aithne: (tentacle longing)
My awesome Clarion West classmate Julia has an equally awesome story called Messenger up at Clarkesworld. (And she's on the same billing as Cat Valente!

Life is a stick with a death on each end, balanced on a finger of the Universe, I understand that much. My kind is born small and numerous, wet and weak. Most of us do not survive to the onset of maturation. Of those who do, yet fewer complete it. Sometimes a human will step on a whole brood of my kind and never notice, other times one of us, a mature one, will level a human home because it is in the way, and will not notice either. This is fairness, and it is made out of time.

Go, read!
aithne: (writing)
I have been a bad writer and haven't been posting anything, mostly because I haven't been sleeping and I fear that anything that comes out of my mouth or my keyboard at this point might in fact be total gibberish. But! Clarion West is still sort of our goal of 200 sponsors for the Writeathon--we're so very close, but not *quite* there! You can still donate, and sponsor one of the best spec-fic workshops in the universe. If you sponsor *me*, you will get my draft of COINS FOR THEIR EYES, which is a super-creepy story that I finished last week.

Any donation--even $10--helps!
aithne: (hat looking down)
Wrote about 1600 words on the creepy doll story, wherein I figured out what it's about and who the protagonist is. I think I'll be adding another 500 or so words to bring in the story at about 4300 words. The story is still untitled; it's currently called "Doll Parts" but that is by no means the final title.

Have also, over the last few days, done about 7500 words on the Wrong Project.

Excerpt from the doll story:

I come to the first of the thirty-two coordinates. It’s a pullout at the side of a road which clings to a mountain, valley falling away on the other side. The air bites at my hands and I blow on my fingers, then rub them together. Eve Jimenez. She’s here somewhere.

Glancing to either side, I cross the road with her doll to the rocky verge on the other side. I put one hand on the metal guard rail, then pull back; it’s nearly rusted through. Could I get tetanus? I’m not sure. Just in case, I balance without touching the guardrail, and peer down the slope. Grey-green shrubs cluing to the dirt visible between rocks and scree. About fifty feet down, I see a scrap of dull material, some sort of camouflage drab. The bundle is smaller than I expected.

The human skeleton, devoid of flesh, packs down into a space about the size of a small suitcase. I’ve found Eve.

I place her doll by a splintered post, wedge one foot into a crack. I gave her one of the clenched fists I have in my stock of spare parts. I didn’t know why at the time, but now she shakes that fist at the sky, deep brown eyes staring up at one of the many things taken from her untimely.

You don’t end up with your bones tossed over an embankment in the middle of nowhere if you died of natural causes.

Then I hurry on.
aithne: (Azrael)
Aaaand that would be a first draft of Word of the Chosen!

8700 words, two chapters and an epilogue later, the short first draft of the book is finished. It's only about 55,500 words long, alas, and so barely escapes novella range. I haven't decided if I'm going to add more to it or move into the plot of the next book, but that's for revision to decide. It's done and I'm on to writing a few short stories and then starting on The Saint of the Splendid Bullfrog.

The draft is off to the Usual Suspects, and those who've donated! It's totally not too late to donate, if you feel so moved! And because I managed to finish the book, those who donate will get the shiny first draft of this book as well as drafts of the short stories I'm going to be working on (with the exception of one, since it has a home already if I manage to finish it).

Excerpt from Chapter 10 of Word of the Chosen:

The heat of the day was being given back by the stones and walls of Tehran. The air was still, and Jumana found herself very glad that her home was in Alamut, where the night wind would always cool down the fortress at night. The city was alive around her; a group of children screeched and ran past her, to the disapproving tutting of their elders. She heard shouts, a scream, a woman's voice raised in what certainly resembled ecstasy.

And now she was at Omar's door, and she paused to make sure that the veil of Hassan was secure. Relax, she told herself. Forget Jumana. For now, be Hassan.

She closed her eyes and Hassan opened them. He was tired, defeated. The chosen was dead, and he was forced to consider making peace with an enemy rather than destroying him. At risk was Alamut, and everything that Hassan still held dear.

