I’m Callan Primer, and if you’re here to learn a bit about me–well, I write. I self-publish. After a long, dry spell where my muse hid in the back of my closet, sulking, eating my socks, car keys, and thumb drives, it decided to come out and bite me on the butt. The result is the first draft of a YA SF novel called Company Daughter and the outlines for two more novels to make a trilogy I’m calling The Children of Astraea. I’m aiming for a publication (both Kindle and paperback) date in mid-December, and if you’d like to be notified, I have a mailing list set up on Mailchimp. You can find the opt-in form here: http://eepurl.com/JomMr
Here’s a longer excerpt from the first chapter:
The ogre looked at his omelette and sniffed it, his nasal slits flaring. With a dubious series of clicks from his throat mike, he tried to hand it back. I don’t speak ogre, but I’d been around them all my life. I knew what he meant. Shoving the plate back at him through the hatch, I told him, “Yes, I cooked it. No, it doesn’t have a rat bar hidden in it.”
“I don’t care what it smells like. You can eat it or go hungry.”
He tried to look woebegone, which is hard to do when you’re an eight-foot, green-skinned, tusked monstrosity.
That was my boss of only two hours, Jack Choi, manning the deep fryer. His wife, Eveline, was at the narrow shelf we used as a prep table, dicing onions and garlic and jalapenos for salsa. I looked at him questioningly.
“We don’t boss the customers around. If he thinks there’s something wrong with the omurisu, make him a fresh one.”
Jack was one of the few people willing to hire me. I had tried all the restaurants on Two- and Three Below, but each of them pointed to the door, too intimidated by my father to give me a chance. Even Mama DeFino, who had taught me to make panna cotta, told me to come back when I finished school. But Jack was a retired mech who feared nothing in the bridge universe, least of all his former commanding officer. And he thought anyone willing to support themselves had the right to be called an adult.
“He’s just giving me a hard time.”
Jack sighed, turning out a load of fried jalapenos–the nuclear version from Hirconia Five that the ogres loved–into a basket. “Just make it again, okay?”
I gritted my teeth. This was my first job. Likely to be my last if Dad had his way, but I wouldn’t be fired through any fault of mine. I reached through the hatch and tried to take the plate back from the ogre. He clutched it protectively to his chest.
Outsiders found the ogres—our mechanized soldiers–creepy, and the Gaians, those revolting primitives who thought we all should live in dirt huts and run our food down on foot, wanted them all exterminated. But they were men under all the biological and mechanical alterations, men who liked good food, men who …had really long memories. The rat bar incident had been years ago.
This particular ogre had known me since I was a child. In fact, he’d been there for the rat bar incident–which did not give him a right to harass me on my first real job. I glowered at him, and the eight-foot slab of muscle with radiation-proof skin pretended to cower.
“Just give me that–” I said, making a snatch for the plate. “I’ll make you a new omurisu, and you can watch what goes in it.”
He lifted it out of my reach. With his free hand, he gently tweaked my nose with sausage-sized fingers.
I’m usually better at knowing when I’m being teased, but wondering what Dad was up to had left me sensitive. I waved him off with a tense smile. He grabbed the basket of fried jalapenos along with his omurisu and took it over to his squad, who stood at the tall tables Jack kept for ogres. There was a moment of silent communication among them, and they all shook with the signs of ogre laughter. Great. Now they were all going to do it.
Nine more orders for omurisu popped up on the display above the grill, confirming my worst suspicions. With a sigh, I got another crate of eggs from the fridge and started cooking.
Jack’s café was on Four Below, the borderland between the respectable decks above and the dingier ones below, so he got business from both directions. People from Two- and Three Below slummed and people from Five Below saved their money just to eat his chili and fried jalapenos.
It was hot in the narrow kitchen, the pace frenetic, and I don’t think I’d ever worked so hard in my life.
I loved it. I loved it all, even the obnoxious ogre-customers who harassed me. I retaliated by scrawling rude words on their omurisus with spicy ketchup. Jack saw, but didn’t say anything, mainly because he knew all about ogre humor. It didn’t hurt that we sold dozens of them, either. The word had gone out that the Commandant’s daughter was working in Jack’s café and two more ogre squads had turned up just to order fried rice omelettes and complain about them.
