So, I ran out to the library to use their computer to contact some friends so they wouldn't worry if they didn't hear from me. Then I bought a new modem/router and called a techie friend to help me install it. I expected him to come at night since I had a doctor's appointment across town. I had to leave by one o'clock. But he insisted on coming at noon.
He did all the things, too, but even with tech support on the line to help activate, we couldn't get a connection even with the new modem/router. She also insisted there was no outage in the area. I had to set up a "rescue" appointment for the next day. I ran out the door at about 1:15 and made it to the appointment just in time.
Coming back home, I followed a Spectrum cable truck from the highway all the way into my neighborhood where it parked right in front of my house. Apparently, you guessed it, there was an outage. After two more hours they fixed the line and I was all back and speedy.
I took back the modem/router and had to stand in line 30 minutes to get a refund before going to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription the doctor had called in.
Man, what a day without internet is like, hectic and frustrating. You really don't realize how much you use it until you don't have it.
I didn't get to do much. For me it's more of Happy be a bitch day. So if you came across my bitch side today, I'm sorry. It's the work stress. Today was the day the chair of my department had to defend why biology and chemistry shouldn't be cut out and all of us let go. So yeah I'm a little short tempered. We still won't know for weeks. Because maybe they're hoping will quit (work, life, whatever, either way it's a win for them).
And then this happened.
So that's good at least. Now to find 15K more of my second christmas story where things go wrong (but it can't be angsty).
But the stress is destroying creativity
What makes this book different from other thrillers?
I think the main difference is the depth in which I explore the three main characters. There are chapters set during the childhoods of Albert, Fletch and Garrett. And we are there when Albert and Fletch first meet each other on an unrelated case, some years before they discover the results of Garrett’s crimes and launch the main investigation. Then towards the end, we stay with Albert and Fletch not only while they wind up this case, but also through two further chapters during which Albert meets Fletch’s family for the first time, and the two men sort out a whole lot of stuff relating to themselves and their relationship.
Which is a long way of saying this is a long novel! At the novel’s core is a serial killer thriller, a gay Silence of the Lambs. Around and throughout that is a love story about two very different men, bound together by a need to find this killer and end his career. And beyond that, the novel explores who each of the three men is, and what makes them tick.
It’s not only a thriller, but also a love story and a psychological drama.
Where do mysteries end and thrillers start?
This is an interesting question about two genres – or two related subgenres? – that overlap a great deal. Inevitably anyone reading this will come up with exceptions to anything I say! Mysteries and thrillers can both cover a lot of ground, too, and combine with other genres. So to keep things relatively simple I’ll compare the “whodunit” mystery and the “serial killer” thriller.
With a whodunit mystery, there is a puzzle to be solved. There is usually something curious or intriguing about the crime itself. The detective will try to work out what happened, and how and why. Answering these questions will lead the detective to the guilty party, eliminating other suspects and discarding red herrings along the way.
With a serial killer thriller, it tends to be a whole lot more obvious what has been done. While there is usually something macabre or gruesome about the crime, it doesn’t present much of a puzzle in itself. The detective still needs to find out who did it, but there is usually more of a disconnect between the crime and the criminal – or perhaps more significantly between the victim and the criminal. There is a random element to the killer’s choices and actions. The investigation therefore becomes more of a manhunt than a problem to be solved.
Even as I’m writing this, I’m thinking that these things can apply or not apply in all kinds of ways to different stories across both genres!
But perhaps there is one key difference between the two. A mystery keeps the identity of the criminal a secret until the big reveal at the end of the story, even if we have our suspicions and theories along the way, which may or may not accord with the detective’s theories. However, a thriller usually introduces the criminal to the reader quite early in the piece, so we often know far more than the detective does, and much of the thrill – or is that anxiety? – comes from wondering if the detective will manage to catch up before it’s all too late.
Albert Sterne, forensics expert with the FBI, is so obnoxious on the surface that no one bothers digging deeper. When he’s sent to Colorado to investigate the work of a serial killer, he encounters Special Agent Fletcher Ash and they end up reluctantly joining forces to unravel the case. It’s only a matter of duty, though; it can’t be more, because Albert doesn’t do friendship – and he certainly doesn’t do love!
This writerly ways comes thanks to My Hero Academia and the recent arc has gotten me thinking about unlikable characters. Should there be something redemptive about them? I suppose it matters if they're the good guys or the bad. One of the main characters, Midoriya is such a sweet, caring and endearing character. He's the entire reason to watch it. It's his story. In fact he elevates this manga/anime from all the other shonens like it. Most have a screamy boy who trains and trains and trains, fights, loses trains more and wins.
Midoriya doesn't scream. He's gentle and earnest and that's why unlike Bleach, Naruto, Black Cover and so many others I haven't lost interest. But that's not what I want to talk about. Midoriya had a friend as a kid, Bakugo. They both grew up rurally and wanted to be like their hero All Might (sort of a superman type). Well in a world where 80% of the people get some sort of magical power, Midoriya doesn't and Bakugo does.
Rather than have pity, he dubs Midoriya 'Deku' (which means good for nothing, a name he chooses to keep later on) and bullies the living crap out of him. When Midoriya gets a quirk as they're called (Thanks to All MIght) they both get into the premiere superhero training school. Deku is happy to be going with his friend (which he is unwavering about) but Bakugo isn't happy about it. He has a screaming fit instead and continues to bully Deku in the new school.
