Monday, January 29, 2018

An Evolving WIP: A WIP About Evolving

Before I launch into my blog this week, I want to mention the SFR Galaxy Awards will be announced this week on Wednesday, January 31st!

Please tune in to see the announcements as they're made each hour on the SFR Galaxy Awards Site, beginning with a welcome message at 8AM EST and the first of the award rounds posting at 10AM EST.

This is one of the rare award presentations where the authors don't enter to win, so the announcements are always a surprise.

Please come join us!

A New Story

A couple of years ago I had a stroke of inspiration and started writing one of those on-a-backburner-in-my-head stories that had been simmering away on my creative stovetop for many years. It started out as a lighthearted SFR story about two misfits who fell in love. But over time it evolved...

In a recent convo with a couple of peers, I described it this way (edited for this blog):

"I'm trying to finish up The Shell and the Star, which is an Inherited Stars Universe (not Series) book, but only tentatively, since it takes place 50,000 years in the future of Inherit the Stars. It's a Romeo and Juliette-esque story about two civilizations forging a bond of continuing self-reliance through an arranged "interspecies" marriage, but it has some fun twists.

And a few things that go seriously awry!

The backstory hints at a Pern-style abandonment and resulting isolation, after a meteor event all but destroys the world. But two intelligent civilizations manage to survive, finding refuge in very different habitats, and a tenuous reliance on each other.

Meaning of "The Shell" and "The Star"

Visual inspiration for a semi-aquatic story.
The title refers to the symbols of the cultures to which the two main characters belong, one represented by The Shell, a society of aquatic beings who live in a shallow ocean, and the Star, a species that has evolved on an ancient, perpetual-use space station orbiting the ruined world.

The two species have survived by the grace of their delicate co-dependency. The society of the Shell relies on the technology supplied by the people of The Star, and The Star trades their technology for food to feed a population that has outgrown its limited agricultural resources.

Veros is (or at least was) the paradise world mentioned in both Inherit the Stars and Courting Disaster, a planet of warm seas and tropical islands. Fifty thousand years later, a percentage of the warm seas remain, but the once lush, tropical lands are now nothing but scorched earth. The people of the Shell have built their underwater cities in the shallow, protected bays of these oceans.

Home of "The Star"...better known as Talstar Station.
The species of the Star have evolved on a space station supplied with self-perpetuating energy systems built to operate continuously for 100,000 years. This station has now reached its half-life, and the increasing population of the Star is testing the sustainability of their habitat.

Those who recently read Courting Disaster in the Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 collection may have guessed the identity of this manmade super-station. It's none other than Talstar--once home of the Universal Flight Academy and the Carduwan Fifth Fleet Headquarters in the long, long ago and all but forgotten.

The Star-(and Shell-)Crossed Lovers

Trey, the hero, and Jinn, the heroine of the story are both the children of important leaders, and both are outcasts of their respective societies due to their physical shortcomings. Trey is accepting and confident about his "disability" but Jinn is self-conscious and shame-ridden.

A meeting is arranged by their fathers--two loving and hopeful parents who wish to strengthen the ties--and the trade--between their two societies. Though Trey and Jinn strike a chord as kindred spirits, the soul-deep differences in how they view themselves and their place in society, along with conflicting cultural traditions, results in a heart-shattering outcome.

About that Disability...

In its infancy, I shared a portion of the WIP with a couple of local critique partners for their reaction. Though both had favorable comments, one was struggling to understand what the hero and heroine looked like. She scratched out a quick drawing of two squat, bulbous little bowling pin shaped figures and asked, "Is this how they look?" I stared at her drawing with raised eyebrows and a sinking feeling that, clearly, I needed to do a better job as the author. (Writer. Meet Shortcomings. heh)

The intended twist in The Shell and the Star is that Trey and Jinn look just like us--like modern humans--but their evolved, elegantly tall, graceful, long-limbed (or finned) contemporaries see them as hideously deformed social outcasts. Perhaps in the way our society would view a Neanderthal or a much earlier hominid if one were born in 2018. Perhaps viewed as a curiosity at best, but with those who are less tolerant seeing a freak evolutionary anomaly--what in animal husbandry is sometimes called a "throwback."

One facet of the story is how these children grow up to view themselves. And if they would embrace or reject the potential their differences offer. Trey and Jinn are throwbacks to our time. Two distinctly de-evolved individuals.

Or are they?

The Shell and the Star will go to my editor in about three weeks, with a planned release date in mid-2018.

Have a great week...and see you at the SFR Galaxy Awards!


  1. The Shell and the Star is on my TBR list. Can't wait Laurie!

  2. Thanks so much, Riley! Hopefully soon--"soon" being relative to the editing process. :)

  3. Have tissue and ready to read! XOXO

    1. LOL Lea. Yep. I'd say tissues tend to be required for my stories, but that makes them sound depressing.


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