Category Archives: Southern Discomfort

Inspiring news! (#SFWApro)

So Tuesday I read some of the latest draft of Southern Discomfort to the writing group (Chapter Two, which introduces Maria). The response was enthused.

The people who’d read the previous version said I’d fixed a lot of their criticisms. The people who hadn’t read it liked it. A couple of people said if I finished it and released it now, they’d buy it. That’s very cool. And gives me a big incentive to put in the hours and get this done at last.

A little intimidating too, of course. If I’ve set that high a standard for the opening, now I want to keep it up the rest of the book. And the scene with Maria is one I’ve worked on extensively, so it’s not surprising it’s in good shape. A lot of the later scenes are going to be new material, and doing that well will be difficult. Then again, everyone liked the second scene in Chapter Two with Sean and Susan (a couple of teenagers. Young, happy, in love and with everything to live for — uh-oh) and that was new. So onward!

Oh, and I’m now well up over 25,000 words, so I feel a little better about all the time I spent recently working on other gigs.

Speaking of which, I had a heavier-than-usual Screen Rant schedule this week. I’d been working on “Super Hero/Super Villain Team-Ups” which was my assigned column for this week. But then one I’d pitched — 15 WTF adaptations of King Arthur, to coincide with an upcoming movie — got bumped on the schedule. I don’t know why they wanted it so early, but I trust they know what will grab eyeballs. And in case you’re wondering here it is. Learn how Merlin became Dr. Strange’s teacher in a 1978 TV movie. The amazing link between Galahad and Superman. How Merlin had his own sitcom. The times MacGyver, the GI Joes and the Thundercats met Merlin or the Lady of the Lake. And the physically impossible sex scene in Excalibur (source of the still below — all rights to image with current holder).

I also completed the CreateSpace process for Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast.It is now available in hard copy via Createspace. Done!

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Filed under Screen Rant, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Writing

The tide has turned. That may be a good thing (#SFWApro)

So a couple of weeks ago I was dealing with four different sources of nonfiction, income generating projects. At this point it looks like next week I’ll be down to one. I don’t feel bad about (perhaps in a few months).

The legal articles I was doing for Leaf has now wrapped up. It was fun doing it again — after several years with them back when I first moved up here I know the format and a lot of the topics well — but simply because it was for a limited time I put in a lot more effort than if it had been long-term. So that’ll free up quite a bit of time.

Two of the other income streams I was dealing with have yet to send me any work. Which is good because I had the Leaf stuff — it paid a lot better — and I don’t know how much more I could have handled. I keep wondering if one of them will start next week, enabling me to keep the money flowing. But I wouldn’t mind a week of getting back to mostly fiction, even though I’m still hustling for nonfiction gigs and magazine article ideas.

Screen Rant, of course, remains. I did my newest article this week (Dalek trivia!) but it’s not online yet. Rights to image remain with current holder.

And I did get close to 3,000 words of Southern Discomfort done, but that’s 2,000 short of what I’d planned. I should have stuck with the impulse I followed the previous week: when the nonfiction gets tough, just make myself put in the extra time to get 1,000 words each day. I’d figured I could catch up today — I did my last Leaf article (on the educational power of attorney) yesterday — but no. We had a somewhat chaotic morning with me walking the dogs (TYG was stuck handling something else) and then Plushie went and sat up in the bedroom. When I checked on him he stared at me as if he couldn’t quite figure out why he didn’t have one of his parents next to him to snuggle with (he’s not the sharpest card in the deck). So I settled in with him until he finally headed downstairs. All of which apparently left my brain too unfocused to work on fiction, so I switched to batting out some of Undead Sexist Cliches (The Book). I’m pleased I kept my nose to the grindstone, frustrated I got thrown so easily by morning events (and I had such a good night’s sleep, too!). But like I said, next week looks free and clear for catching up (fingers crossed).

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

City of Blades and worldbuilding (#SFWApro)

Reading reviews of Robert Jackson Bennett’s CITY OF BLADES (cover by Sam Weber, all rights to current holder) it struck me that what most of the reviewers were impressed with (I’m talking review columns, not individuals on Goodreads) was not at all what I liked about it.

