Tag Archives: SOOOOOOOO lame

Best and Worst of the First Week

8 Nov

So I decided on my National Novel Writing Month novel’s main characters and basic plot on October 31st:

It is a sci-fi Gothic horror/thriller/fiasco featuring mirror universe doppelgangers as well as bounty hunters, space cowboys, and politics.

Our narrator is Mabel, the finicky secretary to the mysterious Mrs. Beaumont, who is the CEO for Teleportation and Transportation Services, LLC (a high-falutin’ company with headquarters on the moon whose products include teleporters).  Some to-be-determined shady dealings and evil plots ensue.

With that introduction, I present to you the best and the worst of the first week of National Novel Writing Month 2013.

Worst:

The opening.

Mrs. Beaumont always insisted upon taking a morning constitutional while she read reports even though one might be tempted to think it would be difficult to walk comfortably and read comfortably simultaneously.  However, whatever one might be tempted to think would never presume to flummox or impede Mrs. Beaumont in any endeavor.  She had perfected her ways, and she was bound to them by duty, routine, and probably most particularly her own stubborn will.  She had not become the CEO of Teleportation and Transportation Services, LLC by shirking a well-established and efficient regimen, especially one she enjoyed thoroughly.  Even if she hadn’t enjoyed it, which I suspected she very much did, she most likely would have continued because it was what she had always done, and it afforded her not only physical exercise–which she prized–but also extra time later in the work day for other matters that necessitated being in her office, which she greatly prized.

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We Can’t Go on Together with Suspicious Minds, Except We Can and We Will

29 Dec

An Overly Lengthy Review of Suspicion.

Before the Fact

Credits roll:  I can’t help thinking Before the Fact would’ve been a better title.  Both Suspicion and Before the Fact are pretty bland, though.  I suppose Suspicion has more of a punch.

We start the movie in a train car.  Cary Grant barges into Joan Fontaine’s little suite claiming it’s too crowded in coach.  It’s dark because the train’s in a tunnel.  The train’s in a tunnel.  Get it?  Freudian stuff?  Hitchcock?  Get it?  Ay oh!

In other news, I totally recognize this scene from Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid!
We also get an extraneous shot of Joan Fontaine’s legs, which I suppose establishes Cary Grant’s sexual interest in her and expresses that even though she’s wearing glasses–quelle horreur!–she’s some sexy librarian type who’s only prim until you warm her up a little.

A train-ticket-taker dude comes in, checking errbody’s tickets and tries to kick Cary Grant out of this first class car because he only has a coach ticket.  He upgrades his ticket, but he doesn’t have quite enough money, so Cary Grant bums some cash from Joan Fontaine, except she doesn’t carry a lot of cash, so he pays with a stamp.  K.

This little exchange shows us he’s a charmer and that he’s bad with money.

Suspicion Level:  Low.  Society dude low on cash, charming ladies on trains.  Happens all the time.

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If I Were a Vampire, and You Were a Lady, Would You Marry Me Anyway? Would You Have My Baby?

26 Dec

A rather disjointed review of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part II.

And why, pray tell, would I be reviewing this movie?

Well, the other night Grace and I had nothin’ better to do, so we decided we would go see a movie.  But we didn’t feel like any Oscar bait, and she’d already seen the new James Bond, so she said to me, “Why don’t we go see that new Twilight movie?”  And I said, “Why on Earth would we do that?”  And she said, “Why not?  Could be fun.  In a bad movie sort of way.”  So I acquiesced.

But here’s the thing:  Neither Grace nor I have read the books, nor have we seen any of the previous movies.  But here’s the other thing:  I’m still in contact with a former student, *who I knew would provide all the relevant details.  The following text exchange occurred between me and my 15-year-old BFF:

Twilight

So with this marvelously funny and insightful synopsis (note that I am being entirely genuine when I say this; I don’t know why this funny, smart girl loves Twilight so), we started the movie.

The movie begins with some artsy Bergman-esque credits that I actually kind of liked/was impressed by.  Then we see Bella recovering from being turned into a vampire.

Then there are a bunch of scenes with her trying out her powers and being morally conflicted about how she wants to straight up murder a mountain climber, but she doesn’t.  Luckily, her vampire super power is outrageous self-control, the likes of which none of the other vampires have ever seen.

We also get a lot of scenes of Edward and Bella making out.  I’ve definitely seen better love scenes, but there was something earnest about them that made a little bit of sense.  This is the fifth movie these two have been in together, after all, and on screen they have an intimacy and chemistry.  But I couldn’t help thinking their intimacy felt more like a brother and sister…

Anyway, the plot–I guess there’s sort of one about Edward and Bella’s half-breed baby being mistaken for an Immortal Child and subsequently pursued by Vampire Congress–moves along, and some gruesome, grotesque, grizzly fight scenes occur that end up being prophetic visions instead of real.

And then there’s a happy ending that is unfathomably cheesy involving Edward and Bella staring into each other’s vampire eyes and recalling a bunch of scenes–presumably–from the previous movies in a love montage and then some superimposed images of the last pages of the last book with words like “forever” highlighted–so that we all may know this love is extraordinarily eternal.

