Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Mind Edits

One of the best parts of getting published, I believe, is having a thorough editing of your manuscript. I learn a lot about my writing style and the mistakes I make, and how they impact the readability of my books. I'm always a better writer for them.

Such is the case with Mind Over Mind. This was my first novel, sold to Dragon Moon after 10 years of making the rounds. I was thrilled that they wanted it, but I'm even more thrilled with the attention the editor, Gabrielle, gave the manuscript.

One of the biggest things she noted, content-wise, was my tendency to start with a present-time action, then go back into a flashback of some past event not mentioned before. I knew I did that, and I always had a reason. Usually, I considered the flashback event too minor to mention except in how it impacted the present scene. However, Gabrielle felt that most of the time what I was doing was slowing down the pace of the action, where with some rewriting, I could indeed address the flashback as a real-time event, improve the pace and make the present scene I was writing flow more easily. Reading her comments, I saw that she was right.

She made careful note of which scenes in particular could benefit from the real-time approach, and as I worked them, I started to understand her logic and how it applied. Plus, she fired up my imagination--something I was a little afraid about at first, because it had been so long since I'd been with these characters.

As a result, not only is Mind Over Mind a better book, but I am a better writer.

Here's an example. Please keep in mind that there may be further revisions before the final product comes out:


"Hey, Ydrel, are you awake?"

Ydrel grunted without looking up. He didn't have the energy to move from the reclining lawn chair where he’d been dozing for the last couple of hours, and he knew that the slightest movement would send daggers of pain into his side.

The Master had called him again the night before, breaking though his weakened shields as if they weren't there. He hadn't even spoken, had just set new monsters upon him. They were mostly human, but had only depressions where their eyes, noses and mouths should have been. At first, he'd fought mostly a defensive battle. His shields were weakened and he had no ley line from which to renew them. The hits soon broke through, painful blows that he knew would reveal themselves in the waking world, He began to fight back then, growing more and more desperate. When one monster smacked his arm hard enough to make him drop his sword, he reacted by reflex, striking out with his mind rather than his body. The creature arched and fell.

"Yes!" the Master shouted.

Startled at what he'd just done, Ydrel dropped his guard. Another creature plunged his blade deep into his side.

The pain threw him into the waking world.


Ydrel found himself in the land of mists, disoriented, shivering, his sword in his hand and a cramp in his side. He turned a slow circle until he saw the Master
"Let me go," he moaned. "I don’t want to fight today."

The Master didn't even answer, simply faded into the background as the monsters approached. Gray things, with depressions where the facial features should have been. Alien but weirdly familiar. This time, instead of their arms ending in blades, they had hands which held swords. I can knock the blades from their hands, he thought. Then when I have a safe minute I'm using all my power and leaving--

The sword was gone from his hands.

"What?" he breathed, then felt the Master's command: YOU DO NOT NEED THIS PROP. YOU ARE THE ONLY WEAPON YOU NEED.

The monsters advanced.

"No!" he shouted to the Master. "I don't want to do this. I want to go home.Leave me alone!" He cast about for a ley line. Were there such things in this world?

One of the creatures swung and he ducked. The others waited, but not from some cliché of honor. There were letting him warm up; soon enough, they would come at him at once, and not in some choreographed demonstration fight.

He couldn’t find a line. Again he ducked another swing then stepped to the right just in time to avoid a blow. The movement made the stitch in his side flare.

"Just let me go!"


If only he had his sword. There was energy in it. Anything else? Not the sky, the fog, not even the barren ground.

But the monsters?

Energy flowed from living things, Joshua had said. His mother had poured out her energy to heal him once. Could he work it the other way around?

One jerked forward with a stabbing motion and he grabbed its arm. Instead of tossing it aside, however, he imagined himself a sponge, pulling, absorbing. When he felt the first energy, like cool water, he suddenly thirsted as he never had. He grit his teeth, pulled on the energy, felt it swirl around him, it filled his head, dizzying and glorious.

Ydrel came to himself and found all eight monsters collapsed in the mist. Why were they there still? Always before, they faded when he'd struck the winning blow. He knelt and shook one, lightly at first, then harder.


