Starting Over, Again!

I went to the library today! Well, actually, I went to two different libraries today and did some writing at both of them! Not as much as I would have liked but I’m getting back into the swing of things so I am happy.

I also hit up a local grocery store and got some delicious roast turkey and a kaiser roll for lunch. Made an impromptu turkey sandwich in my car and munched on it while I watched the rain.

One thing I can say about Midwestern weather — don’t like it, you just have to wait for it to change. Last Saturday, we had six inches of snow, Sunday and Monday we had single-digit/sub-zero temperatures with high winds, Tuesday we had temperatures in the 30s, with a bit of rain and today we had rain and temperatures got into the high 40s/low 50s. Almost all the snow we had is now gone.

We’re not supposed to get more snow this weekend (I don’t think) but it’s going to get cold again. Yayyyyy. Then again, I have friends in Duluth who are seeing temps in the negative 30s so, I will not complain if I have to wear an extra sweatshirt this weekend.

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Writing Goals: For the 365 Day Writing Challenge, I set a goal for myself of writing at least 4 days a week and writing at least 2,500 words per week. So far, I have been over my goals every week, both on words and on days! Happy me!

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WIPpet Wednesday Math: (1+2+3) x 2 = 12 +1 9 = 31, so here are the first 31 paragraphs of the current draft of Storm Warnings:

One day, if he was very lucky, Louis Zane would meet Al Jolson and punch the Jazz Singer right square in the snoot. Maybe that would make them even for the fact Louis had had “April Showers” stuck in his head all evening.

The logical part of his mind conceded that this was as unlikely while his well-brought up side noted it was unfair. His pedantic nature wanted it noted that Al Jolson only sang the song – if anyone should get punched, it should be the guy who wrote it. Which set his curiosity to wondering who exactly that was?

One thing that the entire committee agreed on was this: punching Jolson, even in a fantasy, was still a better option than pasting one on his boss, who’d put the damn fool song in his head in the first place.

Either way, April could take its showers and the flowers that bloomed in May and shove them wherever it was that the moon went in June.

It didn’t help that his lower back was starting to join in the griping, adding its complaints about his decision to come traipsing out on a cold and drizzling April night, wasting his night off to come stare at what his strict Norwegian grandmother would have described as “a bunch of gruesomely heathenish gewgaws.” After all, he could have been back home in his apartment, nestled in his favorite chair, listening to The Rudy Vallée Show and rereading Thank You, Jeeves while getting on the outside of some decent scotch.

But instead, a pair of golden-brown eyes that were the polar opposite of roguish had asked him to come and he’d been powerless to say no to them.

“Lou? Are you all right?” said the thief who’d stolen Louis’s poor heart – and his night off – clean away. Oscar Miller looked over at Louis from where he’d been sketching one of the exhibition’s more heathenish treasures: a six-foot high pentagonal granite pillar carved with runes and designs.  “Is it your leg? Zeeskeit I told you not to wear those new shoes tonight. Do you need to sit down? There’s a bench around here some place.”

“No, it’s not my leg. My shoes are fine. I don’t need to sit down.” Louis wasn’t entirely lying. His leg wasn’t bothering him, not any more than it usually did and while he probably was going to regret wearing his new Oxfords, he didn’t need to sit down. “Remember, I grew up in the sticks. I used to walk five miles to school, one way, in snow up to my waist. Standing around the Shikagou Art Institute waiting for a lecture to start isn’t going to kill me.”

Oscar’s concern melted into a grin that could have made the May flowers bloom even without April showers. “It was three miles last time,” he said. “Uphill. Though the snow was only up to your knees.”

Louis returned Oscar’s grin, though his was the moon to Oscar’s sun. “Yeah, well, not all of us grew up soft like you, city boy,” he said. “Seriously, I’m fine. We’ll be sitting soon enough. Don’t worry about me, I’m just still peeved at Wallace.  The man’s a blister.”

Oscar’s smile dimmed, the sun going behind a cloud. “He’s still after you to do that interview with Goltz, isn’t he?” he asked. “It stinks that he’s not even giving you a choice.”

Louis shrugged. “Oh, he gave me a choice,” he said. “I can do the interview or I can clear out my desk. So, I’ll be doing the interview tomorrow evening. It’s going to be a slog, but I’ll pick up an extra bar of Lifebuoy and scrub myself extra hard afterwards.”

Oscar looked pained. “I’m sorry, Lou,” he said. “You could still tell him no—”

“—if I wanted my career to be as crippled as my leg is, sure,” Louis said, then sighed. “Which, believe me, I’ve considered, especially since listening to Goltz rattle on about how wonderful ‘der Furher’ is and how his German-American Peace Alliance is just a social club and not a bunch of Nazi boosters like the Silver Shirts or the Bund is going to seriously test my ability not to deck the fascist prick.”

Oscar chuckled. “Have I told you lately that I’m proud of you?” he said.

“Yeah, yeah,” Louis said. ““I’m just blowing off steam. I’m a big boy, if I didn’t want to talk to lame-brains and crackpots, I’d have stayed the hell out of journalism.  I’d be back on the dairy farm, staring at a cow’s backside instead of talking to a horse’s ass.  Enough about me; go back to enjoying the art.”

“You’re sure?” Oscar asked and for a brief, reckless moment, Louis considered ducking in to give Oscar a quick peck on the cheek.  Instead, he went with the better part of valor and smiled at him.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll be fine.” Louis gestured at the pillar in front of them. “What’s the deal with this thing?”

Oscar’s enthusiasm crept back into his voice. “I’m really glad I brought my sketchbook. Some of these carvings are just incredible! You’d think they’d just been carved.”

“Really?” Louis edged closer to Oscar, leaning in to look more closely at the pillar. “You can tell just by looking?”

Oscar proceeded to point out various motifs and portions of the carving, gushing all the while about the use of line and form. Louis didn’t understand half of it – his appreciation for art didn’t extend much further than a deep-seated admiration for the illustrations in the Arrow Collar ads – but Oscar’s enjoyment was contagious. Especially when he shifted from discussing the art of the pillar to how he was planning on incorporating some of the designs into his latest comic strip.

“See, these look just like Martian hieroglyphics,” Oscar said, pointing at a group of runic carvings running up one face of the pillar.

“Speaking from experience, are you?” asked a voice that was as rich as cream and confident as Lou Gehrig playing stickball against a kindergarten class. Oscar’s eyes went wide and Louis turned to see what had stunned his companion to awestruck silence.

Grant Godiva would have turned heads even if he hadn’t been as rich as Masa Musa, even after the Crash of ’29. While he was touted in the press as a self-made millionaire, he’d started off with generous support from his inventor father, who’d turned a patent for a newfangled drill bit for oil fields into a lucrative business by leasing the part, rather than selling it. After his parents’ deaths, Godiva – then only a lad of seventeen – had gone on to sell the Godiva Tool and Die Company and used the money to found Magnum Enterprises, a holding company with interests in motion pictures, aeronautics, medical research, radio, newspapers and just about anything else that caught Godiva’s interest for more than five minutes. There were those who said the young man had really just created a way to print his own money, which seemed borne out by the fact that Godiva had brushed off the worst of the market crash like a bull brushing away a pesky fly.   Louis fought against his own impulse to gape like a hick just in from the sticks and turned his attention to the woman on Godiva’s arm.

