Monday, April 29, 2019

It's Monday and It's Raining.

The weather fits my mood. It's been a rough couple of weeks dealing with readers.

I knew I was taking a huge chance by making Hero De Facto free and promoting it through a couple of sites I use as a reader, but never have as a publisher. You do get people to take a chance on you, but they may not be your peeps.

Normally, that's okay. The reader says, "Not for me," sets aside my book, and moves on with their life. Hell, I know I've done that with a few writers. Some of them are even my friends. *grin*

If it was just Hero De Facto, I wouldn't have said anything. I'm all too aware of how white nationalists are trying to politicize the comic book/superhero genre. I expected some backlash because I *GASP* have female protagonists!

But yesterday, Alter Ego put out a new short story. She hasn't released anything in the three years. It was one of those things I'd written over the last five years of insanity in my personal life, but didn't have the energy to publish until now. A friend who writes the same genres as Alter Ego let me do a takeover on her website today. Usually, those events are loads of fun. guessed it. A reader immediately started ranting about the retail site I was using for my giveaways. *sigh*

Has my mindset changed that fucking much with my cancer? I have bad days, but I wake up nearly every morning just grateful to still be here.

But the entitlement I'm seeing blows my mind. Everyone WANTS to be offended.

I don't have the energy to deal with it on a daily basis. So I'll gripe here for a moment, then move on.

Because Justice Anthea has a city full of people she needs to save from demons. And ironically, a demon battle makes me feel better. *grin*

Saturday, April 27, 2019

CHER Month

I wish I looked that good in my forties!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Third One Down for the Year

I've been ignoring most things in favor of finishing edits on Hero De Novo. The files were turned into my formatter about five this afternoon. WHEW! That's one major thing off my plate.

Now, I've got to buckle down on A Matter of Death.

I don't want to jinx anything, but I'm looking forward to just writing for a while. That's the best part of this job!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Little Wednesday Fun

I'm behind on editing Hero De Novo, so I'll leave this little delight for you from the wonderful Neil Gaiman. He reads Fox in Socks for refugee relief.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Monday Movie Mania - Hellboy (2019)

With the low box office and bad reviews, I took DH to see Hellboy (2019) before it gets washed away in next week's tsunami of Avengers: Endgame. I want to say the critics were wrong about this movie. I really, REALLY do.


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1) Kudos to Ed Skrein for bowing out as Ben Daimio once he learned the character was of Asian decent.

2) I totally agree with Mila Jovovich that a better cast could not have been assembled. Nor do I blame the cast for the movie's missteps. They did the best they could with what they were given. Not to mention, I've seen the entire cast, except for Sasha Lane, in other things and I know these people can act!

1) The producers should never have put Ed Skrein in the position where he felt he had to quit. Read the fucking source material and quit white-washing, people!

2) The writing, directing, and editing were abysmal. The story made no sense unless you are a hardcore Hellboy fan, and you read the original comics. Even then, they crammed at least six different storylines together and made a complete hash of all of them

3) The lack of humor. It wasn't for lack of trying, especially on David Harbour's part.

4) I can't believe I'm about to write this, but there was too much gratuitous swearing and gore. When it is essential to the story, I can totally get behind it, like in Deadpool. This was a teen boy just saying "Fuck" to get a rise out of his dad. Or the five-minute scene of demons ripping apart humans. We got it with the first one, guys.

5) Relying too much on CGI in place of story. This is getting old fast. Don't get me wrong. CGI allows us to tell stories we can't with conventional SPFX, but the key words there are "tell stories". Flashy pictures mean very little in this medium when it's not telling a coherent tale.

Overall, I have to say dig out copies of the Guillermo del Toro/Ron Perlman run on Hellboy. They don't make you scream, "What the fuck!" at the screen. Hellboy (2019) barely earned 2 out of 10 stars. And one of those points is for a shirtless Daniel Dae Kim.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

CHER Month

Yes, I ripped off the title to one of her songs for one of my books.

