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.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Teen Titans GO! to the Movies

The Titans (Teen and otherwise) have gotten short shrift by the live-action movie division of Warner Brothers' DCEU.

Well, other than the fact they stole Cyborg from the Titans and shoved him into the Justice League, where he doesn't fit. Quite frankly, Victor Stone needs Changling (er, Beast Boy) and Nightwing (uh, Robin) to play off of.

The short shrift doesn't apply to television. A new live-action TV series is in the works. There's a credits tease at the end of Teen Titans GO! to the Movies that could apply to the new series using the 2003 animated version of the team.


* * *


SPOILERS!


* * *


PROS
1) Just the right amount of potty jokes!

2) Lambasting both DC and Marvel beyond the Deadpool/Deathstroke jokes in the trailers.

3) The John Stewart GL! (Who disavows Ryan Reynolds)

4) Ripping on Back to the Future.

5) The need to watch it again to catch all the jokes.

6) The gratuitous cameo of a certain comic book writer.


CONS
1) Wishing I was ten again, so people don't look at me weirdly when I'm laughing hysterically at the fart jokes.


Overall, Teen Titans GO! to the Movies earned 10 stars out of 10 for sheer, unadultered 12-year-old boy appeal!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Understanding Your Readers

I'm a little late posting today because I've been doing some catch-up reading. The Passive Guy posted excerpts from a Wall Street Journal article that triggered an insight:

Perhaps, for many readers, it does not make much difference whether a story is told in print on a page or images on a screen. The narrative itself is what matters. In fact, the Great American Read list confirms that there is a great hunger in our culture for grand, mythic narratives. The adoration of the Harry Potter books, like the nearly scriptural status of the Star Wars movies, involves more than just fandom. These are comprehensive universes, complete with their own laws and histories, heroes and villains, morals and meanings. They serve the purpose that was once served by epic poems like “The Iliad” or “The Odyssey,” or even by biblical stories: They dramatize the spiritual truths and longings that shape our world.
People will argue and wail and gnash their teeth (as some the comments on TPV show) of the main points of the article. But it was the highlighted one that made me understand why the Justice universe resonates with readers. Why more people comment on it. Why people want more stories.

All my other series are firmly rooted in contemporary society. The Justice universe takes our world as it was in the 6th century B.C.E. and twists it through an unimaginable conflict to become a nearly unrecognizable. But I try to make it firmly rooted in the (to me) natural progression of politics, economics, and technology if certain major factors are skewed a different way or if they never happened.

I'm not trying to compare my stories to Homer, J.R.R. Tolkien, or even George R.R. Martin. But I think readers do want a fictional world that's a little bigger in scope to escape to with all the craziness in the real world these days.

And there's not a damn thing wrong with that. I know I need a little quiet in another time and another place. I've been reading quite a bit of Gail Carriger and Jonathan Moeller the last couple of months. But now I know what some of my readers want and more importantly why they want it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Stay on Target! Stay on Target!

Red Leader's Force ghost has been hovering over me lately, extorting me to, of course, "Stay on target!"

While finishing Hero Ad Hoc doesn't compare to blowing up the Death Star, I find myself running into the same trap of fear Red Squadron faced in their attack. I'd hoped to finish the novel last week when I had some relatively free time.

But doctor appointments start up again today. In fact, I've probably been to my first appointment and gone by the time you read this. And I'm beginning to feel like I'm never going to finish this damn book.

I've even resorted to working on Hero De Novo and another unnamed project just to feel like I'm moving forward. It's only a hundred to two hundred words every day or so, but it is enough to spur me back to Hero Ad Hoc.

Normally, I'd chalk up my reluctance to finish to my usual "don't want the story to end" mindset. However, the majority of this book was written after my breast cancer diagnosis.

Yep, a mere fifty thousand words in the last three months. Which is low for me, but hey! Given the circumstances, that's actually pretty good!

I don't know if it's superstition, premonition, or what, but I feel like something's going to happen when I finish this book.

Like everything's going to change.

Which is weird because life is constant change.

It is fear, but a different type of dread. I wish I knew what the hell Red Leader was really trying to tell me. As Luke Skywalker can tell you, Force ghosts are rarely clear in their exhortations and even less cooperative.

Unless it's Yoda blowing up the frickin' Tree of Knowledge.