AROW80 Round #2 Final Check-In: June 25, 2014

Tooth News Update: I had the root canal today! It took three shots to numb up my face and the doctor who performed the root canal had a great system for doing it. Basically, he poked the inside of my mouth with his fingernail while he gave me the shot, waited for the area to numb up and then repeated the procedure.

As seems to be the usual with me, the rest of the procedure was easy-peasy lemon squeezy. Well, ok, it was uncomfortable and I could do without the sound of the drill and the smell of burning tooth but the needles are always the worst part for me.

And, they let me use a CD player and I listened to the sound track for Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?  Never seen the movie, but I like the music!

Next up: getting the crown!

Final Thoughts for Round #2:

This round ended up being pretty hit or miss for me. I divided the round into monthly goals, rather than working on one set project for the entire time.

My goal for April was to work on world building, which went well. Didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, but I got a lot of good work done and I continued to work on world building for the rest of the round.

My goal for May was to start typing up my manuscript for Defcon: Fade Out and…it didn’t happen! Not one bit!

Nope Nope Nope Octopus

It was kinda like this. Only I have fewer arms.

 And the plans for June, which were pretty nebulous and hinged on the book being done, were also a bust. Although, I did manage to finally make myself write plot summaries for the Defcon series, of which Fade Out is book #5 (which, as you may have guessed, means I’m writing the series backwards! This was not on purpose…) and I’ve started plotting out the back story for Fade Out, which is going to make the actual typing go a lot faster, I am thinking.

Interim Plans:

Between now and July 7th, I’m going to outline my manuscript again.  This time, basing it on the back story outline I’ve been working on and also using a technique I read about over at io9.com: One Weird Trick For Cutting Down Your Novel (for the link-phobic, it basically involves micro outlining your book and figuring out what scenes absolutely NEED to be included).

Next Round Plans:

I’m setting one goal for next round: typing up the manuscript. I did the math, 100,000 words over 80 days is 1,250 words per day of typing — or, at my typing speed, about 15 minutes worth of typing a day. So, yeah, doable. Just gotta corral my inner nopetopus and knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it.

Miscellaneous Happy News:

  • This is my 100th post!
  • Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional! Whoot! (Same for Utah’s, but I grew up in Indiana so to me that’s the bigger deal *grins*)
  • I won a travel mug from my library’s adult summer reading program!
  • I listened to the audiobook of The Scarlet Pimpernel, after finding out that the book a) inspired secret identity characters like Zorro and Batman and b) that it was written by a woman, meaning that women have been part of the genre of superheros since the beginning, yo! And the Scarlet Pimpernel lead me to start reading the Pink Carnation Series by Laura Willig, which is a delightful follow up to the idea of flower-named spies and adventurers in Napoleonic Europe.

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AROW80 Check-In: June 22, 2014

I discovered a very helpful writing tool over the last couple days, one that I kind of wish I’d figured out years ago because I think it is going to make a big difference when I start typing up the manuscript next round.  Yeahhh, the typing thing? It’s going to happen next round, mainly because I don’t think I can type up 100,000+ words in the next three days…

(Ok, so I did the math and 100,000 words at 90 words per minute is something like, 1,111 minutes which is about 18.5 hours so maybe I *could* but…don’t wanna, not gonna.)

This new exciting writing tool? I started writing out the plot’s back story — basically, all the things that had to have happened to lead up to the events of the book itself.  It’s been tricky, but it definitely feels worth it since I can feel ideas clicking into place.

So, that’s what I’m working on for the last few days of this round.

That and eagerly awaiting my root canal on Wednesday (no, really!).

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AROW80 Check-In: June 18, 2014

Tooth News Update:  I have FINALLY made the appointment for the root canal I’ve needed since February (for those new to the Ongoing Dental Saga, there’s no good reason for this delay beyond my natural instinct to procrastinate).   Next Wednesday, I go in and hopefully get the blasted thing fixed for good and always!

So, fingers crossed that soon I will be able to eat without having to remind myself to Not Chew On The Left Side Of My Mouth.  Seriously, doing that only ends badly.  On the plus side, I’m slowly breaking a lifelong habit of eating way too fast, since that tends to also end badly.

