Category Archives: Personal

My vacation has given me the secret to best-seller status

So as I mentioned Friday, I spent last week with TYG attending the annual Mensa gathering. And it hit me late in the week: John Scalzi devotes blog posts to photos from his hotel room windows. John Scalzi is a best-selling SF novelist. So if I show photos of the view from my hotel … QED, am I right?

And besides I didn’t have time to get anything else about our trip written up, so—


Next, a day view

And a view of some of the roofs below.

Here’s a view of a rainy Indianapolis street, just because I think it’s a good photo

Tomorrow, some actual blogging about the trip, plus more photos.


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Squirrels are the very devil

By the middle of the week, we had three almost ripe tomatoes in TYG’s container garden. We had some green tomatoes that looked like they’d be big and plump enough for fried green tomatoes this weekend (I’ve never made them but TYG’s keen on me trying).

We had one of the red ones and it was perfect.

The squirrels got the other two red ones. And the green ones. And by “got” I don’t mean ate — they yank them off the vine, and then just leave them uneaten. Apparently they don’t learn that they’re inedible, or forget, or the sheer number of squirrels means there’s always one who doesn’t know she won’t like them.

We knew this from past summers. TYG got some metal netting, but it wasn’t easy to work with so we just gave up. I tried moving the plants into the center of the deck, figuring that maybe the squirrels wouldn’t take them if they had to climb off the fence. I was wrong.

Next year, I shall start figuring how to tomato-block the squirrels well in advance of the planting. The tomatoes will be ours!

This year, not so much.


At least the bird feeder’s squirrel proof.


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This week seemed to have such promise

I was really optimistic about this week. Next round of Leaf articles hasn’t started yet, Screen Rant is done, I had time to focus on my personal projects.

But TYG was doing a lot of stuff this week that required concentration. And Plush Dog, for whatever reason, was needy. Actively needy, constantly trying to climb on her computer or barking for attention. So I wound up running interference, plus putting in a lot of extra dog walking. The time added up. Plus I was freaking out over some of the political news. It can’t be helped at times, but it’s not productive. I wound up several hours behind my quota for the week.

So what did I get done?

I finished a second draft of Only the Lonely Can Slay. Relocating the action to my old home town really sharpened the setting, and the dramatic arc improved some. However that’s a long way from saying it has a good arc. It’s trickier because I don’t want my protagonist to know exactly what she’s involved in, even when it’s all over. So we’ll see.

I thought a little about the rewrite of No One Can Slay Her but didn’t actually put any words to paper. I did make more progress on the final draft of Southern Discomfort. I’ve gone over four out of the 12 stories in the draft paperback of Atoms for Peace and edited them, though I haven’t made the corrections in the manuscript on my computer. That matters because some of the notes are just “sentence doesn’t work, fix it” when the correction is more than just a word or something concise.

I did not come anywhere near close my 1,000 words a day goal. Come July with no Screen Rant deadlines to make, it should be doable. And I will make it a priority.

I did draft a query for Space Invaders for McFarland but held off submitting it. There’s a couple of markets I’d like to look at first. Next month, one way or the other, it goes out.

Oh, and as noted this morning, I started making some upgrades to this blog. Hopefully that will prove worthwhile. It may be telling that I think of this as a blog first — but when I visit other author’s websites, I usually go to the blog first. After all, it’s the only part that’s likely to provide anything new.

And I also posted an in-depth review of The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Atomic Junkshop.

Subject to a couple of personal goals I hope to accomplish tomorrow, I got a little over 50 percent of my June goals go (the crazy schedule this week put paid to a couple of routine things I normally accomplish in the morning).

On the food front, we ate the first of the tomatoes TYG has been growing in the back, along with the herbs. Unfortunately the local squirrels pulled about twice that number off the plants — they don’t eat them, they just bite into them and leave them. Pure spite.

And we took the dogs to get groomed Wednesday. Plushie’s tail was so matted they had to shave it completely, leaving what looks like a little pig’s tail. Packs quite a wallop when he beats it on us.

#SFWApro. All rights to images are mine.

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Filed under Atoms for Peace, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals

I will try to avoid making anyone’s eyes bleed

So Thursday I upgraded to a paid WordPress plan. This has several features (no ads!) that I think will be useful, plus I got my own domain name.

But I’m also trying to find a different look for the blog. Different background. Different header (the one I want to upload requires some work on the image I haven’t been able to accomplish). Maybe different layout, though this one works quite well.

So the look may be randomly changing as I try styles, decide they don’t work, and try something new. Don’t be surprised. Hopefully I won’t pick anything so garish or awful y’all will just avoid it altogether. But even if all my picks are tasteful, I figured I should let people know. Feedback is welcome.

