Category Archives: Writing

My battle plan did not survive first contact with the enemy

As I mentioned at the start of the month, I thought breaking down my schedule into blocks of time and assigning them to different projects (e.g., eight units for Leaf, eight for Veterans Network articles, eight for the golem article). That way, when my schedule takes some kind of unexpected detour, I can make sure I’m still putting enough time on everything.

This week that did not work, though I think it’s less a flaw in the plan than just life. But then again, if the plan can’t cope with what life throws at me, it’s not much use. But really, this situation is exceptional. I have several projects due before the end of the month and I’m getting my second vaccine shot on April 27. If it leaves me feeling like crap I need to have all my essential projects done so I can just lie in misery. TYG is getting her shot around the same time (I really should have listened to her and gotten mine further apart, but when I saw an opening, I panicked and grabbed it) so even if I’m fine, she might be sick — and I know from experience that’s going to kill my productivity too. So the golem article and all my Veteran Network stuff has to be done by April 26.

Plus next week I have an Alexander Technique appointment, our dogs’ trip to the rehab vet and allergy shots for them. That’s going to eat up quite a bit of time.

So this week I wanted to work on veteran articles, Leaf pieces and the golem piece. I did well — the golem article is finally looking good — until yesterday. About 10:30 Wednesday night, Plushie became scared of the invisible monsters he’d spotted somewhere in the bedroom and insisted on climbing on me for safety, then licking my face for about 20 minutes. Finally he calmed down, but by that point I was completely awake. I got up, worked for a couple of hours, got ready to go back to bed … and Wisp meowed to come in and wanted attention for a little while.

I did get to sleep eventually but it didn’t help much. I finished an article on Agent Orange, and did a little work on Undead Sexist Cliches (final proof of Chapter Two. Looks good) — I’m actually quite impressed what I can do when my brain is utterly fried — but I didn’t get the golem article finished as I’d planned.

Last night I took an Ambien to ensure I’d get a decent night’s sleep. The price was waking up late, then Wisp came in, snuggled with me and fell asleep in my lap (it was cold outside).The result was that I never had the private time I need to get my head in the game. Today was not productive. If I didn’t have the deadlines and the possible sick days ahead, I’d have devoted it entirely to reading the remaining golem novels on my list.

I will try my plan again next month, but for the moment the onrushing deadlines render it moot.

Oh, I had Southern Discomfort come back from a publisher with some critical feedback. I’ll discuss what they said when I’ve had time to mull it over.

To end on an upbeat note, here’s Trixie sniffing a flower.#SFWApro.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

And youth keeps right on growing old (or) Alan Moore becomes a grumpy old fart

As my recent birthday reminded me, we’re all getting older, including creators way more successful than me. And just like everyone else, age can warp us creative types in various ways.

To take an obvious example, let’s say you start out your career doing something both original and good. The response from readers is often not “now give us something else original and good” but “give us more like that one.” The financial pressure to keep doing the same thing, even if you want to experiment, can be very strong (I’m reminded of Jack Kirby’s lament that he wanted to inspire other comics creators to do what he’d done and create new things; instead he inspired a lot of them to work on stuff he’d already created like New Gods or Fantastic Four). Even if that doesn’t happen, very few creators can stay on the cutting edge forever. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s work on Oklahoma was ground-breaking, as Ethan Mordden details in Beautiful Mornin’. By the 1960s they were still successful — Sound of Music was a mega-hit on stage and on screen — but their shows were what the avant-garde musical creators were breaking away from.

Another effect of age is that creators, just like the rest of us, get nostalgic for old stuff and grumpy about new stuff. Richard Rodgers didn’t think anyone would be able to make a musical out of rock music. Harlan Ellison, in his late 1980s writing, objected to DC’s reboots of Superman and the Shadow (admittedly the latter was dreadful) — why were they disrespecting fans who like the old stuff? — but he also objected to Marvel’s New Universe line. Not because it was crappy (it was) but what if fans spent money on the new books instead of Spidey and Captain America? What if that led to the classic characters getting canceled in favor of the New Universe? Not good!

If it’s not acceptable to launch new books or reboot old ones, the only option is to keep doing old ones the way they’ve always been done (which was the point of his short story Jeffty Is Five). Ellison was in his fifties by then; he’d gone from being an angry young man speaking the truth to power (okay, yelling the truth to power) to a crotchety old fart wishing kids would get off his lawn (of course, George RR Martin’s Armageddon Rag was bewailing how the world had turned to crap and he was in his thirties at the time)

Alan Moore seems to have wound up in a similar place.

