Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of the Year Review, Or Why Murphy Is the One, True God


I had so many plans this year. Novels and shorts published under both names. And what is the end result?

Only one short story, a sword and sorcery fantasy, was published in someone else's anthology.

Selling a short should make any writer happy. Don't get me wrong; it does.

But right now, life has kicked me in the head again.

Today marks the end of the second week of my MIL's stay at a rehab care facility. She fell on their front porch the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and ended up in the hospital. The injuries from the fall itself weren't the problem per se, but other issues came to light, which resulted in a week's stay at the hospital before she was transferred.

And because no one in my husband's family can keep a straight head in a crisis, I'm the one keeping track of everything.

Which is the capper to a year of dealing with a variety of personal issues, mainly other people's.

It doesn't mean I haven't been writing. I've been tapping away on my phone while waiting on kids and parents at various appointments.

It doesn't mean I haven't been editing. There's a proof copy of a paperback sitting in my backpack, along with a highlighter and sticky notes, that gets pulled out when I can.

But right now, I'm angry and frustrated because it feels like I'm spinning my wheels on my career for the third straight year. It doesn't help that if you're reading this today, Wednesday the 30th, I'm probably sitting in MIL's room, listening while the medical team plans for her eventual release.

Why am I there? Because the two sisters-in-law who are supposed to have the power and responsibility for medical decisions probably didn't show up. Again. And FIL asked DH to be there, and DH asked me to be there, because they both are having trouble keeping track of all the doctors' opinions and appointments because they're stressed and worried and not thinking straight.

I really want to say, "Not my circus, not my monkeys," and bury myself in Sam's latest adventure because, well, cursed phones, a Kevin Smith clone, and the return of Baron Samedi are way more fun than wound care and blood sugar levels and blood oxygen readings.

Needless to say, nothing more will be released in 2015. Here's hoping 2016 will be a little better.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Movie Mania - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I think I have a split personality after watching the latest installment of the Star Wars saga. Thirteen-year-old me is ecstatic! Fifty-year-old writer me wasn't impressed.

I don't want to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, so here's my only SPOILERS:

* * *


* * *

1) I hate FUCKING CLIFF HANGERS! Unless you have a good enough story to overlook it. TESB works. TFA does not.

2) Harrison Ford finally got his wish.

3) There's a reason Mark Hamill isn't featured in the teasers. He does NOT have one FUCKING WORD of DIALOGUE!

4) Leia and Rey ROCKED!

5) J.J. Abrams kept to the spirit of the original.

I'll tell you right now. This isn't a complete story. I think that's my biggest problem with TFA. The original Star Wars had a complete story. Sure there was stuff before and stuff after, but the story as shown on the screen had complete plot and character arcs. It's why I use it an a prime example of the classic three-act structure for newbie writers.

But this? This kind half-assed of story crap is why readers hate a lot of indie writers.

So between my two personalities, I have to give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a 6 out of 10.

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P.S. There's SPOILERS in the comments, so don't read 'em if you haven't seen it!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Have a wonderful day with your friends and/or family!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Writing over the Holidays

This time of year you see so many posts from writers on how to be productive through the holidays.

I'm not going to give you any tips on writing.

Instead, put aside your journal or notebook or laptop. Go out and be with family and friends. Be with people that make you happy. Enjoy the season and whatever holiday you may celebrate. Eat good food. Play. Make merry.

I know far too many people who live with regrets. For the words not said. The hugs not given.

So go out and interact with real people this holiday season. Meet strangers. Ask deep questions. Laugh.

Even if you think you know someone, memorize the person they are now. See the little guy above? Not even that version of him will be around forever. So go out and love the people in your life and enjoy yourself.

Trust me, your imaginary friends will be waiting for you when you get back.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Yule!

It's the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. So let's light up the night!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Music from My Youth

One I play every year, multiple times, until DH is begging for mercy.

Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm Away from My Desk, AKA End of Life Things You Don't Want to Think About But Need To

Blogging may be sporadic for an unknown amount of time. My mother-in-law is in the hospital, and DH and I are taking turns assisting my father-in-law with patient advocacy.

I am going to point out a few things based on my previous career as a probate and estate planning attorney and our current situation:

1) When you get to your later years, your spouse/partner may not be the best person to act as your medical representative. He or she may have theirs own health problems, or the emotional impact of their potential loss of you overwhelms them.

2) Whoever you choose as the person authorized to make medical decisions needs to be strong enough to support you and to make those decisions. Frankly, two of DH's sisters are supposed to be the decision makers for their mother in lieu of their father. One of them is scared of the possibility of her mother's death; the other is in total denial concerning the severity of the current problem. Which leaves me as the one acting as my mother-in-law's advocate, i.e. asking questions, consolidating information, weighing treatment options.

3) When a third party is forced to make decisions, this can cause fractures in family relationships. I'm lucky right now in that both of my in-laws are of sound mind. The problems for me happen when my mother-in-law is on painkillers and my father-in-law forgets to wear his hearing aids. Thankfully, no biggie, especially when my husband is a phone call away (or ten minutes from the hospital).

However, when I was practicing law, there was an instance where the daughter who was supposed to make decisions was camping for the weekend. The father had a heart attack, and the other daughter had to make end of life decisions because no one could get a hold of the first daughter. Last I heard the first daughter was still refusing to split the estate per the father's will because she accused her sister of murdering their father for his money.

So my not-legal-advice-or-representation suggestions are the following:

1) Have a clear-cut medical and estate plan.

2) Make sure you've chosen people who can follow through on your wishes.

3) Make sure everyone involved (especially immediate family members) is aware of the plan. Ask your attorney about ways to deter inter-family squabbles when you're gone.

As the late, great Benjamin Franklin said the only sure things are death and taxes. No one gets out of this world alive, so do what you can to make things easier for your loved ones.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Holiday Music from My Youth

Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song is much better than Phoebe Buffay's.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Whatever Happened to...?

That writer, the one you loved so much when you were twelve? Or twenty-eight? Or forty? The one from whom you bought every new release? Whatever happened to him/her? They seem to fall off the face of the earth.

Three of weeks ago when I was very sick and running a fever, I decided to clean out my Twitter account. Over fifty writers I followed at the beginning of my career in 2011 have disappeared. These include both trad published and indie published folks.

In the case of most trad writers, their publisher dropped their contracts. A few stated that they also publish as "So-and-So" in "Such-and-Such" genre and "Here's the link", but most don't even give that slight acknowledgment.

Some, both trad and indie, quite literally disappeared. Their websites no longer exist.  Others still have their books for sale, but nothing new had been published since 2012 or 2013, and neither their websites nor their blogs/Twitter/Facebook/etc. have been updated since then either.

There's no explanation. Nothing. Nada.

I don't know if they died. Or got burned out. Or if simply life got in the way.

It makes me a little sad. Such wonderful voices that made me happy, never to be heard from again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Someone's Wrong on the Internet!

Duty Calls by xkcd, licensed under a Creative
 Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
The generic cartoon by xkcd definitely fits the indie thought process lately. If someone, anyone, still submits to a traditional publisher, then they are WRONG! STUPID! MORONIC!

In other words, dishing out the same grief trad published writers gave indies five years ago.


Like this kind of crap helps anybody.

If you're reading this blog because I'm pro-indie, I hate to be the one who breaks the news to you, but...

I'm traditionally published, too.

And if you're reading it because I'm trad published, well, guess what?

I've said this before and I'll say it again and again and again.

The path you take depends on a lot of factors. Most particularly, what is your ultimate goal?

Some writers simply want to write. They'll never publish for others to read. More specifically, they don't want to. That's a perfectly fine path, the one Emily Dickinson took. (Just make sure you destroy your work before you die. Otherwise, your little sister may just publish your work anyway.)

Some writers just want to share their stories without thought of money. That's the purpose of things like fan fiction and Wattpad. Again, perfectly fine paths.

Some writers want to make money but like someone else to deal with the business details. That's fine, too.

Some writers like the business details as much as they enjoy the act of writing. Again, simply a different path.

No one path is perfect for everybody. The judgmental attitudes I've seen on the internet are disappointing to say the least. The question is have you, the writer, aligned your goals with what best fits your personality.

I admit I'm a super, A+++ control freak. I need to understand how things work, which is why I enjoy indie publishing. Also, I don't have to worry about deadlines when shit hits the fan, like Thursday when we had to put our beloved beagle to sleep or yesterday when my MIL fell and needed to go to the hospital. (Thank goodness, she didn't break anything, but if you're reading this over lunch, I'm over at her place, staying with her while my FIL goes to his doctor's appointment.)

I generally submit a couple of short stories a year just to stay in the practice of writing to someone else's specifications. By my own choice, especially if it's an editor I want to work with, a subject matter I want to try, or it's a way to market my other projects.

But this is my path. Not anyone else's. I'm not going to say YOU'RE WRONG when you do something different.

If you ask me for any writerly advice, the first thing I'll ask you in response is "What is your ultimate goal?" And I'll craft my answer based on your plans, not mine. If it's a question I've been asked more than once, it'll end up as a blog topic, and I'll try to make sure the appropriate caveats are in place.

HOWEVER (you knew there was an exception), I won't let my indie friends tear apart my trad friends or vice versa. And it's been happening with more and more frequency lately, even if most of it has been privately said.

Most times, I try to be gentle in my response to people, but frankly, that attitude is flying out the window. What someone else does in their writing career, DOES NOT AFFECT YOU IN THE SLIGHTEST.

Seriously, just let it go.

If you can't deal with both sides, then you probably shouldn't be reading this blog.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Happy Hanukkah!

May you have a joyous holiday! Shalom!

Friday, December 4, 2015


I had some publishing topics for today, but everything paled when we had to take our beloved beagle, Dax, to the vet yesterday. We thought it was an infection of some kind. It wasn't. His kidneys had failed from old age.

For our previous dogs, we had some warning. We had time to make the decision.

Our vet was apologetic when he walked into the exam room with the results of the blood work. There was really nothing he could do. Oh, sure, he could admit Dax to the doggie hospital. Put him on IVs and some drugs to try to flush out his system. At best, it would give him one more miserable month.

We couldn't do that to him. We did ask for a couple of hours to pick up our son from school. Give Genius Kid a chance to say his goodbyes. We had an hour and half at home to try to deal with the impending doom.

GK refused to go back to the vet's with us. He didn't want to cry in front of other people. DH broke down after the deed was done. I had to be the one to make some decisions about disposition, etc.

I didn't want to get up this morning. It's weird not hear the jingle of Dax's tags. The warning moan/growl when DH and I are talking in bed way past Dax's bedtime; his way of telling us to shut up and go to sleep. The whisper bark he does when he's chasing squirrels in his sleep.

It's weird not to have a four-footed furkid around. It's been twenty-one years since it's been this quiet at home. I don't like it, but I don't think my heart can handle losing another one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The End of NaNoWriMo 2015

After an excellent start on Ravaged for National Novel Writing Month, I crashed and burned in the middle of November. First came the week of hell from the coordinated Daesh (I refuse to call them by the other name because it is the Greek name for one of my deities, and I find it disrespectful that the media calls them that) global attacks.

Yes, folks, there were more than just the ones in Paris.

I admit I was distracted by all this because I was watching them succeed in ways I couldn't believe. They want to seed their hate, and we let them. We help them. Real life elements of issues I address, or plan to, in the Justice series. But that's a discussion for another place and another time.

I managed to get back on track the following week, only to be blindsided by a penicillin-resistant bacterial infection. Fever, chills, incredible pain, sleeping twelve hours a day. Two trips to the doctor. Serious concern that the infection had settled in a major organ. The sulfa drugs kicked in time for cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but I had to take frequent breaks during preparations and then a major nap after our guests left.

It was the 29th before I could hold a coherent thought. The grand total was 18,015 words. I didn't bother updating the last 200, which I wrote after the wild finish to the Browns-Ravens game last night.

Some people would consider this a NaNo failure. I don't. My goal was to get a good start on the novel while juggling the demands of editing and proofing a couple of finished projects. I didn't succeed on the second half, but it just means my to-do list rolls over into December, and I keep chipping away at my projects.

Here's the thing to remember: I have finished novels. I know how. And Ravaged will be finished. I just can't tell you when right now.