I write like
Jack London

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Friday, December 15, 2017

40 Books and Counting...

Last week, Angry Sheep Publishing got the okay to sell books on Google Play. As part of the application process, I had to let them know how many books I'd be uploading. And so I counted them up because I couldn't remember.

Then this week, the question came up again when we were going over family income with a bank mortgage officer. (Yeah, we've decided to look for a house in West Bumfuck, Ohio. My condition for staying here is that I get an actual office that's a separate room in the new house.)

Long-term writers have said again and again that after so many years they forgot how many stories they had written. Part of me didn't believe them. I couldn't imagine forgetting any of the worlds I'd created.

But it's starting to happen.

Part of it can be attributed to age. Part of it is due to stress. Part of it is just my head getting full of new ideas, so the old ones that have been completed get tossed into a long-term storage unit. Literally. LOL

But you know something? It's all okay. Because it means I have the career I wanted. And that's a pretty damn good thing.

Oh, and the number? A Modicum of Truth and Sacrificed will be my thirty-ninth and fortieth releases respectively. And that's only what Angry Sheep has released. It doesn't count the stories I've licensed to a third party for publishing.

I love this job!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Too Much Pressure on Ourselves

Perfectionism. It's such an insidious little parasite, especially this time of year.

I'm not sure what's worse, watching my sisters-in-law get irate over not having their version of the perfect Christmas or my colleagues fret over not having the perfect book. And to top it off, there was a letter in one of my favorite advice columns this morning from a mother tied in knots and burning out because she thinks she's not providing the perfect childhood for her preschool-aged children.

The perfect Christmas. It's an unobtainable goal. Someone's feelings always get hurt over some trivial matter. Whatever happened to taking turns and sharing and kindness? People should have learned those things in kindergarten.

The best Christmas ever for our household? When we stopped playing our mothers' games of proving who loved who more. Seriously, it was a major battle between my mother and DH's every frickin' year! It included stopwatches timing how many minutes we spent at one parent's house or the other. Instead, we stayed home for our fourth Christmas. I made chicken phyllo and apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. We played DH's new games on his Nintendo 64. We watched movies. It was quiet and peaceful and we had fun for the first time since either of us were elementary students.

This Christmas, the perfectionism has spilled into the indie realm. No, let me amend that. A certain level of perfectionism has always existed, but it seems to have intensified lately. Writers are lamenting that sales are down, but as Kris Rusch pointed out in her blog over the last couple of weeks, indie publishing is finally hitting a level of maturity, instead of its initial gold rush days. Now, we  need to work on sustainability.

However, I see a lot of indies still searching for that perfect genre, perfect plot, or perfect cover that will send them back into the stratosphere. It doesn't exist, and these folks are driving themselves just as crazy as my sisters-in-law drive themselves in their search for a perfect Christmas.

As for your kids, I take the Roseanne approach. If they make it to eighteen alive, then I'm a successful parent. Yeah, I know there's a little more to it than that. But you know what? At a time when my teenage son and I agree on so very little, we can both sit back with our pie and laugh at the sisters-in-law (his aunts) insanity.

Because there's nothing better than cozying up on the couch with our Christmas blankies, a good snack, and It's a Wonderful Life. Now, that's perfection.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Movie Mania - Justice League

Once again, we have a DCEU film that's not as bad as everyone says it is. However, it definitely showed signs of too many chefs in the kitchen.

This is one of those odd moments where I have to point out Kevin Feige kept a consistency through the MCU (at least, until Thor: Ragnarok). I think Warner Brothers should let Patty Jenkins take over the DCEU as THE executive producer of the franchise. She has a much better grip on the characters than any of the WB execs or their poster boy Zack Snyder.

Don't get me started about how WB thinks throwing a shit-ton of money at a problem with solve their essential story-telling problem. Don't get me started on how their animation and TV divisions can tell a much better story. And definitely, don't get me started about how adapting the storyline from the New 52 comic for the first live-action Justice League was a big fucking mistake. But these are peripheral to my thoughts on the movie itself.

