Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

One of those “why isn’t everything finished yet?” weeks

Productive, yes. But I want to see stuff completed!

I finished the current draft of Undead Sexist Cliches, which was an accomplishment. But then I immediately jumped to adding stuff from some of the PDFs I have on my computer, mostly law journal articles about rape law. This will improve the book, but it’s slow going because there’s a lot of information (at some point I may discover I have too much material and have to prune back the text). So I don’t feel I’ve gone much further, even though wrapping up the last draft was.

I have finished writing the proposal for my next McFarland book (assuming they accept it), but I didn’t finish it. I have to open my old computer, convert it into word, check for spelling and polish it up before I send it off. I’ll get it done next week for sure, but it would have been nice to send it out this week.

I sent off one of my previously published short stories, Leave the World to Darkness to a new market that takes reprints. A Famine Where Abundance Lies came back last weekend, but I haven’t found a new market yet.

Fiction just kind of flatlined. I worked on my Tarot in Hollywood story (still untitled) but when I reached the point where I really needed to take it in a new direction, I just blanked. I have ideas where it can go but I couldn’t seem to translate them to the printed page.

And sitting with the dogs is becoming even more distracting than usual. Plushie seems to delight in squirming in my lap in ways that put me in increasingly awkward, uncomfortable positions, which does not sharpen my focus (I had to give up on one Leaf article today because I was feeling that out of balance) I can’t quite bring myself to deny the dogs snuggling opportunities (and it would be a lot of effort to keep them away), but I really need to think of some sort of solution. More, shorter breaks so I’m not sitting there quite so long, maybe?

I did put up a new post at Atomic Junkshop on loving characters vs. particular incarnations of characters. And last week, though I forgot to mention it, I contributed to a round table post about geek stuff we don’t get. Mine was mostly on the sheer amount of geek stuff out there now, and how my knowledge only encompasses a small slice of it, and it’s getting steadily smaller; I have no intention of paying for Disney streaming, so I’m going to miss all the various MCU shows they have planned.

So that was my week. I’ll wrap it up with one of my favorite Hawkman covers, by Murphy Anderson.

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Cuteness and work

Here’s one slice of cute. They don’t usually sit together, but Plushie kind of slid into that position after I got up and removed my lap from around him.

The other slice, while I didn’t get a photo, was that this morning when I opened the door to clean cat dishes off the deck, Wisp plopped herself down on my feet and just lay there, inviting me to scratch her belly. I’ve always been nervous about getting that close to her claws, but she seemed to want it, so I did … and she liked it! We still have to find a way to catch her, though (I suspect doing so will set her back to Suspicious, but it needs to be done).

Now, as to work, a pretty good week. Despite having the Oberlin alumni picnic last weekend, I managed to get in my three hours of Sunday writing. So it looks like I can stick with this approach for a while and quit earlier in the day on weekdays.

I have now rewritten Undead Sexist Cliches through Chapter Eight, on abortion and birth control. Now I just have to work on Chapter Nine about the concept of the “sexual marketplace,” and I can start with the next draft, which will add footnotes as well. I also forced myself to read some of antifeminist Mona Charen’s Sex Matters to get some examples of bad sexist language (among other things, Charen blames feminism for making women cry “date rape” if they have bad sex. No, it doesn’t make any more sense in the original).

Working on the book took more time than I expected, so I didn’t get as much fiction writing done as I’d hoped. But I worked on Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates and it’s starting to have an ending. Not a great ending yet, but closer than it was. I keep feeling the urge to set it in the early 1980s but I’m not sure why. I suppose I could just use 1983 as a backdrop but I can’t help thinking there’s something I’m missing. Perhaps it’ll come to me.

Tuesday, I went to the writers’ group and afterwards we went out to Motorco in downtown Durham. It’s a much better place to eat than our usual after-group hangouts and as we’re eating outside, it’s much easier to hear conversations without the background babble building up as it does in enclosed rooms. But due to limited parking in the area and lack of familiarity, I opted for Lyft. This proved more expensive than I expected, and when I called for a pickup at 10:15 PM it took longer to get a ride than I’d anticipated. Perhaps I should switch to my own car next time, but then again I really hate navigating unfamiliar places in the dark.

