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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?

VERY IMPORTANT LINGUISTICS POST About Petting Dogs

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!

Arabic

ممكن ألمس كلبك؟ (Moomkin almas kalbek?)

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

Chinese – Simplified

我可以宠你的狗吗

Danish

Må jeg gerne klappe din hund?

Dutch

Informal: Mag ik je hond aaien?

Formal: Mag ik Uw hond aaien?

Filipino

Pwede ko ba siyang hawakan?

Finnish

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

French

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?”

German

Darf ich bitte deinen hund streicheln?

Beißt er? (“Does he bite?”)

Ilonggo/Hiligaynon

Pwede ko siya matandog?

Italian

Posso per favore coccolare il tuo cane?

Posso accarrezzare il suo cane?

Japanese

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

Inu wo nadete yoroshii desu ka?

Korean

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

Latin

Licetne mihi, quaeso, canem tuum mulcere?

Polish

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.)

Pulaar

Tinno mbodo yidi tuche rawandumaa.

Russian

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?

Spanish

¿Puedo acariciar al perrito?

Swedish

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!

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.

End of School Year Chaos

In the past seven days, I have…

  • Spoken to my editor about revisions on Terminal Uprising
  • Attended my daughter’s high school graduation
  • Helped with the planning and preparations for said daughter’s open house this coming weekend
  • Attended my son’s induction into the National Junior Honors Society
  • Attended awards night for that same son

I am ridiculously proud of both of my children. I’m also feeling a bit frazzled, and am looking forward to summer vacation.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of my daughter in her graduation robes, and a shot I took of my son at NJHS night. (Shared with their permission.)

Daughter's graduation photo

Jim C. Hines