Category Archives: Screen Rant

Embrace the disorder, learn how to bend

(Title adapted from the theme song of Psych).

Sometimes my 1,000 words of fiction a day rule needs adjusting. A week and a half ago, when I accepted the Vampire Diaries romances list from Screen Rant, the due date was this past Tuesday. To get that done and get in my Leaf articles, I had to focus on them Monday and Tuesday and forget about fiction (I’ll do the same next week, with my article on Shatterstar). Under the circumstances that was okay, so long as I made up the extra wordage later in the week, which I did.

Without the demands of doctors and plumbers that bedeviled me last week, this was a productive five days. I got in my Leaf work and the Screen Rant. Plus about 4,000 more words on Undead Sexist Cliches. It’s definitely easier to make my chapters coherent when I have a big block of time to work on it.

On the fiction side, I went over No One Can Slay Her for a final review and it’s done … subject to any feedback from the writer’s group in a couple of weeks. I redrafted Angels Hate This Man; it still needs a lot of work, but I think I’m finally getting somewhere. I finished The Cheap Assassin‘s first draft and started rewriting a story called (for the moment) Neverwas (time travel, bookstores, the apostle Luke — it all makes sense!). I didn’t get any further with Southern Discomfort, but I’ll be back on that horse next week.

I also found a cover for Atoms for Peace. I’ll post it soon.

It took me over my usual 35 hours a week (or is that my theoretical 35 hours a week?) to get it all done, but I didn’t feel stressed. So yay.

#SFWApro. Image is George Frederick Watts’ Chaos via Wikimedia commons .

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Filed under Atoms for Peace, Nonfiction, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Writing

Vampire Diaries Screen Rant out

It includes couples that were good for the show like Jo/Alaric, above—

And Matt and Rebekah—

And those that weren’t, such as Silas/Amara, which massively and awkwardly complicated the mythos’ backstory—

And Stefan/Valerie, which added nothing to the show (I’d much sooner have seen them bring back his bestie, Lexi, and go on the run with her).

You can find the whole list here.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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Life vs. Art Round Two: This week it’s a win-win!

A very busy week, but very productive. Wisely when I saw the IRL stuff I had to do, I asked if I could skip a Screen Rant (normally I do one a week) which freed me up to concentrate on other stuff. While I’ll be back on the job next week (a Vampire Diaries list), it really paid off for all the other stuff I do.

But first, the IRL. Tuesday, I had a dentist appointment. Nothing serious, just a regular checkup; my teeth are fine though they’re starting to edge toward gum disease again. If I’m not in better shape next time (I will try — gums actually respond to heavy cleaning) — it’ll be a round of scaling, where they clean all the way under the gumline. Not pleasant — it has to be done under anesthetic. I’d rather avoid it, so positive thoughts toward my gums are welcome.

Second, Tuesday I took my first Alexander technique class. My friend, drama teacher/director/actor Laley Lippard, recommended this school of movement training to help me with my voice-straining problems. I finally booked some time with a local teacher. I can’t really describe the training without making it sound dumb, but I think I see how it can help my voice (other things too, it’s a full-body technique). My teacher sent me home with some lessons to work on until I can find time for another class (July, after my Leaf work wraps up and I have more time in the week).

Third, we had three plumbing problems to deal with — clogged toilet, leaking tap, possible gunk leak from another toilet — so I had to deal with plumbers. It went well (though expensive of course): new tap, snaked toilet and the gunk, whatever it was, doesn’t appear to be a leak (yay! One less expense).

Despite which, I got a lot done on writing besides my Leaf pieces and submitting my list entries for the Vampire Diaries article:

The biggest is that I started work on the final draft — and it will be final — of Southern Discomfort. I wasn’t able to print it out at the library last weekend, so our rickety printer churned out the first 10,000 words at home instead. As usual for final drafts I read it aloud, made changes, entered them in the computer. My goal for this month was 10,000 and it’s now done — though I’m not stopping there. This is the part of the story I’ve gone over the most so it’s not surprising it went fast. If I keep going through May it’ll make up when I get to the later parts that need more work. Yay, me!

I made my thousand-words of fiction a day goal, and not just the Southern Discomfort stuff. I also finished rewriting No One Can Slay Her and about 2,000 words of Angels Hate This Man. I resolved the How’s He Doing It question that stumped me last week by deciding yes, Rev. Lennier really is freeing people from Hell. So far it’s working — we’ll see if it steers me to a satisfying end. I also got in a couple of thousand words on a new story, The Cheap Assassin.

I rewrote 4,000 words of Undead Sexist Cliches. Having a solid block of time to focus on it worked really well.

And I tackled a couple of paperwork tasks. I got a question about our state taxes resolved, and I went ahead and commissioned someone on Fiverr to draw up a cover for Atoms for Peace. It’s the first time I’ve commissioned anything along those lines. Wish me luck. And I submitted Schloss and the Switchblade to Allegory—more luck, please!

Getting all that done took a lot of evening work, which I normally dislike, but I’m very satisfied with the results.

Below, a Gervasio Gallardo cover to look at, just because it’s cool (don’t let the HPL name fool you, this was 90 percent Derleth).

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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So today, Plushie sharted on me. The rest of the week was better.

I’m not sure how it happened. Suddenly Mr. Squirrel was up to something on the deck, Plushie jumped up while sitting in my lap and barked — and suddenly I had stains on my shirt and bits of pooh on my computer. ICK!!!!!! Possibly he just backed into me getting up and knocked off a pooh-stain, but it was as gross either way. I’m pleased I kept my cool about it, though I did have to order him off my lap, which had Plush dog staring at me puzzled. And then I washed myself thoroughly and disinfected the computer.

Due to my trip to Greenville, this was a short week. I didn’t get my Screen Rant article approved until Wednesday so I spent Tuesday working heavily on Leaf articles. I was frankly impressed I could get seven finished in a day without massive errors but I doubt I could keep up that pace regularly, even if I had the time. And finally today I finished my Screen Rant on recastings that saved shows and those that hurt them. This time all my photos came from Screen Rant’s library, so none to show here.

I rewrote a lot of No One Can Slay Her and started grappling with the problems on Angels Hate This Man. The big one is that the plot involves a right-wing minister who’s getting people out of hell for a price. If he’s scamming the people paying him, how’s he doing it? If he’s really getting souls out, how’s he doing it? I’ve been focusing more on the emotional drama and character arcs, so the How question largely flew by me. Now I need an answer.

And that’s pretty much it. And to make up for showing Plush Dog in a bad light, here’s a photo of him being adorable.

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It was one of those life vs. art weeks

So TYG’s and my car is a VW Golf with a diesel engine. We learned last year that it was one of the cars where Volkswagen rigged the emissions system to show it ran cleaner than it really did. Having been caught, they gave us (and everyone else) the choice of a buyback or an emissions fix with a cash compensation. We like the car so we went with B. I took it in Tuesday for Phase One (it’s a two-phase fix). As I’d set the appointment early, I went without TYG, which meant she couldn’t sign for the loaner. That would require me to run her in to work (the fix would take most of the day) but I figured I’d take the day to get various odds and ends done, so it should work out (I took the day off from writing).

First odd-and-end was donating blood. I’m about a six weeks overdue, so I figured I’d seize the opportunity. I went apheresis, where you donate double the normal amount of blood cells, but I’d forgotten how much that leaves me wiped out. Suffice to say, I didn’t get anything else done that day.

Still, no big, except that very day VW finally greenlighted the Phase Two part of the fix (don’t ask me, I don’t know the tech). We became the local dealer’s first customer to receive it. As a result, we wouldn’t get our car back until Wednesday. While it was good to get it all taken care of in one trip, this cut into Wednesday big time. Drive TYG to her office, a couple of other errands, pick TYG up, it added up. Plus we had the plumber in.

I made up the time with some work in the evening, but I felt really wiped. And still do. I’ve been feeling out-of-balance much of the month; things do seem to be coming back into alignment, but I think this week set things back a ways.

I did finish another draft of Angels Hate This Man, and I finally finished the redraft of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I believe I see how to work out the kinks, I just have to pick one of the two or three options and go with it for the next draft.

I finished my newest Screen Rant, on superheroes who teamed up with Thanos. Hopefully the tie in with the new Avengers film will grab some eyeballs.

One anthology returned Schloss and the Switchblade, though expressing copious regret they weren’t quite large enough to include it (it did get to top 26 out of 700 submissions). It went out again, and came back again. And will go out again, eventually.

And of course, Atlas Shagged is out. I did not get around to submitting Questionable Minds — should have it done next week though.

Plus I got in my slate of little articles for Leaf.

So I think Art held its own against Life. But I sure feel worn out by the struggle.

#SFWApro. Comic book panels by Jim Starlin, all rights remain with current holder.

 

 

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New Screen Rant out: if I told Superman he had a beautiful body, would he hold it against me?

More specifically, it’s on 16 Wild Things About Superman’s Body.  For example, that he’s the perfect organ donor as his invulnerable parts resist transplant rejection (art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito)

Some stories say when he’s powerless from kryptonite an ordinary bullet can kill him, such as The Reversed Heroes here (art by Dick Sprang). They’re in a minority.

Superman can smell pancakes from halfway around the world, even though that’s physically impossible (the molecules carrying the scent can’t spread that fast, no matter how sensitive his nose). Art by Bob Brown.

If something could kill him on Krypton, it will become super on Earth and affect him the same way. Presumably if someone had a Kryptonian chair, they could club him unconscious with it. Art by Al Plastino.

And due to a bizarre physiological feature, his body freaks out on his Kryptonian birthday (art by Curt Swan). This was revealed to serve the plot of one story, then promptly forgotten.

Being the big comics nerd I am, this was a lot of fun to write. Hope y’all enjoy reading it.

All rights to images remain with current holder. #SFWApro.

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The Whisper of the Tax

So this week my writing time was distorted by having to finish the state and federal tax forms. Tuesday I went over them and caught a bunch of errors. One was from entering the same deduction twice; one was from writing down a deduction but not subtracting it from my writing income; and several were just math errors. I went over that last lot several times, just to be sure they were finally right.

(Title, by the way, borrows from Richard Condon’s terrorist thriller, The Whisper of the Axe)

After that was all done, I printed them up yesterday and mailed them off today. So they’re done!!! But that did cut into my writing time, so I missed my 1,000 words a day goal for Thursday and Friday. I had a productive week just the same.

I got out my latest Screen Rant, on superheroes and villains fans didn’t know had siblings. Swamp Thing’s brother from a dreadful mid-1970s reboot. Dr. Strange’s vampire brother. And Thomas Wayne Jr., the brother Batman didn’t know he had. I still find that slightly incredible, because unlike Dr. Strange, Swamp Thing and some of the other characters in the list, it was well established Bruce Wayne was an only child. But then World’s Finest as edited by Murray Boltinoff saw nothing wrong with claiming Superman and Batman had kids, either. Below, courtesy of Dick Dillin’s art, Batman learns the truth.

Nick Fury’s brother Jake, on the other hand, has been well established since the Silver Age, he just hovers right below the awareness of the average comics reader. And wow, he’s been really heavily retconned, as I discovered researching the article. Below, writer/artist Jim Steranko introduces him killing Nick.

I completed ten Leaf articles, and got about 6,000 words done on Undead Sexist Cliches. And I finally figured out how to fix No One Can Slay Her and finish it. I still want the writer’s group (or someone) to give it a beta reading, but I feel very pleased with it. I’d hoped to get some work in polishing Questionable Minds, but the taxes took care of that. I did give the green light to publish Atlas Shagged but it won’t be up for sale until next week.

On the downside, my mind could not seem to focus in the evening, so I got next to no reading done. I hate that. As of last night, though, I seem to be over it.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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A productive, yet frustrating week

I feel pleased with my work this week. Just getting a good day’s work out of today despite having some sort of allergic reaction to the spring pollen (nothing serious, just kind of wiped out) or maybe the vaccine I got at the doctor’s yesterday makes me pleased with my own commitment.

But the one thing I most wanted to get done was finish No One Can Slay Her, and I didn’t. There’s a problem with the third quarter, and things were hectic enough (very needy dogs, annual medical checkup) that I couldn’t clear my mind enough to pinpoint it. And the downside of my “1,000 words of fiction a day” guideline is that the writing can suck up the time I’d otherwise use to plot, replot and think. That’s not a bad thing — it’s easy to spend lots of time thinking and have nothing to show for it — but in this case it was frustrating. Still, I got a lot done, so I shall take pleasure in that.

Part of the reason I didn’t have time was that my new Screen Rant on Nickelodeon’s Victorious took longer than most of them. It’s a kid’s show I’ve never even heard of (hardly surprising at my age) so I had to do a good deal more research than usual to put it together. But now it’s out, and next week’s should be simple. Below one of my photos from the article, showing future singing star Ariana Grande as space cadet Cat.

As to the checkup, everything looks good, though I definitely need to get back to a more consistent exercise schedule. The past month it’s been a little too chaotic and I keep missing. Today I just felt tooo wiped out.

I did complete the proofing of the Atlas Shagged paperback (I discovered a couple of final changes to make) which will be out early next week. Below, the cover reveal!

I worked on one story about a writer working on a raunchy buddy comedy with werewolves (not sure where it’s going yet). And another about a bookstore with a very strange staff, and as of the last scene, St. Luke as the proprietor (I think I know where it’s going. Maybe). And worked on the next draft of Angels Hate This Man. But I really want to finish No One — the more stories I have out, the better, obviously.

I completed edits on The Grass Is Always Greener requested by the editors at Strange Economics, which had accepted it. I submitted a reprint story to Digial Fantasy. And I got some work done on Undead Sexist Cliches.

Like I said, productive. I shall take pride in what I did and not let the frustration gnaw at me.

#SFWApro. All rights to the Victorious photo remain with current holder. Rights to cover are mine; Atlas image is from John Singer Sargent’s Atlas and the Hesperides.

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I did not slide smoothly to the end of the month

I was feeling relaxed, rested and ready after last weekend’s trip to South Carolina. Still am (not today though) but I must admit my mind is resisting when I try to focus, much the way it did before the trip.

This was just a bad week for focus. Early Tuesday morning, Trixie got up and needed to go outside to poop. As usual, I woke up while TYG was zonked, so I took the little one. By the time I got back in I was wide awake. Even if I could have gotten back to sleep, Trixie had a couple more trips to make as time wore on, so I’d have gotten up anyway.

My plan for Tuesday had been doggy day care for both pups, then I’d settle down and finish the tax returns. Handling and sorting through the 1099s and other forms just gets awkward working around them. But we obviously weren’t going to take Trixie, for fear she was having a return of her stomach upset. And then Plush dog puked up his breakfast, so we didn’t take him either.

The logical thing to do, of course, was switch and work on something else, like Screen Rant or Leaf articles. But I was so zonked by lack of sleep I couldn’t focus on that stuff at all. End result? Very little got done.

So the rest of the week I’ve had to push myself, and my mind has been pushing back. Oh, and it turns out we still don’t have one piece of information we need — TYG will have to contact the relevant company for the right form.

That made my plan to wrap up various projects this week a no-go. I did get some work done on No One Can Slay Her, but didn’t finish it. Contacted an artist about the cover for Atoms for Peace but she’s too busy.

Finally today I decided to just wrap up whatever I could. I submitted one short story, checked on two that have been out a while (one still under review, the other got lost in transmission) and I finally edited and finished Atlas Shagged. Assuming everything goes smoothly, the paperback will be up for sale next week. That is actually pretty cool, and it feels great to have it (as far as I can tell) wrapped up.  I’d wanted to do a little more but my schedule had to allow for extra puppy care for various reasons, and naps (mostly broken up by pups).

My policy of not reading email until late in the day has proven effective. It helps keep me from just stopping when I’m tired and checking email, and then rechecking, and then rechecking …

I shall post next week about the overall performance of the year’s first quarter, based on use of that planner I bought a couple of months back.

In the meantime, here’s a photo from Significant Mother, one of the Bad, Forgotten CW Shows on this week’s Screen Rant.

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The actor’s nightmare? Seriously?

I mean, come on! It’s been eight years since I was on stage and I’m having this now?

For those who don’t know, the actor’s nightmare is a dream in which you’re going on stage but you have no idea what your lines are, or maybe even not the show. I’ve had it several times in my life, though none of them were in relation to actually doing a play. So maybe having this one Wednesday night is not surprising.

We open with me driving to where the actors are assembling for a production of Born Yesterday, a 1950s comedy (I was actually in it around 30 years ago) directed by my old drama teacher, Jo Yeager. I know we’re meeting in a hotel before we go to the theater (a lot of my dreams are set in hotels), so I drive into the lobby, which the staff take with great aplomb, directing me to the lower floor. I’m figuring how to get down there in my car, but when I actually arrive, I’m somehow on a bicycle.

Sam, one of my writing group colleagues (he’s a real person, unlike most of the people in this dream), tosses me a line and waits for me to say mine. I’m blank, so he gives it to me. It’s something to the effect of “I have to know it if I’m going to New York,” “it” being some Irish play (because there are lots of Irish Americans in New York). I realize I don’t know any of my lines. I haven’t even practiced them the past week! I spent the rest of the dream trying to pick up peoples’ scripts and flip through them to jog my memory, but none of the scripts have my lines in them. I’ve no idea how this resolves itself; the end of the dream is my driving home and trying to figure out what direction home is.

I’m pretty sure the underlying meaning is that I felt really stressed this week. First, Trixie being sick and not really relaxing this weekend. Then having trouble focusing because Trixie was sick. Then trying to make up for lost time because I’d been unfocused. Thursday was when this week’s Screen Rant was due (on Sailor Moon, hence the illustration), and I was much further from completion than normal for deadline day. So stress is understandable, is it not?

Doing Leaf articles and Screen Rant compounded my stress. Unlike say my film books, they’re short, tight deadlines so I don’t have much wiggle room. And because I’m doing two different Leaf projects, the amount I’ve been writing has been higher than usual. When it’s my own deadlines I can always be flexible if I have a reason. Not so much this week, though I did unclaim a couple of Leaf articles I’d planned to do today (four is enough). One of the projects is wrapping up though, so I’ll be handling much fewer the rest of the month (and April, if the work lasts).

I did complete my Screen Rant on the Sailor Moon/Tuxedo Mask relationship (above is the photo of their wedding from the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon).

I started proofing my test copy of Atlas Shagged and almost immediately found errors. One of which is prominent enough I’ll need to re-upload the corrected text. C’est la vie.

I finished the next draft of No One Shall Slay Her but didn’t make my 1,000-words-a-day quota. Partly that’s the slowing down, partly that the next thing I planned to work on (The Impossible Takes a Little Longer) is at an awkward point that needs some thought to fix. However I got back in the groove today, with a thousand-words on a new story I’m tentatively calling Neverwas. It felt soooo good to write some fiction.

All in all, I think I did well.

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