Category Archives: Personal

This might be a good sign.

TYG would love it if Snowdrop became an indoor cat at least part of the time. It’s not only for his safety, it’s that if he were comfortable when we close the door on him, we wouldn’t have to pet him while freezing winter air is coming in. But if it’s closed, he sits there and meows piteously; if we even look like we’re going door-wards, he’ll run out. We could just refuse to open it again, but TYG thinks it would make him too uncomfortable to keep coming in.

However he seems to have accepted from watching Wisp that the couch is a cool place to sit. So last week he climbed up on the couch with me ——and then rolled over and let me scritch the tummy.This is way more comfortable than he’s been in the past. I’m hoping that’s a good sign he’s coming to trust us. Even so, he’d probably freak out if we closed the door while he was on the couch. But little baby steps and all that, right?


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Giving thanks

So rather than the usual political post, a quick note of gratitude.

For TYG, who is better than my fantasies of what finding someone would be like.For our wonderful pets.For finally becoming a published novelist.For continued good health. And relief that a close friend’s recent health problem has been handled.

I wish everyone a good day of family, food, friendship, and relaxation in whatever combination and proportions work for you.

#SFWApro. Cover by Samantha Collins, rights are mine.

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Guess who went to a play?

My schedule was odd last weekend so I didn’t get around to watching any movies. Part of that is because TYG and I took a 40-minute drive to a nearby town to catch a friend of ours performing in the stage version of GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER?

I’m not a fan of the 1967 film it’s based on. As I said in my review years ago, the story of an interracial relationship hamstrings itself by trying to make the radical-for-its-time idea (as the movie notes, at the time the relationship would be illegal in multiple states) acceptable to white audiences. Poitier is a model minority, a brilliant doctor who does international charity work, and the film emphasizes he’s a post-racial guy with no interest in activism or fighting for civil rights — the best way to achieve equality is wait for the angry older generation of whites and blacks to pass on and leave the world to people like him. As in Star Trek: Let This Be Your Last Battlefield, the oppressed and the oppressor both contribute to the problem.

I don’t know when they adapted the film into a stage play but it’s with a much better script. There’s a much sharper sense that no, the system will not miraculously improve if you stubbornly refuse to see color. At one point the black doctor’s father waits outside in the car, simmering with rage, then he comes back in, worried someone might shoot him as a suspicious individual. The movie doesn’t look at that side of things.

The black housekeeper in the movie says a lot of stuff some whites in the audience might be thinking, like how Poitier’s doctor is getting above his position dating a white woman; in the play she’s suspicious of him but it’s the suspicion of someone who’s moving to marriage after ten days of dating. Joanna (the female half of the marriage) still comes across too innocent to believe she can really handle the crap this relationship will generate.

While obviously the cast lacks the star power of Poitier, Hepburn and Tracy, the cast (including our friend Gerald Rubin, as the dad) do well; the show starts slow but picks up steam fast.  We thoroughly enjoyed it. “I never trust a man in a nice suit outside of church.”

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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The high note of the week

I know I covered this Monday but it’s still cool I’m now a published novelist. And I have copies of my books to prove it.You can get Questionable Minds as an ebook on Amazon or other retailers. Or there’s the paperback. Either way, I think it’s excellent, though I concede I may not be objective.

#SFWApro. Cover of Questionable Minds by Sam Collins.



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Today was exhausting but the week was good

What was with today? TYG was out for the morning which threw my schedule off. Then at lunch she was back, plus we had the pressure washers in to clean the house, plus the dogs were freaking out because the pressure-washer team were DUDES MAKING STRANGE NOISES!!! Fortunately I woke up early enough to complete my week’s 30-hour quotient.

The week went well overall. I did a couple of presentations Tuesday night on Continual, one on small-town fantasy and another on new books we had out. I’ll share the links when I get them.

I worked on Obalus which I’m now retitling Don’t Pay the Ferryman (or maybe Pay the Ferryman) — I’d dropped that because Shadows Reflected In Darkness was titled Don’t Pay the Merryman but now that it’s changed, they’re not so similar. To my surprise when I tried writing through the parts I was uncertain about I found an ending. It’s not a good ending but unlike the deus ex machina of the previous draft’s ending, it does follow logically from what’s going on. I can work with it and improve it.

