Tag: progress

Can has first draft


3000 words, tentatively titled “The Moon over Red Trees”. Major cleanup needed, but I have draft!

Night over The Red Trees. Clarisse rises from the bed, casting a glance at the moon that slowly seeps into the room. Raoul, asleep in his bed with his arms outstretched towards her, groans and shifts, looking for her, but he does not wake up. He used to, when she first came here months ago; but he soon got used to her wandering through the house every night–and tonight of all nights, he knows she won’t be able to sleep.

Within her, the magic pulses–a steady beat like the waves of the sea, like the call of a drum–but she’s been listening to it for months, and she knows this night is its last night. After all, nothing lasts forever, not even the spirits’ gifts.

Tonight is a time for endings. 


Can haz first draft


Tentative title: “The Frost on Jade Buds”

On the comms-image, Chi looked much as Thuy remembered her: tall and thin and dour, almost skeletal, as if what had had happened to her in her youth still stifled her metabolism–and, in truth, perhaps it did. Neither Thuy nor any of the family–or, indeed, any inhabitant of the Scattered Pearls Belt–really knew the full extent of what happened to her, or how to reverse it.
“You look well, elder sister,” Chi said. The words would have suited the imperial court; would have been appropriate for an elder of Chi’s generation. There were other, more familiar ones, more suitable for the sister’s of one’s blood; and Chi could have used them. She could have pretended to care. But of course she no longer bothered.

With two mindsships–and orbitals–and horrific weapons!

And why, yes, I procrastinate by writing Xuya mindship stories (well, OK, not quite procrastination, it was a commission). Now to clean up the mess of the first draft…

Snippet from WIP


… because I need to be held accountable for actual word count…

“What is it?” Xavier asked.
Selene raised a hand to silence him–seeking the origin of the magic. Young, and desperate; she’d almost forgotten how that tasted, how bittersweet it all was, that mixture of bewilderment and pain that came just after the Fall.
West–in the ruined blocks that had been the Great Department Stores and the Great Hotels before the war, their names like a litany of what had been lost, the Printemps, the Galeries Lafayette, the Hotel Scribe, the Grand Hotel… West–where still stood the House of Lazarus. And, if she could feel it, so could every other Fallen in the vicinity; and perhaps their pet mages, too, if they had the right artefacts or were pumped-up on dust.
Needless to say, Selene did not approve of dust.
“We don’t have much time,” she told Xavier. “He’s in trouble.”

Can haz first draft


Temp title is “The Angel at the Heart of the Rain” (might just keep it, it’s not that bad). Very much shorter than expected at 1.5k words, will have to ask the market that asked for this if they’re OK with this.

At first, you believe it is only a matter of time until your aunt joins you. You huddle in a small flat with your younger sister Huong and two other refugees, washing rice that smells only faintly of jasmine, cutting ginger that has grown hard and tasteless in the cupboards where it was hoarded like treasures–and you think of a home so far out of your reach it might be on another planet.

On the phone, your aunt’s voice is breezy, telling you not to worry–that she’ll find a visa and a plane ticket, that she knows someone who knows someone who can give her a hand with the formalities of the High Commissioner for Refugees. Behind her, you hear the dull thud of bombs falling like rain in the streets–the same sound that swells and roars within your dreams until you wake up in a room that feels deathly silent.

Which just leaves me with another story to write before the end of October (a month that includes Bristolcon and World Fantasy Con). Also, planning a novel with Mindships in my spare time.

Onwards, I guess…

Current mood: determined 😀 😀

Brief weekend update


Had food. Went to visit Orléans with the H and spent far too much time in a games shop looking at everything they had. Stared at my story until beads of blood formed on my forehead. Tried to ply my muse with food; it didn’t work. Proofed outcoming novella On a Red Station, Drifting (well, the first two thirds, anyway).

Off to watch some Thin Blue Line before bed, methinks.

Can haz story


Was originally shooting for 6k words on this one, and I ought to have remembered that a two-strand narration with six main characters was a bad idea for length… Very fortunately, I checked the guidelines for the market I’m supposed to submit this to, and realised I’d misremembered and that it was going up to 10k (I doubt they’re going to be very happy about the 9k, but there’s clearly no way I can cut text out of this. If anything, it’s too short).

Don’t have a title yet: it’s called The Turtle’s Citadel after one of the main characters, but it’s a really bad title and I need to change it as soon as my magical title generator (aka the H) has read it and offered opinions. Also waiting for bunch of readers to read it and see how much is unclear. Lots of space scenes, which is unusual for me (I find space boring. Fortunately, a squad of homicidal attack drones generally makes things very interesting for everyone concerned). Also, lots of reflections on postcolonialism, imperialism and cultural clashes, as par for the course.

The derelict ward was in an isolated section of outsider space, one of the numerous spots left blank on interstellar maps, no more or no less tantalising than its neighbouring quadrants. To most people, it would be just that: a boring part of a long journey to be avoided–skipped over by Mind-ships as they cut through deep spaces, passed around at low speeds by outsider ships while their passengers slept in their hibernation cradles.

Only if anyone got closer would they see the hulking masses of ships: the glint of starlight on metal, the sharp, pristine beauty of their hulls, even though they all lay quiescent and crippled, forever unable to move–living corpses kept as a reminder of how far they had fallen; the outsiders’ brash statement of their military might, a reminder that their weapons held the means to fell any Mind-ships they chose to hound.

