Category Archives: Writing

Links on writing and media

“A hero who has it easy cannot prove his heroism. On the other hand, a villain who has it easy can prove his villainy. Villains need victims not heroes. A hero may only be as good as the toughest opponent s/he has faced. To make our heroes better, we’ve got to have better villains.” — Marvel Comics’ late Mark Gruenwald.

John Scalzi argues the public domain will not make your books more popular.

Don’t write crime. Write sin. says John Roger of Leverage.

A history of romance novels, pointing out how radical they were in many ways.

I knew Republicans arranged mass purchases of right-wing books to push them up the bestseller list. I didn’t realize how lucrative that could be.

It’s not just me. Movie dialogue really is becoming harder to understand.

Unsurprisingly as Republicans embrace white supremacy and fascism we’re seeing more demands to censor library books, backed up by threats. Here’s Texas lawmaker Matt Krause’s bizarre list of problem books. Some right-wingers just want to burn the books. Other parents are suing to purge gay-friendly books.

Netflix wants to become a real movie studio, just streaming.

Is there too much media to consume? A media studies professor finds himself conflicted.

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Filed under Movies, Writing

Back in the saddle for December

So starting Wednesday my vacation ended and I was back writing once more. I’m moderately pleased with the results.

I submitted No-One Can Slay Her to a noir anthology, which is a good way to start the week. I got Famine Where Abundance Lies back from another market with lots of specific compliments, which is cool — but they still didn’t take it. I’m guessing that like a lot of markets these days they don’t stockpile — if it’s not right for the upcoming issue, they’re not going to take it.

I got in a few thousands words to Oh, the Places You’ll Go and around 9,000 on Impossible Takes a Little Longer. Of course, with the book I was mostly reworking the early chapters in response to writer-group feedback and ideas I’ve developed over the past year. Unsurprisingly, when I reached the point of adding completely new material in the short story my brain slowed down massively. That won’t work as my goal for this month is a NaNoWriMo like rush — get the words down, then revise later. That’s how I’ve always done it but the past couple of years my revising process just seems to freeze up. Thinking about it now, I realize part of  that is that I’m trying to plot it out more between revisions and thereby have fewer drafts. Perhaps that’s counter-productive for the way my mind works. We’ll see.

I definitely need to structure my day with more breaks in. Even without the pressure to complete Alien Visitors I find it very easy to just write non-stop, without getting up and stretching or clearing my head. I know that’s not good for my writing but it’s a hard habit to break. But I will break it.

Oh, and I went and got the alphabetical index to Undead Sexist Cliches even though I don’t have page numbers to assign it too yet. It may take some tinkering as I figure out the categories, which isn’t a huge problem with film-reference books though. Here I have to decide if “brain theories of gender differences” is, say, it’s own entry or goes in “gender differences (brain-based theories).”

I thought I’d plan out my goals for next year this week too, but no. Outside of my writing, I usually set goals that are challenging, but not too specific — somehow that’s not working. Whether I need more challenges, more specificity or some kind of incentives I’m not sure. I definitely need to get out of the house more. But I’ll work on all that through this month.

For illustration, here’s Wisp in her new downstairs turf, under the dining room table.#SFWApro

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Plans for December

So my staycation is over, the Christmas tree is up and I’m back to work. With the golem article and Alien Visitors off my to-do list, I spent some time this week figuring out what to work on next.

First off, I need to get the last little bit done on Undead Sexist Cliches. A final spell-check, rewriting the afterword, then prepping for a January release. I’d like sooner but the holidays will slow down a lot of the publishers and Draft2Digital, so i’m going to wait.

Second, there’s Leafs. I skimped on working on them to wrap up Alien Visitors but now that’s done. Time to earn some money. I also have some ideas for articles spinning off from the book so we’ll see if I get any bites.

And then, at long awaited last, some fiction. My goals for this month are to get at least 30,000 words done on a new draft of Impossible Takes a Little Longer and to get as much wordage on my short story Oh the Places You’ll Go (it’s not that long, so I’m talking multiple drafts). I was thinking of planning out 2022 too, but I’ll wait and see how I do this month. I think I’ve set things up and arranged my time for better focus than usual, but I might be wrong. I’ll see if I can keep up that intensity and then plan accordingly.

And even though I’m still thinking about self-publishing all my unsold short stories, I’ll submit them (and Southern Discomfort) if I find a market.

Wish me luck!

For illustration, here’s a photo from a couple of weeks back of some turkey vultures dining on a dead deer. Where’s Gary Larson when you need him?#SFWApro.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

A week of staycation and a non-cover reveal

Well, mostly. I can’t help making little adjustments to Alien Visitors as long as I have the manuscript on hand. And it took me quite a while to get the illustrations mailed off Wednesday. Still, compared to the rest of this month, this week’s been a cakewalk.

Obviously no writing to review but I do have a non-cover reveal for Undead Sexist Cliches to share. I started with a temporary stock cover from Amazon —But several friends confirmed I needed something more. My friend Kemp Ward did an amazing job, but I don’t have a postable PDF yet. Stay tuned.

And that’s all my news.

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

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Filed under Writing

Alien exhaustion

So Sunday I started proofreading Alien Visitors. I finished at 3 AM Monday morning.

I haven’t done anything like that in years. I’m amazed I still can. It got very, very, very exhausting near the end (go figure) but it felt soooo good waking up Monday and not having anything left to do.

Okay, technically I have two things to do: actually send the manuscript once they set up the server and mail off the posters (probably later today). Driving to the post office or a UPS store today didn’t seen like such a smart idea. And yeah, until it’s actually out of here I’ll keep tinkering. But I was able to spend yesterday doing nothing but watching TV that was not about alien visitors, petting dogs and taking naps.

The day went fast. There was quite a bit of sleeping. I won’t be working until December — the first staycation (or any sort of vacation) I’ve taken since the pandemic started. I intend to enjoy it.

In the meantime, here’s Plushie’s Before and After shots from our visit to the groomer last week. The change with Trixie is never as dramatic#SFWApro.

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Filed under Personal, Writing

99.99 percent done

Yesterday was a looooong day, almost an aill-nighter, but it’s done. Alien Visitors is finished, other than the mechanical steps of sending it off digitally, then mailing the hard-copy illustrations.

I thought I’d have to do a regular post this morning but nope. Not when I wound up feeling a little like this:But it was worth staying up late, knowing the whole thing is done. It feels great looking at today and knowing I have no responsibilities other than sleeping, playing with dogs, watching TV.

#SFWApro. Cover by Joe Kubert.


Filed under Nonfiction, Writing

The text of the book is done

Today comes the proofing and footnoting. Then everything goes off.

Proofing is important. I was reading over a quote from The Book of Revelation (including in Tribulation 99, which I’ll be reviewing soon) and realized that contrary to what I had written, that book of the Bible does not say ” “When the thousand years are ended, Stan will be loosed from his prison” (though I now want to write about Stan and what he was doing in prison that long).

For your visual pleasure, he’s Plushie frowning on me for letting Wisp get the lap.#SFWApro.

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Filed under The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

The endgame is on, the finish line in sight.

But there’s still a lot of fighting to do! Not for the first time, this Billy Graham cover sums up the way I feel.But come Monday, it will be done other than the mechanics of mailing off the illustrations.

I was mildly surprised that when I went for my regular checkup Thursday neither my blood pressure nor my weight has exploded despite stress and a lack of time to exercise. I’ll take the win.


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Filed under Personal, Writing

Crunch time!

So my manuscript for Alien Visitors is due a week from tomorrow. The work is progressing, but nowhere near fast enough to suit me. So while I will be posting through the next week — I’m not about to break my years-long streak of daily posts — it may not be more than an image or two.

However I will present you with this photo of Snowdrop coming in this week to eat breakfast indoors.Given how skittish she is — I had to stand half the room away — I think this is a real accomplishment. A long way from getting her indoors as much as Wisp is, but she’s come this far much sooner than Wisp did, so there’s that.

And that’s about all I have time for, alas. Time’s winged chariot ain’t waiting on me.


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Filed under Nonfiction, Writing

Plushie on guard, Wisp on the couch

First, let’s look at Plushie in one of his more regal poses.Now, as to my week, it went well. Non-stop work on Alien Visitors and it’s freaky to realize how close it is to deadline but it’s coming along well. It’s less a question of finishing on time than how good I can make it before I send it in. I definitely won’t have time to catch all the movies and TV I’d like to take a look at but honestly, I don’t think it’ll hurt the book.

When it’s done, I really need to think about my schedule. My time in the morning seems to keep getting smaller; my time in the evening is getting increasingly hard to concentrate (reading, writing, whatever) as we have both Wisp and Snowdrop showing up. I have to break to put food out for them, and there’s also insane barking from the dogs at THE CATS DADDY THE CATS!!!! Impairs focus.

Further impairing focus, I had some legal paperwork that suddenly had to be done. All taken care of except for the mailing.

Oh, and I reworked one of my old columns into a new column on Dr. Fate for Atomic Junkshop.

Wisp, as she did last winter, is starting to come in a lot more. This was very disruptive Thursday — she was in my lap (I can’t bring myself to say no) and the dogs were not happy. But this morning she came in and went to sleep on the couch. Much simpler — she didn’t even look up when I moved away.Snowdrop is much warier. I set down some food right inside the back door one morning and he stepped inside, licked at the food, then ran out. That’s progress, a little, but I had to put the food back out so he would eat. We’ll see how it goes. At least we have our shelter on the back deck so they both have somewhere to huddle when it’s below freezing.

Oh, I did get Southern Discomfort back from another publisher. I’ll blog more about that sometime soon.

#SFWApro. Cover by Murphy Anderson, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Filed under Personal, Time management and goals, Writing