Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

Second verse, same as the first

Which is to say, this week’s productivity wasn’t an improvement over last week, though the problems were different.

It started Friday night when we decided to keep Wisp in overnight. She doesn’t like being left downstairs by herself — she’s very wary about going upstairs — and around 12:30 her mewing for attention woke me up. I thought she wanted to go out, but no, she just wanted someone to sit with her. There was much petting and belly scritching, then she settled down and went to sleep on the couch cushion next to me. I, however, had no such luck. Sleep was shot for the night.

Sunday, more of the same, plus Plushie had the squirtles. TYG took him outside the first time, then I did, and then he and I settled in downstairs with Wisp. That would make it simpler if he had to go out yet again, which he did; after that, he went to sleep but again, I didn’t. And sleep Saturday and Sunday did not make up for the minimal night sleep. So I started Monday sleep-deprived and never made it up. The sense from last week that my mornings are too busy with pets and I have to get up extra early to get any work done didn’t help. The result was that I spent most of my week a little bit off peak condition.

That being the case, I pretty much dropped my initial plans and focused on the big stuff: more stuff watched for Alien Visitors, some minor formatting for Undead Sexist Cliches and finishing up Questionable Minds. Wednesday, despite all the distractions and lack of sleep, I was optimistic I’d have it done this week, but the last couple of chapter had problems. One was that a key scene involves a convenient oil lamp, but as the house is equipped with gas jets, there’s no real reason they’d have an oil lamp there. That proved relatively simple to fix, but then came the big finish where the bad guy buys it … and for some reason, it doesn’t work. I think I see a way to fix it, but it didn’t occur to me until too late today.

My schedule was also complicated because when Leaf articles were posted for writing it was at odd hours and moments. Normally I adapt to that pretty well but with my brain already foggy that didn’t go well. Still I got some done, and money coming in is always a good thing. And the dogs and Wisp are getting a little more relaxed about having each other around. Only a little, but it’s a good sign.#SFWApro.

 

 

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

I don’t think the black-eyed peas I ate New Years Day brought that much luck

Because my first work week of the New Year was kind of a mess. Still the hopping John was quite tasty

Monday went great, actually. I watched the 1953 and 2005 War of the Worlds for Alien Visitors and wrote a rough draft of the Alien Invaders chapter (Wells’ work and its adaptations will be the main focus). For the first time in a couple of months I seemed capable of organizing my thoughts, catching the key details of Alien Invader movies — it felt great! I also did another spell-check on Undead Sexist Cliches (good move — Word spellcheck caught a lot that Scrivener didn’t) and started rewriting an old short story, Love That Moves the Sun, to read to the writers’ group Tuesday. I’d thought a relatively cursory rewrite would get it in at least good enough shape for presenting, but I was wrong. About 2,000 words in I started seeing the need for substantial changes, but that’s actually good: I haven’t really had an idea how to fix this but maybe my brain’s coming up with something. Unfortunately part of the fix will be turning it into at least novella length — the ending doesn’t work and to reach one that does, I’ll need an expansion — and  I still  don’t know where it goes beyond the original story.

However, the response from the group on Tuesday was very positive, so I’m encouraged to keep working on it. I got the standard criticisms I always receive — needs more detail on the setting, things happen too damn fast — and they’re absolutely right. Slowing it down and filling in detail will improve it and perhaps somewhere in there I’ll see how to expand it successfully.

Tuesday I did some more Alien Visitors work. And then Wednesday the shit hit the fan. No, not Trump’s attempted coup, at least not at first. It was Plushie: he needs heat applied to his hip joint every day, and we’ve started doing it in the morning so we don’t let it slide (he gets painfully stiff if we skip it for a few days). Coupled with other dog stuff and coping with Wisp, I wound up starting work about 90 minutes late, which put me off my game for much of the day. I’d intended to make up the time in the evening, but then I heard about the attack on Congress and spent the rest of the afternoon on into the evening doomposting. And not the fun Doom either.

Thursday and Friday I did more doomposting. And I had either Wisp or Trixie down with me in the early morning. That’s the only time I really feel is private, because nobody’s up; normally I can adapt when pets intrude (I won’t send them away) but this time I was stressed enough that petting and watching over them became like chaff in my brain. And then Thursday afternoon we had an appointment at the rehab vet.