Oh, and I began thinking seriously about a cover idea for Questionable Minds. I got several suggestions on FB from my friends; I’m thinking a Victorian street with maybe some kind of psychedelic coloring (reflecting the paranormal elements) but I’m not quite sure what people to put on it. Jack the Ripper lurking? Or maybe have an arm wielding a scalpel and Simon’s arm grappling with it, imposed on the street scene? I’ll give it some thought, but I’m on the way there. And I found some street scenes that might do the trick, like this public domain 1867 photo by Thomas Annan below (courtesy of wikimedia commons)

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See? I told you Wisp liked me!

For starters, here’s Wisp graciously receiving my scritching.

This week went well, though I had to take time off Wednesday afternoon for an Alexander technique class. Normally that wouldn’t have affected my schedule that much, but I decided to send the dogs to Suite Paws Wednesday rather than Thursday. That way TYG didn’t need to stay home with them (she’s had a hectic week) and we wouldn’t be picking them up around 6PM Thursday. That left me free to go to a “Published Author’s Chillzone,” a MeetUp a friend from the writing group started for published authors. I’ve been meaning to go for several months, but doggy day care kept getting in the way. This time everything dovetailed. It’s a small group, but fun, though it felt much further away than it really is. Durham has a very odd pattern of development and one long stretch of road felt like I was driving out of the city and into the deep woods. But I had fun, so hey.

I worked on the sexual harassment chapter in Undead Sexist Cliches and got some good work done but not as much as I’d hoped. However I also incorporated my beta-readers’ feedback on the previous two chapters, so that’s good.

I put in some work on the Bleeding Blue short story, and it’s starting to get into shape.

And I did my usual 10 Leaf business articles. Though as sometimes happens, my brain couldn’t quite get into the zone so I took longer than I should have.

And I slept quite well. The temperature’s gone down a little outside and now the no caffeine in the afternoons policy is allowing me to sleep again. Feels good.

That was pretty much it. Satisfying, though not spectacular. Doing three hours on weekends and less at the end of the day is definitely working out — we’ll see if that holds true this weekend, when I actually have events to go to.

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Is it the zeitgeist or the nonfiction?

After I read Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates to the writer’s group last week, it struck me how much of my recent fiction work has been grappling with the subject of sexism.

Chocolates started out as a story about what happens when Hope gets out of Pandora’s box at last. Now it’s a story in which Pandora’s box releases a wave of stupid macho behavior across a small Florida town (Destin, where I used to work, but with the serial numbers filed off).

Bleeding Blue deals with misogyny and sexism in policing.

Only the Lonely Can Slay starts with a woman paying an assassin five bucks to kill the woman’s abusive husband (the assassin’s cut rate is her equivalent of pro bono legal work).

Impossible Takes a Little Longer, if I ever get back to rewriting it, will have a misogynist/incel-ish villain (or so it looks now).

My as yet untitled tarot in Hollywood story may deal partly with the Patricia Douglas rape case (again with the serial numbers filed off).

Am I just responding to the male supremacy rallying behind Trump? Or is it that writing Undead Sexist Cliches has set my mind in this groove?

Either way I don’t think it’s hurting the story so I shall let my mind rove as it will.

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Wisp likes me!

So this week I went out on the deck to trim some rosemary leaves for a roast potato dish. Wisp was out lying by the pot (like this, although it’s an older photo) and I assumed that as usual, she’d run off under the deck instead of being close to the human.

Instead, she rubbed against me as I clipped the leaves, weaving around my legs, rubbing on my butt, and letting me scratch and stroke her head and back. It was soooo cool.

If I’d had the confidence to pick her up and place her in a carrier, we’d have solved our problem of getting her to the vet. But I suspect she doesn’t like me that much yet. TYG has been trying to snag her with the kind of loop on a pole people use for wild animals, but Wisp’s wary enough to stay away from it. I think the simplest method would be dropping a laundry basket over her while she’s eating, but we’re going to try the pole a few more times.

This was a productive week, though as often happens, it doesn’t feel like it: a lot of the work I did is still in progress, so there’s no tangible result.

I’ve almost completed my proposal for the (hopefully) next pitch to McFarland, Space Invaders. If all goes well I’ll send it off next week.

I pitched my first article query in a couple of months, to The Writer. I think it’s a long shot, but it only took me a few minutes, so what’s the heck.

I posted a blog at Atomic Junkshop in my ongoing series on what comic books are like in comic-book universes. This time up: what was the Marvel Comics in the Marvel Universe like in the 1940s?

I contacted And Magazine again about writing for them, but it looks like a no-go. The current incarnation seems to be more conservative and more national-security oriented than when I was one of the contributors and I don’t think the stuff I want to write will be a good fit (this may explain why my older articles are no longer online there). A shame — I’d really like to reach a larger audience than this blog, though I appreciate all of you who do read me here.