Josephine Maxwell was the granddaughter of former slaves who’d become millionaires after achieving their freedom.  Her parents had both been born into wealthy families and had passed along not only that wealth but also a family tradition of hard work and social reform along with a not-inconsiderable fortune. Her father, Caleb Maxwell, held various business interests in Shikagou and throughout the rest of the United American States. Her mother, Martha, on the other hand, stuck closer to home, organizing various improving committees from the family’s Bronzeville neighborhood home while also finding time to run the Shikagou Crusader.  Josephine didn’t have a real job – instead, she did odd jobs for both of her parents, assisting them in various aspects of their financial and social obligations.

In addition to now being the second richest person Louis had ever met, Josephine Maxwell was also a tireless crusader for social justice and reform. While she’d always been involved in various causes, from women’s suffrage to the plight of the worker to racial equality, Josephine didn’t just march and hang up banners. Under her nom du masque, Belladonna, she fought crime and corruption on a much more direct level.

And over the last year or so, she’d roped Oscar and Louis – though not necessarily in that order — into her crusades as well. Louis helped mostly by funneling information her way – which had more to do with why he’d agreed to do the Goltz interview than his editor’s threats – while Oscar was serving as something between a partner and a protégé, working under the alias of The Green Carnation.

Tonight, all three of them were in civilian drag, having opted for a night at the museum to both enjoy the exhibition of Grant Godiva’s Britannic treasures and allow Josephine and Oscar to take a much-needed break from Oscar’s training. For his part, Louis was simply glad to have the opportunity to spend time with Oscar even if the venue wasn’t his first choice. Still, there was always the chance for a late-night supper at Hott Pepper’s Steak House over in Towertown.

 “Hello, Maxwell,” Louis said, giving Josephine a friendly, if somewhat curt nod. “I was wondering where you got off to. Didn’t know you ran in such exalted company. I’d have dressed better.”

Truth be told, Louis did feel more than a little shabby next to Josephine and Godiva – especially Godiva who was dressed to the nines and as handsome as a Michelangelo painting. If, say, Adam had climbed down from his fresco and climbed into a midnight blue suit pinstriped with gold thread, slicked back his hair and persuaded Mikey to sketch in a pencil-thin mustache.

Like Godiva, Josephine was dressed to impress in the height of fashion, but she drew the eye more because of how understated she was. Unlike Godiva’s top-dollar pin-striped suit, Josephine wore a simple tailored suit that was well-made but not flashy. The black-olive wool of the skirt and jacket contrasted well against both her chestnut brown skin and the tawny lion-yellow silk of her shirt.  While she wasn’t what Louis would have called classically beautiful, her features were strong in ways that would have been harsh on a woman with less presence.

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This Week’s Goals:

  • Keep working on Storm Warnings
  • Be better about checking my personal email and visiting other members of AROW80 and WIPpet Wednesday

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Boilerplate Links:  

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time.Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

Visit The WIPpeteers for more information about WIPpet Wednesday

AROW80 Check-In for 1/9/2019

Quick check-in because I’m trying to get some more done on Storm Warnings, which is actually kinda/sorta coming together.

  • 365 Challenge: Week One — I managed to write at least four days and I hit a grand total of 2,735 words for the first week.
  • Blogging — I posted three times last week, so happy about that
  • Storm Warnings — I’m making some progress on it and hoping to make more tonight and tomorrow. All thoughts, prayers and well wishes accepted.
  • Other Writings — I have a vague idea for the Open Novella Contest which I’m still not sure I’m going to do; it largely depends on how far I get on Storm Warnings.
  • Accountability Buddy: AROW80 is trying something new by having participants work together to keep each other encouraged and accountable. I met my Accountability Buddy this week and I look forward to working with her!
  • WIPpet Wednesday: January is the 1st month, this is the 9th day of it 1 + 9 = 10. Here’s ten paragraphs of Storm Warnings — be warned, this is raw, unedited first draft stuff so, it’s gonna suck.

It was the kind of thing that, eventually, Louis Zane knew he’d look back on and laugh – or at least chuckle ruefully over while he poured himself a stiff drink. But at the moment, he was nearly ready to chew nails and spit carpet tacks – not that he could show a sign of his frustration. Or, rather, he could, but not in the way he would have liked.

What he wanted to do was stride manfully over, grab Oscar Miller by his lapels and shake him until the peanut that served as his brain rattled back into place inside his stupid, handsome head and read him the riot act for playing hero like a damn fool. Unfortunately, he couldn’t for several reasons.

The first was simply that the closest he could come to a manful stride was a somewhat dignified limp, thanks to a left leg shortened by a bout of polio when he was six. Then again, he did have a stout ironwood cane that could easily be used for the beating of sense into the aforementioned stupid, handsome head. Louis dismissed that idea on the grounds he’d simply break the cane.

The second was that berating Oscar in public would give the game away. As far as the assembled bystanders knew, Oscar Miller was simply a poor dear who’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time when a group of ruffians had decided to try and rob the Shikagou Art Institute. The only people who knew Oscar’s secret, that he was in fact the Green Carnation, Shikagouland’s newest member of the costumed adventurer set, were Oscar, Louis and, of course, Josephine Maxwell, Oscar’s mentor/partner in crime, who was currently daubing at a cut on Oscar’s forehead, likely in hopes of disguising how quickly it was disappearing.

The third reason was that, once he’d finished berating Oscar for foolishness, Louis would have wanted to wrap his arms around the stupid, noble idiot and hug him until his ribs creaked. The sight of Oscar, sprawled on the marble floor of the Pen and Ink Gallery, looking dazed like a poleaxed steer had caused an icy hand to tighten around Louis’s heart. Never mind that his intellectual side knew Oscar was fine, or would be once his bell stopped ringing. Never mind that the gallery was full of cops, museum staffers and rubbernecks, none of whom were likely to be all that sympathetic to a couple of gays. Much as Louis wanted to be the one tending to Oscar, it was safer to let Josephine do it.

So, since he couldn’t yell at Oscar and he certainly couldn’t fuss over him, Louis took refuge in the next best place: sarcasm.

“If you really wanted to get hit with a rock, we could have gone to Lincoln Park instead,” Louis said, looking down at Oscar, who was looking up at him with a sheepish, still slightly dazed expression. “You didn’t have to come out here just to ram your head against some poor statue.”

“Megalith,” Oscar said, the faintest trace of a grin starting across his face. “Remember? That’s what Dr. MacSeoin called it. It’s a tenth-century Viking Age megalith.”

“Yeah, well, so it’s a rock with a pedigree,” Louis glanced over at the six-foot tall pentagonal granite pillar, which was carved with designs Louis’s strict Lutheran mother would have called ‘gruesomely heathenish’ where Dr. MacSeoin stood conferring with Grant Godiva, the pillar’s nominal owner. The pair of them were examining the spot where Oscar had hit the pillar, periodically gesturing toward it as if to illustrate a point. The scene reminded Louis of being back on his family’s dairy farm, watching his father and uncles debating the best treatment options for a cow who’d done herself an injury. Louis frowned as Godiva pointed to something he was sure might be a smear of Oscar’s blood on one of the pillar’s faces. “Uh-oh, better get your checkbook ready.”

