duskpeterson: (summer night shells)
[personal profile] duskpeterson
"This morning four boxes containing not quite all of my worldly possessions arrived at my doorstep. Less than two months via cargo ship is not too bad. The funny thing is that I'd almost forgotten what was in them. There were some things that I was very happy to see (my Icelandic novels, a sweatshirt, a pair of light pyjama bottoms, the tin containing my spare buttons) and other things that only made me think 'huh, why did I ship that across the Atlantic?' There's a strong argument for donating anything that you're not thrilled to see after two months living out of a suitcase."

--Naraht.


MY PROFESSIONAL WORK LAST MONTH

Researched and wrote "Emancipation," a Life Prison novelette.

Wrote "Wildfire," a Three Lands short story.

Wrote "The Whipping Post," Eternal Dungeon flash fiction. I'll be publishing this in an e-book I hope to get out in September.

Continued writing "Sacrifice 1: The Playing Field," the next story in the main plotline of Waterman.

Edited "Sweet Blood 4: Checkmate," the next novel in the main plotline of Eternal Dungeon.

Kept sending out for submission any stories that got bounced.


Other professional tasks:

Went through the lengthy process of setting up a laptop my father handed down to me this spring. Immensely tedious (and far from finished), but it has to be done; my old online computer has been taking an hour to do five-minute tasks.

Continued the gargantuan task of reworking my website layout. I'm getting bored with that.

Till my glasses frame broke toward the end of the month (which put a serious cramp on my ability to get work done in August), I was visiting antique stores practically every day. Still haven't found a cover prop for "Checkmate," darn it, but I'm bringing home lots of props.

In preparation for setting up my new laptop, sorted my digital files for the first time in a decade. Eek. My "Research" folder alone has 8000 files. In a desperate attempt to make order out of chaos, I ended up with file names like this:

C:\000\Research\Transportation\Trains\Western Maryland Railway

C:\000\Research\Prisons, Punishment, and Crime\Modern Prisons\Prisoners' writings

C:\000\Research\Military\Boer War\Articles and images\Thorneycroft's uniform

C:\000\Research\Education\Boarding School\Fiction - Boys\Kipling, Rudyard} Stalky & Co\Commentary

C:\000\Research\Locations\Maryland\Chesapeake region\Counties\Dorchester County\Barren Island\Images

My "Research" folder now has 761 subfolders. Sheesh.



ON FORESHADOWS IN STORIES

While sorting my electronic files, I ran across a file I'd prepared several years ago for a fellow author, when we were discussing how to foreshadow. The file was simply a copy of Love and Betrayal, color-coding the passages in that story which foreshadowed revelations later in the story, with each revelation noted in brackets by me when it finally occurred.

Man. I ended up having to color-code the foreshadows in seven different colors. Even then, there were overlaps between the foreshadows for the seven different revelations.

All this was done by my Muse, without any conscious thought on my part. Mind you, my Muse often has a lazy way of foreshadowing. He'll get toward the end of a story and say, "What can I use to foreshadow this happening? I know! Back in Scene One, when he picks up the fork - that will be the foreshadow of this grand revelation!" Then he'll write the revelation scene accordingly.

He gets even lazier. Here's a trick he did in Law of Vengeance: the last scene I wrote for that novel (because I was writing scenes out of order, as is my wont) was the long conversation between Carle and Ursula in Chapter Fourteen. I had no idea going into the scene what that conversation was going to be about; I just knew that the conversation had to end with a vitally important turning point in the plot, one that I'd been leading the reader up to since the first scene in the novel.

My Muse decided that, in order to keep the reader from being stunningly bored through the long conversation, the scene had to have a major revelation *before* the climax of the scene. So he plopped down (very proudly, like a cat setting a dead bird at my feet) a revelation that a powerful - but hitherto unmentioned - episode had occurred to Carle in his early life. My Muse did this by picking up on a slight, passing memory of Carle's that had occurred earlier in the story; my Muse then magnified that passing incident into a lengthy episode.

Blasted Muse. I had to go back and insert more foreshadows of this powerful episode. This, in a story where there were already half a dozen major plots. I don't want to think what that novel would look like if I color-coded it.


RESEARCHING AFRICAN-AMERICAN SLAVERY; or, How I get ideas for historical stories

While I was writing the Waterman novella "Trusty," I found myself researching African Americans for the first time - quite by accident, because I'd chosen the story's setting at random.

