Category Archives: Nonfiction

I rode myself hard and hung myself up—wait, does that sound right? (#SFWApro)

It was a week that did not go as I planned.

I submitted my first Screen Rant article, and then my second, but they both took way longer than wanted. And that required really pushing myself, hence the title. I need to trim the time down, and I need to relax and have more fun with the writing too. I love comics, which makes it easy; I’m working under a tight deadline and specific format requirements which makes me veer serious. I did better with the second one though (I’ll post a link when it’s up), so hopefully next week will be better yet.

I have my History article on tractors 80 percent done, and I should be able to get it out next week. So yay!

And I started indexing Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast for a Createspace edition. If I’m going to go hard-copy, it should have an index. Annoyingly, I found one minor error in the intro, so I have to correct the ebook too. I’ll wait to see if I find any more — indexing is good for that.

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But I got almost no fiction written, which is not yay. That’s happened before and not that long ago — back last year when I was wrapping up Now and Then We Time Travel, for instance. However, I don’t want to be doing that now, if I can help it. I enjoy nonfiction (obviously. I’ve written enough of it), but fiction is the reason I write. And I do want to get two more drafts of Southern Discomfort in this year. So like I said, I’d better get more efficient.

I am pleased that despite the rush to finish up Screen Rant #2, I made time for essential stuff like exercise, and making sourdough bread while the dogs were in doggy day-care on Thursday. It’s important not to let even demanding deadlines roll over normal life, if I can possibly help this (and if I want to do Screen Rant regularly, I have to help it). I was sufficiently rushed I forgot adding the salt to the dough (sourdough buckwheat bread) but that’s easy to fix with a little salt sprinkled on each slice. It’s an easy mistake — I’ve done it before when I was rushed.

I’ll close with a shot of some dead leaves I took this week. It symbolizes … well, whatever you want. Free symbol! Please credit me if you want to use it.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Now and Then We Time Travel, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Writing

Bizarro: Superman’s powers, none of his brains (#SFWApro)

Which is the topic of my first article on Screen Rant — 17 things you didn’t know about Bizarro. It was quite a challenge adapting to their style and process (not a criticism—it always is with a project like this) and I didn’t get it quite right; i.e., they had to do more editing than they should have. But I’ll use what I learned and do better on #2 (due in today).

Below, Curt Swan does a Bizarro cover. All rights reserved to current holder.

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My week in review makes me think of that TV series Hindsight (#SFWApro)

One of the things I liked about VH1’s Hindsight was that after the protagonist travels 20 years into the past and fixes her big problems (her train-wreck first marriage and her dead-end job), she has no idea what to do next. Knowing what was wrong in her past doesn’t show her what path will lead to happiness (her best friend points out that she’s no worse off than anyone else). Which is sort of what I felt like working on Southern Discomfort this week.

The one part of the book I still haven’t outlined is Joan and Maria journeying to Caer Gwalchmai. It has to be less than the relatively simple “waltz through the Otherworld and get the magic McGuffin” sequence in the last draft, but I’m not sure what. This week I got a clearer idea of what I don’t want: it shouldn’t be just a struggle fighting through supernatural forces and monsters. My gut says that’s wrong, and I trust my gut. However I’m not sure what the alternative is. A series of traps and wards they have to circumvent? Maybe. Or something I haven’t yet thought of. Quite possibly. I’ll keep pushing until I figure it out. And start on the earlier chapters while I’m thinking, so I don’t waste too much time staring into my navel for inspiration.

I did not get as much work on the novel done as planned because of those two assignments I mentioned last week — a History Magazine article assignment and a trial run as a writer for Screen Rant. I got the History research collected and managed to bat out a rough draft (very rough, but it gives me a sense of how I want the piece structured). And I found the photos I need online.

The first Screen Rant column, as I suspected, took much longer than I wanted it to. If I’m going to stick with the gig (assuming they like my work), I’ll have to write much more efficiently. But that was the case with Demand Media: the first few articles were crawling, then I found my rhythm. I’ll also have to structure my time so that I don’t work on them over the weekend — this one will have to be wrapped up Sunday. The writing’s done, except for proofreading, but I have to enter it in the system, which will probably take a bit longer. And I have to find illustrations and crop them which will be a pain. But then again, writing about comics and getting paid for it is pretty damn cool, so onward!

I applied for a couple more freelance jobs, and that was about it for work, even with more than the usual number of hours in. Of course that’s partly because reading White Flight was slow going, because the book’s so packed with information. And I got stressed and tired Wednesday which made hump day less productive than I’d planned.

To end on a high note, here’s a look at Plushie after his new cut. Adorable, is he not?

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

I totally did not see these plot twists coming (#SFWApro)

Plot twist the first: after a big get together last weekend, TYG came down with a nasty cold. As of today, it appears I’ve caught it too, but in much less virulent form (that’s how it usually works with us). I felt like all I want to do is nothing, but I’m not hacking or sneezing any. So yay for small mercies.

Plot twist the second: I routinely submit query letters to various non-fiction magazines, but my success rate is so low I’ve often wondered if writing and finishing more fiction wouldn’t be smarter. But this week, guess what? I got a go-ahead from History magazine for an article proposal. After the initial panic at having committed myself (I’m so used to working without deadlines or obligations these days) I took a deep breath, relaxed, and enjoyed the moment.

PT the third: I also apply for freelance gigs through the Journalism Jobs website, usually without much success. But this week I pitched Screen Rant on a gig writing about comic books, and they liked my stuff. It’ll be a trial run at first to see if it really works out on both sides, but writing about comic books (list-style articles) is like a dream job. More details when I have something posted.

This, of course, leaves me with the challenge of adjusting my schedule for the new assignments. That’s tougher than you’d think, simply because I don’t want to give up time on fiction — but most probably, work on short stories will take the hit. Next to actual paying gigs, Southern Discomforts is the top priority, lesser projects will have to go on stand-by.

Speaking of which, this week’s replotting went reasonably well. I have a rough outline of how things should happen and how everyone reaches their endpoints. I do not have, however, the scene by scene breakdown that I wanted; my vague outlines tend to fall so far apart midbook that I have to give up and start over, and I don’t want that. I’ll continue scene-by-sceneing it but I may start work on the early, well-detailed chapters as well. But I’m still concerned that I may be losing some of the sense of Pharisee as a community outside the plot of the story. I’ll have to watch that as things progress.

I delivered my next And column, though it’s not out yet, and got another 12,000 words written on Undead Sexist Clichés: The Book (not how it will be titled, but it’s the simplest way to distinguish from the same name blog-post series). I also took care of getting a second opinion on one household project (major repairs not necessary for a while, whoot!), and took the car in for its annual inspection.

A good week. With surprises that were mostly pleasant ones. I’m as happy as a plush dog chewing on a stick.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

It snowed on me. You won’t believe—actually, what happened next is pretty believable (#SFWApro)

But first, some PR: annual Raleigh-Durham Illogicon is here again. And as I have been the past few years, I’m on some panels:

Friday 7pm: Magic Systems in High(ish) Fantasy
Saturday 10am” Repeating Itself: Historical Fiction
6pm: Writing Real People and Places (or, That Looks Familiar!)
Sunday 11am Reading: Fraser Sherman
12pm: Time Management for Writers.

And here’s the Illogicon mascot, Schrodinger, from last year:

professor2Now, the week. As  I mentioned this morning, I was snowed in with the dogs until Tuesday evening. To put it mildly, that did not work out well for me: Tuesday work I pretty much zoned out (I love the pups, but constant confinement for four days with them got to be a little much. Okay, a lot much). Happily it thawed out enough that I could make writers’ group Tuesday night. It’s always fun to hang out, more so after not getting to go anywhere.

What I did get done was the first chapter of my book version of Undead Sexist Cliches. I hadn’t planned to put that much work into it this month, but I was kind of zoned Monday too, and nonfiction is easier.

The rest of the week I worked primarily on Southern Discomfort, thinking about the character arcs, the characters and some of the plot holes. My brain moved slower than I wanted, but it did move and I got a lot of thinking and revising and changing accomplished. I’ll probably discuss it next week.

Then Thursday TYG had an unexpected schedule glitch. So she was up late. So I was up late. Trust me with the dogs there’s no way for her or me to slip quietly into bed. So I was pretty zonked today. I’d planned to work on Trouble and Glass but wound up mostly doing more thinking about Southern Discomfort. I definitely think I’d have made more progress if I hadn’t been so thrown off by schedule.

