A Truant Disposition

"I must be idle."

If Wishes Were Spaceships: The Carnivorous Plants

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Mar• 15•16
If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

In the future postulated in my upcoming book, If Wishes Were Spaceships, carnivorous plants are presumed extinct, yet someone has resurrected them (probably from tissue samples). We hear a lot of GMOs these days, but genetic alteration of plants in labs is not a new thing. Plant breeders have been doing it to flowers for ages. It takes time to breed and select plants the old fashioned way and hope for some variation that’s good, eventually, maybe. Many of the hybrid garden flowers we see now are the result of genetic manipulation, bombardment with radiation, or chemicals — anything to force a genetic change. Not all changes are good; those not deemed interesting or beautiful are discarded, and only the flowers the breeders want are kept for further breeding. So we’ve ended up with flowers with many times the number of petals found in nature, flowers with monsterous heads too heavy to be held upright on their stems, flowers in colors not found in their natural state, flowers that are bigger and bigger, and bolder and bolder, and sometimes stranger and stranger…

So, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to imagine that sometime in the far distant future and in a far distant place, that someone would create giant carnivorous plants. But could such a creation function like its much smaller ancestors did? I think not. But the possibilities are tantalizing for a fiction writer. Giant carnivorous plants are a staple of pulp sci-fi.

There are, in real life, carnivorous plants that are big enough to catch a small rodent, but these are fairly rare. In fact, carnivorous plants in general are pretty rare — and endangered — in their natural habitats. Those venus flytraps you sometimes see in garden centers are propagated in labs and greenhouses. But what if they were big…would they truly be dangerous? Well, no, probably not. I took a slight liberty in the way they operate in the book, having only a single trigger in the trap have to be hit to make it the trap close, but even so, as our protagonist, Jazlyn, notes: “These plants didn’t evolve to eat prey the size of human beings.” The plants were designed by humans, shaped by human desires, not by the requirements of the environment. That’s an important thing to keep in mind. The whole planet was designed to meet a specific human whim.

In addition to making the plants big — and really, they’d be totally harmless if they weren’t — I also hint that they may be aware in a way that plants usually are not (at least not that we know of). Jazlyn catches herself anthropomorphizing them and speculating on sentience. Although Jazlyn is a pilot and a business person, her mother is a botanist. So Jazlyn tries to observe the plants, to document them and their behavior. Her mother belongs to a future Buddhist sect which believes in the sentience of plants. Jazlyn doesn’t share her mother’s beliefs, but these plants make her wonder.

They made me wonder as well….so a sequel is in the works featuring Jazlyn’s Buddhist botanist mother. Next week I’ll take a look at the subtle affect technology has on the way the characters and story in The Tech Between The Lines. The previous post on If Wishes Were Spaceships is Microcosms.

Microcosms

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Mar• 08•16
If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

I sometimes feel like I’m out of step with the world because the trend in books these days tends toward big sprawling stories, with potentially disastrous galactic consequences. Stories that span vast amounts of space and time. Stories packed with physical action, often violent action, on every page. War stories, stories of ordinary people caught up in huge events that they have no control over, but nevertheless must, against all odds, prevail against. I don’t usually write those kinds of stories and If Wishes Were Spaceships is no exception. I love reading those types of stories, but what I really love writing are stories about people very much like me and you, who have more or less normal lives filled with normal routines, but who find themselves in conflict with the people around them. Sometimes, you just have a very bad day. If your life revolves around spaceships and planetary or galactic travel, your “bad day” may be considerably worse than a typical “bad day” here on Earth in the early 21st century.

That’s where If Wishes Were Spaceships begins. Jazlyn is having a bad day. Her ship malfunctions and she has to ditch on a quarantine planet. Which is worrisome. It’s even more worrisome when she realizes that the bizarre “that’s not standard terraforming out there” plants are giant carnivorous plants created by a biotech lab at the request of the dynastic scion, Sterneworth, who is currently only one of two residents on the planet. The other is an anxious techie who, with the arrival of Jazlyn, is reassessing just what he’d be willing to do to get off the planet.

