Ignoring Social Power Networks Could Ruin Your Novel Construction

When you write, you unconsciously repeat and recreate patterns from your social understanding.

Morals and Power

A grounding in moral and ethical behavior is necessary for meaningful plot construction. A study of power dynamics, and the pursuit of control between living bodies is similarly important.

Let’s talk for a minute about Richard the Third, the old hunchback who, bored and without a sexual partner, goes about to undermine his brothers, murder most of his relatives, and take the crown for himself.

Bunch-Backed Toad

The play is not, as most people think, about an evil man. It’s about a man who is sexually rejected, and who is without a home. He starts out going after the throne merely because everyone around him is having sex, and he is too ugly and uncomfortable to have a partner.

Literally, that’s what he explains to us in the opening, and if Shakespeare writes a character’s thoughts in iambic pentameter, that’s as good as an omniscient narrative voice. Richard is bored, and has no girlfriend.

He Says Dogs Hate Him, Too

Ironically, right after he decides to go after power, he gets all the intimacy he wants, but it’s too late for him then, as he’s already succumbed to the first idea. There’s no good woman around to wake him up and bring him back from murder and disloyalty, and so he eventually turns evil and has to be exterminated like a cockroach from hell.

But the play isn’t actually about an evil man. If you want to read a play about evil, go and look at either Claudius, from Hamlet, or Macbeth, from the play of that name.

Examples

Bad Writing (No Social Grounding)

Damien had a hard time making friends, because his hair was too long. He wasn’t a hippy, but his father thought he looked like one. Francine was a hippy, though.

The coffee shop on the corner was a good place to hang out, for local poets.

Greenland was having internal strife over some environmental workers disrupting the local economy. Everyone was very upset.

Good Writing (Social Framework)

Damien, who came from Greenland, had promised his mother on her deathbed that he would not cut his hair for five years. He thought he looked ridiculous, and always wore some manner of hat when he left his apartment.

He was a freelance illustrator, and did most of his work in a coffee shop just around the corner from his apartment. Francine, the lead barista, loved Damien’s long hair, though she didn’t care much for his drawings. She was a poet, in her spare time, and often left pamphlets lingering meaningfully about on his regular table. She hoped he would get the idea that she was inviting him to a late-night beat session, after the coffee shop was taken over by the local poets’ society.

Damien found the constant waste of paper shocking, and often collected as many pamphlets as were lying about. He carried them down the street to the nearest recycling bin, and placed them inside with all the care of a man burying a dead sparrow.

In Conclusion

Power, control, and a social grasp of morality are all essential elements for meaningful plot construction. Character action only begins to have impact when it is contextually framed in a social setting relevant to the reader.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m tinkering at the seduction scene between Crikey’s geneticist and the hunter, who is getting out dark, nasty secrets from her. Bwa ha, etc.

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Want To Write Awful Relational Bonds? Skip Tests

I was reading a story the other day, and the author attempted to write one of those gradual, easy slips into true love. You know, that thing where the two people realize, without any real effort, that they were made for each other, and everything is hunky-dory in romance land forever more, because they feel sure and happy?

Relational Tests

The problem with the story was that it skipped all the in between parts, all the emotional and psychological tests we put each other through, before we throw our emotional eggs into one basket.

Bad Writing (Skipping Tests)

Gina met the guy in gym class. She ignored him then, and didn’t notice him again for four years, when they worked the same route as a mail-carrier and dog-walker, respectively.

He only started to talk to her because he was lonely, and she only talked back because she had the dogs with her, and they made her feel social and important.

After the guy confessed to having had a crush on her since high school, her heart melted, and she looked into his eyes, and they got married.

Good Writing (Incorporating Tests)

“Gina Whorple!” the mailman said. Gina looked up from her pack of leashed dogs and met his eyes.

“Oh, hello!” she said, her heart sinking. It was that awkward kid, Felix from gym class. He’d followed her with his eyes whenever they ran laps, and always tried to get on her team for tennis.

“Well, it’s great to see you! Bye!” Felix said, waving a stack of letters.

“Yeah,” Gina said, feeling the slightest edge of irritation as she passed him on the sidewalk. She’d thought, as soon as she saw him again, that he would try to stop her for a horrible, leering chat. She noticed, now that she was not worried at all about getting caught into a conversation, that he’d sort of grown into his face.

Gina glanced over her shoulder. Felix was hot now. Hm, Gina thought, and she turned her attention back to the several dogs she had charge of.