He is determined to be the number one hero, a goal shared by many including Deku and Todoroki (whose father is the number two hero in the world currently) but while the latter two are gentlemanly about it, Bakugo is obnoxious, violent and bullying and not just to his classmates. He bullies students from other classes. He's so violent that the teachers are worried about the wisdom of teaching him, yet know if they don't he will become a villain.
So Bakugo is a thoroughly unlikable and powerful character (on whom Deku refuses to give up) and we've started a new arc, ( cut for spoilers )
So right now we're at a place where Deku and the classmates need to help Bakugo and I'm struggling with this. Bakugo is so rotten I can't see why anyone would risk what the kids are risking to help him. WHy would you help this guy? He would be unlikely to help them. They could lose it all to help and it somehow feels hollow.
Can you buy helping a right bastard because it's the correct thing to do? DO you need more to make you want to see the unlikable character be saved? In a way I think I do. Draco Malfoy is pretty awful as a person but we get to see that he's been forced into some of it by his father (but not all of it, some of it is entitlement) so we have a bit of sympathy. Dawn was a terribly unpopular character on Buffy but if you really look at season 6 Dawn, she's lost her sister, the only family she has and when she gets Buffy back, Buffy is so damaged she has nothing left over for Dawn. Giles is gone. Willow and Tara have their own issues and heck being a teenager is a drama unto itself.
The same argument can be made of Connor another generally unlikable character in one respect but when you take a moment to examine the character it's obvious you can't expect much other than what you get after someone has been brainwashed for eighteen years to think the worse of his father and then gets gaslighted into believing Angel murdered the only father he had ever known, there is (or at least should be) some pity.
But with Bakugo we have no tragic backstory, no anything to depict him as anything but a power hungry bully. Should I care what happens to him?
How do YOU handle unlikable characters in your own stories?
Have some links from around the web.
Finding Acceptance and Peace Through the Ceremony of Writing
Are You a Writer or Creator?
The Literary Merits Of Not Showing Off
Write What You Know: How Setting Shapes Story
And from Betty
How Much Research Should You Do For Your Book?
The Black Moment It's a good article but man can't we find another term other than black to denote negative things
The Character Arc in Six Specific Stages
The Flip Side
Five Tips for Writing Tears that Carry Power
How I Wrote an Extended Series
WHAT DOES YOUR ONLINE ACTIVITY SAY ABOUT YOU?
Five Characters With Strong Arcs
Crafting a Redemption Arc for Your Villain
The Five Stages of Becoming a Fiction Writer
Does My Character-Driven Story Need an External Conflict?
It's been awhile since I've done these
Yearly Word Count - 16267 / 100000 words. 16% done!
Mischief Christmas - 4938 / 21000 words. 24% done!
WIPBingbang - 17027 / 30000 words. 57% done!
Some of these things may be useful to you and yours if you're looking to tread a little lighter on our poor planet. I also do it for me since it's a way to remind myself of what we've done so far and what I'd like us to tackle next.
It is worth noting that we've spent years on this, making a few changes every year. My goal has been to add a few new things every year, which we are on track for. I will also note that most things on my list have had a direct cost savings in the longer term, particularly the ones with start up costs. But there are also things we can't do because of finances or the state of our yard and so forth, such as growing our own veggies (our trees shade much of the yard) and there are things that stay in the planning stages for years at a time while I figure out budgeting and so forth. We also own our own home in a very urban environment in a city which supports a lot of green programs and I've done quite a bit of research and planning on all of this to approach it holistically. I recommend Green America as a good resource for tackling environmental impacts from one social justice perspective.
What we've done so far:
Switched to reusables: lunch bags, dish towels, handkerchiefs, cups, straws, traveling utensils, grocery bags, yard waste containers, etc.
Switched to recycled/refurbished: all paper products, aluminum foil, electronics where feasible (refurbished iPads, router, etc.), some furniture, some clothes, plastic containers, food packages, garbage bags, etc.
Other things we reuse: wash and reuse plastic bags, recycle magazines and single use containers for art projects, buy bulk and reuse single use containers for storage.
Basic house greening: swapping out light bulbs to LEDs, additional insulation, improved windows, green cleaners, green care products, biodegradable cat litter, energy efficient appliances, solar fan in the attic to keep the house cooler in summer, water barrel, yard waste compost, city compost, city recycling, new plumbing with water efficient shower head, toilet and faucets, yard is completely organic and planted with pollinator-friendly plants, electric mower, we use grit to deice and our house is powered by 100% wind power through our utility.
Additional stuff: Committed to buying the bulk of our groceries at the local coops and farmer's markets.
- In addition, we look for reuse and donation opportunities for everything we want to get rid of that's usable: clothes go to clothing swaps as well as donation bins, books go to libraries and benefit auctions, jewelry to benefit auctions, reusable computing equipment to organizations that refurb and donate it, etc. At this point, we compost and recycle much more than we throw out.
- Committed to not driving anywhere a few days out of the month and carpooling more and taking public transportation when we can. Biking is not a option for us physically or scheduling-wise and we still need two cars for the moment, but I hope to go down to one car and car sharing in the future and we do walk a fair amount.
