Basement of the Universe

Science Fiction.

A man searches for his missing wife, only to find a way to disappear himself to a strange place.

Status: Currently in editing. The following excerpt is the first draft. I have a revised excerpt you can look at, although it still needs further editing.

***

Piers slumped in his black leather easy-chair. He put his drink on to the end-table beside him, the ice cubes clinking against each other, then he leaned back and closed his eyes. He waited for the answering machine to play back his messages, not caring who called him. Not caring, that is, unless it was the one person he hoped would call him despite months of silence.

“Piers, buddy, me and the guys are playing hoops tonight. Why don’t you join us? And before you decide to ignore us, I’m coming to get you at seven. Be ready, ’cause I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer.”

Piers picked up his drink and saluted the voice before he took a gulp, hoping for the dulling sensation of the vodka to hit, and fast. He was tired of the pain, tired of the hole his wife left behind when she left him. He wondered again if his wife left him or if it was foul play. The police had never given him a good answer on that one, instead preferring to suspect him. But with no body and no evidence of foul play, they couldn’t go as far as locking him up. They asked the same question Piers asked. Where had his wife gone?

He took another gulp, leaned back, and closed his eyes, willing himself to forget the pain.

The doorbell rang. “Bloody hell,” he muttered. He hoped whoever it was would go away, but the second and subsequent rings, ever insistent, convinced him otherwise. He got up and ripped the door open, a snarl on his unshaven face until he saw his best friend. “John. What are you doing here?” He turned and walked back to his living room, taking another drink as he went.

“Don’t you check your messages? Tonight’s basketball. Get your stuff. Let’s go,” said John, with a touch of lilting Irish accent. A leftover from the old country, he said. “Exercise is great for the soul. And overcoming jet-lag. You were in, what was it, Ohio, this time?” he asked as he glanced at Piers’ suitcases, still outside the utility room door where the washer and dryer were.

“Yeah. Columbus.” Piers spoke with a flat voice, inviting no probing. He hoped John would lose interest and go away.

John cleared a spot among the books, magazines, newspaper clippings, and file folders and sat down on the crowded couch. “What was in Columbus, Ohio?”

Will John think he’s nuts? Does it matter? While Piers was confident of his friendship with John, he’d also been confident in his relationship with Tracie, and given that she left without a word, he no longer knew if he was any kind of judge of character. “A psychic. Reputed to be one of the better ones. Consulted on a few police cases, helping to solve unsolveable cases, or so she claims.” John stacked a few books onto the coffee table to give himself room.

“And? Was it productive?”

Piers laughed. “Nope. She wore a purple tent-dress with a pink feather boa and big, gaudy jewellery. She must have thought that if she looked crazy enough, people would believe she was the real deal. As soon as she started talking about my missing sister, it went flat.”

John shook his head. “You give her your name ahead of time, the least she could have done was her research. At least make it sound good.”

“Which is why I gave her the name of a man who’s looking for his sister.”

John snorted. “You sly dog. Nothing useful, then?” John looked interested, and Piers felt himself pulled out of his fugue. He hit them after his trips. Part exhaustion and part hopelessness as he found yet another dead end, he figured. But smiling John, who’d been his friend since forever, had a knack of bringing him out of them. At least, as much as Piers was capable of coming out of it.

Piers shook his head. “Nope. Not a thing.” He felt better when he called it a fugue. Calling it depression wouldn’t make it any better. If he could keep denying it long enough for him to find a clue, then it wouldn’t matter what he called it.

John looked around at the scattered newspapers, books, and magazines covering all available surfaces. He picked a stack off a chair and flipped through them. “I understand the need to find answers, but this? The Qu’ran. The Bhagavad Gita. New Perspectives in Wicca. Papacy and the Mystical. Oh, this looks interesting. The Mystical Design of the Universe: Concepts in The Kabbalah. Has your study of all these religions taught you anything?”

