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Posts Tagged ‘xochitlicacan’

Clockwork Phoenix is now an ebook!

Mike Allen (time_shark) has done yeoman work, converting the first volume of the Clockwork Phoenix anthology series to ebook format. This is, you may recall, the home of “A Mask of Flesh,” which I keep wanting to call “one of my Mesoamerican fantasy stories” until I remember that I haven’t actually gotten any of the other ones in shape to submit anywhere, let alone publish.

The rest of the series (CP, not those stories — though maybe them, too) will follow in time, but for now you can get the first volume on the Kindle. If you prefer pixels to dead trees, head on over and take a look!

With it, not on it.

5063 words of crappy draft. Or rather, 5063 words of some admixture or good and bad; I know there are bits in it that work just fine. Unfortunately, they’re nowhere near a majority.

Doesn’t matter. 5063 words = done. I’ve finished “Chrysalis,” and before the end of the month, too.

Now it’s out of the way, and I can decide later what to do with it.

Much later.

with my draft or on it


I have about three hours — a little less — until I need to be somewhere else.

I have a story that still lacks only one scene for completion . . . which is where it’s been for well over a week.

I have contacted my crit group to tell them not to expect this story any time soon, because it is a bad enough draft that there’s no point asking other people to tell me what’s wrong with it until after I’ve fixed the most glaring problems. I’ve also given myself permission to stash the bad draft on my hard drive and not come back to it until months or even years from now, because I’m pretty sure this really is a story that will work better once I’ve written (and published) more things in that setting.

I will finish this bloody story today or die trying. I don’t care if it sucks, I don’t care how long or short it ends up being, I don’t care about anything except finishing the stupid draft.

Because in Not Finishing this, I’ve been Not Working on a whole lot of other things, too. So it’s past time “Chrysalis” got out of my way and went somewhere it won’t bother me anymore.

pronoun update

Tied for first in the poll are “they” and “yehuatl,” which I find interesting. “Sie” is in second place. But I think the winner will be a candidate not in the original poll: aliettedb‘s fabulous suggestion of “ome,” which is the Nahuatl word for “two.” This is both short and easily pronounceable; also, it carries a benefit for my hindbrain, which is that it evokes Ometeotl, the (mostly abstract) Aztec deity of duality. Since I already had it in mind to port Ometeotl into the setting as the patron deity of the xera — particularly those xera in this character’s condition — that looks like a win all around.

And I think I even have a name. Cenquiztli may not be the world’s most user-friendly set of phonemes, but phonetic friendliness has never been a real priority in this setting. (One of the reasons I doubt I will ever write a novel there. I rarely even bother telling anybody the setting is called Xochitlicacan.)

So my thanks to Aliette, and to all of you who pitched in on the problem. Now I go back to renaming Matzoloa, and trying to figure out where I got vay zodtz from in the first place.

pronoun problems

Finishing “Once a Goddess” reminds me of the great appeal of short story writing: instant gratification. Instant from the point of view of novel-writing, anyway; I cranked out the bulk of that story in a single evening, and it’s a rare story that requires more than three days of me sitting down and adding words to it. So I’m going to see if I can’t finish two more before the end of the year.

One is the sacrilicious story, provisionally titled “The Gospel of Nachash.” I figure I’ll save that for closer to Christmas. ^_~ I need to figure out a name for one of the characters, and then I need to figure out what happens to him; everything around that is more or less in place.

With that one on the second burner, the immediate project is “Chrysalis.” And here, gentle readers, I need your help.

See, to make the structure work, I’m pretty sure I need an additional character at the midpoint of the story. I know who that character is; what I don’t know is what to call him/her/it/them. Said entity is a character perfectly balanced between male and female — which might mean perfectly androgynous or perfectly hermaphroditic, I’m not sure which. Anyway, this being English, where we’ve jettisoned grammatical gender pretty much everywhere except our pronouns, I’m not sure which one to use.

My preferred gender-neutral default in speech is singular “they,” which has been in use for centuries and has the advantage of being a solution people actually use. But in a story situation like this, it can leave the reader thinking I mean more than one person, and generally undermines the sense of unity I want the character to have. “It” would work if I decide on androgyny, but I’m not sure I like the way that renders an individual into an object. (There’s a reason I had the witches call a doppelganger “it” instead of “she.”) Beyond that, I’m looking at a bunch of neologisms like “sie,” all of which I fear would kick the reader out of the fantasy-Mesoamerican setting and into the twenty-first century. My final option — thanks to Wikipedia — is to go the other direction and dig in the dusty corners of English past, which gives me three possibilities: “heo,” which was replaced by “she” because it started to sound too much like “he;” and “ou” and “a,” both of which were used in Middle English. (Is the latter what we see when Ophelia sings “And will ‘a not come again?”)