“To be fair, he didn’t smack into it by choice,” said Josephine, looking up at Louis with an enigmatic smile. “One of the thieves threw him into it. I’m sure Mr. Godiva will be understanding, given the circumstances.”

Plans for this week include continuing on with Storm Warnings and maybe start drafting out ideas on the Novella contest. I’ll check in again soon. Have a good week and happy writing!

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Boilerplate Links:  

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time.Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

Visit The WIPpeteers for more information about WIPpet Wednesdays

AROW80 Check-In for 5/20 and 5/23 plus WIPpet Snippet

Today’s going to be a brief check-in, unless I really start rambling. Which could happen. Right now, this is Schrodinger’s Post. So, let’s get stuck in!

Monday, I took the day off from work and the Amy and I went to see Deadpool 2. There will be no spoilers, so you’re safe to keep reading.

Deadpool 2 Review: I liked it! It was good! I don’t know if I agree that it was better than the first movie but it was very good and I enjoyed it and I would gladly pay theatre prices to see it again. I love Domino and how her powers are portrayed. The underlying message/story of the movie was also very compelling. Once again, for a  movie that runs on low-brow humor, it manages to be a surprisingly mature super hero movie.

Goes without saying but DO NOT TAKE YOUR KIDS. For crying out loud, it’s R-rated. I didn’t get to go to R-rated movies back in the day, neither should your kids. Unless you think they can handle it, I dunno your kids. You do. But if they’re really little? Don’t take them. They’ll be bored.

Also, goes without saying but stay for the credits. C’mon, it’s a Marvel movie…

After the movie, we went home and watched The Shape of Water on On Demand. It was good! Very artistic, very pretty movie. Very different than Deadpool 2 but had some oddly similar story elements (mainly about how society treats those it considers alien/different).  Was one particular plot point I didn’t like but I get why it was in there. And I can see where it did serve a greater story purpose. No spoilers, but it’s nothing to do with the “Grinding Nemo” parts.

In other news, I started reading the new Domino comic that launched recently. It’s being written by Gail Simone and it’s just lovely. I wish that comic!Domino looked more like movie!Domino but c’est la vie.

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A quick note on Marvel vs. DC — because I am writing in a comic book type universe and because this just occurred to me to have a ramble on.

Comics: I like them both, more or less equally. Sometimes I lean more toward one than the other or veer off toward independent titles but at the end of the day, what I really like is just well-told stories. Kurt Busieck’s Astro City comics are a particular favorite.

TV:  I really, really super love the CW’s Arrowverse shows based on DC properties (namely, Green Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and the mixed bag of DC characters who who show up in Legends of Tomorrow) and Black Lightning (which is independent from the Arrowverse).

Marvel’s shows haven’t really gripped me, though I’ve recently started binging on Agents of SHIELD and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. I like how they tie things in to the movie universe while still remaining independent from them. It’s a lot like reading a comic book series.

I’ve started a few of the Marvel shows that are Netflix-exclusive and I like them but they’re kind of on the back burner until I run out of Agents of SHIELD.  One thing I really enjoy is the fact that Daredevil not only has subtitles for the Deaf/deaf and Hard of Hearing but ALSO has audio description for the blind/visually impaired. Since I usually watch (or, “watch”) shows in a browser window in the background, it makes it easier to follow along.

Movies: That breaks down like this — Marvel does better live action movies and DC does better animated movies. There are exceptions to this but by and large, if it’s a live action movie, make mine Marvel. Even a bad Marvel movie is better than nothing.

Cartoons:  The cartoons of my childhood have not held up well. Neither Superfriends nor Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends have stood the test of time. I did like Wolverine and the X-Men and X-Men Evolution, plus the 1990s animated Superman and Batman shows are both awesome.  I also like Teen Titans Go.  I know it’s silly but that’s what I like about it. Waffles waffles waffles!

Prose Novels: I haven’t read many Marvel or DC based tie-in novels. When I read superhero novels, they tend to be set in independent universes.  Some favorites include George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series of stories/mosaic novels, plus April Daniels‘ Dreadnought books and Jim Bernheimer‘s D-List Supervillain series.  Plus many, many others., but that’s a post for another day.

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WIPpet Math: today’s dates are 5/20 and 5/23 – cancel out the two fives. 2 + 0 = 2. 3 to the 2nd power = 9. 2+9=11.  So, here’s eleven paragraphs from Chapter Six of Omegas: Cake Walk.

What you need to know: Torque and Frankie (one of the Omegas) are on their way to rescue Dr. Lawrence’s daughter. All Torque has to do now is survive the experience.

They were heading to Jubilee Park when Frankie’s phone rang. Without taking his eyes off the road, Frankie reached into his pants pocket and pulled the phone out – all while changing lanes at sixty-plus miles per hour. Torque considered reminding Frankie about Winslow’s desire to return him, Torque, in one piece.

“Yeah Boss?” Frankie asked.

Winslow’s voice was faint, but Torque could make out what he said. “Blynken, this is Wynken, is Nod in position, over?” Winslow’s wording was professional but his tone was amused.

Frankie grunted and rolled his eyes as he flipped on the turn signal and merged right. “Yeah, Boss,” he said. “Marco’s at the safe house finishing his set up. We’re on I-94, heading for the park. How about you?”

“Roger that, Blynken, we are en route to our destination via surface streets. God willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll be there in fifteen minutes. What’s your ETA?”

“Ten minutes, tops,” Frankie said. “Traffic’s kinda nuts here but I’m proceeding at speed. Y’know, traffic wouldn’t have been a problem if you’d let me snag us a couple Volveris Daedalus hovercars. Or at least one for me. We could have skipped this song and dance and done a buzz-run from the fly-way along Lake Shore. Drop in, snatch the girl and zwoosh out before anyone’s the wiser.”

“Yeah, no,” Winslow said, dropping the pretense of radio chatter. “No flying cars for you until five years after I’m dead, Frankie. Not after last time.”

 “Never had an accident I didn’t intend to have, Boss,” Frankie said, his smirk pulling his lips back to bear his teeth. “Hey, if I mean to have them, are they really accidents? Or are they purposes?”

“I am not caffeinated enough to answer that,” Winslow said. “Check in when you get to the park; Wynken out.”

Frankie snickered like a rattlesnake as the line disconnected.  “There’s our exit. Hang on, Stretch, this is gonna get hairy” he said, merging hard to the right.  

The shriek of car horns behind them made Torque drop his hand down to double check that the latch on his seatbelt was solid. It wasn’t until he heard the roaring hiss of a semi-truck’s airbrakes that he surrendered to the better part of valor and closed his eyes tightly,

Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.


AROW80 Check-In for 5/13 and 5/16/2018, plus WIPpet Snippet

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, whoever and however they came to be moms. It’s not a road I chose to go down (maternally speaking, I’m a great crazy uncle), but I admire those who have taken on the task. You are seriously awesome.

I know there are writers who refer to their books/stories/etc as their babies but to me, that analogy doesn’t quite hold up. To me, writing is more like owning a cat — it can be trained, but you need to work at it, it’ll do what it wants, when it wants (including waking you up at 4 am because “ooh! Shiny!”) and if you leave it alone with food, water and a litter box for three days, you won’t get arrested.

This is pretty much what I’ve been doing with Chapter Nineteen until today — partly because non-writing life (i.e. the Day Job — which is technically the Night Job but you get the idea) has taken precedence and partly because I’m trying to work out what comes next. I think I have a line on that so, *happy dance*.