First, the story: grizzled Saypuri General Mulaghesh, a supporting character in City of Stairs, gets dragged from her retirement to investigate the disappearance of a Saypuri official in the city of Voortyashtan.  Voortyashtan was the heart of the Divine Empire, which once ruled the world, until the Saypuri brought it down with anti-magic weaponry. Now they’re trying to rebuild the port city, despite the unrest of various local factions (it seems the Iraq War was a big influence on the politics here). And as Mulaghesh learned in the previous book, not all the miracles have gone …

I thoroughly enjoyed it, except for some awkward modern terminology (not totally inappropriate for the setting, but it jarred just the same). I like Mulaghesh as a middle-aged lead (much more interesting than the oldsters in Black Wolves), the magic set up is intriguing, and the story is solid. But most of the reviews I read didn’t think Bennett was that much as a storyteller, they liked him (to the extent they did) as a world-builder.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen a book recommended because of cool world-building, and it didn’t make sense to me then, either. I’ve seen many books where I love the setting and the premise, but for me world-building is only important to the extent it generates a great story and good characters. The depth that Tolkien gave to Middle Earth is impressive, but I’ve never had the slightest urge to read through those appendixes in LOTR. Elaborate magic systems, as I’ve mentioned before, usually bore me. As I mentioned in the Black Wolves review, endless exposition about culture, society and whatever usually leaves me cold if it’s not in the service of the story (or the characters). I had the same reaction to An Accident of Stars — the world is interesting, but nothing much is happening.

Yet obviously for lots of people the world-building is fascinating. And I can sort of understand it: I have the same reaction to super-hero comics. The endless details of how the Scarlet Witch’s powers or Superman’s abilities work are something I can immerse myself in happily. Ditto the details of real history. But fantasy worlds? I need to know as much as will advance the story or dramatize the characters’ reactions, but not much more than that (as I mentioned in the Black Wolves link, something I’m having to think about working on Southern Discomfort).

Does that indicate my writing is fundamentally out of sorts with what publishers and readers want? Maybe. Or maybe not: most of the Blades reviews on Goodreads liked Bennett’s story a lot more than the formal reviews. Whatever that signifies.

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Filed under Reading, Southern Discomfort, Writing

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

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

March in review (#SFWApro)

Given the chaos, the unexpected extra assignments and everything else, I’m pleasantly surprised I got 58 percent of my goals done (I’m writing this Thursday night, but I don’t see the figure changing today). Unfortunately most of them weren’t writing goals. They were things like practicing meditation, wrapping up the taxes, using sunscreen, meeting my quota of exercise, etc. All important, but more personal than professional.

Part of that is that I overestimated how much I could get done after having Lily stay over and visiting Florida. Part of it is that Screen Rant and all the other unplanned nonfiction I did steered work away from my plans for fiction. I’m particularly disappointed that I couldn’t pull off the 25,000 words I wanted on Southern Discomfort. And got bupkiss done on short stories.

But that’s basic to the writing game. If something new comes along — a paying gig, an invitation to write for an anthology — then you adjust your plans accordingly. I shall spend this weekend setting goals for April and figuring out how to balance everything. I hope.

For bonus amusement, here’s a cover (don’t know photographer, all rights remain with current holder) of a 1970 decorating book, courtesy of Awful Library Books. That woman appears to be seriously stoned, or she’s just had some really great sex.

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

There is a tide in the affairs of men, but it isn’t as predictable as real tides (#SFWApro)

So last Friday I mentioned that I had another possible paying gig. It’s a legal news service, providing freelance content to various legal papers around the country, and they liked my first story, so I’m in.

And then Wednesday of this week, my former clients at Demand Media (now Leaf) emailed me with an offer to work on one of their special projects.

And Thursday, someone for another website calls to ask me about doing some articles.

Which is very cool. I like people calling to ask me to do work . But why on Earth now, in particular? It’s something I’ve thought in the past when I suddenly sell two or three short stories in a relatively brief stretch of time: why didn’t it happen say, a year earlier? Or ten? Am I suddenly that much better? Is it all blind chance? Or what?

First world enigmas, I guess.

Of course it’s not like even if all these clients plus Screen Rant provide tons of work (I’ve had clients in the past who liked my stuff but didn’t generate much work) it would let TYG quit her job and live a life of ease. But it still feels good to have money coming in. How will all this work with the fiction I like doing best? Well, we’ll see.

As to actual accomplishments this week, my new Screen Rant column is out: 15 Heroes Who Quit and Never Came Back. This was surprisingly tough to write, as I kept finding characters (the Bronze Age White Tiger, the Patriot, the Earth-2 Batman) who quit for years — oops they got back into harness! Back to searching for someone new. Hellboy is top of the list.

And I got probably ten thousand words done on Southern Discomfort, though I’m unsettled by how much of it was new material (new scenes, radically rewritten old scenes). That means more polishing down the road, which takes more time, which could delay completion even more.

I had hoped to wrap up turning Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast into a hard copy via Createspace, but I ran into some log-in problems. Hopefully I can get it done next week, and then work on that book will be over.

Wish me luck.

(All rights to Hellboy cover remain with current holder)>

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