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1) Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman has been the best thing in the DCEU so far, and she doesn't disappoint. Her Diana has turned the corner after grieving for her loss of Trevor and her home for the last century and is ready to rejoin the world.

2) My biggest worry was comparing Ezra Miller's Barry with Grant Gustin's from the TV Arrowverse, which I know isn't fair to either gentleman. It was the same worry of all the kids (18-35 year olds) I spoke with who are heavily invested in the Arrowverse. Ezra definitely pulled off a much younger, geekier version of Barry Allen that meshed with Grant's portrayal. We won't touch on the difference in age and accidents of how they each got their powers.

3) I swear to Gaia that Jason Momoa was created by the gods to give Arthur Curry some badass street cred!

4) This is the first DCEU flick where Henry Caville seemed comfortable in his Superman suit, and the first time the character showed a hint of the Big Blue Boy Scout that my generation expected from Superman.

5) I was a little surprised Junkie XL was released from scoring JL. I thought his Deadpool score was perfect, and I was glad they left in his and Gary Clark Jr.'s rendition of "Come Together" that was used in the trailers. But Whedon's decision to use Danny Elfman to score the movie made sense. Elfman captured the nostalgia for these characters by reprising John Williams' Superman theme from 1979 and Elfman's own theme from Batman (1989).

6) Bruce getting the Kent farm back by buying the bank. This was closest to the relationship Clark and Bruce had in the '70's comics I grew up with, and I was happy to see the movie end on that note.

7) The end credits cameos had me squealing in my seat--because as I've said before (and again below), major Titans fan!!

1) As a long-time Titans fan, I wasn't happy when the comics shoved Cyborg into the JL, and Victor Stone was totally wasted  here. In fact, the way his character was set up made it seem like he was the bad guy, and I half-feared that's what Snyder/Whedon would do, just like Fox did with one of my favorite X-men Psyclocke.

2) The writers' way of bringing back Superman from the alleged dead was fucking creepy as hell, and only Ezra's Barry made any kind of moral objection to what the others were doing.

3) Too much fucking CGI was used where costuming, makeup and practical effects should have been used instead to give the film more weight/reality. If I wanted all CGI, I would have watched Avatar (which I haven't seen and no one can make me either).

4) Going back to CON #3, Steppenwolf should have been the opener for when Darkseid takes center stage in the second JL movie (which has been delayed thanks to WB's disappointment in the box office take for this movie). But it was like Jack Benny being the opening act of Bon Jovi; Steppenwolf just didn't seem like much of a threat.

5) The mish-mash of directorial and writing styles could be jarring at times. Zack was still going for his full-on tragedy and Joss tried to lighten things up a bit.

Darling Husband and I watched JL and Thor back-to-back one day during DH's week off after Thanksgiving. I found it ironic that the majority of nits that critics picked about JL was equally applicable (or more so in some cases) to Thor.

Overall though, Justice League was closer to the movie it wanted to be, and I award it 8 stars out of 10.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Panic at the Keyboard

No, not me. But I am seeing it with a lot of writers. The cause of the panic varies.

For some, they aren't making the money they think they should, and I've spoken before about unrealistic expectations. Some writers haven't received the accolades they think they should, but let's face it--the deck was stacked against indies from the beginning. Things are starting to shift (Romance Writers of America are accepting indie nominations for its Rita award), but the pace is glacial. Other writers are facing burn-out trying to keep up an unrealistic writing pace. Putting a book out a month is a common citation. Kris Rusch has an excellent series, and her advice once again goes back to unrealistic expectations and setting a reasonable pace for yourself.

I hate to say it, but most people aren't cut out to be business owners. I also hate to say it, but most people aren't cut out to be artists either.

Does that mean I'm going to tell you to stop doing what you're doing?

No, I'm not. You're all adults (presumably). So why do something you absolutely despise? Do you even understand why you despise a thing? How'd you get from living a thing to despising it?

Sometimes, finding your path requires a high level of introspective honesty. That's something our surface-obsessed culture couldn't care less about, and most of us aren't taught. We're taught about what we should be based on everyone else's criteria, but not what is best for our core selves.