One thing I did manage to accomplish was creating a spreadsheet-based timeline for Omegas: Cake Walk — not so much about the events in the story (though that’s next) but about the lives of the characters/historical events that have impacted them. Now, I can sort by character or by year.

I  also set up a spreadsheet for the next Omegas book — tentatively titled Omegas: Long Shot, which is going to involve time travel to North America in the Pleistocene. The sheet tells me what the year would be by the BC/BCE calendar  and in terms of Years Ago.  It’s also allowed me to get a handle on when certain chronologically-indigenous people were born. This pleases me no end.

Spreadsheets are seriously super-helpful. And fun to play with.

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WIPpet Math: Going with a stupid-easy choice today: It’s May 16, plus Sunday was a holiday so 16 +1 = 17 and therefore here are seventeen paragraphs from Chapter Five of Omegas: Cake Walk.

What You Need to Know: The Omegas have met with Dr. Lawrence and agreed to take on the task of helping her daughter Mackenzie escape from the cult she’s been a part of for the last few years. They’ve made arrangements to meet Mackenzie the next day at a park where she and some other cult members are going to be doing some recruiting/evangelizing.  For today, Winslow (leader of the Omegas) along with Laney and Torque are scoping out the park. And Laney is trying to teach Torque how to look inconspicuous.

Since Omegas: Cake Walk takes place in an alternate-universe Chicago, I figured it’d be nice to have them visit a local landmark.  Jubilee Park is Millennium Park with a name change. The Kapoor Sculpture is Sir Anish Kapoor’s sculpture, Cloud Gate — aka the infamous silver bean.

Note: Like all other snippets, this is from a rough draft and therefore will contain spelling errors and other mistakes. I will be correcting these during the next edit.  Though, Lake Michi-gami isn’t a typo. I’ve changed names around for a lot of places in O:CW, usually defaulting toward indigenous names

“Will you relax?” Laney hissed at Toque as she paused to snap pictures, ostensibly of the view of Lake Michi-gami from the northeastern most corner of the park. “We’re not on a forced march; we’re not under fire. We’re supposed to be just a couple of tourists. Yank the stick out of your ass, already and act like a tourist.”

“I’d be happy to,” Torque said, speaking through a clenched jaw. “But first I’ll need to know how do tourists act?”

“Oh for the love of—” Laney sighed, long-sufferingly. “Here’s a hint: not like you’re marking in review across a parade ground. Just walk like you don’t have any place that you have to be or any time you have to be there. Try looking at the sights. This is one of the prettiest places in the city, after all. Breathe it in.”

Despite his irritation, Torque tried to take Laney’s advice. He forced himself to slow his pace and looked around, taking in his surroundings as something other than territory to scout. The park was pretty, he had to admit. They were strolling past a stage, framed by curved metal plates that shone in the sun. In front of the stage, stretched a wide oval of green lawn that, Torque estimated, stretched for at least half the length of the park. Above the lawn, a web of pipes stretched over the field, supporting a network of lights. Here and there, people walked or ran or simply sat on the lawn. Torque saw two adults playing some kind of a chasing game with a trio of young children, all of them laughing and shrieking. It reminded him of his playschool days, giving him a sudden pang of nostalgia.

“Hold up,” Laney said, stopping roughly halfway along the length of the enormous lawn. “That’s the Big Bean down there, I want to get a shot from this vantage point.”

“All right.” Torque stopped and stood, falling easily and by long habit into parade rest.

Laney glanced at him and rolled her eyes. “Can you be any more conspicuous? Slouch or something; keep standing like that and pigeons are going to roost on you. Or worse.”

“You told me to wait,” Torque said. “I’m waiting.”

“Just – come here, walk out on to the lawn about four steps, turn and face me,” Laney said. “If you’re going to stand out, you can at least be useful while you’re doing it.”

Torque did as he was told, mostly from habit but also to simply have something to do. Laney watched him through the camera’s viewfinder. “Ok, hold it!” she called. “Stop right there and smile. Say ‘Tourist!’”

Torque smiled and waited as Laney took several pictures. She called for him to change position several times, then told him to stand still while she moved further up and down the path, taking pictures of him from several angles.

“Ok, take one step to your right, hold up your right hand like this.” Laney mimed holding her hand in a claw shape. Puzzled, Torque did as she asked. After several more yelled instructions, mostly involving him raising or lowering his hand, Laney finally snapped her picture.

“Got it!” she crowed, happily. “C’mon, let’s go!”

Torque jogged over to her, his long legs eating the distance between them in a few quick bites. As he drew closer, he could see the grin on Laney’s face; it was a mix of happiness and pride. “Here,” she said, handing the camera to Torque so he could see the image on the camera’s screen. The image made it seem like Torque was in the process of plucking the bean-shaped statue in the distance from where it sat.

“I don’t understand?” Torque said, though Laney’s grin was contagious enough that he found himself starting to grin as well. “Why’d you take this picture? It’s not useful for planning our mission, is it?”

Laney shrugged, her grin fading a little. “Well, no,” she said, taking the camera back. “It’s just for fun. You said you wanted to know how tourists act, well, they take cheesy pictures like this. C’mon, we’ve got more park to cover.”

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.

AROW80 Check-In for 5/9/2018 and WIPpet Snippet

Due to circumstances that were entirely within my control (i.e. I done did this to myself), I didn’t get up as early today as I usually do on Wednesdays so I’m getting in a shorter period of writing. Still working on Chapter Nineteen and fighting to get upstream on this story.  I can do this, I know I can do this, it’s just a question of doing it.

So, I am. Doing it, that is. *insert immature snickering here*.

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WIPpet Math: 5 + 9 = 14, so here’s fourteen paragraphs from Chapter Four of Omegas: Cake Walk, wherein the Omegas sit down with Dr. Lawrence and discuss her estrangement from her daughter:

“For starters, how did your daughter come to join up with the Church of the Sacred Foundation?” Winslow asked. “She’s fairly young, or so I was told, but it sounds like she’s in pretty deep. I’m curious as to how that happened.”

Dr. Lawrence took a deep breath and held it for several seconds before letting it out in a long, shuddering gust. “Mackenzie was about nine when her father and I divorced. Mackenzie decided she wanted to live with her father and I didn’t contest it because, well, to be honest? Because of where I was in my career, I didn’t contest the issue. Creighton was in a better position to give Mackenzie the kind of care she needed.”

“That’s around the time you began working for Dr. Zilsch’s division at Pulsar Labs, right?” Winslow asked.

“Yes, it was. It was a very important time for me and I wouldn’t have been able to give either Mackenzie or my duties the time they deserved. Mackenzie wanted to stay with her father, so I agreed.” Dr. Lawrence’s face became pinched and wary. She paused, looking carefully from face to face. “I know that probably sounds terrible.”

“It sounds perfectly reasonable to me,” Tara said. “If the situation was reversed, nobody would have thought twice about your ex choosing his career over parenthood.”

“You certainly don’t need to justify yourself to us, Dr. Lawrence,” Winslow said. “We’re just after the facts.”

Some of the tension went out of Dr. Lawrence’s shoulders as she smiled, a small, grateful smile. “Thank you,” she said. “After the divorce, I kept in contact with Mackenzie as best I could because of my work schedule. We were prepping for the Deep Mu Expedition at that time so things were hectic but I did my best.  Of course, once we left for the expedition back in 1999, I didn’t see her for almost two and a half years.”

“That expedition was supposed to last, what? A year, right?” Winslow asked. “There were some kind of political shenanigans that delayed your return, unless I misremember?”

“There were,” Dr. Lawrence said. “It was complicated, but suffice to say that Lucrezia Borgia had nothing on the Grand Princess of the South Pacific Gyre. The resulting chaos from her machinations delayed our return to the surface until late in 2001, then recovering from having spent that much time at depth kept us all out of commission until almost hallway through 2002. Which, among other things, put a severe strain on my relationship with Mackenzie.”

There was a chorus of sympathetic noises from Tara, Winslow and Marco. Laney and Frankie were remaining quiet, though Torque noticed that Laney had scooted forward so that she was perched at the edge of the couch, sitting with her hands on her knees as she watched Dr. Lawrence closely. Frankie, on the other hand, sat leaning back and staring blankly toward the ceiling. Torque wished he could follow the shorter man’s example but he’d been tasked with listening for details and he wasn’t about to disappoint.

For his own part, Torque knew the conversation was important though not exactly why. There were layers of significance in Dr. Lawrence’s words that he couldn’t quite grasp.  Clearly, her daughter had been important to her – but then, most baseline humans felt a deep bond with their offspring. He could hear guilt in Dr. Lawrence’s voice but why she should feel bad for doing her job was beyond Torque. Furrowing his brows, he leaned forward, mimicking Laney’s position as Dr. Lawrence continued speaking:

“By the time we returned to Shikagou, Creighton had gotten a new job teaching at a private school in Tippecanoe; the An Solas Preparatory Academy.  It’s not far from here, only about an hour and a half, but once I was back on my feet, I was buried with work from the expedition. There was just so much information to process and artifacts to catalog. Maybe if I’d made more time then, maybe I would have noticed something was off but both of them seemed happy enough and, well, it was easier to just believe that there’d be time enough later on to reconnect.”

“We always do,” Winslow said, softly. “It was during this time she got involved with the Womackians?”

“Yes,” Dr. Lawrence said. “Not on her own, but…oh, God, this is going to sound like I’m blaming my ex but it was all because of Creighton. He started attending a singles mixer in Marquette – it’s the nearest city to An Solas – and while he was there, he met this woman. Marcie something or other. She’s the one who brought him into the cult and he brought Mackenzie with him.”

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.

AROW80 Check-In for 5/2/2018 and WIPpet Wednesday

I’m writing at another library today, this time I’m using my own laptop instead of a library computer and I’m tucked back into a corner with a window to my left and bookshelves to my right. It’s a nice, cozy setup that I’ve used before and I’m enjoying the solitude.

I’m also watching more Agents of SHIELD; I’m about done with the first season and I’m liking it so far. Not sure why I never got into watching it when it was originally airing because it’s a good show.  Definitely a nice alternative to the CW’s Arrowverse shows (which I’ve run out of on Netflix).

Work continues on Chapter Nineteen of Omegas: Cake Walk. Slowly, slowly, slowly we progress, a sentence, a word, a letter at a time.

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WIPpet Math for May 2nd, 2018:  5 x 2 = 10 (going for the easy route today):

What’s going on:  Torque and the Omegas have gotten settled in their hotel room and had a feast of Shikagou-style deep dish pizza and now, they’re having a little chat:

Winslow looked Torque over carefully. “Well, for now? Get some rest and be ready for tomorrow. Still not quite sure how to fit you into our merry band of maniacs, but I’ll have a better idea as to how to do that once we meet with Dr. Lawrence tomorrow.”

“Yessir,” Torque said. “I’ll be happy to help however you need me to. I’m here to offer whatever assistance you need.”

Colonel Winslow nodded, head tilting as he looked at Torque. “I’ll keep that in mind, son,” he said. “And we appreciate it. But for right now, you’re a bit surplus to our requirements. Go, relax, get a shower. Read a book, even.  You read much, Torque?”

“I can,  yes,” Torque said, frowning.  “Is there something you need me to read before tomorrow sir?”

Winslow’s smile was amused, but not mocking. “No, son, no, just wondering if you like to read. Me, I love it. Been reading since I was, oh, four? I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t know how to read, to be honest. Bit of a prodigy in that regard, at least that’s what my mother used to say, but you know how mothers are.”

Torque didn’t, but that was yet another thing that baselines enjoyed nattering on about and he’d learned long before to fake an interest in other peoples’ progenitors.  “Yes sir,” he said, offering what he hoped was a knowing and sympathetic smile.

“You have a favorite book, Torque?” Winslow asked. “Me, I’m partial to Edgar Rice Burroughs – I read Princess of Mars when I was about twelve and oh, I used to stare at Mars and try and wish myself there. Didn’t matter that we knew by then that it was nothing like Burroughs’ Barsoom, but that didn’t stop me wanting to fight my way across the Red Planet, win the hand of a Martian Princess and save the world.”

Laney snorted. “Dreamer,” she said, rolling her eyes as she reached for another slice of pizza.

Winslow’s grin got even wider. “’You can say that I’m a dreamer, Laney-girl, but I’m not the only one.’”

“Sorry, correction, old dreamer,” Laney said, dropping back into her seat.

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A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.

AROW80 Check-ins for 4/22 and 4/25/2018 plus WIPpet Wednesday

A double duty posting since I missed Sunday. Thus far this week, I haven’t done much of anything in terms of writing. I got a teeny bit done that I’m hoping to turn into something larger today so fingers are crossed. Having a bit of trouble moving at speed today since I managed to sleep wrong and have a stiff neck. I went to Urgent Care and got some pain killers and muscle relaxants so I’ll be taking those later tonight since I don’t want to nod off at the library.

Though, I don’t know how long I’ll be at the library since right now, between the Motrin and the pain in my shoulders, the pain is winning. *grumble*

Ooh…wait…I think the Motrin is rallying! Yay!

I’m feeling a bit disappointed since by this point in the month I was hoping to be closer to done with this draft than I am, but I’m trying to take comfort in the fact that I’m still working on the book and that the only timeline I’m on is one of my own invention and I can alter the timeline as needed.  The important thing is not giving up.

So, toward that end? I’m going to get back to work! After the WIPpet Snippet:

WIPpet Math: April 25, 2018. Today is the 114th day since 01/01/2018.  Ok, so 4+2+5+2+0+1+8 = 22.  2+2 = 4.  1+1+4 = 6. 4×6=24. Divide by 2 (since I’m doing two updates today) and that gives us 12.  So, here’s the first 12 paragraphs of Chapter Three of Omegas: Cake Walk:

By 2245 hours, Torque had been waiting for the Omegas arrival for over an hour He’d positioned himself in a puffy, overstuffed chair that sat perpendicular to the door of the suite that had been booked for the Omegas. Technically, since he had the room key, he supposed he could have waited inside the suite but he was erring on the side of caution and waiting in the hall, the better to know when the Omegas finally arrived.

Torque sat with his hands cupping his knees, staring down the hallway toward the elevators and trying his hardest not to fidget. A lifetime of being raised in a quasi-military surrounding had left Torque with a high tolerance for boredom, but there were limits even to his well-practiced patience.