In Other News:

I managed to write out my plot ideas for the five books in the Defcon Series! And they make sense!  I know this because my girlfriend read them and she says they do so, I’m a’gonna trust her.  I did this in part because I was trying to figure out the plot for the book I’m working on — which is Book Five in the series (long story) — but needed to get the ideas for the other books straight in my mind first.

Still haven’t started typing anything up yet, but I think that’s going to be the goal for next round. For the rest of this round, I’m going to flesh out the current version of Book Five’s plot to more of my liking and psyche myself up.  That and also get a root canal which is gonna mean needles in my face. Again.

But, thanks to the Lego Movie, I know now that Everything Is Awesome! Seriously, I love this movie.I love Princess Unikitty. I love Benny. Heck, I just love Lego.

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AROW80 Check-In: June 15, 2014

It is late, I am tired and have been skeptically sniping at the Lose Weight Quick quackery ads on my TV.  So,here’s a quick post:

I was over at my LiveJournal and found the following meme:

Let’s play Burn Read Rewrite.
It’s like Kill F*ck Marry, but with books.

Warning: the following contains two links to TVtropes.com articles. If you have stuff you need to do, you might want to read this article later!

So, here’s my Burn, Read, Rewrite picks of the post-apocalyptic men’s adventure novels I’ve read.

Burn: Out of the Ashes  by William W. Johnstone. Ok, not literally burn, because the idea of burning a book — even a horrendous one — skeeves me out, but at the very least, this book deserves a serious time out. It’s the first book in Johnstone’s Ashes series and is one heck of a hot and hypocritical mess in print form. If this was a fanfic, the main character would be described as a Gary Stu, since the entire universe revolves around him. I mean, seriously, he survives World War III because of being stung by bees for crying out loud. He receives enough stings that he’s knocked out for the better part of a week and wakes up with the war already over.  Oh, and he was outside the whole time.  Apparently, severe allergic reactions have anti-radiation properties…

It also doesn’t help that the author’s politics are such that those who disagree with him are all straw men and women who exist only to show how right, right RIGHT! the main character is.

Doesn’t help that at one point, the main character berates a woman for not lifting a hand to help some elderly neighbors who died, prior to the war, due to having their power shut off.  Not only doesn’t he mention what he did to help these poor folks, but later on in the book he helps out a town of elderly people by killing some bad guys (single-handed) but ultimately leaves them to take care of themselves since he’s got to go be the Chosen One for the New America. Not that he wants to but if he must

Read: Pilgrimage to Hell by James Axler. This is the first book in the Deathlands  series.  Most post-apocalyptic men’s adventure series ran for three to five books, before petering out.  The Ashes series mentioned above ran for about 34 books and was still being published well into the late 1990s/early 2000s.

Deathlands? Started in 1986 and is still running. It’s up to 119 books and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. And it’s probably one of the best examples of the genre out there — primarily because it sets the action well after World War III (one hundred years in the future, to be exact) and uses the war to set up a unique, pulp science fiction world. Deathlands refers to the former United States which is now a land full of radiation, weird weather, strange mutants and corrupt barons who rule their villes with varying levels of mercy and cruelty.

It’s also one of the few actually hopeful series out there.

Pilgrimage to Hell introduces us to the Deathlands world pretty much by dropping us into the middle of it. While there are a few info dumps, they are at least interesting to read and move along quickly.

What I really like about Pilgrimage to Hell in particular and Deathlands as a series in general, is the fact that the main characters aren’t all Straight White Dudes who are always strong and never wrong.  The Straight White Dudes in the cast screw up and make mistakes and the characters who aren’t straight, white or dudes are allowed to have agency and lives separate from the SWDs (particularly nice considering that several of the women in the cast are love interests).  Considering that representation is something that science fiction as a genre still struggles with, it’s nice to see older books that Got It.

Rewrite: Doomsday Warrior by Ryder Stacy. This is a cheesy, cheesy series.  This is a series where a group of survivors, trapped inside a highway tunnel near Denver, Colorado, manage to build a thriving, super-sciency supercity in said blocked off highway tunnel using the equipment they had in their vehicles and the expertise they had.   Note: this isn’t the part I’d rewrite.

See, I read this series when I was a kid. Not all of it but a book or two and I had some fairly fond memories of the series in general and one of the characters in particular. The part I’d rewrite is the role of that character who, in my rose-colored nostalgia goggles, was a badass female warrior who took no crap and kicked butt and was generally just awesome.

Rereading the book as an adult, I found that this character was more of an example of the stereotypical Strong Female Character who is superficially tough but who ends up being all show and no go.  Like, in this case, the character is obsessed with getting into the pants of the main hero and defeating her main rival for said hero’s affections.  I’d make her the action hero she should have been — maybe put her in the place of the main hero, for a change.

Either that or, for kicks and grins, I’d pull a Rule 63 on the whole book and reverse everybody’s genders. It would be awesome.

Writing Goals:  Still working on things and trying to figure them out — but for now, I am going to sleeeeeeeep.

AROW80 Check-In: June 11, 2014

Today was the Day of Getting a New TV, since our old one got fried by lightning a couple weeks ago.  (Our phone and internet were also taken out, but were easier to fix since we didn’t have to buy any new equipment — just survive two days with no Internet…did you guys know Burger King has free wi-fi?).

So, upshot is, we’ve got a new TV and a brand new set of screwdrivers since the TV’s stand required a Phillips screwdriver and we only had a couple flat screwdrivers and I can now watch crappy movies like Ice Soldiers!

……..

Ok, no, really, I’m happy to have a TV again and Ice Soldiers….ok, I asked for it. I read the plot summary and knew it was going to be dumb going in and I still went ahead and watched it and…

Here’s the plot summary from Wikipedia:

A team of Canadian scientists discover genetically engineered Soviet super-soldiers buried beneath the Arctic ice. When the soldiers are revived, they go on killing spree.

What this leaves out? The soldiers were originally sent to attack New York City back in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis by some Soviet special forces extremists who…apparently thought that three guys attacking New York City could help push the US into World War III.  Their thinking seems to have been based on the idea of “These guys took out an isolated Siberian village by themselves so a city of 7.5 million-plus should be no problem, right?!”

The guys are revived, as the plot summary says, and go on a rampage (including an off-screen, heavily implied rape of the lone female scientist) and then wander off  apparently trying to walk to NYC.  The movie jumps ahead 50 years and a group made up of a couple scientists, an evil oil company exec (not sure if the company is evil or the exec…) and a private military contractor who is kinda/sorta evilish are once again looking for the genetically engineered super soldiers who got themselves frozen again!

And of course, they find them.  And the super soldiers revive and havoc ensues again. Including the evil exec being raped (lone female in the group, so, yeah…) — again, off screen but still pretty icky that the only two female characters to show up get raped for what seems no other reason than to show off just how EVUL!!! the bad guys are. I mean, come on, they’re gigantic, heavily muscled, blond Russians with buzz cuts — we KNOW they’re evil just looking at them!  We’ve all seen the ads for Rocky IV!

(Though, I will say? They show the nekkid bum of one of the super soldiers and despite the fact that all three of them look like buff versions of TV’s Frank from Mystery Science Theatre 3000, I gotta say…woooooo!).

The movie, already silly and stupid, gets sillier and stupider from this point but if you’re looking for a good doofy popcorn movie that you can yell at, try Red Dawn (2012) avoid Red Dawn (2012) at all costs and stick with Ice Soldiers.

Writing Goals:

As you can probably guess, I didn’t get to any writing this week. Or typing. But I am still working on the idea that I came up with the other day, so, progress is occurring!

AROW80 Check-In: June 8, 2014

Still no typing done but, there has actually been progress!  I figured out a way to justify the actions of my bad guys that will also help drive some of the plot/motivations of my good guys!

Also, I’ve been listening to the audio book of Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward, which is a) hilarious and 2) actually an instructive guide to writing a novel. Here’s the summary:

Meet Paul and Lacey Hansen: orphaned, pot-growing, twentysomething siblings eking out a living in rural Northern California. When a headless corpse appears on their property, they can’t exactly dial 911, so they move the body and wait for the police to find it. Instead, the corpse reappears, a few days riper … and an amateur sleuth is born. Make that two.

 

But that’s only half of the story. When collaborators Lutz and Hayward—former romantic partners—start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics (meet Brandy Chester, the stripper with the Mensa IQ), and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?