In Conclusion

Unless your characters are brain damaged, they test out relationships and check for compatibility. That means setting up potential partners for failure, and concealing parts of themselves to find out whether the other party can see through the ruse.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m surprised at how long it’s taking, in practice, to kill some of my crusty old geezers in my book. They do have a lot of safeguards in place, of course, to make sure no one can kill them.

Lonely Authors

ajalia on dragon for blog

I went to a visiting artist lecture a long time ago. The guy wasn’t technically an artist; he was a famous critic from somewhere important, and he came to a museum event and gave a talk about art, and working towards developing your style.

He Gave Advice To All The Young, Eager Art Students

He was  really nice guy, and I liked him. He was sensible, and had kind eyes and a grounded voice. You know how sometimes you meet established persons, and you sort of get the sense that they wormed their way into power by cheating, or squiggling work out of other people?

This guy was a nice, grounded, competent guy who understood art and quality work. He told this extended story, at the beginning of the lecture, about how he got to be a critic in the first place.

It was sort of a sad story, and I’m thinking about it now. Here’s how it went:

The Critic’s Story

Once upon a time, there was a young man who wanted to be an artist, and worked as hard as he knew how. His work sucked, and eventually he learned enough about composition and technique to realize how awful he was. He gave up on being an artist, after an extended struggle with himself, and he knew so much by then about art that he took up evaluating other people’s work, instead of producing his own.

The art critic who gave up. That’s the story he told.

Here’s my interpretation of that guy, and the framework he presented as his excuse for escaping internal fire and torment:

What I Heard Him Say

Once upon a time, there was a young man with sense and ability, who had potential, passion, and a big heart. He came from a screwed-up family, and was too shy and embarrassed to get his background straightened up, or to examine his dysfunctional roots.

He found, as he entered farther into serious, professional-level work, that he was consistently prostrated with shame, confusion, and an inability to face his deepest self. As he attempted to create, and to share parts of his heart and soul through art, he found that he didn’t want anyone to realize how dark and ugly he felt.

He stopped drawing, and he painted boring, technically challenging pieces with no emotional element. He got farther and farther from pure, intense creation, and more and more into hiding and lying about how small and horrible he felt.

At length, the young man gave up on himself, labeled himself as a bad person, with an infertile soul, and became a helper and cheerleader to other artists. Thinking of himself as an artist was too painful, so he reframed all his thinking and told himself that he was a lesser sort of being, a helper and guide to worthier souls.

He became an art critic.

He was deeply unhappy and perfectly satisfied with how he had figured out a consistent method to punish his internal badness.

In Sum:

The art critic was articulate, genteel, well-travelled, and with the secret, hidden emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old boy being beaten on the sly with a leather whip.

He was very successful as an art critic, though. And I don’t think many people could tell at all that he’d been abused so badly. The self-deprecating, vitriolic humor with which he poked tasteful fun at his inability to create was the biggest tell, for me.

I Don’t See Dead People, But I Often See Abuse

I imagine if anyone ever opened up his heart, he’d become a prostrate invalid for the rest of his life. Unless he was given a safe space to paint while he got through things. Someone would have to take him over, and be a parent to him, though, and nurture him for years. He was a nice guy.

Detaching From The Self-Blame

All my actors had problems like that, deep ones that twist through your soul and make you sometimes almost dead all through your heart. The difference between people who give up on art, and people who make stuff, is how much you intellectually detach from the personal nature of the abuse and learn to navigate the physiological after-effects. Professional actors and dancers, singers, too, all do that. It’s not difficult, but laypeople generally have no idea how to begin.

I’ve got to go and finish killing some corrupt gangsters in my book, now. Happy Wednesday.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my book, Gilbert had an unpleasant procedure performed on his body in the small hours. Pops’ fate is still up in the air, though.

The Suitably Anti-Social Writer

I used to think it was a huge liability that I don’t get along with a lot of people in casual, everyday conversation.

Turns Out, I Just Like Getting Work Done

It’s not that I can’t so much as I find it kind of sort of a complete waste of time. Unless, of course, I’m practicing my group management skills or researching character types.

I just hate casual chitchat. Such a waste of time. When I was a kid, I saw how people did this weird thing where they “hung out”, or just, you know, sat and talked about nothing at all and seemed happy about it.

Shooting the Breeze

Like a naturalist among an alien species, I hunkered down to figure out what the shit was going on.

