Category Archives: Personal

The camel stuck its nose under the tent. You won’t believe what happened next! (#SFWApro)

Having learned not everyone’s familiar with the camel’s nose metaphor, I shall explain. Supposedly a camel that doesn’t want to be outside on a cold desert night will stick its nose under the edge of its owner’s tent. If the owner whacks it a good one, the camel withdraws. If not, the camel starts pushing further. And further. And eventually gets inside the tent.

Time management is sometimes like that for me. If I know I’m not going to put in a full week, it’s very tempting to put in even less — I have Monday off, say, giving me four days, but the camel keeps pushing, I find things to do and presto, I only get three and a half days! The past few years, I’ve been much better about it, but not this week. The nose was Tuesday morning: I had a dental and an eye checkup, with errands in between. Plus I had to print up some paperwork for various tasks. And I had enough stuff going on in the evenings that I knew I wouldn’t make up the time.

Okay, no problem, I can count Tuesday morning all the “overtime” that I earned in previous weeks. Except that the off-time just seemed to accumulate. Getting up late one morning. Getting distracted another. And Thursday morning a need bomb went off in the pups’ heads — after TYG left for work, Trixie was constantly demanding petting, and keeping up the demands if I tried to ignore her (she keeps learning new ways to draw my attention). And if I said anything aloud, they both acted like I’d said “out!” and got excited. It did not help me focus.

It turned out to be closer to four days of work than five, which is disappointing. But still, the work was good.

•I turned in another Screen Rant, 16 Comic Book Cover Mistakes You Can’t Unsee. Like Rob Liefeld’s cover above where Steve Rogers has a face growing out of his leg. Or the one below where the Star Wars cast look a little … off.

•I finally got back to work on Trouble and Glass, my 1950s urban fantasy. I fixed a lot of the plot problems which gives me confidence I can sort out the rest.

A Famine Where Abundance Lies came back from Fantasy and Science Fiction. It went out again. Go me!

•I reviewed the first few chapters of Questionable Minds for changes. Most of them are minor but after reading over the feedback from my writer’s group, I think I will make bigger changes to the first chapter, cutting down exposition and intensifying Simon’s PTSD over finding his wife dead a couple of years earlier.

•I continued replotting the finish of Southern Discomforts and it’s progressing. I didn’t any rewriting done this week, but I think I can make it up next week.

•I sold a couple more copies of Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast. For whatever reason the paperback sales are slow but they keep happening; the ebook doesn’t budge. Probably that’s because the ebook’s not on Amazon.

So not a bad week despite disruptions and needy dogs.

All rights to comics images remain with current holders.


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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Last weekend: Cookies and cookbooks (#SFWApro)

One of the things I do to keep from just reusing the same recipes over and over is to list my cookbooks and then work through the list. When TYG and I went to a vegan potluck last weekend, the next book in line was Vegetarian Pizza so I flipped through it to see if there was anything I wanted to make. Bingo! Chocolate chip pizza. Which is actually a chocolate cookie ten inches across, but as it’s a pizza book, I guess “big cookies” didn’t cut it.

As you can see, it turned out pretty tasty. It’s almost like a mix of sugar, walnuts and chocolate with flour is appealing to the human taste buds.

In another minor accomplishment, I took a bookshelf we’d recently acquired (I was using it to sort out my accumulated paperwork), brought it downstairs and used it to shelve all my cookbooks.

This works much better than the desk I had them on, and there’s even room for more books. Though I don’t buy them very often — with only two of us to cook for, there’s little chance of me getting bored with all these.

And then I took the wooden book-holder I had some of the cookbooks in and used it for the stuff I keep by one of the chairs downstairs — books I’m currently reading, reference works, art books I’m browsing.

I draw things from this row of books much more often than I tap my cookbooks, and I’m tired of worrying about the book-ends sliding and everything hitting the floor (it’s happened a few times). No risk of that here.

So yay.

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An odd but satisfactory week (#SFWApro)

It wasn’t anywhere near as odd as Clark Kent’s dilemma (cover by Curt Swan, all rights remain with current holder). Just disjointed. I got the basics done for a Screen Rant list on Flash but I’m going to wait until closer to the S4 premiere to finish it. By the time I found that out, I had to hustle to draw up a different list … but I was told (correctly, I think) that it needs much more work to be interesting to SR readers. So I wound up not getting one done, which feels very strange after doing them so regularly for several months (I have skipped weeks but by design, not chance).

Screen Ranting aside, I did get quite a bit done

•I finished my work on the Leaf articles. That project is wrapped up, so it’ll be much more fiction the next few weeks (yay!). Though I’ll be ready if they tap me for another gig.

•I rewrote A Famine Where Abundance Lies and sent it out. I also sent out The Glory That Was.

•I almost sent out The Schloss and the Switchblade again, then I realized I need to rewrite it. In the current political climate someone who discovers a con apparently catering to Nazis isn’t going to be as surprised as when I wrote it last year. I got a first rewrite in but I’m really annoyed I have to do it at all. Thanks Trump for all the enabling you’ve done for white supremacy!

•I’m up to 18,000 words on this draft of Southern Discomforts, which is cool. And I think all the scenes I’ve done so far are much improved.

•I began work on replotting the last third and found (I think) the problem. The plot hinges on Gwalchmai kidnapping Joan, one of the lead characters, and using her life to force Olwen to surrender. The trouble is I’ve set it up as “surrender by time X or she dies” and it really doesn’t make sense. He wants things over and done, so it’d be more likely “surrender now.” So maybe he has no reason to kidnap her … but in that case what does he do? What ratchets up the tension and pushes everyone to struggle to stop him? The answers are not coming yet, but I think I’m asking the right questions.

•I got four more chapters of Undead Sexist Cliches done. Two of them are new and rough so they’ll require more tinkering than the rest, which are on their second draft (or third if you count the original blog posts).

I also received a review (via my publisher) from some German magazine for Now and Then We Time Travel. The English translation is very awkward, but I think their assessment is “impressive breadth, needs to be deeper.” But I could be wrong.

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Filed under Now and Then We Time Travel, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, Time management and goals

RIP Len Wein (#SFWApro)

Last weekend Len Wein, one of my favorite Bronze Age comics writers, died. For a list of his accomplishments, this Atomic Junk Shop post is pretty good. I’ll take a few paragraphs to talk about my personal reaction to his work.

While I don’t think it was the first story by Wein I read, the Nick Cardy-illustrated cover above marks when I became a fan. When I started reading comics again after moving to the US, my old favorite Justice League of America was one of the first I bought (curiously I picked up Teen Titans, which I didn’t like anywhere near as much, several months earlier). At the time Mike Friedrich was the writer and while I enjoyed them, I think there was something missing. I didn’t really sense what until I read JLA #100 as Mr. Wein took over.

Len Wein’s superhero work never pushed the envelope as much as Steve Englehart’s (another writer of roughly the same period). It was simply good, well-told, entertaining stories.  Pacing, humor, character bits, action scenes, they all came together and worked.

The three part #100-2 arc involved the Justice League and Justice Society joining forces to save the JSA’s Earth-2 from apocalypse. To do that, they had to find the Seven Soldiers of Victory, who’d been scattered through time battling a creature called the Nebula Man. Seven teams set out across time for seven adventures. Throwing in a Golden Age team I’d never heard of was icing on the cake for me (this was long before even the most obscure heroes could be found on the Internet somewhere).

Among the pleasures of Wein’s two-year run were guest appearances by the Phantom Stranger and the supervillain Eclipso; the introduction of the Freedom Fighters; establishing Green Arrow and Hawkman as frenemies; and the lonely android Red Tornado exploring humanity (not a new concept, but well done).

I can’t say Len Wein made me a comics fan. I already was. But his stories were among the ones I most looked forward to, and that’s pretty cool.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Wein.

Below, one of Jose Garcia-Lopez’ covers for Wein’s Untold Legend of the Batman.
Rights to both covers remain with the current holder.

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Filed under Comics, Personal

Goals and Progress (#SFWApro)

For most of the first eight months of 2017, my goals have hovered around 50 percent. August, with 49 percent, was fairly typical.

I feel more satisfied than July because of making progress on several stalled projects:

  • I rewrote the first four chapters of Undead Sexist Cliches.
  • I reviewed Questionable Minds, beginning the first steps to self-publication.
  • I finally made it to the new restaurant the writing group goes to. It was ridiculous to decide it was too far to go — though I suspect Location B will still be impractical (further to drvie and further home).
  • I’m getting much better at checking email constantly during work. Due to the amount of email Screen Rant staff discussions take, the volume’s a lot higher than it used to be, so it’s more tempting to check in.
  • I also got an assortment of personal projects done.
  • And Leaf used one of my articles as an example of How To Do It Right.

On the downside, I didn’t get any short-story work done, due to the Leaf online articles (plus distractions like my tooth of doom). And I didn’t finish replotting Southern Discomfort, which is easily my biggest disappointment. I have enough I can start the next draft this month while I work on finishing the replot, and I did solve a lot of the problems with the finish that were bugging me. However, I would have felt much happier if I’d completed the whole thing.

I’m meditating at least semiregularly during the week, first thing in the morning. I think it might do me more value in the evening, but with the dogs there’s no way it’ll fly.

I didn’t get much bicycling done until last weekend, due to the heat. And TYG and I didn’t get to go bicycling at all. Perhaps this month!

As for this week, I finished another Screen Rant column (not out yet), struggled to finish the replotting, and worked on revising the proposal for Space Invaders, the proposed film book on ETs visiting Earth. I might have gotten that one done but the dogs have been very needy this week. About thirty minutes before it’s time for lunch walkies or after-work walkies, they get very insistent I need to take them NOW. Not because they have to pee or anything, they just want out. And if I refuse, they start trying to climb on the computer or the like, as they’ve figured out that gets attention. Sometimes as I’m not getting work done anyway, I cave and take them early. Which of course just reinforces the behavior, sigh. I suspect it’s the cold weather making them friskier, as our walks are also getting longer.

Bonus art: Leo and Diane Dillon’s cover for Man Who Fell To Earth. All rights to image remain with current holder.


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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Who Stole My Mornings? The week in review (#SFWApro)

For some reason, mornings this week were not friendly to work.

Monday: Had to walk dogs (it’s normally TYG’s gig). They wanted a long walk and I didn’t have the heart to say no.

Tuesday: Dentist replaced the temporary crown from my root canal with the permanent one.

Wednesday: Tuesday after writers’ group I woke up way late. And although I always plan for that in my schedule I almost always get up at the regular time so that threw me off.

Thursday: No problems.

Friday: Woke up only slightly late, but still wound up lagging behind.

After each disruption I had trouble getting focused again. I still got a lot done, but I definitely felt off. Particularly today — this afternoon I just threw in the towel and did some research reading. No focus for anything else.

•I completed about nine article for Leaf, the company I’ve worked for before. That also took up a lot of time I’d planned to devote to other things, but it pays, and I like money.

•The book proposal I sent out last month came back — not a rejection but the editor had some changes to the proposal and wanted to see if I was OK with them before we sent it to his bosses. If it goes through it’ll be another film/TV book, on aliens visiting Earth. There isn’t a definitive book on this (lots of alien-invasion books but all focused on the 1950s stuff) so I think it’s a cool project.

•I ran into a sticking point on Southern Discomforts — a jail conversation that seemed extremely unlikely — but after a couple of days away, saw how to get past it. However I’m now at the ending chapters I finished in such a rush last draft and I’m not sure yet how to fix them. Hopefully when I look at it again next week, inspiration will come.

•I read the prologue of my steampunk fantasy, Questionable Minds, to the writing group and got some good feedback. I’m determined not to completely rewrite the whole book (it’s done. Good or bad, I want to get it out there) but I do want the best opening possible (well yes, obviously).

And of course I took good care of the dogs between all of that. Here’s a shot of Plushie beseeching me for a treat. Yeah, I caved.


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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Last weekend: Chores and writing (#SFWApro)

It was a good, if busy weekend.

Normally my approach to tasks of one sort or another — cleaning, paperwork, errands — is to dole them out in little bits each day. That hasn’t worked so well lately what with dog crises and the intense heat (bicycling to run out on errands has been a no-go). So last Saturday I set out to wrap up as many as I could.

  • Mailing off some paperwork to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, which is responsible for my Freedom Communications pension now that Freedom went belly up.
  • Picking up dog food. I wanted to get a replacement dog toy too — Trixie’s favorite ball probably won’t last too much longer — but they were out.
  • Replacing light bulbs. Got one set, the other (from before we bought the house) is apparently a specialty item we’ll have to hit a lighting store for.
  • And the library, picking up some interlibrary loans for research.

Then Sunday I had a writer’s work day at my house. Normally Allegra, one of the other members of the group, hosts these, but she was slammed this month, so I took it up. We had a small turnout (four people) but it was cool: extra writing time, food, conversation, petting puppies (who can resist?).

Unfortunately this lovely, productive weekend didn’t translate into a wave of energy during the week, as my week in review post will discuss …

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing