Monday, December 31, 2018

The 2018 Year-End Wrap-Up

Well, 2018 wasn't my best year, but it wasn't my worst either.

I started off by releasing the e-books of A Modicum of Truth (Justice #2) in February and Sacrificed (Bloodlines #8) in March.

And if you're a regular reader of my blog, you know everything got put on hold shortly after Easter.

I kept writing though, as best as I could. The trade paperbacks for this year's releases came out in October and December respectively.

I made some money, less than every other year, but more than my first year. However, I was mainly coasting on fumes from previous releases.

So I'm concentrating on putting out a lot of books in 2019. I'm not jinxing myself by giving specific dates until the pre-order is up and running. (Yep, I'm going to try to stay ahead this year!)

- Hero De Facto is back from my alpha reader. I'll do another round of proofreading before sending it off to my formatter.

- Hero Ad Hoc should go to my alpha reader later today.

- The first draft of Hero De Novo will hopefully be finished before Hero De Facto goes on sale.

- A Matter of Death needs to be completed as well.

- Then if nothing else goes wrong, I'll finish the last three Bloodlines stories and the fourth Justice Novel.

I'm still looking at the possibility of another surgery, so I'm trying very, very hard to get ahead before this happens, if it happens.

I could wail and gnash my teeth over perceived failures like a lot of my fellow writers do, but I can't. I'm just happy to be alive and doing something I absolutely love--making up stories to entertain all of you.

Mya you all have an awesome New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Editing My Heart Out

Last Saturday, I wrapped up the copyediting on Hero De Facto and e-mailed it to my alpha reader's Kindle. Unlike a lot of other writers, I don't use beta readers.

Why? Because at that point the entire series is pretty much done in my head. It's simple a matter of setting it to bits and bytes for other people to consume. But I trust my process, and it/I manage to entertain a number of people.

I think that's where the fine line between overconfidence and underconfidence in writers lie.

There are those who haven't studied craft enough to understand why their story isn't doing well in the market. However, they think the piece is brilliant, and therefore, everyone else must be idiots.

On the other hand are the writers who want their piece to be brilliant, and they seek out third parties' validation in an effort to be deemed brilliant by those the writers esteem. It really doesn't matter to them if the story is readable by the general populace.

Want to know my secret?  I'm not looking for brilliance, though I write the best I can with every piece I create. I want to entertain. If one of my humorous adventures brightens your day, then I know I have succeeded.

So far, my alpha seems to be amused in the right places, and that's what I really care about as a writer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Happy Boxing Day!

So did any on you get up early to hit the post-Christmas sales?

I used to do that, but after working at Hallmark for a few years, I'm so stocked up on wrapping paper and card I had to pack them into large boxes during the move. And now that the nieces and nephews are grown, well, I'm using less and less every year.

After a day where the entire DH family gathered under one roof, I was exhausted. And I mean EVERYONE from Papa to the littlest great-grandbaby and the brand-new grandpuppy Scotty.

So I'm finally awake. We've got plenty of Pepsi, coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon buns to fuel me. Time to get back to the writing!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Ralph Breaks the Internet

We didn't see the original Wreck-It Ralph when it was released. None of us were that interested because we were FINALLY laying hardwood in our family room. Eventually, we caught it late one night on cable and were pleasantly surprised by the story.

So when the sequel was released, DH was rather adamantly that we go see it. The reason probably has something to do with him being in the computer industry.


* * *


SPOILERS!!


* * *


PROS
1) The Disney Princesses were hysterical!

2) Twisting the hero into the needy, neurotic nutcase and the heroine into the one wanting their freedom.

3) Gal Gadot.

4) Felix and Calhoun adopting the other Sugar Rush racers.


CONS
1) Not enough Disney Princesses and Gal Gadot.


Overall, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a fun movie with a lot of jokes that will fly over most kids' heads. I give it  8 stars out of 10. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Winter Solistice!

May light continue to shine in your home!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

If You Didn't Make Your Yearly Goals

Now's the time a lot of writers are looking their goal sheet for this year and silently weeping into their whiskey.

A little grief is okay. Give yourselves a five-minute pity party, then toss back the rest of the whiskey.

First, look at what you did accomplish. Did you publish a book? Did you finish writing a book? Did you submit a short story to an anthology or magazine? How many words did you write? Was it more than one? A whole sentence? Paragraph? Page?

Then fucking congratulate yourself! That's more than some people do in a lifetime.

Where did you fall down? Furthermore, was it really a fall?

Sometimes, life has to take precedence over art. What if your parents, your siblings, your significant other(s), or your kids needed a little extra help this year? Or a lot? Setting aside your art for them doesn't make you a failure. It makes you a compassionate, caring human being.

Or maybe you were the one facing the life-changing event. If so, cut yourself some slack. If you're not healthy, physically and mentally, doing any kind of art is nearly impossible.

More likely though, you overestimated what you could do in a year. No shame in that, but make next year's a bit more realistic. Take a good look at what you did accomplish and add, say, ten percent. Or one percent. Or fifty percent. Just make it within the realm of possibility for you. Giving yourself unobtainable goals only destroys your self-esteem because there's no way to win.

Were my 2018 goals obtainable? Maybe, but cancer made sure I couldn't hit them.

That's okay. I'm alive. I'm healthy. And 2019 is a brand-new, glorious year!

Good luck to us all!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Aquaman

I can hear you now--"But-but Suzan! Aquaman isn't out until this Friday!"

Well, (a) you're right in that Aquaman isn't in WIDE release in the U.S. until Friday, and (b) no, I didn't illegally download it from a pirate site, nor did I go to China for their early release.

Warner Brothers teamed up with Amazon, Atom, and various theaters for a special preview at 7:00 p.m. on December 15th. And I couldn't wait to see Jason Momoa rocking his superhero shtick again. Because, let's face it, he makes Aquaman cool!


* * *


SPOILERS


* * *


PROS
1) The ultimate in casting choice (besides Jason) was Temuera Morrison as Thomas Curry, Aquaman's dad, though the rest of the choices were excellent. Seriously, Jango Fett as Dad is fucking awesome!

2) The Aquaman in-jokes, including, yes, Arthur riding a giant seahorse. (Trust me, it was way more awesome then it sounds.)

3) The King Arthur in-jokes. (Yes, the one from Camelot.)

4) The fact the writers stuck with the Silver Age characters and backstories (the ones I grew up reading) with only some slight alterations.

5) The same mix of adventure, quest, and romance as Wonder Woman without the negativity and angst of Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, et al.


CONS
1) The score left something to be desired, as in it was totally unmemorable. While specific themes have been developed and repeatedly used for the Trinity, once again, Aquaman got screwed.


I had a blast and I want to see it again. Overall, Aquaman earned its 10 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Thursday, December 13, 2018

If You Have a Justice Craving

I just posted "Murder Most Fowl", a brand new short story set in the Justice universe starring the legendary Justice Thalia of Orrin. It's my holiday present to my readers for having to bail on them in April this year.

Anyway, check it out, and I plan to be back into my regular programming of random stuff here at WW&W on Friday!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

We caught the second Fantastic Beasts flick at the theater after seeing the first on HBO last year. Instead of continuing it's own path in the Wizarding World, this edition circles back to Harry Potter's past, which is both good and bad.


* * *


SPOILERS


* * *


PROS
1) Jude Law as the younger Dumbledore was spectacularly on point.

2) We learned more about Nagini's tragic backstory, which makes me sympathize with why she turned to Voldemort.

3) Also, I loved how quiet, shy Newt confronted Dumbledore about how he uses people.