A break in the orders allowed me to take a deep breath and wipe the sweat from my face with a clean corner of my apron. How long had I been on the job? I checked the clock. Five hours? That had to be a record. Had Dad finally washed his hands of me? Had the great mercenary commander finally realized he’d met his match?
I gave myself a minute to gloat. A job. I had a job. And an apartment. Yes, it was on Five Below, but in the nicest part, right up against the treepod grove. All it needed was a bit of cleaning, some curtains, and a futon and it would be perfectly respectable. And mine.
The last ogre came up to collect his omurisu. I had written baka on it in ketchup, and he waggled his eyes at me in good humor. Then he stiffened, snapping his eyes back into their chrome sockets and staring over my shoulder.
Jack and Eveline were still at their stations, so someone must have come into the kitchen behind me. Someone who could make an ogre loose his sense of humor.
Despair welled up in me. I had been so close, so close … “It’s Dad, isn’t it?”
The ogre looked down at me and slowly shook his head in great sympathy.
Who could be worse than Dad?
For me, only one person. I squeezed my eyes shut. Dad, how could you do this to me? With an impending sense of doom, I turned and there he was, the bane of my existence.
The tall, impossibly beautiful, impossibly correct, Lieutenant Joe Park.
by callan with no comments yet
So it looked like the gremlins sneaked past the rings of salt, the barbed wire, the flocks of guard geese, and swapped out my good css for broken stuff. The header is wrong, my blog roll has disappeared, and of course, there are no links to my books or their samples any more. Of course those had to disappear, why would I want them to be available and easy to click on?
So an afternoon I meant to spend lounging around eating bonbons and reading WWII spy manuals will now be spent wrestling with WordPress. Blech.by callan with no comments yet
Just finished the cover art for A Wind out of Escalon. I let nothing hold me back in pursuit of my vision–not a lack of artistic ability, nor hand-eye coordination, nor technical skills. Here’s the final image, put together from stock photos and Paint.NET:
I have no idea what this says to a potential buyer, but I like it.
The novella is up on Smashwords and under review on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I’ll post links to it when everything is live.by callan with no comments yet
The biggest danger to the writer is not self-doubt, writer’s block, or a cat walking over the keyboard and writing more interesting scenes than you do, but the Google search, and the time you spend following curious links rather than working.
I had decided that the main character in A Memory of Ice would spend a night in the open. I had a vague notion she could burrow into leaves to stay warm, but was that correct? Truth in writing demands that I find exactly how much insulation leaves provide, and whether or not they itch.
So, searching for blanket of leaves lets me learn that
1) Michael Jackson’s son is named “Blanket”
2) You can find Linus’s blanket on Great Pumpkin Island by blowing away a pile of leaves
3) There’s a “Marijuana potleaf mink blanket” (queen-sized!) for sale on eBay
4) Three to four feet of leaves will protect you down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. No information on itching, and I’m not going to experiment. There’s a limit to truth in writing. That’s why it’s called fiction …by callan with no comments yet
UPDATE: Being new to the whole blogging thing, I forgot the reality of automatic pingbacks. This post wasn’t intended as a response to the review, but a personal rumination on what I should take from it.
I received a major review, my first of any kind outside my beloved beta readers and critique partners, and it was a crappy one. I didn’t have even the usual ream of five-star Amazon reviews from totally disinterested reviewers to buffer it. Unfortunately, I read it before my morning’s writing session, and now Writer is hiding under her pile of leaves, sniffling.
Talk about jumping into the deep end without a life vest and only the vaguest notion of how to swim.
Editor has had to take over and firmly remind Writer of a number of realities.
Reviews are for readers. If you behave yourself, success.
Obscurity is the indie’s biggest enemy. Success.
The reviewer treated it as a professional product. Success.
It *wasn’t* a failing grade. Success.
Reviews are a fact of life for writers. Let it stop you writing …. well, failure, for today at least. Tomorrow I’ll be back in form.
I know you’re not supposed to take things from reviews other than, I probably don’t want to pitch to this blog again, but it did leave me wondering if I’ve tagged my whole genre wrong. I thought the story was a romantic one, but a dedicated romance reader found little to like in it, and much to confuse. Genres aren’t hard and fast rules about the nature of the fiction, but the nature of the audience. They are markers for a reader’s expectations–breach those, and they get really annoyed. Her take that it wasn’t romance, but fantasy, is a big, clear signal that I don’t want to target romance readers as a market.