This is why a lot of writers are setting unobtainable goals for themselves. They've been told that X is the measure of success, which is what trad publishing has been doing to us for decades.

And that's total bullshit.

The indie path is about the freedom. Freedom to set your own pace. Freedom to set your own goals. Freedom to decide your own successes.

So if you're unhappy with your writing life, take a step back from your desk. Go for walk, watch the twinkling lights, or close your eyes and focus on your breathing. It doesn't matter what you do, just be. Listen to your inner voice.

She'll never steer you wrong.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I'm Officially Old

It doesn't matter if my hair is currently purple and blue. According to this quote, I'm officially old.

You see DH and I have been house shopping. We have some very specific requirements since we both work from home. Saturday, we attended an open house at a lovely home that met a majority of our requirements.

However, there was a step down from one section of the outdoor deck to the next. I was distracted by a point DH and I were discussing, and my heel hit the edge of the step.

You know that slow-motion feeling when something bad is about to happen? Realizing I was about to land on my face and having a tiny bit of proper training on how to fall without killing myself, I started to roll.

Needless to say, a fifty-two-year-old body is not as fast as a thirty-four-year-old. My right knee and wrist hit the wooden deck hard before I completed the roll. I'm thankful for that little bit of training because my head was quite all right.

And that the deck was wood and not concrete.

I apparently am officially old because both my husband and the very young realtor did panic. Yes, I had to calm them down while I was testing my wrist and knee to make sure nothing was really wrong. (I broke my radius right above the same wrist during a disastrous snow-tubing incident my freshman year in college. And I tore ligaments in my foot during a non-contact tae kwon do session. I'm well acquainted with the pain of serious injury.)

My wrist was fine, though sore for a couple of days. It made typing uncomfortable so I only did a few hundred words over the weekend out of the four thousand I'd planned on A Modicum of Truth.

I added some new scratches to go with the multitude of scars on my right knee, and it's still a bit swollen. But nothing that propping it up with an ice pack won't take care of.

I'm just trying to figure how I missed my "just right" phase. You see, when I was in my forties, I'd have older authors (by older, I mean 0-5 years older) tell my that I needed to live some more before my writing would mature.

Really? WTF?!

On the other hand, Genius Kid will be the first one to tell you I'm a twelve-year-old boy living in a fifty-two-year-old woman's body.

All in all, I was more embarrassed than hurt. But I've always been a bit of a klutz. It's just that thirty years from now my clumsiness could be deadly.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Movie Mania - Thor: Ragnarok

I know I'm going against the grain of reviews and opinions on Thor: Ragnarok. Hell, I went into the theater fully expecting to love this movie. However, as each second and frame ticked by, I found myself getting more irritated until the emotion blew into full on anger. I felt gypped by Marvel.

Quite frankly, this wasn't a Thor movie. This is what happens when a studio tries to twist things in mid-stream and fails miserably.

I don't expect you, I mean generic you the average reader, to have a deep insight into Marvel's version of Thor, much less read and absorb the Elder (Poetic) and Younger (Prose) Eddas which are the modern world's main source of information regarding the Norse myths.

There were a few things that delighted me in this movie, but overall Thor: Ragnarok SUCKED!!

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1) I swear to Odin, Cate Blanchett can do no wrong. I loved her since I first saw her in Elizabeth. She totally rocks as a goth-emo version of Hela, Goddess of Death.

2) The twist in Hela origin as being Thor's older sister brought a certain symmetry to the story, in that Odin banished both of his natural born children, but cut his adopted son a hell of a lot of slack.

3) The chemistry between Hemsworth and Hiddleston was the only other redeeming feature. (Honestly, I so want to do a Mary Sue menage based on those two under Alter Ego's brand. LOL)

1) Kenneth Branagh set up the story of Thor as an epic cross between Shakespeare and grand opera in scale. Alan Taylor continued that feeling. Taika Waititi took that scale, tossed it in the dumpster, and set fire to it.

2) Thor: Ragnarok didn't start filming until the box office returns from Guardians of the Galaxy came in, and it's obvious the original outline was tossed in the dumpster fire in favor of an action-comedy space adventure just like GotG.

3) Oh my fucking god! Disco music?! The reason '70's pop worked GotG is because it ewas a major fucking plot point! It has no fucking relevance here!

4) Jeff Goldblum's Grand Master acting like a middle-aged dad trying to hard to be a liberal hipster was painful to watch. (And that's from someone who's been a huge fan of his since his Tenspeed and Brown Shoe days. It's on Wikipedia if you don't know the reference.)

5) Total waste of both Doctor Stephen Strange and the Hulk. You could have cut both parts and ended up with the same fucking movie.

6) The total nonsensical death of Odin. ("Hey kids, clean up the mess I made which led to the total betrayal of my people.")

7) The shitty demise of the Warriors Three.

8) Total lack of Sif. (Seriously, what the fuck?!)

9) Heimdall being the only one who seems to give a shit about the citizens of Asgard.

10) The Battlestar: Galactica ending. I mean, really?! The survivors are searching for a home on Earth?! Which seemed to be the reason for the stupid '70' disco music. On the other hand, DH referred to Buck Rogers roller disco music. Take your pick.

Okay, I made myself stop at ten issues I had with this movie. Sad to say, I have many, MANY more. Overall, I give Thor : Ragnarok 1 star out of 10.

(Seriously, if you have to see it, don't waste good money at the theater. Wait for a free HBO weekend.)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Writer Twitches

I'm closing to the finish of A Modicum of Truth, and the twitches have started.

I'm not sure how to explain the twitches. I haven't met another writer who admits to having them. It's this weird feeling in my brain, like an itch I cannot scratch. It happens when I'm having a ton of fun as the story starts its slide to home base.

I don't want the fun to end.

I need to find out what happens next.

The story took two detours away from my outline I wasn't expecting, and I let Subconscious take the driver's seat. She usually has some good instincts. And letting her have her way means I don't have to spend as much time layering the story. She pulled two subplots from A Matter of Death forward, and pushed one back. So either she did her job right, or readers are going to hate me.

Subconscious doesn't get the bullshit from readers, nor does she give a flying rat's ass what their opinion is.

(The readers don't realize I have three primary personalities and a host of sub-personalities. If they did, they'd be giving me the contact info for every shrink they know.)

And for the first time ever, I'm ending the book on a cliffhanger for one set of my heroes.

So I'm a little nervous about that. I think I've done it in a good way, more a The Empire Strikes Back type of ending than the second season finale of Preacher. (Seriously, dudes! Tulip?!)

But nerves over reader reaction and the twitches are two different things. Or maybe they are the same because the twitches are my reaction as first reader.

'Cause guess what? The me that writes this blog isn't the same me that writes the books. I'm the janitor, and I'm cleaning out the extra words the writer doesn't need for her art.

But you know what? It sure beats shoveling pig shit.

You know what else? I'm often as surprised as the other readers of the things that come out Subconscious. And if I can't predict what's going to happen, maybe it'll surprise and delight the readers as well.

I think.

I hope.

Aw, fuck it. Maybe I should go back to shoveling pig shit.

(Hello, everyone! This is Subconscious speaking. Trust me, you're going to love this book! Suzan fell asleep at her keyboard, so a lot of you will see this message on the blog before she finds it and erases it when she wakes up tomorrow. But A Modicum of Truth is fabulous and exciting and brilliant! I promise!

And really, Suzan's alleged twitches and itchy brain have more to do with her caffeine consumption. She should cut back. Toodles!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Affordable Care Act PSA

This is  public service announcement (PSA) because I know a hell of a lot of writers get their healthcare insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The open enrollment period has been shortened. At the federal level, open enrollment ends December 15, 2017.

While some states have extended the end date for open enrollment (which was changed federally in April in an effort to sabotaged the act), make sure you know YOUR STATE'S deadline.

Don't assume.

Don't ever assume.

If you plan on going through the ACA for insurance in 2018, play it safe and submit your paperwork early.

May the odds be ever in your favor!