Today I did a little better with Wisp lying next to me. But then TYG was doing something techie and I had to get off the Internet for an hour and help her with grunt work, so that cost an hour, plus I was hardly focused when the Internet came back up. So since Tuesday all I’ve done is a small number of Leaf articles.

Frustrating, but hopefully the hopping John will kick in after this.

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

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

What rough year slouches towards Bethlehem, ready to be born?

Welcome to 2021. While I can imagine all kinds of ways in which it could be worse for me than last year, I’m nonetheless feeling hopeful that it’ll be better. And that I’ll do better with my goals, particularly writing goals. I’ve run over what worked and what hasn’t worked, plus what has to work (Alien Invaders is due in October, so I’d better be ready). I’m probably still a little optimistic, but not unattainably so. But I’m making hopping John today because Southern tradition says that brings in the good luck. And it’ll be tasty, so why not?

The two immediate goals are to self-publish Undead Sexist Cliches and Questionable Minds. Deadline: My birthday. It’s doable (the one big obstacle might be indexing USC) assuming my cover artist for the novel delivers and I can find a cover artist for USC. Later in the year, I’ll publish a short story collection, Magic Through History, with a mix of published and unpublished shorts. Though I will be submitting the unpublished stuff so it’s possible some of them will be off the table.

I want to finish three short stories — okay, I’d like to finish more than that, but I think that’s doable. That includes finishing Oh the Places You’ll Go! and rewriting my first published story, The Adventures of the Red Leech (which I wrote about here last year).

I want to finish my new draft of Impossible Takes a Little Longer, submit it to beta readers and finish a redraft based on their suggestions. That’s the schedule where I’m really pushing it, but I enjoy writing novels and I want to push on this so why not?

I also have odds and ends: try making YouTube videos, earn at least $20,000, prepare my “writing estate” (so TYG knows what I have out and where the rights are tied up) and pitch several articles and columns. I haven’t had much luck with either (outside of my Leaf articles) but it’s worth a shot, and I have some ideas that might sell.

In the personal field, I want to make my exercise schedule more demanding, and improve my diet: not that it’s massively unhealthy but upping my fruit and vegetable intake can’t hurt. I want to bicycle as much as two hours at least once, and walk six miles at some point, both of which are beyond my current range. I’m planning carefully so that I can (hopefully) work up to that level of intensity.

And there’s a bunch of activities and goals that apply if and when it’s safe to walk outside and mingle with people again. Hopefully not too long.

I want to increase my reading; obviously I read a lot already, but there’s so much to read and there’s more books I can squeeze in if I focus better (with dogs and Wisp, it’s sometimes hard). I also plan to keep improving my photography, just because it’s fun. As a token of which, here’s a recent image from a late night walk.I wish y’all the best for 2021. Let’s roll.

#SFWApro.

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

2020: not my most productive year

And I can’t even blame the pandemic: after all, I was working at home long before the Trump Virus made it a life-saving option. TYG working from home has in some ways made my work easier, as I don’t have dogs all day. I do, however, get randomly called to take over dog-car for her when she gets busy or Plushie gets fidgety, but it’s still mostly a win.

Nevertheless, I didn’t get anywhere near as much done as I’d anticipated. Partly that’s because pandemic stress did slow me down the first two or three months. Plus Undead Sexist Cliches took much more time to complete than I’d planned (Which is typical. Nonfiction always eats into my fiction-writing time). Redrafting Impossible Takes a Little Longer did too — so much more that I didn’t get beyond four chapters in, though they’re much better chapters. I finished two short stories, submitted shorts 27 times, and sold three (two of them reprints), none of which met my goals. And I fell just a few hundred dollars short of my income goal for the year, due to Leaf work stopping in early December. But I did finish Undead Sexist Cliches, and I’m almost done with Questionable Minds; I’d wanted them finished and published, but I’m still pleased to know they will be done soon.

Plans for travel and for local social events didn’t happen, obviously. Neither did a lot of my personal goals for doing stuff with TYG: she had some ultra-demanding personal projects going on the first couple of months of 2020 and by the time they wrapped up, we were hunkering down at home. The brightest spot of the year for us, though, was her working from home and discovering she not only liked it, she could be more productive even when dealing with dogs. So she’s not going back. It’s much less stress for her, no time spent driving to work, and having added help with the dogs is easier for me.