It’s noticeable in LGX: Century in which he seems displeased with 21st century culture in general and particularly with Harry Potter — what a sad, juvenile set of stories those were, unfit for mature minds! In the series’ finish, LGX Tempest, which I just finished (review to come soon), we get more of the same. James Bond, who was believably vicious in Black Dossier, is now a homicidal maniac taking great glee in killing people for sport. Complaints about how America has been infatuated with superheroes, plus snark that Birth of a Nation was the first masked-superhero film (the KKK as masked vigilantes — makes you think about Batman, doesn’t it? Well DOESN”T IT?). Elric (not officially) tells Orlando in one scene that stories about superhumans make readers think “only impossible beings are capable of greatness … they cease attempting it for themselves.”

It appears the characters are speaking for their author as Moore has made the same points in several interviews (here, here and here). They’re not fit fodder for adults. People who watch superhero movies are clinging to their childhood, afraid to face the world. They’re escapist fantasy. Despite a little added diversity, they’re a master-race fantasies fit only for white supremacists.

My short answer: bite me, Mr. Moore. As JRR Tolkien once said, the only people who object to escape are jailers.

My longer answer: Getting nostalgic for childhood, wanting to escape whatever your life’s woes are for a while, these are not bad impulses. And it’s not a binary thing, where if you read comics you can’t possibly read anything serious or “mature.” I read superhero comics. I also read a lot of other stuff (very little of it is serious literature, true), and I stay informed about politics and what’s going on in the world. And no, reading comics or fantasizing about larger than life adventures does not mean we give up on doing anything ourselves (he reminds me of a Bill Maher rant I blogged about a few years ago).

As Kurt Busiek once pointed out, if comics can express the fantasies of teenage boys, they can express anything: the fantasies of girls, fantasies of justice, the frustrations of middle age. Nerd Reactors compares comics to videogames, another field that initially targeted kids but now spreads out to appeal to all kinds of people.

I’m sure part of this is Moore’s frustrated anger over the way DC Comics has made his work into their intellectual property (you can find the details of his issues online). But that doesn’t make his argument any less cranky and unreasonable.

#SFWApro. Covers by Howard Chaykin and Kevin O’Neill, all rights to image remain with current holders.

 

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I thought I had it all handled, but I didn’t think of the pollen!

Pollen is always a problem in North Carolina in the spring. Behold:This year it’s worse than usual. The dogs have never left pollen stains on the couch covers before. I think that explains why I became so muzzy-headed Wednesday and Thursday; I kept working, but it was mostly reading material for the golem article when I should have been writing for Leaf or Veterans Network. I didn’t do much better today. I wound up taking some time off from work to bake bread this afternoon (a British beer bread).

It didn’t help that doggy care in the morning dragged out more than usual so I started late both Wednesday and Thursday. I got my hours in, ultimately, but I honestly don’t know if my new technique for budgeting time helped or not. I’ve been marking off units of time when I use them, but I haven’t run out of the time assigned to any projects yet (though the golem stuff is coming close). I’ll see how it goes next week.

Still, I did get quite a bit done. I redrafted the golem article to break down stories by themes: golem as Hulk-like destroyer, golem as protector, golem as artificial intelligence (yearning, like the Vision or Data, for humanity), golem stories focusing on relationships. I think it’s more interesting than just the straight chronological approach I was using. And like I said, I did a lot of extra reading, adding more stuff to the article.

I got a couple of Leaf articles done as well, and one Veterans Network piece. There’s quite a lot of work for the latter assigned for April so I hope my muzzy head clears itself up next week. I also need to account for my second vaccine dose at the end of the month: I need to assume the next couple of days will be me feeling like crap and not up for work. Great if I’m wrong, but just in case …

I completed my review of Chapter Six in Undead Sexist Cliches; now I have to go through and actually make the changes.

And now I’m off to cut a slice of the bread.

#SFWApro.

 

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Have I had a brilliant idea? Or just a dead end?

So right now, as y’all know, I have multiple projects. The golem article due at the end of the month. Alien Visitors due at the end of October. The Veterans Network and Leaf articles. Finishing Undead Sexist Cliches and Questionable Minds. Trying to keep them all on track is tricky; it’s great to have a good week turning out Leaf articles (they pay promptly) but not if I don’t get around to working on Alien Visitors, say. And if I put in extra work on one project in a given week, I don’t always figure out how to make it up on the others.