I redrafted Death is Like a Box of Chocolates for the better and read it at Tuesday’s writer’s group. The feedback was helpful, though nobody said anything that helps me see how to end it right. I redrafted Only the Lonely Can Slay and I’m definitely getting a little closer to making it work. Not close enough yet, though. I also read over my untitled Tarot in Hollywood story, trying to figure what I want for the next draft.

I submitted my usual articles to Leaf, although I ended up one short of what I’d intended for the week. My brain just balked and I knew better than to try pushing it.

I finished the rape-cliche chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches, breaking it into two to make the size manageable. The first half deals with cliches about consent (it’s not important. The slut probably wanted to be raped.) and not believing the victim, the second deals with “she asked for it!” and “do we want to ruin his life just for a little rape?” cliches.

My work-week included three hours on Sunday, as it did the week before. It wasn’t as effective, as I was sitting with the dogs that afternoon, but it still feels good getting the last hour of the regular workday to myself.

Oh, and the Medscape video that went live last week has generated more than 1200 hits and some very favorable comments (“Visual presentation from patient makes it interesting and simulates actual consultation.”). So I guess it did some good. To celebrate, let’s look at a spooky tree!

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A time hack that works? Could be

I hate working on the weekends. But last Sunday I put in three hours and it went well. And by so doing I was able to take off the last hour of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday without coming up short.

That’s a very big deal. The last 90 minutes of the day are my low point in alertness. It’s worse now that we have the dogs, because I’ve often spent a couple of hours with Plushie and Trixie (adorable though she is) squishing into or around my lap. This usually results with me bending my body into positions that do not promote concentration or clear thought. Today, for example, it’s 2 PM as I write this and I already feel my brain glitching from my position.But I don’t want to just push them away so I can work.

Three hours on the weekend when I’m not worn out and the dogs may be sitting with TYG works much better. And then I can use the freed up hours in the week to read or relax, which feels great. It’s much easier to kick back and play with the pups when work finishes (with Plushie it’s more enduring his barking until Mommy comes home than actual playing) if I’ve had a break first.

Of course there will be weekends that doesn’t work or isn’t possible, but I’m going to give it a good shot.

As a result of the time hack, I had a productive week. I got my quota of Leaf articles in and a little bit more. I redrafted Death is Like a Box of Chocolates and much improved it, but the ending is still a mess. Too bad, as I’m reading it for next week’s writer’s group; I’d thought it’d be another two weeks before I read, but enough people dropped out to speed up the queue. I’ll give it another going over on Monday.

I got a little bit more done on Undead Sexist Cliches (I’m debating giving it a more serious name. Haven’t decided) but I didn’t finish Chapter Five. The amount of rape-related myths to cover is huge. It may end up the longest chapter in the book.

I spent too much time Thursday arguing on FB. One of my Florida friends, while I’ve always found her sweet and lovable, is a die-hard Trump supporter (I know possibly she’s less sweet than I thought) and she’s been posting a lot of pro-Trump, anti-the Squad stuff, so I’ve been commenting, and she’s been commenting on mine … and Thursday I wound up wasting a lot of time arguing (and by the way, calling them “the Squad” puts me in mind of the cover below, so here it is).

I also posted another Atomic Junkshop piece about my least favorite Dr. Mabuse film, Scotland Yard vs. Dr. Mabuse.

Oh, and the video I did a while back for Medscape is now online. I play Gilbert (“My blood sugars at home are ok, and I think my prostate infection has finally cleared up, but I have a new girlfriend and worry whether I am virile enough. As it is, she’s overlooking my fat belly and balding head!” [they shot me neck up, because it seems I’m not fat enough for the role. Woot!]). You have to sign in to see it, but it’s free. I was critical of my body language (some of it seemed a little melodramatic) but given I had no rehearsal, I think I did pretty well.

And now I’m quitting early for the day. Due to a couple of sleepless nights I’m actually ahead of my 35 hour quota — and as I said, I can’t keep working around the dogs much longer anyway.

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Sleepless but productive

For a variety of reasons (restless dogs, restless wife, caffeine consumption even though I know I’m caffeine sensitive) I didn’t get a lot of sleep this week. On the plus side, I managed to put in a full week of work despite taking time out for an eye appointment Tuesday (all good!) and our futile attempt to trap Wisp.