CONS
1) The first half of Fantastic Beasts 2 is a mess between assumptions that the viewer read the books (Grindelwald was barely mentioned in the first movie series, much less his full history) and the awful editing, like chunks were ripped out to keep the time down to a reasonable running length.

2) Leta Lestrange was used to create unnecessary tension without fully fleshing out her character. It made her sacrifice feel cheap.

3) The movie wasn't bad. It simply was a set-up for future films without being a complete story in itself. That's rather sloppy story-telling on JK Rowling's part. I guess I expect more from her after seeing what she's capable of.


Overall, I have to give Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grndelwald 5 stars out of 10.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Sun Is Out!

Sweet Baby Jesus! The sun is out!

Seriously, we've had maybe 20 hours of sunlight in our little corner of Ohio since Halloween. I have friends in Alaska who are getting more sunshine than I am. And if I'm not getting some regular sunshine, it makes the SAD so much worse.

So I'm not writing about anything earth-shattering today. I'm going to get out to run errands, do the last bit of holiday shopping, mail the packages I've already wrapped, etc.

And try to get a short story finished that I promised my readers months ago!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Pay to Play or Simple Fatigue

I feel I've been on the bench too long. I only released two books under my name in 2018. Alter Ego hasn't released anything in over two years. (She says it's hard to feel and write smexy when we're surrounded by pain, disease and death.) So neither of us are surprised our sales have dropped like the proverbial stone this year after coasting on fumes for the last five.

However, I'm hearing whispers that other indies are seeing huge drops in sales this year, drops they claim aren't due to the usual fall school/holiday downturn. And those that use internet ads (such as Amazon and Facebook) and book deal newsletters (such as Bookbub) are seeing lower returns than ususal. But if they stop advertising, their sales plummet.

From what I'm observing, there isn't any one problem. Here are the situations I'm seeing:

1) Amazon's Latest Updates

Amazon has rolled out updates to their online platform every year between the months of July and August since I started indie publishing. And every year, there's been bugs. In fact, there's a cadre who refer to the following month as Glitchtember as the bugs become known and obvious.

This year's Glitchtember has extended into the rest of the year. Amazon's efforts to force users to go to their country's associated store has led to a slew of books disappearing from the retail platform. What's more unusual is Amazon's admission that there was a problem!

But hey, if you're only selling books on Amazon, and Amazon isn't showing your book as available, you've lost that sale.

2) Online Advertising

It used to be that for a few bucks a day, you could advertise your wares on Google and make a ton of money. But Google uses an auction system for their ads, and as time went on, they sold more and more ads at higher and higher prices.

Then Facebook and Amazon jumped into the online ad business, using the same criteria as Google, and now the same problem is occurring as they, too, saturate buyers with ads. Even worse, more computer users are employing ad blockers to keep the multiple ads from slowing down their machines. Or from annoying the hell out of them.

Now, indie publishers are paying more and more to advertise and seeing less and less returns, but if they don't do ads at all, their sales crash. Resentment at the pay-to-play issue is building, but unfortunately, we're not going to see the free advertising we had in the beginning of the indie revolution again.

3) Bargain Book Newsletters

Amazon cracked down on reviewers and their bargain book newsletters years ago by eliminating their ability to monetize the freebies. As a result, many of those review/newsletter proprietors had to close up shop.

The handful left, like Bookbub, are charging more money to advertise through them and making it tougher to get a spot. And even when an indie publisher gets spot, they're not seeing the long-tail with their other books like they used to. Unfortunately, indies aren't just competing with each other for those newsletter slots.

4) Trad Publishing Copying Indie Methods

Nope, we're competing with trad publishers for those BookBub slots. They pay more, and they have a huge backlist to advertise. If you see a $1.99 book on BookBub, it's probably a backlist trad book.

But trad publishing is copying indies in other ways. Their covers are becoming simpler with titles and author large enough to read in thumbnail size. Backlist formatting is getting better rather than throwing up a cheaply, and shittily, OCR-scanned copy of the mass market paperback. In other words, the trad publishers are starting to get their act together when it comes to e-books.

5) Reader Fatigue

How many of you have downloaded hundreds, if not thousands, of free/cheap e-books? *raises hand* Yeah, that's coming back to bite us writers in the ass. Why buy a new book if a reader has a zillion still waiting to be read on their devices? We have to publish something so unique and brilliant they can't resist us, and that's a damn mountain to climb.

On the other side, something that's personal for me and other middle-age people I know--we're rereading old favorites. Between dealing with elderly parents, our own health issues, and launching our kids into a world that seems to headed for disaster, we reach for the comfort reads from childhood. I know I've been going through the Katherine Kurtz/Barbara Hambly/Mercedes Lackey novels from my teens and twenties while dealing with cancer this year.


So what does this all mean?

It means we have the level playing field we claimed we wanted when the indie revolution started. It means we need to step up our game when it comes to storytelling; we can't rely on gimmicks to sell our wares. It means that the e-book market in finally maturing, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

My attitude may change when I get back to publishing in January. But for right now, I don't think it's the end of the world.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Robin Hood

While DH was on his staycation last week, we hit a couple of movies we really wanted to see. I'm going to review Robin Hood first because it may not last in theaters much past this week.

My overall view is it's not as bad as the critics would have you think, but it's not as good as it could have been either.


* * *


SPOILERS!


* * *


PROS
1) Taron Eggerton and Jamie Foxx's sheer charisma and chemistry carry a good chunk of this movie. Unfortunately it's not enough.

2) Some interesting twists in character stories, including a revamp of Morgan Freeman's Azeem from the Costner vehicle Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

3) Jamie Dornan trying so hard that he's unintentionally hilarious. (And I don't mean in a Alan Rickman chew-the-scenery way either.)


CONS
1) The script's plot needed to tightened. Oh, Cthulu, does it need to be tightened.

2) Even my libtard snowflake tendencies couldn't handle the heavy-handed preaching aimed at modern culture: 1% overreaching, the Catholic Church's child abuse scandals, the treatment of POWs, government treatment of returning vets, etc.

3) Treating the Crusaders as a modern SEAL team.

4) I don't mind them not setting the story during the reign of Richard I of England, but for the love Thoth, don't mix so many incongruous temporal elements together. It just makes a mess.

5) Some chemistry between Robin and Marian would have been nice. Robin sleeping with his Muslim buddy would have made more sense in this flick.


This is one of those movies I had great hopes for. It stumbled, but didn't fall flat on its face the way Star Trek V: The Final Frontier or Happily Never After (the two movies by which I measure all badness) did. Save your money and watch Robin Hood when it hits cable next year.

Overall, I have to give Robin Hood 6 stars out of 10.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

One Last Time

This was one of the last videos Freddie Mercury made.


Friday, November 30, 2018

When the Muse Dangles the New Shiny

We writers have enough problems focusing on whatever we're currently writing. Invariably, our muses like to tempt us away from the current file/page with some awesome new idea.

The temptation often happens when we've hit a sagging middle, or worse, when we're near completion of the current work-in-progress. My muse is no different than any one else's.

So of course, I dream a story last story. I mean it's tons better than the nightmares that have plagued me for the last three months. But still, the last thing I need is another story when I've got a ton of partially finished manuscripts THAT I MUST FINISH! I mean, the readers have been patiently waiting for these stories for the months I've been dealing with my cancer.

What's worse is this idea is not even fantasy. It's a weird combination of This Is Us and A Million Little Things, two TV shows I don't even watch.