One distraction did work out well. We had to take Plushie in to the vet to check his kidney levels — they were a little high last year — but it turns out that the kidney food we put him on did the trick. They’re fine. So yay.

And by the time you read this, I’ll probably be at Illogicon while TYG gets to make up all her lost time with the pups.

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

2017 began. You won’t believe what happened next! (#SFWApro)

I haven’t noticed doing clickbait post titles actually gets me more visitors, but I can dream.

This was, overall, a great start to the year.

•I redesigned this blog to show some of my books in the sidebar. Unfortunately it appears I can only do two, so I opted with my self-published stuff over Now and Then We Time Travel, as you can see. I may just keep changing them out every week. But regardless of where the images appear, you should feel free to buy all of them (all rights to cover image remain with current holder).

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•I looked up how to start a Patreon. More detail if I actually set one up.

•I reread all the notes I got from my beta-readers for Southern Discomfort, and distilled everything down to specific problems/suggestions. Despite the inevitable white noise (this takes too long to get going! No, it’s just the right speed!) going over it all in one swoop (albeit a swoop stretched out over a day or two) made it much clearer where the problems/potential lie. And it got my brain starting on finding fixes for some of the bigger issues. More on that as I progress.

•I submitted my next And column, on why compromising with the anti-equality forces is always a political mistake (the ethical side I covered last column).

•I released Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, my book on the James Bond films.

•Lorelei Signal published The Savage Year in which a Secret Service mage and Doc Savage’s daughter go up against a renegade British sorcerer (a Story Behind the Story post will follow next week). And I think it has one of the best illos I’ve ever seen grace one of my stories, courtesy of Lee Ann Barlow (all rights to the image belong to the current holder).

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•I began work on a book based on my Undead Sexist Cliches blog posts. With the massive right-wing backlash against women’s rights (along with most other rights for people who aren’t straight WASP men), this seemed like a good time. It may be self-published, though I’d jump at a publisher if I can find one.

That’s pretty good, given everything I had to distract me. Wednesday, TYG came down with food poisoning and was utterly miserable. So was I, of course.  Fortunately, it cleared up and yesterday morning she headed out for a big alumni event, the same annual event that brought about our New York trip a year ago. I’m very glad she went because she’d have been kicking herself over whatever part of the plane ticket, hotel reservation, etc. she couldn’t get refunded. More importantly, she’d have been dismayed not to get to hang with all her friends — much like the Mensa national gathering, there are people she only gets to see once a year.

Of course that meant she was in a rush to pack Thursday morning (when her work schedule is normal, she packs way in advance) and I got dragged in to help, which of course threw me a little off-balance. After dropping her off, I then seized the moment to mail off copies of Now and Then We Time Travel to family, and to hit the Kroger’s nearby. They’re talking three to 10 inches of snow starting this evening (would you believe TYG told me back when we were dating that it almost never snows here? It’s snowed every year since then), so I figured getting the shopping in early couldn’t hurt. But after all that, I could not seem to get my head back in the game. And I didn’t do much better today — solo dog parenting often has that effect. So my plans to redraft Trouble and Glass didn’t get far. I did get a rough outline of the story for the next draft, and began working through it, but I’ll have to finish up next week.

Next week may be even crazier, as we have a vet appointment, a car inspection and the start of Illogicon. Plus wondering whether the snow will keep TYG from returning Sunday (they weren’t predicting this much when she left). Time will tell, as it always does.

 

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Now and Then We Time Travel, Personal, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Writing

Sex for dinner, death for breakfast (#SFWApro)

connery007Huzzah! Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, my self-published book on the Bond films is now up for sale, vendors listed at the link (updated for correct link). All rights to photo reside with current holder.

I’d originally thought the book would be just a re-edited compilation of my Bond posts on this blog. But as I worked on it, I put a lot more into it: more on how the series’ tropes and conventions change and develop, more on the real-world political background influencing the film, more on some of the nastier bits of sexism, racism, etc., more on the way the series assumes the continued greatness of Great Britain. So even if you’ve read the blog posts, there should be something more to digest in the book itself.

Mood: feeling good.

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