Because why didn’t each of those individuals peel off from the nonfunctioning social group and go into a corner to write? It was so strange to me.

That’s What I Liked Doing

I went through a long period as a young person where I decided there was something wrong with me for not taking satisfaction out of wasting time, so I tried really hard to fit in and do like the other people did. I tried to waste time, you know, and talk about popular whatnot.

It was so boring. Also, I got very little work done. Ugh.

Super Non-Productive

Then I got more into directing and found out (hurray!) that it’s a lot more interesting to play God in a group, and that most people are also bored and want to play that sort of conversationally-directed game.

When I say play God, I really just mean that I took control of the conversation whenever appropriate and made it functionally useful. You know, like actually about reality, and/or about actual emotional phenomena inside me or the other people present.

Like Public Improv

That turned out to be great for character research, for making lasting friends, and for being not-bored. Plus, after a long conversation like that, writing is exciting and fun (because you’re all revved up from actually meeting new people and knowing what they’re like on the inside.)

Anyway, the point of today is that if you, like me, find social groupings sort of useless, perhaps you will also find, like me, that going with the general flow of boring, staid behavior leads to an enormous drop in your writing production.

Like, A Big Drop

In short, if I try to be conventionally social, my word count plummets. And I don’t mean, “oh, I got a few less words written today!” I mean, like, “Oh, my usually quota just eked out to a measly ten percent, and I don’t even care because life feels meaningless.”

Which, over the course of several days, adds up and means a lot less completed work. Ugh.

And Less Usable Work

If you’re wondering why I talk about writing so much, and I only have two books out, that’s because I want to make a good impression, and I have twenty-some-odd complete manuscripts that I’m sitting on that are, for various reasons, not yet satisfactory for public consumption, and I’m tinkering on my official publication style. Luckily, I have an excellent editor.

Anyway.

So, In Conclusion

Avoid other people at all costs, unless you’re prepared to take charge of your interactions and use them to further your craft. Investigating human nature, discussing reality, or actually getting any kind of relaxing social good out of interaction is great, but if you’re just hanging around because you’re supposed to, out of some perceived need to fulfill social obligation, run away!

You’re reading Victor Poole, and no, I’m not really a hermit, but maybe I will be when I’m old and rich. Tee hee. In my current book, I think Gilbert’s gang trial is not going to go super well today.

Delmar, And Where He Comes From

So I’ve been working on a really cool fantasy series, complete with languages and all, for most of my life. The main guy is Delmar, and the girl’s name is Ajalia. I couldn’t figure out for the longest time what she really was, or where she came from, but I knew they both ended up together as young adults, and there was always a shadowy third figure, another man whose name I could never pin down.

Ajalia the Slave, Delmar the Inheritor, and Halez the Lost Prince

The whole story has always been a nebulous something-or-other, like a complete world that has existed at the edge of my consciousness ever since I started to try to write.

Luckily for me, it turns out that my training in theatre and classical rhetorical structuring opened up my access to my subconscious, and the world is now writable. I mean, I have written it, the first part.

Because Halez Has More Adventures With Them, After This Series

I self-pubbed the first section of the series last year? The year before? But as I said earlier somewhere on my blog, my editor (love you, Mr. Editor!), who is a genius, got upset at some emotional hiccups in another manuscript, and we had some very productive discussions about my shitty way of letting down my female characters.

Turns Out, I Repress My Females Once In A While

Anyway, Ajalia had the same problems that were showing up in this other book, so I pulled the entire series and am working on fixing up things now.

It’s so super exciting, because the framework is all there, and all I have left now is visual cleanup and repairing the structural damage to her characterization.

Sigh, etc.

Anyway, I promised to talk about Delmar, and where he comes from. He’s always been the clearest character, in my mind. Ajalia has powerful magic, but Delmar is more of the straightforward, innocent dude who learns that he really needs to stand up for himself and take up the mantle of protecting his people.

Delmar is a prince, of a sort, but without a kingdom, really. He’s the eldest child of a match between the disinherited crown prince of Talbos and the only daughter of Tree, the ruling dude over Slavithe.

Tree Is Called the Thief Lord, Because the Founder of Slavithe Stole Thousands of Slaves, and Became Their Lord

Slavithe is the original city, founded by a mass migration of runaway slaves, and shortly after Slavithe was established, the political shit hit the fan, and a lot of the ruling elite among them moved over a chain of black mountains and established a second city, Talbos.

