Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

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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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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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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The frustrating state of making progress but not finishing

I did make progress this week on most of my current projects, but I didn’t get to finish anything. That’s getting frustrating. I know, it’s the nature of the writing life — we put in a lot of work before we have anything usable. But I soooo want to close the book on something.

The one thing I didn’t get anything done on was Alien Visitors. And while I’d hoped to write some on the golem article, I didn’t get anything done with that either, other than some more research reading (which counts, especially for nonfiction, but still). I final-proofed Undead Sexist Cliches through Chapter Three and began the final proofing of Questionable Minds. I read about book marketing and marketing plans, which I’ll talk about next week. I got several Leafs done, and thanks to a friend of mine hiring me, began putting out some blog material for a veterans’ organization out in Colorado (for pay). And I blogged at Atomic Junk Shop about DC’s political super-duo, Hawk and Dove.

So paying gigs, productive work on other projects, but everything in mid-process. Good but frustrating. Especially as I’d like to get back to writing some new fiction.

Oh, almost forgot, I spent some time practicing my presentation for the virtual Zoom fair with various McFarland authors tomorrow. I’m scheduled for 2pm to speak on political paranoia in film and TV, as covered in Screen Enemies of the American Way.You can use code VVAF at McFarland Books to get 20 percent off any of the books covered in the various presentations.

Wisp has been staying outside a lot more this week, as the weather warmed up. I was thinking we were converting her to a mostly indoor cat, but I may have been optimistic. However, we’ll keep working on it — it would be safer for her and less threat to the local birds.

Walking the dogs this week I met Sparrow, an older cat who lives down the street. Much the same stripe and color pattern as Wisp, but to me they look very different now that I know Wisp so well.

See you at the virtual fair, I hope!

#SFWApro. Cover by Ditko, all rights to image remain with current holder.

 

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That is DEFINITELY more like it!

So as usual for the end of the month, Leaf articles dried up (it has something to do with their billing cycle with clients) and I had the whole week to work on my own projects. I don’t always make good use of the time, but this week? Totally.

I made final edits on Chapters One and Two of Undead Sexist Cliches. Chapter Two was slower than I thought, but I think I’ll make up the time on the two rape-cliche chapters — they’re the most tightly organized.

I wrote another chapter of Alien Visitors and watched some more films.

I did some more research reading.

I worked a little on drafting my golem article.

Despite having Wisp in most mornings, I managed to keep up my exercise schedule. And believe me it’s hard when a cat curls up next to you on the couch and wants petting.

And I submitted Southern Discomfort to a new publisher. I feel pessimistic, but it’s not doing any good just sitting here, is it? The pessimism isn’t that I think the first three chapters are poor — I reread them and other than a couple of spelling errors, they look good. But it’s kind of an odd book, with multiple POVs and I wonder if the publisher (or any publisher) will just look and say it’s not strong enough or we need more time with Maria’s POV or something. But hey, self-publishing is always an option if nothing else works. And I’m not giving up on trad publishing yet.

Huh, that’s actually a shorter summation of the week than when I’m writing about how wrong everything went. But I’m cool with that.

#SFWApro. Cover by Ernie Chan, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Today I stopped work and ate the frog

You may be familiar with the time-management term eat the frog. The idea is that if there’s something you’ve been putting off, you force yourself to do it first thing in the morning. That way you get it done, you have a feeling of accomplishment and everything else looks easy.

Between lack of sleep and the added demands of Wisp on top of the dogs, I’ve been letting a lot of frogs slide. Today I decided to skip most of my work (practically speaking, that only left me a couple of hours short) and get them done. Cleaning the kitchen. Cleaning the fridge. Cleaning my disgusting bathroom. Sorting through paperwork. Sorting out my browser bookmarks and deleting useless items from my desktop. A couple of paperwork things TYG delegated to me.

Done! Now I can kick back this weekend without being haunted by the feeling I should get up and clean stuff.

Of course that meant the week was underwhelming for productivity. The lack of sleep didn’t help, and having Wisp around when I wake up early apparently leads to me not starting work as early as I would otherwise. I got some research reading done, and a bunch of Leaf articles. I published an article on the Bronze Age Shade, the Changing Man over at Atomic Junkshop, plus a Valentine’s Day post about the film Quest for Love.

I also began proofing the hard copy of Undead Sexist Cliches. This is not the cover that will be on the book, but it will do for now. Think of it as a cover non-reveal.

The bad news: I did find some errors and places where I had to tighten up my writing. The good: not that many. It’s a pretty clean manuscript.

Another good: Got my royalty statement for my books from McFarland. Not a lot of money, but the fact it’s still coming in, even on books more than a decade old, is pretty damn cool.

I got some movies watched for Alien Visitors but no writing done. Despite which, I consider this a satisfactory week. Particularly getting to those damn frogs.

#SFWApro

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I put in the hours, but the work did not flourish

Just as I planned last week, I skipped watching movies for Alien Visitors in favor of getting the writing done … only not much got done. A rewrite of the introduction, which is an important chapter — it’s a capsule the history of ETs in print and in popular belief, coupled with an overview of film and TV versions — but I’d really hoped for more.

Unfortunately this was one of those weeks when the doggy care was very demanding. Our visits to rehab are once a week instead of twice, but they’re around 2 PM or so for the next few weeks, so that takes a bite out of the day. Wisp has been in a lot, demanding petting (she gets it) and throwing my morning routine off. The lunch walkies after Monday were all mine; Wednesday, for whatever reason, I was completely wiped out. I’ve no idea why — it’s not like double walks are anything new — but I was not in peak condition to write that afternoon. And last night and the night before, Wisp woke me up around 1 or 2 AM when she decided she was lonely. On the plus side, she’s coming up into the spare bedroom (I sleep there when the dogs get too fidgety for me to sleep in our queen-size bed) when she wants me. She rushes away as soon as I move — she gets very nervous if she’s far away from the doors downstairs — so perhaps eventually she’ll come up and sleep next to me or something. That would be a lot easier. But yesterday and today I was wiped out.

And this morning she was hyper-fidgety. Rush in, get a quick pet, rush out again into the cold and rain. Decide she doesn’t like it, come back. Rinse, repeat. I know, cat, but it’s not typical for her. At the moment she’s snoozing on the couch again. I had Trixie on the other side of me so I could pet them both, but Trixie sulked and went to the other couch. I really hate feeling that she feels neglected (especially when I was making a point not to neglect her).

So not much Alien Visitors. I might have squeezed some in during my morning viewing while I exercise and eat, but I wound up bingeing and finishing DC’s Swamp Thing, now streaming on the CW website. I don’t feel bad about it (I’ll have a review up soon).

On the plus side, I did turn Undead Sexist Cliches into a print manuscript on Amazon and ordered a copy. I’ll go over it for any final errors/changes and then I’ll be done. Well, once I get a cover. I intend to try Draft 2 Digital‘s print-on-demand service too, but they require a cover before I start. I’ve been very pleased with their ebook service so I want to see if their paperback publishing works better than using Amazon’s kindle POD service.

And I got started on another project, contributing an article on golems in fantasy and comics to an anthology on Jewish specfic. Truth is, the only reason I made my hours this week is because I pushed to finish Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman’s The Golem of Hollywood — dreadful book (reviews will follow) but definitely relevant.

And I did do plenty of Leafs which is more money in the bank. That’s always welcome.

And now the weekend. I’m ready.

#SFWApro.

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