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Young Adult Science Fiction Dreams of My Youth

February 04, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  2 Comments

Sylvia Louise Engdahl’s books really dug into my little developing brain back then, and I am re-reading her wonderful books. The current one at the top of the book pile is The Far Side of Evil.

This book is so good it hurts. Literally. It is a book a writer reads and thinks, “My prose will never be that good.”

In my younger days, this would have sunk me into a depression. I would have quit writing. How could I ever hope to master The Craft to the point where every single word on every single page sings with a compelling story the way Engdahl’s prose pierces one’s heart?

Now I am older, and sometimes wiser, or at least occasionally coherent, or, perhaps, slyly contemplative. I can wallow in the world of limitations because I can see beyond those very self-imposed limitations. The blankness of the screen before me begs for letters. The letters are composed of words, then sentences, and suddenly a story is there, almost like magic, but it is not magic, it is me, raw me. I cannot stop this wondrous ability anymore than I could stop breathing.

My prose will never be that good. The standard, however, is set. Like Engdahl’s visionary fiction, I can see beyond the line I used to draw for myself. Sometimes I close my eyes and see stars made of words, and the words swirl around like fire-motes in a sunspot, singing music in a timeless dance of fire and passion.


January 31, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  2 Comments

I do not get writer’s block, but sometimes, for some unknown reason, a particular chapter will just feel like I am running uphill.

When that happens, I borrow a page out of Ken’s philosophy: at a bare minimum, three-hundred words are not insignificant. Therefore, if I can write 300 words in a particular day, I’ve contributed to my novel instead of bemoaning my lack of energy. One day soon, 300 turns to 600. Then 1200, and all is right in the world.

Left to my own devices, I am a prolific writer. Sometimes, in that quiet week of reflection that washes over me, slow and steady wins the race.

I call this the Zen of Ken.


Sympathetic characters

January 28, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, The Craft  2 Comments

The talented and lovely Lauren talks about sympathetic characters in her blog, Book in the Oven.

This is a post worthy of study to the writer.

Courtney Summers’ book, Cracked Up to Be also is a good study. Her main character, complete with appalling behavior, was sympathetic almost immediately. She did this is a sneaky fashion. Courtney, let it be known, is sneaky.

But I digress. Creating sympathetic characters is, I am convinced in a “hack writer” kind of way, a non-trivial literary accomplishment.

The Experts tell us the books people like to read need to be show and not tell. In doing so, it is easy to form a character in our minds that is almost as real as an actual person. So we place these literary people in our book, yet, in the guise of rushing to and fro for momentum and plot, it is easy to leave off the parts we know, as the writer, that the reader does not know.

Such as, why one should care about the character in the first place.

This is why having a beta reader or two is so important. It is not an easy thing to realize a character is unsympathetic, not because she actually is, but because of an unintentional error storytelling.

Check out Lauren’s post!


January 21, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  4 Comments

Say it with me folks, BLARG! And lo, there were 42,000 words!

The Blog Harem(TM) will be happy to know I am halfway done with Your Little Sister.

I’ve been up quite a bit with Your Little Sister. Demands, demands, I feed the demands.

Your Little Sister is, without a doubt, a good romp. I tire easily, though, and well, that is just the way it is. It is not like Your Little Sister has a choice in the matter. YLS, is mine.


January 16, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  2 Comments

I cannot believe I am three hundred words away from finishing a short story. I never write shorts, but I was prompted by a nice piece of email the other day, so I said what the heck. I even have a deadline and everything. WOO WOO, nothing like a non-self-imposed deadline to get the blood flowing.

I really dig this story, it’s a bit smoldering. Okay, maybe a lot.

To my YA Critique Partner: I know, I know—I SUCK. I will be done with Chapter 9 soon, I promise.

Right after I go visit my new niece.

I do not know.

January 14, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  1 Comment

Why am I writing a science fiction murder mystery?

I do not know.

Why is the main character less than human, but more than human at the same time?

I do not know.

Why am I writing this novel in first person present tense?

I do not know.

Why is the is best writing I have ever done?

I do not know.

Why is my blog harem so fascinated with the main character and the story?

I do not know.

So, what do I know?

I like cheese.