He whirled and saw the Master, shining as if he'd absorbed the life energy of the beasts.

"Are they dead?"

The Master smiled at Ydrel with pride.

"Were they alive?" Ydrel demanded, even though he wasn't sure he wanted to know. "Were they real?"


Suddenly, twelve monsters replaced the eight.

"Were they real?" he demanded. Had he done it again? Had he killed? A sob escaped his throat.


"No!" He didn't care if he got lost, if he died. He was leaving this place. The creatures had sacrificed their life energies and he was going to put them to good use. Ignoring the advance of the new enemy, he closed his eyes and chanted. "I'm going back to my body. Back to the asylum. Back to Joshua and Sachiko and safety--"

One of the creatures scored on his side as he faded out of existence.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing and the Clean House

Last week, I talked about my writing schedule in very general terms. This week, I'm going to give you some principles and tips for balancing writing and life--or more specifically, the house.

These are just the things that worked for me. Results vary and everyone's situation is different.

CUT THE CLUTTER: Nothing makes a house harder to handle than an overabundance of stuff. Storing it, cleaning it, moving it, wading through it to find the important thing among the stuff. Dealing with the memories and emotions contained in the stuff. I've talked about cutting clutter before. Here are three ideas:
--Take it in steps--one closet a day, or 15 minutes a day, or 15 items a day
--Evaluate: does it have positive sentimental value? Do you use it? Do you fit it? If not, toss it.
--Get rid of duplicates and things that bring back hurtful or sad memories.

FLY LADY: teaches you how to keep your house clean on a regular basis. Now if you let her, she can take over your life, but here are the three things that I find keep my house reasonable on a daily basis:
--Swish and Swipe: once a day wipe the bathroom sink and toilet. Use the toilet brush and wipe the inside. It takes 60 seconds; I usually do it while I gargle.
--Daily laundry: one load a day and only one load a day. There are 6 in our house, and we all have a laundry day, plus a day for towels and linens
--Kelly's Missions. Kelly, one of the FLY Lady team members, breaks down deep cleaning chores into 15 minute chores a day. I follow her, and the house stays nice without much effort.

HOUSE MINIONS: This is easier for some than others, of course. Each child in my house gets 2 chores a day. The morning chore is like the swish and swipe: a quick wipe down of the sink and toilet or cleaning the catbox or picking up the Wii and videos in the living room. The afternoon chore takes about 15 minutes: vacuum a room, windex the bathroom mirrors, dust the basement bookshelves. All simple and small, but when 4 kids are doing them, the house stays very nice.

HIRE OUT: Not everyone can do this, I know, but sometimes, it's worth the money. For example, I hate yard work, but I've done it all our marriage. This year, I discovered a landscaper who will mow, trim and take care of the weeds for $25 a week plus chemicals as needed. It's worth every penny to me.

REASONABLE STANDARDS: It's nice to have a clean house, and things do run more easily when the house is clean, but that doesn’t mean a clean house is the ultimate goal. It also changes according to your life. My house was a lot messier when I had younger kids. I let it get crazy when I'm on a big writing assignment, and then take a day to "reset it."

Review of Rachel's Contrition by Michelle Buckman


After her daughter’s sudden death, demons from Rachel’s past cause her to lose her husband, her son, and even a place to live.

As Rachel drifts ever closer to insanity — and perhaps oblivion — help arrives from two unlikely sources: a tattered Holy Card depicting Thérèse of Lisieux and Lilly, a troubled teenager battling demons greater even than Rachel’s.

As Rachel grows closer to Lilly — and to Thérèse — unbidden memories reveal fearful mysteries of seduction, madness, and murder.

And a truth that will haunt Rachel forever . . . but enable her fnally to be healed.


I've been impressed with Michelle's work since I got to review Maggie Come Lately. Michelle has a wonderful style that is simple yet profound, characters that you can believe live right next door, and stories that grab you even when the genre isn't your favorite.

I read Rachel's Contrition in the airport, which probably wasn't such a good idea, as I kept having to stop to wipe my eyes. Any mother--possibly every woman--could emphasize with Rachel's pain. I'm not sure how any mother who lost a child to accident could ever read it without bawling, but I can tell you this: they will be tears of healing.

