Yes, it was the flu. First time I’ve had it in many years.
I’m not entirely recovered yet, but that’s mostly because I also have seasonal allergies (which, depending on whom you ask, is either quite common around here or impossible because there’s nothing in the area to be allergic to), so I’m still having respiratory problems: slightly low blood oxygen, frequent coughing fits, that sort of thing. And more trouble than usual with regulating body temperature, something that’s apparently a problem for anyone with fibromyalgia. (Part of the problem is this house. It’s full of assorted allergens that were here before we ever moved in, and we can’t do anything to get rid of ’em. The good news: We shouldn’t be living here much longer. The clone is going to look at a house tomorrow, and we could be moving as soon as this weekend.)
As far as writing goes, we’re currently wrestling with subplots in the WIP. Well, one subplot in particular, and I think the problem is that we know where it starts, and we know where it needs to end up, but everything in between is… uncertain. Also, Paul is concerned that we’re running out of room for the part of the story to which the (working) title refers, because events leading up to it keep expanding and taking up more word-count. He wants this book to be longer than the last two — The Fallen was shorter than The Remnant, and The Madness Engine was shorter than The Fallen — so he’s aiming for about 150K words for Stars’ End. Well, he’s cleared the 100K-word mark already, and the mission to “Stars’ End” hasn’t even started yet. This word-count doesn’t even include the various subplots that are not fully written up to this point in the manuscript.
Mostly to show you how my/our thought processes work sometimes while creating the first draft of a story, here’s a little bit of what’s been going on lately in the various threads. Potential minor plot spoilers ahead (hidden in “invisible ink” — mouse over the large “blank” area below and select to read, or just skip past it):
When last the readers saw them, Lyra Rhys-Griffith and David Morgen were recovering from injuries (life-threatening, in Lyra’s case) sustained while protecting Hrothgar Tebrey’s family from an attack by a pair of ancient Theta entities (oversimplified explanation for people who haven’t read these novels: Very Bad People with Very Powerful Technology). Now, we know (have always known) that Lyra and Morgen, along with the other Aurorans, are going to be actively involved in the main thread of the next book, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to ignore them throughout this book, plus it’s not nice to injure a character and then not let the reader know what happens to them. So Paul wants a thread following these characters and their associates, which should also serve to address some issues left unresolved from earlier novels… (I swear we don’t actually hate Brennen. Don’t even sort of dislike him. He does have a knack for getting into trouble, though.)
There is/was some plan to have the Auroran story thread involve Brennen leaving (according to his sidekick Onyx, “He’s gone home — much good may that information do you.”), and Lyra and Morgen going to look for him… but the trail goes cold long before they catch up with him, and the only person they know who’s ever been to where Brennen’s from is Drake, and it’s not as if they can ask him for assistance… Then there’s some sort of trouble back on Aurora because a neighboring interstellar government which doesn’t particularly like the Aurorans has decided that something more harsh than a trade embargo is in order… Now, Aurora is a fairly isolated planet, and they only have one real starship (belonging to Raphael Ryan, who has never been a pirate, no matter what Paul says *shakes head*), so they’d need help, which could mean Hephaestus, if there’s some way to get in touch with him, but even Hephaestus can be overwhelmed by sheer numbers… While we were discussing this scenario, Paul said to me, “We do know someone else with a starship…” This is true, but none of the Aurorans have ever met the character to whom Paul was referring, and the only one who’s even heard of him — maybe — is missing. Dammit.
Other wonderfully difficult situations in the WIP: There’s a Homn-druu guy named Vend who’ll be joining the Concord’s mission to seek the Ashenar home system. (They’re looking for ancient tech, from before the Ashenar went extinct.) I like Vend, even though I haven’t seen much of him, but I am… worried, a bit, about how he’ll react to meeting one of the other people on this mission. Y’see, there’s a person who’s been occasionally working with Tebrey (and with Geoffrey, separately — remember the latter part of Project Brimstone) and is now going with the rest of ’em to the home system of the Ashenar (not the real name of that species, as he has pointed out more than once) because he’s an expert of sorts. (So is Vend, but for completely different reasons.) Considering the trouble that can be/has been caused by people keeping secrets from their allies (*looks at Brennen, says nothing*), it seems to me that we should have something difficult happen when Vend learns certain facts about this other expert on the Ashenar. (Oh, c’mon, it’s not as if it’s a secret from the readers at this point. Well, not most of it. And the part that is? It’s gonna come out soon enough. At which point Tebrey will be angry, too. *author’s brother remembers an incident involving a beryllium-steel quarterstaff*)
Anyway. Enough of that. I could talk for hours (well, write another several hundred words) about impending
doom plot complications and which characters are most likely to get killed over misunderstandings… but you probably don’t care, since you don’t know any of these people, at least not yet.
Yesterday morning, the thought in my head as I woke up was about grey granite and red sandstone and the inevitability of changing the origin story for a certain ancient artifact. And — this just occurred to me — we’re gonna have to come up with a new name for said ancient artifact. That’s fine by me; I never much cared for what we’ve been calling it.