Normally, I write a page of any new idea, just to get it out of my head, before I return back to my wip. But this crazy idea isn't even in my wheelhouse! And worse, the muse cast the idea with several actors from the cast and guest stars of Friends as a further method to tempt me. And no, it wasn't funny, not funny at all, but the type of serious drama the other two shows I mentioned above would do.

And this idea will not leave me alone!

GAH! I wasn't joking when I've said my muse/subconscious was a bitch!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Perseverance

There must be something in the air this month. Kris Rusch blogged about it. Anton Strout talked about it with Sherrilyn Kenyon on his The Once & Future Podcast. And I've talked about it with other writer friends.

How do you keep going when you've hit a bad spot or a low in your writing career?

I'm not the only one who has had health issues this year. Some folks have had financial problems. Others have had family troubles. It's hard to concentrate on writing when your life is going to hell in a handbasket.

But to remain a writer or be a writer, you have to hang in there. You have to keep going. You have to persevere.

That's not to say you can't take a break. It's not any different than the yearlong leave I had to take from law school when DH was diagnosed with cancer. But you have to keep your eye on the prize. I knew I was going back to school as soon as DH was back to work, despite what a couple of my professors thought. You have to believe in yourself. In your skills. In your vision for your art.

It's real easy to get caught in the trap of comparing where you are and where other writers are. But as both Kris and Sherrilyn have pointed out, they've had their ups and downs. They've even had major downs after they both became bestsellers.

However, in any business, hell, even in life, there are cycles. No low is permanent. Neither is any high. But so many writers hit a low that is so bad, they think it will never end. They let the down kill their creative spark, and they quit writing. Or painting. Or playing their guitar.

That's where your determination has to kick in. You don't know how long a downturn will be.  You don't know when it will turn around. If you have the power to know this, please contact me. I'll front the money for a ticket and split the next Mega Millions jackpot with you.

In the meantime, I'll persevere and keep plugging away at my writing. I need to write fifty more books to catch up with Sherrilyn.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Needing a Day Off

NaNo is usually a major blast for me, but with the insanity of Thanksgiving last week, I've stumbled getting anything done. I realized I've been writing like crazy for the last four months, and despite loving my projects, I was on the edge of burn-out.

Since DH has this week off, I took off a day. We slept in, got some breakfast at Starbucks, and headed to the Lima mall. I'm not a mall person, but the Monday after Thanksgiving is usually pretty quiet. Today was no exception.

DH wanted some sweatpants, and I needed a couple of long-sleeve overshirts since the weather's finally getting colder here. I picked up some peppermint bath gel because the store at home only had lotion left. I raided Yankee Candle for holidays scents. At DH's eyeroll, I pointed out I hadn't been there in two years. And I bought him a Christmas Cookie-scented candle as a bribe.

Finally, we put in our pre-order for cinnamon rolls at Cinnabon for the holidays. Well, we also got a six-pack to take home today. Those rolls taste so good, but are so bad for you at the same time!

GK ordered a 32" TV for himself on Black Friday. It wasn't supposed to arrive until tomorrow, but apparently, USPS has its shit together. It arrived while we were out and about, so the postperson left the box with our complex manager.

Not long after we picked up the TV and unloaded the rest of the car, the UPS guy showed up with the books I ordered, which weren't supposed to be here until Wednesday.

I'm impressed the delivery people are on top of things this early in the season!

It's snowing, and we're settling in for the night (though I really should go out and walk off that Cinnabon I just ate). I'll make cheeseburgers and steamed veggies for dinner. We'll watch the Texans play the Titans.

It's been a necessary mental health day. I'll jump back into my imaginary worlds in the morning.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Holiday Madness!

It's the day before Thanksgiving here in the U.S. We have a bizarre relationship with holidays and family in the country. All the pressure and weirdness and lack of manners comes out, often causing problems with the people we claim we love the most.

Even though I publicly stated I have breast cancer on this blog a few months ago, I hadn't told anybody else beyond a close circle of friends. And DH's family can be...a little clueless.

Even though we've had dinner with the extended family more than once, they didn't notice I'm missing a body part. It's funny and a little sad at the same time.

Seriously, we had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant two weeks ago, and DH's youngest sister, aka Princess Cindy, tells me I can use her kitchen to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

No, she didn't ask. She stated.

Now, Princess Cindy and her husband have hosted many holiday events. I don't have a problem contributing, but I had no plans to cook this year. Not even for my own household. I'd already told DH I was playing the cancer card for the holidays this year.

So I told Princess Cindy I'd bring chicken tenders and a veggie tray from Kroger. (I love their deli section! So many delicious choices!) Since she was planning a game day (the family loves board games, and not the usual Hasbro ones), I said finger food would be the perfect accompaniment. We placed the order on the 15th.

And DH got text from her on that same day, asking again if I would cook.

I'm still not sure what's really going on. It wasn't like they are huge fans of the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, yadda, yadda, yadda. The in-laws' idea of Thanksgiving is ham loaf and a store-bought pie.

So guess what Princess Cindy did yesterday? She ordered a ham dinner and pie from a local restaurant.

We'll have more than enough to eat tomorrow, but if Cindy wanted ham, why did she ask me to cook? She knows I don't make typical holiday foods.

This is what I mean about pressure and weirdness. I though I'd escaped the psych games with my side of the family, but apparently, every family has them. Cest la vie!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Writing vs. Any Other Non-art Job

Dean Wesley Smith was on one of his rants two weeks ago about how writing should be fun. I don't disagree with his basic premise. What was weird was all the justifications from other writers for, well, doing something that makes them miserable.

One guy, because it's always a guy, said Americans have this wishful thinking that a job should make them happy and they need to find fulfillment in other aspects of their lives.

Here's the problem with that thinking--art is in the top half of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

If your writing helps or does fulfill the bottom half, then HUZZAH! That's awesome!

But when you're freaking out about the bottom half, you know, the stuff like food, shelter, clothing, etc., it can seriously fuck with the part of you that likes to create stories.

My observation doesn't apply to everyone. There's a lot of people who get a thrill out of balancing on the knife edge of survival.

But for the rest of the writers, there's no point in making yourself miserable to prove some bizarre point. There's no shame in working a day job either if that's necessary to provide food, clothing, etc.

To me, there's no sense killing the part of you that finds joy in writing. Especially since there's a ton of other, easier, ways to make money. And a lot more of it, too.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

My Favorite Movie Soundtrack

If we're not watching Highlander, then we have the soundtrack playing in the car.


Friday, November 16, 2018

Buying Other People's Plots

Okay, I admit it. I don't get people who can't come up with new ideas. I'm not trying to judge or preach. I simply can't comprehend it because I literally cannot shut off my own mind.

My husband can tell you when my story hamster is in her wheel.

But I meet or hear of so many other writers who can't seem to come up with story ideas. Maybe they are putting too much pressure on their hamster. Maybe they expect their hamsters to find the perfect story for them. Maybe they accidently killed their hamster.

So they turn to others to come up with story ideas for them. Maybe they turn to a critique partner. Maybe they buy an app like the Story Plot Generator from the Microsoft Store. Maybe they take a writing course on plotting or buy a how-to book.

But then there are the underground places where someone will sell you an outline for a novel.

Is this a good plan?

It really depends. Why are you doing it? Are you trying to jump start your hamster? Or is your hamster perfectly fine, but you don't trust it to win the race?

Here's the bigger problem, as I see it. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but if you're buying an idea from someone else, I can guarantee you'll pay more than ten cents for even one story idea/outline. Would that money be better spent on cover art, editing or formatting?

