Category Archives: Nonfiction

Not many goals accomplished, but October went well

A quck check of my list of goals for October shows I only accomplished 40 percent. But the writing went well, so these days of pandemic I’m satisfied.

Work on Undead Sexist Cliches really went well this week. I carefully bookmarked the various blog posts and news stories I referenced but searching through Firefox’s Library page was consistently slow. It turns out if I just type the title into the search engine, I get much quicker results. Doing that I’m now through with the footnotes for Chapters 1 through 4, which is better than I expected. Footnotes, barring disaster, will be completely done next month.

I did some research reading and movie watching for Alien Visitors, though not as much writing as I should. But I gave myself a very ambitious schedule so I’m not at risk for missing deadline.

Questionable Minds got bypassed because Wednesday I went to the dentist for a filling. Much as I hate sitting in medical offices these days, it went fine and I doubt I caught anything. But I’m happy that barring emergencies, I won’t need to see another doctor until next year. The tooth is unpleasantly cold sensitive, but that will pass, and Dr. Robinson is really good about providing adequate anesthetic during the procedure.

There was no Leaf work, as usually happens at the end of the month. That helped a lot with catching up on everything else, plus doing some research on self-publishing options besides Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. At this point, Amazon still looks like the best bet.

And the weather is turning genuine fall. The light today was beautiful so I went bicycling and had a blast. While I didn’t take any photographs, here’s a shot of South Roxboro Street from a recent cycling trip.Have a great weekend everyone.

#SFWApro.

Leave a comment

Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

My instincts were, unfortunately, correct

While the rule of thumb is that we shouldn’t be visiting the doctor if it isn’t necessary my teeth need more care than they used to so I went to the dentist for a cleaning Tuesday. Turned out I was right to go: I have a cavity but we’ll be able to fill it before it decays all the way to the nerve. Phew! That said, not at all looking forward to going back in next week.

Despite the dental visit, I managed to put in a full week of work, so recalibrating my schedule is still working. A lot more of it was watching movies for Alien Visitors than I’d planned; I’ll have to watch for that in the future. But I did get other stuff done: proofing footnotes for Undead Sexist Cliches; making it halfway through the final proof of Questionable Minds, plus talking with my cover designer; Leaf articles; and writing more of the text for Alien Visitors.

I’d planned to concentrate my Alien Visitors work so that I’d be watching movies about kids and aliens in a clump, then ET superheroes, alien invasion films, etc. Unfortunately the Netflix DVDs that were supposed to arrive Monday never appeared (I’ve requested replacements) so that threw me off and my viewing was rather random. I could have viewed most of the films on Amazon but they were all for a fee so I chose to wait for Netflix. Perhaps that was an error.

Oh, and I sent in my sales tax for the previous quarter. Annoyingly, the sale of one Amazon print-on-demand copy translates into a $1.66 payment but the minimum fee for paying sales tax online is $2. I lose money. Still, I’d sooner have the sale.

One of our neighbors was out of town this week so TYG or I walked her dog at lunch (the puppy sitter has to work during the day). Wednesday I came across a vulture disputing the rights to roadkill with a couple of crows. The vulture won.

#SFWApro.

Leave a comment

Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

I celebrate the recalibrate

So as I said a week ago, I’m trying to run my schedule much more tightly to ensure I get everything done. My first week went well. If I didn’t allocate my time as precisely as I’d hoped, I still got more done on the Questionable Minds final draft and the footnotes for Undead Sexist Cliches than I have the past few weeks. To break it down:

•I completed my usual quota of Leaf articles. There was a problem because one of the finished ones got wiped from the database but the editors took care of it so I’ll get paid for it. I greatly appreciate that.

•I got about halfway through Chapter Nine of Undead Sexist Cliches and I finished proofing the footnotes to Chapter One.

•I got several chapters done on Questionable Minds. Annoyingly, Word kept doing random, arbitrary things to my document (shifting the justification for the whole thing when I only wanted to center one line, for instance) so I put the whole thing back into Scrivener. Then I’ll export it to Word when it’s done and see if that works better.

•I watched several more movies for Alien Visitors and got a good start on the ETs and Children chapter. It’s a tough one as the range is much wider than the focus of the ET pregnancy chapter, which concentrates on the rape aspect. Kid/ET movies range from the sweetness of E.T. to the nightmarish Invaders From Mars to the goofy teenagers of Pajama Party. Still, I’ll get it worked out.

