About Kathy

A science fiction/fantasy writer looking to get published.

Final Check-In for Round 4 — December 24, 2015

I hope everybody is having a very happy holiday season! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanzaa! Happy New Year!  And otherwise, just hope y’all are having a good end of the year.

I…have no idea how well I did on Nano this year. I didn’t keep track of how many words I wrote but I did write quite a bit. Mostly in the Gem City ‘verse. I started off with like, parts of two stories and I’m now sitting on parts of four or five stories! Plus, I’ve done some more work on fleshing out the world, which makes me happy.

I’ve also been doing a lot of research/brain stuffing in the form of reading comic books and comics-related science and philosophy books (Science of Superheroes and Science of Supervillains and Spider-Man and Philosophy, among others).   Which has been fun.

Also, for Christmas, the girlfriend and I got the complete 1960s Batman TV series from her mom. Oh, the cheese! The glorious, glorious, glorious cheese! It even came with a little toy Bat-mobile!

I’m going to keep writing during the break — eventually, I want to corral myself into typing up the stuff I have written, why I’m procrastinating about it, I do not know. Plans for next year are still forming in the back of my mind.

Again, hope you guys have a great holiday season and good luck in your endeavors!

PS: Saw Big Hero Six and it was the best movie I’ve seen in a long, long time.  Highly recommend. Made me cry (duh, Pixar movie); jealous of the storytelling.

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AROW80 Update for November 5, 2014 + WIPpet

It is cold and wet and rainy and very much November here. I haven’t been writing as much as I wanted to for the first few days of this month — combination of work and lack of oomph — but I got a bit written last night and I’m planning on working on some more tonight and hoping to get close to a goal of 10,0002 words by tonight.

I’m working on a short story set in my Gem City (aka Reverse Batman) universe. From my original post on the idea:

A story about a Reverse Batman-type character — his parents were supervillains in the 1960 who were killed by a rogue hero and because of this, he now works as a private detective doing things like keeping superheroes accountable and such.  He’s also the guy you call when you want to serve divorce papers on The Thing.

The plot is that Will Cartwright, private investigator and owner of QC Investigations, has been hired by his college friend Kylie (aka Wildheart) to help clear her father, the hero Howler, from a murder charge. This scene is Will arriving at the 247th precinct to talk to the detectives investigating the crime.

Detective Sergeant Luna Bastigan was at her desk when I arrived. She looked at me like I was the first plague rat off the boat. She was a short, stocky woman who looked like a cross between a bulldog and a fireplug. She’d come up through the ranks of the GCPD, making detective almost as soon as she was able. She shook her head and leaned back from her keyboard to study me.


“Should have known you’d be here sooner or later, Cartwright,” she said. “Let me guess, Howler’s girl hired you to clear her Daddy’s name?”


“Close; she calls him Pop-pop,” I said. “She’s pretty convinced that he’s innocent. She’s got a theory and I have to say, it’s got some merit to it.”


Bastigan snorted. “I’m sure it does,” she said. “Problem is, she’s not a witness and she’s got a vested interest in lying through her fake little fangs to protect her-“ she snorted. “Pop-pop. Whereas on the other side, I’ve got at least five witnesses willing to swear that Howler did it, was glad he did it and would have done it again if he could have.”


“And none of them have any vested interests?” I asked. “C’mon, Bastigan, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ remember?”


“Don’t try to school me, Cartwright,” she said. “I know my job. Problem is, the Third Coast Crusaders have a hell of a lot of pull in this town and Tyler Rose is the top of that particular heap. It’s more than just an investigation; it’s a political freaking nightmare.”

There’s more about the Gem City ‘verse here: The Semi-Quasi-Mostly Official Handbook to the Gem City Universe 

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AROW80 update for 10/29/2014 + Nanowrimo Plans and Schemes

I have finished typing up the last of what I’ve got written (so far) for Defcon: Fade Out and the grand total is 145,247 words. Which blows me away but would make me a lot happier if it was one solid cohesive story. Instead, I’m pretty sure what I’m looking at is actually two separate books — or at least two separate stories that are related by a common thread.  Since the inspiration for this series is cheesy men’s adventure novels from the 1980s and those books did sometimes do “doubles” (i.e. two books in one) I might have this book be one of those.  I have to ponder the plan for this a bit more, but I’m fairly confident I can make it work.  Once again, it comes down to a question of figuring out where the gaps are and writing the bits to fill in those gaps.

Nanowrimo Plans:

I’d originally planned to use Nanowrimo to help fill in the gaps. The original plan was to have things typed up and the inventory done by the first of November. This isn’t going to happen, mainly because I don’t want to half-ass the work trying to get it done over the next two days and I want to hit the ground running come November 1st.

And, to be blunt about it, I need a break from Defcon: Fade Out. I’ve been working on it more or less steadily for a few years now and it’s time for a vacation. So, I’m taking the month of November off and working on something else.

Once again, I’m taking the Nanowrimo Rebel approach to the month. In my case, I’m not going to be working on a novel, I’m going to be working on some short stories. So, call it NaShoStoWriMo instead. The idea is still to try and write 50,000 words but instead of them being one novel, I’m hoping to get at least three or four stories out of the endeavor. I’m using the following word count categories from the SFWA as my guidelines:

  • Short story: less than 7.500 words
  • Novelette: at least 7,500 – 17,500 words
  • Novella: 17,500 – 40,000 words

I’m hoping to keep things within the novelette category. The plan is to make myself work on writing shorter pieces with an eye toward improving my writing’s tightness and my writing speed.  Toward that end and in keeping with the whole Nano-Rebel thing, I’ve actually already started working on one story. It’s an expansion on an idea that I posted a snippet of back in December of last year (it’s the second one in this post).

I have three other story ideas that I want to work on. Another one is set in the Gem City superhero universe, one in the Defcon universe and one that takes place in the Butcher’s Bill vampire hunting universe.  Going with the 50,000 total word goal, that gives me an average of about 12,500 words per story but the ultimate word count would be whatever is needed to finish the story.

Part of the reason for this interest in short stories is to work on finishing a complete story and another reason is to work on trying to get some things ready to submit for publication. One of the things I want to work on for 2015 is submitting something for publication. Toward that end, I’ve picked up a copy of the 2015 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market as a way of encouraging/goading myself onward.

Come December, I’m going to start working on turning Defcon: Fade Out into that elusive goal: a finished piece. I’m also going to take another look at my old attempt at writing a Butcher’s Bill novel.

So, fingers crossed and here goes something!

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AROW80 Check-In for 10/15/2014 (posted on 10/16)

Current Word Count: 127,852 words (as of 10/16/2014 0102)

I signed up for Nanowrimo 2014. Once again, I’m planning on using it as a chance to fill in gaps and create a cohesive story. If y’all are looking for a writing buddy, I’m at dunmurderin.

Plans for the Week:  Just keep typing, just keep typing. I’ve got a dozen or so scenes that were written out on loose-leaf paper that I’m typing up so that I have everything in one spot and can organize from there. A goodly chunk is going to end up pared off and probably recycled into other stories set in this ‘verse.

Latest Movies Seen: On Monday, we went to see Gone Girl with the girlfriend’s mom and all I’m going to say about the movie is that it was AMAZING! Which is about all I can say about the movie for fear of spoiling. Ok, no, there’s one other thing I can say: the cat in the movie, is adorable. There’s just something about an orange marmalade cat.

Tuesday, we went and saw Dracula: Untold — and all I can say about that movie is if you want to see it, wait for it to go to the discount theaters or to show up at Redbox or on Netflix. Because while it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t good either. On the other hand, if you like a good, cheesy movie, this is a good cheesy movie.

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AROW80 4th Quarter Check-In: 10/8/2014

Goals for this Round – which are some of my goals from last time around, rewritten and/or adapted for continued use:

  1. Finish typing up DEFCON: FADE OUT: I’ve been working on this and have managed to type up everything I had in both of my notebooks. Now, I’m working on the extra scenes that I’ve written over the last month or so. I’m expecting to finish off with a grand total of around 137,000 words (more or less).
  2. Create a cohesive manuscript:Last round, I figured I had about 3/4th of a story set down for Defcon: Fade Out. I’m still fairly confident that this is the case. The problem is, I don’t have an ending and I’m not really sure about my beginning. The middle feels fairly strong – or at least complete. I also keep running plots and motives through my head and have been jumping from idea to idea to idea to idea.

At its heart, the plot of Defcon: Fade Out focuses on a murder and I’ve been trying to figure out a good, solid motive for the murder. It’s less a question of not having an idea versus being spoiled for choice. So, once everything is typed up and printed out, my plan is to go through the extra bits of the manuscript and start trimming bits away to get to the heart of the story I want to tell. Then, it’s going to be time to outline a nice, tight outline.

One of my goals for November is to use Nanowrimo to write the missing and/or necessary scenes to fill out the manuscript and make it into a cohesive whole. It’s still going to need editing after that but at least this will put me closer to having something that is editable and not just a collection of scenes still needing to be linked together.

  1. As a secondary goal, I want to try and come up with ideas for shorter stories. Ok, this goal is more or less unchanged from last round and amounts to this: This is a blatant attempt on my part to try and produce some potentially marketable fiction with an aim toward making some money. Not a lot, just enough for me to be able to say “I wrote this and I got paid for it!”

The good news is, I’ve got an idea for a shorter piece to set in the Defcon ‘Verse and I’ve been noodling around with ideas for stories set in other story ‘verses.

  1. Be better about checking in with folks. Back at the beginning of Round Three, I lamented the fact that I let checking in with other folks fall by the wayside and intended on checking in with others with more regularity. By the end of Round Three, I’d more or less stopped checking in with my own blog so, yeah, that was one ball that was well and truly dropped. I’m going to work on being better about keeping hold of it this time around.

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Achievement Unlocked: 100,000 words!

With the secondary achievement of ‘tired and sore arms’ also reached!

Goal Achieved: 100,000 words typed as of 10/01/2014 on Defcon: Fade Out manuscript

Typing Goal of 100,000 words for Defcon: Fade Out achieved!

Seriously, I managed to make it to 100,000 words today but it was a bit of a slog. My hands were/are like, “Aren’t we there *yet*”

I’ve still got about 25-30,000 words left to type up, plus some untold number left to write to fill in the gaps but for now, I have hit a goal and I am happy!

So, about the typing…

Today was my day off and I had to get up early to get some stuff done (early for me being around 930 in the morning) and ended up staying up and figuring “Hey, why not get an early start on the typing?” So, I did just that.

I started off at 88,228 words and I have ended the day at 96,667 words for a grand total of 8,439 words typed over the course of the day.

Suffice to say, I’m in a good position to get everything typed up by the end of October. So, YAY!

AROW80 Final Check-In for Third Round — September 24, 2014

Final Report for Round Three:

*blows dust off the blog* Eh-heh, I haven’t posted for a while.  BUT, I have actually been being productive. Which is kind of a big deal for me, since I’ve been afraid for a long time that if I didn’t keep up with the blog, I’d let my writing slide too.

Good news: I didn’t let the writing slide! Much! Ok, for a while, yeah but then I got serious and I’ve stayed serious!  Last time I posted, I was at 29,674 words — as of about five minutes ago, I just hit 75,000+ words for a pretty awesome total of 45,394 words typed in the last 34 days!

OK, my goal was to have everything I’ve written over the last few rounds typed up by now but I got side tracked by real life and got behind. But, I’m pretty happy with having reached 75,000+ words.

I also started writing a bit more — which is kinda/sorta slowing the typing thing down since I managed to add about 20,000 words of manuscript. Eh-heh.

Goals for Next Round:

  • Finish typing things up – hope to have this done by mid-October (cheating a bit since I’ll be working on this during the interim).  I’ve got about another 50K worth of words to go, depending on how much I write in the meantime.
  • Once everything is typed up, print out what I have and start looking for where there are gaps that need to be filled. — Hope to have this done by October 31st.
  • For Nanowrimo, fill in those gaps. — November 1st-30th.
  • For December: Start the typing thing all over again.

In Other News:

My girlfriend has a new job! It’s a work at home position which solves our transportation problems (not that we really had many when she was at her last job, but we have zip-zero-none now!). So, yay!

Part of the reason I’ve been able to get as much typing done as I have is that while my girlfriend is in training at one end of our couch, I’m sitting quietly on my end of the couch, typing away and listening to videos online (with headphones). I’ve gone from typing maybe once or twice a week in marathon sessions on my days off to typing a bit almost every day. And on my days off, I’m putting in the marathon sessions since she’s at work for about seven and a half hours a day.

That we are once again a dual income household after about nine months of being a single income household is also a huge plus. She’s happy, I’m happy because she’s happy and life is good.  Hope you are all having good luck and great success. Looking forward to Round Four! Onward to October 6th!

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AROW80 Check-In for August 21, 2014

I’ve got Good News and I’ve got Bad News (the bad news goes on for a bit, but the good news IS there!)…

Bad News First: I’ve, uh, missed a couple posts and I wish I could say it was because I was just sooooo busy typing that I couldn’t spare a moment to post but, uh…ohhh, no, that is not the case. That is sooo not the case. Light from what the case should be would take about a hundred years to reach the case as it stands right now.

As of August 6th, I’d written 25,188 words.  As of tonight, I’ve written 27,232 words. I am soooo far behind at this point that I’m not sure I’ll be able to catch up before the end of this Round. I’m still going to try because miracles can happen and even if I don’t reach 100,000 words I can at least get as close to it as I can, right?

The reason the typing has fallen off is because I’ve fallen into a slump and it worries me. More to the point, it scares me because I know how easy it is to just keep sliding into the slump and to let NOT doing things come easier and easier — especially because the work is becoming harder and harder. The more I type things up, the more I find that I’m not happy with what I have, that I’m afraid the ideas don’t make sense and that I just don’t have the skills necessary to pay the bills on this particular idea.

It also doesn’t help that there’s some non-writing related stuff going on that’s likewise sapping my will to write and making it hard for me to put my butt in the seat and do the damned typing. Which needs to be done so I can get to the work of making things make sense. The little obnoxious voice that keeps telling me that I’m spinning my wheels and wasting my time and kidding myself is getting louder and harder to ignore and shout down.

Tie that into the fact that, as I’ve stated before, I’m writing the LAST book in a series so even once I finish this one, I have four other books to write before I can really do anything with this work because — as it stands right now — I don’t want to try and put the series out in reverse and remove all the suspense.

But even those worries pale in comparison to the problem I’m having in writing THIS book. Problems which I think I might actually have an inkling of a handle on — namely that I need to tell two interlocking stories (actually, it’s going to be three with a short interlude piece in between).

Ok, now for the Good News:

I finally got Chapter Five typed up and I figured out what to do with a scene that I didn’t want to leave stranded in Notebook Limbo (i.e. not typed up) but that no longer fit with the ideas I have for the chapter it was originally part of: I creased a Miscellaneous Scenes section in my current Scrivener binder!  I typed the scene up, labeled and color-coded it accordingly and now I can move on.

also sat down and worked out some of the structural problems that I’ve been having with Defcon: Fade Out.  Namely, I realized that the story I’ve been working on is only half of the novel.  Some of the stuff I’ve already written feels like it would better suit an earlier part of the story that leads into the main chunk that I have plotted out in my head. So, I’m going to tell that story.  The structure I’ve got in my mind now is as follows:

  • Book One: Takes place in July 2022, introduces characters and their world, sets up events, etc.
  • Interlude: a short novella/novelette that will be linked to the first and second halves of the story and will serve as a palette cleanser.
  • Book Two: Takes place in October/November 2022, follows characters/events set up in first book and interlude to their conclusions.

The good news is, Book Two is largely written and bits of Book One and the Interlude are also written. The bad news…well, a lot of the entire thing ISN’T but still, once the bits that exist are typed up, I’m hoping the holes will become easier to see. So far, so good.

I’m scared and I’m nervous but, well, I have a place where I can come and talk about being scared and nervous. And I have a girlfriend who loves me and listens to me when I ramble about being nervous and scared (and puts up with my being an insecure blob sometimes).  So, I am ever so grateful to you guys and to her.

(Amy, if you’re reading this, I love you! You are awesome! You are the Groot to my Rocket!)

Miscellaneous Musings on the TV I’ve Been Watching:

To go off on a silly note.