Piers sighed. He hated to admit failure, and yet, what else was there to say? “Oh no, I’ve learned a lot.” But honesty got in the way. “But nothing that helps.”

“Anything that’ll bring Tracie back? Any clues?”

Piers hung his head. He wasn’t ready to admit defeat. Not yet. “There are still religions out there I haven’t studied. And more unexplained mysteries that might have clues.” He paused, thinking about what he’d said. “It sounds lame even to me,” he whispered.

“Piers, you need to let this go.” John put the books on the coffee table amidst the others, and looked at another stack. “She’s not coming back. You need to move on,” he said.

“I know, I know. I’ve heard it all before. From you, remember?” Piers sighed. “But what the hell happened? Did she leave me for another man? Another woman? A man and a woman?” A bitter laugh escaped Piers’ mouth. “I don’t know what happened. All I know is that the police tried pinning her murder on me without a dead body. They didn’t consider her disappearance even as a remote possibility.” He glanced at John, and, noting the look of sadness on his face, continued. “Oh come on, John, you know they didn’t. From the beginning, they treated it like a homicide case. What did they ask you? Do you remember?” Piers poured himself another drink. He knew it affected his ability to think, but right now, he didn’t care.

“Yeah, okay, you’re right. But given statistics, it’s natural, Piers.”

“I know all about statistics, including the fact that statistics do not say that I did her harm.” With shaky hands, he took another gulp of the amber liquid, spilling some on his beard and shirt.

John buried his head in his hands, then ran his fingers through his hair. “You’re right, and I’m sorry. I know it’s hard on you. Any ideas where she is?”

“Her parents’ haven’t heard from her, or, at least, won’t admit it to me. None of her friends will admit to hearing from her either. So what is it? Is she scared of someone? Is she dead?” He gulped air, sucking in a sob. “Did she forget who she was? And me? Is she unconscious in a hospital somewhere, unable to tell anyone who she is?” He put a hand on his forehead and closed his eyes. “Dammit, John, no one has any answers. Not even you, and you’re supposed to know better.”

Piers hated putting John on the spot like this, but dammit! He was running out of ideas!

John looked like the dog who’d been kicked by his master. “Men of the cloth don’t know everything, Piers. It doesn’t work that way.”

“Why the hell not? You have a direct line to God. So tell me. What does God say happened to her?”

John shook his head, his arms out at his side. “I’m sorry, Piers. I don’t know. But searching for answers this way, reading all these books, it isn’t healthy. You need to let go and move on. Stop obsessing about her. Take up a new hobby. Something that doesn’t involve,” he glanced at a stack of books on the end table, “Buddhism or Whirling Dervishes or accounts of missing people from Nigeria or the Hindu Kush. It’s not doing you any good.”

Piers exhaled. “John, I can’t. She was my whole life. She. . . She loved me, believed in me, when I didn’t believe in myself. She’s everything to me. She’s . . . Any life that doesn’t have her in it isn’t worth living.” Piers picked up his glass and bottles and took them into the kitchen to wash and put away. He needed the time to compose himself. As he came back, he saw the look of concern on John’s face. “Oh, John, don’t look at me that way. I’m not talking suicide. I wouldn’t do that, and you should know me well enough by now.”

“But you sounded. . .”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. But I’m not. It’s just that everything is pale without her. There’s no meaning anymore. I need to find out what happened.”

John stood up. “Piers, eventually, you’ll have to face the fact that you don’t know and might never know what happened. And you’ll need to get on with your life. But, I’m your friend, even if I don’t understand what you’re doing. Let me know if you need anything. Okay?” Piers nodded. “Alright. Grab your gear and let’s go. The meatpacking guys think they can beat us, and with your unstoppable jump shot, we need you to beat them.” John grinned as he got up, spurring Piers to join him.