Below, one shot of Trixie with a little forelock she developed in the past couple of weeks (unfortunately Wednesday’s grooming trimmed it away). Then another photo just to show how adorable she is.



Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

The light at the end of the tunnel was not an oncoming train

It’s what happens when some of the viscous jelly in your eye gets hard and crusty and breaks off.

I noticed flashes in the corner of my eye last weekend, and soon figured out they weren’t reflections of my glasses. Then I got some big floaters drifting across my vision. A quick check online established this is an unremarkable phenomenon, probably due to age, and not a serious issue. Unless, of course, I had an actual torn retina in which case it was an emergency. It didn’t seem extreme enough (I was referencing an eye doctor website so I was confident it was accurate) so I called my doctor Monday and went in for an eye appt. on Tuesday. Happily I was right, nothing serious, though the floaters are distracting (the flashes have faded away).

That took a chunk out of my week, Screen Rant took a bite more. The one I started on last week proved undoable for various reasons, but I spent about three hours on it before giving up. Tuesday I picked up a new one, 20 Things About Winter Soldier That Make No Sense (Jack Kirby’s cover gives us a look back when he was just Bucky, of course). As yet, it’s not up, though I submitted it this afternoon. It took more time than I wanted — upping the minimum from 15 to 20 adds quite a bit more work, both in searching for entries and writing. It may be more than I have the time to keep doing — it’s fun, but this might have to be my last. I’ll give it some thought.

While Bucky Barnes took up a chunk of time, I did continue work on Southern Discomfort and the Undead Sexist Cliches book. I’ve made my wordage on both for the month, but I’ll put in more time on SD next week. I started work revising No One Can Slay Her, though I didn’t get far. I’ll put in time on that next week, plus (hopefully) rewriting Only the Lonely Can Slay.

Oh, and I got a Createspace copy of Atoms for Peace and began proofing. Cover by zakarianada on Fiverr, rights to it are now mine. Going to take more work than I thought, but that just proves I made a good call getting the copy.

#SFWApro. All rights to Captain America cover remain with current holder.

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Filed under Atoms for Peace, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Writing

Sic transit gloria Jason Vorhees

So last weekend, TYG and I were out with some college friends of her, and some undergraduates from the same frat. We wound up in a bar where the undergrads were playing Candyland while watching Friday the 13th on a big-screen TV. Which is an amusing image, but not the point of this post. To wit, that none of them had heard of the film.

It’s another example of how different generations have different cultural experiences. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Friday the 13th film in its entirety, but I still know they’re about Jason Voorhees, the guy in the hockey mask who slashes people to death. The films were everywhere in the 1980s — eight installments in the series in that decade. TV’s Night Court could make a joke referencing the series and be confident people would get it.

Now, though? The students responses when I identified it (had to use Google) were “Friday the 13th? That’s a movie?” or wondering if it was the one with Freddie Krueger. But why would they remember it? There was one series film in the 1990s, one in 2001, Freddy vs. Jason in 2003 and then the 2009 reboot. It’s their dads’ horror franchise.

I won’t shed any tears if the series vanishes into the memory hole, but I hate it when stuff like this makes me feel old.

#SFWApro. Rights to image remain with current holder.


Filed under Movies, Personal

Ten years ago, less one month, I met her

And seven years ago last Monday I married her. And I’m so glad I did.

We had dinner last weekend at Sage, a local vegetarian (mostly vegan) restaurant that’s our go-to for special celebrations (Monday would have been rough on our schedules). We also traded gifts as we didn’t want to wait. I got TYG a good ice cream scoop and a charger for her phone; now she no longer has to carry the charger back and forth from bedroom to living room My gift was season tickets for both of us to Playmakers, one of the local theaters. Very good choice! Neither one fit the theme (wool, copper) but we don’t care.

Then Sunday Plushie had his back spasm and we were very stressed. That flowed into the work week. Plus I didn’t make out my schedule Sunday with my usual care, which left me feeling oddly off-balance this week. Though I didn’t let that stop me working. I also wasted a lot of time on a Screen Rant listicle I simply could not find enough items for. Eventually I gave it up, someone else took it and did fine and I found one that worked for me (not out yet) — 20 Weird Facts About Dr. Strange’s Body. For example, it’s actually older than the Earth, due to Earth being destroyed in the Bronze Age, then recreated.

As I’m a Dr. Strange fan, that was a lot of fun, though it took more time than I’d planned. SR Listicles now have more items with shorter text. I think the added time for research undoes the gains of less writing.

I didn’t come anywhere near making my 1,000 words a day of fiction. I did get some more work done on Southern Discomfort so I think I’m revising on schedule. No short story work.

