Showing posts with label Corsair Harbour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corsair Harbour. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Adventures in Penmonkeying

     In a process that took far less time than I envisioned, the revision is virtually com-plete. Hopefully this will free me up a little so I can get back into some flash fiction, which I miss. I've felt guilty wandering past TerribleMinds, knowing I had the revision project looming, and I pointedly avoided the temptation of checking in over there on Fridays, when the flash fiction prompts come out.
     There's still a bit of minor tweaking left to do but the heavy lifting is done (for now), in only a month and a day. And then, the very next morning after I finished the first full edit, I had just stumbled into the shower when the elusive pitch I need for this summer's conference smacked me right between the eyes (yes, it hurt). I'm never prepared for such epiphanies that early in the morning, and certainly not when I'm entirely un-caffeinated. The bruises are mostly gone now, though, so there's that.
     I'm a little freaked out about pitching to big-shot editors for the first time. Okay, I'm a lot freaked out. Go big or go home, I'd figured when I I lined up two of the biggest fantasy-seeking publishing reps I could find. I'm telling myself that a ten-minute fiction pitch is like a super-short job interview. Maybe that will help. I've still got another month to fidget, so we'll see how relaxed and self-assured I can make them think I am. Internally I'm sure I'll be as calm as a bumblebee on meth, but maybe I can pull this off. We'll give it a go. Worst they can do is say it's not good enough, and that doesn't really faze me. They can't reject me any worse than I can reject myself. I've had more practice.
     I don't intend to self-publish, but I discovered recently that Powell's Books (local repository of indie awesomeness) has an Espresso Book Machine now. I thought it might be nice to get a couple of copies of the story printed, just for fun. In case you haven't seen an EBM, they're pretty cool: picture, if you will, a huge industrial-looking copier. You give it PDFs of your story and the full-color cover file on one end, then it chugswhirrsbeeps and *ding!* spits out a perfect-bound book--your book--on the other. In an age of technology, when you can make up entire worlds that live solely within the depths of cyberspace (or at least appear within the pixels of your monitor), seeing your project in print drives home that it really is a thing. (Incidentally, that perceived un-real-ness of e-books is why I'll probably never own an e-reader, but I digress.) I had been getting this feel of the early version of the story by occasionally sending the working draft out to be printed and coil-bound, but it always ended up looking more like a cookbook or some cheesy community-school textbook. But perfect-bound...damn, it'll be like a real, live, honest-to-God 500-some-page BOOK that could sit on a bookstore shelf anywhere.
     If I'm really lucky this summer, maybe it will, anyway. Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kenna's Drinking Game

Kenna MacLeod is a troublemaking Scots privateer and one of the three protagonists in the major project in our pipeline right now. This was a scene I did just for fun awhile back, but it doesn’t fit anywhere in the story arc. I bump into it in the working-files folder ever so often and decided today that it could go up on the blog since it’s got nothing better to do. Theres not nearly enough piracy up here yet, anyway.

A gentle breeze drifted through Corsair Harbour on a beautiful mid-June afternoon in 1756, cooling the sunbaked cobblestones along the wharf and putting Captain Kenna MacLeod in the mood for mischief. She lounged on a crate in front of the Curr’s Head, chuckling to herself at a snobbish, petulant gentlewoman passing by on the seawall.
The woman was overdressed for the tropical heat in a striped gown of the London fashion, complete with corset and matching—and completely useless—lace-trimmed parasol. She shrieked in panic at a handful of gulls swooping in to join more than a dozen others swirling around her feet. Her foppish, equally-overdressed escort wondered aloud at the reason for their sudden charge as he shooed them off, but they only retreated a few steps, chattering among themselves as if planning the next attack. Gentleman and Lady had no sooner turned to continue their stroll than the birds were charging across the boardwalk at them again, forcing Man to grab Lady’s parasol to swing at them in comically feeble defense.
Kenna giggled and raised the bottle for a drink, toasting the man for his valor. He shot a look her way but thought better of saying anything when she drummed her fingers over the pistol resting on her crossed knees. Taking his now quite hysterical companion by the elbow, he made to hurry on but stopped as a piece of bread the size of an orange landed just in front of him. The pair quickly found themselves besieged by a feathered, squealing feeding frenzy.
Behind them Kenna pulled a soft piece off the loaf for herself and cackled wickedly. This bread was still warm and fresh: probably better used in mopping up thick beef juices than feeding the birds, but she was feeling fickle and wanton at the moment. And rather drunk.
“So you’re the one behind all this,” a familiar deep voice came from her left, sounding somewhat put-upon. “Why am I not entirely surprised?”
Still snickering through a rum-soaked mouthful, she squinted up at the man standing there. “Aye, Constable Tucker,” she said, then hiccupped. “I’m findin’ this port o’ yers a mite boring.” As the next likely target came into range she pulled off another small piece and sent it skittering ahead of a high-strung palfrey. A trio of gulls ran straight out in front of the horse, chasing the morsel down with open wings. The horse crow-hopped sideways in terror, slamming its rump into a knot of pedestrians and nearly knocking its cursing rider into the water. Kenna laughed herself to tears amid shouts of disgruntled passers-by and took another long pull off the bottle.
“You’re bored, Lady? So you made up a drinkin’ game to torment the townsfolk?” He sighed. “Can you not find another means of entertaining yourself? Maybe one that doesn’t come at someone else’s expense?”
“Och, this bread and rum, sir, came at my expense, I’ll have you know,” she slurred. “What’s a little inconvenience on the part o’ these fine folk here havin’ to dodge a bird ‘r two—’r twenty, heh—when I’m so grossly inconvenienced by havin’ t’ be stuck here sendin’ gulls at ‘em in the first place? I could be harassin’ the Colonials up north right now if the Talon was in one piece, but she’s not. She’s still off yonder in dry-dock and so I’m…sssstuck here.” She smiled lazily and offered him the loaf. “Ye should try it: oddly cathartic, sendin’ a beast out to harass someone at yer whims. Almost makes a lass feel empowered.” She paused, regarding him. “Oh yeah…I guess ye would know about that then, wouldn’t ye, Constable?” When he shook his head, she shrugged. “The rum’s not bad, neither, but ye only get to drink if ye piss somebody off. Them’s the rules.”
“Is that so? Hmm. You’ve been at this awhile now, ‘twould seem. How long does this game continue?”
“Well…ye play until there’s no more rum.”
“All right, I’ll have a go at it.”
She grinned crookedly and handed him the bread again.
“Now bear with me, Cap’n. You’re not the only clever one in this port.”
He tore off a little piece and chucked it out onto the path. It was squashed almost instantly; the gulls milled about until the traffic cleared enough that one could run in to snatch it. None of the passers-by even seemed to notice. Kenna shook her head and leaned back with a disgusted snort, raising the bottle to take a swig.
“Not so fast, there. I’m not finished yet.” He reached over abruptly and grabbed the bottle away from her, downing the last shot.
“Just a mite outta order, but them’s the rules. You only get to drink when you piss somebody off, and you play until there’s no more rum,” he smiled, waggling the empty bottle. “Good rum, too. Now go home, Cap’n. Try to be patient…and try to stay outta trouble?”