And then the end credits show us a bunch of characters that were–presumably–in Breaking Dawn Part I whom I didn’t recognize.

Final Thoughts:

  • First let’s talk about Kristen Stewart.  I have long taken it upon myself to be her defender.  I don’t know why.  I just like her face.  And I usually think she does a good job moving her face and acting with it.  And by usually, I mean in the other approximately 2 movies I’ve seen her in.  However, liking her face did not get me very far in this movie.  I started worrying that maybe she has a deviated septum.  Why doesn’t this girl ever breathe out of her nose?  Why is her mouth perpetually open in that strange, half-enticing-half-developmentally-delayed pose?  I couldn’t like her in this movie, and I went in trying because I knew nobody liked her in this movie, and I always try to like underdogs.
  • I feel as though a lot of the scenes that are supposed to be super significant have absolutely no effect on me because I don’t know any of these characters.  Perhaps as a sequel it works and has a satisfying pay-off, but as a stand-alone movie, it makes almost no sense at all.
  • And the dialogue is terrible.
  • I couldn’t help thinking about why people like this sort of thing.  I suppose it’s that eternal love thing people (read: teen girls) are drawn to?  Surely there are better love stories that don’t involve (as admitted by a fan) stalking and attempted suicide and unnatural creatures that make very little sense within their own mythos?

*Bonus Grammar:  Knee-jerk reaction here is that “who I knew would provide all the relevant details” should be led in with a whom instead because it’s the direct object of I knew.  Usually this would be true, but while the who does introduce the direct object, the direct object of I knew is actually the entire noun clause “who would provide all the relevant details.”  We must have a who because it’s the subject of that noun clause and not just a pronoun standing in for the person I knew.  Because what I know isn’t just Kristen, it’s that Kristen will give me information.

The Worst Episodes of Star Trek: Voyager (That I Happen to Like)

19 Dec

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Star Trek: Voyager is the red-headed stepchild of the Star Trek franchise, but, the thing is, I’ve always had a soft spot for gingers.  This soft spot is very large for anything totally ’90s and cheesy with plenty of action, so-so acting on occasion, copious CGI, and an interminably, bountifully sassy HBIC.  All of this adds up to, even though Voyager sometimes deals us some *bad hands, I still see some aces among the worst of them.

I present to you now the seven worst episodes **that I still very much enjoy.

Season 1: “Parallax”

Torres and Janeway talk science in Parallax

Pictured L-R: Torres; Reconciliation through Technobabble/Palpable Science Girl Excitement; Janeway; Season 1 Bun

The Episode:  They haven’t chosen a chief engineer yet.  Chakotay’s Maquis candidate is belligerent Starfleet drop-out B’elanna Torres while Janeway’s gunning for broken-nosed (by B’elanna Torres, no less) Lieutenant Carey.  Meanwhile, Voyager is stuck in the event horizon of a quantum singularity and trying very desperately to get out.

Why It’s Bad:  It’s really one of the only Maquis vs. Federation episodes and doesn’t make much of the premise.  Also, I guess the science is nonsense?

Why I Still Like It:  I am a sucker for B’elanna Torres episodes.  Oh, you want to split her into a Klingon half and a human half and have them talk to each other?  Sure, sounds awesome.  Oh, she’s upset about some Maquis deaths and feels the need to hurt herself a lot?  Absolutely.  Oh, she’s crash-landed on an ancient Greece planet and serves as a muse for a playwright?  Quelle fun!  Oh, she needs to go to Klingon Hades and save her mom and be Xena, the Klingon Warrior Princess?  Now we’re talking!

Oh, you want her to be all belligerent and get all up in Janeway’s grill spouting technobabble and then become BFFs with Janeway because of their mutual love of technobabble?  I will be there with SO MANY bells on!  And that’s why I like this episode:  technobabble and girl bonding.

Also, this episode takes place in the good old days when they still had Federation vs. Maquis conflict and Lt. Carey was around once in a while and Seska was hamming it up everywhere (I miss Seska so!) and we all thought B’elanna would get together with Harry.  Which actually makes a lot more sense to me than her with Tom.  They really would have been the cutest together.  Then she could’ve still been kind of a Maquis badass instead of having to play straight man to Tom’s shenanigans.

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Best and Worst of the 6th Week: In Which I Kind of Stop Trying

13 Dec

The good news is, I’ve written some things for the blog.  The bad news is I’ve written some things for the blog.  Zing!

But really, I haven’t been working on my novel much at all.  Like 400 words ish.  And pretty much all of those 400 words kind of suck.

Worst:

Lieutenant Aldridge begins to answer the review board’s question about how a dude came to be murdered.