But the core of if the problem is something most writers don't consider. It's not the idea itself that gets people to buy your books. It's the execution.

Are you making your reader feel the feels? Or are you doing some paint by number schtick?

What made Harry Potter work when there are thousands of orphan books and boarding school books and magic books?

If you say it's that particular combination of subject matter, I'd say think again. Siegel and Shuster did it with Superman decades before J.K. Rowling. The creators made both Clark and Harry relatable while giving them fantastic powers.

So why would  a reader care about characters that you didn't care enough to invent them?

Or are you using someone else's ideas to insulate yourself from disappointment?

I get how rejection feels. The bad reviews. The low sales. If the idea you bought fails, well, it isn't you fault, is it? It had to be the fault of the person who sold you the outline.

Whether or not you use an plot outline you bought from someone else is totally your decision. But please know yourself well enough to figure out why you're doing it instead of coming up with your own ideas. In the end, I think you best bet as a writer is trusting your own hamster.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Let It Snow!

I'm a little late today, and I didn't write too many posts last week, because I'm trying to finish reviewing the print proof of Sacrificed. That's in addition to working on my NaNo project.

Tomorrow should be a good writing day. We're expecting more snow.

Yep, more snow. It's one reason DH and I love working from home. No more commutes. Not through heavy traffic. Not through inclement weather.

The storm has just reached the outskirts of Cincinnati in its roll north. We should be getting flakes around three in the morning.

So tonight, I'll make sure everything's charged and ready to go in the morning. We have plenty of coffee and tea. And I'll charge ahead on my wip!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Bohemian Rhapsody

If you love Queen, you'll probably love this docudrama. If you're a nitpicky fact Nazi, you won't. The writers rearranged the timeline a bit for dramatic effect. And the rearrangement was with Brian May and Roger Taylor's blessing since they were executive producers of the flick, so part of me wonders how much was truly changed. The band was incredibly private about their personal affairs. It's entirely possible Freddie knew he was HIV positive prior to the Live Aid concert and had told the rest of the band.

But any rearrangement of the timeline doesn't take away from the band's, or Freddie Mercury's, history. It gives equitable treatment of the four members' contributions to their musical legacy.

This movie really doesn't qualify for a SPOILERS warning any more than Titanic does. (Hint: The ship sank.) The guys obviously wanted a tribute to their friend at the height of his career, so the movie ends with Queen's performance at Live Aid in 1985. But I will give you a list of my favorite parts:

1) Rami Malik owned the part of Freddie Mercury. I'll be very upset of he doesn't get an Oscar nod in a couple of months.

2) Gylim Lee captured Brian May's bemusement with his friend's antics perfectly.

3) The story doesn't shy away from the infighting that occurred between the four guys, especially between Roger and Freddie.

4) The best line? "This band only needs one hysterical queen."

5) The new tidbit I learned? John Deacon has an electrical engineering degree.

6) The recreation of some of Freddie's most iconic stage outfits.

7) Dexter Fletcher, who actually directed the film after Bryan Singer's firing, and the actors did a marvelous job of acknowledging the faults of the men without glorifying them.

8) Second best line? "If you think six minutes is long, I pity your wife."

9) They acknowledge of the importance of Mary Austin and Jim Hutton in Freddie's life.

10) THE MUSIC!!

This is one of those rare movies I want to see again in the theater before it's run is finished. Overall, I give it 11 stars out of 10!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

This One Makes Me Hungry

Want some mashed potatoes and gravy with that fried chicken?


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Ah, Memories!

November will be Queen month in honor of the release of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. This was the first Queen song I heard. We chanted it on the school bus at the top of our lungs.


Friday, November 2, 2018

NaNoWriMo Has Started!

National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo or NaNo if you need to go even shorter, started yesterday.

I stocked up on chocolate and caffeine. I had my fun project ready to go. And I hit the ground...

...kind of crawling. I overslept thanks to the dark, rainy day. I had to do some transferring of funds because GK found his dream car at the dealership down the road. There was paperwork to do, and we still need to contact our insurance agent this morning.

However, I did get words down in the midst of the chaos. And I'm going to keep ploughing through. I have to admit this is the first book I've started since all the testing and treatment for cancer, and I'm not sure how it will change my voice.

But for now, I'm going to have some fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Samhain!

The Celtic new year starts tomorrow! Everybody scream!


Monday, October 29, 2018

Catching Up on the Backlog

I received the print proofs of Sacrificed and A Modicum of Truth shortly before the Easter holidays. In fact, I took them with me on the road trip to Nashville and started going through them while GK drove.

Unfortunately, I didn't get them finished before everything hit the fan the following week. So guess what I'm trying to finish before NaNoWriMo starts on Thursday?

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my formatter can fix the few typos I found, and I can get these two volumes ordered before our library's Local Author Book Signing on November 10th. If I can't, well, there's always next year!

* * *

Something else to keep in mind, the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Trust will be discontinuing both print and e-book edition of volumes 22 thru 27 of the Sword and Sorceress anthologies, according to their most recent newsletter.

If you want copies before they disappear, you'll want to order them well before December 28th!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Breaking Down Copyrights

After our conversation about my literary estate earlier this week, Genius Kid came home from work Wednesday evening, plopped down on his dad's recliner after getting a snack and a drink, and quizzed me about copyright with the intensity of a law school professor.

Apparently, he'd taken my concerns about handling my literary estate to heart. He came up with a lot more questions and scenarios than most of my fellow writers. It had never occurred to him I was working instead of just messing around on my computer.

Or that people wanted to pay for and read my work. Like Leslie, our apartment complex manager, who is currently reading Blood Magick and claims she's loving it.

So he asked about all the different breakdowns of rights. How there may be rights that don't exist yet. Why movie and television rights were two different things and not interchangeable. What happens if someone tries to grab more rights than what I have licensed to them. How George Lucas earned hundreds of millions of dollars by holding onto licensing for Star Wars toys, comics, t-shirts, etc.

Coincidentally, Kris Rusch posted about Copyright Savvy a few hours later. She went even further in depth about how Jimmy Buffet turned "Margaritaville" into a lifestyle and vacation brand.

There are a lot of folks who say indies can't or won't exploit their IP. Except that same statement also applies to agents and trad publishing. They sit on rights, don't pursue any licensing, and ignore many potential offers  unless they think it's worth their time.

I want to exploit my rights. And if GK is interested in the family business, this could be an excellent entrepreneurial experience for both of us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Why Writers Need Estate Planning

Genius Kid has his first job. He's got definite plans for his money, one of which is investing it so he doesn't have to fret about income down the line. So during a discussion concerning passive income, I asked both DH and GK if they wanted to manage my intellectual property once I died, or if I needed to find someone to manage it for them.

GK's immediate response was that I was obsessed with death. To which I replied, "I was a probate and estate planning attorney. I know how fucked up things can get if you don't plan things ahead of time."

You see, if I died today, the copyright on my works would end in 2088. That's right. My son would be older than both of his grandfathers when ALL my copyrights expire and still potentially collecting income on the stories.

Despite my own body's efforts to kill me, I could potentially live for another twenty to forty years. If I do, my copyright will continue well into the 22nd century. You know, about the time Jonathan Archer would be born if he were real.

This is what is meant by the long-tail. I'm still reading books written over a century ago. The odds are someone will be reading my work a century from now.

Fictional life will continue long after you're gone. It's something to think about if you're a writer. Your work has more value than you realize.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Real Life Intrudes

Darling Husband had planned to take today off and escort his dad to a doctor's appointment, Circumstances necessitated FIL seeing the doctor a few weeks earlier, so DH had what he thought was a free day.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I'd like to point out HE'S the one who put together the list of errands for us to do.

So while he put the battery charger on the '98 in order for us to take it to our mechanic later, checked for new seats for the '98 at the local junk yard, and bought breakfast for us, I was still dreaming I was one of the Doctor's companions and trying to solve a plot against him/her with a few other companions.

(Considering I've been plagued with nightmares for the last several weeks, it was a good dream, and I'll take it!)

After breakfast and showers, we headed over to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Both cars need their registrations renewed before the end of the month. Also, I needed to renew my driver license, which with the new, extensive checks to keep so-called "bad people" from doing "bad things" meant I had to show my birth certificate, Social Security Card, marriage license, and two items mailed within the last thirty days with my current address. Okay, it wasn't just me. All of us had to produce a ton of documentation, which meant it was taking longer than normal because after the first clerk went through everything, a second had to repeat the process.

Just in case any of us bribed the first clerk. *eyeroll*

Then after a side-trip home to grab the prescription, we were off to the vision center to order DH's new glasses. Glasses are a very important accessory and fashion statement. However, I couldn't talk him into the pair that were in Seattle Seahawk colors. LOL

After the steel-rimmed glasses with red-orange accents were ordered and paid for, we headed down the street to Jo-Ann Fabrics. Now that Genius Kid is a welder for a living, I need to patch some holes in his jeans. All I can say is steel and embers are rough on clothing.

Finally, we had a chance to grab some lunch...

Only to have the FIL call. He was having problems with his internet access.

But we had to get the '98 over to the mechanic's before five, so first, we headed back to the garage. The car started, but the two front tires were low. We dug out the portable air compressor and filled the tires, and we were finally on our way to the mechanic's.

Of course, their office manager had to tell use about her trip to Vegas (she's the only person I've met who loves Barry Manilow more than me) and show us pictures.

We had to swing back to the garage because DH left his Pepsi from lunch there (we were both pretty thirsty at this point, and I wasn't sharing my ice tea). And we finally made it back to the FIL's apartment. DH isn't sure why, but the FIL's Roku drops his own internet and wants to connect with the complex's open wi-fi. So DH got the Roku reset, wrote down direction for the FIL in case it happens again, and loaded more books for the FIL on his Kindle.

We finally walk into our apartment to be greeted with "Where have you been? What's for dinner?" from GK.

Needless to say (1) we ordered pizza, and (2) I have no writing to my name yet today.

So I have my feet up, a couple of cold drinks, and some peace and quiet. The real question is how many words can I get done before I fall asleep in my recliner.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Proofing the Proofs

Last week was spent getting ready for the writing workshop at our local library. This week I buckled down to go through the paperback proof copies of A Modicum of Truth and Sacrificed.

The e-books were published way back in February and March of this year. I'd ordered the paperback proof copies and took AMoT with me on our Easter trip to Nashville. I even managed to get through the first 100 pages while Genius Kid drove.

When we got back from Nashville, I turned on the afterburners to finish the first draft of Hero De Facto. It was done on April 16th. However, the next day was my first biopsy. The paperback proofs got shoved to the corner of my desk and were subsequently buried under a  mound of medical records, cancer literature, and doctors' bills.

I'm slowly but surely getting things taken care of and paperwork filed. But with CreateSpace's upcoming merger with KDP Print, I want to get these paperbacks finalized before the switchover, which could be any time now.

So I pulled them out of the pile and started reading through them.

And now I really want to write the next books in each series. LOL

Monday, October 15, 2018

Silence in the Writing Process

I don't talk too much about my actual writing process, i.e. the stuff that goes on inside my head while I'm writing.

I've been accused of not wanting to share my secret sauce. Believe me, there isn't any sauce, secret or otherwise. Unless you count my Pepsi Max addiction.

I've been accused of thinking my process is SPECHUL!! No, it's not. At least, not any more than any other person's.

Nope, my problem is I'm very self-conscious. To me, showing someone the writing before the work is close to completion is like asking them to eat the raw eggs, flour, etc. before I made the cake. Pretty gross, right?

And then, comes the well-meaning suggestions. Instead of making chocolate cake, make a spice one. You know half-vanilla and half-almond extract is how the big bakeries make their cakes so tasty. No one is going to eat it if you put cherries in it!

So if I want my chocolate-cherry cake with white fudge icing (or my book) to stand on its own, I need to complete it before I let anyone have a taste.

"But Suzan!" I can hear you say. "You post early chapter on your website all the time before the book is finished."

I'm also not above letting people lick the bowl and beaters after the cake pans are popped in the oven. A taste of raw cake batter isn't going to hurt anyone, but no one eats more than a couple of spoonfuls because it wouldn't sit well in your stomach.

Same with my stories. I don't mind giving a taste. It makes people want to devour the book even more when it comes out of the oven.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Writing Workshop

For those of you in the vicinity of Findlay, Ohio, I will be at the Findlay-Hancock County Library on Thursday, October 11th, to teach a workshop called The Write Stuff: Creating a Business Plan for Your Writing. The workshop runs from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The World Is Changing and Not Changing at the Same Time

There were a bunch of events that happened this weekend. Some have people in an uproar while others seem to have traveled under the public's radar.

Actress/ rapper Awkwafina hosted Saturday Night Live. It was only the second time a Asian-American woman has hosted in the forty-three-year history of the show. For once, there were no awkward sketches concerning Asian-American stereotypes. The closest was Awkwafina's monologue where she admitted her father had an accent, the same Queens accent as Trump.

Then there was Kavanaugh. People act like this is the first hotly contested Supreme Court nomination, but some of us remember Bork and Thomas's nomination hearings. But deep down, he's just another white guy, and a lot of white guys seem to fear the way the world is changing.

Less than twenty-four hours after Awkwafina's hosting and Kavanaugh's swearing in, Jodie Whittaker's first episode of Doctor Who aired in BBC's world-wide simulcast. Since her casting was announced over a year ago, the protests by certain factions of fans center around that idea the Doctor has always been a white male. Yet, during Peter Capaldi's three seasons as the Twelfth Doctor, the show took a chance and had the Master regenerate as a woman. Michelle Gomez was a delight as Missy, short for the Mistress.

Despite the protests over Whittaker's casting, the BBC pulled in the highest ratings (9 million viewers) for the show since Christopher Eccleston's first appearance as the Doctor (9.9 million).

So what does this all mean?

Saturday Night Live, the U.S. Supreme Court, and Doctor Who all still exist. The universe hasn't imploded. Babies are still being born.

Change will come, is coming, has always come. The only thing we can really control in life is being kind to each other.


==========
I've closed comments because there's still a lot of heated feelings about this past weekend's events.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

Busy, Busy Busy!

Nope, still no new-to-me movies this week.

The network fall TV season began last week, so it's been a bittersweet start of good-bye to The Big Bang Theory. I was a bit curious about the new Magnum P.I. It may be interesting once Justin Lin gets out of the way. DH and I have given up on Lethal Weapon, thanks to last season's fight between the local Fox station and our cable provider. Murphy Brown, Mom, and SWAT are still on the DVR, waiting.

The Conners and Supernatural don't start until next week, and we'll have to wait until December for new episodes of The Orville. Netflix picked up Lucifer, but new episodes won't come out until sometime next year.

In the meantime, it's October 1st. The first day of the last quarter of the fiscal and Gregorian calendar year!

