s what gets me most every time. But it means that I can still be surprised–one argument I’ve heard from pure pantsers is that if they plot too much ahead of time, the story dies on them. They’ve already answered all the questions. They know how it all ends. No point in writing it.

I can still manage to surprise myself.

While Echoes has been kicking my ass, I have still managed to get some writing done. The result appears in the latest edition of Boundary Shock Quarterly. Each edition has a theme–for this one, it’s “Wandering Monsters”:

Kaiju and blobs and science gone wrong. Monsters from deep space come to destroy us all or the ones quietly hiding below as colonists and Terraformers arrive.

My story is entitled “Nest.” It about a small team sent to establish a settlement on a recently terraformed world.

Sometimes, it’s not the Big Bads that are the problem.

Learn more at the BSQ website

The short story is not my natural length, and two in a single year is a record for me. This issue is packed with great tales by writers who are new to me and others I’ve known for years. Check it out!