Category Archives: Nonfiction

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

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

Delusions of Gender

DELUSIONS OF GENDER: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine (cover design by Kelly Blair, all rights remain with current holder) was one I had on the list of research of Undead Sexist Cliches: the book. I’m not sure it told me anything I had not heard at some point, but putting it all together makes it that much more compelling.

Fine’s point is that the belief gender is fixed and immutable (gender skills, gender roles, whatever) doesn’t hold up. Specifically the assorted tests and science “proving” women can’t X doesn’t pan out, and most of the evidence can be explain by the items in the subtitle:

Minds: Our minds swim in a sexist sea where gender rules and roles are everywhere. So it’s not surprising at some level they’re waiting to burst out when prodded. People who take tests measuring gender abilities in different skills are influenced by knowing that, say women aren’t supposed to be good at this (advanced math) or have a natural flair (empathic reading of other people’s feelings). The counter evidence is that if the tests are framed differently, performance changes. Matching and comparing 3D images, for instance, is something men usually do better at. Scores of both genders can be influenced by describing the skill as one used in “male” fields (architecture, engineering) or female (fashion, decorating). Men’s performance on empathy tests goes way up if they’re told things like “women find empathic men who can pick up on their feelings very attractive.” (go figure).

Society. One of the standard arguments for gender differences is that even kids raised gender neutral conform to them. Fine shows (much as I’ve always suspected) that it’s next to impossible to block out the gender messages society, and other children, send. By two, kids are aware of the differences men and women display; by four, they’re typically following the script. But again, the script can be shuffled: a My Little Pony tricked out to look dangerous becomes a boy toy, pretend guns with satiny coverings are for girls.

Neurosexism: Fine goes into detail how must neurological theories demonstrating men and women just don’t think the same way (men can’t express emotion, men are more logical, whatever) have gaping holes. And the typical magazine and newspaper reports on them are even weaker, battening onto whatever conforms our stereotypes (I’ve seen “men want to get laid, women want love” tossed off as a proven scientific truth a hundred times).

It’s a good book, and adds a couple more ideas to my own work.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Politics, Uncategorized, Undead sexist cliches, 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

All things considered, not a bad week (#SFWApro)

Before Wednesday’s root canal, I’d been guessing how I’d handle the rest of the day: would I feel up for writing? Or just huddle on the couch watching movies with the dogs (Trixie’s a huge fan of classic Italian neorealist cinema)? As it turned out I felt surprisingly good (as I said this morning, Dr. Robinson knows her stuff), but I decided to kick back and do nothing anyway.

Despite which it was a fairly productive week. I finished going over Southern Discomfort, breaking everything down chapter by chapter. Now hopefully I can start to rebuild it — not that it’s a shambles, but there is, unsurprisingly, much improvement needed. We’ll see if the breakdown helps.

I also finished rereading my old steampunk novel Questionable Minds. Other than a few minor changes it looks in great shape. Now I have to start thinking about the self-publishing thing seriously — well, and double-check to see if there are any new publishing houses that have cropped up.

I got my next Screen Rant in (actors who don’t get along with their families).  And I did some research for an older story, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! that needs heavy work. As it deals with maps, I hope reading about them will trigger some ideas.

No short story work, though, and no work on Undead Sexist Cliches. But I did finally make it to the new after-writers’ group bar and hang out. It’s really not that far to go, I’m happy to say.

To celebrate getting through the root canal, here’s footage from an old Crest commercial showing the Cavity Creeps attacking Toothpolis. Commercial here, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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

Confounded by the Cone of Shame (#SFWApro)

I was pumped when I got up Monday morning.

Once I finished the GoBankingRates article and one for Screen Rant (the Sinister Six one) I could do personal stuff the rest of the week. Submit some stories.Rewrite two, maybe three. Finally get Atlas Shagged submitted to Draft2Digital. Work on a couple of other things.

Then TYG texted me that Plushie had been bitten, but it hadn’t broken the skin.

Then we got home and discovered it had broken the skin — Plush was bleeding on the tail. Apparently he’d run up to another dog which had responded aggressively and when Plush ran back to TYG, the other dog nipped him.

So we spent most of Monday morning at the vet, and as you can now see, Plushie’s in the cone of shame to stop him chewing on the staple in his tail. It’ll be like that until next Friday when we get it removed.

I’d never realized how awkward the cone is — it’s very hard for Plush to move through the house without snagging it on something, which he hates. He’s such a small dog even the floor can snag him if he looks down for a second. It’s also hard to eat or drink anything. This makes caring for him … challenging. And work is even more challenging. As you can see, when he lies on my lap the cone blocks my normal writing space (for various reasons the right side of me doesn’t work well either).

So suffice to say, I didn’t have the glorious work week I’d been anticipating. Plus I’m sleeping on the couch because Plush and a cone doesn’t fit comfortably into a bed with two adults and Trixie (who sleeps down with me so she doesn’t gnaw on the bite site either).

As I mentioned this morning, I did get Atlas Shagged published. I rewrote Angels Hate This Man! though the ending makes no sense. And I got those two articles done. Other than that it was just blogging (which takes relatively little concentration) and odds and ends.

Big sigh. And we’ll probably be doing this next week, though there’s a slight chance we can take the cone off earlier than Friday. That would be nice.

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

And another new Screen Rant: The Sinister Six (#SFWApro)

The Sinister Six, who narrowly missed being Marvel’s first Silver Age villain team, get profiled in my new article. Learn why they’re comics most dysfunctional villain team, how the X-Men became a later version of the Six and which villain has been on the team’s multiple incarnations the most times.

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Filed under Comics, Nonfiction, Screen Rant, Writing