There’s A Delay For My Next Book

So The Second Queen was supposed to come out last month, but my editor, bless his heart, had an epiphany, and metaphorically flung the book across the room, and now we’re into thematic rewrites.

Plus, it turns out I forgot to write in some sex that should have been there the first time around.

Ah, experience, you great teacher, will you ever cease to pummel me between the eyes?

In other news, here’s a rough mock-up I’m working on for Ethan and Mary.


last cyborg final

You’re reading Victor Poole. Don’t worry, the sex will be worth the wait, and by the way, Philas wants everyone to know that he’s decided to be in love with Ajalia after all. I wonder how his wife will react to this news. Happy Wednesday, internet-kin.


Excerpt: Ethan The Cyborg Is Worked Over By A Faith Healer


“You can’t think of what to do, can you?” she asked.

“I’m just bothered by all these women,” Ethan complained.

“You mean they get in your way, and fluster your thinking,” Chasya said. He nodded. “And you are used to being alone,” she said.

“Yes,” he replied.

“And are you prepared to give up Mary forever?” Chasya asked.

“I don’t see what that has to do with all these people bothering me right now,” Ethan exclaimed.

“Women bothering you, not people. Female humans, rather like Mary, are they not?” Chasya asked.

“No, none of these people are like Mary at all,” Ethan said.

“But they bother you like she does,” Chasya prompted.

“I don’t have to give up Mary,” Ethan said.

“You have lent her out, though,” Chasya said. Ethan glanced at her, disquiet in his heart.

“No,” he said slowly.

“Yes,” Chasya said, imitating his tone. Ethan blushed dark red and put a final chip into the halo of electricity.

“No, I didn’t lend her out,” he said. “Which,” he added, “sounds incredibly barbaric, and I’m not like that.”

“But you did, didn’t you?” Chasya asked.

“No, she’s mine!” Ethan exclaimed. Chasya pondered on him for some time, her hands folded together in her lap and her eyes thoughtful.

“Do you lie to Mary like this?” she asked.

“I’m not lying,” Ethan said at once.

“You’ve been lying and lying to me since the others left,” Chasya said. “Your colors turn acid-green when you tell a lie.”

Ethan turned his shoulders away, as if he could shield his light from her vision by moving, and he felt his ears burn with shame.

“I’m not lying,” he said.

“Is that how you survived the aliens? By lying?” Chasya asked.

“They would have seen if I’d lied. I don’t lie to them,” Ethan said. Chasya’s eyes were fixed on the flaring colors in his chest and arms.

“That was a lie,” she said softly.

How Contractions Can Smooth Your Prose Into A Bright Vernacular Today

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Often, as I am writing, I find myself using slightly elevated language, because I get drawn into the pathos of the scene. Later, I return and make a smoother flow to my dialogue, to make sure it doesn’t sound overinflated.


Stilted language:

“It is common knowledge in the stars that cyborgs sent to run the Human Museum were one step away from falling under the general extinction order. Your mind and body are of a low grade, only just passable for conversion. You are lucky you are alive,” the tall cyborg said in a dry, emotionless voice.

“That might be true for the others, but not for me,” the director snapped. “I am in charge here; I am different. My master wanted to keep me for something more important, I know he did. He was forced to let me go. You cannot deny they needed a clever man to run their little project here.”

“Then that is all that you are,” the tall cyborg said, “a man. You will never be a true cyborg.”

Smooth vernacular:

“It’s common knowledge in the stars that those sent to run the Human Museum were one step away from falling under the general extinction order. Your mind and body are of a low grade, only just passable for conversion. You’re lucky to be alive,” the tall cyborg said.

“That may be true for the others but not for me,” the director snapped. “I’m in charge here; I’m different. My master wanted to keep me for something more important, I know he did. The others forced him to let me go. You can’t deny they needed a clever man to run their little operation here.”

“That’s all you are,” the tall cyborg said, “a man. You will never be a true cyborg.”

Changing some of your words to contractions and loosening the formality of your language can add a soothing sense of rhythm to your prose, and strengthen your dialogue.

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You’re reading Victor Poole. My cat tried to attack a roll of paper towels the other day, and my cyborgs are marshaling their forces against the Ben-sa alien empire today. The rough study is from this.