- Meat free meals and days multiple times a week
- Carbon offsets, particularly for plane flights and longer road trips. Offset programs that I like: Nature Conservancy, MN Tree Trust, Cool Effect, Million Metres Stream Project (if we travel outside the U.S., I look for local organizations to donate to).
- Use CREDO Mobile for my cell phone as a much greener alternative to other companies
- Investments - I screen out oil companies and other big polluters from my 401K, have my mutual fund holdings with Pax World Funds and own small amounts of stock in our local coop and in Terracycle.
- Switched out my credit cards to cards with B-corp banks or credit unions. Regular accounts are at a local credit union.
- This is the first year we've gone backward. We had to have to our big ash tree in the front yard cut down due to various factors (Emerald Ash Borer, roots growing into the foundation, etc.). We'll be planting a serviceberry in its place and getting something more durable, better suited to our small front yard and producing edible berries in the bargain.
- Got rid of one air conditioner and put in insulating curtains in the bedroom.
- Replaced the utility sink in the basement. No more leaks!
- Added insulation in the garage.
- Added more native plants
- Doubled down on cutting our food waste with more meal planning, more freezing of leftovers and more focus on making sure leftovers get eaten by incorporating them into other meals and so forth.
- Added scrap metal recycling and rag recycling, as well as getting a paper shredder so we can recycle more paper.
- Getting a new energy efficient furnace/AC this summer
- Redoing the attic (finally!). Between this and the furnace, we should be able to cut our house's carbon footprint by at least 50%.
- Digging up more of the lawn and replacing it with native plants
And that's it for now. Feel free to share the things that you're trying or any questions you have about what we're doing.
Instead I must pretend to be a functioning adult. Oh well. ;-)
Anyway! To make this post more interesting, have a pic of an amusingly risqué ad I saw today.
Translation: "I was in Jim today. Did me a world of good."
They're not talking about pegging, are they...? Right?
Are they actually talking about pegging?
Of course not! Why even.
They so are. Heh.
Hello, have you ever met advertising "professionals"?
I HAVE. That's why I find it hard to believe nobody realized.
But maybe it was the company's marketing people.
Marketing people. SO PURE.
She looks so proud of herself.
Well done, girl.
Well done, Jim.
Published: January 2019 by Tor Books
Format reviewed: Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Series: Titan’s Forest #3
Source: Bought from Dymocks
Available:Abbey’s ~ Amazon (AU, CA, UK, US) ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Dymocks ~ Indiebound ~ Kobo
Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for previous volumes/books.
Courtier, explorer, thief: Leaper is a man of many skills, but none of his talents satisfy the yearning in his heart for the Queen of Airakland, the ruler of a thunder-clashed kingdom.
Their affair is cut too short, however, when she is murdered. But who was the assassin? A political rival? The jealous king? Or, perhaps, the god of thunder who oversees them all?
Distraught, Leaper vows revenge, but little does he realize that his mission will lead him away from his forest home, across the vast floodplains, and to the edges of time and myth itself.
Tides of the Titans takes the already epic world of Titan’s Forest and throws it wide open, following Leaper on a far-ranging quest for revenge.
Each book of the series so far has featured a new character. Leaper is the younger brother of Imeris, the protagonist of the second book, and also the reincarnated soul of Unar’s sister from the first book. So, even though there are different characters, they remained tied together by bonds of family. Imeris and Unar both make appearances in Tides of the Titans.
One of the real strengths of the book is the fully developed world. The bulk of the story is set ten years after the previous book and there’s a sense that reoccurring characters like Imeris and Unar haven’t just been sitting around, but have been getting on with their lives, even encountering new problems. Throughout his journey, Leaper encounters many new people and it felt like any one of them could set off on a new quest at any moment, or even that they were already on their own quest which just happened to intersect with Leaper’s.
In keeping with the tradition of the series, Leaper is if not unlikeable, then certainly flawed. He’s a pretty arrogant character, content with his cleverness. He’s also not overly cautious, prone to fits of temper, and not very loyal… although, in fairness, few have been loyal to him when they should have been. And his arrogance has perhaps been somewhat earned, as he is a very competent spy and thief. I particularly enjoyed the way he connects his personas to forest imagery, picturing plants that embody the traits he seeks and using that to fuel the way he moves and behaves.
Like the previous books, Tides of the Titans also continues to be influenced by Greek myth. Leaper is our Odysseus, silver-tongued and too clever for his own good, cursed by a god and just trying to get home. Readers familiar with the Odyssey will notice nods throughout the story, including the Bag of Winds and even a cyclops of sorts. However, this is far from a straight retelling and these elements are always given their own unique twist.
Being so strongly influenced by the Odyssey, Leaper encounters a lot of characters in passing. However, most of them don’t stick around for very long, making it hard to form an emotional connection with the story, especially when Leaper’s own behaviour can be a bit erratic at times and he is blown from place to place. The story is much less about the personal journey than about the story of the wider world. As Leaper travels, he uncovers the story behind the gods and Titan’s Forest itself. He quite literally sees the footprints of the gods on the world.
However, while the people don’t stick around, we do see a number of different cultures, and the book continues to explore the colonialist themes of the series. Right from the get-go, the citizens of Floor are shown as being far from a monolith. There’s also some delving into the theft of culturally significant artefacts.
Despite being the potential conclusion of the series, Tides of the Titans doesn’t wrap up into a neat ending. People continue to suffer and there are no happily-ever-afters, just new challenges. It is a segment of history and of people’s lives, not a fairy tale.
All in all, Thoraiya Dyer has produced another nuanced and thoughtful story in Tides of the Titans.
Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.
I've been watching the Easter Mass at the Vatican just to see all the pageantry. It's quite amazing. I still very much want to see the Vatican and Rome. (And they wisely have the comments turned off because well we all know what youtube is like)
However, Zoe's had a corpse reviver #2 but changed the name to necromancer, slightly different twist on it. Absinthe, Lillet blanc, gin (petal gin in this case) and lemon juice. It was delicious. So much so I had a second one (because a 20$ bar bill is what this night needed).
No, it really did need that. It's been a miserably depressing day. The stuff at work is leaving me emotionally exhausted. Not to mention the end of the semester is usually exhausting to begin with. I'm in a foul mood (did I mention I snapped at my students for being entitled little assholes last week).
On top of that exhaustion is the fact that my sugar is out of control again and when it's high I ama bitch. THat's sort of your warning and my apology. I don't mean to be but that's what high sugar does to you.
I didn't get nearly as much writing done as I wanted to but on the other hand, I did have a nice night out. I was worried about going downtown on Ohio University's campus (not our school but fine dining where I'm at is Bob Evans) b ecause it's a nightmare especially on 420. But thanks to Easter the campus was deserted.
Even the coffee shop I usually go to was closing early but I did get my lavender latte. Yum.
But now I want another corpse reviver #2. Too bad both absinthe and lillet blanc are expensive and hard to find.
Since the door was the one in back, I couldn't re-hang it without getting behind it, and I couldn't get behind it because the closet was full of stuff. Pulled all the stuff out of the floor of the closet but the front closet door was still blocking me from maneuvering the back one into place. I needed to pull the front door out first to give me room to re-hang the back one, then re-hang the front one. But I couldn't get the front one out because the little plastic guide in the floor was holding it in place, and I didn't want to force it and risk breaking the guide. I needed to remove the guide first.
But the plastic guide was attached with square-head screws. I have a square-head screwdriver, somewhere, I think, but I couldn't find it. I searched two tool boxes (I have four, it's too many, don't ask) and two cases of bits and found a square-head bit, but not the handle for the bits. Went outside to search another tool box and finally found the handle.
So, at last, I unscrewed the floor guide, pulled out the front door, re-hung the back door (and remembered to put the guide under it so it would be in place to screw back in when I was done), re-hung the front door, screwed the guide back in place, swept the closet floor (since it was uncovered for once), put all the stuff back in the closet and put my tools away.
Finally, I was ready to make the bed! But then I saw that the mattress cover was all dirty where I'd laid one of the closet doors on it. So I pulled the mattress cover off and put it in the wash.
The mattress cover should be dry by this evening. (I don't have a clothes dryer, I hang stuff on the line to dry.) At least I started early for a change. Usually, I'm about to go to bed when I suddenly decide I have to change the sheets right now! Wouldn't have been fun to have the door fall off its track when I'm about to go to bed.
Anyway, I was half-planning to go to Home Depot to pick up some lumber today, but I think I've done my labor for the day. Just going to go to the library to pick up some books, then sit around reading and eating chocolate.
Battle 5/11 (The Three Lands: Breached Boundaries #4) [Patreon fiction]
The best way to hide may be in plain sight. Or perhaps not.
In order to reach refuge in the north, Serva must travel through a land controlled by the Prince of Daxis, who has already risked war in order to capture her. Outside Daxis, Serva may be able to claim the title of daughter of the King of Daxis, but here in Daxis she is merely an escaped slave, in danger from her cousin the heir.
Her escort is untested, while her own knowledge of Daxion geography is slight. Matters worsen when the Prince extends his reach to catch them on the very border of their crossing. . . .
"It would be best to learn the lay of the enemy."
Rated T. Boilerplate warning for all my stories + my rating system.
All chapters in this novel. The first chapter is free. By donating as little as one dollar a month, you can receive a weekly serialization of my fiction, as well as all my new e-books.
I spent it at the library and/or The Spot on Main coffee shop. I feel very comfortable there. I got some stuff written. That was good. Wish I could do that at home. It would be cheaper.
I have to admit I'm not in love with What We Do in Shadows. The thing that amuses me the most is actually the energy vampire and imagining that this was a lot like the day to day living of other vampires, namely seeing Nadja as Darla and Laszlo as Angelus. Now that makes it funny to me but overall, eh.
However, I think the opening song really fits. I went looking for it and was honestly shocked to learn it's a folk song from 1966!
As a reminder, if anyone wants an advanced reader copy of my SF novella, let me know.
And to all my Jewish friends, have a great Passover
Got the verticals and ledger up today.
Told myself, it will be a quick and easy day today! Just three 2x4s to attach to the house!
Ha. First of all, got a late-ish start, and the sun was already around the back of the house, making it extra-tiring to work in the sun. Then, there was the fact that the verticals had to have six-inch-long, 1/2 inch deep notches cut out of them so they'd fit over the battens on the skirting.
They were done by cutting 1/2 inch deep cuts every 1/4 inch or so across the boards with a circular saw, then knocking out the "teeth" and smoothing the notch with a chisel and hammer. Not terribly complicated, but lots of work.
The 2x4s were attached to the siding with screws, but the screws tended to pull loose from the siding. The plans suggest caulking the boards to the house, which I wasn't sure I would do, but now I think I will. It will help "glue" the boards to the wall.