That was his story, at least, and the weight of it tugged the corners of his mouth downwards as Omar opened the door to his knock. Omar had been scribing something, if the spatters of ink on his hands and the edge of his sleeve were anything to go by. He looked exceedingly surprised to see Hassan on his doorstep.

“Old friend, Allah himself must have guided your footsteps here!” He stepped back, beckoned Hassan forward. “Come in, you know you are always welcome. We will have refreshment in the courtyard. This night air, ach! It steals the breath and we all faint for lack of a breeze. Alamut must be fine on nights like this, yes? With the mountain wind.”

His friend was chattering, and Hassan let him. Lanterns were lit by a scurrying servant, water scented with citron and honey brought and poured. “What brings you here, my friend?” Omar asked. In the light of the lanterns, he looked younger than his years. He’d been a handsome youth who had grown into dignity, and unlike Hassan, care had not yet carved deep furrows into his face.

“Defeat,” Hassan said. The word was bitter and sweet, much like the drink he had taken but a bare sip of.


“Mine, if you can believe it.” Hassan grimaced. “This…disagreement between Nizam and I has gone on too long. I’ve lost too much ground to keep fighting it.”
aithne: (hat looking down)
Yesterday and today, I wrote about 4400 words, and lo, another chapter is slain. One more chapter and an epilogue left!

Accomplished: setup for climactic battle! A stern talking-to from a fedayeen! The Bechdel test finally (sort of) passed!


Isra’s mouth curved. “It’s pleasant, to have a choice rather than follow the path that was laid out for me when I was young. Perhaps my heart has some life left in it yet.”

Hassan had to hide his wince. Choice.
At least I can give it to others, even if I have little myself. “My gift to you for your service,” he said. “And to Adel as well.”

“I thank you, and we will continue to serve as we can. I hope that your life becomes one that you choose, and that is not laid out before you.”

“Allah himself has determined the course of my life.”
Allah, and the Taker of Souls. “I had once hoped differently, but it was mere human vanity. A weakness, in a servant of the Lord. My punishment has been to lose all that I loved except my calling, and Alamut. And if the next few days go badly, I may lose even those.” He shook his head. “I should not burden you with my problems.”

Isra regarded him with a quiet gaze. “Much of my work is to listen. I am very good at it. Speaking about your pain can help to lift it, at least for a time. You have lost much since the moon was last full. Your sons, Sayyid, that young blade…Majid, yes?”

Hassan could not help tensing when she spoke Majid’s name. “I have. This life and this path have always been difficult. I know I was chosen for this, but it is a solitary calling. To be alone…” He trailed off.
I had true companionship for years, and only recently came to appreciate it.

Now, it was gone.
aithne: (Default)
I, uh, sort of wrote most of a draft of a short story tonight to the tune of 2300 words. Nothing on Word of the Chosen. And I have zero idea if this story is going to work; I have a suspicion it might be broken.

It's about creepy dolls, and ghosts, and a delivery girl.


I take the exit off of 90 and head downtown. Bank signs flicker and flash at me. 92, 97, 91. The date’s never visible. It’s just after 1. I hope it’s a weekday.

It is, the post office is open. The Minnesotans in line are patient, and have adorable accents. I mouth words, trying to feel them as I’m hearing them.
Warsh. Ennit? P’st awfice. The lady in line ahead of me tells someone that she’ll be home for supper, her head cocked to hold her phone pinned between shoulder and ear.

“Can I help you?”

“I have general delivery to pick up.” What’s my name in Rochester? “For Giselle Hammet.” I pass him a driver’s license with my picture on it.

The genial man behind the counter returns with three big envelopes and two boxes. “Don’t get much general delivery these days. Sign here.”

“My job keeps me on the road.” A smile, just for him and his shiny bald head ringed with white hair like a monk. Pen scribbling. “Besides. I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl.” I collect my mail and leave.

It always feels like cheating, to speak to normal people so.
aithne: (hat looking down) in the water. This book is going down.

1000 words even tonight, and chapters 7 and 8 have gone down like the honorable opponents they are. Chapters are off to The Usual Suspects as well as those who have donated.

Excerpt from tonight:

Despite her exhaustion, Jumana could not sleep.