Piers, back home again, was exhausted from the workout. He tossed his gym bag in the laundry room and went back to the living room to read before bed. He picked up a book, Alien Abductions and You, from the pile he’d checked out of the library a few weeks before. He glanced through the table of contents, wondering if it was at all possible that aliens had abducted his wife. As he read, he wondered if any of it were true. There were many theories about what could be causing the so-called Alien Abductions, but he had a hard time believing it was little green men or his own government kidnapping citizens for testing.

But then, before Tracie disappeared, he hadn’t believed in aliens at all, nor had he ever explored world religions. Oh sure, he’d heard of most of them, and dismissed them as wrong. Like most people, he believed in the religion his parents raised him in, and that was good enough. Until Tracie. When she disappeared, that changed everything.

He couldn’t believe in a malicious God who would separate him from Tracie. He wouldn’t believe it – he refused to. He had to believe that there was a way to be with her again. Otherwise, God was nothing more than a cruel joke, and that, he also refused to believe.

Maybe John’s right. Maybe it’s time to let go, he thought. He looked around the room, noticing for the first time the mess, the piles of hundreds, maybe thousands, of books, articles, magazines, and newspaper clippings on missing civilizations, alien abductions, and missing and kidnapped people. He looked at the books on Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Jainism, and New Age beliefs. He wondered, for the first time, if maybe, just maybe, he’d ventured out into the wrong side of crazy. His dwindling bank account balances, suffering from the onslaught of book purchases, private investigator fees and travel expenses to consultations with spiritualists and reknowned psychics, he thought, would seem to confirm that theory.

“I’ll read something else, then,” he said, out loud. “Yeah, going crazy, then.” He ignored the piles of books lying around near him and wandered down the hall and into their shared study, her side untouched since she vanished except for occasional dusting, and wondered if she had anything to read. He poked through the pine bookshelves, covering two walls from ceiling to floor, that were filled with an eclectic range of books. He skipped by the romances. Not in the mood for anyone but Tracie. He passed over the historicals and mysteries. He wanted frivolous and fluffy. Science fiction or fantasy, maybe. Something out of this world to help him forget Tracie. Something different from his usual choices.

He picked up an anthology of short stories and settled into Tracie’s office chair.

He flipped to the middle and started reading the first short story he found, Mimsy Were the Borogoves by Lewis Paggett.

When he finished, he shut the book, unsure of how he felt. Bizarre little story, he thought. Starting with Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem, it was a story about little children who were in a unique position to understand the universe better than adults, and to manipulate it. These children could find cracks in the universe and go through them. But leading to where?

No, this is utter nonsense. It’s a story. He tossed the book on Tracie’s desk, dismissed it from his troubled mind, and went to bed.

He woke with a start, sweat pouring off him. He’d had a nightmare, he realized, as he looked at the wrinkled and dishevelled sheets. “All mimsy were the borogoves,” he said, remembering the dream, the little blonde-haired, freckle-faced girl, a Tracie in miniature, in his dream who pointed in front of her, laughing at him. Then she stepped forward, and disappeared through a slit in space, laughing at him still until she disappeared into nothing.

Her laughing haunted him.

He wiped the sweat from his face, unsure of what to think. He got up and ran down the hall into his wife’s study and grabbed her copy of Alice in Wonderland off the shelf.

JABBERWOCKY

By Lewis Carroll

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:

Long time the manxome foe he sought —

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’

He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

It made no more sense to him now than it had when he’d first read Alice & Wonderland decades earlier. He remembered his English teacher trying to teach them about symbolism using this poem, but he didn’t see it. Never did.

But why would a stupid poem or a silly short story give me a nightmare, he wondered.

He thought back to the day his wife had disappeared. He remembered her in the kitchen, washing the dishes. He’d given her a kiss on the forehead, grabbed his briefcase from his office after stuffing it with papers and file folders, yelled out a goodbye to his wife, and then walked out the door. When he’d realized he didn’t have his keys to unlock his car, he went back into the house to get them. Less than a minute after he left and she was already gone. Even then, he couldn’t remember if his wife had responded when he said goodbye to her that morning.