Three people, one small ship. Everyone is doing the math, but not everyone has the same ideas about that disabled ship. In fact, the three of them have very different ideas about all kinds of things. It’s the differences between people that interest me most; the friction of interaction, even between people who should be allies, not to mention the people who would naturally be enemies.

This is a small story of three people who are thrown together and none of them really know what to do with the others. Sterneworth doesn’t want Jazlyn there. Blaine doesn’t want to be there. Jazlyn doesn’t understand Blaine or Sterneworth. But she understands her ship. At first that’s all that matters to her, but she begins to realize that everything both large and small on a hostile planet, with no access to comms and no allies, can be vital to her freedom and well-being.

It’s a big planet, but it’s not big enough for the three of them…and the carnivorous plants complicate things, though not in the way that you’d expect…

Next week I’ll take a closer look at those interesting, hungry, plants: If Wishes Were Spaceships: The Carnivorous Plants and the week after that: The Tech Between the Lines

If Wishes Were Spaceships will be released March 29th. It’s available for preorder from many bookstores: Amazon US, Kobo, Smashwords, Apple, and will be available from Barnes and Noble soon.

Countdown to Book Launch!

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Mar• 01•16

If Wishes Were Spaceships by Ainy Rainwater

It’s March!! You may think that it means that spring is just around the corner, or you may be looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day, or March Madness. Well, you’ve got something else to look forward to: If Wishes Were Spaceships will be released March 29th! It’s available for pre-order from most stores. It’s a standalone novel, but I’m already hard at work on a sequel to it because I just enjoyed writing this “stranded on a planet” story so much.

If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

…And didn’t Donna Harriman Murillo do an amazing job with the cover art? Well, okay, most of you haven’t read the book yet (waving “hi” to beta readers), but she really captured Jazlyn perfectly! I don’t blog copiously here, but you’ll be seeing a lot more posts from me this month about the characters and story, and my thoughts on writing it. I’ve also got at least one live online interview lined up, though that won’t be for a few months, so stayed tuned for more science fiction adventures, and happy author blogging!

Here are some of the stores that have the book available for pre-order. More coming all the time until book launch March 29th! 🙂 Amazon USAppleKoboSmashwords.

Her Voice, Everywhere

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Feb• 12•16

It’s been a while since I dropped a little story here. Here’s something for Valentine’s Day. It was inspired by an article I read a few years ago, about the widow of the actor who gave the “Mind the Gap” announcement on the London Tube stations, or used to. It’s a sweet story with a happy ending. But I got to wondering as our world is increasingly filled with voices for everything, what if you got your heart broken and then had to hear their voice daily? That’s a different story. That’s “Her Voice, Everywhere”.

Her voice was everywhere. Telling him provocatively that there were special deals in lingerie, reminding him that preferred shoppers were eligible for discounts on some items, singing out the names of the cross streets as he made his way home through traffic. Telling him he had reached his destination, or if he rode the bus, that this was his stop. Her stop. Their stop. Before she stopped.

Someone should’ve been able to fix this. He had never quite been able to let go of that idea. If she had had some illness they would’ve been able to make her well. If she had been a machine they would’ve been able to repair her. But so far no amount of progress, technology or therapy had been able to find a way to change a human being’s mind about affairs of the heart. They had talked to several people, or at least he had. But she had said that counselors could only help a relationship if a relationship existed. And it didn’t. Not really. Not any more. That much he admitted to himself. He had reached the point of almost accepting that she was gone, gone on to a life without him, but couldn’t as his friends said, “move on” when she was still following him everywhere like some creepy psycho stalker. That’s what it felt like every time he heard her voice, prompting him to buy something, to make a right turn, to change his socks and his life, to upgrade his home system, to do something. She hadn’t nagged when she was there. They had thought it funny then, that one time when her recorded had voice echoed her real voice. He had bought the socks. He was still wearing them.

It was aggravating the way those socks lasted. When nothing else had. Every time he put those socks into the wash or took them out of the dryer he silently willed them to be shredded or one lost so that he could throw them out. He stared at them so hard when he put them on that he wondered that his gaze hadn’t burned holes in the toes. “You need new socks,” she had said prettily. “A new you begins with your feet.” Echo. Echo. Echo. It stuck in his head. A new life had certainly begun with her feet: she’d walked right out of his life and into another life.

“Fresh juicy oranges,” she said succulently at the supermarket. The produce section was one of her specialties. He had taken to ducking out of produce so quickly that he feared he would come down with some dreadful archaic disease like scurvy, from the lack of vitamins. A smooth robust male voice prompted him to take vitamins. He took them. They didn’t help. Vitamins are no help at all for heartbreak and haunting. Not that he wished her dead. No, he wished her silent. She was a noisy ghost in his life.

He started wearing ear plugs. When that proved less effective than he hoped, he opted for music. Loud. With any luck he’d become deaf, he figured. Conversation became impossible. His friends began to give up on him. He stopped talking to strangers. The genial man who chatted briefly and amiably with everyone was now a lone shopper, a lone pedestrian, alone.

Until that day when he found a woman slumped against a shelf of vitamins crying uncontrollably. He unplugged his earbuds and helped her gently out of the store as she, hiccuping and gasping through her tears, recounted to him his own story. They would, he told her, find a store where his ex cajoled people into buying vitamins. And maybe in return she could do a little produce shopping for him. He was getting awfully tired of loud music and pre-packaged food. So off they went, picking up everything they had missed, chatting so happily that they never again heard their exes voices.

Preorder If Wishes Were Spaceships!

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Jan• 27•16

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March 29, 2016…If Wishes Were Spaceships by Ainy Rainwater

My upcoming novel, If Wishes Were Spaceships — which will be released March 29th — is now available for pre-order for $4.99, from most ebookstores! A few bookstores are lagging behind listing it, but it will be available from all the stores listed below — and you can preorder it from most of them right now! What are you waiting for? 🙂

Amazon Kindle (US), Amazon Kindle (UK), Amazon Kindle (DE), Amazon Kindle (FR), Amazon Kindle (IT), Amazon Kindle (ES) Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords

If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

When Jazlyn is forced to make an emergency landing on a quarantine planet, the worst she expects to find are a bunch of irate scientists complaining because she messed up the pristine conditions of some experiment. But the buildings look like works of art and the inhabitants are a wealthy scion of a galactic dynasty and an anxious techie. While the compound has all the comforts of home, it has none of the basic hospitality she expects. Cut off from all communication, surrounded by a thicket of dangerous carnivorous plants, Jazlyn must find a way to repair her ship — if possible — or hope that her friends find her distress beacon before Sterneworth, the planet’s resident tyrant, does something drastic. Can she trust Blaine, the techie who is completely under Sterneworth’s thumb, and who desperately wants off the planet by any means? Jazlyn has never been one to knuckle under or buckle under pressure. Nor is finesse is one of her skills. She will tackle the problems — the ship repair, the bizarre plants, and the duplicitous inhabitants of the planet — head on. Has the sassy spacer who’s used to getting her way met her match in the power and might of the Sterneworth dynasty? Everyone on the planet has a secret agenda. She has a ship to repair…

New Year, New Resources for Writers (and Everyone)

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Dec• 28•15

I’ve recently discovered and started to use a couple of nice online resources, which I’m pleased with. They’ll come in handy in the New Year, both for writing and for handling pesky New Year’s Resolutions. Both have organizational tools, and a creative flair to them which I like — and I think others might like them too. (If you follow my microblog you may have already seen some of this.)

LitLift is an online writing resource which has tools to help with brainstorming your novel, structuring it, organizing your notes and writing it. You can develop — and write — the whole thing right there online. You can add chapters, scenes, characters, settings…it will help you track where something is, if there’s some detail that you need to track through the book. I wish now I’d known about it before I started brainstorming my most recent manuscript. The Writing Guide and Plotline features are pretty good. The character development has a list of traits and background that you can fill in. Or…you can use their random character generator which is a nifty tool for sparking the imagination: you can select it to generate a number of boy/girl names, and also a general description of what type of person they are, likes and dislikes, traits. The descriptions are so evocative that stories sort of leap out from them. The location generator can either give you totally fictional names or actual place names. Fun! The title generator is a bit generic, but there’s also a random word generator which could be useful in writing prompt type challenges.

All in all, it looks like an excellent way to organize a novel from the first stages on through rewrites. You can create scenes or characters which aren’t attached to any project, but can be later attached to work in progress.  You can add/remove scenes, characters, settings, and items to any project. You can also export your work as txt, rtf, or epub. I’m using it to play around with some ideas just to see how it works. All material you create on Litlift is private unless you add something to the Library which will make your story/chapters/book available to others on Litlift for review and comments, or you can make it completely public (though only Litlift members can comment). If you wanted to play around with serialization, this might be a good way to do it without muddling up your blog with an assortment of posts and chapters. This would be a really excellent resource for people prepping for NaNoWriMo. Next time I do NaNo, this is what I’m using for NaNo prep!

I just recently also discovered Habitica. I’d seen mention of it somewhere, but since I’m not a gamer I didn’t pay any attention. But this is in many ways not quite a game because it’s a productivity tool that makes developing good habits (and getting rid of bad ones) fun, as well as motivating you in silly ways to work your way down your ever-growing To Do list. I’d noticed on some writing sites that getting badges for goals or streaks were insanely gratifying, and Habitica has all kinds of little cheesy icons that pop up as well as graphs and color-changing lists (Habits, Dailies, To Do). Their FAQ and Overview For New Users is great for getting started and the Habitica Wiki has been a excellent resource for getting me oriented — without sucking away huge amounts of time.

Even though I’m on a writing break in December, I’ve set up a small list of things to do Daily, Habits to do often, and moved my To Do list into it. I’ve gotten a stunning amount done, without feeling like I’m doing anything much and I’m just waaaaay too pleased about my tasks. LOL (BTW, they have just released a new app which is very nice, with more advanced features to be added soon.) I know right before Christmas is not a good time to start new things like this, but there’s a option to set certain Dailies to begin at a point in the future. My writing-related Dailies go into effect in January. You can also set certain “Dailies” to be done, not daily but on certain days of the week. Which is helpful for things you want to do weekly. You can even set your dailies to not be in effect on weekends. Or you can “rest in the tavern” which means that your “character” in the “game” is inactive, neither gaining nor losing points until you “check out of the inn”.

Click on over to Habitica, and look over the info links above. Then set up a couple of small things as Habits, add something simple like “load/unload/run dishwasher” for a Daily, or “stretch”, or if you’re a writer, set a small word count goal, just to start, just to get the feel of how Habitica works. Add more stuff after you get oriented, maybe after Christmas is over. There are Challenges set up by Habitica members which you can join (I joined the Read A Christmas Carol challenge, and Writer’s Health challenge) which will get you points. Some are open ended, some have a set end time. There are also Quests and Parties, which you can join (I haven’t yet). You’ll get random drops of eggs, hatching potions, and food for your pets/mounts. I’m acquiring rewards and leveling up at a good rate, so I’m working on becoming a Beastmaster (or something like that). Even if you’re not into gaming at all (like me) the little popups telling me I’m advancing with each click, the line graphs, and the tiny icon rewards are very gratifying and motivating. There are Guilds you can join so you can find like-minded people who share some of your same goals and interests, so there’s some very nice peer support too. So far, everyone has been very nice and helpful. Since this is a “game” that aims toward self-improvement, helping people better their lives and reach their personal goals, it isn’t too surprising that it’s such a supportive environment. And it absolutely is the most fun you’ll ever have implementing New Year’s Resolutions! 🙂

Post-NaNoWriMo Summary 2015

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Nov• 23•15

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-SquareThis was my fourth year to do NaNoWriMo, and though every year is different, this year was more different than others. I completed the rough draft in 20 days (though fast, not unusual for me), but writing it was unusually difficult. I’m not sure I can accurately evaluate how good the draft is right now and how much rewriting it will need. In Bracing For Impact I outlined the stresses I would be facing this month. Instead I was impacted by something unanticipated. The biopsy results for the elderly family member were negative, but by then she had been hospitalized via the emergency room for an unrelated illness. She was admitted on Nov 1 and didn’t get back home until last Tuesday. It was a good thing that I try to write as early in the morning as possible because that evening and into the wee hours of the morning I was sitting in the emergency room. (And wrote my Day 2 scene the next morning while severely sleep-deprived. I was mildly surprised to discover upon rereading it that it was coherent, albeit strangely out of order, as if I didn’t realize I was only on day 2 of the book.) I hadn’t firmly committed to NaNo at that point, but I had planned to start anyway and make a decision after we got the biopsy results. I dithered for a few more days than decided to Do It Anyway.

I probably shouldn’t have done NaNo this year. The upside is that I’ve got a rough draft of a sequel to the book that’s coming out in March, If Wishes Were Spaceships, but writing it was difficult, I didn’t enjoy it, and I’m not sure how good it is. I had difficulty concentrating and difficulty with focus, and I know I made some continuity errors, and veered off-track a little bit at times despite the sketchy plot point outline that should’ve kept me on track. I felt tired all the time…and despite having had a weekend to recover I still feel tired. The friend who was in hospice passed away yesterday morning. This is the second friend I’ve lost to cancer in the past few months. I’ve got holes in my life and an ache in my heart.

There was one good thing this month. One very small good thing. I knitted my first socks while doing NaNo (I’ve knitted lots of sweaters but hadn’t done socks). This was a very relaxing side activity and I think it helped substantially with keeping stress levels manageable, and allowing me time to “zone out” and think about the book. Writers need “down time” not just for the actual writing, but for thinking about story. This is especially true when drafting something at the rapid rate and word count of NaNoWriMo. I posted pics of my progress on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so some of you who follow me elsewhere probably already know that I did the socks. What you don’t know is that I knitted the swatch for the socks while sitting in the emergency room, standing in the hallway, listening to screams of pain and catching snippets of conversations between emergency room staff about various patients, which were mostly about very terrible things usually involving a lot of blood, or a procedure that did not go well. Knit, purl, knit 3, purl, knit, knit, knit… I started the actual sock on the 4th and finished it in 12 days. I did the second sock in 5 days, finishing it at nearly midnight Friday, the day I finished NaNoWriMo. In between Sock 1 and Sock 2, I joined Ravelry, so if you’re a knitter, you can beFriend me there!

I’m going to take some time off from writing (and rewriting). I’ll start back to work on the manuscript (and other works in progress) in January. I’ll probably be online sporadically for the rest of the year, then online a lot doing promotion for the book early next year. I appreciate all your support. I really do!

Do It Anyway

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Nov• 04•15
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Do It Anyway

This is a rare cross-post from my Mighty Microblog. If you want to follow my progress this month, or get words of encouragement for your own writing project, you can follow me there.

So, there’s a lot of bad stuff going on. And I posted here about why I might not be able to NaNoWriMo because of stuff. Some things are better and some things are worse, but screw it, I’m just gonna do it anyway.

I started the draft on November 1, with my usual word count goals. It’s been hard to get my head in the book with all the other stuff going on (more unexpected stuff has hit the fan), and I can’t say I’m writing well, but hey, NaNo is all about doing a rough draft.

I’m going to get it done. I’ve exceeded my 2K/day word count goals every day. I realized yesterday that I was committed to writing this book. I set the novel up on the NaNo site today and entered my word count after I finished writing this morning.

Day 4 Total:  8745

Last night, hours after I’d finished writing, I had an epiphany; I had totally misunderstood one of the character’s function in the plot. It won’t change what the character says and does, but it will change the way I write it.  And that’s also when I realized that I was totally doing NaNoWriMo. I was 6,660 words into the draft, lightbulbs were going on in my head, and it’s not a good time to be drafting a new novel, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

Bracing For Impact

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Oct• 27•15

I’ve made mention a number of places online that I don’t know if I can do NaNoWriMo this year, and will probably not make a final decision until after Nov 1st. This has been generally misunderstood. I’m a NaNo veteran. I’ve won it in 3 weeks every time. The word count is no problem. When I say “I don’t know if I can do it this year” I’m not expressing a lack of confidence, or doubt in my ability to write a 50K word draft in 30 days. I have absolutely no doubt about that whatsoever…under normal circumstances. This November, however, is shaping up to be –potentially —an unusually difficult time.

I don’t usually write about personal or family things here, but *stuff* does impact the time, as well as physical and mental energy, that go into writing books. Readers who embrace a book as a good escape when life is chaotic and stressful don’t usually stop and think that the kinds of things that are happening in their lives (or the lives of their friends) are the same sort of things that impact an author’s life, also. But upheaval and stress don’t just impact the author’s life in the usual way such things do; it also impacts their ability to write books. Writing takes a lot of energy, time, and focus. You’ve probably noticed that all three of those things tend to go away when some very bad shit hits the fan.

An elderly family member is about to undergo a biopsy to determine if her cancer has come back. This is in addition to another, completely separate, ongoing medical problem which may require her to have surgery. We won’t have her biopsy results until the first week of November. Also, an old friend of mine is in hospice and doesn’t have much time left. This is the second friend I’ve known most of my life who has gone into hospice within the past few months. The other one is already gone. It’s breaking my heart. I have hardly processed grief from the first loss.

For those reasons I haven’t decided whether to do NaNoWriMo this year. Sometimes I feel like I can do it, even with all the stresses, pressures, and uncertainty, but sometimes I feel like there’s no way I’ll be able to handle everything that could potentially hit in November and still do a 50K word draft. I honestly don’t know if I can draft a novel this November. The amount of stress right now is manageable. But, as you see from the preceding paragraph, it could potentially go through the roof in the month of November.

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo prep and planning the novel because I’m not yet stressed out of my mind. And brainstorming the book, doing research, and working on organizing my ideas, is a great distraction (so far). I’m postponing making a definite decision and if I do NaNoWriMo I will likely wait until sometime in November to set up the novel on the NaNoWriMo site and update word count. I’m planning to begin writing the novel on November 1st, but I’m not sure how much I can get done before things go “boom”.

The smart thing to do would probably be to sit out NaNo this year and continue rewrites and work on the other series. This shouldn’t be a hard decision to make. But this book is one that I feel like I need to write soon, while the idea is still fresh in my mind, and the impetus for the book is there. If I don’t write this book this fall, I probably won’t write it at all since I’ve got other books I’m working on.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the decades that I’ve been writing books it’s that there’s never a good time to write a book. If you wait for that perfect time in your life to sit down and write a novel, it’ll never happen. I wrote my first book left-handed — in longhand! — because my right hand was too badly injured to write. I had to have surgery on it and then go through rehab. I started that book in pain, with a left-handed scrawl. I remember that because it was the first book, but I’ve lost track of all the “not a good time to write a book” things that have happened over the years while I was writing books. So, I’m just going to keep going until I can’t keep going.

I appreciate the support of my fans and friends. You all are the best! And remember, whether or not I draft a new book in November, I’ve still got a new book coming out in March! 🙂 Follow my Mighty Microblog for short eclectic posts and updates during NaNo, if I do it this year.

Cover Art: If Wishes Were Spaceships!

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Oct• 08•15

Squeeeee! Cover art for my upcoming book If Wishes Were Spaceships! Release date will be set soon. We’re looking at an early spring release. I’m hoping to line up a blog tour for the release, so if you think this little sci-fi adventure novel would be a good fit for your blog, let me know! Donna Murillo did an excellent job with the design based upon my input; she was both thoughtful and intuitive. She really captured Jazlyn’s face!

If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo