I was drawing a complete blank for a blog post for this week. Then, on Saturday I realized that no matter how cold the weather, it was March 1st, and my February PerNoReMo was complete. Kate Johnston may recall one of my December or January comments where I said I wanted to keep moving forward with Death Out of Time, even when I got stuck, because I didn’t want to switch to Summer at the Crossroads and use it as a crutch.
But I can only bang my head against a desk so many times. After making no real progress in December or January, I gave myself permission to work on Summer’s rebuild. I already had the new ideas sketched out and started a new Scrivener file.
So far, very little has come over from the original file, just a few setting descriptions and part of the original opening scene for Kat’s world. And that’s likely it. This truly is a rebuild. Although only 9,015 words into the process, I don’t recognize the stories. Catherine faces what I thought would take place in a sequel. Elements of that now-defunct sequel also now flow through Kat’s and Kathryn’s stories, tightening the weave between them. One of the “potted plants” is now a supporting character and has surprised the hell out of me. Others, once supporting, have ended up on the cutting room floor. It’s fascinating to watch these new stories take shape. Will readers enjoy them? That remains to be seen.
But without further ado, here’s a sketch from the rebuild. Previously, I gave some clips from Kat Donnelly’s adventures in her world. Here’s one from Kathryn Donnellan’s universe. It’s an initial draft of the opening for her story and, of course, subject to change.
Kathryn Donnellan’s hand tightened on the mouse as she clicked to the next slide. “But if you look at the most recent data, you see how severe the downturn is. Last year’s GDP was at a modern low. That trend continues this year.”
“What does their GDP have to do with anything?” Ned Dickerman countered. “Guatemala’s a democracy in name only. The government gives the military free rein in return for its support. The army will maintain the status quo.”
Kathryn, a senior economic specialist at the State Department, couldn’t afford to gather her thoughts if she wanted to finish her presentation. “Economics drive the modern world,” she countered, forcing herself not to rock on her feet. “When the situation becomes unbearable, even dictators fall. Populations revolt. Look at Russia under the tsars.”
Dickerman snorted. “The tsars held on, for what, a thousand years before that happened? President Casagrande doesn’t need to worry.”
“Your own intelligence reports show low-level officers and foot soldiers are seeing pay cuts. Roman emperors knew better than to mess with their armies.”
“Is this an economics briefing or a history lecture, Donnellan? Got any relevant examples from the modern world?”
Smiles crossed the faces of the men and women seated on Dickerman’s side of the conference table, all intelligence officers.
“Greece 2015. Colombia 2017,” Kathryn offered, relieved to see affirming nods from her colleagues.
“Apples and oranges. Those were military dictatorships.”
“And Guatemala isn’t?” William Lucas, the new Secretary of State, interrupted. “You just said it’s a democracy in name only. Is it safe for me to go down there next month or not?”
Kathryn used the distraction to steady her breathing and slow her pounding heart.
“Every officer from the generals down to the captains is paid handsomely,” Dickerman replied. “They’re all loyal to Casagrande. They’ll keep the lower ranks in line. Besides, what would those foot soldiers do for jobs if they quit? The country’s safe and will be for at least another five years. Even Langley agrees.”
It’s not just about jobs, Kathryn thought. You’re forgetting beliefs and ideals. Casagrande’s forcing new ways on a traditional culture and ruining the economy as he does. The people will fight him.
“What about the Russians?” Lucas asked. “They say the government will fall before the end of the year.”
“Only if they send their own army to overthrow it. Arming the rebels isn’t enough,” Dickerman added. “You’ll be fine, Mr. Secretary.”
“Do you agree, Ms. Donnellan?” Lucas asked.
Kathryn started, scrambling for a response. Lucas’s predecessor had never noticed her existence, let alone spoken to her. Why did that have to change?
So, would something like this catch and hold your attention?