I submitted Atoms for Peace to Draft2Digital, but the cover I commissioned seems to have a technical problem. So do my chapter headings —a lot of headings for scene changes (giving the time or location) are showing up as chapters. If I’m understanding the site’s advice correctly, the latter should be an easy fix. And I probably know enough computer nerds who can figure out the PDF problem.

I also submitted the PDF to CreateSpace. This time I’m going to order a draft copy of the paperback before I release the ebook. I’ll see the mistakes much better that way.

Oh, and Thursday I had coffee with my friend Heather Fredericks, author of the delightful Timber Howligan, Secret Agent.  She’s working on a sequel; I’ve read the rough draft so this was a feedback/critique session. She said it was very helpful. I’m pleased.

Next week, with my SR already picked and no Leaf, I anticipate a lot more fiction writing. Fingers crossed.

#SFWApro. Art by Gene Colan (top) and Steve Ditko. All rights remain with current holders.


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A whimpering dog trumps all other concerns

So last Sunday, Plushie was walking across the living room when he suddenly gave it with this inexplicable whimper of pain. A loud whimper. Next second, he was fine, but of course we called the vet as soon as they opened and took him in. And spent the meantime feeling rather stressed.

He was fine at the vet, just like the car that works perfectly when you get to the mechanic. But as he’s had a long history of back problems (he’s part lhasa apso, and they’re prone to ’em) they figured that was probably it. Just a little, but enough to make him cry out. And I could remember a couple of other times recently, with smaller and less obvious cries.

So he’s been on muscle relaxants and pain meds and seems to be doing fine. Plus we’re carrying him upstairs (“we” meaning mostly me) so he doesn’t have to throw his back out walking up them.

Given that his back problems will never go away, we’re happy it’s so minor. No crate rest for instance (that’s a real challenge) and he’s obviously not in constant pain. Still, it was a tense time Sunday, and both of us being tense just reinforced each others’ tension.

I don’t know if it’s some side-effect of the drugs but he’s been very eager for extra petting and scratching this week. I do my best to deliver.


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Star Trek transported my week away!

More specifically, my new Screen Rant on embarrassing roles of Star Trek actors. Like William Shatner (above) as an alcoholic priest in The Horror at 37,000 Feet.

The embarrassment isn’t necessarily that they did a dreadful job. Although Brent Spiner (above) did not cover himself with glory in Rent Control. To say nothing of his mustache. It’s simply that the production as a whole was dreadful. Roxann Dawson didn’t make a memorable impression in the nursing drama Nightingales but it’s not like that show gave her much to work with (or anyone else).

It was fun to do, but because there are so many actors and so many potential entries, I ran it up to 25 items. That’s a lot of writing, and it took up way more time than usual. So basically my accomplishments this week were that piece, my usual array of Leaf articles, and a couple of thousand words of Southern Discomfort.

But that said, it was fun, and I think I did a great job. So go check it out.

And the Leaf project I’ve been working on apparently wraps up this week (something new may be coming down the pike in July or August) — there’s no more articles in the queue. I knew that was coming, but I figured it would be a couple more weeks. That’s an extra 10 hours a week the rest of the month to do my own writing stuff, whoot! I shall put it to good use.

So not much else to say. On the personal front, a foundation-repair job (nothing critical, just shoring up some potential weaknesses) began this week, though it won’t finish until Monday (weather permitting).

Oh, and despite Verizon confirming in writing that they’d closed a fake account someone took out in my name (and didn’t pay for), I got a call today from a debt collector today. I offered to send them the Verizon email: oh, sorry, they don’t have an email address! And they can’t contact Verizon! Yeah, right. So I hung up. I’ll deal with them if they call back. I’m not entirely surprised — I’ve read plenty of accounts of people who resolved debts, but some data entered online, somewhere, kept it alive. Sometimes even within companies like Verizon. And the penalties for error are few.

A sour note to end the week on, but I’m still looking forward to next week.

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

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Filed under Personal, Screen Rant, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Writing

Random thoughts related to previous posts

First, a complaint., which is where I read a lot of daily comic strips online recently redesigned. The way it now works, I go to the page for a given strip, and instead of seeing today’s strip, I have to click through further. It’s not a lot of time, it just annoys me.

A bigger problem is that I can’t get more than eight or nine strips read before the site cuts out. That’s very inconvenient — I’d much sooner work through my strips in one fell swoop than a bit at a time. It’s bad for them because I just settle for reading the ones I like best, then giving up.

Second, the struggle to use up all the herbs TYG is growing is not getting easier. I’m managing to find recipes, but now we have oregano coming up in addition to the sage and basil. This week, definitely some of it’s getting frozen. And I will invite one of our neighbors to take some extra — TYG has way more lettuce than she needs for salads now.

That said, here’s an illustration I didn’t use for my next Screen Rant, about embarrassing roles by Star Trek actors (Leonard Nimoy was in this one)

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

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