“We–” I suddenly didn’t know how to proceed.  My mind had been wandering so much that it didn’t remember how to get down to business.  I placed all my focus on Stoljarov and her eager and concerned expression.  I remembered the day she had called me to tell me I was being placed on administrative leave, and I remembered that maybe she wasn’t on my side exactly but that she was the face on the board I trusted most.  She had given me an A even though I’d deserved a B.  Maybe she could be generous again.  I started again:

“Well, Captain Martel had made a deal with the marshals.  We were working with them tracking some outlaws.  We were on their trail–maybe a day behind them–and we ran into this…couple.”  Stoljarov nodded for me to continue.  “The male was human and the female was Martian.  They claimed they were heading to Fort Claire where they knew someone who would give them safe transport to Unter Grat.  This couple had been with the Doomers–” Franklin raised her eyebrow.  “The outlaws called themselves the Doonstown Doomers.”

 It’s lame, and there’s too much new jargon.  And it’s just boring.  Which is the general problem with this novel.  I’m pretty bored with it, and I’m sure if anyone were reading it that person would also be bored with it and also thinking, “When is anything going to happen?  When will this grand mystery be revealed?”

Best:

In this section, Lieutenant Aldridge talks about how her mind is wandering while she’s answering questions during her review board.

I took a deep breath and focused all my brain on the latest question Lieutenant Franklin had asked.  Well, that was a lie.  My mind tried to focus momentarily and then wandered again for a bit about Lieutenant Franklin and why people mistook us for each other.  Rather, how people mistook me for her.  I had never really talked to her and didn’t really know her life, so I didn’t know if this mistaken identity thing was mutual or not.  We didn’t share the same face shape, nor did we share the exact shade of blonde hair.  I supposed our noses were similar and our bodies were similar.  Anyway, I focused on her question.

But then I got distracted again when I glanced over at Stoljarov, whose grey eyes were holding a subdued and ladylike rage that wanted to assert itself but could not because Stoljarov’s primness wouldn’t let it.  Her hands were pressed tightly together, folded neatly in front her on the table, but she looked tense with her unexpressed anger.  I was worried about her.

I was also worried about myself.  I was only half paying attention to my own review board, after all.

I chose it as the best because I like doppelgangers, and I’ve given Aldridge one in Lieutenant Franklin.  She’s kind of a supporting villain currently, and if I ever do any more real writing on this thing ever again, she’ll probably figure into the conspiracy.

***

Current Wordcount:  40,974

Best and Worst of the Fifth Week: Still Chuggin’ Along

6 Dec

November is over, but my novel is not.  Still.

So I guess I’ll keep up with the best/worst of the week thing because I’ve got nothin’ better to do.

Also, I’ve gotta take a minute and say this:  This thing is getting lamer every time I look at it.  I thought it was picking up for a sec a couple chapters ago, but I think that was a convenient lie I was telling myself.

But I’m going to stick it out.  No matter how much I hate it!

Worst:

Here Lieutenant Aldridge is waiting around to be questioned by the Mission Review Board directly after Captain Martel.  Note: Captain Derek Martel = Captain Vera Martel’s ex-husband; oh, and our lady captain has a cybernetic eye that Aldridge can always hear making cybernetic noises; hippoid = a Martian horse

I arrived at 10:30 for no other reason than to pace outside the conference room.  My skirt looked all right, I supposed, but I still felt the residual effects of the panic attack thing I had had.  I thought I might still puke if provoked.  I didn’t know what exactly might provoke me, but I was sure I would know it if I saw it.

At 10:37 Captain Martel walked out of the conference room looking as casual as if she had just been in having brunch with a few old friends.  She saw me and walked over, taking off her gloves and smiling as she crossed into my personal space slightly.

“Don’t look so tense, Blondie.  They don’t bite,” she said.

“Or at least not if you don’t request that specifically,”  I heard a silky and leering male voice say behind me.  From the leeringness of it and the change of direction of Martel’s eye’s whirring, I knew it must have been Derek Martel.  I turned slightly, and sure enough, there he was, smiling unctuously.

“What are you doing on this floor, Captain?” she said to him, ice lining her voice, which had dropped to one of its lowest registers.  It was the tone she used on hippoid thieves and cheaters at cards.

“Just taking a stroll,” he said.  “Seeing if I could find any pretty girls in skirts to look at.”  He took a long look at me and then another, perhaps longer, look at his ex-wife.  She was running her tongue over her teeth and clenching her gloves in her hand.  She did not appear amused.

“Well, you found them, and you looked at them.  Time to move along,” she said, her voice still low in pitch and especially in temperature.  He smiled broadly at that.

“And what if I’m not finished looking?”  He was walking closer now, strutting even.

“I think you are,” she said, voice dropping another third.  He raised an eyebrow and looked at me.

“What do you have to say, Blondie?”  I kept my features as blank as possible.

“I was under the impression this was a private conversation,” I said, trying not to show how unnerved I was starting to become.  He laughed.

“All right.  I’ll take a hint,” he said.  He ran his eyes over me again before he said, “Have a pleasant review board, ladies.”  And he swaggered the rest of the way down the hall and disappeared around a corner.  Out of my peripheral vision, I could see Martel shaking her head.  She then turned to me.  She looked at me squarely and said,

“Keep your chin up, Blondie.”

