Saturday, July 30, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

I know it's not December, but this is a lovely piece...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Finish Things

I've heard this advice from a lot of long-term pro writers I respect. Dean Wesley Smith repeats this piece quite frequently under Heinlein's Rules of Writing. But I don't think it really sunk into my brain until Neil Gaiman posted a picture of this phrase written in Sharpie on his hand. And I was reminded of the term this week on Will Wheaton's blog.

This summer, I've been sending quite a bit of work to my formatter and my cover artist. My formatter commented that she'd been backed up the last couple of months and this wasn't her normal busy period. I replied that I couldn't vouch for any other writers, but I was simple trying to finish all the projects I started three years ago.

Yep, in ten days, it will be three years since the insane odyssey of trying to sell our house in Texas and moving to Ohio began. Things went wrong. Then more things went wrong. And then a few more.

Through it all, I kept writing. I just didn't have the focus to edit, much less publish, what I was writing. On top of that, I was so stressed out I'd get stuck on one piece, so I'd set it aside and start something else. That happened a lot.

So I've got a ton of idea pieces sitting on my hard drive in various states of completion. I'm trying to finish them as fast as I can. And I'm keeping other people busy and paid, too.

And the spice, aka words and money, must flow!

Seriously though, the older more experienced pro writers are right. The hard part is finishing what you start. I had life shit hold me back. Don't let your own fear hold you back.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Writers Be Crazy!

Why do we writers worry so much about what other writers are doing?

I didn't think things could get much lower in publishing land, but I was wrong.

Last week, Some Writer Guy went on a rampage (no, I'm not going to link to it) about male writers pretending to be hot to score sex with readers. Several of Alter Ego's friend were talking about the rampage, and several got their panties in a wad over Some Guy's usage of certain language.

Frankly, who cares? Really?

If the male writers are leaving the female readers satisfied, then who the fuck cares? Maybe these male writers understand what women want. And no where does SWG say these women are underage. If the women are adults, then they are responsible for their own sexual behavior. They don't need a man to "save" them.

As for the female writers' reaction, men have said stupid things for ages. Unfortunately, I've met too many male writers who should be far more talented with the written word. Yet, they manage to stick their feet in their mouths with a few unwise phrases. SWG is a perfect example of this phenomenon. So why are we getting upset over some kid saying stupid things?

Piece of advice, kids: never use Hitler or rape as comparison models.

Instead of worrying about what some other writer is doing, worry about getting your own stories done and published.

For example, Zombie Goddess is with my beta reader, and I'm working on finishing Ravaged.

The only hot guys and panties I worry about are my characters'.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Star Trek: Beyond

Simon Pegg, Doug Jung, and Justin Lin know what a Star Trek should be, and they gave it to us fans, both the gray-haired fogies who watched the original series fifty years ago and the kids who've picked up the tales of the Enterprise in the Kelvin Universe on the big screen.

First of all, I love this version of the movie poster because of its deliberate symmetry with the poster used for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Second, after the hash that Paramount presented us in Star Trek: Into Darkness, this story was a breath of, well, relief that the studio hadn't totally fucked up the franchise.

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* * *

1) This felt like a glorious, extended TV episode, which IS NOT a bad thing. We haven't had a chance to visit this version of the crew in their day-to-day lives. The slight glimpse during shore leave was very welcome.

2) Jim's birthday is probably a holdover tidbit from Into Darkness since Paramount was determined to remake The Wrath of Khan. But both the quiet drink with Bones and the crew's surprise party at the end established much more significance due to George's death than the glasses and book in TWoK.

3) I was a little concerned when Justin Lin was announced as the director. Don't get me wrong, I love his work on the Fast & Furious franchise. I was pleasantly surprised by his respect for the source material as well as adding his own touches.

4) Sophia Boutella as Jaylah, the crew's outside ally, totally rocked! Nor was she treated as a sex kitten. (Don't get me started on Carol Marcus in Into Darkness!)

5) The controversy over Sulu's family was blown out of proportion. (If you haven't already, re-watch the beginning of Star Trek: Generations and what is exactly said during Demora's introduction to Jim.) The shore leave scene in Beyond was handled sweetly, it gave real angst when the bad guy attacked the population of the space station, and it was clearly intended as a respectful nod to George Takei and his civil rights work.

6) Simon Pegg and Doug Jung wrote a fabulous script that added all the little touches I expect from Star Trek: humor, action, and emotional resonance.

7) The touching tributes to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin were appropriately simple and appropriate.

1) Why the fuck aren't Simon and Doug writing the next Star Trek installment?

Overall, I give Star Trek: Beyond 10 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Last Days of Camp NaNoWriMo

I'm still working on Ravaged for Camp NaNoWriMo, but with ten days left and 35K to go, I don't know if I'll hit my 60K word goal for the novel.

Stuff like Camp NaNo is one of the reasons I don't do a lot of group activities with other writers. I'm not saying competition and spurring each other on isn't good. It works for a lot of people.