I had a similar experience working on The Impossible Takes a Little Longer. By moving up some of the bad surprises lying in wait for KC I was able to keep the tension high without feeling its too rushed. In several ways it’s going to work better than the previous draft, which is of course the goal.

The downside is that I’m cutting out a lot of stuff. The previous drafts have KC taking a trip to New York to meet fellow superhero Captain Wonder. It took up several chapters. Gone now because it doesn’t make sense (trust me). I’m wondering if I’ll end up with a really short novel or an unacceptably long novella but hey, in the age of ebooks and self-publishing that’s not a dealbreaker. So onward! The only way out of the crazy maze is to keep going!

And today I completed one of my for-pay accounting articles. I don’t know if there’ll be another assignment this month but if not, more time for fiction!

So that was all good. And Metastellar put up my short story The Savage Year on their webiste.

And now the weekend. Bread baking, a friend’s play, and reading a book about spiders. Fun!

#SFWApro. All rights to cover images remain with current holder. Strange Tales cover by Jack Kirby.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Writing

Two cats nuzzling

Snowdrop is still terrified of being in the house with the door closed. He’ll leave the living room to explore but if he comes back and finds we’ve closed the door on him the panicked meows begin.

He doesn’t seem keen to climb onto the furniture either unless Wisp’s there already. This time she’d settled in on the back of the couch so he came up for some mutual affection.

We’re not looking forward to leaving the door open once it starts getting really chilly, but for now, that’s the way it has to be.

In less cute cat-related news, I stepped on Wisp when I went out in the dark Monday. She screamed in utter shock and scratched my leg before she fled (no foul, I had it coming). I felt like the greatest villain unhung but in the morning she was willing to accept pets and didn’t seem harmed at all. Thank goodness. I won’t make that mistake again, I promise.


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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

That is a little more like it

Which is to say the week went much better than most of October did. Relatively few interruptions and most of those went well. We took the dogs for a checkup at the physical rehab place and the stiffness and pains they were experiencing a month ago (nothing horrifying, but still there) have faded. We can ease up a little on their painkillers and some of the at-home therapy. More importantly, it’s always good news to hear they’re okay. Below is Plushie with his new teddy bearish cut.I met with yet another gutter-repair professional but this one, recommended by a neighbor, was a vast improvement. No sales pitch and the price for a gutter repair plus some upgrades was only slightly higher than the straight gutter repair job we’d gotten from one of the other bidders. So yay!

As to writing, I think that well. I rewrote my short story Bleeding Blue and switched the protagonist from a rookie cop to someone drafted for temporary duty (this makes sense in the setting). This really helped the character and simplified a number of story choices. It still needs a lot of work but there is a story there now.

My work on Obalus was less satisfying, but I did make progress. I have a clearer direction for the story, which may stretch out to novella length; if not, it’s going to be a long short story (then again, I may cut much of what I’ve written in later drafts). But I still don’t know exactly what Eleanor’s going to face in the Tower Without Doors or how she’s getting a prisoner out. Hopefully by the time I resume writing, my subconscious will have dredged something up.

I completed another chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer but I realized at the end that the shocking twist I’d developed to pull the action forward didn’t work. Now I have to think of some way to keep the tension going until the next big hook.

I also submitted three short stories — one of them came back the next day but such is life.

Wisp has started coming in at night, though not consistently. She also came in a couple of mornings and took a nap on her pillow. The cats do throw off my morning routine, but they’re worth it.#SFWApro.


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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Writing

In the darkness, he looked like a very large dog

As dawn keeps shfiting to later in the morning, we’ve been taking Plushie and Trixie for morning walkies at twilight or sometimes darkness (our community has enough streetlights that it’s safe). On one recent morningd, Plushie decided he wasn’t in the mood so Trixie and I left him and TYG and forged on alone.

We were going through a small subdivision when in the dark under the trees I saw what I thought was a large dog, wandering loose. Drawing closer as the light improved I discovered he was not a dog.That would normally have been it — ooh, dear, cool — but it was a little unnerving he kept staring our way. I’m under the impression deer are not aggressive but if I was wrong — and then suddenly he was charging right at us! Except he wasn’t, he ran right past us and headed into a more deeply wooded area; I’m guessing his staring (if he was really doing that) was mostly about how safe he’d be coming near us.