And she left down the same hallway.

I don’t know why I keep dragging Captain Martel’s ex-husband into the proceedings:  He shows up every five or ten chapters to say yucky things and be creepy, and this section’s appearance is one of the least relevant episodes.  I really want to come up with some clever way for him to be an intricate bad guy, but I end up just writing stupid/weird scenes with him that I don’t really like.  

Best:

Our narrator currently is Admiral Stoljarov, who–as head of the Mission Review Board–is questioning Captain Martel about the happenings on The Persuasion.  Martel has just given an overview of the mission and her account of Commander Jeffs’s untimely death.  Also joining us in this section is Lieutenant Franklin, a board member picked by the string-pulling admiral while Stoljarov was recovering from xylenium poisoning.  Lieutenant Franklin doesn’t know she’s supposed to leave the questioning to Admiral Stoljarov.

“Thank you, Captain.  And is that all you know of the circumstances of his demise?”  Her eyes bore into me.

“Not entirely,” she said.

“Please elaborate,” I said.

“You’re not interested in suppositions,” she said with a hint of amusement.

“You’re correct, Captain.  If that is all you know that can be corroborated, we will move on.”  She ran her tongue over her teeth, perhaps in thought, or perhaps idly.

“I also know that logs indicate he had seen Dr. Dalsgaard on the evening of the fifteenth.  And that encoded transmissions were being sent and received before his death but not after from various workstations to which he had access.”

“To which he had access?” I said a little more scoffingly than I had meant to.  “Excuse me, Captain, but the vessel was not exactly on lockdown.  Almost anyone had access to almost any work station.”

“Of course, Admiral.”  She smiled.  “What I meant was logs indicate he was in the vicinity of the workstations in question when the messages either arrived or were sent.”

“And you suspect he was sending them?”  Lieutenant Franklin asked.  Martel looked at her with her eyebrows raised and then looked at me, as if asking me whether she should answer.  I nodded to her.  I was not personally interested in suppositions, but I supposed others on the panel might be, especially unseasoned people of whom I knew very little.

“Yes,” Martel said.  “And if you’re wondering, I did not kill him, and I do suspect someone.”  Before Lieutenant Franklin could take the bait, I said,

“Thank you, Captain.  Let’s move on.  On June twentieth, you employed the Red Line.  What precipitated this?”  She actually laughed at this.

“Admiral, what else is a starship captain supposed to do when both of her engines fail?”

“Please.  The facts.”  She licked her lips, perhaps trying to smooth away her smile.

“On June twentieth, Engine 2’s carburetor malfunctioned and caused a fire in the engineering room.  Henley and Lieutenant Aldridge effectively contained the fire and vented the smoke so that the engineering team could return safely to their work environment.  Within an hour, Engine 1’s carburetor also malfunctioned.  Henley engaged generator power so that the ship could have life support systems, and I deemed it necessary, as per Space Service Regulation 8.1.7, to use the Red Line to make an emergency landing.”

“And why weren’t you at Hangar 6?” Lieutenant Franklin said.  I was glad that I hadn’t sat her closer to me on the panel, for I wasn’t certain I would have been able to stop myself from slapping the presumption off her.  Martel turned her eyes toward Franklin and spoke slowly, as if to a child–a bright child, but a child nonetheless.

“Well, when both engines are offline, and you’re down to bare-bones emergency power, you don’t exactly have the requisite navigation for a perfect landing.  Lieutenant Aldridge calculated and locked in our trajectory, and I took over helm control, and we all crossed our fingers that we would land in one piece.”

I chose this as the best of the week because we get some exposition, and it’s hopefully not the most boring thing ever, and we get to know Martel a little better.  We also get a little internal drama with the board members and their interactions.  Also, I just really like writing both Stoljarov and Martel, and I giggle incessantly writing scenes with both of them.

***

Current Wordcount: 40,502

Best and Worst of the Fourth Week: In Which I Accept My Fate

29 Nov

I’m not finishing this book by Friday.

I’m not adding a love story, no matter how much my slightly tipsy roommate insists upon it.

What I will be doing is continuing to write it.

I like that I’ve written every day this month, even though sometimes I didn’t want to, and a lot of times what I ended up writing wasn’t worth a damn.

So maybe I’ll just continue writing every day until this monstrosity implodes and then maybe continue to write every day, even without a novel to write.

I think it sounds like an ok plan.

So, here’s the best and worst this week.

Worst:

In this section, Admiral Stoljarov tells us about her convalescence after getting xylenium poisoning.  Stateson = deceased aeronautics pioneer; Dalsgaard = evil-ish doctor; Martel = sleazy ex-husband of captain of Persuasion

I had many dreams, long and languid and surreal and realistic dreams that seemed to stretch on for days at a time.  When I awoke–or, to put it more accurately, when I was in that suspended state between consciousness and unconsciousness, that ethereal, phantasmic place that could be both reality and fantasy, sky and earth, male and female–I remembered them all in some great detail, but as I awakened more fully and became aware of my surroundings–a dimly lit hospital room in which I was the only occupant although the room allowed for four–had left my memory in leaps and bounds like a herd of gazelle escaping some hunter.  And just like a herd of gazelle, the weakest one lagged behind and was seized upon by my predatory brain, hungry for any meaning that might be gleaned.