Why You Leave Out Anchored Details When You Write (And How To Fix It)

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When you write, you often leave out the best parts. You don’t write about the most exquisite feelings, or the tenderest moments. Everything ought to be pat action and tight dialogue; all things should push the story forward. That’s the way you might feel, anyway, but what your reader wants the most is the deepest and strongest experience of the heart of the story, and that often includes happy feelings, exciting or startling sensations, and even scenes of tender friendship or love.

Victor Poole, You’re So Judgmental!

How do I know you are probably skipping the good parts in your writing? Well, I’ll tell you: I’m extrapolating from a combination of my own experience as a writer, my days of studying story-making in amateur theatre, and my personal findings as a reader of fiction.

So I’m pretty sure, like ninety-nine percent sure, that you’re skipping most of the good parts in your story.

Why Are These Soft, Squishy Bits Getting Skipped Over?

The super short answer is embarrassment and shame, but the longer, more complete answer is that everyone has, at some point in their life, been rejected or left out, or excluded in some painful manner, and this has taught each of us that sharing our truest and deepest selves with others is scary, bad, and sometimes dangerous.

Well, I Don’t Feel That Way, Victor!

Good for you! You rock on with your bad self! However, I shall continue, since not all of us are as lucky and/or resilient as you.

When you start to hide the squishy, human part of yourself in your writing (which is what skipping these deep parts is), the story suffers immeasurably. The characters become dry and unemotional, almost like rote-reading robots, and your prose becomes, shall we say, a tiny little itsy bit tedious at times.

You Can’t Call MY Prose Tedious, Victor! You Cad!

On the other hand, when you share your very favorite parts of the story with genuine excitement and generosity, the prose gets all filled up with good, edible chewiness, and your characters become real people, fully dimensional and memorable.

I Want Memorable Characters! Teach Me, Victor Poole!

The way you can tell if you’re skipping good parts in your writing is if you are bored. Honestly, there you go. If you aren’t excited by what you’re writing about, and eager to put it down, you are more than likely hiding the good parts of the story, possibly even from yourself.

Look! I just explained writer’s block!

No, Really

I’m actually serious; when you can’t write, or you don’t really wanna feel-like-it-right-now, you are probably hiding a really great part of the story from the reader, and writing around it, or over it, or through it.

Let’s take a break from the jibber-jabber and look at some examples:

Skipped good parts:

They sat next to the fire with their hands turned towards the warmth, and the touching that had almost happened two hours ago made them reluctant to speak.

He hadn’t meant to brush against her, and for her part, she found him far less attractive now that she knew he hadn’t lived away from his mother yet.

She started to make the food, and he roused himself and unpacked their bags. They were silent, quiet, and utterly without words for each other, and they slept on opposite sides of the fire that night.

With the good parts:

Thadeus and Jewly sat next to the fire with their palms towards the warmth.

“I thought you were going to kiss me earlier today,” she said. He looked at her sharply, and flushed.

“I wasn’t,” he said.

“I know, because you didn’t,” she said pointedly. His cheeks reddened further, and he scooted a little away from her. She moved closer to him, a frown of deep irritation creasing her mouth.

“Well, what are you getting closer to me for, if you hate me so much?” he demanded.

“I never said that,” she snapped, and eased closer. He glared at her suspiciously.

“I heard you say that you thought I was a lame excuse for a knight. I heard you say that,” Thadeus exclaimed.

“Living with your mother after you’ve been knighted is decidedly out of the spirit of adventure. Where are you supposed to take your true love, after you’ve gotten hold of her?” Jewly demanded. His face darkened; he frowned at her, and scooted closer; their legs pressed together.

“Well?” he asked.

“Well, what?” she replied.

“Aren’t you going to squeal, and go sit over there?” he asked harshly.

“Why would I squeal when you keep not trying to kiss me?” she asked, color mounting in her cheeks. Thadeus stared at her, his face undergoing a gradual revolution. He opened his mouth as if to speak again, and then closed it. She sniffed, and her breath shivered, as if she was concealing a heartfelt sigh.

His hand crept towards her knee; she eyed him, and he hesitated.

“Aren’t you going to run away and tell me how much you don’t want to kiss me?” he asked. His voice had turned husky.

“No,” she said.

“Do you want me to kiss you?” he asked.

And So,

In conclusion, when you are writing, watch out for lackadaisical lack of interest from you towards your story, and beware of writing around or away from the really good parts. Remember, if the reader would want to hear about it because it’s really intense, go ahead and write about it, even if it’s scary and/or too embarrassing.

You’re reading Victor Poole; my books are here, and I recommend starting with this one.

The headless horse is a study of this.

Why Your Characters Break Down When You Write, And What To Do About It

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Writing a novel is a lot like directing a play; your characters are like your actors, and the world-building and cultural development are like your set dressing and properties.

Directing Is Great

Something that not a lot of people realize when it comes to theatre is that a lot of acting is, in practice, deeply therapeutic. You are role-playing, and putting your own real emotions through the paces of the story. (I have opinions about what counts as “worthwhile” acting, so if you love externally-driven representational theatre, we are bitter enemies in real life.)

Mental Gymnastics

When you direct a play, and you are working with not the most highly-qualified professionals in the world, you end up landing in the role of therapeutic tour guide, or as house-mother to the emotional gymnastics of your actors. If you are wise, and an ethical director, you shape their process to fit the play and stay the hell away from their private lives.

Bad Directors Are Awful

I’ve had a lot of experience with crappy, soul-sucking directors, but I’ve also been lucky enough to work with a few really decent and principled directors.

Now, what does this have to do with fantasy and science fiction writing?

Yay, Victor’s Going To Talk About Writing!

Well, you may find, when you get into the groove of writing your story, that your characters start to lose control of themselves. Some of them want to kiss each other, and they aren’t supposed to. Some of them draw weapons and start lashing out at people, and some of them develop a sudden and unforeseen petty streak.

You start to find out that your characters, if you are writing good ones, have minds of their own. This can be upsetting, especially if you work from outlines, but you can turn it to your advantage and get great fiction out of the situation.


First, remember that people who act out are always working out early traumas, no exceptions. Somewhere inside their beautiful little soul is a hurt or abandoned or misunderstood child, and all you, as the author, need to do is coax out that hurt and do something about it.


Second, let them break stuff. Yeah, sometimes it seems like you’re losing your book, because your fourth-important main character wants to burn down the city, and you need the city for the final battle in book three, but if it’s really important to the guy, give him some matches and see what happens.


Third, know that artistic creation is mysterious, and if you cudgel the muse into obedience she is apt to break your head open with malapropos life circumstances. Because karma and poetic justice are things that seep into your life when you write a lot. Don’t tempt fate; honor the violent and unbidden urges of your characters and give yourself a seat on the train called, “What the crap is going to happen next?!”


Bad Writing (characters forced to conform to an outline):

Gevad was not a bad man, when he had the time to think before he acted, but there were so many financially ignorant saps in Slavithe, and he loved having houses and servants so much that he could hardly keep himself from taking advantage of the poor and the recently-rich whenever he could.

Lasa he had picked up on a whim; he’d known her father, and dabbled in magic with her mother, back before witches were banned from the city, and he had a soft spot for the olden days. He hadn’t meant to seduce her when he first obtained the deed to her mother’s house, and ownership of her body. Her blue eyes were soft and appealing, and he found himself saying things to her about freedom, and hard work, and she had wormed her way into his arms before he thought to say, “Certainly not, young lady!”

He knew she expected him to free her out of love, but not once in his life had Gevad given up material advantage for sentimental reasons, and she was too weak-willed to force his hand.

Better Writing (characters allowed to do as they will):

“Later,” he told her, when she asked when they would marry. It was against the law to marry an owned woman, but Lasa cared nothing for rules, and she had spent her life bending them without significant consequence to her person.

“I told mother I wouldn’t bring her to the wedding,” she told him. Her long hair was over her shoulder, and her bright face was tilted to the side, like a colorful bird’s.

“Mmrsh,” Gevad mumbled. What he wanted to say was, “Your mother will be long-dead before I even think of marrying you, big-breasted one,” but he never said what he really thought to Lasa. She snuggled into his lap, and he sighed.

“You like having me, though,” she coaxed. “You’d feel lonely without me in the house.”

“I’d miss you from my bed, sure,” Gevad murmured.

“And from your life, silly,” Lasa chided. She gazed up at the ceiling, her eyes wide and innocent-seeming. “I want to wear green when we get married,” she mused.

“Later,” Gevad said again.

“Next week,” she said.

“I don’t know when. Things are very hard for my business right now,” he lied. Things had never been better; he was flush with cash, and more than twelve bond-servants had fallen into his hands in the last month.

“If I get you that little white house rented, would we be able to afford it?” Lasa asked. “I wish we could bring my mother’s things down from upstairs,” she added.

“Soon,” Gevad said.

“But if I sell that little house, or let it out, will you marry me then?” she demanded.

“I would think about it,” Gevad said. Lasa’s lips turned in a satisfied curve, and she kissed him soundly.

To Sum Up

When your characters stray from the script, they are probably working out early trauma, and you can let them break stuff. Creation is shrouded in mystery, and to preserve the peaceful order of your own everyday existence, the best course is to follow along in the wake of your characters’ authentic desires.

You’re reading Victor Poole; the picture is a study of this. My books are here, and Lasa/Gevad are featured in the first installment of the series.

Fantasy Magic Example, Good and Bad

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Fantasy, to me, is ultimately about character development. Magic within the genre is a medium through which invisible things, and internal strength of being, can become manifested physically, and given a name and shape.

Did you know that when you open your interstitial muscles as you’re writing, much more of your authentic self enters the story? And did you know that some people, like me, can taste your emotional state and body carriage from the words you write?

Magic that is a nondiscriminatory external power, or a nameless force controlled with herbs or special words adds very little to the emotional and intellectual impact of fantasy. What makes magic work, and makes fantasy a valuable facet of literature, is the depth of characterization made possible through otherworldly (see, invisible) powers.


Magic as an empty power:

Timor pulled the wand out of his bag and twisted it over the crumpled herbs.

“Estumpor friel,” he murmured, and a length of smoke poured out of the plants. “Now we wait for five minutes and put the blood in,” he told his friend.

“I want to do the incantation this time,” Ben said.

“You always mumble at the end. I’ll do it,” Timor replied.

“I won’t mumble this time,” Ben protested.

“You did last week, and the smoke dragon had no wings!” Timor exclaimed.

“That was because you left that grass mixed in. Everyone knows the dragweed has to be pure,” Ben said.

“I’m going to say it,” Timor said. Ben glared at him. “I’m the one who has the wand,” Timor added forcefully.

“Just because you found it before I did,” Ben exclaimed.

“I’m going to say it,” Timor repeated.

Magic as a metaphor for self:

Ben stared at Timon as he arranged the fluffed dragweed in a careful pyramid. Timon chewed on his lips and placed a final yellow leaf at the top of the stack.

“Now the wand,” Ben murmured.

“I remember how!” Timon exclaimed. He did not want to say how nervous he was; the smoke dragon had not yet come out right, and if he failed today, they would be stranded here for another year until the weeds grew back.

Timon opened his bag and unwrapped the stone wand. It was black and red rock, carved in a spiral with a gaping dragon curled over the thick end. Timon steadied his hand and stared at the thick pile of weeds.

“Estumpor,” Ben prompted. Timon shot him a glare, and Ben threw up his hands and walked away. Timon heard him muttering darkly about abandoned islands and amateur magic.

Timon took a deep, steadying breath, and licked his lips. He turned the stone wand in his fingers and then placed the sharp tip against the soft rim of a leaf.

“Estumpor friel,” he said. The magic began to tunnel through his bones; he released himself to it, the white heat seeming to boil his blood and dry out his lungs. He waited until smoke crept up from the heap of leaves and then put the point of the wand against his palm and pressed hard.

A drop of blood swelled up around the tip of the wand, and a roaring sound moved into Timon’s ears. He did not notice Ben standing still on the hillside, his eyes fixed anxiously on the wisps of black smoke that crept into the air.

You’re reading Victor Poole. The sketch is a study of this. My fantasy books, which have a whole lot of character-driven magic, are here.

Seall Makes A Friend


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Seall was a girl who often neglected details about her personal appearance. She, for example, owned a toothbrush that had remained in the original packaging for three weeks, because she felt to lazy to open the plastic. Every night when she went to bed, she told herself, “Tomorrow morning, I’ll get that new toothbrush out,” and every morning she dashed out the door, late, without having done so.

Her supervisor, Georgio, noticed the scuzz on her teeth and fired her in the first round of layoffs that moon-cycle. Seall’s replacement was a finely-groomed woman of forty, who dyed her hair auburn and wore a synthetic skinsuit under her clothes. Seall began to live under a bridge, and Georgio took the new worker out for drinks and dancing on the levitating lake.

Some years after she’d been laid off, Seall met the auburn-haired lady in the street.

“You’re the girl who took my place!” she exclaimed, though the synth-skinned woman was nearing fifty, and Seall was hardly thirty yet.

“Who are you?” the lady asked, though she might as well have said, “What are you?” judging by the look on her smoothly pink face.

“I’m Seall. Georgio fired me so he could get you,” Seall said.

“Oh. Sorry,” the older woman said with a smile and a shrug.

“You probably married him, huh?” Seall demanded, her eyes bursting with jealousy and her shapeless heap of clothes quivering indignantly.

“Who? Georgio? Oh, no, I never saw him since last year. I’m assistant to the president now,” the woman said. Seall sneered at her.

Fancy people with their glued-on fake skin, she thought bitterly, and she went home to the box she slept under and retrieved her toothbrush, still in the plastic, and tore it open.

“You have to hire me back now,” Seall announced when she arrived at the gates of the synth-suit store. “I’ve brushed my teeth.”

“Who are you?” asked the front receptionist, a young man who looked both alarmed and diverted by Seall’s ragged appearance.

“I work here, young man,” Seall exclaimed, rolling her eyes.

“No, you don’t,” he said, half-laughing, and looking down at her filthy attire.

“Well, I used to. Where’s Georgio? Tell him I want my job back,” Seall said.

“I’m sorry, lady,” the receptionist said. “We don’t need any more workers today.”

Seall stared hard at the young man and then turned without a word and paced down the snow-ridden streets. When she came to a long crossing, she spotted a wealthy woman who had two little children in a bassinet. She walked until she was just beside the woman, and then she smiled.

“I have a daughter just that age,” she told the rich woman.

“That’s nice,” the lady said, grimacing, but pretending to smile. Her thickly-clad shoulders inched up a hair, and she drifted imperceptibly to the side of the road.

“She’s dead now, of course,” Seall added. “My daughter is dead.”

The rich woman looked sharply to the side; her face pulled into a frown.

“I’m sorry,” she said, and her voice was more genuine.

“Oh, don’t be,” Seall said cheerfully. “I would have had to protect her from her father by this time. He’s a bad man. It’s just as well my baby’s at rest. She won’t ever have to live as I do. You’re very lucky,” she added, smiling at the toddlers in the wheeled cart.

“Yes, they are,” the rich woman said, walking a little faster and looking ill at ease.

“I hope you never let your girl go too far out of the way. I know a girl who works in a factory,” Seall said.

“That’s nice, I’m sure. Good for her,” the woman said pointedly. She glanced to the side, as if looking for an outlet to the street. They were on a long bridge, and there was no crossing for another thirty yards.

“It’s warm inside her work, at any rate. The gentlemen who come there insist on the heat being on,” Seall said. The lady looked sharply at her, and then pinched up her mouth.

“Don’t talk like that,” she said. She looked again at the end of the crossing and walked faster. Seall jogged to keep up.

“I’m trying to decide if I should take up robbery,” Seall said matter-of-factly. The rich woman looked her, first with fear, and then amusement.

“Don’t do that,” she said.

“Why not? I can’t get a job while I look like this, and I’m tired of living in a box. I live under a plastic bin,” Seall said. “I used to have an insulated crate, but the boys down on Garfender Avenue stole it from me.”

The rich woman stopped walking entirely, and stared at Seall. The two babies in the stroller babbled; the little girl threw a stuffed toy on the slushy ground. Seall watched the mother pick it up and brush the snow away.

“Why do you live in a box?” she asked cautiously.

“My boss fired me for forgetting to brush my teeth,” Seall said. “I’ve learned better now, but it’s too late for me. I can’t afford anything, like clothes, or a synth-suit.”

“Why would you need a skinsuit?” the woman demanded, looking instantly judgmental. Her eyes travelled up and down Seall’s piled-on rags, and attempted to peel under to her figure beneath.

“I haven’t much chest,” Seall said. “If I was shapely, people would hire me.”

“That’s not true,” the lady said. She started to walk again, slowly, and Seall saw that she was thinking.

“It is,” Seall said. “The lady they hired to replace me wears a synth-suit, and she’s very old. You can’t tell, because she has baby-soft skin glued onto her cheeks.”

“You don’t need a figure,” the lady said softly, looking to the side as if afraid someone would overhear her.

“I do, because my clothes are so bad,” Seall said.

“You don’t, you just need to be clean,” the rich woman said. She spoke softly, as if she was afraid of hurting Seall’s feelings.

“Where am I going to get clean?” Seall asked. “You can’t take me home. I can’t afford anyplace, and all I have to put on again is this.” She plucked at the filthy clothes she wore.

“You don’t seem like a homeless person,” the rich woman said shrewdly. “Are you ill?” she asked cautiously.

“Do you mean, am I crazy?” Seall asked. The woman hesitated, and then nodded. “I don’t think I’m crazy,” Seall said.

“Why didn’t you get a new job after you were fired?” the woman asked. They were nearing the end of the bridge, but the rich lady looked in no hurry to abandon Seall. Good, Seall thought. “Your clothes must have been all right then,” the lady added.

“I didn’t want to get a job. I was tired,” Seall said. “And I was angry. I thought it was stupid that the other woman got hired. I went and watched her going to work for a whole week. Her body bounced, like this,” Seall demonstrated the top-heavy prance of the synth-skinned woman.

“Why would you want a synth-skin?” the rich woman asked.

“Because I want to have a hot shower,” Seall said promptly.

“So go and use a public bathing house,” the rich lady said.

“They  have cameras there,” Seall said.

“They do not!” the woman said, her tone indignant.

“They do for the public ones, and if they like your body, they might grab you on the way out,” Seall said. The woman stared at her.

“You’re making that up,” she said.

“I knew a young woman who was homeless for two whole weeks, and all the bag ladies warned her, but she didn’t like being dirty. She went into that bathing house on the main branch, you know, on Harvock?”

The woman nodded to show she knew which house was meant.

“Well, a bunch of us went to watch, because me and the new girls didn’t think the crones meant it, and we all wanted to take a hot shower. So this one girl, she went in, and we saw her coming out with her hair all clean and wet, and her clothes damp, and a man wearing a black suit ran into her just on the street and pulled her into a cab.”

The rich woman listened to this with hard eyes and thin lips.

“What do they say happens then? The old ladies?” the woman asked.

“They take you to a brothel,” Seall said. The rich woman moved her hand, as if to shield her children from the word, and Seall smiled. “I thought you’d run away from me when I first came up,” she said.

“I wanted to,” the rich lady said.

“Why didn’t you?” Seall asked.

“You have nice eyes,” the lady said. Seall examined her new friend.

“Can I have some money? I won’t ever pay it back. I won’t even try, even if I get a job.”

“No,” the lady said. Seall  grimaced. “I’ll give you clothes, and a job,” the rich woman added.

“What?” Seall asked at once.

“Walk my hounds for me, twice a day. I won’t let you in my house,” the lady added quickly.

“I don’t want to come in your house,” Seall snapped, and the woman smiled.

“I like you,” she said.

“Well, I don’t like you, because you’re rich, and you have a lot of nice things I’ll never have,” Seal said.

“You might be surprised,” the lady said. Seall narrowed her eyes. When the lady didn’t say anymore, Seall sniffed.

“I’ll never have anything nice at all,” she said.

“You’ll have nice clothes in a few minutes,” the lady said. Seall hesitated in her walk. “You’re too proud,” the rich woman called over her shoulder, and Seall hurried after her.

“You’re going to treat me like a pet, and clean me up, aren’t you?” Seall demanded.

“No,” the lady said.

“Yes, you are, and I think it’s awful of you,” Seall said. “I think you’re a very mean woman, and you think less of me because I’m poor.”

“I think you’re angry, and childish, and proud,” the rich lady said. “Wait here,” she added, and turned in at a tall building. Seall looked up; they were outside an expensive housing complex. She almost walked on by herself, but then she remembered the damp, and the cold, and she twisted against the building and leaned on the hard bricks.

“Hey, no lounging,” a man said to her. She stuck out her tongue and walked up and down the sidewalk of the whole block, watching for the rich woman to come down again. When the lady appeared, she had two bags in her hands, and no children.

“Where are your babies?” Seall demanded, going up to the rich woman.

“They have a nanny,” the rich woman said. “Here is an old dress my grandmother’s housekeeper used to wear, and here are shoes and gloves. They’re worn out, but very clean.”

“You shouldn’t let me walk your dogs,” Seall said, taking the bags.

“They’ve had their morning jaunt already. Come back at four,” the rich woman said.

“How will I get clean?” Seall demanded. The rich lady laughed, and patted the second bag.

“I’ll see you at four, unless I don’t,” she called, and went into the complex doors.

“So you’re a beggar,” the man said. He had watched the whole exchange with his arms folded.

“You’re just a stupid doorkeeper,” Seall shot back. The man sneered at her, and she put her nose into the air and stalked away.

You’re reading Victor Poole. Here are my novels. The drawing is a quick sketch of a famous picture of racehorses.