New Screen Rant is live: bad comic-book love

Comic book romances that would never fly today.

Like twelve-year-old Storm losing her virginity—

And Odin magically making Jane Foster fall in love with someone other than his son (Odin was a jerk).

Art by Lan Medina and Jack Kirby respectively. All rights to images remain with current holders. #SFWApro


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This simple trick made me much more efficient!

Ever since I started writing for Screen Rant, I’ve been getting a lot more email from the SR Google Group. As a result I’ve been spending a lot more time reading email. If work’s going sluggishly, I just take a break, check email and wind up going even more sluggishly. I’ve been trying to resist that impulse, but I’ve had little luck.

Last week I tried something new: don’t read email until the afternoon. In the morning, which is my most productive time, I check my phone to see if there’s anything I actually need to answer (rare), everything else waits. This was a big improvement, but it occurred to me that my least creative period in the work day is the 90 minutes or so before I wrap up for the day at 5pm. What if I pushed email to that last sector of the work day?

Success! I’ve slashed my mail time, and not allowing it earlier in the day keeps me from “oh well, might as well check the mail” moments. It really has helped. Even Trixie and Plush Dog are over the moon about it!

Okay, they’re actually in ecstasy because they’re rolling on a dead shrew (I think). But why quibble?

As for actual work accomplished this week —

I got in my next Screen Rant, on comic book relationships that would never fly today (adults banging teenagers, mind-controlled sex, rape played for laughs). At least I hope they wouldn’t. I’ll post a link when it’s up. Below, one example drawn by John Buscema, from when the Wasp married Hank Pym knowing perfectly well he was clinically insane at the time, because it was the only way she could get him to tie the knot.

I submitted one article (to Writer’s Digest) and one column pitch (to The Guardian), and two short stories to new magazines.

I finally started my next-to-last-draft revision of The Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I think I have the problems analyzed and fixed; we’ll see how it goes as I rewrite it. Unanticipated problems usually show up. I also I got about halfway through another draft of No One Can Slay Her. I think it’s showing much improvement.

I posted a blog entry at Atomic Junk Shop about Doc Savage as a creation of the Depression.

And I began work on my taxes. It goes much smoother if I start well in advance and do a little bit every time. I completed most of Schedule C (self-employment income) but I have yet to complete the related forms (business use of my home, self-employment tax).

I think it helped that as TYG was snowbound for Wednesday through Friday, she sits down on the couch with the dogs. And I had two scheduled events (car maintenance and dentist) that had to be postponed because of the weather. But I’ll be glad to have clear roads again next week.

Photo is mine, credit me if you use. Avengers panel rights remain with current holder.


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Filed under Writing, Short Stories, Nonfiction, Time management and goals, Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Doc Savage, Screen Rant


Came down Wednesday, easily six inches or more. Barely melted at all since then — our yard doesn’t get a lot of sun. This is definitely the most snow since we bought our home back in 2012.

As you can see, Plushie’s belly deep when he goes out in it.

And here are a few more shots from our street and yard

Fortunately this weekend’s temperatures should melt everything away — otherwise we might have to risk driving on snow just to get some food. And despite some flickering Wednesday, we didn’t lose power. And I had the sense to buy a snow shovel after last year’s snowfall. But I did feel bad when the birds emptied the bird feeder. I’d have bought some seed last weekend, but I didn’t anticipate as much snow as we got, and I had to watch hungry birds showing up and finding nothing. Guilt!

Photos are mine, please credit me if you use them. #SFWApro

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Writing related links (#SFWApro)

Kristyn Kathryn Rusch reminds us of the importance of reading contracts before signing. And never assuming the other person will handwave away awkward clauses. She also mentions something I hadn’t heard of before, media companies taking an option on your work, then trying to fudge your copyright (file one of their own, claim that theirs is the real one, etc.). Alarming.

Foz Meadows on the argument that realism and diversity are separate things.

Why do so few films take place in WW I?

No, e-book piracy isn’t harmless. And it’s not about being priced too high — I’ve seen Philosophy and Fairytales pirated, and it’s like $1.99.

A theater student wonders why there aren’t more conservative playwrights. I suspect it’s that fewer conservatives really see playwriting as a viable profession (it’s not a Serious Field like law or working for Wall Street) and possibly like David French they see culture as hostile to conservatives.

Metricula (one of the organizers of Illogicon) sings about the woman in refrigerators trope.

Adam-Troy Castro points out that not all specfic has to have a logical premise. John Scalzi likewise questions why people can’t believe in the Flying Snowman. NK Jemisin suggests writers not worry about magic systems — magic doesn’t have to make sense.

Adam Harkus looks at the impact of the Internet on the music industry, with some thoughts I hadn’t run into before.

Things to think about when writing fight scenes.


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Is Our Writers Learning? The Thing in the Woods by Matthew W. Quinn

I decided to read THE THING IN THE WOODS by Matthew W. Quinn after reading his discussion of how the cast would have voted in 2016. It’s a contemporary-set horror which has some definite similarities to Southern Discomfort (small town with a secret, lots of newcomers moving in), though happily not too many.

Fair warning: it came out from Digital Fiction, which also publishes Where Angels Fear to Lunch. Their royalty model says we all divide up the pot equally, so if Thing in the Woods sells, that’s good for me. Nevertheless, I really did like it.


James Daly is a teenager whose father recently uprooted the family from Buckhead in Atlanta to Edington, Ga., a small town partly transformed into a bedroom community. What James doesn’t know, but will soon learn, is that there’s a local cult that feeds people who piss them off to their tentacled god. Once James learns about the cult, he’s #1 on their shit list.