Undead Sexist Cliches is moving along well. I completed the first four chapters, including incorporating all my beta-reader feedback and the various online references and quotes I’d added. Today, instead of writing short stories (I woke up very early and just couldn’t get into it), I went on and reorganized Chapter Five. It’s the chapter on rape apologist bullshit (e.g., it’s not rape if you’re drunk, most rape charges are lies, you can’t punish a good man for one little error) and it has, unsurprisingly, a lot of stuff in it. I was able to break it down into a coherent set of cliches, grouped various as Don’t Believe The Woman, Rape Is The Woman’s Fault, Rape Is Excusable and Men Can’t Figure Out Consent (as a friend of mine said, straight men grasp consent very easily when they’re in a gay bar). I got about halfway through the chapter before my brain began to sludge. So I’m calling it a day.

I worked on Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates and got some ideas for improving Only the Lonely Can Slay. Didn’t get as far with them as I’d have liked, though. And didn’t get any work done on the Space Invaders proposal: I’d scheduled that for Thursday afternoon while the dogs were out, but the two hours spent watching to see if Wisp was dopey enough to be captured killed my focus. I did, however, submit the two stories I don’t already have with a magazine somewhere. That means all my unpublished stories are out. Now I need to start making plans for Southern Discomfort — any agents I haven’t queried yet who might be good targets? Which publishers should I pursue if agenting doesn’t work out?

I also figured out how to work a Square reader for my phone. While I was at Mysticon a few months ago, I discovered it helps to sell books if you can accept credit card payments. So now I can. There’s a fee to Square for each use, of course, but I think it’ll pay off for me.

A good week, though I wish I’d done more fiction. I’ve adjusted next week’s schedule to emphasize more fiction, less Undead Sexist Cliches. Hopefully it’ll balance out, especially as I’m reading at the writer’s group the week after next. I was low enough in the queue I thought it would be two weeks further off, so I need to hustle. Oh, and Leaf has started back up so I’ll be earning actual money come Monday.

I’ll close with a Shadow pulp cover by G. Rozen. Much as I love Doc Savage, the Shadow had the better pulp covers.

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Independence Day slowed me down

Not that we did anything noteworthy, it’s just that it’s one of the holidays I take off even if TYG has her own stuff to do (ditto Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years). Still it was four productive days.

I finished the first draft of a story set in 1930s Hollywood, involving the Tarot. Like all my first drafts it’s not good, but I think the seeds are there. I rewrote Bleeding Blue adding some female support for my protagonist instead of making everyone, male and female, a jerk. That improved things but I still don’t have a clue about the ending it needs.

I also started the third draft of Death is Like a Box of Chocolates. It’s improving with each draft but it’s a long way from where it needs to be. And some of the elements I’ve added, like my protagonist’s feelings about her looks, may not really fit well with the story. I’ll see how the next draft goes.

I’d hoped to get a little more fiction done, but the temptation to do work on Undead Sexist Cliches sucked me in. Of course that’s still productive, but I do want to keep my fiction output up. Next week, I’ll do better with that. But my Undead Sexist Cliches work was satisfying. I rewrote the introduction and the section on anti-feminism, and incorporated my beta-readers’ feedback into Chapter One. I also went through the mass of bookmarks I’ve collected with relevant news stories and added the relevant material to the appropriate chapters. That’s what really sucked up time, but I wanted it done so I’m not having to constantly update the chapters to add material. Now that that’s done, next week I should be able to move a lot faster.

Wisp has been showing up regularly all week, so we’re going to try again to capture her for the vet next week (we didn’t have time with July 4 disrupting the schedule). Fingers crossed we’ll do better than last time.

Hmm. Written down in black and white it’s not an exciting week, but it was a good one just the same.

I’ll close with two covers from House of Secrets (top by Ruben Moreira, bottom by Bob Brown) showing how much fascination quiz shows held back in the 1950s.  While I know the stories would have sucked (DC’s suspense anthologies of that era were pretty poor), the covers do grab my attention.

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I didn’t underperform, but I sure under-slept

So I got a little stressed for various reasons last weekend (nothing catastrophic), and as frequently happens when I stress out, I don’t sleep.

Sunday night sleep: dreadful. Monday night: not good either. Tuesday I was so zonked I took a Lyft to the writer’s group, then headed home without going out to the bar afterwards. Wednesday: more of the same. Finally Thursday I took an Ambien and got a spectacular nine hours of sleep. I feel much better today.

