The Striped Canyon Where the Rock Snakes Live (which are super scary!)

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This is a partial sketch of the black and white rocks in the part of the book where the hunter fetches in some material from the quarry. It’s not finished yet, but yay. I think it looks like a zebra.

In other news . . . wow. Yup, I have nothing more to say about myself at this time.

But here is what happens next to Diana!

Sample

Stuart’s Suspicion

Diana kept a blithe, interested look on her face.

“Where have you been, Stu?” Diana asked.

“I was upstairs, Di. I’ve been behind you this whole time,” Stuart said, looking increasingly upset.

“Oh, wow. I thought I was here all by myself. Are you hungry? How long were you gone this time?” Diana asked.

“Don’t do that. I didn’t go anywhere; I’ve just been here, right behind you,” Stuart said.

“No, I don’t think so,” Diana said, frowning and looking sincere.

Stuart, who had been isolated in a plastic tube for the last four years, and whose mind had been taken back and forth many times through various timelines and situations, burst into tears and ran back into the house.

Diana smiled. Excellent, she thought, and she made several trips carrying her pile of eggplant-like fruits into the kitchen and started to whistle as she got into her usual cleaning routine.

By the time she made it upstairs to straighten up the bedrooms, she found Stuart curled in a ball on the bed, his shoulders hunched and his face marked with tears. He was sound asleep.

How sweet, Diana thought, and she went outside to climb her tree and read a book.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the bachelor party has so far produced, um, three wedding proposals among the guests, who are all having a marvelous time.

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Some Clothes (and Diana)

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Here are some clothes. And my brain is so empty right now. Like, I’ve got a numb buzz going on purely from general stress. Whee, right?

I’m nearly finished scrubbing excess commas from one of my other books. (So many commas!)

Aaaaaand here is what happens next to Diana:

Sample

The Second Day

By the time Stuart woke up, Diana had formulated a plan. Stuart had, to all appearances, been completely exhausted, for he had slept the rest of the day and most of the night. Diana was sitting against the headboard in the dark when Stuart woke up.

“I was holding your hand. How come you’re over there?” Stuart asked, his voice groggy.

“You kind of rolled all the way over there and I wasn’t going to follow you. Are you ready to talk?” Diana asked.

“Yeah,” Stuart said, yawning.

“Here’s what we’re going to do, Stu. You’re a horrible person. Do you agree?” Diana asked.

Stuart hesitated for a while.

“I hope I’m not irredeemable,” Stuart offered.

“That’s not really a clear admission, sweetie. Yes or no, do you agree that you’re awful?” Diana asked.

“Um,” Stuart said.

“I’m gonna take that as a no, then. Phoning in to the right answer isn’t really good enough for me, and we’re going to have to get you doing a lot better than that. Here’s what I’m thinking, Stu. The aliens gave us a kind of roadmap of what should theoretically be possible for you and me, right? With all the fixing up the house and the marriage stuff. You were being really nice and supportive for a lot of that, don’t you think?” Diana ask.

Stuart looked unprepared to comment, so Diana jumped off the bed and left the room.

“Well, wait!” Stuart said, scrambling after her. The alien lights brightened slowly as Diana moved, illuminating the places she went to.

Diana went down the stairs and into the kitchen, where she checked on the current stockpile of fruits and then went out of the front door to harvest the latest crop of eggplant-like growths.

“Diana, you can’t just ignore me,” Stuart said.

Diana ignored him. Stuart laughed a little and stood on the front porch, studying her as she tugged fruits off the vine and made a stack of them on the ground.

“Do you need help?” Stuart asked.

Diana pretended he wasn’t there.

Stuart started to look a tiny bit weepy, though he did his best to keep a brusque, invulnerable expression on his face.

“Hey, I’m still here,” Stuart said, his voice wobbling.

“Oh, hey, there, Stu. Where did you come from?” Diana asked, pretending that he’d only just appeared. Stuart narrowed his eyes.

“What are you doing?” Stuart asked, looking thoroughly suspicious.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, one of the performers is being auctioned to a stable household as a highly-rated companion and snuggle-friend.

One Point Perspective

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I am a baby at drawing. But look at my pretty shadows! Yay!

I’m (insert mundane work details, indicating that I’m a-froth with bustling industry), and here is a bit of Diana for now:

Sample

The Proposal

“Well, we were here, just–just living here. Um, I don’t know how much you remember, Di. Diana, sorry,” Stuart said, flushing and scooting a little away on the bed.

Diana wanted to keep Stuart on the edge of feeling off-balance and uncomfortable, so she moved closer to keep them at the same distance.

He studied her for a moment, a hard light in his eyes, and then continued without making any comment on her behavior.