The remaining dream memory remained, shrouded in a gossamer, hazy cloud.  I saw two figures, who might or might not have been Sylvia Stateson and Sylvia Dalsgaard, and they were performing an operation on me.  They whispered to each other, and they whispered to me, for they had not completely sedated me for the surgery.  I looked down at my supine dream body.  My abdominal cavity was open, and instead of organs or blood, I had what appeared to be wooden blocks, the kind a child might play with.  The lights in the dream suddenly went out, but it was like a movie, in which I could still see Sylvia Stateson’s and Sylvia Dalsgaard’s panicking faces.  Suddenly, Captain Derek Martel appeared and turned the lights back on.  He smiled and asked what he would receive for saving them.  They whispered to him, and he grinned.

As I lay in my hospital bed, I thought of this dream often.  I was attracted to it for several reasons, I supposed: it was very bizarre; I was intrigued about what all parties could be whispering; I wondered why this particular dream was the only one I could remember–it hadn’t been the last dream, nor had it been the most vivid, but it had been the one my mind had been able to capture, and, consequently, I pondered it.

After I had named the evil doctor, I realized I had given her the same first name as a peripheral character I had mentioned much earlier in the book (the aeronautics lady).  I decided to give this slip up a little thematic relevance in this totally space-filler section that serves no other purpose than to fill space and be ominous.

Best:

Ugh.  Nothing was the best this week.  I guess I’ll go with this:  In this section, Lt. Aldridge recounts the opening session of the Mission Review Board.  Stoljarov = head of board; Dalsgaard = evil-ish doctor; Charbonneau = evil-ish string-pulling vice admiral; Martel = captain of Persuasion

“I know that you all are compelled by duty, your oath, and the law to be here, but I’d like to thank you for showing up bright and early this morning all the same.”  I supposed that was supposed to have been a joke, but it came out a little too tentative and a little too rough, and no one laughed.  I smiled at her and made sure to hold it until she saw me.  She looked as though she needed encouragement.  If I could’ve given her a stiff drink I would have.

And then I realized I was sitting there with my career on the line feeling sorry for the woman who was basically prosecuting me.  I got kind of mad at myself for a minute, but then I thought, why the hell shouldn’t I be encouraging her?  She certainly didn’t ask for this job, and she had xylenium poisoning a few days ago.  On top of that, she was probably still used to the way things worked on the moon, which was a lot different from Earth, and several million billion lightyears different from Mars.  Anyway, I refocused on what she was saying.

“I’ve assembled these fine people to comprise the board because I believe their respective intelligence, neutrality, judgement, and keen sense of right and wrong will lead them to fair and accurate rulings on the matters at hand.”  She had hit her stride now, talking in big, weighty words and keeping her eyes squarely on the clock at the back of the room or above my head or in the middle aisle and certainly not on Charbonneau or Dalsgaard.

“Beginning in two hours, we will call you in individually to give your testimonies.  A tentative list of who will give testimony at what times will be posted on the data stream and outside the door although all of that is subject to change.  We will attempt to update it as frequently as possible.

“We ask that you answer the board’s questions with complete honesty and completely factual information.  We are not interested, by and large, with emotions or suppositions, so please stick with things you observed.”

She took a breath and looked around the room and settled her eyes back on the clock.

“We project that this board will last seven to ten business days, during which time we ask that you adhere to the same confidentiality rules that you did during your administrative leave.  Additionally, we ask that you be especially vigilant regarding your transmissions.  If we want to contact you, it will probably be fairly important.”  She tried a trepidatious smile at this one, but still no one was ready to laugh at her jokes, such as they were.  She paused and looked imploringly at her audience.

“Are there any questions?”  I could feel Martel’s hand rising beside me.  I gritted my teeth and wondered what she could ask.  Stoljarov locked her eyes on Martel, and she cleared her throat before she said, “Yes.  Captain Martel.”  Martel recrossed her legs and said in a light tone,

“Might you need to recall any of us?”  Stoljarov nodded blankly.

“Thank you for reminding me, Captain.  Yes.  We might require anyone’s presence more than once due to the nature of eyewitness testimony, etc.  This, of course, makes it even more important to keep a watchful eye on your data streams.”

Stoljarov then locked eyes with someone else, someone in the back.  I didn’t turn to see who it was.  I waited for what seemed like a long time until Stoljarov said, “Yes.  Admiral Charbonneau.”

“Would you like to tell them about consequences, or would you like me to do it?”  Everyone sat completely still.  It was so quiet with just breathing and the quick whir of Martel’s cybernetic eye.

“Thank you, Admiral,” Stoljarov said with a ragged voice.  “I will do it.”  She took a long glance at the room, seeming to want to encourage all of us with individual eye contact.  She took a quick drink of water and folded her hands in front of her.