Blog Change

January 09, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Not Exactly Random, The Craft  1 Comment

I’ve added a new page to provide updates of my novels for the curious and curiouser. This seems a little weird doing this, but, at the end of the day, I am here to please my readers. And my readers are demanding!

Check it out.

If you think the page sounds strangely like query letters, you’re right. Shoot me some email if you have any feedback.


January 04, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  5 Comments

3300 words Saturday on Your Little Sister.

I wanted to do other things, but Your Little Sister has me in an icy grip. I worked on Your Little Sister while drinking a great glass of wine, so I cannot complain—no, I cannot. Indeed. Wine and Your Little Sister go hand-in-hand.

Words, I have them.

January 02, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  8 Comments

Let us start 2009 with a writing update!

Bunny Trouble—a near-future science fiction story with cops, guns, and blood sucking sex craving aliens, along with a girl named Bunny—is in editing for Draft 3. I have decided to suck it up and finish editing Bunny Trouble this week, and finish up my query letter.

The Baby Dancers—A Young Adult Fantasy novel, is plunking along at 300 words a day. This novel has a lot of action and I am limiting myself to 80K words, so slow and steady here is going to win the race.

YOUR LITTLE SISTER—I had a dialog with Courtney Summers over a code name for her next work in progress. Her prior one was YOUR MOM, and I thought that was just so darn clever (Courtney Summers is a smart one, she is). However, Courtney, being a official little sister, emphatically declined my suggested working title.

Thus, I will unapologetically steal it and use it for my very own. Cannot copyright titles, don’t ya know!

Anyway, Your Little Sister is a murder mystery set in the future, featuring the smart, somewhat crazy ex-starship pilot—and not one but four active husbands, Lexus Toulouse.

Your Little Sister is consuming me. Your Little Sister is demanding, I stayed up too late last night working on Your Little Sister.

I have to say one thing, though. Your Little Sister is sassy and sexy. I thought I was the last person on Earth who should write a mystery novel, but I am enjoying working on Your Little Sister immensely, and hope to share some day.

Your Little Sister needs to be shared, and whom am I to deny?

Investigator Lexus Toulouse

December 30, 2008 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, Plot, The Craft  9 Comments

“Your husband is an unmitigated pain in the ass,” Mitchell said as soon as I took the call.

I would have sighed and banged my head on my desk, repeatedly, except for the fact this was full video and that I was working on dissembled explosives. Separated, the stuff that goes boom was inert, but still, banging your head on decade old chemicals was usually a bad idea.

Mitchell is one of those men who have a long fuse to a big bang, so I give him the once over after turning down the magnification on my work glasses.

Scrunched shoulders. Frown. One hand tapping a stylus. Eyes that simultaneously said “kiss me now” and “you are pissing me off”.

Oh yeah, he was about to burst, and part—okay most—of it was my fault. The last time we were in bed together I was so exhausted from fieldwork that I actually fell asleep while he was, you know, well never mind.

“Sweetheart, which husband is that?”

“Bill. Can we divorce him, please?”

I actually laugh, and then feel bad because I am laughing while he is miffed. Mitch gives me a weak smile though. Divorcing Bill was a long running joke in the family—even Bill uses it.

Bill is the junior husband, and is very assertive. Which is why we all married him but still, he gets on the other three’s nerves and I am the ‘neutral’ party usually assigned to broker a deal, or prevent bloodshed.

“I’m sorry Husband One, but I am very fond of Husband Four. He’s, um, rich, and has this girth thing going for him.”

“God, you are so predictable. And why is it you always bring that up when we talk about him, anyway? Trying to make me jealous?”

Okay, this conversation is going somewhere, finally. I have Mitch pegged. He is lonely, which is my fault. And also the fault of Husband Two and Three. They took the two dogs while going fishing. I should have seen it coming but I have been busy with this stupid bomb, which may be part of a run off the same line. The same type of bomb used for a bit of industrial sabotage. The client was paying me many credits to nail who did it, so it has been work work work. Plus, someone using war shit for their own gain just pisses me off. It was personal.

Bill, being a pain in the ass, was still just a symptom.

“I always use intimate little details when talking about other husbands to put you all in your place.”

Mitch cocked an eyebrow. “Eh? What do you say about me?”