On the sensors of The Cinnabar Mansions, the ships all appeared small and diminished, like toy models or avatars–things Lan Nhen could have held in the palm of her hand and just as easily crushed. As the sensors’ line of sight moved–catching ship after ship in their field of view, wreck after wreck, indistinct masses of burnt and twisted metal, of ripped-out engines, of shattered life pods and crushed shuttles–Lan Nhen felt as if an icy fist were squeezing her heart into shards. To think of the Minds within–dead or crippled, forever unable to move…

Your hemi-semi-weekly Vietnamese proverb


“Chở củi về rừng”: “carrying wood into the forest/jungle”. Doing useless things (like “carrying coal to Newcastle”, an English proverb I learnt at the same time as the Vietnamese one). Hahaha, that one is hilarious.

In other news, I have 3k words on the novel. One of my fave characters just showed up (great cook, good sense of humour, major temper. What’s not to love). Just one more scene, and I’ll be done with chapter 1!

State of the writer


Brainstorming for Jade in Chains continues: I’m now at the stage known as “index cards”, aka, write down my ideas on little bits of cardboard, align them on the big living room table, and stare until drops of blood congeal on my forehead. Hmm.

Reading some UF for research purposes (and for fun): I finished Ben Aaronovitch’s Moon over Soho, and enjoyed it a lot (even though I saw the ending coming halfway through the book). Wonderful voice, and a rather neat take on magic within London that mostly doesn’t feature vampires (OK, I lie. There are vampires, but they’re not at all dark and brooding and handsome).

Also read: Charles Stross’s Rule 34 (kindly donated by the author), and Halting State. They’re both thrillers taking place in an alternate future where Scotland is an independent republic, and struggling to find its place with respects to its British neighbour. They’re also both told in alternating second-person, which is the sort of thing you’re always advised against as a writer, though Stross makes it work wonderfully; and they’re very gritty (especially Rule 34, which has a spate of gruesome murders, and a POV character who is a total psychopath). There’s things I love and things I don’t love about them–the plot crackles along, they’re full of amazing inventive ideas (like, robbing a bank in an MMORPG? awesome!), they have strong main characters, especially strong women characters; but I have to confess they’re a little too gritty for my tastes? (I’m a bit of a squeamish reader. Yes, I know. I write fantasy in which the main character commits blood sacrifices. And I’m squeamish. I never pretended to be coherent) My favorite Stross novels are still the Bob Howard/Laundry novels and short stories, especially some of the short stories (The Concrete Jungle is awesome fun).

And a French book, too, Shadow of the Prince by Tran-Nhut, a detective story featuring the recurring team of Mandarin Tân and his sidekicks Scholar Dinh and Doctor Pork. What can I say? I’m a sucker for historical mysteries, and this one was set in Ancient Vietnam! [1] (and written by a duo of Vietnamese-French sisters) Tân has to deal with a serial killer who may or may not be trying to topple the current dynasty, while facing some of the demons of his past–the dark deeds that led to the death of his school comrade, Prince Hung, more than twenty years ago… Chock-full of meaty details, of plot twists, and (more importantly) of good food. I’ve got the next volume, The Black Powder of Master Hou, which is set in Hạ Long Bay. Sounds nice.

In other news, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and go running, in an attempt to do some sport. I’m learning lots of things about our new neighbourhood–so far, I’m down to three Asian groceries (a mostly-Chinese one, a mostly-Vietnamese/SE Asian one, and a mostly-Japanese one. And there’s a Korean one a bit further down, too), one Russian takeaway (which has the H intrigued), one Picard (they specialise in frozen food), and one dry-cleaner (less interesting on an immediate basis, but very handy). Not only do I get some exercise, but I also discover new things!

[1] I’m a little puzzled as to when it’s set: the scenes that frame the narration tend to indicate that the story itself is set in the Lê dynasty, but the capital is referred to as “Thăng Long”, which is a name Hà Nội hasn’t had since the 11th Century (to be fair, every one in there is a scholar, so they possibly referred to it by its poetic name rather than by the prosaic name of “Đông Kinh”?) Later volumes make it clear that this is taking place in the mid-16th early-17th Century, right before the Trịnh–Nguyễn War, so definitely the Lê dynasty.



The VN pictures are coming, promise, but they’re at home on the H’s computer and I need to get them first. Meanwhile, you get writing progress, aka the start of the serious research on Jade in Chains, aka the fantasy in Paris about dynasties of magicians at war (title not great, but it’s a start). Mostly poking at the worldbuilding so far, to see how it’ll go. I got a handful of books on odd places in Paris and am planning some walks (that’s a radical departure–research that can be done by taking the metro, wow :p ).

In other news, I can announce I’ll be one of the Guests of Honour at Finncon in 2013 in Helsinki, July 5-7th (the other confirmed GOH are famous Finnish author J. Pekka Mäkelä and PhD student Stefan Ekman). If you’ve always wanted an excuse to go to Finland in summer, now’s the time :=)

Your hemi-semi weekly Vietnamese proverb


“báo chết để da, người ta chết để tiếng”
A panther when dead leaves behind a skin; a man [lit. people] when dead leaves behind a name/reputation/words.

Pretty. Also, I learnt lots of new words 🙂

I’d like to think my vocabulary is improving, but 3 words a day isn’t very efficient to build up vocab (mind you, with me putting in about 15-30 min per day, I don’t reckon I can get more efficient than this). I got myself an Oxford picture dictionary English/Vietnamese; the unfortunate bit being that it’s for Vietnamese immigrants to Western countries, and therefore it uses English concepts: it’s OK for most everyday words, but it lacks Vietnamese syntax, and the concepts that are different just aren’t explained: the various kinds of uncles just get lumped under the same English word (yes, there are four words to describe uncles in Vietnamese: cậu, bác, chú, dượng respectively brother of mother, elder brother of father, younger brother of father, and any uncles that have married into the family rather than being linked to it by blood). So not quite what I want to be studying intensively…

In other news, work has started again on the novella that wouldn’t die (complete redraft), so I’m going to be scarce this week. And, hum, the week after (which is Christmas anyway).