Anyway, step 2 is done (except for the caulk, but I need to go to Home Depot and get some, so I'll pick that up when I go get the lumber for the next step).
In other news, I went out and bought a new humidifier yesterday, because I thought my old one was broken. (I use a humidifier at night because the air here is so dry, it makes my nose bleed pretty much all summer long if I don't. I had put it away during the winter, when all the rain and snow made it more humid, but started using it again a couple of weeks ago.) It stopped working during the night, even though I'd just filled it with water. So when I was in town, I checked at Kmart to see what humidifiers they had. Saw one that had a projector on top that would shine stars onto the ceiling. Fairly expensive, but what the heck, looked like fun, so I went ahead and bought it. Then I got home and checked my old humidifier again and saw that the water tank wasn't set onto the base properly, so the water couldn't drain into the base, and that's why it had shut off. Adjusted the tank and it promptly started to work again.
So now I have two humidifiers. Well, I guess I can keep one as a spare just in case. I mean, I haven't even opened the box of the new one, I suppose I could return it, but... it has stars!
Mom passed away peacefully this afternoon at 12:24pm.
I was fortunate to have been holding her hand until the end. She was never in any pain, and most of the family was able to get by and spend quality time with her during the past 10 days she was here in hospice.
Again, thank you to my on-line family for your thoughts and prayers.
Me and my coworkers went for wine after it. I do like my winery so I ended up buying a bottle of wine I've not tasted (a sweet white) because it always sells out. I'm like yoink, mine.
And now I have to a) finish that goddamn Christmas story (last scene but I am underwhelmed by this thing) and b) look at my own ARC.
Also I've now filled the expansion SD card. WTF? Dear self stop stock piling the damn free ebooks. You couldn't read this many in a life time.
I spent a long weekend in Las Vegas at ClexaCon, which was an adventure. I flew out on Sun Country on Thursday morning in a blizzard, which was fun. 50 mph winds, snow, ice, other airlines canceling right and left, but Sun Country is hardcore and they just kept de-icing until it was determined that we could go (about 5 hours late). It was pretty bumpy but we made it. By then, I’d been up since 3AM my time and just wanted to get to Tropicana quickly. I foolishly took a cab (the nice fans that I met traveling to ClexaCon from MN took a rideshare) and we both arrived at the same time. Then we waited and waited and waited. The hotel let us all hang out in the checkout line for 45 minutes before more staff arrived. Then there was something of a scramble to connect with my table assistant, Theresa, to get my badge, dump luggage and deal with FedEx, which charged an extra “resort fee” just for being there, on top a $200 shipping bill because I didn’t ship “early” enough (I thought 4 days would suffice). But they had my box of books and my table banner and we were able to get set up without too much pain. Then I went off to dinner with Rachel Gold, Andi Marquette and Rachel’s friend Patrice. This was followed by an hour or so of lounging in the lobby with Andi and sharing publisher gossip, writing careers, conventions and other fun stuff.
Friday was an amazing sales day. I gather it was not the case for many of the other vendors, but for our table, it was terrific. We had Queen of Swords Press titles, Blind Eye Books titles and Rachel Gold titles and everyone sold at least a few books. Lots of cards distributed, lots of newsletter signups, all good. We did a decent job of spelling each other and it was a fine, if overly long, day (the dealer’s area is open 10-12 hours per day, for 3 days running). I wandered upstairs, took a hot bath, read and collapsed. Saturday was about the same, only somewhat less so. I bought Season 1 of Wynonna Earp and some comics, chatted with a bunch of folks and sold books like mad. The hours continued to be pretty grueling. There were also many, many artist tables with similar items for sale and no signage for the vendor area, and no good way for the artists to make their table stand out, for the most part. This became significant as the day wore on. I noticed that foot traffic was definitely down from last year, but sales for us were better than last year. Sunday, foot traffic was nil, sales were very low and a lot of people were not happy on many levels for many sound reasons. In short, it was a very uneven con to vend at. Other publishers had not great weekends, but I think the comics folks had the worst of it.
I had already had some issues with programming, who after insisting on adding an author to a panel we had already set up, failed to ask either her or the rest of us when we were available. They then proceeded to schedule the panel in the last timeslot so that it overlapped with the close-out of the Dealer’s Room on Sunday (where closing out early is discouraged, taxes have to be paid in cash and Theresa would have had to deal with packing up if I wasn’t around). When I asked them to consider changing it, I was informed that I “could just close up early.” Given that tables cost over $300 and last year’s Sunday sales were pretty decent, I opted to not appear on the panel. The author they were so eager to add? Left Saturday due to a scheduling conflict. The moderator was never informed that half the panel had bailed, just to make things exciting.
And speaking of exciting, there was a Saturday night dance party, scheduled to run until 4AM. I was on the 4th floor. At 2AM, I got blasted out of bed by a wall of dance music. From the first floor. Neither the air conditioning nor ear plugs made a dent in the volume. In desperation, I called the Tropicana Hotel desk to ask if they could get the volume turned down (apparently on the lower floors, beds were shaking from the noise) and was informed that they had “no control” over the event space (which is in in fact part of the hotel) and that lots of other people were calling so maybe they’d send somebody by to ask about turning things down a bit. Reader, this did not happen and I thought a whole lot less of both the Tropicana and ClexaCon as I lay awake for 2 solid hours before finally falling asleep for another hour before having to get back up again for another long day in the vending area.
In the meantime, other vendors had a much rougher weekend. It turns out that there was a leadership shakeup between this year and last, which was definitely better organized. Lots of things went awry and responses ranged from the clueless to the disrespectful and people are pretty pissed about it. There were apparently differences in what people were charged for tables, no signage for the vendor area and other significant issues that made this a very expensive con to travel to, but not make money at. Sales wise, we did well, but it certainly didn’t cover all our costs. We worked the table in shifts, which helped with the ridiculously long hours. But it still sucked doing it on too little sleep, which was the case for all of us. Would I go back? It depends. I’d like to because I sold books and met some nice people and I had some good chats, but this year’s event has taken a huge physical toll on me and the various and sundry semi-spontaneous fees (FedEx, noted above for example, plus The Tropicana’s charges) meant that I spent more than I budgeted for. So very much a mixed bag. At the same time, it is a unique event that focuses on queer women and allies in fandom and I hope they get their shit together and that there are more of these to come. Apparently 6 members of the leadership team resigned in the last two days so it’s not too clear what will happen next. Sigh. Now to rest up and prep for the UntitledTown Book Festival in Green Bay in a week and a half.
So cross your fingers they tell us one way or the other soon so I can decide if I'm buying tickets or not, because if it's not going to be a job then I have to save every damn dime. I hate this. The stress is killing us. As my writing friends have noticed, seeing how bad I've looked all month.
But if you want to help me out a little, I have a few ARCs for my next release, a SF novella that you can read more about here. If you'd like one I can make that happen with the caveat that you review it on Amazon for me. Thanks
And thanks for nothing The Magicians. It was a bad enough day without this finale. (granted with magic it can change next year but still)
The first step was to get some patio pavers and lay out a foundation for the enclosure to sit on:
I dug down so the pavers would be nearly even with the ground, and leveled them all so the cat enclosure would sit on level ground.
Next step was the base of the enclosure, which was supposed to be one row of treated 4x4s around the front and sides of the enclosure. I had to cut notches into the end of the 4x4s where they attached to the house, so they'd fit over the 2x3 that runs along the bottom of the skirting.
The next step was to install 2x4 verticals and ledger to the wall to attach the catio walls and roof to. First complication! I'd misread how the height of the enclosure was measured, and assumed it would be tall enough to fit over the window, but when I put the 2x4 on top of the base and held it up to the wall, the top was an inch or so beneath the top of the window. So then I had to stop and figure out what to do. I didn't want to alter the size of the enclosure walls, because they were designed to use uncut 8-foot 2x4s, and specific widths of wire mesh, and it would have taken a lot of figuring and no doubt mistakes to recalculate everything. I also didn't want to try to figure out how to make the roof ledger fit across the window, because that would involve either removing the top frame of the window or using narrower ledger boards, and I didn't care for either of those options. I don't want to end up altering the house itself, in case I decide to take down or move the cat enclosure later, so I didn't want to remove any of the window pieces. And a narrower ledger board would be less sturdy for holding the roof up.
Finally decided that the best option would be to just build up the base, with another row of 4x4s and one row of 2x4s. That would raise the base by about 5 inches, giving the ledger room to clear the window. Went to the Home Depot on Monday to buy two more 4x4s and two treated 2x4s and went out today to work on adding them to the base.
Next complication: went to use my big miter saw to cut the 4x4s, and it didn't work. Pulled the trigger and nothing happened. At first, I thought my miter saw was dead, which would have been a big pain, because I didn't really want to have to replace it. It's a professional-quality tool, big enough for a 15" blade, although it's only got a 12" blade in it now, and it's great for cutting big chunks of lumber. It belonged to my brother, and he gave it to me when he moved back East. I've no idea how much it would cost to replace, but I suspect it would be quite expensive. But I figured first I ought to make sure if the problem was with the saw or maybe the huge extension cord I use to plug it in was broken (need a 100-foot cord, because the only outdoor electrical outlets I have are on the opposite corner of the house from where I have the miter saw set up). So I plugged another tool into the cord, and it didn't work, either. Ha! So it's not my miter saw. Then I plugged in a different cord... and the tools still didn't work.
So it's not the tools, and not the cord — that leaves the outlet itself. It's a GFI outlet with test/reset buttons, so I reset it and it started working again! Yay! I was able to carry on and cut the pieces to build up the base.
Now, the base is done. I balanced one of the vertical 2x4s on top of the base to verify that it reaches just slightly above the window.
Next step is to install the verticals and ledger! Then I can start working on the enclosure walls & roof. Hope to have this finished before the weather gets too hot to work outside. I'm sure my kitties will enjoy being able to hang out in the fresh air.
Who is the Real You when all the distractions, fears, and “shoulda/coulda/woulda” factors of life are stripped away?
Do you know?
Would you like to find out?
The “essence conversation” is one of my favorite coaching tools. It’s a roughly hour-and-a-half conversation that distills your true core, your essence, to five guiding concepts. Sometimes I find that people are afraid of what they might find out… but in practice I have never once had a client discover that they were anything but amazing.
