Category Archives: Screen Rant

When you gaze into insomnia, insomnia gazes back into you (#SFWApro)

Ironically, after mentioning last week that sleeping well cuts into my writing time, this week I found myself sleeping very poorly. That did indeed help get work done, though not as much as usual — I indulged in some pleasure reading during a couple of the early mornings.

A big part of the problem is psychological. To go back to sleep I have to relax. A lot of nights, my inner voice blocks that: “What if you lie here for an hour trying to sleep? You’ll wake up late or nap during the day, and then you won’t get all your writing done! Get up and work until breakfast, it’s the only way to win!” Feeling dog-tired is not actually a win, but knowing that doesn’t help me shut out the voice. As others have observed, worrying about whether you’re going to get to sleep is guaranteed to keep you awake. If I knew why I slept so much better last week, I would apply that knowledge … but I don’t.

All that said, I did get a productive week:

•I fixed almost all the issues with the paperback version of Atlas Shagged on CreateSpace. Unfortunately the one that remains — getting the cover image right — poses technical problems beyond my capability, so I’ll have to turn to some of my friends for help before completing it.

•I’m up to 37,000 words on Southern Discomfort. They’re looking good, though I’ll need to schedule time at some point to go back and revise a few sections. I also put in some time replotting the ending third (finally!) though I’m far from finished. The big challenge is needing something for Joan to do after she’s kidnapped — even if I allow time to run differently in the Hither Country, her situation stretches out over more chapters than it should while everyone else is reaching her. I need to have her doing something different or handle what she is doing so it works better.

•I rewrote Angels Hate This Man! and it was a big improvement, which is not to say it’s actually good yet. But the central character has much stronger scenes than the main characters I started with, so that’s a win.

•I finished another Screen Rant, 17 Things You Didn’t Know About Jor-El, and it’s now live. Below is a great Nicholas Cardy cover I used for one of the illustrations (all rights remain with the current holder).

•I started another draft of Trouble and Glass (I still haven’t found a replacement title I like) and it went well. Rather than try to squeeze in condensed information, I’m letting it expand, filling in whatever worldbuilding details feel necessary as I go along. The results are much more to my liking. However the plot still doesn’t hang together.


•I gave a last review to the proofs of Backstage With the Hypothetical Dead and signed the contract. It should be live next week.


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Filed under Atlas Shagged, Nonfiction, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

New Screen Rant out (#SFWApro)

15 Times Flash Teamed Up With His Villains. Not just Barry but Wally, Jay and Wally’s future daughter Iris. Plus Mirror Master teaming with an evil parallel-world Flash. And below we have Flash in disguise as the Dude, teaming up with the Rogues to fight himself (art by Irv Novick, all rights remain with current holder). Read it and find out why.

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Despite a couple of setbacks, a good week (#SFWApro)

Setback one: as our dogs don’t get vaccine boosters until this weekend, we couldn’t take them to doggie day care this week, so I lost my day of freedom from the pups.

Setback two, had not one but two contractors to deal with: a heat pump checkup (we’re fine) and a bathroom drain problem (fixed!).

Setback Three, had to take Trixie into the vet Monday, with

So what got accomplished?

First, I got another Screen Rant done to tie in with next week’s Flash season premiere: 15 times Flash teamed up with his foes. For example the scene below in which the ghosts of several dead Flash villains unexpectedly help Flash take down the (also dead) Flash foe the Top.  Art by Paul C. Ryan, all rights remain with current holder.

I finished another draft of Undead Sexist Cliches. Later this month I hope to reread it and figure out what to change for the next draft, but that might have to wait until November.

I got another 7,000 words done on Southern Discomforts, so I’m on track for this month’s word count. The story has already changing from my “final” outline, but hopefully for the better. One of the supporting characters will, I think, be the one to reflect the changes in Pharisee as the power of the McAlisters wanes. However I’ll really have to watch all my minor characters — I plotted out mini-arcs for several supporting characters and the further away I get from the outline the more I’ll lose track. I also did some research reading, which I’ll review this weekend.

While I completed my thirty-five hours of writing for the week, it was more of a strain than usual. As usually happens when the weather cools, I’m sleeping much better. Sometimes oversleeping, though that’s easy to fix by setting an alarm. But I think I’ve underestimated how much waking up early some mornings helped me meet my goals — I definitely prefer getting a good night’s sleep, but I no longer have the margin of error waking up at 2:30 AM Monday and not getting back to sleep gave me. I’ll have to be more mindful of my time, and this week I wasn’t — things like Trixie coming down to join me earlier than usual and demanding petting kept throwing me off my game (she’s so cute — just look below — and sometimes so needy).  And although we didn’t have any long walks, Plush dawdled enough (Smell Everything! Chewe Every Stick!) that it took longer than planned.

While I don’t want to live in isolation, having time to work by myself really helps get things done.

On the plus side, even when I was bog tired the morning after going out with the writers’ group, I resisted the impulse to just blog and count that toward work time. More precisely, I’m only allowing myself a limited amount of blogging and email time to count as work time — a necessary step because email has been sucking up a lot more time lately (Screen Rant’s Google Groups list has a lot of discussion). That’s definitely going to help with my productivity.

So on that cheery note, adieu to the week.

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

Time management is much easier in splendid isolation (#SFWApro)

I do not, however, want splendid isolation. Splendid isolation is not actually splendid. I’m much happier living a life full of TYG and the puppies. But there’s no question, it can make time management tougher.

Monday, for example, was a relatively cool day. Trixie and Plushie decided they wanted a long walk, so I complied (they’re fat. I’m never going to turn down a long walk if they want one). That wound up cutting an extra hour out of my work day. Today wasn’t quite as bad but it still took extra time. I tried making it up in the evenings, but between chatting with TYG and playing with Trixie, it wasn’t very productive time (yes, I could go upstairs and work in private; no, I don’t want to)>

I fell a couple of hours short of my hours for the week, which was better than I did last week. And I didn’t let the lost time tempt me into goofing off extra.

I did hit my 25,000-word goal for this month’s work on Southern Discomfort, but didn’t get any further in replotting the end.

I submitted my next Screen Rant piece, focusing on deleted scenes from DC movies (everything from the Chris Reeves Superman to A History of Violence)

I did a quick proof of the edited version of Backstage With the Hypothetical Dead, my short story coming out next month.

I completed a redraft of Angels Hate This Man. It’s still a mess, but I figured out what’s really going on behind the scenes at Rev. Lagerholt’s megachurch. That should be a big help with the next draft.

I also finished a draft of Trouble and Glass. It’s a mess of a different sort — the plot and story arc are actually there, but it’s a very bad story arc. However I have all the elements in place, now I just ahve to rearrange them.

And after several months of hitting 50 percent of my goals, for September I’ll be around 66 percent (specifics varying depending on how tomorrow plays out). So all in all, a satisfactory week.

On a minor note, I picked up a cheap paper journal. While doing most planning and goal-setting on my computer works great, coming up with new “hmm, what if I tried this?” approaches doesn’t work so well. So I’m going to see if writing stuff down with a pen jars a few ideas loose.

Cover by Ernie Chan, all rights remain with current holder.

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

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

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

New Screen Rant out— (#SFWApro)

This should be my book review post for the week, but my schedule got messy, so that’ll be out Tuesday. For today, my new Screen Rant featuring nine superheroes who are secretly jerks. Eight who are secretly sweethearts.

For one of the sweethearts we have Herb Trimpe’s Hulk from the Bronze Age, when Hulk was just a lonely kid who desperately wanted friends.

For a jerk, here’s Otto Octavius (from his time as Spider-Man) deciding not to get Mary Jane into bed (she thinks he’s Peter) because he can voyeuristically experience Peter’s sex with MJ in the past. There is much debate online whether the creators really appreciated what a dick Otto was in this story. Art by Ryan Stegman.

All rights to images remain with the current holders.

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