For this month I’m trying something new. Counting my afternoon and morning writing times as one unit each, I listed how many units I have, then sat down and matched them up with the work I want to get done. So many units spent on Veterans Network, so many on Alien Visitors, so many on Undead Sexist Cliches, etc. Then every time I use up a unit, cross one off. If this works, I should be able to pace myself and make progress in everything. I left several units open so that if something takes extra time, and I’m sure something will, I can adapt.

Of course things immediately got more complicated. Veterans Network wants about double the articles they requested last month, which is cool, but not what I was expecting. I’ve tentatively budgeted time for one paying gig that may not happen (details when and if it does). And this week I had a couple of units that wound up mixed between two or three different projects. Still it does give me a sense of progress that I don’t always have. I’m knocking the armored killers down — hopefully there’s nobody sneaking up with an axe (I do find this Billy Graham cover reminiscent of life).

What did I get done? Another Veterans Network article, on military kids. The first half of Chapter Five in Undead Sexist Clichés, dealing with clichés about consent (too confusing to worry about! Unimportant! All that matters is whether you’re married!) — and as I thought, it’s a much easier chapter to proof than three and four were. I got a lot of work done on the Golem article, though I also discovered a bunch more books and graphic novels that need covering.  And some more viewing for Alien Visitors. Not much different from previous weeks, but I feel more satisfied.

I feel a little less satisfied that I’m not doing more fiction. Questionable Minds is off the schedule until the golem piece is done, and I’m not even thinking about new fiction. That’s frustrating as hell because fiction’s still my favorite. But Undead Sexist Clichés is a personal project at least, which is better than if Leafs or Screen Rant articles were sucking up all my time.

I’d been wondering if Wisp would become mostly an outdoor cat again now that the weather’s heating up. Monday, when things were at their hottest, she came in and slept in my lap for a couple of hours. That’s cool; the more she stays inside, the safer she is and the fewer birds and other creatures wind up dead. Speaking of which, I’ve now heard the ululation she makes when she wants us to see her kill (or bring it in to us — which I made sure didn’t happen). It sounds like a weeping lost soul. Less of that would be good.

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

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A Too Much Research Week, I guess

Reading a lot for my golem article.

Watching alien abduction films and Stephen Spielberg’s tedious miniseries Taken for Alien Visitors.

Extra time spent on research for my Veteran’s Network blog posts this week.

A shit ton of time spent planning and thinking. First, re-evaluating the work ahead for Alien Visitors and figuring out exactly what I’m doing in the months ahead. Second, I have an offer to edit a book, for pay, but they wanted me to give them a quote. That took a lot of number-crunching and guesstimating, but now it’s done, bid submitted. Worst case, they say no — or worst case, they make me a lower offer, I accept it and it turns out it wasn’t enough for the work involved. Hopefully my estimating skills are better than my doubts.

I did finish the redraft of Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches though I still have to re-edit the footnotes as I rearranged the material so much (fortunately Chapter Five is much tighter organized). And I got an Atomic Junk Shop post up marveling that some people are apparently fine with all Superman’s absurdities but balk at the idea he can put a bun in Lois’s oven.

Then there was today. Wisp woke me up early and unlike some mornings she really, really wanted me to play the laser-pointer game with her. I didn’t quite have the time to do that — I’m not so coordinated I can flash the laser light and still do whatever else I’m doing — so she eventually left in a sulk. Then we got a thunderstorm which freaks Plush Dog out (“Sky noise! Loud evil sky noise!”) and he insisted on coming downstairs and cuddling with me (Trixie came too, inevitably). I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I couldn’t cuddle him and do any stretching or exercise, which left me feeling stiff all day. And with no time to myself in the morning, I never really got my head in the game for the day’s work. I wound up doing some extra work on Atomic Junk Shop posts, which I shouldn’t have been — blogging’s never supposed to take time from productive work — but my mind was balking even at more research reading. Finally this afternoon I found presence of mind for planning, but that was all.

Oh well, as I’ve said before, sooner or later my schedule has to go kaput for a day; that’s just how life is. But only for a day — I have too much to do.

On the personal side, I did accomplish something, getting signed up with Duke as one of the Group Four (older, some health issues) vaccine recipients. Though as the governor’s declared that next month it’s open to anyone, that doesn’t make much of a difference — particularly as I haven’t found any appointments yet. TYG is planning to go out of town to find one (there are nearby communities with slots available), but I haven’t given up on locating something here. We’ll see if I’m right.