There is a lot of Catholic imagery and culture, which makes it especially wonderful for Catholic readers, but you don't need to follow that faith to understand that her struggle was spiritual as well as mental, and that her healing followed the same path.

This is Michelle's best work yet. I'm so excited to see what comes next!

Purchase from Sophia Institute Press.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

my Novel's Journey: Mind Over Mind Edits

Once again, Discovery takes a back seat to a more pressing writing need; this time, the first round edits to Mind Over Mind.

This is the revision of the first novel I'd ever written, the story of a young man who develops psychic powers, and has aliens communicate with him. The experiences drive him insane, and at the start of the book, he's been in an asylum for five years when a young intern decides to help him by pretending to believe him and teaching him to control his powers. In the meantime, the aliens--representatives of warring factions--each think he's their savior and try to get him to fight on their side.

I've loved this story for a long time, but knew the manuscript needed some work, so I'm very pleased to have Gabrielle Harbowy, editor of DragonMoon give it a very critical eye. It's the most invasive editing I've ever had, with scenes that need re-written and some changes in the placement and flow of the text. Overall, however, I've loved her suggestions. Revising has been an exciting experience.

It's been a couple of years since I've seen this manuscript, so my first run of edits is really more of a read-through. I'm approving all the changes I agree with and writing new scenes as they come to mind. Where a change is needed that doesn't immediately hit me, I make a note and move on. Most of the scene changes so far have been to alter point of view switches within scenes. This has been fun because I get to live the book with my characters all over again.

I've gotten through 214 pages in three days, and figure I'll finish it this weekend. Then, I'll go through it looking for the bigger issues: Is my character flawed enough? Are the chapter sizes more even? Did I chop up flashback, or change some to flow in real time?

In the meantime, I am still working on Discovery. I'm trying to write 500 words a day. So far, Sister Ann is taking center stage. A couple of days ago, she came up with a very interesting quote about pain and fear, faith and knowledge and how sometimes you need all four for an epiphany. The next day, I wrote a scene where she declared someone a genius because he just skipped straight to the epiphany. The fun thing about Ann is going to be that none of the characters are going to understand her, but the reader is going to be able to see all the connections.

Writing Schedules!

I got asked today about my writing schedule, which is ironic since it caused me to notice that I did NOT follow my blog-writing schedule. Sorry, folks. I'll pick it up tomorrow, promise.

In the meantime, let me tell you how schedules work for me. Each January, I think about the past year--what worked, what didn't, what I want to do different--and I make a schedule accordingly. Working around the school schedule. I always devote a couple of hours to just writing, then divide the rest according to tasks, usually assigning dedicated time each week, whether I have definite plans for the week or not.

Then, when the new school year starts, I revise the whole thing to suit the new schedule.

So, for September-December 2010, my schedule looks something like this:
5:30-8:30: Get older kids ready for school.
Do household chores and one load of laundry. Make chores list for the kids.
Pray Divine Mercy Chaplet and read daily Gospel
Wake younger kids, get them to school

8:30-10: Write my current novel
10:15: exercise (haidung gumdo or go on rosary walk with the dog)
--12:30 e-mail and other chores
Mon=website work/marketing
Wed= 30-minute marketer/marketing
Thurs=Dragoneye Newsletter/marketing

--1:00 lunch
--3:00 write

Friday is simply errand day and blog day. If I write, good. If not, I'm taking care of my family. Last Friday was birthday party prep day and we were coming off a very bad week, family-wise, so blogs got forgotten.

That's the ideal, of course. Right now, for example, I am editing Mind Over Mind, and a lot of stuff is getting tossed by the wayside in order for me to get it done. Other days, I might be dealing with a child issue, or Guild work or whatever.

Next week: Principles and tips for managing writing and home

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Rediscovering Discovery

One difference, I think, between a professional writer and a hobbiest is that the professional writer writes whether she's "in the mood"or not. I try to keep this in mind when I have bad days or feel uninspired, like I felt last week.