While I’m sure I wasn’t functioning at peak capacity, the added time balanced out for that, some, so at least it was a productive week.

I finished Impossible Things Before Breakfast, sent it off to Asimov’s and got it back the next day (which I appreciate — speedy responses are welcome, even with a rejection). The editor said she liked it, but it wasn’t right for her. I’d actually figured it was a long shot for acceptance, but it’s nice to start submissions with a top market. And today I sent it off again. I also submitted Rabbits Indignateonem and Fiddler’s Black to other markets.  I’m really pleased with finishing Impossible Things as I haven’t completed a story since January. It counters the fear that I’m just spinning my wheels and not accomplishing anything.

I might not have done as much but Leaf is wrapping up its current project. I only had a few articles to do this week, so that opened up vistas. I intend to make maximum use of the two to four weeks before the new cycle starts up.

I’d intended to incorporate my beta-readers’ comments on Undead Sexist Cliches into the manuscript this week. Instead I took my big folder of relevant bookmarks and incorporated that. It took a lot of time (there’s a lot of bookmarks). Next month I shall manage my workflow so I’m rewriting, drawing on the betas and adding bookmarked info each week. Just doing bookmark after bookmark left me numb. They had lots of good information and observation I didn’t remember though.

And that was it. I hoped to get more work done on Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates but I kept finding more Leafs to do (probably ones other people had claimed, then given up) and I hate to pass up the money stuff.

In other news, TYG and I hoped to dope Wisp’s food Thursday and cart her off to our vet. She’d vanished over the weekend but showed up Monday and then again Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday morning … not a peep. It’s like she knew. However we still want her sore/abscess/cut looked at, and she needs her booster shots, so we’ll try again. TYG and I will map out Plan B this weekend.

Oh and our dryer has been dead for a week. As we don’t have time to make it to the laundromat, clothes have been piling up in the dirty basket. The repair dude came yesterday, didn’t have all the parts, had to reschedule for today (TYG was not pleased. He’s lucky it wasn’t her at home waiting for him). Hopefully it’ll all go smoothly.

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This week started early

Normally I hate writing on the weekend. However, due to our late night vet visit on June 13th, I was too zonked to get any Leaf done the next day (not to mention Plushie’s cone of shame kept banging into my lap desk). As the two Leaf articles I had in my queue would have expired Sunday, and they were paying extra (an incentive to get everything completed before the project expires), I worked on them Sunday afternoon. Not the best use of downtime, but hey, it’s money.

To claim as many of the remaining bonus-price articles, and a few that were regular price but easy (articles about liquor licensing are surprisingly easy. Liquor boards have good websites), I bulked up on Leaf through Wednesday, completing 12 total (I also did an extra bonus one today). It was easier because (I think) the pressure to get them all done got in the way of sleep so I was up early Monday and Tuesday. As a result, I was able to get the Leaf done and a good chunk of Undead Sexist Cliches.

I’m feeling much better about the book after this week. The division of two and three finally makes sense. Chapter Two is sexist explanations why feminism is unnecessary and why women don’t deserve equality (because evolution made men superior). Chapter Three is the sexist rationalizations why feminism is actively destructive. I also took a lot of discussions of antifeminism and made one small chapter out of them.

I also inserted a lot of notes I’d taken on various books and websites into the post, and added examples for several points I was making, such as some Fox News hosts discussing why men get the blame if they rape drunk women: “the point is that the drunk woman is — she’s just not held accountable for anything. The drunk guy, however, is supposed to make all these amazingly perfect decisions, and not make any mistakes.” As if not raping someone who says no was like performing brain surgery while drunk (I’ll have a blog post on this topic soon).

The additions will require I make another pass to incorporate the new material better. Then I’ll sit down with all the critiques my beta-readers gave me and incorporate them. Then comes writing the finished draft including footnoting everything and indexing everything. Then to publication.

I made the book a priority this week but I found time to start redrafting a story I finished a couple of weeks back, tentatively titled Death is Like a Box of Chocolates. Tentative because much as I like the title, I don’t think there’ll be a box of chocolates in the tale when I’m finished.

Plushie’s eye infection (the one that necessitated that vet visit) has cleared up. We were even able to take the cone off after the first day. We do have a couple of worries about the dogs (nothing serious) but we’ll be talking to the vet about them tomorrow when we go in for booster shots.

All in all, a productive week.

For no reason other than my love of showing cool art, I’ll close with what I think is a neat Ghost Rider cover (the Western one) by Dick Ayers:

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