“At this time, the Mission Review Board exists to investigate the events that comprise the entirety of the failed Mission 4640-Alpha.  Depending upon the board’s analyses of the situations therein, a subsequent board may be necessary to dole out appropriate consequences and/or punishments for those involved.”  She had said it all rather slowly although her breathing had been rapid.  Her eyes darted to the back of the room.  She began to call on someone, “Yes, Doctor–” but she was cut off by Dalsgaard’s voice, which sounded high and strained to my ears.

“And do you anticipate many court martials?”  The room began to murmur, and Stoljarov spoke firmly.

“The board has not currently heard any testimonies; therefore, I cannot answer that question with any level of certainty whatsoever.  And as I’ve already mentioned, this board is not interested in suppositions.”  Stoljarov’s eyes had narrowed, and she had looked rather fierce and admiral-ish, instead of librarian-ish like usual, and I wanted to cheer for her fortitude.  She waited a beat for any follow up and then looked around again before she spoke.  “Thank you again for your time, and thank you in advance for your cooperation.  We will begin at ten AM.  Please check the schedule posted in the data stream and outside this room.  You are all dismissed.”

We see that Stoljarov does not have a good poker face and that Aldridge is compassionate.  The suspense builds a little with everybody in the same room together, and we know there’s some antagonism within the ranks.  Bum bum bum.  Kind of.

So there’s that.  Pretty sucky right now.

***

Current Wordcount: 35,855

Best and Worst of the Third Week: In Which I Fall Really Behind on Word Count, But at Least the Thing Has a Title Now

22 Nov

The other night, I stopped writing in the middle of a sentence.

To my credit, it was a really long sentence, and I was partway through a second beer, and I’m a real lightweight when it comes to alcohol.  I did not have the stamina to be Ernest Hemingway.  And good thing, too, because the character I was writing is the one who uses super long everything, and we all know how Ernest Hemingway feels about that sort of thing.

Anyway, there were a few surprising and delightful developments this week: more of a plot is happening–although currently, because I’m so behind and because I’m so lame, the plot stuff that’s happening is kind of lame; I finally wrote a Henley chapter that I don’t hate/think is garbage; the thing has a name now.

Slowly Tip the Scales of Space Justice.

I wanted it to be super cheesy and pulpy.  If I were any good at art stuff, I would make a bookcover for it that would be super cheesy and pulpy with buxom ladies and rayguns and lots of garish colors.  But I’m not, so I won’t.  Sigh.

And now for the best and worst.

Worst:

Henley (the former chief engineer) is our narrator in this section, and he’s sitting in the parking lot outside where they’re housing the now-home Persuasion.  He reminisces.  Remember, Jeffs = dead XO

Then I thought maybe I was waiting around so I could get a glimpse of Jeffs’s body.  Sometimes I got the feeling he wasn’t really dead.  I had never seen his dead body.  And while we were planetside, sometimes Farren, and the rest of us, too, would talk about him.

About a week into our stay on Mars, Farren had been preparing another trading run to the Martian village.  He had looked at me very seriously and said,

“Jeffs should really sign off on this first.”  I had looked at him and had wondered if he’d accidentally said the wrong name.  But then again, I had thought, what name could he have meant?  He had been acting captain, after all.

“Sir?” I had said, a little alarmed.  He had continued to look at me very seriously for a few seconds, and then he had laughed and had said,

“I’m shitting you, Number 1.  Let’s make this happen.”  And then we had gone out to the Martian village.  But the whole time, he had talked to the Martians about how he should consult with Jeffs about this or that thing and how Jeffs would like this or that item.  I hadn’t known what game he had been playing, and it had made me very uncomfortable, as if I had not been in on some joke that he had thought was very, very funny.  This Jeffs talk hadn’t ended after that particular trade run, either.  He had continued for about two weeks and then had abruptly stopped just as abruptly as he had begun.  I couldn’t figure it out then, and I couldn’t figure it out now.

I had a hard time picking the worst writing this week because a lot of it is pretty lame.  I finally chose this because I’m doing a really bad job of conveying any sense of mystery or urgency or anything intriguing at all about what had happened on Mars to elicit a mission review board.  This is a pretty lame attempt to cast Farren as kind of crazy and Henley as complicit in craziness.

Best:

In this section, Lieutenant Aldridge laments getting a bunch of phone calls early in the morning.  (Bryson Vega = her sometime boyfriend, who works for Charbonneau, the big-shot admiral; the previous early morning calls were from Admiral Stoljarov telling her she was on administrative leave pending investigation and Captain Martel requesting a secret meeting at a shopping mall)

I was beginning to think there was some conspiracy against me.  Not the administrative leave pending investigation thing.  That was to be expected when a gal was on Mars three weeks longer than she was supposed to have been and had killed more Martians than she was supposed to have killed and had made fewer xylenium mine deals than she was supposed to have made and had been a higher position than she was supposed to have been under a woman hardly anybody in the Space Service trusted.

This conspiracy was far more dastardly.  They were conspiring against me to always call me at the exact moment in the morning when I would look my absolute worst.

This time, I had fallen asleep on the couch clutching a half-empty bottle of Martian wine and that novel I had started.  I still hadn’t finished it and had no real desire to do so.  It was, last night, my cover story if anybody asked why I looked like something the cat dragged in.  In reality, the wine had had much more to do with my current state of unsavoriness.

And how unsavory it was.

But, it was seven AM, and, of course, someone wanted to rouse me from my disheveled slumber to talk at me on my data stream.  I didn’t even bother with any beautifying.  I just got up and tried to moisten my mouth so that I might be able to croak something out.  I didn’t turn on the communication screen.

“Hello,” I said, and to my chagrin, I sounded even lower and gruffer than I had thought I would.  It wasn’t even like Martel this time.  It was more Kinjo-ish.  I had to cut it out with the wine!

“Lorraine!” a male voice said.  My sleepy, maybe slightly hungover brain tried to figure out what man it was.  Who called me by my first name?  My dad?

“Dad?”

“No!  It’s Bryson!”  Oh, him.  Of course.  Only Space Service was in on this conspiracy.  Not every person I knew.

“Yes?” I said.  I had still only said three words, so the voice was still rocky.  It was more Martel-ish now, which was a slight improvement; at least it was the appropriate gender.

“Can you– Well, maybe it’s better if you don’t turn on your communication screen.”

“Ok,” I said.  I had no intention of doing so, anyway.

“I’ve got to talk to you.”

“You are talking to me,” I said.  That was definitely Martel.  The voice and the words themselves.  I shuddered and cleared my throat.

“It’s important.  I’ve got to give you something.”  This was sounding bad, as if he might ask me to meet him in a shopping mall soon.

“Ok.  Where do you want to meet?”

“Um… Not at Headquarters.”

“Obviously,” I said.  I was waiting for him to outline all the other places we shouldn’t meet, like his place and my place and Martel’s houseboat and in Rear Admiral Stoljarov’s office and on Admiral Charbonneau’s lap.

“The coffee shop across from Atlanta Tent and Awning Office Suites in half an hour.”

“How about an hour?”  There was a pause.

“Ok,” he said finally.

“See you then.  I’ll be the man smoking two cigarettes.”  He didn’t even laugh, and we hung up.

Lieutenant Aldridge is a gal who likes to do things right; she’s not used to being on the wrong end of anything, and she’s pretending to be okay with the circumstances she finds herself in, but, especially in this section, we can tell she’s using sarcasm to hide some pain.  I think this section is pretty fun and subtle.  Also, Gatsby reference.

***

Current Wordcount: 30,550

***

PS Happy Thanksgiving!

Best and Worst of the First Week

8 Nov

So, it’s going ok for me as a novel writer.  My second shift job and I have kind of a system worked out in which I get up late, write for an hour or two, do some eating and showering, go get a pop, outline/write in my car for fifteen minutes before work, work, come home, write for another hour or so, go to bed.

So that’s been serving me pretty well.  Except the last couple nights I haven’t made my word count.   But that’s ok because I’ll catch up on Friday or Saturday, and also, whatever close enough.

Plot-wise, it’s coming along as well as anything I write does.  I’m the kind of girl who really digs structure and outlines and academic papers.  I’m not so great at fiction because I’m too lazy to actually do all the outlining that would really suit me.  I usually just like an idea a lot and start writing it and like the taste of it under my finger tips and start really caring about the characters and end up with basically nothing for a plot.  Blech.  Plotless sucks, but it’s where I’m at, most of the time.

So here I am now.  I’ve got a couple characters who are trying really hard to move the plot along, but then they end up being lame.  And I’ve got the characters I like who would rather just talk and interact with each other.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the Best and Worst of My First Week of National Novel Writing Month.

Worst:

Our narrator in this section, Chief Engineer Henley, has just gotten a call from the Admiral telling him he’ll be put on administrative leave pending investigation.  His wife (the “she” in the first few lines) is talking to him about it.

“Administrative leave pending investigation,” I said finally.

“Paid?” she said.  She stepped a little closer.

“Yes.”  She stepped a little closer still.

“You know,” she said.  “Even if you get fired, you’re better off than a lot of those people.  You know how to make an engine run!  You can get scores of jobs.  What does Martel know how to do?  Fix her hair so it doesn’t touch her collar and bark out orders?”  I laughed, maybe a little more bitterly than I’d wanted.

“I’m going out,” I said.

“Ok.  Be back for lunch?”

“No,” I said.  “And don’t count on me for dinner, either.”

I decided it was time for a walk.  I’d better tell the truth this time.  Nobody would lie for me in a Mission Review Board; it’s too close to a Court Martial for any fraternity.

Maybe the review board would see that my actions had been justified.

This is the worst because 1. It’s boring. 2. Henley is my least fleshed-out character.  I have no idea about who he even is half the time.  3. I’m trying too hard to create suspense with the last line.  I don’t even know what his actions were.  Cheapest.

Best:

Our narrator in this section, Lead Investigator Kinjo, has just been rousted out of bed and taken to a diner by Vice Admiral Charbonneau–the (spoiler alert) guy who is pulling all the strings and is kinda shady.  They discuss what Charbonneau wants Kinjo to do.  Notes: Tripod = Kinjo’s three-legged Martian dog; Stoljarov = prim rear admiral leading review board; Dr. Earth = Martian Alcoholic Beverage

After coffee, the hangover that was producing the sloshing started to subside, and the sloshing instead became a faint rolling sensation.

“Well, get on with it, Charbonneau,” I said.  He looked at me for a moment, sipped his coffee.

“You’re a drunk and a louse, but you’re nevertheless the best,” he said.

“What’s the job?”

“Hear anything about The Persuasion?” he said.

“I try not to keep up with Space Service news.”

“Me neither,” our waitress said as she brought us our steak and eggs.  She winked at me and left.  He narrowed his beady little eyes.  It was hard to tell when they were narrowing both because of the beadiness of them and the fatness of his face.

“But have you heard anything about The Persuasion?” he said, more forcefully this time.

“Good name for a ship captained by Martel.  Lady could persuade a steer to give milk.”  I took a bite.  My eggs were undercooked.

“Yes,” he said.  “She just got back from Mars–”

“And boy are her arms tired?” I said.  He always interrupted me; I felt it my duty to do the same.

“Yes,” he said.  “Jeffs is dead.”  I put down my fork.

“She killed him?” Jeffs and I had worked together right before I had retired.  He had been a lieutenant then, angling to get promoted, angling for a spot on Martel’s crew.

“I didn’t say that,” he said.  “I need you to find out what happened.”  He put another creamer in his coffee and looked at me.

“There’s more,” I said.

“Yes,” he said.  I scooted my plate to the side.

“I’ll take the job.  Tell me what you want me to do.”

“The Persuasion left a month ago to secure an agreement with the governor of Rho-Beta to sell Consolidated Terran his portion of a xylenium mine.  Jeffs died… in an ‘engine accident’ shortly after they disembarked.  Martel appointed a lieutenant from security as her XO.  The engines failed.  She used the Red Line to land.”  He paused and let me absorb that.  Complete engine failure, unfortunately, was not that uncommon on ships as old as The Persuasion.  However, an investigation always followed use of the Red Line.  He continued, “Martel left most of the crew with the ship and took five crewmen with her in a Rover to complete the mission.”

“Sounds like standard Martel to me,” I said.  Stuff that wasn’t exactly right but wasn’t exactly wrong always sounded like Martel.

“The mission was not completed.  There may have been fraternization with Martians.  There may have been undue force used with Martians.”  Undue force I could understand, but fraternization with Martians did not sound like Martel.  She was an old Confederate; she’d have to be getting something pretty good out of the deal to let a Martian look at her, let alone touch her.

“And what do you want me to do?  Reinterview?  Go to Mars?” I said.  He set his jaw.

“I don’t have the funds to send you to Mars, and even if I did, what Martian is going to want to talk to the likes of you?”  I laughed.

“You bring up a good point, Admiral.  And that is the subject of funds.  What kind of funds do you have to pay me with?  Tripod can’t live on scraps alone.”

“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Kinjo.  I’ve got enough funds for that.”  He looked at his watch.  “I have to go get ready for the ball tonight.  You coming?”  I laughed.

“Why?  You need a date?” I said.

“No, but Stoljarov might.”  He laughed.

“Don’t tempt me.  I’ve done worse than Stoljarov.”

“See you tonight, then?” he said.

“I have an appointment with Dr. Earth,” I said.

“And Dr. Earth doesn’t like to be kept waiting.  Just don’t drink too much of him; you’ve got a job to do in the morning.”

 This is one of my better sections because it gives us exposition and builds suspense organically and also gives us information about characters organically.  Also, Kinjo is based on my dad, who is the best.

***

Current Wordcount: 11556

Best and Worst of the First Two Days

2 Nov

The following passage comes from chapter three of my National Novel Writing Month novel, which is as yet unnamed.  The chapter introduces Rear Admiral Esperanza Stoljarov’s (not enough people voted, so I had to make an executive decision) viewpoint.  Here, she has just recounted how she was asked to head up the Mission Review Board and is contemplating seeing the people to whom she will soon become a pariah when she tells them they’re on administrative leave pending an investigation and review board.

Seeing the people in the reports in person–in arms’ reach, in pristine clothing, in smiles–tonight made me palpitate to the very core of my being.  Protocol dictated that I stay away, and the waiting for the official interviews only caused the pulsating in my blood to pulsate more wildly, rapidly seizing my heart in anticipating wonder that was, in some part, dread.  Duty, thou cruel and kind mistress!

So, dear readers, this is both the best and the worst of the first two days.  It’s rather artfully trashy and stupid, wouldn’t you say?  Rather like a Victorian romance novel?  I knew this character would be my favorite to write!  Also, this personifying duty as a mistress thing pops up several times in this chapter, and it is this overwrought every. single. time. Lol!

 

Current Wordcount:  3564

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