I donated more money this year, and contributed regularly to a local food bank. Didn’t do as much to contribute to the commonweal as I’d intended to, even so; I’ll work on doing more in 2021.

Wisp was a big success. She’s gone from occasionally coming in the door to eat and get petting to coming in and snuggling on the couch. Last weekend we brought her in late in the evening and left her downstairs all night; I wasn’t sure she’d be happy with that, but it turned out fine. We’re still some ways from making her a permanent indoor cat (we’d like to do that — much safer for the birds) but maybe it’s not as impossible as I was starting to think. In any case, she’s definitely part of our family now: like Plushie and Trixie she has her own Christmas ornament.

And I did accomplish two personal goals. In 2019 I got out of the habit of baking bread regularly so I set myself a goal for 2020 of baking at least twice a month (including muffins and scones). I succeeded. And for the first time since moving up here—okay, and a long time before that—I cleared all the new books out of my to be read shelf. Yes, I know, that just means I’m not buying enough books, but seriously, having a book sit on my shelves for three years before I get to it just annoys me. We’ll see if I can keep up in 2021. Total books read, 214, if you’re wondering, including about 40 percent graphic novels.

Despite the disappointments—all those submissions and only one new story sold?—this was overall a good year for me. Even with all the things I missed, like visiting my family and friends in Florida, it turns out TYG, writing and our pets can keep me pretty happy.

Still I’m ready for the vaccine, though it’ll be a while before TYG or I get a dose. Ready for Trump to be gone. Ready for 2021.

#SFWApro.

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Three-quarters there!

So with Undead Sexist Cliches proofed, this week I had a lot more time to focus on proofing my steampunk novel, Questionable Minds. Today I did some math and realized I’m slightly past the 75 percent done mark. That’s a wonderful surprise. I’ve been so focused on what I haven’t gotten done, it’s a real thrill to know I have, in fact, made serious progress. I don’t expect to have it done this year, but maybe January?

On the downside, I didn’t get much done on Alien Visitors. One movie watched (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers). Rough drafts of a couple of chapters. I think part of the problem focusing is that it’s not as encyclopedic as The Wizard of Oz Catalog or Now and Then We Time Travel. Covering everything is a simple concept (though McFarland was probably right that this topic is too big); covering specific topics with just one or two sample films is a good deal harder. How many films do I need to watch to get a feel for a given subgenre? Which is the right film? However I have a deadline in nine months, which should give me an incentive to figure it out ASAP.

Oh, and I ran Undead Sexist Cliches through the Scrivener spellcheck, caught a few more errors.

I think I’d have been more productive but it was another week where TYG’s schedule got crazy and that affected mine, as always. But hey, 75 percent ain’t nothing. I’m feeling good.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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

This week EVERYTHING ate my homework

But let’s start with the good stuff, shall we. As of this morning, my redraft of Undead Sexist Cliches is finished.

It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but this is a huge deal. I’ve been working on this for so long and it’s become so much bigger than I’d planned, and now the heavy lifting part is done. There’s still work to do: spell check, getting cover art, writing cover copy, formatting the book, but it’s all trivial by comparison. The book will be out, not this year obviously, but by spring. It’s going to happen. Woot.

And with one big project off the table, I can start work on some others in 2021. Looking forward to doing fiction again.

That said, this week’s schedule was quite a mess. TYG was up very late on Sunday. Monday morning I wound up moving from petting Wisp in the early morning to sitting with the dogs so TYG could catch up on sleep. With non-stop pets I had no chance to meditate, stretch out, exercise or practice Alexander technique. I felt stiff all day. Monday night, for some reason, it took me forever to fall asleep, which is abnormal — I don’t always stay asleep long, but I’m usually out once my head hits the pillow. Instead I got up, eventually caught a small bit of sleep, got up again. Did not leave me in great shape during the day. Wednesday, Plushie and Trixie both wanted loooong lunch walks. Thursday, I had to give them both morning walks. Today we had a re-evaluation for Trixie’s leg — making progress, but still not as good as it should be (solution: more drugs, possibly added therapy). That took around 2.5 hours in the middle of the day; even though a lot of that would have been lunch time, it still threw me off my game when I got home.

