Finished Draft and LEGO Transformers Break

During my eight-day writing staytreat, I wrote about 22,000 words to finish up the first draft of Project K! There was much rejoicing!!!

And now I get to…well…sit down and start rewriting Project K.

I’m pretty happy with this first draft, and it gave me a decent idea what the book’s really about and what changes I have to make to pull everything together.

I did give myself a small break before diving back in, though. My son and I caught up on Steven Universe together, and we spent some time playing with the LEGOs. I decided I wanted to try to make an old-school Jetfire, one of the Transformers I had when I was a kid.

It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with how he turned out. He can actually transform into either a relatively stable robot and a bulky, slightly less stable jet. The jetpack is removable, and can be worn in both modes, just like the toy. His gun is skinnier than the real thing, but shaped roughly the same. Not bad for working with LEGO.

Jetfire - Jet Mode Jetfire - Jet Mode

He can stand on his own on solid surfaces. Not so much on the bed I was using when I took the photos. So he got to chill and lean up against a pillow.

Jetfire - Robot Jetfire - Robot

Yeah, so this probably isn’t the most exciting blog post to read, but I’m pretty pleased, and it helped me to relax and refocus.

My favorite photo:

Jetfire - Robot

How’s your week going so far?


Over on Twitter, I started a Very Important Linguistics thread about how to ask to pet someone’s dog in other languages.

I took several years of French in high school, and yet when I went to a French book fest/convention last year, I lacked this vital knowledge!

Here are the results so far, sorted by language. Pronunciation is included where provided. I can’t vouch that these are 100% accurate, and for most languages there are multiple ways of asking. Hopefully these should at least be good enough to get your point across so you can get on to the more important task of petting the dog.

Feel free to add additional languages or refinements in the comments, and I’ll update as things come in. I’m particularly interested in feedback/suggestions from native speakers. Pronunciation guidelines and assistance are also welcome.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!


ممكن ألمس كلبك؟ (Moomkin almas kalbek?)

يمكنني أن داعب كلبك؟ (“Yumkinuni an da’aeb kelbik?” Or “kelbak” if asking a man.)

Chinese – Simplified



Må jeg gerne klappe din hund?


Informal: Mag ik je hond aaien?

Formal: Mag ik Uw hond aaien?


Pwede ko ba siyang hawakan?


Saanko silittää koiraasi? And to thank if the answer is yes, Kiitos.


Puis-je caresser votre chien? (Or “votre chiot” if it’s a puppy)

Alternate version: “Pardon?” *Indicate dog.* “Je peux?” *mime petting* “Il-est gentille?”


Darf ich bitte deinen hund streicheln?

Beißt er? (“Does he bite?”)


Pwede ko siya matandog?


Posso per favore coccolare il tuo cane?

Posso accarrezzare il suo cane?


Inu o sawate mo ii desu ka? (Vowels follow the same phonetics as Spanish.)

Inu wo nadete yoroshii desu ka?


네 개를 돌봐 줄까 (ne gaeleul tolbwa julka?) (informal – for asking a child, not someone significantly older)


Licetne mihi, quaeso, canem tuum mulcere?


Czy mogę pogłaskać pana/pani pieska? (Che (very short e sound) moga po-gwa-ska-ch pani (female)/panna (male) pye-ska?)

To say thank you: Dziękuję bardzo. (dyjen-koo-yuh.)


Tinno mbodo yidi tuche rawandumaa.


Могу ли я погладить вашу собаку, пожалуйста? (Mogu li ya pogladeet vashu sobaku, pahzhaloosta?)

Можно погладить вашу собаку? (Mozhno pogladit’ vashu sobaku?)

Scots Gaelic

Tha mi airson do chù a’ shlìobadh? (Ha me air-son doh hyu ah shleeohpehk?)

Am faod mi an cù agaibh a sliobadh?


¿Puedo acariciar al perrito?


Får jag klappa din hund? And “Tack,” if the answer is yes.

Writing Staytreat

Last week was supposed to be a writing retreat. I was gonna finish up those final revisions on Terminal Uprising, then (hopefully) get through the first draft of Project K.

And then on Friday we had a medical issue arise. Nothing life-threatening, but I ended up staying home to help out. They’re mostly healed up by now, which is good. But it threw a fire-spider into the writing work. While I did get the revisions done and turned in, that was the entirety of last week’s wordcount.

C’est la vie. We’ve got several chronic medical conditions in this family, and that means sometimes stuff happens. I’m disappointed not to have gotten the chance to spend time with some cool writer people, and I’d love to have a finished draft of Project K, but I’ll get there.

Now that the hurt party is mostly better, I’m going to try and make this week my writing retreat week. Even though I’m not retreating anywhere. I’d love to get that draft done by this coming Saturday, if possible.

Only 800 words so far today, but it takes a little time to regain that momentum, and there are plenty of hours left in the day!

Markswoman, by Rati Mehrotra

Markswoman Cover ArtAt ConFusion earlier this year, I picked up a copy of Rati Mehrotra‘s debut YA fantasy, Markswoman [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound]. Like everything else lately, it took me a little while to get to it. But once I started reading, I raced through the book.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her murdered family.