Talbos and Slavithe depend on each other, as they’re mostly isolated from the rest of the continent, but both cities pretend the other doesn’t exist. They’re like uncomfortable symbiotic parties who trash talk each other at every opportunity, and feel superior and shit.

Talbos Is Much More Civilized and Formal

Delmar should technically be in line to inherit the ruling position over Slavithe, but he’s been scorned and rejected by his father all his life, because Delmar is good-looking and clever and popular, and so his mom and dad, being jealous, slimy, and unpleasant people, have half-starved him, and neglected him, and made him into a family clown. Delmar’s dressed badly, when Ajalia meets him, and his hair looks awful, and he truly believes that he’s too stupid to inherit.

Delmar has two younger brothers, and the second oldest brother, Wall (yes, that’s his name), is slated to take over Slavithe someday. Delmar, in the beginning, having swallowed the Kool-aid, and being a genial sort of person, thinks this is a natural and lovely outgrowth of his own stupidity.

Ajalia Gives Delmar A Haircut, Of Course

Ajalia shows up in the city, finds out who Delmar is, and gets to work on him. Delmar’s father isn’t too happy about this, and his mother . . . well, Delmar’s mother turns out to be a very powerful, dangerous sort of person, and Ajalia has to match wits with her.

But we’re talking about Delmar today. So on the one hand, he’s the eldest son in line for Slavithe, and on the other, he’s the firstborn child of the former crown prince of Talbos, and grandson to the current king (who is a very interesting person).

That King’s Name Is Fernos

Delmar’s father, the former crown prince, really wasn’t supposed to be trouncing around in Slavithe and seducing Tree’s daughter, and this led to Delmar’s father being banished from Talbos, and disinherited.

Luckily for Delmar, and for Ajalia’s sneaky plans for political takeover in both cities, the next in line for the Talbosian throne is a washout, and the king of Talbos proves amenable to persuasion on the topic of reinstating Delmar’s genetic right to the throne.

Because Delmar, When Cleaned Up And Given Moral Lectures, Is Awesome

There’s a long heritage of magic in Slavithe, and in Talbos, for both cities were founded by people who practiced nature worship and shaped the stone and earth. The peoples in both cities have faded in their knowledge of such powers, and most of the Slavithe priests can’t do magic at all anymore. The Talbos priests hide out in the black mountains, and many of them have been captured by the king of Talbos, who is doing shifty things about using magic in secret.

That’s all a very long and interesting story, but the pertinent part, for talking about Delmar, is that he is a joining point between the ancestral magic of both Talbos and Slavithe, and has a generational claim to the power of the prophet who founded Slavithe and the great leader who built Talbos.

The Original Thief Lord, and the Falcon Who Begged Magic From the Sky Spirits

Ajalia doesn’t believe magic is real, when she meets Delmar, but he uses his basic, rudimentary powers to save her life, and she wakes up to the reality of magic pretty soon after that.

My fantasy world is so cool.

Anyway, I have to go back to work now, but that’s a little bit about Delmar, who is eventually (SPOILERS!) the Lord of Slavithe, the reigning king of Talbos, and the prophesied Dead Falcon who ascends into the sky kingdom and restores balance between the spirit people and the land below.

SIGH

He also falls in love with Ajalia along the way, but that was sort of inevitable from day one, as her eyes are so intense.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and the third character in their group of adventurers is Philas, whose true name is Halez, the lost prince of the neighboring kingdom of Saroyan, across the sea.

 

When Directors Use An Alcoholic Girl To Play . . . An Alcoholic Girl

I keep thinking about this director I had once. I only worked for her the one time, because she was one of the single most deplorable human beings I’ve ever encountered in my life.

She Was A Mother, Wife, Abuser, Liar, And Cheat

She taught theatre classes part time at a local college, and I knew a lot of her students. The whole situation was a mess, because she was a very bad person.

Enter The Drunk Actor

I keep thinking about one of her actors, who had some substance abuse issues that nearly no one knew about. This director, the bad lady, she had a trick of getting vulnerable actors into her office and playing a sympathetic mother figure, and then later on, weeks later, she’d use the secrets she learned in private to humiliate her actors in front of their classmates.

And She Called This, “Teaching Acting”

She did that to this one actor, the one who was trying to not be an addict anymore. I just keep thinking about the student, who was being preyed on, from one side, by a couple of gay actors who harbored the kid after binges and sort of helped her hide things, and on the other side by this evil director.