And one of my self-published books showed on Amazon, though as usual they haven’t made the data about which book or how many sales. That’s so annoying — if they’re paying me, they have to know — but the sale is great news.

#SFWAPro.

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Writing, creativity, copyright: a smorgasbord of links

Turner Classics looks at classic films with problematic parts: Gunga Din, The Children’s Hour, The Searchers and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

Camestros Felapton looks back at a specfic flare-up online known as Racefail.

So perpetual lecher/harasser PePe LePew won’t appear in Space Jam 2. As I was never a fan of his one-note stories, I’m surprised anyone is up in arms about it. Though Laurie Penny says it’s a shame the scene where he gets his butt kicked for how he treats women won’t appear.

Conservatives are citing the Gannett chain dropping Mallard Fillmore by Bruce Tinsley as more cancel culture. As noted at the link, this isn’t new: lots of strips have been dropped by many papers over the years (Doonesbury, for instance). Personally I think the papers could legitimately drop Tinsley’s work for being crap; even allowing for my bias against a strip spouting right-wing cliches, it’s really poor work, visually and humorously.

Just what constitutes general knowledge for a crossword puzzle?

Amazon’s control of ebooks doesn’t work out well for libraries.

Does font influence how readers perceive our words and rate the truth of our arguments?

It seems John LeCarré is another writer who got unacknowledged help from his spouse.

Amazon says it’s no longer carrying books that portray LBGTQ people as mentally ill.

The right wing may complain about cancel culture, but conservative Christianity has been canceling people  and books for decades. As have gun-rights groups.

Doing nothing can benefit your creativity.

A good discussion about copyright on John Scalzi’s blog.

The author’s alliance weighs in on new copyright law proposals.

The long and somewhat unsuccessful struggle to create a pristine, perfect new master copy of Citizen Kane.

“The creator is rewarded for transcending expertise, and going beyond the standard repertoire.” — a look at why that 10,000 hours of practice metric doesn’t work as well for writing and other creative professions as other types of skill.

In the midst of Syria’s civil war, a forbidden library bloomed.

What happens to your brain when you’re invested in a story.

Trump says he’s going to launch his own social network. One blogger laughs.

Trump was right about one thing, without him in office, the news media have hit a slump.  It’s a fair trade-off for him not spouting bullshit, I think.

A judge says the media are biased against Republicans. Lawyers, Guns and Money responds that the “the prestige legacy media — are biased against Republicans, in the same way that climate scientists are biased against climate change denialists, astronomers and geologists are biased against the flourishing Flat Earth movement — this is really a thing by the way — historians are biased against Biblical literalists, economists are biased against the idea that tax cuts pay for themselves.”

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A golem of rags? Ragman, original and rebooted

Ragman is probably best known as a member of Team Arrow on the CW’s Arrow. He’s never been more than a B-lister in comics, but I recently reread his original, oh-so-forgettable 1976 series and the 1991 reboot. This is one of those cases, like Hawk and the Dove, where the remake surpasses the original.

As detailed in Ragman #1, Rory Regan is a Vietnam veteran working with his father in the Rags ‘n Tatters junk/pawn shop in a inner-city slum. Rory’s reporter girlfriend Bette wishes he’d put his brains to work in something more professional, but Rory’s always loved his father’s trade, despite the way other people look down on them. He also knows Rags ‘n Tatters is a lifeline for the community: his father’s always giving people more than their junk is worth, just to keep them afloat financially a while longer (how does a guy with no money himself make this work? No answer).

One evening, dad is drinking with his friends — former acrobat, former prizefighter, former circus strong man — when they discover an old mattress in the junkyard stuffed with a million bucks somebody hid for safekeeping. Dad figures he’s made Rory’s fortune, but then a mobster shows up looking for the money. When Regan Sr. refuses to give it up, the mobster sets a trap using convenient high-tension wires; when Rory comes home from a date, the mobster tells him to give up the money or Daddy dies. Rory can’t help as he has no idea the money exists; the hood springs the trap, Rory tries to rescue his father and the other men, but only winds up almost getting killed along with them. He survives, and apparently gets the strength, acrobatic skill and boxing skill of his father’s three friends transferred. Donning an outfit Dad bought for Rory to wear at a costume party he hunts down the crooks. Then the “Ragman” (the costume doesn’t look particularly ragged, except for the cloak) begins waging war on the predators who victimize his friends and neighbors.

