Category Archives: Southern Discomfort

Why no, this was not a productive week, how did you guess? (#SFWApro)

Well, other than me mentioning it in this morning’s post of course. Plus getting back from Fort Walton Beach on Monday, so I had one day down to start with.

Having three dogs, all of whom want to sit either beside me or on my lap, made working on my computer difficult. And Lily seems to be even more eager for cuddles than when we’ve dog-sat her before. Even my backup plan — do some reference reading offline for Southern Discomforts — didn’t quite fly. Partly that’s because dog shenanigans in the bed Wednesday night left me utterly exhausted Thursday (and as noted, my holiday trip had hardly been a haven of sleep, so I had no reserves left).

On the plus side, waking up early Thursday enabled me to finish my next Screen Rant article early Thursday morning (Fifteen Super Heroes Who Quit and Never Returned). And I completed my interview with one news service that wants to use me as a reporter — it’ll be about 10 to 15 hours a week, I think. I’d prefer a little less, but as I’m getting faster and smoother at the Screen Rant articles, I think I can do it without stinting on the Southern Discomfort rewrite.

And that was it. Of course, I was prepared for this to happen — we’ve dog-sat Lily a couple of times — but it is a little frustrating to get so little done after a week of vacation. But no regrets, either. She’s a sweet dog and she’s much happier with us and getting to rough-house with Trixie than if she were in a kennel somewhere alone.

Next week, back into action!

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework

Regaining some balance, losing some face, facing some weather (#SFWApro)

The weather was freaky this week. When I took this photo Wednesday, I was out bicycling in shorts, even though the sky looked ominous (the photo doesn’t capture it as well as I’d hoped). Today I wore a sweater to walk the dogs, and it was cold.  Overall it’s been much warmer than last year, when we had icicles hanging from the bird feeder in late February.

img_1128Now, as to the balance — specifically between fiction and non-fiction as I discussed this morning. I didn’t really get the balance right this week, but I can see it improving. The tractor article is done. Screen Rant articles (I finished another this week though it’s not up yet) are getting easier as I stop fretting about their requirements and just write. I passed my trial period so now I can select images directly from SR’s library. It’s much simpler, to my surprise, than emailing the editors with a list of what I want.

I devoted today to finishing the Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast index, and I’m very glad I did. As with Now and Then We Time Travel indexing turned up eight or nine errors, several quite substantial. If I go this way for another nonfiction book (and I’m thinking about it for Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book), I’ll definitely index before publication. I feel really, really embarrassed to have released something inaccurate, hence the losing-face reference in the post title. I guess it shows why so many self-published writers recommend hiring an editor … but then again, the issue isn’t style or spelling but facts. So would it have helped? At least I did find them — I’m in the process of getting the ebook changed now (and pulled it from my sidebar and Nonfiction By Me pages until it is). Meanwhile I’ll add the index to my text to create a second PDF and see if the pagination is accurate. If it is, I submit to create space to get hard copies. If not, I submit without an index — I’ve had requests for hard copy and I’d like one myself.

And that was pretty much my week. It would have been more productive if I hadn’t forgotten most of the photoshopping techniques for Screen Rant that I’d figured out last week. I did get some more work done on Southern Discomforts but not as much as I’d wanted. Hopefully that will change as we move forward in March.

Have a great weekend. For the record, while the weather is cold today, the sky is much more inviting than these photos (art by me, please credit should you choose to use).

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

What have I become? What do I want? February in review(#SFWApro)

garden-forkingI dropped from completing 79 percent of my goals in January to 60 percent this month. Which is understandable because the tractor article and my Screen Rant stuff took up lots of time I hadn’t planned on spending. As a result, my fiction writing got short-changed (Illustration from the Illuminations blog. Don’t know photographer).  Which is the point of this morning’s post.

Between the time I finished Now and Then We Time Travel and the time I proofed and indexed it, I had about eight months to focus on nothing but fiction (plus And columns and blogging). I really liked it. I’ve always had to balance fiction writing with a day job (before moving up here) and paying freelance gigs (after moving up). It was refreshing not to have any.

But of course nonfiction brings in more money. Not a lot, but some. It’s not a significant amount compared to TYG’s salary, but I do like contributing. Particularly when who the hell knows what will happen over the next year.

Fiction, however, makes me much happier. And who knows, if I ever sell a novel, that would bring in some money too, so I don’t want to just let Southern Discomfort sit in limbo. I stopped working on it during the crunch-time period of writing Now and Then We Time Travel, and I don’t want to fall behind again.

Fortunately I seem to be getting much more efficient at the Screen Rant articles. As that process gets smoother, my time will free up for fiction. Unless something else comes in (I just applied for an online reporting gig. No word back yet).

Yes, first world problems and not even most first-worlders — poor me, having to choose between selling articles and writing fiction!

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Writing

Regaining my rhythm (#SFWApro)

I finished another Screen Rant this week (I’ll let y’all know when it goes live, of course), and it’s getting both easier and faster. That’s a good thing, as I’d like to keep doing them. And because it was easier and faster, I got more other stuff done.

800px-farmall_tractor_pulling_a_combine_harvester_queensland_1950_5682298084-1•I finished my History article on tractors (illustration via Wikimedia Commons found here). I’ll format it (as I’ve said before, I don’t trust Apple Pages to do it right), proof all the dates and names and send it out Monday.

•I got several thousand more words done on Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book. Though I think the chapter I finished today is less well-structured than the first three.

•I got a little bit of work done on indexing Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, though not as much as I’d hoped. But indexing goes much faster with a book that’s so much smaller.

•And I finally got back to work on Southern Discomfort. The plot for the final section is still unpleasantly vague, but I decided to start rewriting anyway. I got in about 4,000 words.

•Plus I spent a great deal of time sorting receipts and tax paperwork and assembling forms. Because lets face it, it has to be done.

And that’s that.

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

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

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

Research for Southern Discomfort (#SFWApro)

My research this past week or so was pretty grim. A reminder that America has always been haunted by the shadow of racism, and the resistance of whites to doing anything to change their privileged status.

According to HOW THE IRISH BECAME WHITE by Noel Ignatiev, the early Irish immigrants were the lowest of the low, little better than blacks, and considered by Protestant America the ones most likely to “amalgamate” with blacks. The Irish had been treated as a lower race in their own country since the English occupation, and many of them — such as Daniel O’Connell, who was active in Ireland fighting to repeal the union of Ireland and England — were abolitionist. Others were not, seeing abolition as alienating potential American support for repeal. Many embraced the white labor axiom that the life of a slave, with guaranteed shelter and food, was easy compared to that of the real slaves, the white working men (Frederick Douglass pointed out that if they really believed that, his running away had left a slave position vacant). Beyond that, racism against free blacks became common, both before and after the Civil War. Free blacks doing the same job as whites was seen as lowering white workers to their level. The Irish, like most whites, wanted to establish they were well above that level, which meant as much segregation as possible.

Ignatiev’s focus is primarily the north, which limits its usefulness for Southern Discomfort. It does make me conscious that I’m not going to be able to sum up all of Irish/black race relations in one novel (yeah, I know, obvious). However it does give me ideas for a couple of background details.

345070(Cover image from the Calvin Fred Craig papers at Emory University. All rights reside with current holder)

WHITE FLIGHT: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism by Kevin M. Kruse looks at how Atlanta, known as “the city too busy to hate” for its moderate desegregation efforts (in contrast to other parts of the South that believed the color line had to be defended at all costs), actually did quite a bit of hating from the post-war years through the 1970s. While the civic and business leaders were willing to work with black Atlanta — allowing blacks to buy homes in white neighborhoods, desegregating some public parks, minimally desegregating schools — the working-class saw this as a sell-out by rich people whose private schools and private parks wouldn’t be affected. For some the solution was neo-Nazi groups or the KKK, but over time they adopted more euphemistic approaches, such as their right to “freedom of association” — which in their eyes meant a)they should be free not to associate with blacks; b)therefore segregation so blacks were kept away from them, even in public spaces; c)if segregation fell, then whites simply abandoned facilities to Those People and over time fled to segregated suburbs. Kruse argues that the roots of modern conservative attitudes were born here: a conviction white taxes went to support black moochers, enthusiasm for privatizing public facilities (in the hopes they could then deny blacks the right to use them), opposition to spending on public projects or infrastructure (when Those People would use it) and so on. While Kruse didn’t tell me anything about racism I didn’t already know, it’s gut-wrenching to read 250 pages about so much hate.

This book definitely got me thinking about how I handle racism in Pharisee, and how desegregation came to the town. And also about the makeup of the white newcomers from Atlanta; obviously if they’re moving to a town that isn’t all-white, they probably aren’t the die-hard segregationists. Not necessarily liberal on racial issues, but more moderate than I’d be thinking. It also gives me some insight into the generational divide for Pharisee’s blacks (the older go-slow generation and younger more aggressive activists).

In its own right, a very good book but horribly depressing.

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