Also, I read Lindsey Davis’s Ides of April, the first book in her new Flavia Albia historical mystery series. The book follows the adventures of Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of Davis’s Marcus Didius Falco, main character of Davis’s other long-running historical mystery series.  Flavia Albia is grown up and following in her father’s footsteps as an informer (read: detective) in ancient Rome.  It’s described as Falco: The Next Generation.

Like Heads You Lose, this book was an entertaining read and also a useful example of something related to my own writing. In this case, namely how to move a story forward in time and change focus from one character to another. Flavia Albia mentions her parents and even goes to visit them several times in the book, but they don’t really appear on screen so they don’t steal the show from Flavia Albia.

Davis is also very, very good at writing her historical characters in such a way that they feel modern but are still creatures of their time. Since I’m also reading one of Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files mysteries, it kind of amused me that Flavia Albia and Izzy Spellman would probably get along fairly well if they met up. After all, both are the daughters of PIs who are now PIs themselves, both have crazy families, both have odd living situations, and both have an interesting quasi-romantic relationship with a police officer.  Highly recommended!

AROW80 Check-In: June 4, 2014

Y’know how I was going to start typing things yesterday? Yeah, uhm, I didn’t. And I haven’t yet today, because my brain is just like, “No, typing hard! Play Candy Crush! And listen to podcasts!”

It doesn’t help that a storm is getting ready to roll in tonight and is making my head hurt.

Also doesn’t help that I’ve been wrestling with insecurity about my story for the last month or so, trying to convince myself that the idea isn’t terrible, that I’m not wasting my time, that I’m writing a story that only I’m going to be interested in, that <insert typical instance of authorial self-doubt here>.

But then when I look at my story, I get these happy little feelings of “Oh, this isn’t bad! This makes sense!” and “If I do this, this and this instead of that, then I can tie these plot threads together and it will make a better story!”  The problem, it seems, is to get my confidence up and keep it up and banish the doubts to the cornfield.

Well, that and actually start typing the damn book up…which I will do, uh…tomorrow? For reals?

So, yeah, chalk this up to a lazy day wherein the writer is doing a lot of thinking about things and considering options but not actually producing anything tangible.

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I was surfing around over at TVtropes and followed a link which led to a link which led to this article by Michael A. Stackpole that is very germane to my current issues of insecurity.  So, I thought I’d edit this post and share a quote from When Is Crap crap? by Michael A. Stackpole. 

 Crap is crap when the author doesn’t care enough to work hard; and doesn’t believe in himself enough to take pride in his work. Those who produce crap will sink without a trace. Not because of a rising tide of crap, but because they deliberately swim toward the bottom, open their mouths, and willfully suck.

AROW80 Check-In: June 1, 2014

Howdy! This month begins the month of typing…which is probably actually going to start on Tuesday since that’s my day off, but the typing will begin!

And since I don’t have much else to say, here’s another googly-eyed book cover:

DSCF0465

This is Doomsday Warrior #1 by Ryder Stacy which, in addition to being the source of the title of this blog, is also distinguished by having the goofiest origin for a group of survivors of World War III in all the books I’ve read.

Basically,100 years before the series begins, World War III breaks out and a group of people are trapped in a highway tunnel in Colorado near Denver when the ends of the tunnel collapse.  The people survive the bombing of Denver and then go on to use the tools and equipment they had in their cars and trucks to build what becomes a high-tech secret hidden Free City 100 years later.  High-tech as in, sophisticated computer libraries and hydroponics gardens using only what a random group of commuters and long-haul truckers just happened to be hauling through the tunnel on the day war broke out.

I not only have all 19 books of the Doomsday Warrior series, I also have the complete series of adaptations made by Graphic Audio (“A movie in your mind!”).  If you haven’t listened to a Graphic Audio book/heard of the company, allow me to quote Wikipedia at you:

GraphicAudio is an audiobookpublishing imprint of The Cutting Corporation. Its tagline is “A Movie In Your Mind”. The GraphicAudio format includes a full cast of actors, narration, sound effects and cinematic music. GraphicAudio has published over 900 action-adventure titles and 40 series in the fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, comic and western genres.

 

The company does an amazing job. The performances are incredible, they have a nice variety of genres and listening to the books, you really do feel like you’re listening to a movie. Admittedly, a lot of the movies in your mind are cheesy action movies but, if loving cheesy action movies is wrong, I don’t want to be right!