It's been a tough week for me and my family. My husband didn't make the commander's list--he's in the Air Force, and after some discussion, we've decided the best thing for our family is to get back to Colorado Springs where he can finish his career doing what he loves in Space Command. That may mean a move in the middle of the school year; it might mean another summer move; it might not happen if they can't find a replacement for him here. (If they don't, we're staying three years so the older kids can finish high school then probably retiring.)

Getting a crown on my cracked tooth was not stopping the pain, so after two weeks on pain killers, I finally got a root canal. It went well, and as I write this (Friday the 10th), I'm a little achy but not so bad I need ibuprophin.

So, between that, the 3-day weekend (during which I was sick) and some discipline issues with my youngest, I've been pretty tapped emotionally and physically. Probably not the best time to try to rewrite a novel that's been evading me for three years.

Funny thing is, there never seems to be a good time for this novel. The more suspicious part of me wonders if someone has it in for this book. ("Could it be…Satan?")

The more logical part of me says, "Give me a break! This is not that important a book." However, it is important to my heart and stuck in my mind, and I swore to myself that this year, it gets done for better or for worse.

Plus, this is my job. Do carpenters take a week off working someone's house just because they're "not in the mood"?

So, even aching and distracted, I write.

I'm up to chapter six now. I've killed off some subplots because they weren't working and frankly, had nothing to do with the second half of the book which really works. I'm a little afraid of it turning back into "Love Boat in Space," but I'm going to trust my characters to be more diverse than that. Sister Ann is starting to show some spunk, and even better, I've found a lovely site that not only posts the daily Gospels, but also snippets from books and sermons by saints. I'm gathering materials for her encyclopedic mind. It also looks like some of Sister Thomas' past will show up, too, which I like because she was such a side character before.

I got only a few thousand words done, maybe an average of 500 a day, and I also hacked a lot of stuff that's no longer relevant. It's not my best work, quantity-wise, but reading it over again, I'm actually pretty satisfied with the prose.

An author I'd read (Dean Wesley Smith, perhaps) said you can't judge the quality of a book by the mood of the author when she was writing it. I think he's right.


I'm into Chapter Six. I had to rethink several threads in the book based on the new occupations of the characters. The videographer threw in a whole new wrinkle to a subplot, which helps me tie the two halves of the book together. Ann and Capt Addiman's relationship is going to be stronger, too, and I have an idea for a new wrinkle there, plus the chief engineer turned out the be the son of some friends from Tommie's past. So more interweaving of characters, which always strengthens a book. Here's a snippet from right after they have a service to bring the Host to the chapel in the Edwina Thomas:

"Doesn't Captain Addiman have the most beautiful chapel?" Ann exclaimed as people exited behind her.

The ship's captain stopped and laughed a deep, booming melody. "Not mine, dear sister."

"You're right. God's house is for everyone. Catholic, small c, from the Greek words kata and holos--according to the whole . Universal. Still, the Catholic--big C--chapel is so pretty!"

Addiman laughed again as he took her arm and led them out. "I thank you. This particular program was designed after the chapel set in Lola Quintain VI: Quest for the Papal Crown--"

He stopped mid-sentence and tapped at the communicator on his ear. "Addiman. Yes? I see. Yes, that is fine. We will be there shortly."

"Is it time to talk about the alien ship?" Ann asked eagerly.

Addiman smiled at her, bemused. With his height, he looked like a father beaming at a precocious child. "Past time, I think Dr. Thoren would say. They await us in the small auditorium."

"Then we should go!" She started down the hallway toward the auditorium as if she'd traipsed the halls hundreds of times already. The rest trailed behind, Tommie deliberately slow, with a hand on Andi to slow her as well. Rita stayed with them.

"The ship is of the universe," Ann pondered aloud to the captain. "But it's not of the whole, so it isn't really catholic."

"In either sense of the word," Addiman suggested. "I think Dr. Thoren will find that comforting."

"Caesar, too. Control is comforting. When we control, we find comfort; when God controls, grace…"**

Their voices became a murmur as the two rounded the corner.