Setting can be an asset. I think the strength of the story is that it’s set very much in the modern south. Characters coping with recession, businesses dying, old-school Southerners who bitterly resent the newcomers in town, the changing demographics, the fact life just ain’t the way it used to be. References to Chapel Hill and Destin, both of which I’m familiar with. It’s a South I recognize. And while the bad guys get my back up (I’ve known too many people like them), Quinn does a good job making them decent. Except, you know, their bigotry and the whole human sacrifice thing.

Setting the cult and its god against that backdrop is the book’s strength, making the story much more interesting (to me, anyway), than if it had been, say, Innsmouth or something equally old-school.

Obviously there’s a parallel to Pharisee, Georgia, in Southern Discomfort: the clash between locals and outsiders, the magic secret. Pharisee’s secrets, though are a lot nicer.

Keeping the story moving is good. Well, obviously. What I mean is, Quinn does keep things moving a lot faster than I do, dealing with the town’s situation in dribbles as the plot advances. But of course the cult is a lot more incidental to Edington than the McAlisters are to Pharisee, so the effects of Aubric’s death are a lot more far-reaching. Which is likewise why I have more POV characters many of whom aren’t involved in the action: I’m shooting for a bigger overall view of Pharisee than Quinn is. Obviously his approach worked; hopefully mine will too.

Endings are tricky. The final battle with the monster is lively, but I was a little disappointed they used brute force and modern weapons rather than anything occult. It isn’t huge issue though — lots of monsters get blown up, shot, poisoned, gassed, buried, etc. — but I did expect the creature to be more supernatural than it appears to be.

Overall, it was a satisfying book. Hopefully it’s not going to launch a wave of fantasies set in Southern bedroom communities before my own comes out.

Cover image is uncredited; all rights remain with the current holder.

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Filed under Is Our Writers Learning?, Reading, Southern Discomfort

Illogicon! (#SFWApro)

So last weekend, once again I was a guest at Illogicon, the local Raleigh-Durham SF con. There are others in the area, but this is the only one I’ve made yet — the timing is good (not much else going on) and it’s only 15 minutes or so up the Interstate.

I was on several panels this year including “Making Magic Real,” and “So Over That,” a panel about tropes we’re sick of (among my personal picks, disability clichés), plus a couple about the business side. In between panels I watched the cosplayers and hung with various friends including Bill Ferris, Ada Milenkovic Brown, Samantha Bryant and Gail Z. Martin. Oh, and I did a reading, heavily slanted to plugging Atlas Shagged. I caught Bill’s reading (always funny) and part of guest of honor Alyssa Wong’s before a throat tickle forced me to leave rather than disrupt things.

I picked up a number of books, some that I’d been planning on for a while (Samantha Bryant’s first Menopausal Superhero books) and some just because I was friends with the author. And of course because I have plenty of Christmas money left to buy with. I’ll talk more about the books when I get around to reviewing them. Oh, and I picked up a pair of ear-rings for TYG, to boot.

(I like this photo because it turns the hotel atrium into a kind of B&W Casablanca style set. Or so I’d like to imagine)

It was a great time, though exhausting: I rarely get that much intensive social activity in one weekend any more, and by Sunday I was drained. But totally worth it, and I’m looking forward to 2019.

Rights to all costumes and characters belong to the relevant rights-holders.

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Religious scumbags, racist remarks and more political links

As a Christian, I realize despise some of the right-wing shitbags who belong to my faith.

For example, megachurch pastor Andy Savage confesses to assaulting a teenager twenty years ago (confessing because she’d gone public), describing it as a sexual incident. His church stands by him and wishes his victim was on the same “path to healing” as Savage is. Trump spiritual adviser Paula White tells people to send her one month’s pay or God will punish them (this kind of scam does seem to fit with Trump’s spirituality, of course).  Religious gay-loather Matt Saver insists gay judges cannot rule fairly on any case involving Christians.

Pastor Tom Fuerst argues that preachers who don’t speak out against racism “are not teaching Jesus.” Amy Sullivan suggests, however, that’s because rightwing evangelicals have a new concept of Christianity — Fox news evangelicism. Right-wing evangelical David French’s (of the Consensual Sex Is Bad wing of Christianity) solution: stop using the word evangelical.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Christianity is somehow compatible with worshipping Trump and lying her teeth off every day, but that’s still no reason (as one blogger did recently) to throw the “c-word” at her. Gendered slams aren’t acceptable just because the target is a conservative woman.

Sanders’ boss, of course, has dismissed the nonwhite world as “shithole countries.” Surprise, Republicans are not criticizing him as hard as Dems. They never will as long as he can nominate more right-wing judges and destroy government regulations and sign anything they give him. And yes, Trump’s argument is racist. As is Kansas Republican State Rep. Steve Alford’s claim the reason pot was banned in the 1930s was because blacks are genetically pot-heads. But Alford’s totally not racist, at least according to himself.

You can count on any Trump policy to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. And afflicting wildlife too.

Republican voters hate elites, but they’ve convinced themselves billionaire Trump isn’t really one.

Right-wing pundits used to dismiss Obama as some illiterate fraud reading off a teleprompter. But when Trump reads off a teleprompter, that proves he’s smart.

David Brooks, a man who believes we should just shut up and obey our leaders, and that if Republicans say they’re going to help the poor it doesn’t matter whether they actually do, unsurprisingly thinks Trump is doing a good job, it’s everyone who thinks he’s an idiot who’s at fault.

Slacktivist says the point of Oprah’s Golden Globes speech isn’t that she should be president, but that we should all be the change we want to see in the world.

Echidne reminds us that sexual harassment at work isn’t just about sex, it’s about job opportunities lost.

Trump tried to wreck the Iran nuclear deal. So far, he’s failed. Once again, we’re lucky he’s so inept.




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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches