Tag Archives: the-rain-garden

The Afterpeople

This morning dawned clear and unseasonably warm; the sky at six, when I headed off to the cafe to work, was aglimmer with stars. I look for raccoon activity on Cotton and Second now–having had one sighting, I consider this my due–but the bandits failed to show so I puttered off to the cafe.

My first browse through the slenderly-drafted THE RAIN GARDEN is moving quickly and producing a long list of scenes to add, things to research, and stuff to do. I will need to reverse-engineer an outline in the not too distant, if only to figure out where the scenes to be added should go, and to check that the clues to the mystery emerge in a sensible order.

Today I cruised through what looked suspiciously like the book’s thematic heart, and thereby hit upon a working title that is more fitting, at least in the limited sense that it has something to do with the actual story I’m telling. So, for now, the book is morphing into THE AFTERPEOPLE. Since the first book set in this universe has a similar title (THE WINTERGIRLS) this rather hints that the third book, whenever it happens, might end up being THE (something)BOYS.

(If you’re me, these are the sort of thoughts you don’t want to be having when you’re trying to focus on the Book at Hand.)

I think it can be safely argued that THE RAIN GARDEN is a prettier title, and AFTERPEEPS may not be a keeper. But THE RAIN GARDEN didn’t fit, at all… it sounded poetic, and I had a good reason to call the novel something poetic before I sent its ultrasound off to Certain Somebodies for review.

This evening I was briefly tempted to adopt THE RAIN GARDEN moniker for all my unfinished works in progress. This would have the entertaining side effect of confusing the hell out of everyone, probably me included, while perhaps creating a blog tag that spanned multiple books. But hey, that’s what “Works in Progress” and “Process” are for, right?

Besides, I have for years used a perfectly good acronym for such projects: AFNA. This stands for Another Fucking Novel Attempt, and dates back to the days when I was fourteen and couldn’t write my way past the first fifty pages of a full-length book. Even at five characters, it was short enough to use in the days of DOS files. AFNA.DOC. AFNA, incidentally, can be prefaced with other letters: J for Just, Y for Yet, B for Bollocks… well, you get the idea.

Anyway, the book’s out and renamed and blinking groggily. I worked on it until after dawn, and walked home in the sunny morning. After breakfast and a coffee date with my beloved, I caught a walk in the last of the bright, even as the clouds were moving in. I made it to Hastings Park and back before the skies opened. I didn’t get any horse pictures, as I arrived too late for the morning practice laps and too early for the actual races.

In lieu, here’s a RAIN GARDEN picture for you, from the universe of things that are not yet, and might never be:
Flora

Rain Garden, Phase One

Tuesday’s words on THE RAIN GARDEN came to 1,454, bringing me to a total of 38K and change, and to the last scene. One or two more writing sessions should do it, and then what I’ll have is this skeletal draft in need of a new title, some research, and much overall fleshing. In the meantime, I’m very pleased with the bones.

I’ve been madly chasing a number of projects and events this week. TOR.COM is hosting a series of Quantum Leap rewatch posts, by me–the first of them is on the pilot, Genesis, and can be found here. Meanwhile, the Tor/Forge newsletter is crowing about Indigo Springs winning the Sunburst Award. All of the books on the short list were TOR books, so they have extra cause to be proud.

And here’s a sign of fall, for you all:
Fall leaves

Scattered blogging, with a high chance of gratitude

A few announcements: First, I have tried to thank each and every person who wrote, commented, or DMed me to say congratulations on the Sunburst Award. If I missed you somehow, sorry, and thank you! Word is continuing to ripple out… I especially liked Megabest characterizing it as a “suburban thriller“. The Quill and Quire chose to note the presence of Robert Charles Wilson, Cory Doctorow and several other ‘name authors’ on the ballot. I get what they mean, but Hey, QQDudes! Not only do I have a name, it’s so long it doesn’t fit in the Revenue Canada computers. (Seriously. The full moniker is Alyxandra Margaret and it’s one character too long for their name fields. I have been filed as Dellamonic for years.)

Speaking of names, I also have been remiss in congratulating the brilliant Hiromi Goto, who got the Sunburst in the Young Adult category for Half World, as well as those other amazing folks on the short list: Cory, Robert, Charles de Lint, and Karl Schroeder, all, curiously enough, for books published by TOR. And, finally, the Sunburst jury itself: thank you, so much!

Moving on, I have one slot left in my next UCLA class, “Creating Universes, Building Worlds,” which focuses on short fiction in any of the fantastic genres. The syllabus is online, and previous students are, as always, welcome to join us again.

Work on The Rain Garden proceeds apace, pace being somewhere between 900-1200 words a day. I write longhand and transcribe as it’s convenient, and it hasn’t been for a couple days; when it is, I’ll catch you up. In the meantime, posting word counts in this fashion keeps me chugging along… so once again, I thank you.

And a warning: I posted a spider shot a couple days ago and there will be more. kelly-yoyoKelly and I have taken up our autumn practice of noting all the orb weaver webs along our morning route–we don’t formally count them all that often, just admire. But we call it the Spidercount, we began really looking this morning, and they are huge, well fed and ambitious. By Halloween the 2010 spidery biomass bids fair to be immense. So, if you are in East Van and can deal with spiders at all, I recommend a stroll down the Central Valley Greenway. They are wonders of nature and the webs are amazing to behold.