**This is a quote from St. Gillian of L5, a saint in my universe. Ann often communicates in quotes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review of The Handbook for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey


Drawing from the deep tradition of the Catholic faith, Lisa Hendey coaches Catholic moms in how to care for themselves—heart, mind, body, and soul—so that they can better love and care for their families, their neighbors, and their Church.
With warmth and wisdom, Hendey creates an environment where Catholic moms can reflect peacefully upon often-competitive topics like parenting style, types of schooling, and working outside the home. By sharing her own story, Hendey inspires readers to better balance their own needs with the demands of family life and faith commitment.

Lisa shares stories from her personal life as a wife and mother, as well as stories contributed by Catholic moms and families from around the country. Each chapter of The Handbook for Catholic Moms contains relevant scripture passages, Church doctrine, and quotes from the lives of the saints. Noted Catholics such as Danielle Bean, Father James Martin, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle and Phil Lenahan contribute their expertise and wisdom to make this a tremendous resource for Catholic mothers. "Mom's Homework" reflections at the conclusion of every chapter help the reader apply the book's principles to her real world challenges as a Catholic Mom.


This is not a parenting guide, despite the title. Reading Lisa Hendey's Handbook for Catholic Moms is like having lunch with a group of Catholic friends who share their personal stories, well-thought wisdom and practical tips for living as a Catholic woman who is a mother. In her 22 chapters, she covers everything from keeping physical health to creating a home where the Catholic faith is present and vibrant in our home.

I have to admit, parts of it intimidated me. Sometimes I felt like the shortfalls she shares were at the level of my aspirations, but as she says several times, each home is different; each family is different, and God calls us to do our best. The information in her book provides not a blueprint of the perfect Catholic family, but a road map to help Catholic moms find direction to improve themselves as moms, as women and as Catholics.

I read this on the airplane in about two hours, and frankly, that's not the way I recommend doing it. Rather, I suggest treating it like a study, taking a chapter at a time, reading, considering and executing some of her tips. I think it would make a great guide for a Catholic mom's group. Regardless of how you read it, if you're a Catholic and a mom, you'll find a lot of great information and inspiration in Handbook for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Rediscovering Discovery: Assigning Jobs

This week has been a series of starts and stops in rewriting Discovery. I'm not just killing off entire chapters and watching new ones rise from the ashes, but I'm having to rethink events and even characters.

This week's challenge came with Chapter Three: I'd decided that Thoren trying to keep the mission secret even from the participants until they were all on the ship was just silly and pointless. So James gets to meet the rest of the research team on the moon. I hadn't really introduced them formally in the previous versions, and thus didn't really mention all their jobs or special skills. Now I needed to.

I'd thought before about what kind of people would be on the team, but lost the notes and had to think about it all over again. This time, I made a comment online and before anyone saw my answer, they chimed in their own ideas. I won't go over them all, except to say that, while some didn't work for the situation in my novel, they did make me think. As a result I changed several positions. Here, then, is the research crew:

Dr William Thoren--Mission Leader

Chris David--astronomer who discovered the ship

Casey Ostrand--vidoegrapher--injured shoulder using exoskeleton

Merl Pritchard—environmental engineer

Keli Riggens—zoologist

Jason Larache--systems engineer.

Ian Hu--drive systems specialist, warp drive theorist

Gordon Radell-cryptography

Zabrina Muha--microbiologist

Mikah Kowalski—linguist

Unfortunately, changing Merl's job also changed his ability to be the inadvertent bad guy. However, that worked in my favor. You know the saying that if you're going to use a gun in Chapter 15, put it in Chapter Two? The corollary is don't make a point of the gun in Chapter Two unless you're going to use it in Chapter 15. Well, in both versions of Discovery, I had a "gun," a character named Cay who panics and accidentally hurts Ann. He's never seen or heard from again. Now, he's going to be part of the recovery crew, trying to prove himself, and as such will get involved in a series of events that will lead to his trying to destroy the alien ship. And Merl will still have a hand in that, but as the inadvertent influence that pushed Cay off the edge.

To get to this point, Merl gets to do some ol'-fashioned-down-home-come-to-Jesus preachin'! I had some fun with this, because Sister Ann goes to sit in, and in typical Ann fashion, seems to get the point while appearing completely flighty. (Merl says in his sermon that God's love is sufficient.)

Ann: I enjoyed listening to you. It made me think Plato.
Merl: my sermon made you think of a pagan philosopher?
Ann: necessary and sufficient conditions. Is God's love sufficient or merely necessary?
Merl: Merely?
Ann: As opposed to necessary and sufficient. Certainly accepting His love is merely necessary. It's in Corinthians… ( Get the quote about faith and deeds)
Merl: But He who liveth and believeth in me shall have everlasting life
Ann: Yes, exactly! Necessary and sufficient! So would you like to join me in Adoration?
Merl blanches: I think not.
Ann: Oh. Well, it's neither necessary nor sufficient, but it is loving!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Five Reasons to attend a writers' confernece

1. Improve your craft. There are usually seminars on everything from idea generation to marketing. Sometimes, presentations cover a more philosophical approach to writing. They're good places to get a taste of different types of writing, like learning to write for children when you're an adult writer. It's not just writers talking about themselves--it's about writers teaching some topic they're knowledgeable about.

Incidentally, it's not always about writing, either. I had about 20 people show up for my presentation on time management for authors. Afterward, other people were asking if they could have my notes.

2. Meeting new editors. Just because you're happy with the editor of your current work doesn't mean you'll publish everything with that house. Michelle Buckman is a good example. Her YA novels have been published by a major Christian publishing house, NavPress. She's very happy with them and has other books with them. However, she has some books that are too Catholic for their audience. She sold "Death Panels" to TAN books and "Rachel's Contrition" to Sophia. She loves her editor at Sophia, but that editor doesn't care for sci-fi, which is what "Death Panels" is. By the same token, TAN is not ready to take a plunge into publishing Women's Contemporary Fiction, which is what "Rachel's Contrition" is.

So writing conferences are a great place to get to know editors and what they want. As for pitching: it's a nice way to skip the slush pile!

3. Meeting like-minded writers. Writing doesn't have to be solitary, of course, and the Internet has brought us together. However, there's a lot to be said for personal communication. My roomies at the Catholic Writers' Conference Live and I stayed up until 2 am talking, laughing and sharing some pretty deep stuff. We'd only met briefly online, but we are best friends now. We went out with others to dinner and such, and I haven't laughed so hard and so often in a year.

4. It's a chance to stretch your writing wings. I'll give you an example from my Idea Generation workshop from CWCL. Rather than a lot of instruction, I answered a couple of questions, then gave everyone exercises: I presented a character, setting and conflict/object from a published book and told them to make a story synopsis, novel outline, or article query from it. Afterward, I told them the book. One woman came in believing she didn't know how to flesh out ideas, but wrote an outline for a novel and a short story synopsis--in 15 minutes each! Another writer, a novelist, discovered a talent for flash fiction. All of them left with writing they could polish and sell.

5. It's a chance to promote yourself. Writers are readers. I already have several reviews written and more books in the pile to review as a result of CWCL. Several folks I know came away with writing jobs, interviews on radio, and promises of reviews from others.

Incidentally, there's very little writing going on at a writers' conference. Writer's workshops, like Clarion, are different. Those are intense courses taught (hopefully) by experienced writers or editors and are geared specifically toward teaching you to write and write so that you get published.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Rediscovering Discovery

Did I ever mention that this is the first time I've done reconstructive surgery on a manuscript?

With Mind Over Mind (coming September 2011 from Dragon Moon), I had started with a college manuscript that was, well, lame, and changed it so radically that I really just tossed it, kept a few characters and general plot progression and made it into a trilogy. It is simply NOT the same book except in the most superficial ways. In fact, Romeo and Juliet and Unseen Academicals (Discworld) have more in common. (Loved Pratchett's book!)

Discovery, however, has a lot to salvage--and a lot to chuck without a second thought. The more I dig, however, the more I need to chuck.

Take Chapter One. Please. But seriously, I loved Chapter One. It has action, drama and a lot of good introduction to the world. It's as close to hard SF as I've ever come. It had a lot of nice details that come back again in the book.

It was 6000 words long.
It was hard SF, while the rest is soft SF.
It takes place on an asteroid we never see or hear from again except in passing.
But the worst thing yet…

The emergency I postulated could not happen in space!

Oh, headdesk, headdesk, headdesk.

