Category Archives: Nonfiction

OMG, I’m writing the raunch werewolf comedy! (#SFWApro)

My standard joke about not having a multi-book contract with a major publisher (for example) is that it does at least leave me free. If I choose to write a magical realist story about Dadaist ghosts in Zurich rather than sign a contract to write a big-budget werewolf raunch comedy, it’s unlikely to affect my bottom line.

But in a sense, isn’t that exactly what I’ve been doing lately? This time last year I was focused overwhelmingly on fiction (95 percent of the time, say). The past two or three months it’s been predominantly nonfiction, which pays the bills, but doesn’t satisfy me. With the exception of my movie books and Screen Rant lists, but they’re still not as fun as fiction.

However, I like having money coming in, so I’ll have to find a way to make it work. Faster work on the nonfiction (my Screen Rant columns take less and less time to write as I get better at them). Forcing myself to squeeze in fiction time — I worked late Thursday just to get a little more done Southern Discomfort in (my own fault. I’d run out of steam and gotten next to nothing done on the book that afternoon). This is hardly a revolutionary plan, of course, but time management really isn’t a field where new discoveries shake things up.

So in addition to finishing two Screen Rants this week (one of them will be out next week) I did get several thousand words in on Southern Discomfort. And that was pretty much it. If push comes to shove, the novel has to take top priority behind the paying gigs.

The book is progressing well (over 40,000 words as of today), but I’m getting to the point where I need to make big, big changes, and I’m not sure what those are. I can sort of sense the path I want, but “sense” is a long way from actually having an outline. I did figure out one major plot point, but I’m not sure if it’ll make sense when the book is written. I’m beginning to think my goal for this draft should be to put in the stuff my beta-readers wanted, take out the stuff they hated and make sure the plot hangs together. Then go back and make it all seem coherent in the next draft, like I knew where I was going from the first.

Oh, and I talked to a publisher about a possible new film-reference book. More details if I go ahead with it.

I put in well over 35 hours thanks to waking up early most days. That more than made up for the time we spent Thursday taking Trixie and Plushie to the groomers. The new looks are revealed below

We don’t usually cut Trixie this much, but she seems to be shedding a lot.

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

The tide has turned and caught me at full flood! (#SFWApro)

So as I mentioned a while back, I picked up three different paying gigs in addition to Screen Rant: the Leaf project (now wrapped up), freelance work for a network of legal papers and money management how-to articles for GOBankingrates. Only the latter two of the four never assigned me anything.

But then the week before my trip to Greenville, GOBankingrates asked if I was up for an article. I had to pass until after the trip, but earlier this week they called again. So I took the assignment (how to get pre-approved for a mortgage). The information was simple enough — it’s similar to the stuff I’ve done for Leaf — but like Screen Rant, they have their own format and style rules, and getting it written to comply with them consumed a lot of time. Not that they’re unreasonable, but it always goes slow the first time I try to follow a style guide. But it’s done, and assuming no problems, it will work out to a great hourly rate.

But all that work on mortgage pre-approval sucked up a lot of time I’d have spent for fiction. And the irrational conviction I Have No Time, I Can’t Get It Done when I have a tight deadline kept me up early. Plus I was working on two Screen Rants, this week’s (not out yet) and a big Wonder Woman article due in a couple of weeks. So it was a little frantic.

And today, the early rising got to me. I went to sleep right after lunch and when I woke up I just lay down with the pups for another hour. Then read for another hour instead of writing. I was in overtime for the week, so I don’t feel bad about it, but I almost never blow off an afternoon even so. Guess I was more tired than I thought.

So what did I get done?

•I reread Undead Sexist Cliches — the Book, because I did almost nothing on it last month and I needed a better sense of what I’d already covered.

•I got another 5,000 words done on Southern Discomforts.

•I had a great idea for my short story, Trouble and Glass, that will resolve some of the problems I’ve been having with it. I’d hoped to actually work on the text, but that time got lost in the nonfiction push.

•I was supposed to talk on the phone with someone I applied to for another nonfiction gig. And that we jumped to phone is a good sign, I think — however, life intervened on his end. Next week, hopefully.

On top of which I managed to keep up exercising, and to give the kitchen a really thorough cleaning while the dogs were in day care (it’s not the best way to spend my dog-free day, but it beats having them try to nose around me while I’m spraying cleaning products).

Next week, now that I know to budget time for the GOBankingrate, perhaps things will go smoother. We shall see …

Oh, and Digital Fantasy Fiction just reprinted my short story He Kindly Stopped For Me. If Death knocked on your door and asked to use your phone, how would you react? Feel free to check out the Story Behind The Story from when it first came out.

Cover art by Jack Kirby, all rights reside with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Story behind the story, Time management and goals, Writing

Why I write what I write about Bond (#SFWApro)

So with the hard copy of Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast available via Createspace or its parent company Amazon, I began thinking this week about the different ways to write movie books (photo is mine, book cover is mine, all rights to Bond image remain with current holder).

All five of my books focus on story first, then acting. Sex for Dinner, for example, looks at the plot of each film, it’s strengths and weaknesses; how it was influenced by then-current pop culture trends (Blacksploitation films, space race, Star Wars) and political developments (such as the rise and fall of the Cold War). Plus how it fits into the series, establishing elements of the formula or breaking away from them.

That works for me, because story is what I care about most (well, tied with acting, which the book also discusses). Details of backstage creative decisions and studio interference are interesting to read about (and worth mentioning in my own books if they significantly effect the final product) but I can’t summon up much enthusiasm for researching one. Which annoys some people: one review of Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan objected that the book’s failure to look at the backstage side of things made it a waste of money (I disagree, obviously).

Another is to focus in on the visuals. The excellent book Celluloid Skyline, for instance, looks at the architecture of New York and the ways it influences movies set in the Big Apple The A-V Club had a series for a while looking at visual subtext in movies, and how it indicates themes, or characters’ relationship to each other.

Plus of course there are nuts-and-bolts questions about movie box office or ratings, the reaction from reviewers and so forth.

None of these is The One True Way. And many film books combine parts of these different approaches rather than being all one or the other. For me, what matters is writing something I want to write, and that (hopefully) readers and film buffs will want to read. I assume similar sentiments inspire writers of other books using different approaches.

As a reader I may look for books quite different from mine.

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Filed under Movies, Nonfiction, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast

Another changing tide? (#SFWApro)

But changing in a good way, happily. As King Cnut demonstrated (image borrowed from Medievalists, don’t know artist, all rights reside with current holder) we cannot hold those tides back. Before I get to tidal matters, here’s a quick overview of the week:

•I wrote and submitted my newest Screen Rant, as I mentioned this morning.

•I submitted more articles on the current Leaf project.

•I sent in my first sales tax payment on sales of Philosophy and Fairytales. It was less than a buck so the charge for paying online was actually more than the tax. On the other hand, it is kind of cool that I need to pay sales tax.

•I continue to struggle with fixing up Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast. I think I have the problems fixed but I’m ordering a test copy (about $6) just to make sure.

•The best part of the week is that I got back to work on Southern Discomfort. I just promised myself that no matter what, I’d get a thousand words done every day, and I did. I’d like to do more, but it feels wonderful to be moving forward with it.

And that’s the tide part — after swinging so heavily to nonfiction, they’re moving me back to fiction. Okay, technically I moved myself back by conscious effort. So much for the metaphor. But then again, the nonfiction does seem to be slowing down a little. This latest Leaf project will wrap up by the end of next week at the latest. One of those nonfiction projects I talked about at the link just isn’t happening (not the first time I’ve gone through Welcome Aboard! followed by Crickets!). I have another one that may start next week — we’ll see what happens. So that could mean less money (boo!) but more fiction time (yay!). And I have a few potential nonfiction projects, both articles and long-term gigs, to look into next week.

On a non-writing note, I had a frustrating experience making calzones this week. The dough just didn’t work, which I assume is my fault though the recipe did seem off (very little time for the dough to rise). However I made the filling without the calzones and its delicious.  I shall make it again soon.

 

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

New Screen Rant: Sixteen Things You Didn’t Know About Brainiac (#SFWApro)

Brainiac started his career as a bald alien criminal capturing cities in bottles. Then he became a computer, a different computer, a human with delusions, a flesh-and-blood alien, a Kryptonian … Learn his history here.

Al Plastino art first image, Gil Kane second. All rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Comics, Nonfiction, Writing

My screen rant column on Green Lantern is out (#SFWApro)

greenlantern59As I mentioned yesterday, it covers the secrets of Hal Jordan’s (and others’) ring. Why Green Lanterns can’t kill the renegade Green Lantern Sinestro. Why the ring doesn’t work on yellow. The appalling lack of any sort of failsafes built into it. And more fun facts. Cover by Gil Kane, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Comics, Nonfiction, Reading

A productive week, but …. (#SFWApro)

But almost no work on fiction, as I noted this morning. I’m much more focused working on nonfiction than I used to be, so that’s good, but in April I will have to squeeze in extra fiction time somehow.

So what did I get accomplished?

•Several articles for Legal Beagle, one of Leaf’s (the renamed Demand Media) customers. The pay was good, the work fairly easy — it’s the same style as before so I’m very familiar with it.

•My next Screen Rant column (which will probably come out right after this post goes live darn it) about the amazing quirks of Green Lantern’s ring: the prison world inside it, the reason it doesn’t work on yellow, the time Hal Jordan turned himself into an envelope and the convoluted retcon that led to the end of the Green Lantern Corps. Image by Gil Kane, all rights to current holder.

•I did the paperwork for another web-writing informational article gig, and it was quite a lot of paperwork. So that took up some time.

•And I finally resolved my access problems to CreateSpace. I put a lot of work in getting Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast ready for hard copy; hopefully by next week it’ll pay off and I can announce the book is live (of course it’s already live as an ebook). Contrary to this morning’s post, that’s an extra goal I completed for March, pushing my success rate (along with a couple of minor goals I finished today) to 62 percent, woot!

•I got maybe a chapter done on Southern Discomfort. Total for the month, maybe 15,000 words. Not enough. Next month I will have to improve. I’m tired of taking so long to finish it. I know I can’t pull a nanonano (I’ll still have some nonfiction to get out) but I’ll have to make it work somehow. ‘Nuff said.

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