May 28, 2003

Original Ending Of Bitter Waters

While at Balticon, I was met by fans with cries of dismay over the ending of BITTER WATERS. “It just ends!”

I thought I'd explain here...and give fans a chance to see the original ending.

Well, this is one of those ill-chosen moments of writing. I wrote more of a wrap up piece, but it felt like a fake ending to me. When I submitted the manuscript to Laura Anne, she said she had trouble with the ending but didn’t specify what part of it. I was confused. Was it the ending with Core on the boat? Was it the part with Max at the hospital? Was it the conversation between Socket and Hutchinson? There was LOTS of ending. I didn’t rewrite anything while trying to get clarification, because rewriting the last four pages seemed pointless if it was the last forty pages that were the problem. I had like three weeks to rewrite to the revisions letter that Laura Anne gave me, which unfortunately, was in the middle of her most hectic time. Queries of “what don’t you like?” was met with “ummm, I’m not sure now, let me FIND my notes and get back to you.” On the last day or so of my three weeks, when I was growing sick of the whole story anyhow, she got back to me and said “It’s the last three pages. It’s really sappy.”

And it was. I thought like five minutes on this and just deleted them. So…. the book kind of just…ends.

And in thinking about talking about this, I’ve realized I had to step back and talk about the series as a whole, not just BITTER WATERS.

Originally ALIEN TASTE was written as a standalone. I loved the characters, so after I wrote it, even though I moved on to write A BROTHER’S PRICE, I wrote my own fanfic. What if this happened? What if that happened? I collected a folder full of bits, which turned out lucky when ROC asked for a sequel.

DOG WARRIOR was actually going to take place immediately after ALIEN TASTE. When I sat down to consider a real sequel, though, I realized that TAINTED TRAIL would make a much better sequel and would better before DOG WARRIOR than after it. Basically, Ukiah needed to learn about Magic Boy before meeting Atticus. As I wrote TAINTED TRAIL, however, I realized that I needed another book.

The main plot of DOG WARRIOR revolves around an alien drug. I needed to set up where the drug came from in BITTER WATERS. I also needed to give Sam some space to come to Pittsburgh without crowding her out with Atticus. (As it was, I skimped on her in BITTER WATERS too, but at least she gets some scenes.) Lastly, I needed to explore what effect that taking in Little Slow Magic would do to Ukiah in the long run.

So DOG WARRIOR got bumped back another book.

When I wrote BITTER WATERS, at the end I wanted to leave threads to start DOG WARRIOR, but the sappy end was tacked on to resolve the book. Yet the dangling threads were SO looming, that the happy ending that follows seemed wrong. In the rewrite, I moved some of the information into an earlier section to keep the information on the other children that Ukiah rescued.

Original ending:

In summer, on the first night he and Indigo made love, they had walked along the sea of wheat, so close they were nearly touching. Shy and unknown to each other.

The wheat had been shorn to stubble. The night wind now carried the taste of autumn death and the bite of coming winter. And at the edge of Ukiah’s awareness, he felt the Pack’s protective watch.

This time, though, he and Indigo held hands, and Kittanning made them three.

“If he’s too heavy, I can take him.” He offered as Indigo shifted sleeping Kittanning to her other shoulder.

“No, he’s perfect. I just wanted to do this.” Indigo tucked herself under Ukiah’s shoulder. “Children’s Hospital released both children this afternoon. Jonah’s mother is out on probation and regained custody of him and Shiralle’s foster parents have decided to adopt her.”

“Ah, good.” Ukiah shared his good news. “Cally’s gotten over the worse of her jealousy, although I suspect that she would have preferred the puppy.”

“Ukiah!” Indigo cried in outraged tones but then laughed. “I’m sure he made a cute puppy, but I love my little baby boy.”

She kissed Kittanning’s forehead who snuggled closer to her in blissful contentment.

“He loves you very much.” Ukiah translated for Kittanning. “And so do I.”

They came to his treehouse. Indigo reluctantly surrendered Kittanning to him, and climbed up to the lofty platform where they first made love. His son asleep on his shoulder, Ukiah picked his way carefully up the ladder to join her.

There they made a nest of blankets and lay under the night sky, high in the tree branches, just the three of them, watching the stars. It felt very right, despite the night chill. The wind made the branches dance over their heads and leaves spiced with autumn drifted down, kissing them lightly before whirling away into the darkness.

“If only we could stay this way.” Indigo whispered.

Ukiah lifted his hand and pointed out a bright streak passing through the big dipper. Ursa Major. The big bear. “Falling star. Make a wish. It will come true. All you need is faith.”

- The End -

Posted by wen at 08:03 AM

May 03, 2003

Life, or the lack of it.

Sometime in a previous life I fell behind and I haven't managed to get caught up since then.

I’m not sure how other people do it. Have a job, be a parent, keep the house clean, and still have hobbies and activities outside the house. Do these people sleep?

Bitter Waters is hitting the bookshelves as I write this and I didn’t set up any signings this time around. I’m running too close to deadline on Dog Warrior to do anything major. I do have several conventions lined up this summer starting with Balticon, where I’ll be a Guest of Honor, during Memorial Day weekend. Since at conventions I’ll see lots for SF fans than any one signing, I count on those heavily, but there is the old ‘what the bookstore ordered in during a signing, they’ll order in for the next book too.’ This is great if you think those books will sell, but I think it might be horrible if they get returned.

Rob Sawyer told me that Spider Robertson nearly killed his career by setting up like 30 book signings and leaving a trail of unsold books behind him that was all stripped and returned. OUCH!

I’m suffering from burn out. Great things are happening, I should be happy, but looming over me is this huge deadline from hell. ACK. As a result I’ve found myself getting less and less writing on the computer done. This includes blogging, posting, emailing, anything that has to typing words into the computer.

On the other hand, my housework has picked up!

It isn’t the case of not sitting down in front the computer and trying to get work done. Every morning I stick myself into the chair, fire up the computer, and decide that the dishes should be done. After the dishes, I return to the chair, look at some files, decide I need to go to bathroom and do a load a laundry while I’m in the general laundry room direction. All day, I sit down in front of the computer, only to drift off to do some kind of housework. (It has much to say about how behind I was in the housework when you realize that two weeks of this activity and its still messy.)

Today I sat down to write….and updated my web site, emailed several conventions about freebie stuff, posted, clean part of the mud room, started a load of laundry, and now doing a blog.

FOCUS!!! I need focus!

Oh well, weekends are never great for me as Don and Zachary are home. Hopefully later today I’ll be able to settle down and get some writing done. At least I’m getting caught up in all the other things I’m behind on.

Posted by wen at 02:48 PM

Things they don't tell you

This is an answer to MM at Julie's newsgroup which I'm copying here. There are lots of things that aren't mentioned as important writing skills. Public Speaking is one -- learn how to talk and read to crowds. You'll be doing it a lot if you get published.

Writer Skill That They Don't Tell You That You Need Number 7: Introducing
yourself to concom in a way that gets you invited.

Yes, another one of those secret elf talents that you're suppose to hone but
don't realize its part of THE JOB. Practice it until you're too well known
to care. Repeat after me. "Hi, my name is x, and I have y coming out soon.
I also have this fascinating job/past time/hobby/secret elf talent. I'm
willing to tap dance on tables to make your con great. Can I help? Can I
do panels?"

The worse they can say is no. Most likely, they'll say yes. Everyone likes
to be "I knew him when..."

As I've discovered that when you ask to be invited it is as "a program
participant," not guest, as many conventions think that the only guest is
the Guest of Honor. (Unlike the con I worked on where anyone given a free
membership for being on panels was a guest.)

When you get to the convention, be nice and friendly to everyone, no matter
how rude and screwed up the convention is. These are volunteers under a lot
of stress and often scrambling to pick up pieces that someone else dropped
and getting all the blame. All convention committee people talk to other
convention committee people and being rude to one set can get you
blacklisted by the next set.

Posted by wen at 02:11 PM