You see, when I wrote this in the heady month of NaNoWriMo, I was thinking that spacesuit air was like scuba air--an oxygen/nitrogen mix. So Sister Ann's suit malfunctions and she gets nitrogen narcosis, which allows her to talk pretty freely about stuff Sister Rita would just as soon not hear! Only problem: spacesuit air is pure pressurized oxygen. And oxygen deprivation or oxygen narcosis won't cause the same euphoria and delirium that nitrogen will.

I don't remember why exactly I wanted to revisit the first chapter--I think the length and explanations bothered me--but as I delved more into suits and air, I realized my fatal error. After I'd rewritten the entire chapter.

But you know me! I'm always glad to torture my characters for fun and plot-fit. So poor Sister Ann has basically the same situation but instead of whacking her pack against something and causing it to malfunction, she gets slammed into a broken piece of the station, a rebar that stabs her through the suit into the side. Sister Hard Core saves her own life by spraying around her suit and the bar with a plasticine glue I'd invented for the story, thus sealing the leak, then stays very still until someone can cut her free. The chapter actually starts as Basilica lands at St. Joseph de Cupertino Station, where she can get medical help.

Here's a before-and-after shot of the key lines I wanted:


Instead of answering, Ann said, "Faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love. Did you know Brother Jubal didn't like people very much? He had hoped to spend his life in solitude at the Oceanus hermitage. Know what else he wrote?

I came as a wanderer,
found You, Beloved, here
in a dead world poised
on the edge of eternity.

"Yet God called him to go minister to the Drake Lunar station. He left the life he loved and as a result, came to love life more. But could he have done it if he hadn't had that revelation of God's love? Then, there's St. Gillian: Nowhere do I feel closer to God than watching the sunrise across the mountains. God made this world to suit us; and us, uniquely suited for it. She rode animals."

"Horses. Lots of people ride horses."

"And shrews ride people."


Ann's voice deepened into a snarl. "'Research! Work! Give your pain to God!' Vaccing shrew rides me like one of her horses. R. Charles Hawkins was very cranky after his accident. He wanted to give up work on the gravity generator and die, and Gillian left earth to be with him full time at L5. I guess it's easier to ride someone in zero g."

Rita had long broken the habit of smacking her own forehead, but times like these brought back the urge. "I think he's speaking figuratively."

"I see. I think he was literal when he wrote There would be no gravity here were it not for my wife, my dear shrew. The first successful test of the Hawkins gravity generator. Gravity. A force of attraction. Love is a force of attraction. Gillian stayed with R. Charles on L5, even though the earth pulled at her heart. Human love is strong."

Suddenly Rita's heart thundered in her chest and her mouth went dry. "It wasn't human love that kept St. Gillian in space after her husband died. It was her love for God that called her to start our order," she snapped.

"That's true. Faith, hope and love." Ann mused, as if she hadn't noticed the anger in Rita's voice.


"Ann, are you okay?" It was a stupid question. The broken piece of strut protruded from her side like a Roman lance. A messy glob of plasticine glue pasted it to her spacesuit, holding it in place and sealing the tear that would have bled air from her suit. Ann was still in her suit, gloves and helmet off, snoopy cap still on at her insistence so she could hear the progress of the other sisters on the rescue.

"The St. Gillian caught Dome Six," she reported and smiled. "Claire is scolding it for wandering!"

Rita gave a distracted chuckle as she checked readings from Ann's skinsuit. Tommie reported the airlock mated and pressurizing. Hurry up!

"I came as a wanderer,/found You, Beloved, here/in a dead world poised/on the edge of eternity," Ann murmured. "Clair can scold you."

Rita glanced from the readouts to see Ann staring at her. "What?"

"You wandered so far, but he was always right there," she muttered. Then her eyes clouded and she turned to where eleven miners sat in jump seats along the wall of the shuttle's bay or in the microgravity rover now secured to the deck.

PROGRESS REPORT: About 5000 words cut. Finished rewrite of Chapter One, which is now Chapter Two. Made some slight changes to Chapter Two, which is now Chapter One. Trying to decide what to do for Chapters Three and Four. Overall goal: TIGHTEN THE FRONT HALF.