That’s pretty good given I had to devote Tuesday afternoon to multiple errands: library books back, doggy meds picked up, eye doctor appointment, checks to deposit. That way I can give myself a thorough cleansing once for all the trips.

I’ve also taken over as organizer of the local Shut Up and Write Durham! meetup which is currently virtual. Our first organizer had to move away; the second ran out of steam; now my fellow writer Allegra Gullino and I will try to run it together. I’m not sure I set up next Monday’s meeting right, as it’s not visible on the site (I have to go to the link for the specific meeting) but we’ll get it figured out.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies, Nonfiction, Personal, Time management and goals, TV, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Recalibrating myself like a precision timepiece!

So I accomplished about 50 percent of my goals for September which is pretty much where I’ve been running for most of this crazy year. My biggest disappointment is that I went way over budget due to the various dog and cat vet bills. On the other hand, there was a time when if I went over budget I actually went negative; that I’m not in that financial space any more is pretty cool.

Writing went pretty well. I didn’t get very far on Questionable Minds but I rewrote Chapter Eight of Undead Sexist Cliches, the Alien Pregnancy chapter of Alien Visitors and watched a ton of movies. I did not get as far as I wanted proofing the Undead Sexist Cliches footnotes (though I have found several errors, demonstrating that I’m not wasting my time) for the same reason my Questionable Minds work was slow: I save that for the end of the day and I frequently wind up dealing with the dogs at that point. And they’re hyper. So focus goes away.

Plus I got my quota of Leaf articles and blogged at Atomic Junkshop about how much of the Superman mythos I grew up with got tested out first in the pages of Superboy. Case in point, Bizarro. And as my Shut Up and Write! meetup group seems to have died, I’m looking at reviving it with a friend of mine as co-organizer.

So for next month I’m going to try running a very tight ship. I’ve planned out my schedule including vet and doctor appointments and I’ve been much more precise in what I’m doing in each period. Out of two writing sessions a week on Alien Visitors, one will be watching movies, one will be writing the chapters. With Undead Sexist Cliches, one session will be working on Chapter Nine, one will be footnotes, reading the early chapters aloud and such. That was I should get the work done even if the dogs bedevil me. The more progress I make, the sooner I can get back to doing some fiction.

I’m not as good at multi-tasking as I used to be so trying to write while I’m watching films doesn’t go well. Instead I’ll use the time for things I can do: exercise, cooking, baking bread, maybe writing bills. That’ll squeeze a little more time out of the day.

When I was younger I used to obsessively micromanage my time this way, but I don’t feel like that this time. I feel relaxed and reasonably confident I can make this work. We’ll see if I’m right.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover (by Curt Swan) remain with current holder.

4 Comments

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

Yesterday, I played hooky

I had to drive to the doctor Thursday morning for my flu shot. I combined that with dropping off library books and running an errand for TYG. By the time I got back I just didn’t feel like working, so I stopped. I didn’t even attempt to justify it with anything productive, I just sat and read the rest of the day. Felt good, even though it meant I once again got nothing done on Questionable Minds.

Well in fairness that’s not just because of yesterday. The dogs have been getting fidgety in the middle afternoon, so I take custody from TYG. Unfortunately they were consistently too fidgety — maybe because of confinement? — and I couldn’t get any of the little odds and ends done that I schedule for late afternoon (extra work on Questionable Minds, checking footnotes for Undead Sexist Cliches). If it keeps happening next week I may just stop work and resume in the evening.

That said, I did finish Chapter Eight of Undead Sexist Cliches, and I got a lot of work done on the Alien Pregnancy chapter of Alien Visitors. I will have to watch myself, though — it would be very easy to just fill up my writing time with watching movies even though this book is supposed to be less labor-intensive than my previous ones.

And of course, I got my Leaf work in, and blogged at Atomic Junkshop about Joe Simon’s bizarro 1970s series Prez (a rewritten version of an earlier post here).And now the weekend! Even if I’m not going anywhere or really doing much, it feels good to get here.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jerry Grandenetti, all rights remain with current holder.

Leave a comment

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

Rethinking the scope

Despite Plushie’s problems this week and the related exhaustion, it was productive. Got my Leafs done. Got almost to the end of Chapter Eight of Undead Sexist Cliches (I’m pleased I didn’t try to force a finish and took breaks when I needed to). Added several extra examples to the earlier chapters, such as Gregg Easterbrook arguing the woman saying no doesn’t make it rape — she has to say something like “This is rape!” which will make guys stop (I am … skeptical) and is completely unambiguous. As noted at the link, if people refuse to accept an unambiguous no, why wouldn’t they think a woman says “rape!” when she means yes?

I got two rejections Wednesday but at least one of them was a nice “We liked it but we don’t have room.” That’s encouraging. But sigh, not a sale.

And I watched multiple movies for Alien Visitors, which has forced me to reconsider just how much work I need to put in. My initial thought was that with one movie/TV show/movie series to watch per chapter, this would be relatively low-intensity. But this week, for the ET pregnancy chapter, I watched Village of the Damned, Children of the Damned, the 1995 Village remake and started on 2019’s School of the Damned (I’ll get to the reviews in the next week or two). Plus writing the chapter. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I may need to do more and watch more than I’d initially thought. It’s true, The Astronaut’s Wife will be noted in the appendix rather than the heart of the chapter, but will seeing it help me understand the subgenre better? What about the excellent TV movie The Stranger Within? I don’t have the time to watch everything in every chapter but how much do I need to place a movie in context?

I’m confident I’ll figure it out, though this may be more demanding than I thought. But fortunately, even with an October deadline next year I should be able to get the work done without blowing off any of my other projects. Fingers crossed.

#SFWApro. All rights to image from 1960 Village of the Damned remain with current holder.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies, Nonfiction, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

A somewhat chaotic week, but a productive one.

Although today was pretty much a mess.

I got about a third of the way through the abortion/birth control chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches. I watched E.T. for Alien Visitors, as well as the special features on the DVD (I usually skip them when it’s a Netflix DVD, but they proved useful for my Aliens and Children chapter). I got my Leafs done, and a little bit of work on Questionable Minds. I also got word that No One Can Slay Her made it out of the slush pile to the second round of reviews and so did Southern Discomfort at Baen Books. Neither of which means a sale — I know that from experience — but still, that’s good news. And I sold a couple of copies of Sex For Dinner, Death for Breakfast in a discussion of Bond on FB.

The dogs, however, ate up quite a bit of time. I took care of them Wednesday while TYG was working on something demanding and they proved, as they often do, a distraction (they’re much quieter sitting with her in the bedroom). Then early this morning, Plush dog woke up in some sort of pain, and wandered around the bedroom, with his back legs giving out a couple of times. As TYG had been up late and needed sleep, I took Plushie down with me to the living room (I was already up — bad night of sleep again). Normally I’d have tried drifting back to sleep but while Plushie seemed fine I was worried enough that I couldn’t bring myself to sleep. And caring for him meant I didn’t get any early morning work done, nor did I exercise. The rest of the day I was pretty dazed; I managed to finish my Leafs for the week, then it was pretty much sleep and blogging. I’ll be taking him to the vet later today. Prayers appreciated that it’s something simple to fix and definitely not seriously threatening.

Oh, and I published a blog post on Atomic Junkshop about the insane, illogical plot of Avengers #60 which worked for me as a teen but looks more ridiculous every time I reread it. But the John Buscema art never stops looking good, like this shot of the wedding reception.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

1 Comment

Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

This would be a great time hack if it only worked

Used to be that when I woke up early I would do some writing, then start my normal morning routine (meditation, stretching, yoga, exercise, breathing exercises). Trouble was, I usually wanted to sleep by that point which means I often just stretch out or yoga it (stretching is essential for my comfort, the rest is disposable).

So the past couple of weeks I’ve tried a new approach: get up, have tea while I read, then launch my morning routine early, then start writing when I finish. It should give me a jump on the day, and if TYG and the dogs get up early, I don’t have to work my exercise around them (Trixie loves demanding attention when I exercise. The exercise usually loses). But somehow when I get a normal night’s sleep — unusually this week, I did that consistently — it doesn’t happen. Either TYG and the dogs wake up and I’m occupied with them, or Wisp wants in (adorable though she is), or there’s this narrow window of time that I don’t use productively. So I don’t gain as much breathing room as I’d like. But I do get the meditation and other stuff done, so it’s not a total washout either.