Her shoulders were knotted and aflame, her knees unsteady. But she could not stop moving, could not stop pacing. She had sobbed intermittently, thrown things, raged within this small room. Sometimes, she prayed, and wished that she could hear or feel an answer. Now she was silent, but still moving, trying to outpace the pain.

It was not working.

Dawn was beginning to show pale around the cracks in the shutters when she stopped moving and leaned heavily against one of the tables, her hands spread. She looked down at her hands, not recognizing them. The ghosts of other hands—thickened joints, knuckles squared off, ropy with tendon—laid over hers. Beneath those ghosts were hands she didn’t know.
So many scars.

“Azrael,” she said aloud. Her shoulders bowed as she felt the presence of the angel in the room. Then she pushed herself upright and turned to face him. “I have a question.”

The Taker of Souls inclined his head, otherwise impassive except for his wings pulled tight against his body. He did not speak.

She ran her tongue over lips dry and cracked. “Do you know if my parents loved me?”
aithne: (Azrael)
So despite having to work this weekend and having a bunch of household stuff to do besides, I managed to get about 5200 words out. I have slain one chapter and another is lying on the ground bleeding. The finished chapter needs a quick edit pass and then it'll be on its way to The Usual Suspects, as well as to those who have donated. (It's not too late! Help us support Clarion West!)

Accomplished: Hopes raised, and then dashed most thoroughly. Plans are both revealed and ruined. Someone tries to fly, and finds they cannot.


In another situation he would have been far warier, but he was worried about Maijid and the time was slipping through his hands. He was nearly within striking range now, and he began to gather the will to use the Word. He crept around the edge of the fountain. Heartbeats went by.

Amin remembered Dema, and moved more quickly.

So close now. He coiled himself, concentrating all of the tension in his body, the eagle prepared to strike. He breathed in, slowly. The scent of water filled his head, tinged with metal.


He released his hold on the tension and straightened out in a line aimed at Baki’s back, using the edge of the fountain as leverage. The strike was good, true—


Something—a hand—clamped around his upper arm and he stumbled, yanked off-balance. Before that hard hand let go, he felt the edge of a familiar rush of power.

Azrael stood there, wings spread, a terrible look on his face. “What—“ Amin hissed, recovering his balance. The angel just shook his head.
aithne: (Azrael)
Yesterday and today there have been about 3000 words; last night was one of my nights off, since it was TV night and I cannot write while there is Dr. Who. But! Progress! Chapter almost slain! (Might actually be slain; I think I charged right past the break point about 750 words ago. I'll check it tomorrow.)

Accomplished: my assassin protagonist actually kills someone for the first time since Chapter 1 (*facepalm*), and the plans of Iblis are partially revealed.

Excerpt from tonight:

They sat together at the edge of the spring, and Amin worked his way around a low wall and lay in the scant shade of it. He could hear them speaking. Unfortunately, they used one of the barbarian tongues, and one that Amin did not understand. The thin one occasionally dropped into a civilized tongue, though, and from him and from Basra’s replies Amin thought he could make out that this was a planning session of some sort.

Was it possible that Basra was the one working with the jinn, not Naim?

Mulling this, he listened and watched an ant scurry back and forth not a handspan from his nose. The creature was rather beautiful, really, its red carapace almost translucent and its scuttling little legs always in motion to some purpose. It was in moments like this that Amin found himself grateful for Allah’s attention to detail. Why make an ant lovely, if not for the fact that beauty itself was praise for the Creator of All Things?
aithne: (hat looking down)
2k words on Word of the Chosen tonight, and I think I'm done for the night.

I am strongly suspecting that there aren't 50k more words yet to go in this book. I'd rather forgotten that I'd intended this one to come in at about 70k, and chapters 1-6 have about 32.5k or so already. We'll see; I may get inspired and add a subplot.

Excerpt from tonight:

They arrived in Tehran, and parted at the edge of town after turning their horses out in the pasture with the rest of the Nizari horses. The Nizari had contacts among the merchants, and Amin arranged with a pot seller to take some of his wares and one of his small sons and go set up a blanket in a spot where he could see Naim’s door. There was very little cover near the house, and so hiding in plain sight was going to have to do.

Amin called out to passersby, flirting with the women and flattering the men, telling them all about the wonderful qualities of his pots. This was a disguise he used often, often enough that he was occasionally recognized as “that pot-selling boy who’s sometimes around” by several people. They seemed to assume that he had a route he worked through the city, which is why they only saw him once in a while. Amin even made a few sales.

He wondered if his parents had been merchants, if this were the life he would have had had he not been born what he was. If he’d been born male instead of female, if he’d been born without the power, would every day of his life be spent in the baking sun, telling all who went by that his pots were the best to be had in the city? Would he be one of the water sellers who trudged past with their huge clay jars on wagons? A drover, beating a stick over the back of a lowing ox?

Or would he instead have been she, locked within strong walls until a husband was found for her? Would she be silly, and perhaps a bit weak? Or would she have been like Isra, using her beauty and her body as a weapon?

Such were the thoughts that occupied him as he called out and watched Naim’s door.
aithne: (tentacle longing)
Friends, Romans, countrymen…it is that time of year!

What time of year, do you ask? Ah, one of the most wonderful times of year!

It is time for the Clarion West Writeathon!

I and many of my fellow Clarion West travelers are doing something nutty: we’re writing. We’re writing to support the students of the CW Class of 2010, we’re writing to help support the fantastic program that has given so many of us a much-needed kick in the pants. (Hey, it makes more sense than a bunch of writers doing, say, a half-marathon for charity.)

My own personal goal is to either get 50k words written or finish my current book, Taker of Souls, in the six-week timespan of the workshop. (Yes, I have a full-time job. Yes, I’m nuts.) And I want you, yes, you to support me.

How can I do that, you may ask? There are ways!

  1. Are you a writer? Want to do this thing with us? Sign up—submissions close this week!
  2. Donate! Go to my Writeathon page and donate something--$10, $20, more, whatever you like. (Clarion West is a 501 3(c) and your donations are tax-deductible.
    People who donate and then let me know (email me at kmillering at gmail, subject line “I Donated!”) get:

    • My eternal gratitude

    • A lovely PDF of the first six chapters of Taker of Souls

    • PDFs of chapters as I finish them

  3. Or just be supportive! I’ll be posting my progress with excerpts daily. Cheer me on. If you’re local, I do plan on going to most if not all of the readings ( ) -- maybe I’ll see you there!

aithne: (Default)
 Things continue apace.  The litterbox cabinet is prepared, and we're ready to take away the cat food in the garage.  Greebo thinks that all of this activity is awesome.  "I get a new cat tree, and food inside the house where I don't have to go downstairs for a midnight snack, and it looks like there's going to be an upstairs litterbox!  Yay!"

Just wait until he finds out all the cool new stuff comes with kittens.

Back to writing on the Right Project after a bit of a break; a change in my diet left me pretty dumb for a couple of weeks there, and Azrael is dangerous to grapple with when I'm not firing on all cylinders.  (Heck, i was barely working on the Wrong Project for a while there, and that one is generally less taxing on the brain cells than Azrael.)  I'm also working on a couple of story ideas; I think I know what I'm writing for the mythpunk anthology, and I'm narrowing it down for the yummy anthology.  (And I'm also revising Four Short Songs for Shamisen for [ profile] dark_infidel ; in retrospect, [ profile] satyrblade was entirely right not to pick up this one when I offered it to him.  It's a mess.  A not-unfixable mess, fortunately.  I think.)

I am going to be doing the Clarion West Write-a-Thon--I'll post more details when I have them, but this is your opportunity to support a fabulous workshop run by wonderful people.  My goal for the write-a-thon is to get as close as practical to finishing The Right Project (aka Taker of Souls) so I can move on to writing the frog saint book.  (Yes, for those who've read "The Saint of the Splendid Bullfrog", I'm going to be taking the setting and turning it into a novel.  The story I want to tell with it is way too big to be a short story.)

Back to the workings with me!
aithne: (all fun and games)
Here is the schedule for the Clarion West Summer Reading Series.

Yes, I will be at most if not all of these!

March 2017



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