The art — Frank Redondo using breakdowns by Joe Kubert (who did the covers as well) was memorable, the stories by Robert Kanigher not so much. The origin is old-fashioned, the villains are generic gangsters and drug-dealers and the characters are stock. Rory’s noble and suffering, Bette’s constantly nagging and Opal — a black singer with the hots for Ragman — is sexy. The emphasis on Ragman fighting for the down-and-out has given the series some fans, but rereading didn’t change my initial reaction when I bought these on the stands: meh. When it closed after the fifth issue, I didn’t miss it.The reboot, cowritten by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming with art by Pat Broderick, was far more memorable. It also makes good use of golem lore. The set-up is similar: Rory’s a Vietnam veteran helping out at his dad’s shop, though Bette is now a homeless vagrant — the neighborhood’s even more down and out than before. When a drug ring tries to use Rags ‘n Tatters for their business, Regan Sr. refuses; they kill him, put Rory in the hospital and have his “aunt and uncle” take over the store. There’s nothing Rory can do about it until he sneaks into the store and discovers a strange, patchwork costume (it really does look raggedy) hidden in his father’s closet. When he puts it on, he’s transformed: stronger, faster, more agile, and the costume — it’s self-aware in some fashion — can suck out the souls of criminals like the faux relatives running the store. Rory is now the Ragman, with the power to find out what’s behind Dad’s killing and to help the people in his community (now located in Gotham City).

Then a Rabbi shows up. He reveals Rory’s dad was Jewish — Reganowitz — and that the ragman suit is the product of kabbalistic mysticism. After Rabbi Judah ben Loew created the Golem of Prague, other mystics grew uneasy about using a soulless creature to protect them. Using the same rituals they created the Ragman costume; it’s effectively a rag golem but requires a human wearer to animate. Rory’s dad was the last one to wear it, in Warsaw during the uprising against the Nazis. When the ghetto became consumed by fire — the one thing the rags can’t handle — and it became clear there was no hope of winning, Rory fled. Burdened by guilt, he hid the rags away and never wore them again.

The rabbi begins training Rory because the rags are dangerous. They do indeed drain the souls of his foes (along with adding a piece of their clothes as another patch) and the accumulated evil urges the wearer to turn Punisher rather than protector. Complicating things is that during the years the suit was quiescent, the Rabbi created a new golem as a protector. In the years since, it has gone from a formless figure to human in appearance; it can see its way to gaining a soul and the ability to speak (golems can’t speak because of their soulless state; it’s what distinguishes the creation of a golem from God’s creation of Adam). Now that the suit is back online, the mystical energy that empowers them both is flowing out of the golem and into Ragman. The golem arrives in Gotham City determined to destroy his rival and secure his future.

In the end, it doesn’t work out that way. Bette befriends the silent drifter and at the climax of Rory’s battle with the suit erases the “E” from “EMETH” on the golem’s forehead (from “life” to “death” in effect). With the golem gone, his life force enables Rory to wear the suit, instead the suit wearing him. He goes on to settle things with the criminal mastermind behind everything, and then confronts Batman. In that final issue, Ragman reflects on the many things he’s done to help people in the community, and they, in turn, stand by him. With the neighborhood united, Ragman floats off on the wind to further adventures, starting with Ragman: Cry of the Dead (the golem managed to return for that one too).

It was a great reboot, with stronger characters, a more interesting Ragman and some memorably weird touches, such as the street gang The Mimes (“If you wear clown white in this neighborhood, you must be tough.”). And obviously, it earns a place in my golem article.

#SFWApro. Original series covers by Kubert, reboot covers by Pat Broderick.

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My birthday was, perhaps, a little “meh”

I didn’t expect anything spectacular, seeing as we couldn’t go out, and TYG isn’t comfortable ordering takeout during a pandemic. But a little after midnight, TYG got an emergency call from work, which woke me up. When it was obvious I couldn’t get back to sleep I went downstairs with Wisp until my eyelids started to droop. At which point Trixie had an upset tummy so I let her sit downstairs with me so that TYG (who had to work — I was taking Thursday off) could sleep. Unfortunately sleeping with a restless dog plus a cat proved unworkable.