But today I give you a pigeon who’s really got somewhere to be:
Seawall

Words and pictures

I think you all know I live in a beautiful city, but here’s proof in the form of False Creek on a sunny fall afternoon:

Seawall

After a marathon transcribing session, I’ve gone and dug up the 4K words (ish) I’d written on THE RAIN GARDEN before starting the most recent push, and integrated the files. Total verbiage now comes to 29,555. Words for Tuesday, Monday, and Sunday, working backwards: 955, 1082, 1108.

Vancouver’s top Arachnomodel

I don’t know what it is exactly that makes for a bumper crop of spiders, but this year has been it in Vancouver. We are awash in eight-legs, and they are ambitious. One tried to set a web for Kelly in the living room the other day. We’ve had them in our hair, on our hands, everywhere but… well, if I finish that sentence several of you will spend the next six days cleaning your crannies with wire brushes, am I right?

I’m no keener than anyone else on having a creepy arachnoid beast crawling on me if I don’t know where it is, but when they’re sitting still, or spinning webs, I can appreciate the beauty. I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, though, so avert your eyes if you must.


Spiders

Saturday’s verbiage for THE RAIN GARDEN, meanwhile, is typed and comes to 1,806, for a total of 20,964.

Into the ravine

Thursday’s word count: 1078. Friday’s: 970. Total now, 19158.

Kelly and I recently learned that there’s a ravine in east Vancouver, not far from the Italian Cultural Center. We went exploring and found ourselves plunging down a steep and slippery trail into a mildly smelly, litter-strewn hole in the earth. There’s a creek down there, and a trail, and about five bazillion spiders. (The spiders are having a good year, and there will be many photos of them quite soon.)

This doesn’t communicate how far down and middle-of-nowhere it felt–even though it’s actually quite small and right in the heart of the city, but we felt very off-road when we got to the bottom.

Renfrew Ravine

I am planning to leave a fictional body down here within the week.

Cruisin’ to the rhythm

kelly-yoyoKelly and I made a little change to our pre-work walk this morning, taking 8th Avenue past the new community garden where some friends of ours have a plot. I’ve been able to see the installation happening as I’ve gone to and fro–between one thing and another, I pass the Broadway/Commercial intersection four to six times a day–but hadn’t gotten a good look. What’s there is attractive and thoughtfully laid out. The central area holds raised garden beds made of cedar, already pre-planted with veggies and herbs. Ground-level flower and berry gardens encircle these beds, and the backdrop is the Grandview Cut. The plants were donated by a local nursery, all the cedar chips are new and fragrant, and the whole thing radiates a newness and warmth that’s very pleasing. We are thinking we’ll do the walk past a lot in the next little while.

Community Garden on 8th and Commercial

Afterward, I made my way to Cafe Calabria and had a bash at the current fiction project, that slice of a novel I mentioned before, for the grant application. I was searching for one more scene to add into it, looking for something that had a bit of literary grit and referred back to the stuff I’ve put in the proposal, which is about shifting landscapes of privilege and the labeling, within large families, of different individuals as insiders and outsiders. On Wednesday I was sitting in the cafe scraping after that scene, whatever it was. I didn’t really expect to find the right answer, because I hadn’t slept the night before. But the idea came, to my surprise, and I scribbled some notes on it without getting started–trying to write on no sleep is never a good idea for me. Yesterday I drafted the first half, and today I wrapped it up. I have a piece I’m happy with now, and I have until fall to polish it until it shines.

I am delighted to have reached this point. If I’m not swamped by other commitments (some of which I’m chasing very actively), I will write a draft of the whole book in November, just as I did WINTERGIRLS and DAUGHTERS OF ZEUS.

Here’s a snippet from earlier the draft:

Sarah Varney’s address was a residential hotel, one that, from the look of it, was home to a good chunk of the city’s addict population. Its windows were black with grime, its awning greasy and tattered, with loose aluminium ribs inhabited by motheaten, feebly peeping pigeons. The sidewalk leading to the reinforced revolving door was glazed in bird droppings; it was impossible not to track them in.

The door spun them out into a lobby that smelled of Lysol and urine. A diminutive Asian crone eyeballed them through a cage of greasy bulletproof glass.

This feels very much as if it’s at a finished-for-now point, and given that we’re headed to Seattle for the LOCUS Awards tomorrow, I will probably skip actual fiction-writing for the whole of the weekend. By Monday, I’ll need to have decided what to work on next. I have another proposal I’d be delighted to work on, but I’m waiting on some notes; I have a drafted squid story that could use some attention, and a horror novel, SEE HOW THEY RUN, that I want to revise at some point in the near. I have a pile of books I need to read for various research stuff, and one I want to review.

Non-fic stuff on the go includes three last lectures for Novel Writing II and assorted admin stuff, two guest blog posts to write, a review, some things I want to talk and post about in this space, critiques for a couple of my one on one students, fine-tuning of a website I’m developing for my choir, and more work on the alyxdellamonica.com page.

On a more recreational note, I need to review everything I learned in last year’s Italian class before my next one begins in about ten days time and one of my Jonathan Coulton albums has vanished from my iPod.