By the end of the process, we come up with five words that describe your real self. (Why five? No magic secret, just that people are generally too complex for fewer than that, and more than that creates mental clutter.) Everyone’s words are different. My essence words, as distilled by my own coach using this same tool, are:
When I’m stuck trying to make a decision, or working on a difficult problem, or even just feel like something is “off,” I return to my essence to help me choose what to do. I also find, when things are not working, that I’ve probably been choosing from ego or survival mechanism instead of essence — but that’s a topic for another post.
I’ve done dozens of essence conversations, and it’s always amazing. It’s where I like to start the coaching process, to create a powerful foundation for success. I also don’t charge for essence conversations, so if you’d like a taste of coaching and learn the power it can bring to your life, it’s a great way to get your feet wet. E-mail me today to schedule a call!
Since 2012, Kristen from Fantasy Cafe has been running Women in SF&F Month every April, gathering together guest posts from a wide range of authors and bloggers. This year, she invited me to contribute. You can catch me over there talking about fae YA and why Jodi McAlister’s Valentine series is awesome.
Kristen also maintains a recommendation list of SFF books written by women. I highly recommend heading over to take a look through it. Perhaps there are some recommendations of your own you’d like to make!
Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.
I'll begin by saying that this is a v. squeeful post. To the absolute shock of no one, I fucking LURVED this movie. So, you know, prepare yourselves for 3500 words and change about this film. Woot!
For the non-spoiler crowd, I do think this is deffo a movie worth checking out. If you're a casual moviegoer, the film has action and humor galore. If you're into the MCU, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained (including random callbacks/Easter eggs).
It's not a perfect film--there are deffo scenes where the film stumbles a little. And yet, it's one I recommend going to see at the theater. Obvs, there are other places where you can watch it, but the cinematography is so expansive that, given the chance, going to see it on the biggest screen possible is the better option. IMAX is a good choice, 3D not so much. I've seen it twice on 2D and have no complaints about the quality of the film.
In some ways, this film is a return to 'classic Marvel movie' in the sense that the movie leans a bit heavily on comedy vs. other properties. It also has a deep-rooted optimism common in MCU films. Still, alongside all the ass kicking that happens, the film does include smaller plot threads that show how the directors come from the independent movie scene.
( And now I gotta go to SPOILER-O-RAMA because there are tons of things I want to talk about )
So, did you liked it? Didn't like it? Wish there had been more [insert trope or character here]? Tell meee!
As for me here, I'm also trying to process things with my upcoming story where I keep making edits that improve things but manage to introduce new issues to the story. So kudos to me head desk
Also I'm on day 3 of a migraine while staring down writing deadlines and the last two weeks of school. Yippee.
Welcome to the new digs! I recently completed working with Braid Creative to bring together twenty years of writing, comics, and coaching under one banner, and I am very pleased with the results.
Which makes all the more ridiculous the drama I had to push myself through to get to it. >.>
Because Braid is a professional agency, they charge Professional Agency Prices — prices that set off my survival mechanism big time when they were first quoted to me. I had seen their work and I knew that they were who I wanted but… y’know… money scary. First I put off contacting them at all. Then I contacted them and backed out in a panic two weeks later when I had a slow clients month.
And then I noticed: backing out of getting the branding overhaul that I knew I wanted, made getting clients harder instead of easier. I had effectively told myself and the Universe that I wasn’t worth the investment, and if I didn’t believe I was, why should a potential client? From there, it was just a nudge away from going into a tailspin of suck, resignation, and beating myself up.
I am pleased to report, dear reader, that I didn’t go into that tailspin… but it was a near thing. Basically it took the support of my own coach, my other coachy friends, and a certain amount of mule-headed stubbornness to decide that no, I wanted to invest in myself, and especially that I was worth investing in. So after what felt like a year but was more like three or four days and angst about it, I found the money, put it in my business account so I wouldn’t use it for anything else, and called the agency to say “Let’s do this thing.”
Now the good news? I’m actually glad the delay happened, because in the intervening time I also had some major breakthroughs around figuring out what I actually wanted from my brand. Where I had originally just planned to create a look and feel for BringingTheAwesome.com, I realized that this was a great opportunity to create an integrated new me — which is in fact Braid’s specialty. If I hadn’t had my little freakout, I would have been wasting their integration expertise by just telling part of the story.
So be grateful for your breakdowns! They may just be leading you to better things in the end!
The only downer was the main character, Robert West, who was simply a bit wet. And who, instead of ending up with either his old pal Don Shaw (with whom the mutual attraction was striking) or the nice MP Gracie Richards, became besotted with a dull, self-centred, adulterous cow of a character.
( It got long so under a cut it goes )
So yeah a bit of a heavy post this week. Have some links to make up for it.
From around the web
Writing Your Own Life Story
What Are Your Readers Thinking?
15 Sure-Fire Ways to Lose Your Readers
Collecting and Editing Our Short Works for a Book-Length Manuscript This interested me
Finessing a Story
Book Marketing Tips Introverts Will Love
On the Importance of Having a Community And this is why I spend 2 hours on the road a couple times a month to be with my community and why I miss them when they're not there
Biting the Bullet — Tracking my Writing Habit
The Differences Between a Crime Novel, Mystery Novel and Thriller Novel
Six Common Villain Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them A good one (and the caption under Kylo's pic slayed me, so true)
Burnout – A Feminist Book about Stress: An Interview with Emily and Amelia Nagoski This is good for all of us
How to Create Conflict by Discovering Your Character’s Objects of Desire
What's the Problem? The Four Classic Conflict Types
Writing Tips: 8 Ways To Take Your Book From Good To Great
What is Flash Fiction?
Six Unsatisfying Character Arcs
Then, finally, I did wake up, and I was in bed and it was only 7 AM. Plenty of time, so I went back to sleep for an hour or so and did get to take a shower and get myself off to temple on time.
I specially wanted to go today, because we were having the Mountain Spirit ceremony, which is something I think is unique to Korean Buddhism. After the regular practice, we go outside under a canopy, with a table set up for an altar, and we do another practice with a special chant. I've never been able to chant along with it because the printout is in Korean characters only, with no Romanization. I know a little Korean, but not anywhere near enough to follow a chant in Korean characters. Last time we had the ceremony, which is only held three or four times a year, I snuck home a copy of the chant so I could look up the characters and Romanize them. I made a printout for myself with the original plus the Roman characters underneath, and made four copies to take with me—one for myself, and a few extras in case any other non-Koreans happened to come. There's a woman who drives up from Lancaster sometimes, and she came today along with her daughter, so the extras came in handy. And finally, I was able to do the chant along with everyone else!
Published: April 2019 by Queen of Swords Press
Format reviewed: E-book (epub), 268 pages
Series: The Adventures of Captain Ramos and Her Valiant Crew #2
Genres: Science fiction, alternate history, steampunk
Available: Publisher (electronic only) ~ Amazon (AU, CA, UK, US) ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Indiebound ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Captain Marta Ramos, the most dangerous pirate in the Duchy of Denver, is back and she and Simms are up to their goggles in trouble. Has General del Toro found a way to use the Infected as an army and can Captain Ramos work with her arch enemy, Colonel Geoffrey Douglas, to stop him? Can Simms join forces with the devious Deliah Nimowitz on a jailbreak, some sewer misadventures AND a high society soiree involving tea, a heist and sausages? And what about the Rail King and his nefarious plans? Can Captain Ramos and her crew stop him before he completes his latest dastardly deed, one that may result in Deliah’s demise? Check out the next installment of the exciting adventures of Captain Ramos and her valiant crew to find out more!
Wireless picks up where Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures with 3 linked novellas, all set in or near the Duchy of Denver, in an American West that never was.
I was absolutely delighted by Murder on the Titania when I read it last year, so I jumped on the chance to review the sequel Wireless and More Steam-Powered Adventures. This proved to be a wise move because I found Wireless to be equally enthralling.
The book comprises of three novellas, making the structure of the book somewhat different to Murder on the Titania. Where the former was mostly discrete short stories, the novellas in Wireless are more tightly linked. I found this very satisfying because it allowed a deeper dive not only into the characters and their relationships, but also into the world itself and how it may be changing. It does mean that the stories lose a little of the self-contained, Holmes-inspired mystery structure, but I found this a feature rather than a bug, and there remained enough mystery to keep me curious and engaged.
The cast of this series has always been reasonably diverse; one of the things I liked most about Murder on the Titania was its inversion of the racist and sexist stereotypes present in the work of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Wireless builds on that by introducing the Native Americans of this alternate America. They play a prominent role in the first story, Blood at Elk Creek, in which it becomes apparent that the nefarious General del Toro is testing out a way to control the mindless Infected by directing them to attack Lakota settlements. While I’m not the best person to judge, the representation of Native Americans seemed to be handled with respect, showing them neither as mystical guides or as ignorant savages (except when they choose to play to that stereotype for their own reasons). Colonel Geoffrey does hold some bigoted views, but he is nicely balanced out by Captain Ramos, who is more open-minded and willing to make friends. This is reinforced in Wireless, where we see a Native American engineer stepping in as a permanent part of the crew.
The first and last stories are more thematically similar, sharing a thread about powerful men abusing their power. Blood at Elk Creek looks at this in a broader way, being more focused the oppression of a group through the lens of racism. Wireless brings it down to a more individual level. There are overtones of sexism that it touches on, but it also recognises men are likewise victims of abuse and toxic relationships. It digs into shame and the ways the victims can be made complicit in the abuse of others. This was handled in a way I felt was sensitive and sympathetic. Both stories touch on issues of justice, looking at where society fails in that regard and whether an individual can step in when the system fails.
The second story, Do Shut Up, Mister Simms, is a light-hearted foil to the more serious stories. Running concurrently with Blood at Elk Creek, it shows how Mister Simms has his hands full keeping the crew out of trouble while Captain Ramos is away. When one of the crew is caught and imprisoned, he’s forced to call upon the help of Deliah Nimowitz, a cunning lady with her own agenda and a soft spot for Captain Ramos. It touches on the unconventional relationship between Deliah and Captain Ramos, a thread that then becomes important to Wireless.
I mentioned in my review of Murder on the Titania that I would have liked to see a bit more of the crew. Wireless in particular delivers on this, diving into the backstory of one of the crew. It was also delightful to see Mister Simms renew his acquaintance with Chippy, Deliah’s dog, and the two make for an adorable comedic duo.
The action sequences throughout the collection are tense and well-paced, keeping me glued to the page.
Overall, Wireless and More Steam-Powered Adventures was as fun and engaging as its predecessor. I will be keeping an eye for more adventures from Captain Ramos and her valiant crew in the future.
Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.