The research turned out to be extremely interesting, so when I went through the Maryland Historical Magazine in search of ideas for stories, my eye lit on a review of a book entitled, Radicalism, Racism and Party Realignment: The Border Sates During Reconstruction. The review started, "Throughout the Civil War and the bitter period of Reconsturction, Marylanders noted much that was the same between their experiences and those in the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Delaware, and Tennessee."

Reconstruction? I had always heard of the Reconstruction in terms of the Confederate states; I'd never heard the term used before in reference to Maryland.

(The State of Maryland - I should explain to those of you outside the United States - is located just below the Mason-Dixon line that traditionally divides the South from the North, and it was a slaveholding state when the Civil War broke out. But because the state was so close to Washington, D.C., the federal government forced Maryland to stay with the Union.)

I read further into the magazine. There was a review of book entitled Reconstruction in Retrospect: Views from the Turn of the Century. Of course "turn of the century" caught my eye. The book being reviewed was about a series of articles published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1901, in which the commentators, both Southerners and Northerners, mostly "agreed that the attempt to confer suffrage upon the Southern Negro had been premature and unwise."

Jeez. I picked up another issue of the Maryland Historical Magazine. This issue had a review of A Matter of Allegiances: Maryland from 1850 to 1861. The review said, "The citizens of Maryland were indeed a divided people. Those residing in the southern counties and the Eastern Shore, wedded to the stagnant traditions of the Old South, saw things quite differently from Marylanders in the northern and western counties, committed to a new, dynamic northern-style economy with its cetner in Baltimore. . . . Between 1850 and 1861, the citizens of this pivotal border state tried desperately to avoid making a choice between North and South . . ."

As a Marylander, I vaguely knew this already. Indeed, to this day, there's a conservative/liberal divide in Maryland voting, though now it's a division between the liberals in Central Maryland (which includes Baltimore, with its great populace) and the conservatives of the Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, and Western Maryland.

I found myself ticking off numbers in my head, trying to correlate dates. Yes, that was right - during our world's Civil War, Mip would have been undergoing a civil war of its own, as Vovim and Yclau struggled for control of the territory, with most Mippites wanting nothing but peace.

Was there slavery in Mip during this period? There might have been. Slavery had been abolished in Yclau many centuries before, but I had never said when slavery was abolished in most of Vovim. It might still have existed in eastern Vovim during this period, and it certainly would have existed in southern Vovim, the last of the Vovimian provinces to abolish slavery. If so, then the Vovimians who lived in Mip would have owned slaves . . . but the Yclau who were fighting them for control of the territory would not have owned slaves.

I read on. Another issue of the Maryland Historical Magazine had a review of A History of Negro Education in the South from 1619 to the Present. That definitely caught my eye, not only because I was now keeping my eye out for references to the Reconstruction, but I'd just finished writing a Waterman story ("Trusty") inspired by a black reform school. I began reading the article with interest. The review said that the book author "describes the sub rosa education of slaves before and during the Civil War and the organized beginning of freedmen's education by private benevolent associations and the federal government during Reconstruction."

"Education of slaves before and during the Civil War"? How?

At any rate, it sounded as if there might be a story here, even though I couldn't envision yet what the story was. I decided to switch to my offline Wikipedia app, looking up the article on the Reconstruction Era.

It was a very long article. After a certain point, I consulted the index and skipped to the section entitled "Public schools."

Wikipedia said, "W. E. B. Du Bois argued that the freedmen had a deep commitment to education and that African Americans in the Republican coalition played a critical role in establishing the principle of universal public education in state constitutions during congressional Reconstruction. Some slaves learned to read from white playmates--"

Bingo. There was my story.


MY WEB ADDICTION LAST MONTH

Things continue to go great! I've had a few nasty Internet falls, but the longer I'm offline, the less I want to spend time online. I should have given Jo/e charge over my ISP password long ago.

I've rediscovered offline reading as a pastime. It's what I used to do in the Days Of Old, before I spent hours each day on the web.


MY DECLUTTERING LAST MONTH

Did my annual purge on books. This year I really got serious about it. I picked up each and every book and asked myself hard questions like:

"Given the limited amount of reading time I have these days, would I spend dinnertime reading this anthology of Victorian poems instead of the juicy new chapter from Falls Chance Ranch?"

"Is it worth holding onto this memoir about Africa (which I acquired in my teens) for another thirty-five years to see whether I finally read it, or would it make more sense for me to simply borrow it through interlibrary loan when I reach the point where I want to read it?"

"Granted that I found this book extremely exciting the last (and only) time I read it (twenty years ago), am I really ever likely to read about medieval Christian symbology again?"

The result is that books ended up in the Discard pile that I would have sworn I'd never part with in a million years.

Jo/e winces every time I use the D word, but it really was necessary for me to discard books. As of last year, before the move, I had twenty-four six-foot bookcases . . . and not enough bookshelf space to accommodate all the books I owned. The overcrowding meant I couldn't find the books I tremendously wanted to read, because they were hidden amidst books that I wasn't likely to read.

Moving into a smaller place only worsened the problem. So I girded my loins (*pauses to check Wikipedia to learn how one girds one's loins - Wikipedia didn't know, darn it*) and set to work at the purge.

As I noted above, I organized my digital files in July. I thereby realized that, gosh, I've got a lot of online fic and e-books on my hard drive that I want to read or reread. Yet another reason to prune my print books.


MY FAMILY AND LEISURE TIME LAST MONTH

The Havre de Grace Independence Day parade was as fabulous as usual, with marching units from as far away as Georgia. No fireworks, though; the island from which they usually shoot off the fireworks was flooded by heavy rains. The HdG Fourth of July Committee was aghast. The HdG City Council was aghast. They've rescheduled the fireworks for August.

I took another trip to Bel Air (the seat of Harford County, Maryland) for a follow-up doctor's appointment and looked at historic buildings in the town's nicely compact downtown area. I posted a few pictures from my visit on Twitter.

I went to the Watermen's Appreciation Day in HdG but there wasn't much to it except a crab feast that I passed on.

Jo/e went to camp for a national gathering of his leather club and came back as president of the club. (These things keep happening to him.)


REPLIES TO MUSICMAN AND TWICET

Reply to Musicman, on the "Hermione":

Jo/e to me as the "Hermione" docked: "Darn! I forgot to check whether Musicman was coming to see the ship."


Reply to Twicet:

Thanks for the reminder that I need to update the Toughs timeline to include chronological links to all the Toughs stories. I also have to correct the dating of the earliest stories; I managed to make a mistake in my dating cheat sheet that placed all of those stories five years off their actual dates.

Not to mention getting Merrick's name wrong through the entire second part of "Rain." (*Sigh.*)

In the meantime, I've put the Toughs chronology at the end of this post. The series page for The Three Lands has those stories listed in chronological order.


CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF THE TOUGHS STORIES (slightly corrected), along with some dates of birth for my characters

(As I mentioned above, I'll be putting this information on my website at the next update, along with links to the stories. If any of you notice errors, can you let me know, please?)

1317 Barley, Summer Transformation week (before the founding of the Tri-National calendar): Master and Servant 2: The True Master.

310 (1865 Barley): Weldon Chapman is born (The Eternal Dungeon).

312 (1865 Fallow): Seward Sobel is born (The Eternal Dungeon).

320, the second month (1868 Clover): Layle Smith is born (The Eternal Dungeon).

330, the eleventh month (1871 Fallow): Rain: Beauty (The Eternal Dungeon).

333 (1872 Fallow): Vito De Vere is born (The Eternal Dungeon).

333, the fourth month (1872 Fallow): Never (The Eternal Dungeon).

333, the tenth month (1872 Fallow): The Unanswered Question (The Eternal Dungeon).

337, the first month (1874 Barley): Elsdon Taylor is born (The Eternal Dungeon).

352 (1879 Barley): Merrick is born (Life Prison).

355, the fourth month (1880 Barley): Rebirth 1: The Breaking (The Eternal Dungeon).

355, the seventh month (1880 Barley): Rebirth 2: Love and Betrayal and Rebirth 3: First Time (The Eternal Dungeon).

356, the fourth month (1880 Clover): Rebirth 4: In Training (The Eternal Dungeon).

356: the sixth month, but ending later than Rebirth 5 (1880 Clover): Rebirth 6: Tops and Sops (The Eternal Dungeon).

356, the tenth month (1880 Clover): Rebirth 5: As a Seeker (The Eternal Dungeon).

357, the sixth month (1880 Fallow): Transformation 1: Deception (The Eternal Dungeon).