I've been exercising and writing. I want to have the first draft of Hero De Novo wrapped up by the end of October because I'm leaning toward using A Matter of Death as my NaNoWriMo project this year. I worked on it a little bit when I got stuck on HDN a couple of weeks ago, and the bug has struck again.

And yesterday while watching the Texans beat the Colts, I wrote the first draft of a student worksheet for a workshop I'll be teaching at the Findlay Public Library on October 11th at 6:30 p.m. entitled "The Write Stuff: Creating a Business Plan for Your Writing".

For more information on the class, go to the Findlay Public Library Calendar.

Preparing for this class has made me review and update my own business plan. You know, the one that was shot to hell this spring with my cancer diagnosis. But I'm healthy and feeling pretty damn good, so BRING ON DA WERDZ!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hitting the Stratosphere Can Suck

During an interview on a late night talk show, Matt Damon told a story. His friend Brad Pitt told Matt he hated him because Matt could take his kids to a public school like any other parent in the U.S. Meanwhile, Brad had to deal with a ton of paparazzi following him and his kids everywhere, and he didn't have any real choice about putting his children into private schools.

I'm starting to see the same types of issues with author friends and acquaintances. Not that paparazzi follows writers around, but your problems change at a certain level of success.

Whereas some writers are making a living, and by living I mean they can pay for a roof over their heads, food on the table, and clothes on their kids backs, others can have their private yacht custom built a la Hugh Howey. This level of money starts a cascade of new problems.

First and foremost is raw professional jealousy from your friends. I've been accused of it, and I've seen it in attitudes aimed toward me. Those people generally don't remain friends for long.

It's a little sad to lose people from your life over something like this. I've been helped by a lot of people. There are some who expected me to kiss their ass forever. There are those who get furious if I exceeded their success. And there are those who have told me to pay it forward to new writers. I really try to emulate that last group.

Then there's family and other relationships, both people you currently hang out with and those you've lost contact with over the years. Funny how these people come crawling out of the woodwork when they hear of your good fortune, often with their hands outstretched for gifts. When you don't give them those gifts they think they deserve, they turn on you.

Or you're back to the same old jealousy issue. Nothing like your mother making snide comments about your spending.

So you start pruning the toxic relationships. The more successful you are, the more you have to prune, and the more isolated you can feel.

On the other hand, you find you need to censor yourself when you're the successful one. How can you talk about the pros and cons of a Boeing jet versus a Cessna jet when your buddy is trying to scrape together the cash to get the transmission replaced on her only car. Then you feel like a fake.

Deep down, I think that's the real fear for most writers. It's not the fear of failure. It's the fear of success.

Success changes everything. The struggle to achieve is easier to deal with than reaching that goal. Because once you reach that goal, you expect things to change.

And we humans hate change with a passion that cannot be matched.

It may sound like I'm blaming the victim, but I've watched a lot of writers sabotage themselves. Hell, I've done it to myself. Because I've already had success in other areas of my life, and I've seen what happens.

Success is lonely. We can't talk about it without setting people off. And next to change, we hate loneliness most of all.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Yes! I Write My Own Damn Posts!

I don't know who my accuser is, but lately, someone has been scanning my blog posts with PlagScan. I don't know if someone thinks I'm stealing from them or what.

If I talk about another blogger or article, I normally post a link to the original piece.

If I don't have a link, I list an attribution.

If I don't list an attribution, I state a reason why. Generally, it involves a bad actor, and I don't want to give the jackass any more attention. But hey, I generally leave enough clues for you to find the idiot if you really want to.

So to whoever is checking on me, quit it! You're fucking with my stats. You didn't find anything with the first three hundred posts. You're not going to find anything in the other 1500+ posts.

But hey, if you feel the need to check, speed it up! You're annoying me.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Happy 90th Anniversary, Disney!

Yes, I will be posting my favorite Disney tunes from now until Halloween!

Hakuna Matata!


Friday, September 21, 2018

The Implosion of KBoards

If you're an indie writer and haven't heard the news about KBoards, well, go back to your writing. Trust me, you're in a better place.

For the rest of us, I can't even call the KBoards fiasco a train wreck. No, it's more akin to watching a sun swallowed itself to become a black hole.

It comes down to a typical solution by Mom&Pop shops when the original founder leaves the business for whatever reason. The gentleman who originally founded Kboards passed away. His spouse and children had no interest in continuing his work.

And let's be frank, running ANY forum is a huge, thankless job.

So the family decided to sell KBoards to a company call VerticalScope (VS), which is a division of Torstar. You might remember Torstar as the former parent of Harlequin Publishing. You know, the same Harlequin that ended up in a huge lawsuit for screwing writers out of money.

Now, if I were a suspicious person, or someone who wrote thrillers, I would think that Torstar was behind the buyout because indies seriously screwed up Harlequin's profits in the romance genre. You got to remember Harlequin was Torstar's main bread-and-butter for years until they sold the Harlequin division to HarperCollins in 2014.

Alas, the real answer is far more sleazy and less personal. VS specializes in buying forums for their SEO, drives away the users, and slaps a shit-ton of ads on the website to generate revenue. They inserted a TOS that alarmed many of the writers who use KBoards to share publishing information with some terms that allegedly claimed rights to the content they posted, including covers and excerpts.

Matters weren't helped when someone from VS named Helena jumped on and did absolutely nothing to calm the situation or answer questions. The flame war quickly became a five-alarm dumpster fire with the unpaid moderators caught in the middle when Helena accused anyone questioning VS procedures of being trolls.

Writers tried to remove content only to find out they couldn't. However, they could modify their posts. The Writers Café on KBoards now looks like a ghost town.

I'm not linking to KBoards because I honestly don't want to giver VS the clicks. But y'all can find it if you wish. Writers are already making alternate arrangements for online gathering places.

I'm a little sad that so much research and knowledge is disappearing, but it's more from a historical perspective. As someone on KBoards said, things are changing so fast in publishing that many past insights are no longer relevant.

So, goodbye KBoards! You did not go quietly into that good night.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Drifting Like the Leaves

It's been a rather bizarre week. I'm a little stuck on Book 3 of 888-555-HEROES. When that happens, it means Subconscious is working on something in the background that will click together when she's damn good and ready.

The story already took a turn I wasn't expecting, but that is usually a good thing. I like it when Subconscious surprises even me. It means (hopefully *fingers crossed*) that the story will surprise the reader as well.

In the meantime, I do what I usually do--jump back to another project. I started writing A Touch of Mother, which will be the fourth novel in the Justice series. The opening of the first scene was a little mushy for a Justice novel, so I scrapped the original 300+ words and started over. Yes, folks, you CAN do that.

But it also shows how much further along Subconscious is in the writing process than I realized. In the first version of AToM, I knew the wardens weren't letting the clergy out of their sight for a moment. This was long before I wrote the reason WHY in A Modicum of Truth.

Funny how the mind works sometimes.

Today, I'm back working on A Matter of Death. There's more than a few things that need to be ironed out before I continue on with Book 4.

The goal of course is to have a book out every month for the first eight months of 2019. Keeping my toes crossed that nothing else untoward happens for the next year!

Monday, September 17, 2018

No Movies?!

Nope, no new (to me) movie reviews this week. I've been trying to catch up on my summer shows before the fall TV season starts in between writing sessions.

Over the weekend, a friend and I were lamenting over the dearth of movies we like in the fall season. I miss the paranormal action flicks like Underworld. He wondered why no hard science fiction movies were coming out, a la Interstellar or Gravity.