“I refer to you as ‘He who stole my virginity at a tender age’, which usually is very distracting to the others.”

Mitch is fighting the smile but it finally comes out. Then he chuckles.

“Ha. Anyway, Bill wants my next day on the calendar.”

“Well you told him no, didn’t you?” Bill should know better. I let them broker calendar dates amongst themselves, but everyone knows I botched my last day with Mitch.

“No, actually I was calling to tell you that I said yes.”

“What? But I miss you. I wanted to be with you!”

“Sorry. He had a convincing argument.”

Oh my God.

“This wasn’t a trade, was it? Please tell me he did not bribe you with credits.”

Now Mitchell was grinning ear-to-ear. “Yes, he did.”

“Mitchell Jameson Toulouse! And how much was I worth?”



Mitchell laughs. “Sorry, Honey, but it’s your own fault. There is only so much Lexus Pie to go around and I don’t like mine falling asleep.”

I sigh. “Fine.”

“Oh it’s the ‘fine’, is it now?” He crosses his arms.

“You’re mean. You know this case is important. You know how much war shit bugs me. And here I was going to offer to meet you in my office!”

His eyes go wide. “Really?”

“Well forget it.”

“No way. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“Forget it.”

“I’ll give you the 500 cred.”

“MITCHELL! I am not the family whore!”

“I’m coming over there. You will be naked by the time I get through the door. You will take the credits. Are we clear on this, Lieutenant?”

I snort. Mitchell was never in the military. I do not even think he knows what a Lieutenant grade actually is. “Or what?”

“Or I will call Bill back and tell him he can have the second day too. And for what he is planning, you’ll regret the four days of Bill Time.” Mitchell was grinning again, and this time it was all predatory.

“What?! What does he have planned?” This did not sound good, not good at all.

“Leaving now.” He stabbed a button and the video went off.

“Ahhhhhhhhh!” I actually scream. It does not make me feel better. Why why why, why did I get married at all, much less four times? I have no one to blame but myself.

Well, this bomb was not going to go anywhere. I carefully lock away all the parts, snap my sidearm to the side of my desk, take off my clothes and lie on top of the workbench, staring at the ceiling.

It only took him eight minutes to get to my office, which was impressive; as was the speed of which he peeled out of his own clothes. I start to giggle and he jumps on me, kissing me, putting his hands on me.

I do not fall asleep. If Mitch was annoyed with me, he sure does not show it. His passion consumes me and soon I am mindless.

And I wind up taking the credits when he points out I can use them to buy Bill something nice. Fine.


“You have a priority call on line three,” Bob, my office comp, tells me sweetly. It wakes me up instantly, but Mitch just grunts and snuggles closer.

“Privacy audio only, connect.” Mitch does not need to know work details. Line three was official Investigation business.

“LT, this is Scott.”

Uh. Scott. Scott is a Constitutional Enforcement Officer. This call will not end well.

“What up, Scott?”

“Kaliston.” Bob is listening, of course, and instantly puts up a map of Washington on the ceiling. Kaliston is in central Washington, in the middle of nowhere, not even close to I-90. Nothing but desert and wheat fields.

“Double homicide,” Scott adds. “A mother and her daughter.”

Now it was my turn to grunt. “Why me?” Anyone who knows anything about Investigators knows I do not advertise for homicide. I saw enough dead bodies in the war, and the Reaffirmation. And Scott knows everything. Maybe literally.

“You’re the best LT, and my field comp got a flag from your agency on this one.”

I can feel the blood running away from my face, the room grows cold.

“Were they found tied together, facing each other?”


“I’m taking a hopper. I’ll be there soon.”

“Got it.” Scott disconnected. Only a CEO would be un-frazzled by an Investigator use of an orbital hopper. Actually, nothing usually bothers Scott; he has the emotions of a work bot, but I could hear it in his voice. This bothered him.

As it should.

I get up, pushing Mitch off. But I feel dizzy. Mitch says “Hey!” and stands up, grumpy that I interrupted his post-euphoric nap by pushing him off the workbench.

“Mitch, can you hand me that wastebasket?”

Mitch nods seriously and hands it to me. He really is a sweet guy, really he is.

I promptly throw up my lunch.