Mind you, I won’t be doing any more marketing–I pitched to the blog before reading Dean Wesley Smith’s advice to ignore marketing and work on producing–but I will change genre tags.by capomes with 5 comments
One of the more enjoyable aspects of indie publishing, (besides the independence, the feeling of control, the ability to strike out into new territory where you contract strange diseases that you have no immunity to …) is creating your own markers of success. Here’s one: if you’ve sold more copies to strangers than friends or family, you’re a success.
Time to celebrate!by capomes with no comments yet
Indie publishing is a wild and woolly frontier, with few roads, tracks, meanders, game paths, ley lines etc. available to guide us, and the few that are there have their signposts spun around. You think you’re heading to publishing Nirvana, and instead, you end up in a Facebook loop. But there are a few maps available, published by hardy explorers such as Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch
Reading their blogs has helped me turn away from the tempting mileposts of sales to the serious business of building my stock.
Only one problem. I’m a slow writer, with only a short amount of time in a day to write. For me to succeed, to become what Dean calls an “Indie Writer” rather than an “Indie Author”, I have to write faster–at least a thousand words an hour. I can barely manage 300 well-crafted and eternal words in that time. and that’s on a good day.
So having incredible google-fu, and knowing writers like to write about writing, I searched for what others had to say. And I came across this awe-inspiring post by Rachel Aaron
With all three sides of my triangle now in place, I was routinely pulling 10-12k per day by the time I finished Spirits’ End, the fifth Eli novel. I was almost 2 months ahead of where I’d thought I’d be, and the novel had only taken me 3 months to write rather than the 7 months I’d burned on the Spirit War (facts I knew now that I was keeping records). I was ahead of schedule with plenty of time to do revisions before I needed to hand the novel in to my editor, and I was happier with my writing than ever before. There were several days toward the end when I’d close my laptop and stumble out of the coffee shop feeling almost drunk on writing. I felt like I was on top of the world, utterly invincible and happier than I’ve ever been. Writing that much that quickly was like taking some kind of weird success opiate, and I was thoroughly addicted. Once you’ve hit 10k a day for a week straight, anything less feels like your story is crawling.
(via Michael Harling)
Read the whole thing here.
Ten. Thousand. Words. A. Day. Every day.
Not that her arguments don’t make sense–they do. But if I could do 1000 words a day–no, two thousand–those stories in my head might have a fighting chance at a life.
That’s what I want. That’s my next goal. 1000 words per hour. And I won’t stop there.by capomes with no comments yet
One of my daily blog stops is The Passive Voice, mainly for the smorgasbord of links he/she offers on indie publishing. But this contains possibly the best line of legal humor I’ve read since United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D.Pa. 1971) (then again, my humor is a strange one)
The brief back story is that Harper Collins is claiming Jean Craighead George sold them the ebook rights to Julie of the Wolves back in 1971. Now, I remember 1971, I remember the books, and I even remember the computers, because my mother was one of the early programmers. She worked by the friendly light of vacuum tubes, and I doubt very much she used the mainframes she programmed to read with.
In the Complaint, Harper Collins spends far too many words explaining what a serious, traditional publisher they are:
“… we learn that HC … has been around for almost 200 years and published some famous people. Therefore, it should win its lawsuit. Among others, Harpers published Charles Dickens and the Brontë sisters. The Complaint does not mention that Dickens frequently accused American publishers of stealing his work without payment. We know Emily died young, but are not certain whether a Harpers royalty statement was involved.”
That last line is going in my quotes file.by callan with no comments yet
I know this is supposed to be a writing blog, but I have to put in a plug for this, a race where the ability to run and scream at the same time is prized. As slow as I am, and since we can’t run armed, I expect the zombies will be feasting on my medulla oblongata within feet of the starting line–unless I trip up some little old lady. Don’t think I won’t do it.
And even if you’re not a runner, they need zombies. Shambling zombies, sprinting zombies. Look into it. Passing as a zombie might even be better protection than having the lung capacity to run from them.by capomes with no comments yet