Good, Diana thought, and she looked at the bruising along Stuart’s face as he spoke.

“I don’t know what parts you were there for, but things started to jump around in my timeline after that fight we had. You remember, when I came back, or seemed to, and you threw water in my face and tried to beat me up?” Stuart asked.

“Yeah, I know that part,” Diana said.

“Good. Well, things got wonky after that. Um, I had you tied up in the bed, right? And I was trying to talk to you, to make you calm down, and then everything–well, the room around us dissolved and you and I both went and had a long talk with the aliens. Do you remember this?” Stuart asked.

Diana had no intention of revealing how much she’d experienced, so she made herself look haunted and tired and refused to answer. Stuart sighed.

“Yeah, I’ll just keep talking and telling my side. It’s hard for me to think about, too. I imagine it’s worse for you, if you do remember that stuff. When did you leave? What part did you miss?” Stuart asked.

“Stuart, talk,” Diana said.

“Yeah, okay. Well, I’ll work from that fight, then, and me tying you up. So the room dissolved and we had a really long talk with the aliens. They, um, froze you for parts of that, and then sometimes they froze me and talked to you instead. Negotiations went on forever, it seemed like, hours, and the conclusion was that we’d both be aged a bit and thrown into a facsimile neighborhood, to recreate young adulthood for the aliens. I feel really stupid saying all of this as if you weren’t there for it, Diana. I mean, you know most of this better than I do, I’m sure. You were managing most of it, telling the aliens what would be acceptable, and how things needed to be. I feel idiotic telling you the story like this,” Stuart said, his eyes asking her for help.

“No. Keep talking,” Diana said. Stuart sighed and nodded.

“So the aliens made us older. I was in my late twenties, I think, and you were at least twenty-one. I’m not sure exactly how old, but you told the aliens that twenty-one was your cut-off age for what you’d be comfortable with, and so you were early twenties and I was late twenties. Um, and we were still in this house at first. You changed so much, Di. I didn’t know at first if it was even you, but–I guess it might not have been you, actually,” Stuart said, looking moody.

“Look, Stu. If we ever get to the point of being really good friends and I feel I can trust you, then I’ll tell you my half and we can really compare timelines. For now, just be super honest,” Diana said.

“Okay,” Stuart said, clearly attempting to make himself small and docile-looking. Diana laughed and patted his knee, which made him flinch and then smile in a faltering manner.

“Stu, that’s not working. I know you’re not nearly this wrought up with dramatic feelings. Just talk,” Diana said.

Stuart’s looks melted into something like consternation. He eyed her and then sniffed with a ‘Well, fine, then’ kind of sound and went on.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Rosie the toddler is about to be rescued (dramatically!).

Caleb’s Office Conceptualization of Death (that’s a mouthful)

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This is the office from my spec-thriller, which is going through a light update at the moment.

I’m learning to draw buildings in my free time right now because they terrify me. I mean, I don’t think they should, realistically, because buildings are usually just boxes with curves built in some places, and it should be a matter of rulers and shadows.

But they do, they scare me mostly to death, so I’m working on that. I finally finished my dragon book (hooray!), which took me a few years start to finish, and now I’m queuing up my next enormous revision challenge.

There’s expensive ice cream in my freezer that I have not yet sampled, and here is what happens next to Diana:

Sample

The Frightened Boy

The first thing Diana did was to go past the bookshelf and lay hold of a partly-filled recipe book, which had a lot of blank pages in the back. She carried the recipe book into the kitchen, paying no attention to Stuart, who was shadowing behind her and trying to be quiet, and found a pen in the junk drawer.

Diana peered out of the open kitchen window to ascertain an estimate of the time of day.

The sun was at a midpoint between noon and evening, and Diana decided it was probably somewhere around three o’clock and noted down the date and time at the back of the book.

“What are you doing?” Stuart whispered. He seemed to think that if he spoke too loudly, Diana would vanish again.

“I’m keeping track of time,” Diana said, tucking the pen into the book and keeping it under her arm as she got a snack. Her supply of food was endless and extremely boring, as the plants in the yard grew quickly and had fresh fruits on the vines every morning. Diana had taken to keeping a supply of the eggplant-shaped fruits on the counter, and the pile of fruits she’d left there the last time she’d been in the house were perfectly good.

“Can I have one?” Stuart whispered. Diana frowned, for she heard hunger in Stuart’s voice, and she piled several of the heavy fruits into Stuart’s arms. “I—okay,” Stuart said.

“They grow outside. We have plenty,” Diana said, for she could see he didn’t want to put her out by eating too much. Goodness, Stuart’s gotten manners in his captivity, Diana told herself, and she grabbed her own fruit and went back to the bookshelf, where she found a couple of murder mysteries she hadn’t read yet. “Bedtime,” Diana said, nodding towards the stairs.