Outrageous, he thought. Not possible. There was no such thing as cracks in the universe. It was the most ridiculous theory he could ever come up with, and if he ever told anyone about this thought, he’d get locked up in the funny farm for sure. No one would look at him the same.

This was not possible. At all.

He remembered his high-school English teacher, Mr. Terry, telling him to think outside the box, use his imagination, dare to believe the unbelievable. But that guy was a twit, he thought. Every poem John Keats ever wrote wasn’t always about death, nor was it always about love or sex. Why can’t the Ode on a Grecian Urn be about an urn? Why does it have to be about something else? Something bigger? Why can’t it be about what it’s about? He noticed his clenched fists and forced himself to relax. But sometimes that old coot knew what he was talking about, he conceded. He remembered back to his high school days, sitting in that classroom, while Mr. Terry, who, even in the hottest weather, wore long sleeved shirts and pants, talked to them about reaching for their dreams, never giving up. He’d said it didn’t matter if we were adults with adult responsibilities – we shouldn’t give up but should keep working towards making our dreams happen. And then Mr. Terry had told us why he never wore short sleeves or shorts, about that horrible accident on that stretch of highway while he’d been on vacation with his wife.

What a horrible day that had been for Mr. Terry, Piers reflected. He, of all people, would understand how Piers felt to lose someone so beloved. He would understand why Piers couldn’t give up on his wife.

The thought that Tracie could have gone through a crack in the universe was preposterous, and yet it would explain something he’d wondered about.

The police, during their investigation, found no evidence of foul play. No DNA, no fingerprints, no doors forced open, no blood spatter, no fibre. Nothing. Even her suitcases and clothes appeared to be all accounted for. Not that Piers would know for sure – he couldn’t keep track of all his wife’s clothing or shoes. But Tracie hadn’t taken her purse, so she had no ID or access to banks or credit cards, and no money was missing.

In fact, Piers could find nothing of hers that Tracie had taken with her other than the clothes on her back. That, and a coffee mug. Piers could never figure out why she would take a coffee mug, a gag gift from him on their first anniversary, but not any of her other more treasured memorabilia, like her grandmother’s antique sapphire wedding rings, or the antique pipe her grandfather had used every day until he died. Or, for that matter, why she hadn’t taken any of the emergency money they had stashed in a coffee can in the freezer.

How far could she go without money?

In fact, that was one of the little anomalies the police clung to when they focussed on him as the only suspect in the murder investigation.

She had disappeared without a trace. It made no sense.

My First 500 Words

I posted the first 500 words of Basement of the Universe as I submitted them to Nathan Bransford’s contest in this entry. Happily, I’ve received some comments there, critiquing my piece. Thank you, critiquers. 🙂 I also submitted my piece to two other people who offered to do critiques in Nathan’s comments.

JJ DeBenedictis has critiqued mine on her blog. Here’s what she has to say:

434. Basement of the Universe – The nifty mystery of people simply disappearing is your story’s hook, and I do like how you dramatize Peter forcing himself to accept the truth he doesn’t want to acknowledge; you get us into his emotions well. In fact, given that you dramatize it well in the second scene, I think the first scene should be deleted–you’re just “telling” what you’re about to “show”. I did think the piece could be improved by getting the fact that there have been other disappearances into the narrative sooner. Also, the piece is slightly overwritten in places; for example, you don’t need to say “he repeated” when it’s clear to the reader that Peter just repeated himself. Perhaps try to streamline the prose so that you have nothing except what’s absolutely necessary?

Chro hasn’t done mine yet – as soon as it’s posted, I’ll add that here, too, provided Chro doesn’t mind.

What have I learned from all of this?