The director got fired from the college, finally, over some ethics and sexual tangles, and she moved on to try and take advantage of other theatre people somewhere else.

Good Riddance, I Say

I remember being in a rehearsal with this student, the addict, and no one knew about the problem yet. The whole situation is just sad, you know? And there’s something about this kid being used by heartless young men on the one end and this older matron vampire on the other that makes me feel irritated.

Me And My Significant Other, The Super-Impoverished People (At The Time)

My partner and I ran a sort of accidental halfway house for troubled actors at the time, not officially at all, but people showed up at our door a lot, and sometimes they spent the night on a spare couch, or came to be fed. That happened a lot, actually. We helped a lot of sad, lonely young people who were lost.

We Never Knew About This Addict

I’m irritated at this addicted actor’s parents, honestly. I’m angry that the kid had no sense of safety, of knowing who to trust and where to turn for help.

I guess it would help if I explained about me again. I was bred deliberately as a sort of sexual plaything, and never had an actual family. My breeders had a rudimentary grasp of–not style, exactly, but they understood that culture was important, and they preferred their owned objects to have a veneer of class.

Because We Were Bait, And Icons

So I educated myself, because I’m not an idiot, and I don’t like to be beaten much. Partway through giving myself a well-rounded grounding in world literature, at the age of about eight or nine, I started to figure out who was safe, and who wasn’t.

Dangerous Vs. Stupid

My uncle, for example, was a very dangerous man, very powerful, very polished, and you would never, ever peg him as a homosexual. He had a great flair for dramatic camouflage, and seems to be the penultimate family man. Super responsible. He’s getting to be rich now, and he’s very accomplished in the way of legal theft.

Then there’s my particular handler, a very violent kid who was allowed to beat me when I was a child.

Sneaky Grey Areas

You see, when your parents are really your owners and breeders, and if they have any brains at all, they realize pretty quickly that siblings can hit each other, and nobody calls the cops. So we got sorted out, essentially, into who could hit whom, and when, and why. If you kept all the unspoken rules, you didn’t get hit much.

Now, my handler is a violent prick, and a dumb fuck, but he’s very sweet in his deepest soul, and if he’d ever had the guts to fight back against our owners, he might have turned out a little bit. All the evil in him comes from outside, from manipulation external to his actual soul.

As Opposed To Being Originally Evil, Himself

He’s still completely forfeit as a human being, to my mind, because he never did fight back at all, and because he’s a coward who prefers to thrust vulnerable parties in the line of fire rather than face any discomfort himself, but if everything about him was different, I wouldn’t mind him so much.

What I’m trying to say is, I can trust my handler, and I could never in a million years trust that particular uncle. My handler was predictable, and very dim. My uncle’s evil always came from right within his own heart, and he was not good news.

Back To This Alcoholic Girl

Anyway, so I keep thinking about this theatre kid, this miserable, mostly-functional alcoholic, and how the kid didn’t understand the basic, rudimentary lesson of survival among predators: That you have to know which evil dudes to run and hide with, and which to avoid like the plague.

The alcoholic girl was always hiding with the wrong kind of gay guy, and didn’t realize how that was making everything worse.

They Were Selfish Dudes

Not being a stupid person, I never tried to extract the addict, after the truth came out about the problems, but if I could go back in time, I would certainly have done a few things to go after and disable the other kids who were using her as camouflage, and getting her beer on the sly.

The one major gap in my education as an owned object was how to let myself hurt bad people. I can, of course. I just don’t, almost ever. If I went back in time, I’d use my sneaky gossip skills to take apart the shitty methods those boys were using on that poor girl.

And Also

In other news, in my current book, Crikey has made friends with his uncle Max’s new husband, and they are bonding while waiting for the gang trial to run its course.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m writing a science fiction romance about a wild-game hunter, a crime lord, and an alien girl with white, furry wings and a beautiful tail. 

Universal Theme

I went to a little library over the weekend. I used to sort of live part-time at libraries, but for a variety of not-very-interesting reasons, I hardly spend any time at all in such places anymore.

I Went To The Library

I saw a book about tortillas. It was one of those probably-charming, coming-of-age stories where a minority character (most likely a pre-teen) has a little arc and overcomes some sort of internal tantrum over the harsh realities of life, learning more about his/her cultural heritage along the way.

I’m sure it was an okay book, probably, but it looked really, really boring.

Bland, Inoffensive Hedging Material

Have you ever read that one, the book by what’s his name? Um, Thomas Hardy. That last book he wrote, the really horrible one that everyone pointed out was awful, and Hardy got offended and quit writing?arm

Hardy Enjoyed Exploiting Female Characters To Make A Point

I read his last book a long time ago. (Jude the Obscure, if you’re wondering.) It sucks, and the main female character and her children are used, literally, like sock puppets for Hardy to throw a public tantrum with. The characterizations are so blatantly shallow that the book is genuinely offensive on many levels..

I’m sort of glad Hardy stopped writing, because at the time I was chewing through the acceptable classics (the not-damaging ones), and his work was really boring. Mayor of Casterbridge is good, and Tess of the D’urbervilles is insightful, but God, Hardy refuses to let anything really nice happen to any of his characters, and it gets old really fast.

Because In Excellent Fiction, Some Characters Actually Think Forward And Avoid Disaster!

Anyway, back to my trip to the library. I often, in my later forays through the library shelves of various institutions, started to skim through shelves and look for anything, literally from any section, that made any active commentary on society or used universal themes.

I was constantly disappointed.

Safe, Boring, And Without Theme

Let’s talk for a minute about books that are worth writing.

(Yes, that’s right, Victor Poole is mounting ye olde soap box once again. My actors had this adorable “Oh, no. Here it comes!” face that they all wore when I climbed onto my soap box.)

I had a director a long time ago who understood universal theme. He was one of only two I’ve ever worked with who grasped the pertinence of using theme in his work.

Everyone Else Hedged, Lied, and Used Abstract Fluff To Hide Their Lack Of Significant Theme

Dear reader, I’m pretty sure, statistically, that you are not consistently using universal theme. This tortilla book I was speaking of did not touch on universal theme, though it chickened out and defrauded the innocence of childhood to scrape by on universal sentimentalism and that peculiar space adults go through mentally in their forties, when they start to regret not choosing anything significant to adhere to in their hearts.

Universal Theme:

Making a value comment on human social interaction and supporting your position with specific emotional examples.

Here, let’s cut straight to the chase. I’ll show you a typical sample of cowardly, non-theme-containing work, and then I’ll show you the same story with an internal framework of theme.

Examples

Terrible Writing (No Theme)

Diedre crossed the street and waited with impatience for the municipal bus to arrive. There was not a lot to do at the bus stop. Diedre was pregnant and didn’t want to be. Diedre stared at noisy birds on the telephone line.

She waited and waited, and then finally the red vehicle approached. The bus lumbered down the road towards her stop, looking like a lumbering crimson whale and emitting persistent bursts of smoke from the back exhaust. Diedre waited for the doors to open.

Diedre paid her fare and climbed to the second floor of the bus. She perched at the back left corner and stared at the shops as the bus pulled away. When she reached her destination at the abortion clinic, she disembarked, went straight past the doors of the clinic, and began the laborious process of walking home.

Good Writing (Theme)

Diedre’s heart made a thump-thump that seemed to echo through her abdomen. Not today, maybe, she thought, her throat full of the coming moment when she would have to go, have to speak to the doctor, have to face the inevitable, disturbing procedure. Diedre was with child, and hadn’t meant to be. She had to do something about the future, and didn’t want to make any decision at all.

The birds chirruped a pleasant rhythm on the telephone lines, and the bus, when it rumbled down to Diedre and heaved to a noisy stop, reminded her of a big red whale. Diedre imagined the crimson beast roaring and swallowing her up as she mounted the dirty metal steps and slid into the farthest seat in the back.

Maybe I’ll go in tomorrow to make the appointment, though, Diedre thought, and the idea brought her so much immediate relief that she slid to the front of the bus aisle and disembarked at the next stop.

Her hands in her pockets and her heart pounding a relentless, dizzying rhythm under her breastbone, she pictured the big red whale spitting her out, along with the bud of new life in her depths. I could escape like Jonah, Diedre told herself with a smile, and she began to think of running away instead of doing the other thing.

In Conclusion

I have a number of completed books I’m sitting on, because I had a sequence of interesting fights with my editor, and the manuscripts have some issues I can correct easily enough. Just takes time, and my life is (mundane, mundane, etc.) right now, so catching up on basic work is #complicated.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m currently inserting chapter breaks and pondering on the ethical conundrum of positioning commercially-viable razor hooks in the mental landscape of my fiction.