Trixie, who normally treats deer as part of the land, went ballistic when he ran by relatively close. Not that she had any hope of getting near him but not for the first time I’m glad she’s only ten pounds. Easier to restrain in moments like these.


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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

Why yes, I have a new book out

I’m hoping The Aliens Are Here will sell well, but who knows? However I’m working a little bit more to promote it than usual. I applied to John Scalzi’s Big Idea feature but no slots were open. However Hugo-winner Cora Buhlert, whom I know from Camestros Felapton‘s comments section, has interviewed me about it! That was cool (thanks Cora!).

Sales are hard to guess. McFarland targets the library and serious movie buff audience which guarantees they turn a profit and I get royalties, but more royalties is always desirable. The Wizard of Oz Catalog was easily my biggest seller — no surprise, given there’s a long-standing fandom for Oz. And I cover a lot of Oz stuff that wasn’t detailed in fan websites at the time.

I always figured Screen Enemies of the American Way would do well because the topic — political paranoia in American films — hasn’t been explored much. It’s probably thee weakest seller but it still generates small regular royalties even several years later. Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan still sells even though it’s been in print for 20 years I have some thoughts upon rereading the book in 2017)

Now and Then We Time Travel did way better than Screen Enemies. To my credit, it’s an excellent, thorough book on the topic. So perhaps The Aliens Are Here, dealing with another popular topic, will do well too.

You can visit Cora’s blog for details on why it’s worth reading and how I came to write it. Or, you know, buy it!

Here’s a set of movie posters representing all four books. First, for Gene Roddenberry’s 1977 TV pilot SpectreThen for the underrated 1985 Return to Oz.Warren Beatty’s 1974 masterpiece of paranoia, The Parallax ViewAnd the 1961 time travel fantasy The Flight That Disappeared

1971’s Andromeda Strain, one of my favorite posters.

And for my self-published Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, here’s the poster for the second Bond film.#SFWApro. Rights to all images remain with current holders.

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Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel, Personal, Screen Enemies of the American Way, Writing

I’m afraid the ducks won this round

I’d looked forward to this week as one where I could do some concentrated fiction with only minimal distraction. That’s not how it played out. It was in, short, one of those weeks where I was nibbled to death by ducks.

Monday went okay but Tuesday I had to work around some contractors doing a job upstairs. I’d also contacted a couple of companies for a small gutter-repair job and dear lord, it seems that’s one cut-throat industry around here. I received multiple calls and text from various companies besides the couple I’d actually contacted; as I was working on a stretch of Impossible Takes a Little Longer that required deep thought, the repeated distractions killed my momentum. I ended up canceling plans to go to writer’s group that night so I could relax, then  make up for lost time.

Wednesday, I had two appointments with gutter salesmen and sat through long description of why their Total Gutter Remodel (no mere repairs for me, nope!) was the best ever. Sales pitches automatically get my back up; one of them kept texting me repeatedly later to emphasize the Low, Low Options for financing or discounting the price, which didn’t put me in a better mood. Plus we had a contractor uproot and sand the stump of a holly bush out front — I thought we’d stump-sanded it when we had it chopped down a few years back, but apparently not. And we have plans for that spot.

These and similar little chores ate up the week and disrupted my ability to sit and think. I do have almost all of my promotional stuff for Questionable Minds done and Draft2Digital helped solve the formatting problems plaguing the text. However I didn’t have time to make all the adjustments; I’ll get that done Monday.

I did a big rewrite of one chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer and it definitely added to the tension. I’m not sure how some of the changes will play out but I’ll trust my gut on this one.

I also worked some on Obalus and made very slight progress. I know the broad outline of what Eleanor Holt has to do to redeem herself but I’m drawing a blank on the details still. In a better week I might have made more headway.

Overall, I fell well short of my goals for them month too. But November begins next week. A fresh month, a fresh chance to get it right.

#SFWApro. Covers by Frank Brunner (t) and Samantha Collins, all rights remain with current holders.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Short Stories, Writing