The result was that I spent most of my birthday a little bit out of it. Fortunately I feel much better today, and my birthday did have some fun moment. Watching 63 Up. Playing Jotto (a gift from my bro) with TYG. Pigging out on junk food. Using the stationary bicycle — I’ve fallen out of the habit lately (inclement weather made outside bicycling a non-starter). The only thing that really disappointed me was that I’d wanted to sit down and think through my schedule, my projects, and which ones need prioritizing (and how much). I only managed a little of that.

The rest of the week was productive without much getting finished. Well, except for a post at Atomic Junk Shop comparing DC and Marvel Silver Age storytelling (the above image from Fantastic Four is part of it) and a Veterans Network post about burn pits and their health hazards. Other than that it was stuff worked on, nothing finished: movies watched for Alien Visitors, reading about golems and almost finishing the final edits on Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches.

The work was not finished, but it did progress. And hopefully it will progress further come next week. For now, writing is done.

#SFWApro. Image by Jack Kirby, all rights remain with current holder.

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I slept well this week. I imagine DST this weekend will fix that

Switching back and fro from Daylight Savings Time to Standard has disrupted my sleep schedule (and millions of other people’s) for years. As I’ve aged, it gets worse. There’s a bipartisan push in Congress to end the switch; I hope it works.

But for some reason I did sleep remarkably well this week, even with Wisp occasionally in the bed with me and demanding petting. Getting a full night’s sleep sometimes works against me — being able to work uninterrupted in the early morning has some advantages — but this week it didn’t. Partly that’s because my various projects require research reading and research viewing (for Alien Visitors) which makes it easier to squeeze in a little extra work. The doggy care wasn’t particularly demanding, though I am getting quite wiped after lunch walkies. Thinking back, it’s the first time since Trixie’s injury last year that I’ve been giving her a full morning walk while it’s still cool enough for a full lunch walk. Apparently that and the heat is taking its toll. I’m going to try hydrating heavily before lunch walks next week and see if that helps. I sure hope so — there’s no way I can rejigger my schedule to avoid working in the afternoon. Though in a couple of months it’ll probably be too hot for big walks anyway.

So what did I get done while I was so wonderfully rested?

I did my Leaf articles, of course, though there were fewer to claim than I expected. I made it up by doing a couple more pieces for the Veterans Network website (my first article, on K9 Veterans Day, is already up). This looks like it will be a steady source of additional work, which is always welcome. I also spent an hour chatting with my friend Lisa Wildman, who works there, about the gig and what they’re looking for.

I did a lot of reading on golems and wrote a rough first draft of the paper. I still have more reading to do, but having it down on paper gives me a much sharper idea where I’m going, which is reassuring. I also took time out of Wednesday to go pick up some research reading from the Durham Library. Normally I’d have waited for the weekend but I had a couple of other errands that needed doing, so …

I started the final draft of Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches. It needs more work than I hoped, but it will get the work until it’s good to go.

I skipped working on Questionable Minds as I mull over a couple of edits I’m not sure about. I got a little bit of work done on the Alien Abductions chapter of Alien Visitors. I’m starting to get a feel for that subgenre faster than I thought.

Oh, and I published a blog post about DC’s Kobra over at Atomic Junk Shop.

Overall a satisfactory week. Fingers crossed DST doesn’t disrupt the flow too much next week.

#SFWApro. Kobra art by Jack Kirby, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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To market, to market

In between working on Questionable Minds and Undead Sexist Cliches, I’ve also been studying how to market them. My main source has been my friend Gail Z. Martin’s videos on the Continual Facebook page (sample here). They’ve been very helpful, though I also see a problem (for me, not inherent in the advice).

The helpful part is that to market your books, study how other people market theirs. How do they describe them? Do you see consistent words coming up again and again in blurbs? What sort of experience do they promise: cool worldbuilding, humor, friends you’ll want to stay with? Do they highlight the tropes the book contains? Trigger warnings? Then take all that and refine it.

The problem is that Gail recommends planning this out several months ahead of your book launch. Which would require me to know when my books are going to launch, and let’s face it I don’t. I thought they’d be done last year. They weren’t. Then I thought they’d be done by my birthday this month: Questionable Minds may be (though the cover may not be ready) but Undead Sexist Cliches almost certainly won’t. Is it because I consistently misjudge the time I’m going to take? Or that with no deadlines, it’s easy to let them slide a little so I can complete paying gigs or meet other people’s deadlines?

Is the solution to just sit on the book for a few months once it’s actually done and the cover is set? Or to speed myself up (yeah, good look with that)? I don’t know, but at least I’m asking the right questions.

#SFWApro.

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