To start with, let me add a simpering explanation and whinge. I found out about the contest less than 12 hours before it was scheduled to end. Considering the last eight hours of that time was when I normally sleep, that really only gave me four hours. Discount the time needed for getting dinner, eating, and, um, I don’t know what else (was that American Idol night?), I really only had an hour or two to work with my existing first couple of pages.

And I immediately disliked what I had for the opening. So I ditched it. I’ll probably add at least portions of it back in somewhere else, perhaps in flashbacks. But that gave me one or two hours to edit the first 500 words. And that gave me no time to let it sit and let me change my mind later before I entered it.

And I can now see a whole bunch of stuff that I’d rather change about the first 500 words that I entered. As in, the entire first paragraph would be deleted in its entirety. Gone. The rest, I would get rid of the repetitive stuff and work in more ways to show his emotions, specifically about how he feels about his now-missing wife. Perhaps find a way to work in more nuances of the world they’re in – this is not contemporary Earth, after all, and I don’t think there’s anything to even hint at that.

The bottom line is that this contest, reading through other entries, reading through many of the excellent comments, some by Nathan himself, others by other readers of his blog, and reading through the critiques of my entry, has taught me a lot about how to compose the first five hundred words.

The next question is, is it enough for me to improve my first 500 words to land me an agent and publisher? Ah, time will tell. 🙂

If you haven’t already read through Nathan Bransford’s blog and the contest entries, do. It’s quite educational. And I’m also including the comments in there. While you’re at it, there are several conversations about all of this over at the Absolute Write forums, too, and are also worth checking out and reading.

Basement of the Universe, the first 500 words

Nathan Bransford, an agent for Curtis Brown Ltd., is insanely running a contest for writers. Submit your first 500 words and he’ll… Well, his blog entry doesn’t exactly spell out whether he’ll critique each one or what, but the finalists win some pretty nifty – for writers – prizes, including a query critique, partial critique, and so on.

When I last checked, he had 649 comments, mostly entries. I feel sorry for the guy. 🙂

Because I’m insane, I entered.

And, because my first 500 words are now showing up on the Internet, I figured I might as well put those same first 500 words here, too. So you can read them. And hopefully not weep, but rather enjoy them. I hope…

Feel free to comment. Tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t, tell me what does or does not work for you.

—–

Basement of the Universe (science fiction) by L. M. Ashton

She was gone. He stared at the empty kitchen where Tracy had stood not a minute before.  Alarms on and unbreached, doors and windows still locked, and no sign of how she might have left.

Peter’s heart sank as he wondered with panic what had happened to her.

Just five minutes ago, they were drinking their morning coffee in the bright kitchen, Tracy still in her nightgown.

 ***

He yelled back at her. “What do you want to do in the evening? Game for some black market stuff?” His coat pocket yielded nothing but an old candy wrapper. He muttered under his breath, cursed those elusive keys, then checked the pockets in the pants he wore yesterday. “Not here, either. Hey, Trace, what do you want to do?” he repeated, a little bit louder. He glanced over the crowded dresser top with Trace’s arsenal of beauty products. No keys.

“Tracy?” He reached into the pockets of the pants he wore, and found his keys in the right pocket. “Ah, here all the time.” He walked back into the kitchen.

“Tracy? Where are you?” Nothing. “Tracy, this is no time for painting.” He walked into her studio, a tiny room crammed with her painting paraphernalia and easel. The huge windows had been an incentive, at least for Tracy, for them to get the apartment. Not for the view – it looked over the soot-stained city walls on the bare, pock-marked terrain outside – but Tracy had been adamant that the lighting was absolutely perfect for her work.

“Tracy?” He felt uneasy. The apartment was so small that there was no way she couldn’t hear him or he’d miss her. He went quickly through the bedroom, the kitchen, living room, and bathroom again. No Tracy.

He checked the doors. Still bolted on the inside. The windows were closed as well, not that she’d jump from a second-story apartment on to the crowded streets, but where else could she have gone? He felt his mind race around like a cat gone crazy trying to unravel a ball of string. No, no, she couldn’t have disappeared like the others. He couldn’t believe it.