He glanced down at his watch and sighed. According to the timeline he’d been given by Director Kent, the Omegas’ flight was due in at 2100 hours; the airport they were flying into was half an hour from the hotel, so they should have arrived well before now, even with traffic. Instead, they were running late.

The seemingly casual disregard for punctuality and protocol made the middle of Torque’s shoulders itch. If you were supposed to arrive at a set time, you were required to make the effort to be there at that time. That had been lesson number two back at Starsplinter Labs; there was no excuse for tardiness.

Apparently, the rules were different for the Omegas. Or they simply ignored the rules, which would fit with everything he’d been told about their insubordinate ways. He wondered if it was too late for him to have Valentine try to get him out of this mess. Surely the fact he’d been willing to make the effort would still count for something.

Torque shifted in his seat, drumming his fingers on his knee and knowing that he wasn’t going to make that call. He’d volunteered for this and he was going to see it through. Even if he died of boredom in the process.

Torque leaned back and dug into his pocket, pulling out a few coins. He juggled them in his hand, letting them bounce up and down as he got a feel for their various weights.

Once he was sure he’d gotten a good feel for how much each coin massed, he selected a half-dollar piece and flipped it into the air with his thumb. He watched it sail into the air, waiting until it reached its apex and began falling back to earth. Then, he reached out with his mind and took hold of the coin, keeping it suspended in mid-air.

He rotated the coin, spinning it on its horizontal axis – slowly at first, but gradually speeding it up until it began to blur. There was a faint whirring sound as it spun.

While the coin spun, Torque flipped a dime into the air and sent it into orbit around the spinning half-dollar. He followed the first dime with a second one, then a third, sending them into orbit with the first to create a Saturn-like ring around the half-dollar.

Once he was certain the pseudo-Saturn was stable, Torque set the entire construction moving in a slow, lazy, vertical figure-eight. The coin-Saturn dropped toward the ground, barely brushing against the carpet, then drifted toward the ceiling. There was a tick as one of the dimes struck the plaster and began to wobble. Torque fought to maintain his control, but the wobble quickly spread throughout the entire coin-planet and it broke apart. With a frustrated sigh, Torque reached out to catch the coins as they showered down.

H caught the dimes easily enough but the half-dollar hit the ground and rolled away, coming to rest against the baseboard on the far side of the hallway.
With a sigh, Torque reached out with his mind and lifted the half-dollar, drawing it back toward him. As he did so, the elevator doors opened. Torque yanked the coin back toward him, snatching it out of the air as he stood up to greet the arrivals.

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Powered by Linky Tools: A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.

AROW80 Check-In for April 18, 2018 and WIPpet Wednesday

Working on Chapter Nineteen of Omegas: Cake Walk and so far, it’s a slog. I’m having to create something out of whole cloth and it’s tough going thus far.

Ok, so ‘thus far’ is roughly 40 minutes at this point but still! Words are Hard! Especially when I’m not sure what would be the best way to go forward with this. I’m at a scene where the main action is happening off-screen so figuring out what should be going on on-screen is tricky.

But, the library is nicely quiet. I’ve got time to kill and Supergirl on Netflix so, here goes nothing!

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WIPpet Math:  April 18, 2018 = 4 + 1 + 8 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 8 = 24.  2 + 4 = 6. Here’s the first six paragraphs of Chapter Two:

“Next time you feel the impulse to make a grand pronouncement, Felix, would you do me a favor and punch yourself in your pretty face until it goes away?” Than Nguyen, aka Marigold said.  Her Southeastern Tejas drawl dripping with venomous honey. “Or, better yet, have Torque do it.”

Torque cringed inwardly, not so much from the snark in Marigold’s voice but from the flash of annoyance that had passed, lightning-quick, across Valentine’s face. The three of them were seated in Valentine’s suite at the Isthmus hotel, gathered around the room’s dining table which had been repurposed for the evening’s teleconference with BCK’s headquarters.

“I made an executive decision to help calm the situation down and to ensure that the conference wouldn’t go completely off the rails two days before it’s supposed to kick off.” Valentine’s tone was level but Torque could hear the iciness that always developed when Valentine was feeling put upon.

“After the way your last ‘executive decision’ played out, I woulda thought you mighta learned your lesson about acting first and thinking never,” Marigold said. “Or did it just not occur to you while your mouth was writing checks our asses would have to cash that adding to our workload isn’t exactly wise at this juncture?”

“There simply wasn’t time for me to consult with anyone else. I had to act, so I acted.” Valentine’s tone was as cold and cutting as an arctic wind.

“There’d have been plenty of time for you to consult with me, if you’d bothered taking me along with you.” Marigold glanced pointedly at Torque, who forced himself to keep his eyes facing forward and his expression blank. “But no, instead you decided to take Torque because apparently you thought you might need a couch moved.”

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Powered by Linky Tools:  A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers.  Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.

AROW80 Round 2 Check-In for 4/11/18 plus WIPpet Wednesday

I’m working on typing up Chapter Eighteen of Omegas: Cake Walk! In fact, I’ve managed to type up what I’d written and now I’m trying to work on bridging the gap between the end of that and being able to pick up from some earlier stuff that I want to fold into this chapter.

*backing up a moment*

I write mostly by hand, since that’s easiest for me to do at work. Omegas: Cake Walk does already exist as a finished handwritten draft (encompassing three full 3-subject notebooks plus some other smaller note books). The draft I’m working on now is a typed-up version of the handwritten one — and as is the nature of drafts, there have been changes made. So, as I’m going along, I’m having to write new bits to bridge gaps, fix plot holes and generally just be better than what was originally written. That’s where I find myself now.

In a word? Blorp.

The good news is, today I have a lot of time to spend writing since it’s my day off. I’m currently sitting in the children’s section of my favorite branch of one of my local libraries using their computers. Surprisingly enough, the kids’ section can be a lot quieter than the adult section. It also feels more open and inviting. Plus, sometimes you get to hear/see little kids doing cute/adorable things, so that’s a plus.

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WIPpet Wednesday Snippet Math: April 11, 2018. I’m going the easy-peasy route and giving you page 11 of Omegas: Cake Walk, which is the last page of Chapter One.

What You Need to Know: Dr. Sarah Lawrence has gotten Dr. Josephus Zilsch out of the press conference before he behaved *too* badly (though he still managed to say something outrageous to a member of the press) and to a meeting about the upcoming conference. At the meeting, she’s introduced to Felix Valentine, leader of Magnum Team and his teammate, Torque, a genetically engineered enhanced human (known as an ECHO).  Sarah’s been receiving phone calls from an unknown number throughout the chapter and has been ignoring them up until now, when she finally answers with the hopes of telling the person off. Instead, she gets a message she wasn’t expecting which leads to….Page 11:

Sarah stared down at her phone’s screen for a moment, letting out a long, shuddering breath. “That was my daughter,” she said. “She needs my help.”

“That’s going to have to wait, then,” said Dr. Zilsch. “You’ve got more important things to be worrying about this week. Than dancing attendance on that ungrateful brat.”

“Yeah, she’s got an entirely different ungrateful brat to worry about,” Emma said. “What’s happening, Sarah?”

“My daughter is in trouble and she needs my help in getting away from the cult she’s been living in,” Sarah said. “Her father dragged her along with him when he remarried; I didn’t fight him as much as I could have – or even should have because Mackenzie seemed happy with him and – and I was busy with the expedition to Deep Mu, but now? She needs me to help her get away and I’m going to be helping her.”

Sarah looked up, taking in everyone at the table with her eyes blazing before focusing her rage on Zilsch. “I am getting my daughter away from those people or else.”

“Or – Or else what?” sputtered Zilsch.

“Or else you can find someone else to take your abuse,” Sarah said. “Good luck with that. You’re going to need it.”

“You can’t do that!” Zilsch yelped, slamming his fists down on the table. “I won’t let you! Damnit, Richards! Talk sense into this woman! I can’t be without an assistant! Especially not this week of all weeks!”

Dean Richards looked at Sarah with concern. He seemed more genuinely worried – or at least less self-involved than Zilsch. “Dr. Lawrence, I think perhaps we can handle this situation without resorting to such drastic measures, don’t you?”

“You damn well will handle this!” Zilsch said, his eyes rolling wildly. “I will not face this conference without Lawrence! I need her!”

“If I may?” Valentine’s voice was as calm as the surface of a still pond. “I believe my people can handle this. But, could I ask for a bit more information? What, exactly, is the issue at hand with Dr. Lawrence’s daughter?”

“She’s a damned Womackian cultist!” Zilsch said. “You heard the woman! That bratling is a dyed in the wool follower of that wannabe space princess!”

Valentine looked to Sarah, one eyebrow cocked up at a curious angle. “Ma’am?”

Sarah let out a long, shuddering sigh. “He’s right,” she said. “Mackenzie’s father joined the cult shortly after we divorced. She’s been part of it for the last four or five years now.”

“I see,” Valentine said. ‘And she wants out now, I take it?”

“Yes. I don’t know why and I honestly don’t care about why she wants out. I only care about the fact that she’s asking for my help,” Sarah said, clutching her hands into fists. “She’s – we’ve been estranged for a while now. This is the first time she’s called me in months. She just sounded so scared, so small. Mr. Valentine, I don’t know if you have children but well, I haven’t always been the best mother to Mackenzie but I can’t let her suffer like this. Can you help?”

“Ma’am, if it will help keep the conference running smoothly, I’ll be happy to put some of our people on it.” Valentine’s smile was straight out of a toothpaste commercial, all shiny, confident white teeth. “You have my word on it; they’ll get your little girl back. No worries.”

Sarah nodded, swallowing a lump in her throat. “Thank you,” she said. ‘Thank you so much. But I want her back before the opening ceremonies on Thursday. Otherwise, I will handle this myself and you can find another babysitter for Zilsch.”

“Dr. Lawrence,” Valentine said. ‘You have my word on it; she’ll be back safe and sound before you know it.”

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Powered by Linky Tools:  A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers.  Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.

AROW80 Round 2 Check In for 4/4/2018 & WIPpet Wednesday

First check of the round! Currently, I’m at my local library, typing up my WIP (Omegas: Cake Walk) and trying to make some headway on the chapter I’m working on (which is Chapter 18).  The major difficulty at the moment is that I’m writing technobabble and trying to make it seem plausible. Also doesn’t help that this is the chapter where Things Get Real and lead to the protagonists Learning The Truth about who the antagonist is, so if things here don’t make sense, what comes next won’t make sense and my ending will be nonsensical in a bad way.

Omegas: Cake Walk is set in a universe where superhero tropes are real. The action is set during a super-scientist convention and involves a group of private security contractors being tasked with rescuing and protecting a super-scientist’s daughter from a group of cultists.  The rescue goes off without a hitch, but keeping the girl safe is much more involved as shenanigans are afoot!

Omegas: Cake Walk is set in the same universe as my Gem City snippets that are available here.  It’s currently the longest and closest to complete work set in this universe (I’m still trying to finish the story that led to the creation of the Gem City universe…) and I’m having a lot of fun with it so far.

Note: if you read the older Gem City stuff that’s posted here, be aware that some of it may be retconned/altered by me in the near future.

Goals: So far, so good! Hoping to get out of the current spot I’m stuck in by the end of today so *fingers crossed* here goes nothing!

Ok, getting back to the writing! See you next update!

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WIPpet Wednesday Math: Today’s the 4th day of the 4th month, and 4 x 4 = 16. And this is the first WIPpet of the year (for me at least), so here are the first 16 paragraphs of Omegas: Cake Walk. I hope it gives a good flavor of the kind of universe we’re dealing with.

“And, based on my findings, it is blatantly obvious to anyone with sense that our universe was created at some point between late fall 1932 and June 1938,” Dr. Josephus Zilsch sounded perfectly sober, except for a slight slurring in ‘sense,’ ‘universe’ and ‘some.’ The sound echoed faintly in the rotunda of Grant Library and was almost lost in the startled murmur from the assembled crowd of reporters here for the opening press conference of the 2007 Centillion Society’s Polymathetics Association Meeting. Zilsch continued speaking as if there had been no reaction.

“The exact date is, of course, hard to pin down. Particularly since ‘beginnings’ in the cosmic scale owe more similarity to making the decision to leave a room rather than actually walking through a door. But, beyond a few fiddling details like that, my calculations are correct and they show without a shadow of a doubt and with a margin of error of only a few weeks’ time here or there that the creation of our universe lies somewhere within that period of time.”

Zilsch stopped speaking and peered at the audience with an owlish confidence. Ordinary speakers would have asked for questions, but Zilsch didn’t. He never did. Either his audience followed his reasoning – and therefore didn’t need to ask questions – or they hadn’t, in which case they wouldn’t know the right questions to ask. Or understand the answers. Better that they simply take Zilsch’s word for whatever he’d said being right since it was, as always, a foregone conclusion.

Dr. Sarah Lawrence stood off to one side of the speaker’s podium that Dr. Zilsch was currently leaning on as if it were his only friend in the universe. Her vantage point allowed her to keep a weather eye on him and on the collected reporters and be close enough to intervene when Zilsch said something truly outrageous, incendiary, or insulting.

Fortunately, for the moment, both sides seemed content to wait for the other side make the first move.

“He’s kidding, right?” Beside her, Katheryn Cleland, one of the university’s security people, nudged Sarah gently as she asked the question. “That’s…that’s not possible….”

“No, he’s not.” Sarah scanned the reporters, trying to judge which one would be the first to break the stalemate and ask a question. Based on her personal experience, she was betting it would be one of the video journalists – those who worked in print could afford to be patient, they could always paint a word-picture that played up the silence for dramatic effect. The video guys on the other hand, couldn’t do much with Zilsch just standing there, staring back at them like a mildly annoyed statue. “He’s as serious as a heart attack.”

“But…that’s impossible!” Katheryn made a distressed noise, as if the illogic of Zilsch’s theory were causing her actual physical pain – which, Sarah realized, it might be.  Zilsch had that kind of an effect on people.  “Isn’t it?”

“Yes, but so are a lot of things in this world, Katheryn.” Sarah turned back as a flurry of hand-waving set off the entire group of reporters. “Didn’t you tell me you’re going to Mars for New Year’s Eve? By any logical assessment, the FTL drive we use to go between planets doesn’t make sense either, but it still works.”

“Yeah, but – well, the FTL drive makes a hell of a lot more sense than what he just said!” Katheryn said.

Sarah was about to answer when Zilsch stabbed a finger at the mob of reporters. “You!” he said with the long-suffering tone of a parent who knows they’re going to be asked, yet again, to explain why the sky is blue.  

A reporter, who may or may not have been the ‘you’ indicated, stood up. He was a lanky man, with the faintly pinkish cast to his skin that indicated possible extraterrestrial ancestry – Sarah guessed from one of the Centauries, probably Proxima. “Garb Boffman, ZBC News,” he said and while Sarah couldn’t see his face, she could sense the plastic artificiality of his smile in the tone of his voice. “Dr. Zilsch, how exactly do you reconcile the creation of the universe in the 1930s with the fact that – well, with the fact that we have recorded history dating back thousands of years. Not to mention geological evidence dating back millions of years before that? The memories and personal experiences of several people in this room alone would seem to refute your theory. Can you explain the discrepancy?”

Dr. Zilsch frowned at the reporter, his lips puffing up into a pout and Sarah could see his irritation building like the pressure in the caldera under Yellowstone. “Time,” Zilsch said, his voice sharp and all trace of his earlier slurring gone for the moment. “Time is an illusion and not a good one either! It’s the sort of performance you have to suffer through when your girlfriend’s kid wants to show off the dime store trick he just learned and you have to make nice if you want a chance in hell of getting into her pants. Like it’s your fault her idiot ex forgot whose weekend it was supposed to be.” His scowl deepened. “Again. Next question! No, not you, idiot! Her! Mona Marks! She’s the only one of you worth my time anyway.”

Mona Marks, the Grand Dame of the Super-Science Adventurer beat and rumored to be about ninety percent of the reason why the Weekly Sun was still a going concern when so many other print newspapers were going under, stood up.  She was dressed in her trademark 1980s-style purple power-suit, complete with shoulder pads broad enough for her to play quarterback with the Shikagou Bruins, and her ruby-red sneakers. She faced Zilsch with the cool calm of a woman who’d faced more dangerous adversaries and still met her deadlines. She didn’t even so much as glance down at her notes as she considered her question.

“All right, I’ll bite,” she said. “How did you arrive at this conclusion, Josephus? And how does it relate to the Crazy Quilt Universe Theory that was announced back in February at the University of Lakota in Porcupine?”

Zilsch sighed at Mona, puffing out his cheeks, all pretenses of paternalism briefly gone. For a moment, he looked like a moody teenager – albeit one who was trapped in the body of a greying, sagging, pudgy-bellied adult. “You’re referring to the “Mosaic Multiverse Theory” not “Crazy Quilt,” he said. “I realize you can’t possibly hope to understand the science behind what I’m talking about, Marks, but is it so much to ask that you at least get the names right while you’re being wrong? The Mosaic Multiverse Theory isn’t even my work; it’s my assistant’s hobbyhorse.”

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Powered by Linky Tools:  A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers.  Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts.

AROW80 Update for November 5, 2014 + WIPpet

It is cold and wet and rainy and very much November here. I haven’t been writing as much as I wanted to for the first few days of this month — combination of work and lack of oomph — but I got a bit written last night and I’m planning on working on some more tonight and hoping to get close to a goal of 10,0002 words by tonight.

I’m working on a short story set in my Gem City (aka Reverse Batman) universe. From my original post on the idea:

A story about a Reverse Batman-type character — his parents were supervillains in the 1960 who were killed by a rogue hero and because of this, he now works as a private detective doing things like keeping superheroes accountable and such.  He’s also the guy you call when you want to serve divorce papers on The Thing.

The plot is that Will Cartwright, private investigator and owner of QC Investigations, has been hired by his college friend Kylie (aka Wildheart) to help clear her father, the hero Howler, from a murder charge. This scene is Will arriving at the 247th precinct to talk to the detectives investigating the crime.

Detective Sergeant Luna Bastigan was at her desk when I arrived. She looked at me like I was the first plague rat off the boat. She was a short, stocky woman who looked like a cross between a bulldog and a fireplug. She’d come up through the ranks of the GCPD, making detective almost as soon as she was able. She shook her head and leaned back from her keyboard to study me.


“Should have known you’d be here sooner or later, Cartwright,” she said. “Let me guess, Howler’s girl hired you to clear her Daddy’s name?”


“Close; she calls him Pop-pop,” I said. “She’s pretty convinced that he’s innocent. She’s got a theory and I have to say, it’s got some merit to it.”


Bastigan snorted. “I’m sure it does,” she said. “Problem is, she’s not a witness and she’s got a vested interest in lying through her fake little fangs to protect her-“ she snorted. “Pop-pop. Whereas on the other side, I’ve got at least five witnesses willing to swear that Howler did it, was glad he did it and would have done it again if he could have.”


“And none of them have any vested interests?” I asked. “C’mon, Bastigan, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ remember?”


“Don’t try to school me, Cartwright,” she said. “I know my job. Problem is, the Third Coast Crusaders have a hell of a lot of pull in this town and Tyler Rose is the top of that particular heap. It’s more than just an investigation; it’s a political freaking nightmare.”

There’s more about the Gem City ‘verse here: The Semi-Quasi-Mostly Official Handbook to the Gem City Universe 

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Powered by Linky Tools, A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

AROW80 Check-In Post for 2/16/14

A very, very quick update due to it being nearly 0630 and I am exhausted.

1. Chapter Thirteen of Defcon: Fade Out is DONE! And Fourteen is underway! I’m largely rewriting an old draft and adding in things.

2. I have a sneaking suspicion that Defcon: Fade Out is going to be longer than the original 20 chapters I expected it to be. I’ve already realized that there’s at least a scene and at most an entire chapter that hasn’t been written and needs to be.

3. I’ve definitely got to make a dentist appointment this week because I’ve found a ginormous cavity in one of my back teeth. Luckily, I can still chew and all but yeah…that tooth needs some looking at.

A special thanks to everybody who commented on my WIPpet Wednesday this week — and an apology for not setting up the scene better! Next time, I will do better about that!

Hope everybody had a great week and will have a great week!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

WIPpet Wednesday for 2/12/2014

In honor of finishing the evil Chapter Twelve of Defcon: Fade Out, I give you the beginning of the infamous ham radio conversation. (12th Chapter for the 12th of the month! — also 2+1+2+2+0+1+4 =12):

With that, Gina turned back to her radio set and pulled on her headset as she twisted a dial, tuning in a frequency. Joseph and Sadie covered their ears at the screech and squawk of static. 

“Hello, CQ, CQ, CQ, this is WA8EK, that’s Whiskey, Alfa, eight, Echo Kilo.” Gina repeated the greeting and her call sign twice more, before continuing.  “This is Whiskey Alfa eight Echo Kilo, standing by for a response.  Repeating, WA8EK standing by for a response.”

After a few minutes, which seemed to drag on forever, — especially for Sadie who practically danced with nervous anticipation — a voice came back over the line. 

“Hello, WA8EK, this is WA8PP.” The voice also spelled out his call sign phonetically and repeated his greeting twice more as Gina had done. “You are coming in five by five, this is Cecil.” He phonetically spelled his name, then repeated it. “Thank you for contacting Town Crier Messenger Service, where your words move at the speed of our feet! How can I help you today?”

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WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts.