An excerpt from Gaia’s Hands

I am getting so tired of editing.

That’s all I’ve been doing this summer — editing/rewriting whole novels, starting with Apocalypse (almost ready for querying) and continuing with Gaia’s Hands (my current source of despair). But it’s between that and putting them in a drawer somewhere, and I think that, now that I have a sense of what the novels need, they deserve the second (actually fifth) chance.

When I started writing, I thought that my first draft was the final product, which was my honor-student hubris speaking. Those rejections were the best thing to happen to me, because they made me work harder and learn more. 

That being said, it’s time to go back to editing Gaia’s Hands. My commitment to Camp NaNo is one hour per day, but I’ve been doing two just to be safe. 


Now, an excerpt:

On Wednesday, Jeanne arrived at her office after her 11:00 class to find Dean Davidson, who she had previously only met at college meetings, standing at her office door with two other men. All wore bespoke suits that probably cost as much as her monthly salary.
“Jeanne,” Dr. Davidson said in his light, cultured voice as he stood at her office door with two other men. “This is Jack White, the Chief Financial Officer of Growesta — “ Jeanne shook hands with a middle-aged man with silver hair and a tan — “and Enzo Patricelli, Board of Directors.”

Jeanne shook Patricelli’s hand. His eyes, ice blue in a pale, strikingly handsome face, held eye contact for a hair more than was polite, and Jeanne wondered if he was from another country. He seemed foreign to her with his auburn hair falling just a little too long for Corporate America, and a slightly stiff manner about him. Austere, even chilly, but handsome in a compelling way. Jeanne wondered what his role in the proposal would be.

They discussed nothing significant on the trip to the steakhouse, nor did Jeanne expect to. Nor did they talk over the dinner of steak and potatoes. True to what she suspected, the men served the proposal with dessert and coffee.

“Jeanne,” Dr. Davidson led the gambit, sipping his coffee, “I understand you’re applying to become a full professor this fall.”

“Yes, that’s right,” Jeanne said.  “I have my materials together; you should receive them for review the first of August.” She remembered the earlier hints Davidson had dropped.

“I’ve noticed you haven’t brought any grants into the department lately,” Davidson replied.

Jeanne felt herself tense up, her hands flatten on the table. She took a deep breath. “I received a grant two years ago, a sizeable grant from the National Science Foundation.”

“Still,” Davidson said.  “I believe we can offer an opportunity that would not only fund your research, but would vastly improve your changes of promotion.”

“Okay,” Jeanne said, knowing she sounded tactless, “tell me about it.”

“Well,” Jack White began, “Growesta is reaching out to make connections with promising faculty in various agricultural institutions, and we decided to start here at home. We at Growesta have been following your career with interest. You have an excellent track record in research with your — uh — Jeannie Bean. You have media exposure in the Chicago market talking about your research, and you come off with integrity, all things we’d like to capture.”

Capture. Jeanne hoped that was an unfortunate choice of words. “So what is it you’re offering?”

“We’d like to invite you into a collaboration with us where you could help us promote new varieties of beans for the agricultural market. You’re known for your work with beans.”

Jeanne took a deep breath. “You’ve looked at my work. I bred a perennial bean for larger bean size to make it more interesting to a consumer market. These beans were developed to be planted within the context of permaculture gardens, which are by definition organic. Are you offering an opportunity for me to work with you on promoting beans for organic applications?“

“We aren’t pursuing organic strategies at this time,” White replied. “But someday, I suppose, we may get to that point. We want you to promote our herbicide-ready products to the public, who has become increasingly distrustful of our products. You have captured the imagination of — of at least the marketing department at the University, and the regional media as well, as is evidenced by your interviews with Chicago-area stations. We would like to have you speak for us.”

“But my research — “ Jeanne stammered. “It’s not —”

“I know what your research has been,” Dean Davidson interrupted smoothly, “and it has been excellent research. But look at the opportunties here. We’re talking about money for you to continue your research, which we will treat as a grant for the purpose of your portfolio and taxes. Upward of $50,000 a year. And this should pretty much guarantee your promotion to full professor.”

That money would fund a lot of research, Jeanne considered. But tenure … “You can’t guarantee me full professorship.”

“You would be surprised,” Patricelli spoke for the first time, in clipped words. “Corporate dollars go far into greasing the wheels of the college administration.” In his words, Jeanne heard promise — and warning.

“I don’t know,” Jeanne nearly stammered, meeting Patricelli’s eyes in their icy regard. “Please let me consider this offer.”

“Okay,” White said. “But we can’t wait for too long. The ad campaign would need to be drawn up soon.”

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