357, the ninth month (1880 Fallow): Transformation 2: Twists and Turns (The Eternal Dungeon).

358 (1881 Barley): Tyrrell is born (Life Prison).

358, the sixth month (1881 Barley): Transformation 3: A Prisoner Has Need (The Eternal Dungeon) and Rain: Love (Life Prison).

359, the third month (1881 Clover): Transformation 4: The Consultation (The Eternal Dungeon).

359, the fourth month(1881 Clover): The Balance 1: Truth and Lies (The Eternal Dungeon).

359, the sixth month(1881 Clover): The Balance 2: Barbarians (The Eternal Dungeon).

359, the eighth month (1881 Clover): Hunger (The Eternal Dungeon).

360, the first month (1881 Fallow): Green Ruin (The Eternal Dungeon).

360, the fifth month (1881 Fallow): The Balance 3: Hidden (The Eternal Dungeon).

360, the sixth month (1881 Fallow): Death Watch (The Eternal Dungeon).

360, the sixth month (1881 Fallow): On Guard (The Eternal Dungeon).

360, the seventh month (1881 Fallow): Wax (The Eternal Dungeon). Set during "On Guard".

360, the eleventh month (1881 Fallow): Sweet Blood 1: Bonds (The Eternal Dungeon).

361 (1882 Barley): Starke is born (Life Prison).

363, the fourth month (1882 Fallow): Sweet Blood 1: Bonds and Sweet Blood 2: Searching (The Eternal Dungeon).

363, the tenth month (1882 Fallow): Sweet Blood 3: Split (The Eternal Dungeon).

364, the fifth month (1883 Barley): Sweet Blood 4: Checkmate (The Eternal Dungeon).

365 (183 Clover): Thomas is born (Life Prison).

365, the third month (1884 Clover): Sweet Blood 5: Truth and Trust (The Eternal Dungeon).

366 (1883 Fallow): Ulick is born (Life Prison).

372, the sixth month (1885 Fallow): Torture (The Eternal Dungeon / Life Prison). AU story.

375, the third month (1886 Fallow): In the Silence (Life Prison).

378, the fifth month (1887 Fallow): Rain: Hope (Life Prison / Commando).

385, the third month (1890 Barley): Mercy's Prisoner 1: Life Prison (Life Prison).

385, the sixth month (1890 Barley): Coded Messages (Life Prison).

385, the seventh month (1890 Barley): Cell-mates (Life Prison).

393, the eleventh month (1892 Fallow): Lord and Servant (Life Prison) and Mercy's Prisoner 2: Men and Lads (Life Prison).

393, the eleventh month (1892 Fallow): Mercy's Prisoner 2: Men and Lads (Life Prison).

394 (1893 Barley): Archy is born (Michael's House).

395, the twelfth month (1893 Clover): Mercy's Prisoner 3: Milord (Life Prison).

399, the tenth month (1894 Fallow): Mercy's Prisoner 4: Isolation (Life Prison).

400, the third month (1895 Barley): Mercy's Prisoner 5: Curious (Life Prison) and Hell's Messenger 1-3 (Life Prison).

400, the sixth month (1895 Barley): Justice's Hammer (Life Prison; upcoming volume).

Early 400s: Commando series, including Spy Hill.

427, the fourth month (1904 Barley): Janus is born (Michael's House).

427, the eighth month (1904 Barley): Michael is born (Michael's House).

439, the fourth month (1908 Barley): Rain: Happiness (Michael's House).

448, the eighth month (1911 Barley): Whipster 1: The New Boy (Michael's House).

449, the tenth month (1911 Clover): Whipster 2: Offstage (Michael's House).

450, the fourth month (1911 Fallow): Whipster 3: Blurred Lines (Michael's House).

Early 450s: The remainder of the Michael's House series.

569 (1956 Clover): Carr and Meredith are born. Publication of "A Concise History of the Dozen Landsteads."

580 (1960 Barley, Summer Transformation week): Rain: Joy.

587 (1962 Clover, Spring Transformation week): Master and Servant 1: The Abolitionist.

587 (1962 Clover, Autumn Waning week): Master and Servant 3: Unmarked.

588 (1962 Fallow, Spring Death week): Queue.

588 (1962 Fallow) and onwards: The remainder of Waterman, including Lost Haven.

748, the second month (2011 Clover): Broken (The Eternal Dungeon). AU story.

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