Category Archives: Writing

Writing and copyright links (#SFWApro)

I’d planned something deeper, but I’m too zonked.

•The Supreme Court OKs a patent on cheerleader uniforms. The majority says it’s just about the decorative parts of the uniform; the dissenters say the ruling still goes too far.

•Wicked Cozy Authors on what drives readers away from a series (here’s my own thoughts on the same topic).

•Vulture on why Netflix should have given us an Asian-American Iron Fist rather than a white guy. Matt Foster looks at the general weakness of Iron Fist (I’ve only seen one episode so far, but it didn’t impress me). Atomic Junk Shop argues that keeping the Bronze Age origin and race is part of respecting the source material — but I can’t see that “white guy” is an essential part of the character. And the first episode isn’t respectful at all (hey, let’s turn the story of a martial-arts super hero into a dull soap opera!).

•Justina Ireland argues it’s a mistake to make up oppressed races in a fantasy world rather than tie the setting to real-world discrimination. And that redeeming racists is a plotline that’s geared strictly to white audiences. I haven’t had time to think whether I agree with her, but they’re interesting enough to link to.

•Robert Nielsen looks at cultural appropriation and the Irish — the use of Celtic symbols by white supremacists and “Plastic paddies” who move to Ireland and go native.

•Jim C. Hines has completed his annual survey of novelist incomes.

•The great comics artist Berni Wrightson (cover by Wrightson, all rights to current holder) died this week.

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Filed under copyright, Writing

Why no, this was not a productive week, how did you guess? (#SFWApro)

Well, other than me mentioning it in this morning’s post of course. Plus getting back from Fort Walton Beach on Monday, so I had one day down to start with.

Having three dogs, all of whom want to sit either beside me or on my lap, made working on my computer difficult. And Lily seems to be even more eager for cuddles than when we’ve dog-sat her before. Even my backup plan — do some reference reading offline for Southern Discomforts — didn’t quite fly. Partly that’s because dog shenanigans in the bed Wednesday night left me utterly exhausted Thursday (and as noted, my holiday trip had hardly been a haven of sleep, so I had no reserves left).

On the plus side, waking up early Thursday enabled me to finish my next Screen Rant article early Thursday morning (Fifteen Super Heroes Who Quit and Never Returned). And I completed my interview with one news service that wants to use me as a reporter — it’ll be about 10 to 15 hours a week, I think. I’d prefer a little less, but as I’m getting faster and smoother at the Screen Rant articles, I think I can do it without stinting on the Southern Discomfort rewrite.

And that was it. Of course, I was prepared for this to happen — we’ve dog-sat Lily a couple of times — but it is a little frustrating to get so little done after a week of vacation. But no regrets, either. She’s a sweet dog and she’s much happier with us and getting to rough-house with Trixie than if she were in a kennel somewhere alone.

Next week, back into action!


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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework

A spinster, a drunkard and an African Queen (#SFWApro)

While staying at Cindy’s house during my trip, she and I rewatched the 1951 classic THE AFRICAN QUEEN. It’s a great film but it’s also a great example of an unconventional romance and a very well done “strong female protagonist.” (All rights to image remain with current holder. Source here)

As the movie opens it’s 1914 and the Great War has just broken out. Katherine Hepburn plays Rose, a spinster working in her brother’s (Robert Morley) African mission to convert the natives. Seeing them as an unwanted English intrusion, the Germans show up and torch the place. Morley collapses in shock and dies. Rose might have died too but she’s dragged away by Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), a gin-swilling engineer who skippers the African Queen, a mail boat traversing the local rivers. He figures on getting Rose to safety; she over-rules him. Rose insists on heading down river to find the German steamer that dominates the local waters and use some explosives on the Queen to blow it to hell and back. Over the course of the film, Charlie and Rose (surprise!) fall in love.

It’s a remarkable film, not least because more than 75 percent of the time the two stars are the only ones on screen. While finding someone obnoxious and irritating is a classic romance trope, both Bogart and Hepburn are restrained, only occasionally losing their temper. Instead, Charlie cajoles and suggests; Rose issues decrees in the way of strong-minded British spinsters, at least in fiction. Her sheer force of will begins to impress Charlie, as does her excitement when they go over the first in multiple rapids (“I see, Mr. Allnut, why you enjoy boating so much.”). Everything is underplayed, but no less effective for that.

From a writing perspective, Rose’s character is really interesting. Her kind of spinster is a stock type, but Hepburn infuses her with tremendous energy and character. When they make it through the rapids, it’s possibly the first time Rose has ever done anything risky or exciting in her life, and she comes alive. When she falls for Charlie, she doesn’t hold back or make prudish protests, she follows her heart. When the going gets tough, she’s willing to hack at the water weeds or help repair the boat, getting as dirty as she has to. Charlie never argues that it’s not a woman’s place, or tells her she can’t do it. Rose transcends the gender norms, but without any Holy Shit, She’s Transcending Gender Norms—she just does it. And she’d probably insist there’s no big deal, she’s just doing what has to be done.

I’m not sure it would have worked as well with anyone but Hepburn in the role, but she was, and it does.

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Filed under Movies, Writing

New Screen Rant column out: 16 Facts About Jay Garrick (#SFWApro)

I have a new Screen Rant column up about Jay Garrick, the original Flash. Learn how smoking gave him super powers. How he came out of retirement because of an artist’s challenge. Why he ages slower than ordinary people. And more!

Cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, all rights reserved to current holder.

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Filed under Comics, Nonfiction

Perfect Balance? (#SFWApro)

Last weekend was surprisingly good.


I got a lot of little errands done, including buying replacement light bulbs, refilling prescriptions, buying replacement batteries. And I fixed the errors I found in Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast. But I also managed to spend a lot of time relaxing, reading and watching movies. I keep trying to organize my weekends to be all laid back, but it often doesn’t work. It actually felt a little weird during the down-time stretches — shouldn’t I be doing something productive? I thought I’d gotten over feeling like that, but it stuck back up on me again.

There will be no week-in-review post today, due to a crazy day ahead. Book and movie review posts for the weekend will proceed as usual.

All rights to Connery-as-Bond image reside with current owner.

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Filed under Personal, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Time management and goals

Blood Lust and Sadism Are Getting Boring! (#SFWApro)

23012564So as I mentioned this weekend, I had some problems with the brutal torture Apollo inflicts on the First Born of Zeus in Wonder Woman: Flesh. And my problems got worse with the final volume of the Azzarello/Chiang run, Bones (cover by Chiang, all rights remain with current holder)

Some background: the First Born was Zeus and Hera’s son, hurled out of Olympus for various reasons. Angry at the gods, he waged war across the world to trigger a confrontation with them. They ignored him. Finally he attacked Olympus itself; Zeus struck him down like a bug and condemned him to Tartarus.

In Flesh, the First Born returns to take the throne of Olympus (Zeus lost it a while back). Apollo captures him and subjects the First Born to assorted tortures. But wouldn’t you know, the First Born breaks free, kills Apollo, and seizes the throne, preparatory to ravaging the whole Earth. And he dishes out his own torture, for example forcing Zeus to eat pieces of himself which pass through him, undigested, so he can be made to eat them again.

I gotta say, I found that part underwhelming. It made me think of the way Geoff Johns shows how monstrous his villains are by having them threaten to rip out liver and eat it in front of you as you die, or to pick the skin of your flesh from between their teeth. It just doesn’t impress me, and it doesn’t make me think the villain in question is particularly bad-ass or evil. Being creative in your tortures doesn’t really make someone more sadistic or awful than the everyday mundane torturer (so to speak).

As the film director Ernst Lubitsch once put it, it no more takes sadism to run a death camp than to run a laundromat. For me there’s more horror in someone who deals death casually, even a hero, than someone who actually cares how much you suffer. That’s not to say graphic torture or blood lust can’t be effective — I love Silence of the Lambs — but whatever trick it takes to make it so, neither Johns nor Azzarello seem to have it.

That’s unfortunate because the book spends a lot of time on the monstrous monstrousness of the First Born (I think I’m inflating the page space in my memory) which drops the quality below Flesh. Plus we have the New 52’s horrible, sexist version of Orion of the New Gods. And ultimately Diana’s punishment of the First Born feels disproportionate — Apollo tortured the First Born and tried to kill Zola’s baby, but Wonder Woman didn’t throw him back into Hell.

The good stuff is still well done, but the sadism and the other weaknesses kept this from being as good a finish to the Azzarello/Chiang run as I’d hoped for.

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Filed under Comics, Reading, Wonder Woman, Writing

Regaining some balance, losing some face, facing some weather (#SFWApro)

The weather was freaky this week. When I took this photo Wednesday, I was out bicycling in shorts, even though the sky looked ominous (the photo doesn’t capture it as well as I’d hoped). Today I wore a sweater to walk the dogs, and it was cold.  Overall it’s been much warmer than last year, when we had icicles hanging from the bird feeder in late February.

img_1128Now, as to the balance — specifically between fiction and non-fiction as I discussed this morning. I didn’t really get the balance right this week, but I can see it improving. The tractor article is done. Screen Rant articles (I finished another this week though it’s not up yet) are getting easier as I stop fretting about their requirements and just write. I passed my trial period so now I can select images directly from SR’s library. It’s much simpler, to my surprise, than emailing the editors with a list of what I want.

I devoted today to finishing the Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast index, and I’m very glad I did. As with Now and Then We Time Travel indexing turned up eight or nine errors, several quite substantial. If I go this way for another nonfiction book (and I’m thinking about it for Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book), I’ll definitely index before publication. I feel really, really embarrassed to have released something inaccurate, hence the losing-face reference in the post title. I guess it shows why so many self-published writers recommend hiring an editor … but then again, the issue isn’t style or spelling but facts. So would it have helped? At least I did find them — I’m in the process of getting the ebook changed now (and pulled it from my sidebar and Nonfiction By Me pages until it is). Meanwhile I’ll add the index to my text to create a second PDF and see if the pagination is accurate. If it is, I submit to create space to get hard copies. If not, I submit without an index — I’ve had requests for hard copy and I’d like one myself.

And that was pretty much my week. It would have been more productive if I hadn’t forgotten most of the photoshopping techniques for Screen Rant that I’d figured out last week. I did get some more work done on Southern Discomforts but not as much as I’d wanted. Hopefully that will change as we move forward in March.

Have a great weekend. For the record, while the weather is cold today, the sky is much more inviting than these photos (art by me, please credit should you choose to use).


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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Writing