When Tamsyn, the powerful and dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. She is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof.

Kyra escapes through one of the strange Transport Hubs that are the remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past and finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of a desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a disillusioned Marksman whose skill with a blade is unmatched. He understands the desperation of Kyra’s quest to prove Tamsyn’s guilt, and as the two grow closer, training daily on the windswept dunes of Khur, both begin to question their commitment to their Orders. But what they don’t yet realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is thin … as thin as the blade of a knife.

I called the book fantasy, but it feels more like a blend of fantasy and science fiction. The book is set in an alternate Asia in the distant future, and includes everything from transport hubs to telepathic weapons to words of power. Those weapons are made from metal brought to Earth long ago by The Ones — it’s unclear exactly who or what they are. You also get scenes where you glimpse the futuristic cities of (I think) the past.

None of it is fully explained, but there’s obviously a lot of depth to the world, and Mehrotra gives the reader enough to draw them in, leaving us eager for the next piece.

There’s a love triangle that pops up in the second half of the book. Honestly, I could have done without that. But props to the author for how she handled the overly aggressive/stalkery guy. Behavior that in another book might have been rewarded is in this book called out and met with real consequences.

I enjoyed both protagonists (Kyra and Rustan) and many of the secondary characters — particularly some of the elders of the Marksmen and Markswomen. Tamsyn is pretty much flat-out evil, but it works for the story.

The ending felt abrupt. Not a cliffhanger, exactly, but there’s no real denouement. And the next book, Mahimata, doesn’t come out until March of next year.

All in all, I think it’s a strong debut. I’d have liked to see a little more of the larger world and story Mehrotra is setting up, but I definitely enjoyed the book.

You can read the first part online, if you’d like to check it out.

Questions for the Terminal Uprising Author’s Note

When I was finishing up Terminal Alliance, I invited people to ask me anything they wanted, and picked some of those questions to answer in the Author’s Note. Here are the four Q&As:

  • From Chris: What has been the biggest surprise (or unexpected benefit) since you started writing full time?
    • I started writing more-or-less full time in September of 2015. I knew I wouldn’t magically become a SuperAuthor, putting out twelve books a year, but I was still surprised at how difficult it could be to balance writing with everything else—taking care of the kids, running errands, housework, walking the dogs… (Not to mention getting out to catch Pokémon.) I thought I knew how much discipline and planning and structure I’d need. I was mistaken. But I’m getting better.
  • From both Ilona Andrews and TheBarbarienne: How can you tolerate a giant beard when it’s so freaking hot out?
    • It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to look this sexy! Also, the warmth of the Giant Beard is balanced out by the draftiness of the bare scalp.
  • From Piers: What’s the fastest land animal?
    • Our cat Pippin when he hears a can opener in the kitchen.
  • From Paul: What draws you to use humor so much in your fiction? (This is far from your first humorous SFF after all!)
    • I believe humor is incredibly powerful and valuable. It brings laughter. It helps us cope with darkness. It allows us to tell difficult and dangerous truths. It’s a way of pointing out the absurdities of life. It creates connections between people. Also, it’s a lot of fun to write!

If all goes well, I’ll be finishing up final revisions on Terminal Uprising before the weekend, which means I’ll need to do another Author’s Note. Which means I need your questions!

What would you like to know? I’ll pick my favorites and answer them in the book. (Note: “Favorites” could be the most interesting, humorous, or just whatever I feel like answering.)

Make sure you include whatever name you’d like me to use for you if I pick your question.

The Message Behind Daughters and Overprotective Dads

Long before my daughter began dating, I had guys joking about how I should greet her prospective boyfriends. Sitting in the living room cleaning a shotgun was a popular idea. People who knew me a little better suggested I should sharpen one of the swords instead.

I also have a teenage son. Funny thing — not once has anyone suggested that when he brings home a prospective girlfriend, I should greet her with shotgun and/or sword in hand.

Heteronormative assumptions about my kids aside, the idea that I’d have to intimidate a girl into not taking advantage of my son seems absurd on the surface, right? But when it comes to our daughters, we’re flooded with “jokes” about how we have to use implicit threats of violence to keep the boys in line.

I keep getting into arguments where guys tell me sexism isn’t a thing anymore. That girls are just as violent and abusive as boys. That there’s no epidemic of rape and violence carried out by men and boys against women and girls.

Often in the same paragraph, these guys will talk about the horrible violence they’d inflict on anyone who raped or abused their daughters. Not once have I seen them express the same protectiveness about their sons.

It quickly becomes clear what they really believe. They know, deep down, that the threat of sexual violence against their daughters is real. That girls and women are disproportionately targeted. That one of the biggest threats to women — if not the biggest threat — is men.

This is not to say that men and boys aren’t assaulted as well. They are, and it happens far too often. Likewise, women absolutely can be abusers. But statistically, women are far more likely to be attacked, and men are far more likely to be the attackers.

And every time I hear someone joking about getting the guns out to greet the daughter’s new boy, I hear someone who knows how bad things are for girls and women in this society. Even if they don’t want to admit it.

Jim C. Hines