Or I could use the Nahuatl third-person pronoun yehwatl. Or the K’iche Mayan are. (Sorry, had to repost the poll to add those.)

Anyway. I have options; I just don’t know which one I like. So we have a poll. Check all that you like, and feel free to present your case in the comments.

(Edited again to add: okay, it looks like “yehuatl” might be shortenable to “ye” or “yehua.” If I go with that option, I will very much need to consult with someone who knows Classical Nahuatl, since the way it handles pronouns is very alien to English, and I don’t trust myself to make up the appropriate substitutions without help. But if the length of that word is keeping you from voting for it, there may be shorter alternatives.)

yay redundancy!

The “Chrysalis” notes I know are scribbled on two or three small yellow sheets of notepad paper somewhere on my desk have never made it into electronic format (and therefore are not on my laptop), but it turns out enough of their content ended up in the notebook I have with me for me to at least get by. Which is to say, I know the character names.

This has led to me holing up in the guest bedroom with a handful of pocket change, trying to diagram the story’s weird structural tricks, and wishing I were in Britain because those tuppence coins sure would come in handy right now.

But I’m going to put that aside for a while and see what I think of “Once a Goddess,” now that I’ve slept on the ending and hopefully have some perspective.

oh. em. gee., part two

And then the editor suggests one last line to go after the one you thought was the last line, and you say “yes, that’s it exactly,” and after the most ridiculously niggly revision process I’ve ever been through — a revision process possibly more niggly than all my other story revisions put together — I’ve sold “A Mask of Flesh” to Clockwork Phoenix.

Let it be known to all the world that Mike Allen is a saint among editors, for putting up with me. He made the ending of the story much better, however much I occasionally wanted to light the last page on fire.

Anyway, those of you from the Changeling game may be interested to know that this is the use to which I put all that research I did into Central American folklore, back in the day. My odd little quest to publish some Mayan/Aztec fantasy has begun.

oh. em. gee.

There is nothing more irritating to me, in the writing life, than beating my head against the final line of a story over and over again, arranging and rearranging the most insignificant details in an attempt to get it in tune. “A” or “the”? “Ghosted” or “ghosting”? Comma or no comma?

At least I figured out fairly quickly that the reason I didn’t like any of my ending lines was because I’d passed the right one already. Now I just need to get it to sing.

I should also have a Mesoamerican icon . . . .

I love the fact that I have trained my memory decently well to hold onto ideas I have while falling asleep.

Because last night I came up with a short story that, if I can pull it off, might just be brilliant. Not just my usual, fairly plot-driven fare, but something much deeper, and more unusual in its structure. And it has an awesome title. (Though you have to know the story to know why it’s awesome.)

Then I went to sleep and forgot about it.

But partway through today, while I was thinking about other things, my brain tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Oh yeah, don’t forget about this.”

I have it down in notes now, and who knows? I may try to write some of it this weekend. I wrote “Nine Sketches” half at VeriCon, and I’m damned proud of that one; maybe this one can get in on some of that mojo.

So, yeah. “Chrysalis.” Might be my next story, if I can hold onto Mesoamerica and teen-angst urban fantasy at the same time.

Update: Well, now I know what all the people in the story are called. (Or at least most of them. Depends on whether I only name the pov characters, or whether folks like Konil’s daughter will get named, too.)

unexpected finish

This really wasn’t my plan for the night (I thought I’d write a bit, then stop), but I finished “A Mask of Flesh.” Total of 4296 words, when all is said and done; 2538 of that was tonight.

I found the description in this story to be interesting. Ordinarily, me describing something (a person, a building, an object) is a sign that it’s important. For much of this tale, though, the two most important people in it — the lord of the land, and Neniza herself — were not described at all. Those omissions, surrounded by description that’s lusher than my usual and should probably get more lush when I revise, speak quite loudly. It’s an interesting inversion.

And I had fun with the description overall. I’ll need to go back and consult some visual references when I edit it, to make myself be even more concrete, but it was neat to sink my brain into a Mesoamerican context. So many details change. The people coming into the city don’t have carts, just packs — I didn’t have to keep to real-world Mesoamerican technology, of course, given that this is a fantasy setting, but I wanted to. They don’t eat beef or mutton or goat, but peccary and monkey. Clothing, even for the elite, is minimal, because of the heat of their environment. I had to fight not to shoehorn all of my ideas and research into this one vessel, and even then, I couldn’t resist slipping in touches like bloodletting and the World Tree. The whole point of this project, after all, is to present a society that is not what we’re used to.

So it’s done, which is nice, given how few short stories I’ve been writing lately. <looks around> Okay, what next?