Friday, April 19, 2019


I've been a little out of it this week. Even DH noted it at dinner Tuesday night. My body might be here on Earth, but my mind's in a galaxy far, far away.

It's the same weirdness that afflicts both of us in November when the date of DH's cancer diagnosis approaches. A combination of reflection and fear permeates every waking hour, even if we're not consciously aware of it.

I would much rather blame the head fuzz on the work schedule I created for this year. The second book of a series launched, I'm editing the third book in the same series, and I'm writing the third book in another series. But I'm not busy enough to clear the cobwebs.

Heck, I wish I could blame my distraction on allergies. Buds have exploded on the local trees, the grass is a lovely shade of green, and daffodils are blooming.

So I just need to be patient. Next week, the mind fuzz will pass. Spring is in bloom, and the weather is warming. I'm alive and healthy and happy. That's what I need to focus on.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Recovery Day

After all the hoopla of releasing Hero Ad Hoc on Amazon Monday, doing a large (for me) promo on Hero De Facto, and going in for my latest mammogram yesterday, my body said, "That's enough excitement."

And that's after we didn't get to see Shazam! The movie was supposed to be our date night treat after both DH and I have been on the Hamster Wheel of Doom with the craziness of our respective jobs so far this year. But nope, our theater (the only one in town) suffered a power surge that knocked out all the projectors last night. So we settled for a quiet dinner out and the season finale of The Rookie before we went to bed.

Where I proceeded to sleep for twelve hours straight.

The first plus was the mammogram results were negative for my remaining breast. The radiologist had me wait until he could look over the scans since I now have a history of breast cancer. Hell, my cancer-versary is Friday. But no waiting for a letter in the mail, so WHEW!

The second plus is readers are buying or borrowing copies of Hero Ad Hoc. Any promo is a gamble, and it can take a bit for readers to pick up other books in the series. It was a relief to wake up this morning afternoon and see the graphs rising.

The third plus is my alpha reader finished Hero De Novo and loved it. So I need to finish up the proofing and pass it on to my formatter.

Despite the fatigue, the last three days have been pretty darn good, and I'm damn happy!

Monday, April 15, 2019

New Book Release!

Hero Ad Hoc (888-555-HERO #2) dropped this morning! If you're one of the folks who pre-ordered, a copy should be on your Kindle or Kindle app right now.

I'm so excited about this release because I'm alive, healthy, and sticking to my writing and publishing schedule. Considering a year ago, I was facing some serious and possibly life-ending news, I'm more excited about a release than normal.

Also, Hero De Novo (888-555-HERO #3) is now up for preorder on Amazon.

Don't worry. I leave the initial trilogy on a good note, though I leave it open for sequels. I'm enjoying this series too much not to write more books. *grin*

And if you need a bright spot on Tax Day and you haven't picked up the first book in the series, Hero De Facto, it's currently free on Amazon today and tomorrow.

If you're enjoying these books, I'd appreciate it if you would drop a quick review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Thanks so much for reading!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Uncanny Valley by Angela Penrose

Angela Penrose and I have known each other nearly ten years though we've never met in real life--yet. We're hoping to change that next year.

Angie has contributed stories to various Valdemar Anthologies, including the latest Choices, issues of The Uncollected Anthology, and issues of Fiction River.

She often sends me interesting articles. One was about dogs who learned to use the subway to get around Moscow. The idea stuck in her head and resulted in this little gem.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Writing the Other

Writing what you know has been a mantra for the nearly twenty-five years I've been writing. However, a speaker at a book event in Texas said something that's been stuck in my head for the last ten or so years, "Write what you can imagine."

To me, that means empathy for and through your characters no matter who or what they are.

But in our society's efforts to be equitable, to get more minority voices heard, there's a question of whether a writer can adequately write about "the other". Even more, should they?

These concepts have become a huge subject among the writers I know. For example, if I'm a white, middle-aged, straight woman, can I accurately write about a teenage African-American boy? Should I even attempt to write about a person who's not exactly like me?

So many authors are afraid to touch "the other" for fear of retaliation. That fear isn't exactly helping the overall problem of ignoring minorities.

The following is my opinion and mine alone:

I think we artists do ourselves and our readers a disservice not to explore other cultures and other peoples. Doing so was the epitome of my first love, science fiction. Writers in that field could explore social issues without to much fear of repercussions because hey, we're talking about aliens here, not real people. Right?

Sometimes though, writers create a blatantly obvious corollary.  People forget how radical Gene Rodenberry was in the '60's. Women didn't serve in the U.S. military at the time. Men of color rarely rose in the ranks despite Truman ordering desegregation of troops. And, oh my god, a Russian serving alongside Americans?!

Star Trek inspired so many people of my generation, of all colors and genders, to enter the scientific fields. What would have happened if Gene and the ST:TOS writers room had only written about straight, white, middle-aged men? What if that were all they were allowed to write?

But how does a writer step into a new realm without committing cultural appropriation? I have mixed feelings about this. Cultures are not static. What we call American culture is a hodgepodge of things from all over the world. But on the other hand, I don't believe it's ethical to use something from another culture without acknowledging its source. For example, I wouldn't put a character of European or Asian decent in dredlocks. At least, not without a damn good reason.

But deep down, I do think representation matters. I want people other than me to identify with my characters regardless of the readers' or the characters' superficial characteristics. It isn't just important for my family and friends to see themselves in a story. It's important for people not like us to see we are just as human as they are. And for us to see them as human as well.

Maybe that's my goal in the end, not just delivering entertainment, but for my readers, to see the human race as a whole instead of its pieces.

**Like Monday's post, I'm leaving comments open, but if you decide to be a shitbird (a term I borrowed from author Joseph Bradshire), I will delete your comment. Remember--company manners, everyone.**

Monday, April 8, 2019

The More Things Change in RWA...

...the more I'm glad I left years ago.

I love romance. I'm a romance writer under the Alter Ego pen name. And if any of you have read my fantasy genre books, you know I have romance subplots.

I left because of the regular dissing of erotic romance and indie publishing and e-books. I was told I would never have a career if I indie-published, or kept writing trash or...pick your poison. The anger from others and myself was affecting me physically. I didn't need to end up in the hospital. Ironically, I quit both my day job and RWA in 2012.

Over the last seven years, I've had friends, old and new, suggest that I come to a meeting again. "Things have changed," they said. "RWA had lots of workshops on indie publishing," they said. "RWA is more open now than ever," they said.

Then the Rita nominees were announced at the end of March.

For those who don't know, the Ritas are the major awards in the romance genre. For romance writers, nabbing a Rita is a big deal.

Except the membership noticed at glaringly bright white problem. Yep, all the nominees for 2019 are white, straight women. And for the whipped cream on that milk pie, all stories nominated involved contained heroines who are ...straight, white women. After all the bullshit with the Oscars, you'd think other entertainment-related organization would learn.


The original brouhaha allegedly happened on RWA's PAN (Published Authors Network) forum. Things got so bad it spilled into other writer forums and the publishing industry at large.

Donna S. Frelick talked about the lack of criteria for judging  and lack of training allows personal bias to get in the way. Laurie A. Green pointed out the racism and homophobia weren't the only biases when it came to the Ritas. The controversy grew so widespread a UK paper, The Guardian, had a pretty extensive article about race and RWA.

Instead of hiding under rock or sic the RWA attorney on members (I've seen both happen the eight years I was an RWA member), RWA's current president HelenKay Dimon has pledged to find a solution to the biases within the organization. Frankly, I hope Ms. Dimon and her board find a solution.

However, it isn't just writers and publishers who are the problem. How we deal with reader biases?

Anyone who's written a series, regardless of the  genre, can tell you how the sales numbers go down for each volume. For example (and these are hypothetical numbers):

Book #1 sells 100 copies.
Book #2 sells 50 copies.
Book #3 sells 35 copies.
Book #4 sells 20 copies, and so on.

Alter Ego's first series contained four books. The heroine of the third book was African-American. (I'll get into writing the other in Wednesday's blog post.) I bought a photo of a lovely dark-skinned black woman I used as the cover of Book #3.

If I posted my sales spreadsheets for this series, you would see that sales for Book #3 went way behind the normal drop off after Book #2. In fact, Book #4 with a white heroine on the cover outsells Book #3 roughly 3 to 1.

Recently, I redid all the covers for this series because the male model I used in the original covers decided to be, using my friend Jo's favorite term, a shitbird on Facebook. It'll be interesting if the sales ratios start to shift for Book #3 now that I'm using generic high-heeled shoes for all the covers.

So what's the perfect answer? I don't know, but this is a conversation our society needs to have.

**I'm going to leave comments open as long as everyone uses their company manners. If you get personal or nasty, your comment will get File 13'd.**

Saturday, April 6, 2019

CHER Month!

I don't care what anyone says. I love this song!

Friday, April 5, 2019

TGIF!, Part Deux

Another crazy week at Casa Harden is coming to a close.

Poor GK returned from the testing facility not enlisted in the Army. He failed one stupid little balance test. One, that with his height, he'll never pass no matter how much he practices because his center of gravity is too high. GK returned home sorely disappointed.

However, his recruiter, not wanting to lose a valuable asset especially with record low volunteers, has started the paperwork for a waiver. He texted GK yesterday to confirm this. GK then proceeded to boogey through the apartment for the next two hours.

In the meantime, I've been focusing on Camp NaNo to keep from spazing about GK's future and my own upcoming medical tests. It's the first anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, so I'll be scanned and stabbed in an effort to make sure a few cells haven't created a new home somewhere else in my body. Of course, those all start the week Hero Ad Hoc drops.

Tomorrow, I'm making nachos for dinner and we'll watch the Final Four games. And we'll try to have a quiet family weekend at home.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Bring the Hot Dogs and Marshmallows!

April's Camp NaNoWriMo started Monday.

For those who may not know, Camp NaNo is a slightly more sedate version of November's National Writing Month. You join cabins, which have a camper limit, instead of having national regions.  And unlike November, which has the major American holiday of Thanksgiving, April may or may not have big holidays in it, though this year Passover/Easter is the third week of April.

On the other hand, most schools had Spring Break back in March, so those with kids will only have a couple of extra days of screaming rugrats, instead of a whole week plus in-laws.

I joined a cabin with some friends. All of us have books to finish or write, so the impetus and/or camaraderie can help push through whatever may be holding us back.

Writing is a solitary occupation, but sometimes it helps to associate with others in our occupation. As hard as our loved ones try, they don't understand the trials and triumphs of this quirky profession.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Monday Movie Mania - Captain Marvel

We finally made it to a movie after three months of our noses to the grindstone. This is the Marvel movie I've been looking forward to the most over the last ten years.

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1) Three of the people who carried the title of "Captain Marvel" in the comic books appeared in this film. I was particularly thrilled the CM #2 made an appearance! I'm hoping she's eventually be shown in the contemporary MCU timeline under one of her alternate monikers, especially since said moniker was her mom's callsign.

2) The change of a certain characters nickname from "Chewie" to "Goose" totally made sense with the change in Carol's age.

3) It was great seeing Coulson on the big screen again!

4) All the girl power digs!

1) Not enough Coulson.

2) The changes in Carol's backstory in the MCU means she never was Ms. Marvel, which also means the battle royale between Ms. Marvel and Rogue will never happen on the big screen, even though Marvel has the rights to the X-Men back. I'm a little sad about this.

Best of all, there's no more questions about whether audiences will watch movies about female superheroes.

Overall, Captain Marvel earned 10 stars out of 10. It's definitely on my must-buy list!