He raced back into the kitchen, half-hoping that perhaps she was playing a joke on him and would spring out from some hidey-hole that he’d missed. But no, even her coffee mug was gone.

He checked the bedroom again, thinking she could be lying unconscious behind the bed. At this point, he would have taken even that rather than Tracy just disappearing. His heart hammered away like a race-horse galloping towards the winning post and his brain felt as if it was trying to claw its way through thick sticky mush. The world crawled to a black standstill while his thoughts went round and round, shying away from the one possibility that remained.

His mind finally capitulated. There was no explanation but the one he didn’t want to think about. His heart sank.

She was gone. Disappeared. Just like the others.

Editing Basement of the Universe and synopsis and back-cover blurbs

As I mentioned in a previous post, Fahim and I are tandem-editing my novel, Basement of the Universe.

I’m not fond of editing, so Fahim helping me out with this is a huge benefit to me. I’ll be following in his footsteps, editing today the scenes he’s just finished editing yesterday. Because of the way we’re doing this and because he’s doing some of the editing himself, editing Basement is a lot less daunting to me. Which is a good thing, of course.

And while I’m at it, I’ll also write a synopsis, one scene at a time. Also a lot less daunting, especially as I haven’t done a synopsis before.

Yes, I do have an outline, and a fairly detailed one at that, but the way I write my outlines, I can’t just translate it directly into a synopsis, although I will consider changing my outlining methods for the future to make this easier.

In my outlines, I add details, like cultural details, that never make their way directly into the novel. They’re there to remind me of the essence of the scene, things to mention and allude to, foreshadowing needed. Then add in any scenes where either I deviated, even slightly, from the outline, or the scene was changed from the outline during editing, and it becomes even more apparent that the synopsis needs to be written from scratch.

And since I’m doing all this, I thought I’d do back-cover blurbs at the same time. I haven’t done those before, either, so this should be fun and interesting. And if I do it right, the back-cover blurb becomes the perfect insert into the query letter.

Wish me luck. 🙂

Do you have any tips and tricks?

Basement of the Universe in editing

Yesterday, Fahim took over the task of editing Basement of the Universe. I hadn’t even finished rewriting the opening scenes that were needed since I’d deleted the old ones – we’d changed our minds over where the opening scenes took place, and that location change changed everything else in those opening scenes along with it.

At any rate, Fahim will deal with that now, since it’s his city – Kabul City – that we’re setting it in. 🙂

The word count when I gave it over to him was 50,929. Yes, very short for a novel that should ideally be between 80 to 100k words. My first drafts tend to be spare on details and description – I tend to gloss over it in an effort to get the basic story down quickly. So, Fahim will have a bit of a job to do there, but he’s up for the task. 😀

At the end of his editing shift yesterday, Fahim tossed the file into the Groove space and asked me to read it. He’d edited the first two pages or so.

I read it over, and said, “What changes? This is exactly how I gave it you. Where are the changes?” He laughed his maniacal laugh and pointed them out. He’d kept my voice so intact that, short of comparing this document to my original, I didn’t have a clue. And his version read better, too.

Ah, yes. I think this will work very well. Very well, indeed. 🙂

Planning Time

I’ve been re-thinking my plan of attack and have come up with something that I think will work. Of course, this starts with a conversation Fahim and I had a month or so back.

The short version – at least, as far as how I remember it – is that we could work more closely as a writing team and pool our resources and our strengths as writers, especially since we complement each other as writers so much.

Doing freelance writing, our multiple editing rounds have worked well – we notice different things. He’s better at the overall picture, for example, but I’m better at the detail. It tends to work out well for us to do things this way. Plus, with Groove, it becomes a lot easier – dump the document into the shared workspace, and he can grab it when he feels like it. When he makes revisions, it shows up at my end. It’s a rather handy tool for collaboration work like this.