I did have a productive week, or 3/5 of a week. I finished the sexual harassment chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches, rewrote Chapter Three of Impossible Takes a Little Longer for reading at the Tuesday night SF group, read The Midwich Cuckoos (as it’s the basis for several alien-invader movies, it’s a good kickoff to my Alien Visitors research) and edited several chapters of Questionable Minds. I hoped to get more work done, but Thursday Plushie began mysteriously whimpering in pain — not consistently but it was clear something was wrong, which didn’t lend itself to creative thought. Today was oriented around watching him until we could get a vet appointment; nothing obviously wrong, so they’re just sending him home with painkillers for now. We’ll see how it goes in the coming week. Man I hate unexplained dog problems!

That left me too fragmented for creative thought so I squeezed out some extra Leaf work. If I can’t make art, I can at least make money. And hey, I had a better week than this guy did!#SFWApro. Art by Dick Dillin, all rights to image remain with current holder.

Leave a comment

Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

I still keep zigging when I should be zagging

Once again, I let my work on Undead Sexist Cliches and Leaf suck up time from other activities. But hey, that’s partly because Wednesday got so crazy taking care of Wisp, plus a streaming service at noon for one of my friends. That pretty much took out the day, so I focused on Undead Sexist Cliches as that’s easier to tackle in small doses. Despite getting almost nothing done that day, I still put in 30+ hours, so that’s cool.

Frustratingly as I type this I’m one small dose away from finishing Chapter Seven, but I don’t think I have the focus to get it done. Still I’m really pleased with how the rewrite approves the flow of the arguments and I spotted one point I hadn’t before: writers who dismiss harassment accusations because they’re anonymous have no trouble offering anonymous stories from women who they say oppose #metoo but are afraid of backlash if they speak up. The writers don’t think that might apply to people who speak up about harassment? Apparently not.

Not much else to say about the week. I might have more, but I got hooked on the writing and didn’t take enough breaks to clear my head. That’s usually a mistake.

Below you see Plushie. He’s acquired a bad habit of wanting to climb onto the coffee table where I keep my books and stuff during the day. The bad part isn’t the risk to the books (though that is a factor) but Plush is a klutz who could easily fall off, or try to jump over the couch arm to reach me (the odds of him injuring himself would be high). Putting these collapsible chairs between his ramp and the table has blocked him.

#SFWApro.

Leave a comment

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

What rough book slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

So this week I began work on the new Alien Visitors book for McFarland. Not much done: work out my battle plan for the coming year, submit a list of possible movies to a friend to see if he could think of some I’d missed. But it’s begun! Next week I may begin the watching, or work a little on the writing side.

Otherwise I didn’t get much done besides Leaf but that’s partly because I took Thursday off. I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning (blood pressure is higher than usual but not in the threatening zone) after which I took the rest of the day off to think, read and chill (I try to do that at least once a month). That knocked out a chunk of time, obviously. I did get a little done on Undead Sexist Cliches and submitted a couple of stories though, so that’s cool. And I posted an Atomic Junkshop piece about a Strange Adventures story I thought captured why the Julius Schwartz edited books of the Silver Age were so fun. Yep it’s the one posted here with the giant winged gorilla snatching planes out of the sky.

I might have gotten more done but I had a little extra dog walking, and the temperature dropped enough I could give them both long walks. Which is a net win, but it did cut into my time.

And I did spend a lot of time reading Homeward Bound by Elaine Tyler May. Amazon had recommended it when I was looking for books on 1950s movies for Alien Visitors research, but it’s actually just a book about family life in the 1950s. Very good, though, in contrast to the previous two books I read (Welcome to Mars and Them or Us) and it has some useful information for Undead Sexist Cliches, which is why I kept reading.

Oh, and I sold one of my books on Amazon, though I can’t quite figure out which one yet (they notify me before the sale shows up on the site, apparently). So whoever you are, thanks!

One more full week to this month. I do hope to get more done before we enter September.

#SFWApro. Cover by Sid Greene, all rights remain with current holder.

Leave a comment

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