So outside of a couple of movies for Alien Visitors and some research reading, Undead Sexist Cliches was about all I worked on. But at least that work paid off. Next week, with only light work on that book, I can get back to Questionable Minds and Alien Visitors. Not a bad Christmas present.

To celebrate, here’s a cute cover by Sheldon Meyer—And one by Billy Graham (no, not the preacher). Nothing says Christmas like Luke Cage trying to save the world from nuclear terrorism, am I right?#SFWApro. All rights to cover images remain with current holders.

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

This is probably not safe behavior

For Wisp, that is. When she follows us, sometimes she’ll just lie out in the street like this. Cars come; she just stays there and double-dares them. Fortunately the drivers either navigate around her or they go slow enough she can get up. And I usually try to chivvy her to safety. Still, given she’s survived at least three years on her own, I would have assumed she had better sense about cars.

On the plus side, she came in for breakfast every morning this week. I turn the back door lock, she comes out of the heated shelter we have on the deck. She eats, then she usually sleeps on the couch next to me, and eventually up and leaves. This throws off my morning schedule because when I exercise she freaks out; at first I tried doing it later in the day, but that’s inconvenient. Today I woke up early and tried a different solution: meditation, stretching and exercise, only the inviting Wisp in. It worked better. I’ll try that again.

My goals for November — I’ve no idea. Very unusually for me I lost track, so I don’t really know how I performed. As there’s no rewards or anything attached, it doesn’t really matter but I do take pride in reviewing my progress. I think the miasma has lifted though.

And I did have a productive week. My Leaf quota. Proofing through most of Chapter Eight (abortion and birth control) in Undead Sexist Cliches. A few chapters of Questionable Minds edited and almost all of the book marked up in red pen (a lot of the marks are just “fix this” so it’s not really edited yet). No writing done on Alien Visitors but a couple of movies and some TV watched.

TYG had to take Plushie into the vet Tuesday when he seemed to have trouble walking. Turns out we have not been doing our share of home rehab (heat to his hips and massage) so despite the laser treatment, his muscles have been stiffening a little. We applied the heat treatment today and yesterday and it seems to perk him up. He’s not enthused about sitting there, but with enough petting and cuddles we can make him do it. So we shall!

#SFWApro.

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

For obvious reasons, this was a short work week

As usual for the last week of the month there was no Leaf to work on. But my mind couldn’t seem to shift to Questionable Minds so I watched some movies for Alien Visitors and spent most of my time on Undead Sexist Cliches. I finished proofing the footnotes and I polished the text through the middle of Chapter Seven. So next month, I should be done with polishing too. Then it’s just going through the steps to get it into book form at Draft2Digital and then Amazon, including writing cover copy and and getting the cover art.

I’m actually a little nervous: this topic is much more serious than my film books which makes me more concerned that I’ve done everything right and that my reasoning is rigorous. But I will, of course, press ahead. It will be done within a couple of months, and I can stop spending writing time on it. And if it contributes at all to the fight against male supremacy, well that’ll be awesome.

Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving, which hasn’t been turkey day for me for more than twenty years. Normally we’d be eating at Café Parizade, which has the largest vegan Thanksgiving in the southeast (neither TYG nor I is vegan, but we do quite a few vegan events). This year, of course, is not normal, so I paid for takeout, then drove yesterday to pick it up. That was both exhilarating (whee, a trip somewhere besides the vet!) and unsettling (driving somewhere other than the vet! What if the car explodes?).  And I was also worried I’d made a bad call and the meal wouldn’t be substantial enough to be worth the money.

I needn’t have worried. Parizade’s portions were generous and while the menu wasn’t as diverse as the usual buffet, it was quite satisfactory: seitan cubes, pasta and veggies, garlicky mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts (TYG had those. I can’t stand ’em), blueberry crumble, quinoa with veggies and several desserts. We did miss not being able to go back to the dessert table repeatedly, but on the plus side we were able to keep the leftovers so I didn’t feel the need to stuff myself to get my money’s worth. Or at least not stuff myself as much.

I’d planned a Zoom call with my family but there was a confusion about time so I had one call with my bro at 3PM and one with my sister and Dad at 4. Still fun.

Today I made a zucchini lasagna, which I’d planned to make Thursday — it’s one of TYG’s favorites — if we’d been doing our own cooking. And I started thinking about my December writing schedule and plans for next year.