To that end, we’ve discussed a complete change to the beginning of my Basement of the Universe novel (yes, I got my title back. :D) to bring it more in line with other novels / stories we’ve got in mind / are in planning / have been at least partially written set in this particular universe.

To that end, I deleted 10,000 or so words in the novel. Painful? Well, yes, but no. They were weak. They needed improvement. The new beginning is stronger, more interesting, more fun. And the old beginning isn’t entirely deleted – I’ve got it languishing in a zipped backups archive, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice for Bloopers, Bleepers, and Outtakes.

Now it’s on to rewriting the beginning, adding in missing detail in more than a few places, then passing it on to Fahim for editing, who, I think, will give it much more than just a “you could improve this here” and more of a “oh, I think we should change this scene entirely” as he chops and adds whatever seems appropriate to him. Frankly, I hope he does take more of a writing-partner approach to it rather than straight editor. I think it will be stronger.

Of course, we’ll likely end up passing it back and forth for editing several to many times. We’re getting good at that – we’ve developed a system that seems to work for us. Granted, we’ve used it for freelance writing, not fiction, but the theory should hold. 🙂

That’s novel one.

Novel two, in my mind, is to finish writing Children of the Dome. I’m about a quarter of the way through, and got bogged down by stupid details like distances. Well, in this book, I have to be fairly precise over travel time, distances, and the like for anal retentiveness sake and to make sure I keep the details clean. This particular book demands it. The reader will likely not notice, but it’s better to make sure the details are in place. It just makes for a better read, in my opinion.

Then pass that on to Fahim as well.

Novel three, in my mind, would be Shards. I’m pretty sure. Which I would like to do for NaNoWriMo. It’s fantasy, not science fiction, so a bit of a departure for me, but that’s also the point. Do something a little different. See what happens. Does it work? Does it stink? Is it fun?

I hope it’ll be fun.

Problem is, I don’t have it entirely planned yet – need to flesh out the plot points, so of course, I need Fahim’s help on that. 😀 Oh, he’s ever so handy. 😀

And that’s what I’ve got in the immediate future.

Basement of the Universe

It’s actually not entirely badly written. Or, to be really honest, it’s pretty good. Sure, it needs polishing, and I need to add a few scenes, and add a whole lot of description, and add some foreshadowing and a few other bits and pieces that I’ve missed (forgotten from the conversations Fahim and I had about it), but he’ll remind me what those are, and I’ll add them, and it’ll be all better. But it’s not pages and pages of crap that needs to be deleted. It’s mostly pretty good. And definitely workable.

Placidia was the first one I finished a first draft for, and it has definite problems. Black Light was the second I finished, and while it’s better than Placidia, it most definitely has some serious problems. Both of them need some serious work – plot restructuring and the whole bit. I have entire scenes I need to rip out, and a whole lot more that I need to add in. It has zero foreshadowing, and the plot is, well, amateurish.

In other words, there’s a lot of work to be done on both of them before either is ready to present to agents or publishers.

Basement of the Universe, however, feels completely different. Basement feels like it needs editing, of course, but it can be done in a month or two, whereas the other two would need a whole lot more than that. And honestly, the only reason it’ll take a month or two to do Basement is because Fahim needs to read it over (it’ll take him that long) and tell me what I’ve forgotten.

Basement is already much much more sellable than either of the first two.

My next, Children of the Dome, will be even better. That much, I also know.

From plotting with Fahim on Basement and then writing it, I’ve learned that, during the plotting phase, I need to go more detailed than I have before. I need to include notes on POV for each scene, foreshadowing that I need to include in any given scene, things like that. At this point, I’m not as good at planning it or figuring it out in the moment, but if I plan it all in advance, then it works out far better.

So with Children of the Dome, and all other novels to follow, of course, that’s what I have to do. Detail the plot outline to death.

With Fahim’s help, it works out great.

Thanks, honey. kiss