The only thing remotely interesting to me before the holiday blockbuster season launches is The Predator, yet another reboot. My desire to see it stems from the cast. Sterling K. Brown can do no wrong in my opinion. Though most people know him from This Is Us, he will always be Gordon Walker, the misguided, doomed hunter from Supernatural.

Is anybody else feeling like everything is a rehash? Is there some new flick you're looking forward to between now and November?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Kid Earworms

I think I like this better than Barney!


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

No More Superman?

Apparently chaos still reigns at Warner Brothers Studios. Any sequel to the Superman solo movie Man of Steel has been put on hold.

The reason why Marvel is blowing their competition out of the water is simple--one person, i.e. Kevin Feige, is the sole visionary behind the company's success. It's huge, stressful job. One I do not envy.

But by keeping to a singular vision, Marvel's quality has been consistent while giving individual directors creative leeway, and the studio keeps raking in the dough.

On the other hand, Warner Brothers' efforts in creating the DCEU aren't working as well as they would like. Why? Two reasons: too many cooks in the production room and Zack Snyder's dark nihilistic vision of characters that Gen X parents remember best from the Superfriends cartoon series and Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-Zack Snyder. Sucker Punch is one of my favorite movies. But he wasn't the person to launch the DCEU.

As much as I dislike Man of Steel, Henry Caville has grown on me as Superman, kind of like that huge caterpillar under his nose that had to be CGI'd out of Justice League. I was hoping to see him as the Big Blue Boy Scout one more time.

And I'm doubly sad that Warner Brothers can do such a great job with their animated movies and their TV series, but can't get their shit together with their live action movies. DC has a long and storied history. It's a shame their owners are unable to respect that.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Another movie we caught on an HBO free weekend was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This isn't one we wanted to see in the theater. In fact, we all agreed it would probably be disappointing compared to J.K. Rowling's original Harry Potter series.

We were so very wrong.

Since this movie was released nearly two years ago, I'm skipping my usual SPOILERS warning.

First, I should have researched this film more before passing judgment while it was still in the theaters. Rowling wrote both the story and screenplay, a fact I didn't bother to learn. As the Wizarding World's creator, she knows it better than anyone. We all assumed the film was a cash-grab by Warner Bros.

Second, I should have trusted Eddie Redmayne's choice of taking the role of Newt Scamander. Whatever you say about Eddie, you can never say his acting is boring. Hell, his character was one of the few interesting things about Jupiter Ascending.

The story is based on the adventures Newt has while writing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a magizoology textbook used at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter series. The dark wizard Grindelwald, a character mentioned as a former friend turned foe of Hogwart's headmaster Albus Dunbledore, is also introduced in this film.

The movie is set in 1927 New York City, where Newt is passing through on his way to Arizona. It gives fans their first glimpse of magical life in the United States. Let's just say the story accurately reflects America's segregationist policies and attitudes toward mental illness, and the image isn't pretty. However, Rowling does revelations in such a way that it won't scare the bejeesus out of the little kids even as it disturbs the hell out of the adults.

Overall, the deeper themes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them shows Rowling's growth as a writer while at the same time, it mimics the charm of the Harry Potter stories. We're definitely looking forward to the sequel this Christmas!

I give it 10 stars out of 10.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Discord Is Music Too

Something to contemplate over the weekend.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Amazon Took Scammer to Court and Won!

If the recent account banning didn't stun scammers, maybe Amazon's lawsuit will make them think twice.

Last year, Amazon filed five arbitration demands against various people, accusing them of fraudulent behavior in the KDP biosphere. Such behaviors include fake reviews, paid reviews, fake accounts, and click-farming.

Amazon is usually rather quiet in its legal dealings, but last week, they filed a petition to confirm an arbitration award. They accused Thomas Glenn of manipulating book rankings through his marketing service. Glenn, a resident of the Dominican Republic, never answered the original claims against him, not did he appear at the arbitration proceedings.

What does this mean to Average Jane Writer?

First of all, don't buy reviews. Don't use click farms to increase page reads. Don't gift thousands of books in an attempt to hit some bestseller list.

Be very, VERY careful if you hire any outside marketing person or company. Ask questions of the people/company you're considering. Ask a LOT of questions. If they get pissy with you or refuse to answer your questions or give you bullshit answers, don't walk away. RUN!

Or as one of Sheldon's previous roommates said, "Run far. Run fast."

And if you do decide to do one of these things, ask yourself if it's worth losing your Amazon account or your writing career.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Flickers of Flame and Color

August in publishing and book retailing is generally pretty quiet. New York publishing notoriously shuts down for the month as folks head for the Hamptons if they can afford it, or try to find a cool breeze if they can't. Readers already have their last vacation reads or are dealing with kids going back to school, so sales slump.

September though...

September is when the trad publishers launch their big book/Christmas gift full-court press. Usually, they wait until after Labor Day, but not this year.

Libbie Hawker, writing as Olivia Hawker, had her fall release The Ragged Edge of Night moved up to September 1st. She's an adorable person who  writes historical fiction (I've raved about her Hatshepsut series before). This is a tale of loss, love, and sacrifice during WWII. It's an awesome read!




As an indie, I normally don't publish a whole lot during the fall months. Well, except for October, but that's more my ego concerning my birthday month. LOL

But generally speaking, I find my books get lost in the noise of the New Hallowthanksmas (a phrase coined by my former Hallmark co-workers in Houston) season. So no more publishing for 2018. Instead, I'll be writing and editing in order to hit the ground running in 2019.

And for once this year, I'm happy to be making a publishing decision based on business and not my health!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - The Hateful Eight

First of all, let me say I'm a Quentin Tarantino fan. If you find him and/or his work offensive, you might want to leave my blog now.

The Hateful Eight came out during the insanity of 2015, so it took me a while to see it. Once again, I had to rely on an HBO weekend to see something I really wanted to see in the theater. FYI--this review is for the general release version, not the roadshow version.

Since this came out nearly three years ago, I won't give my usual SPOILERS warning.

Once again, no one is totally innocent in Tarantino's story. I wouldn't expect anything otherwise. But he normally gives us something redeeming about one or two characters.

This time however, no one has any redeeming features. These are a bunch of bad people trapped in a stagecoach stop in the middle of a blizzard. They proceed to prove just how bad they are.

But in typical Tarantino fashion, the surface is stripped away to display what's underneath, and in every case, it's a weird blend of righteousness and ugliness. Sheriff Mannix, whose father was a Lost Causer fighting long after the end of the Civil War, and Major Warren, a bounty hunter who had been a Union cavalryman, end up partners at the end in an effort to save their own lives.

One thing I loved about the movie was the treatment of accused murderer Daisy Domergue. It was refreshing to see a woman treated just as a man would have been in the same situation. She remains fully clothed. She's never sexualized, nor is it even hinted. Her brother is coming to rescue her, a la many a Bonanza episode in this type of hostage western storyline. Everyone asks each other what he thinks of hanging a woman versus a man. All the men, except her brother, merely shrugs and says it makes no difference to them since she's a killer.

All-in-all, the other characters treat her like one of the boys.

I think my disappointment lies in that only Daisy's brother Jody had a remotely noble goal. Generally, Tarantino gives us one or two characters whose goals the viewer can empathize with, even if they perform some heinous acts. In this case, no one gets out of the movie alive.

Frankly, I'm not sure why Tarantino made this story a movie. The Hateful Eight could have easily been a stage play since most of the action takes place in the snowbound station. It's not my favorite Tarantino movie, but it has an understandable end, similar to Se7en.

Overall, I give The Hateful Eight 7 stars out of 10.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

A haunting song that has been used most recently on Marvel's Cloak and Dagger series...


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

CreateSpace Is Shutting Down

I know I've been kind of quiet lately.

First of all, everything's fine. The new drug regimen hasn't been a problem, other than a couple of odd side effects. My taste buds have definitely changed. Salt seems unnaturally amplified, so I'm using even less than usual in cooking. Sweets similarly have an unusual punch. I can manage five or six grapes before it feels like I'm swallowing an entire cup of sugar. Other foods I love have an off taste, like fresh steamed broccoli or pepperoni pizza.

So while I work on finding healthy foods that don't taste weird and exercising, I've been writing my ass off. I finished the first draft of Hero Ad Hoc two and a half weeks ago and jumped right into Hero De Novo.  I hit the twenty percent mark last night.

What does any of this have to do with CreateSpace?

Well, my forward momentum on writing will have to come to a grinding halt. Amazon is folding Create Space into KDP Print. From the notice on the KDP website, CreateSpace will shut down in a few weeks. That could mean the end of this month or the end of December. There's not  a definite date on the page.

It also means I need to shift my print books from one website to the other.

The bigger problem is that I'm partway through the process of two paperbacks going live.

I had received the proof copies of A Modicum of Truth and Sacrificed shortly before Easter. I think I was fifty pages into AMoT before the stuff hit the cancer fan, so they are both sitting on my desk, waiting for me. I planned to pick them up again once I finished all three first drafts of the 888-555-HERO completed.

Alas, I need to rearrange my schedule yet again.

So I will continue to work on the current wip while I peruse the directions for transferring this week. Then I'll have to spend the holiday weekend proofing and typing up my notes of changes for my formatter.

Then it's crossing my fingers that I can get everything done before Amazon pulls the trigger.

So why don't I go with Lightning Source/IngramSpark instead of Amazon?

Because LS/IS charges $49 simply to upload your book to their program. I have twelve paperbacks--so far. I'd rather spend that $600 on formatting and covers than simply making my paperbacks available to other retailers.

I know there' some folks wondering why I even bother with print copies. Ironically, the Justice series is being stocked in a few independent bookstores. I want to do everything I can to encourage indie bookstores to stock indie authors. If that means I need to drop everything to finish a print book project, then by gum, I'll do it!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Christopher Robin

Our family loves Winnie the Pooh. I still have my old Pooh Bear (now over fifty years old). Genius Kid still has the Pooh Bear Darling Husband bought when we found out I was pregnant. We still have the VHS and DVD animated movies from GK's toddler years. The Pooh cake pan mold. The extra Poohs GK bought with his Christmas money so his original Pooh wouldn't be alone.

All right, I'll stop, but you get the idea.

I was half-afraid Christopher Robin would be about an adult Christopher Robin going off his rocker and seeing his imaginary friends, but this is Disney, so I shouldn't have been worried.


* * *


SPOILERS


* * *


PROS
1) Christopher Robin is a sweet portal fantasy. Pooh needs Christopher Robin's help when the rest of their friends go missing. And in the process, Pooh ends up repairing the relationships among the Robin family.

2) Haley Atwell as Christopher Robin's wife Evelyn was wonderful as the skeptic who quickly takes the side of Pooh and friends when she realizes it's all real.

3)Bronte Carmichael is adorable as Madeleine, Christopher and Evelyn's daughter. Her performance never went into the saccharine area.

4) Ewan MacGregor was pitch perfect as the adult Christopher. The guy does not get enough credit, considering the first thing I ever saw him in was Shallow Grave back in the early '90's.

5) OMG! The entire voice cast for the citizens of the 100 Acre Wood! They captured the essence without imitating the cast from the original Pooh animated movies.


CONS
1) Can't think of a damn one. The story hit the right gentle humor beats for a Pooh story, the cast was superb, and it was nice having an adventure with some old friends.


Overall, Christopher Robin hit a perfect 10 stars out of 10.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - I Am Paul Walker

PaulWalkerEdit-1
Andre Luis (CC BY-SA 3.0)
I don't normally mention TV series or TV movies, but I strongly recommend watching Paramount Network's latest edition of their I AM series, I Am Paul Walker.

As DH said, it was more interesting for who DIDN'T participate on camera, who couldn't hold it together (let's just say the Walker women are damn strong in the face of tragedy), and how much charity work Paul did that no one knew about.

It's a sad and uplifting story of a man who definitely tried to live up to his ideals.

If you don't get the Paramount Network on your television service provider, Paramount will give you a twenty-four-hour pass to view programs on their website.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Lady Can Sing

Both Carole's writing and Aretha's performance show how classy these ladies are.


Friday, August 17, 2018

RIP Aretha Franklin

She was called the Queen of Soul for a reason, but it was her sassier songs that I loved.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Imagination!

Back when Genius Kid was  a sprout, he was obsessed with SpongeBob Squarepants. I often cuddled and watched with him, or I watched from the kitchen while I was making dinner and GK was playing in the family room. I can go on a whole speech about why parents need to pay attention to their kids' entertainment, but that's not quite the point of this.


My favorite episode is when SqongeBob and his best friend Patrick find a large box and start playing. In their minds, the box becomes several different things, including a spaceship. SpongeBob's neighbor Squidward mocks the guys for their childish behavior.

Until Squidward hears unusual sounds coming from the box like the engines of a rocket.

Therein lies the problem of most writers when they say they don't have any ideas. Those writers have forgotten how to play. They've forgotten how to make up stories in their head.

When I was a kid, we did all sorts of things. My Barbies became paratroopers (using old baby blankets as parachutes) sent in to save my brother's GI Joe and Steve Austin when their mission in Eastern Europe went wrong. Or a shoe box became their deep sea research vessel. Or our swing set became our own space ship with a baby activity board as the control panel.

If you're stuck, play with your kids a bit. Let them guide you in finding your imagination.

If you don't have kids, go to a park, a store, a café--anywhere you can sit and observe people. Watch them interact. Make up little stories in your head about what they are doing and why.

Let your rainbow come out and see what happens. You may surprise yourself.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - The Meg

After the incredibly stressful spring and summer I've had, I really, truly needed a paint-by-the-numbers, fun Saturday matinee movie, and The Meg delivered.

Even though this movie was just released, there's not a lot of surprises, so I'm not giving my usual SPOILERS warning.

You're going to know who dies and who lives. There's plenty of Jason half-naked beefcake scenes. There's the adorable kid who believes in our hero. Not a whole lot of smoochies between our hero and his co-star because this is a Chinese coproduction, but lots of megalodon-related jump scares.

And of course, our hero saves the adorable Yorkie swimming for her life in the trailers from the giant shark.

Like I said, just a damn fun popcorn movie.

Overall, I give The Meg 10 stars out of 10 for not pretending to be anything thing other than a damn enjoyable B movie.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

When Regular Karaoke Just Won't Do

Sir Mix-a-lot's anthem to curvy girls is nearly thirty. The Lion King is not that far behind. But, both get the Ned Stark treatment in this rendition of Carpool Karaoke.


Friday, August 10, 2018

And the Beat Goes On...

Things are starting to get back to a semblance of normal at Chez Harden. I've been trying very hard to finish up the first draft of Hero Ad Hoc this week.

Last night, I blew past the original 80K target. However, the story is in its denouement, that last bit of wrapping up the plot threads except the dangling two that lead to the next novel.

Since this is the middle of a trilogy, it appears as if everything my heroes worked for is lost. It also means I'm ready to jump in the last book with both feet. With all the craziness in the world and in my own life this year, I need that happy ending more than ever.