“You want me to go first?” Stuart asked, his voice low.

“Yeah. I’m right behind you, Stu,” Diana said. Stuart stared at her for a moment, as if trying to decide if she was going to trick him and run away, or if she might vanish if he took his eyes off her. Eventually Stuart compromised by walking sideways and keeping his eyes on her. Diana laughed.

“What? I don’t want to be without you again. I don’t like it,” Stuart said.

“Go up by yourself, honey, and wait for five minutes. I’ll come up and sit with you then. I’ll start counting right now,” Diana said.

“No! No, stay. I don’t want to be apart,” Stuart said.

“Stu, go, or I’ll make it ten minutes,” Diana said. Stuart glared at her with something resembling hatred and then turned and stomped up the stairs. Diana bit her lip and laughed in her heart, for she felt Stuart was behaving adorably, and she counted through five minutes before following him.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m thinking about rhetorical practices of reflection in well-constructed dialogue. Also, in my current book, Gloria is having her makeup done for the big shindig, at which she is hoping to snag a boyfriend.

And now . . . it’s Wednesday (which is not really a surprise, all things considered)

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Here is a drawing that I made of the opening scene from my other science fiction series (about cyborgs, yay!), wherein the lady in the human zoo wakes up and discovers herself (very disturbingly) to be naked on a metal table.

She does not, of course, remember how she got there.

Drama ensues.

But anyway, today, as I said, is Wednesday, which is not a terribly great surprise, considering that yesterday was . . . ahem . . . Tuesday.

Back to work. But first, here is what happens next with Diana:

Sample

The Alien Ship

The most frustrating thing to Diana was how little she could see of the interior of the ship. The room was dark and apparently empty, though somber purple lights glowed at intervals in the air, apparently floating without any support.

“You are snarling plans, Vassel,” a thick, almost impossible to understand voice said from seemingly nowhere.

“If you want me to cooperate, I need better directions,” Diana said, turning slowly to take in what she could see of the whole room.

She was quite sure she was inside an alien ship, for there was a wide, semi-circular array of controls and a really interesting display that showed a holograph of Earth. Several areas of the holographic planet were blacked out, as if they’d been erased.

Diana wondered if these black parts were the places the aliens had frozen and covered with snow and ice.

“You promised to demonstrate home. We have as yet had only fragments of said home from you. Our–” and here the alien voice said a long word that Diana could not make head or tail of at all– “grows agitated, and we desire you to get to work and stay on task.”

“If you want me to show you home, which I’m willing to do, why do you keep interrupting me when I make progress?” Diana asked.

There was only silence for some time after this, and Diana began, very cautiously, to explore the dark room. She didn’t touch any of the controls, but she went to the edge of the room and went along the curved wall, which rose up above her head into a pointed dome.

“Vassel,” the voice said again.

“Yes,” Diana said, peering at the panel of glowing buttons she suspected would open a large door she had discovered.

“You continually seek combining one piece of your heart with the spiritual essence of the man we gave you. What is this?” the voice asked.

“That’s home. That’s what home is. You find someone you care about and intertwine your lives together. I’d show you if you would leave me and Stu alone for two seconds,” Diana said.

There was another long silence, and Diana got the impression that the aliens were thinking it over.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and right now I am thinking about cleaning up an old book I wrote a long time ago. Yay potentially unsalvageable manuscripts!

This Book Is Almost Finished : )

 

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And here’s a bit of Diana, for the road, as ’twere:

Sample

Stuart Talks

“I knew I was there,” Stuart said. “I mean, it was—it was like being a virtual presence, I guess. I couldn’t feel things that were happening, but I saw and heard everything. I wasn’t—I couldn’t really interact with the world around me. And then they kept control of what I said and did. There are wires in the tube, all right? And if I said something, like I’d tell you to leave me alone, right at the beginning?” Stuart asked, looking at Diana, “And those words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. I’d be almost stuck, as if the world I was in, the space with you, stopped until I said something they liked, and then I would be saying that out loud. I never knew what they’d like, though. I mean, I would just all of a sudden be talking in real time like that, when I figured out what they wanted to hear. So I failed a lot,” Stuart said with a sigh.

Diana watched his face, which looked worn and defeated.

“At the beginning, you were just paused more than anything for me, because you’d look at me, Di, or say something, and then I tried to react and nothing would get through. It was really frustrating. Once I realized what was happening I shouted a lot, or tried to. None of that would translate to you hearing me at all, but I did, I screamed at you for a long time. Um,” Stuart said.

He had taken off his shoes and crawled under the blanket, and he looked at Diana for a long moment.

“Would you mind holding my hand?” Stuart asked, sounding beaten down and miserable.

Diana felt she could risk this without calling down the aliens, so she moved over to sit next to Stuart. She grabbed his hand and he gasped and squeezed closer, breathing hard and closing his eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Diana asked, watching Stuart’s face go through a powerful revolution of misery, loneliness, and embarrassment.

“I can feel you. You’re here. I’m touching you. I was in the tube for four years, then the aliens put me in with some boys that beat me up, and I felt that, and now I’m here. I haven’t felt anything but the tube and that one thrashing for four years, Di, and I can feel your hand now. It’s just nice, is all,” Stuart said, vibrating with deep emotion.

“Poor baby,” Diana said, her voice light. Stuart laughed and moved back to lay his head on the pillow, though he kept hold of Diana’s hand. “No, they don’t like anything to calm down,” Diana said, moving closer to maintain their previous proximity.

“They’ll come down if we stop touching?” Stuart whispered, looking terrified.

“Mm. Very probably. They don’t like emotional distance after a coherent bonding moment,” Diana said.

“How’d you figure that out?” Stuart whispered. Diana shook her head, meaning that she wouldn’t explain, and Stuart sighed and wrapped both hands around her hand. “So you’ll stay here with me, please? I’m really tired, Di,” Stuart whispered.

“It’s okay, Stu. You can talk normally,” Diana said, reaching out with her free hand to pet over Stuart’s hair. Now that he was so frightened, she wasn’t afraid of him at all, or particularly nervous. He seemed like a quivering lump of sadness to Diana, and she didn’t pity him, but she felt he was being very likeable now. “Why were you so mad at me when you came back, if you remember everything that happened between you and me?” Diana asked, stroking over Stuart’s hair.

“It was real. I didn’t have a pause button anymore, Di. I thought they were going to hurt me again,” Stuart whispered.

“Honey, it’s okay. We’ve got a whole week,” Diana said.

“No. It’ll last five minutes and they’ll get rid of me again. I don’t want to go,” Stuart said, his voice shaking with nerves.

“Well, honey,” Diana said, and she wasn’t sure what to say after this.

“I don’t want to go back without you, Di. I missed you,” Stuart said, pulling Diana’s hand against his chest to cuddle with her fingers.

Diana looked at Stuart and began, in her secret heart, to revise her priorities.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the hunter is giving a demonstration.

Only Diana This Time (Plus This Drawing of a Tree!)

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Sample

Further Details

“How do you know how long it was?” Diana asked.

“They had a countdown running, or a count up, really. I mean, there was a tally on the inside wall of my tube, so I could see the seconds counting up. Four years of seconds is kind of a while, when you’re looking at it in little segments like that,” Stuart said.

Diana didn’t know what to say.

“How long were you here, Di?” Stuart asked.

“Hey, why did they let you out?” Diana asked. Stuart blushed. Diana began to feel a burning curiosity about the reason behind this blush, as she felt Stuart looked like a person sitting on a magnificent and fascinating secret.

“I don’t want to say,” Stuart said quietly.

“Did you realize you really did love me, and they decided to let you try and be nice to me again?” Diana asked.

Once again, Stuart got up and limped away. Diana didn’t follow him, as she wanted to think over the prospect of being stuck for four long years in the kind of squished, claustrophobic tube that she’d seen Stuart in for a brief moment. She had only been conscious of a few months passing in her own experience of time after the coming of the aliens, and though she had been in the blank place for an indeterminate space of time, Diana did not think it had been anywhere close to even a month, let alone a year, or four.

Stuart came back in a couple of hours, limping and looking exhausted.

“Will you please come and sit with me, Di? I can’t go to sleep at all, and you’d help. You being there,” Stuart said. He seemed miserable to be asking, but tired enough not to care about his dignity anymore.

“You’ll talk to me until you fall asleep?” Diana asked. Stuart heaved a defeated manner of sigh.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll tell you anything you want,” he said.

“Cool. Let’s go,” Diana said, and she went ahead of him into the house and to their particular bedroom.

“Um, can we go somewhere else?” Stuart asked, his face mildly uncomfortable.

“No,” Diana said, because she wanted to maintain a sense of continuity for the aliens and because she could see that Stuart was at a higher pitch of emotion in here.

She sat down at the foot of the bed and folded her hands together. Stuart looked with some longing down the hall and then sat down with another miserable sigh on the side of the bed and pulled off his shoes.

“So how real was it for you? Were you always aware of being in the tube, or was it like you were really here when I saw you here?” Diana asked.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, a pair of newlyweds are meeting an old conquest of Telmon’s.