Unfortunately, my super-competitive AAA+ oldest-child Scorpio personality kicks in in those types of situations. Years ago, the worst result was me destroying friendships.

These days, setting off the "win at all costs" mentality literally leads to adrenal overdrive. For someone whose entire endocrine system is FUBAR'd, it can result in pan at a minimum and death at the maximum. (Wish I was joking about the last part, but I'm not.)

For the most part, I can keep my competitive streak leashed. But if I'm not diligent, I pay for the inattention later.

So I don't know if I'll do Camp NaNo next year, much less NaNo itself in November. I want to. It's actually a terrific program for jump-starting a project that's been on the back-burner due to LIFE.

On the other hand, NaNo would mean I'd get the Bloodlines series done by the end of the year.

Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Juggling Life

I'm in that lovely middle-age space where I'm dealing with both underage children and elderly family members.

Yesterday, I wrote about 2500 words, took my mother-in-law on a series of appointments, and had a date night with DH. But Genius Kid and I didn't make it to our daily gym appointment.

Today, I haven't gotten much writing done, but GK and I made it to the gym, even though I'm suffering from fatigue after overdoing it yesterday.

But that's life. Life is always a juggling act. It always will be.

For those of you who write or have a chronic condition or have a family, or all of the above like me, it's always going to be a choice of what's important for you on that particular day. Don't wallow in regrets because despite what Gloria Steinem use to say, sometimes you can't have it all.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Writer Burn-out

Well, I had a plan for Camp NaNoWriMo for the month, which was to finish the first draft of Ravaged and edit Zombie Goddess. "Had" being the operative word.

By the time I finished "Courting Trouble", dealt with the editing, and drove myself and my poor formatter insane with the typo gremlins from Hell, my brain was officially crispy fried. I literally wrote 100 words per day for three days straight.

On the fourth day, I said "Fuck it!" I edited an Alter Ego short story that had been sitting on my hard drive for some time, created a cute cover for it, formatted it myself, and uploaded it.

That little thing freed up some space in my brain, and I managed 500 words yesterday. Then DH said something about AMC's The Walking Dead marathon.

That's right. I totally blame DH for not getting more words done yesterday.

So if you're reading this on Monday morning, I'm sitting at Panera's with my bacon spinach soufflé and my large mango iced tea and pounding out some words.

Because I've got 40K to go and short time to get there.

(If you are a certain age, admit it. You sang that last line in your head to the theme of Smokey and the Bandit. *grin*)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Okay, I admit I had Lindsey playing while I worked on Justice series stories. Her music just fits.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Justice: The Beginning Is Out!

Sorry, this post is later than normal today, but I was waiting for Amazon to finish processing.

The e-book version of Justice: The Beginning is now live. So if you need a little entertainment this weekend, check it out!

For the first time, the Justice Anthea and Brother Luc short stories are collected in one edition.

This anthology includes “Justice” and “Diplomacy in the Dark”, previously published in Sword and Sorceress 28 and 30 respectively. A brand new story “The Perfect Partner” gives readers the infamous tale of the illicit lovers’ first cantankerous, and odiferous, case together.

And a fourth bonus tale set in the Justice universe tells how a young sister of Light became a secret bodyguard for a member of the Jing Imperial family.

Magic, mayhem and mystery has never been so fun!

Amazon Buy Link for all countries

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fast Note about Time, Editing and Potential Stupidity

Since I received an e-mail from my formatter on July 6th, concerning an issue with the print format being too small for the printing company, I've been focused on writing a new story and adding it to the Justice anthology collection to increase the page count and make the printing company happy.

"Courting Trouble" was finished Monday night, and it turned into a 10K blast of fun. I edited it and sent the new master file for Justice: The Beginning to my formatter around 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

She sent me the Kindle version by noon, and...

Right off the bat, I realize I didn't send her the updated copyright page. *facepalm*

So right now, I'm proofreading the second Kindle version she sent me.

I tried to do all this while keeping up with Camp NaNoWriMo and Ravaged, but everything to do with Bloodlines has been shoved aside for the time being. I hope to get back to it next week, if not this weekend.

And you know something? Despite all the headaches, I still have the best job EVAH!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Independence Day: Resurgence

Yeah, yeah. I know it's Tuesday. Not Monday.

I have a good reason for being late. It's called WORK. (We'll get to that tomorrow.)

Anyway, DH and I went to see ID:R, and.............

It left us a little underwhelmed.

The original was made twenty years ago, and maybe the writers lost the creative edge. Maybe I've grown jaded. This may be one of those things you see for yourself.

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* * *

1) Lots of explosions and bigger, badder spaceships.

2) Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) bonding with orphans again.

3) Dr. Brakish (Brent Spiner) losing his husband shortly after they were reunited, mirroring President Whitmore losing his wife in the original. It's the one emotionally touching moment in the sequel.

1) The chemistry between the new kids sucked. It wasn't for lack of trying, and I do love me a Hemsworth, but there wasn't enough backstory here to make sense for Liam's character, other than he was a fuck-up. Randy Quaid did the redeemable screw-up with far more charm in the original.

2) The PTBs decided "Let's play neuter the black man!" This is the same fucking team who turned Will Smith from scrawny teenage rapper to a major movie star with hunk appeal. What did Jessie Usher get as Capt. Dylan Hiller? A handful of throw away lines and getting to watch the aliens kill his mother. No interest, and eating Liam's exhaust.

3) The chemistry between the old adults was also sorely lacking. I'll watch Jeff Goldblum in anything, but he does his best work when playing off another actor. The producers/writers gave him a new love interest, but this is the first time I've seen Jeff not be able to riff with a fellow actor. Then his character's wife isn't there, and they don't tell us what happened to his previous ex from the end of the last movie! (I know, I know. Read the tie-in novels. That's bullshit, though. A one-phrase mention of her would have been enough.)

4) Let's neuter the black man - ROUND TWO! Deobia Oparei plays this supposedly badass African warlord who fought a ground war against the Harvester aliens for the last twenty years. He gets turned into comedic relief after the first quarter of the movie.

5) Dragging Robert Loggia to the film set while he was dying from Alzheimer's. Seriously, people what were you thinking, treating a respected actor like a fucking dress-up doll for your amusement?

I can totally understand why Will Smith bowed out of this project. If I don't consider it a sequel to the original it's a serviceable C-movie, the kind you have on the TV as the background noise with you clean the house. I have to give it 4 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

When Boo-Boo's Happen

Well, I was clipping along quite nice on Ravaged, my Camp NanoWriMo project when I got an e-mail from my formatter. It seems the physical page count for Justice: The Beginning came in under Create Space's minimum page count.


My formatter listed out a couple of alternatives she could try, but it was my decision on what to do. So I grabbed some Lindor black label truffles, thought about it, and came up with a third possible solution.

What if I added a fourth story to the anthology?

So now, my formatter is patiently waiting for a new master file, and I've put aside Ravaged (currently at 27.5K) for this weekend.

Instead of Justice Anthea or Brother Luc being the central characters, the new story focuses on Shi Hua and how she became Ambassador Quan's bodyguard. It's turning into a lot of fun!

But it also means that it'll be another two to three weeks before the anthology is published. I hate disappointing my readers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Work Hard, Play Hard

I have a personal goal of getting the first draft of Ravaged done in July. That's in addition to editing Zombie Goddess.

And yesterday, I did pretty damn good. Went to the café and wrote a hair over 2,200 words. Edited the first three chapter of Zombie Goddess. And started the read-thru of the paper copy of A Question of Balance.

So DH wants to celebrate by going to a movie. Which we did. (Review on Monday!)

Then I wake up around dawn not feeling so good. URGH!

So I stayed in bed an extra hour and half after my alarm went off. Still in some pain and not a whole lot of energy here.

As Jay Lake used to say, I guess I need do better about managing my spoons.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Now You See Me 2

The original Now You See Me was an unexpected delight and one of DH's favorite movies. Unfortunately like most sequels, Now You See Me 2 loses a lot of the magic that made the first one so incredible.

The first was fun in its unpredictability and because the filmmakers didn't break the magicians' illusions too much. The sequel was way too predictable which made it disappointing.

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* * *

1) The addition of Lizzy Caplan as Lula  was a welcome shot of sassy estrogen compared to Isla Fisher's lovelorn Henley. Both the character and the actress hold their own against the men. Even better, she wasn't just a love interest replacement for Danny.

2) Michael Caine and Daniel Radcliffe were obviously having a blast playing the father/son antagonists seeking revenge for what the Horsemen did in the first movie.

1) It turns out that Mark Ruffalo's FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes was not already part of the Eye, which was a disappointing development that sets backs the pace of the movie.

2) The reveal that Morgan Freeman's Bradley was actually the partner of Dylan's dad was an obvious and rather sad contrivance.

3) Forcing Danny into a need to prove himself better than Dylan, after Dylan had earned Danny's respect in the first film, felt like a major step backwards.

4) Woody Harrelson's portrayal of Merritt and his twin brother Chase was the distraction for the movie's tricks. As much as I love Woody's work, not even his charm could make this movie's writing work.

Overall, I would give this movie a 5 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Since Passive Guy got me hooked on Lindsay Stirling, I can't get enough. But this is one of my favorite songs, and her and the Tenors' interpretation is incredible!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Working on the Weekend

I didn't release Justice: The Beginning yesterday as I'd hoped since it isn't quite ready. No worries though. The revision file is with my formatter, and the cover's ready. It just will take a few extra days with the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

So what am I doing in the meantime?

- Trying to finish an Alter Ego short story.

- Reviewing the paperback proofs for A Question of Balance and Blood Magick in order to get them up of retailer websites.

- Working on the edits for Zombie Goddess.

- Attending Camp NaNoWriMo for the month of July in an effort to complete the first draft of Ravaged.

It's so good to be productive again!