To wrap up the week here’s a delightful painting by Gervasio Gallardo, who did so many amazing covers for Ballantine Books.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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The Man Who Lost Thursday

(And yes, I picked the title because I really like the Gervasio Gallardo cover).

Following last week’s mess, I expected to rise back to my normal level of productivity this week, but it was not to be. I had three reasonably productive days, getting work done on Undead Sexist Cliches, and watching material for Alien Visitors. Plus, of course, my Leaf articles.Then came Thursday. It was one of the days where there’s a bunch of real-world stuff that had to be done — so I dropped my work and did it.

Two of them were surprises. The Low Tire warning light went on the day before and with all our driving back and forth to the veterinary rehab, it seemed wise to take care of it. That morning I took the car to the nearest gas station which has an automatic air-pump that inflates tires to the right pressure without having to check. I also figured out how to reset the tire pressure so the light goes up, something that’s not as simple as with our previous VW Golf. That way if there is a slow leak or something — I’m assuming it was just time, our lack of regular tire checks and cold air effects — it’ll alert us again.

Then there was my teeth. They normally stay sore for a while after I have work done on them, so at first the temperature sensitivity after last month’s filling didn’t bother me. But it seemed to be becoming more acute, and included heat sensitivity, which is a warning sign of Something Serious. Given that it spread over both the upper and lower right side of my mouth, TYG suggested it could be sinuses. However, while that seemed plausible, it could have been worse … and I didn’t want to have to go in two or three weeks later with COVID-19 in its winter surge and my teeth having deteriorated. So I called the doctor and made an appointment for noon.

It was sinuses. Which despite paying $120 for the exam, I was happy to hear. Relatively simple to treat and no going under the needle again! Or paying for fillings, root canals or whatever. And I don’t have to worry something’s seriously wrong, which I would have if I’d skipped going.

The other stuff I did Thursday was matters that I knew needed taking care of but I hadn’t gotten around to yet. Hall light replaced upstairs. Chatting with our medical insurer and determining that no, we hadn’t met our high deductible yet which is why a couple of bills were higher than expected. Figuring out how to access our HSA to pay for them — our old HSA let you just withdraw at the ATM, but this one is much more complicated to get money out of (I got it figured out though). I wanted to submit to our pet insurer for rehab coverage too, but that will have to wait.

So not much done. Then today we had dog stuff for much of the day: take our dogs to the vet to get their nails trimmed (Plushie’s are long enough they could break, which would be painful), then to rehab. Normally we go evenings, but this time we scored an early afternoon appointment. Preferable, but not good for productivity (it’s a good half-hour drive).

On the plus side, though, Flash in a Flash accepted my short story Rabbits Indignateonem. That’s the first new story I’ve sold in two years. It doesn’t necessarily change my October views on selling stories, but it is quite nice.

And it looks like Leaf, as usual, will not have articles for the last week of the month so I can make up for lost time next week, despite the Thanksgiving weekend.

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

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

The day (or two) that dropped out of time!

This week was a reminder that being tighter and more efficient about my schedule is good, but it can’t always overcome bad luck. As I know from experience, sooner or later a run of good weeks will be followed by a bad. And this was the bad.

Last Friday, Plushie took a couple of indoor poops which was really unusual. Saturday night, he woke me up at 11:30 to go out for a poop. Then again at 1 AM. And a couple more times. I spent Sunday in a stupor and never got any Alien Visitors films watched.

Tuesday night, it happened again. Wednesday day I alternated sleeping— a lot of it — with reading Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill. No work. So not a productive week.

I got almost a full quota of Leaf articles and quite a bit of work done on Undead Sexist Cliches. Nothing on Questionable Minds or Alien Visitors. I wasn’t pleased by this but I won’t beat myself up over it either. Life happens.

And in a minor annoyance, the original Outer Limits, which I’d been watching on Amazon, is suddenly not available in my area. It doesn’t appear to be streaming anywhere else and the DVD set is not only pricey, the reviews saw it degrades fast.

On the plus side, after we took Plushie to the vet on Wednesday he got some meds and his poop has stabilized. Thank goodness.

#SFWApro.  Cover by Irwin Hasen, all rights remain with current holder.

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