Dear Vampire Hunters on The Strain: For the love of Bela Lugosi, would you guys PLEASE start wearing face masks when you go out and kill vampires? You’ve set up the conceit that vampirism is spread by a parasite  that just has to land on you and one of you is a big-shot epidemiologist for the CDC. Plus, you can get face masks at CVS.  Gloves would also be a wise idea. Ok, so you can’t inconspicuously run around in biohazard suits but, dudes, bare hands and faces just are dumb.

Also, stop ending the show just as things get good! That’s just mean!

Dear Rizzoli & Isles:  A belated thank you for writing a braniac character (Dr. Isles) who doesn’t annoy the hell out of me. Double points for making them female and all the points and a chocolate croissant for making her socially awkward, super smart, female and still a believable human being.

Also, kudos for handling a couple of seriously touchy subjects in ways that were true to the show, true to the characters and (at least IMO) respectful to the feelings of real people.

Dear Amazon Prime: Thank you for making it possible for me to watch all of the Cadfael mysteries as well as the seasons of Red vs. Blue that I’ve missed. Also for making it possible for me to find out that there was/is a TENTH season of Red Dwarf! OMG! Oh, and the 2006 Robin Hood which is just goofy, cheesy fun.

Cool Links:

A Guide to Naming and Naming Practices — a guide to names and naming practices in around 30 different countries/regions worldwide. Not just a list of names, this guide provides information about how names are structured in different cultures and countries.

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AROW80 Check-In: 8/6/2014

It’s been a slow week as far as writing/typing goes. I am still mired down in Chapter Four, though I’m closer to the end than I was and I’m hoping to have the blasted thing done by the time I go to bed tonight.

Probably doesn’t help that I took part of the night off last night to go see Guardians of the Galaxy with the girlfriend, but it was soooooo-oooo-oooo worth it.  It was one of those things that just hit all my yummy buttons and is the kind of science fiction that has humor and energy and good characters and really wild things that I want to write.

It’s also not helping that I’m in a part of the story that needs some serious rewriting and that is making it slower going — though I am proud of the fact that I did actually sit down and write out some changes.  I’m likely going to have to do the same thing in the next chapter too, but I’m hoping it will go more quickly.

On the reading front, I read The Strain trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan (because the TV show is not moving fast enough for me; though I’m glad to see that the series is departing from the books enough that I’m probably not going to know what’s going to happen next). The books were good, but part of me likes the series better.

Also I discovered the Save The Cat series of books on screenwriting by the late Blake Snyder. I’ve read a lot of books and articles on writing and laying out of scenes, but Mr. Snyder’s books make things that I’ve read other places feel a lot clearer and easier to follow. Highly recommended.

Typing Goals: I’m still working my way through Chapter Four and am at 23.478 words right now. It’s a slow slog, but it is a slog I am still slogging away at.  Not even going to think about how far behind I am because that will change and I know it will go up as I get to areas that I’m happier with and that will be easier to charge through.

Final Edit of the Night: Chapter Four is DONE! Word count is now 25,188 words! I’m going to bed! WHOO!

Goals for this Week: Finish typing up Chapter Four before I go to bed. Start on Chapter Five, ASAP and get my word count back up to more respectable levels.

Edited to add: Found this article over at io9.com: Charles Yu’s Insanely Helpful Advice On “Getting Stuck” While Writing

[When I get stuck and start telling myself “You suck”] sometimes I will read to myself something that I have liked that I wrote, to remind myself, “Once in a while, you do it.” Like, it’s usually a paragraph or two, that I’m like, “I remember how I did that.”

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Why NOT cookie Rocket?

Why NOT cookie Rocket?

Based on a conversation me and the girlfriend had after leaving Guardians of the Galaxy last night. 

The sources of the images in this gif are at the following links: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Rocket Raccoon.  

Non-spoiler review of Guardians of the Galaxy: OHMYGOD! GO SEE THIS MOVIE NOW! Or as soon as you most conveniently can because this movie is just…this movie is Sensawunder science fiction at its finest.  It’s funny, it’s clever, and I don’t care what the guy behind me at the theatre says, the stinger at the end was totally worth sitting through the credits for. And I REALLY had to pee so, y’know…yeah. 

AROW80 Check-In: 7/30/2014

Writing-wise, I didn’t get much done this last week because I was out of town for my uncle Bob’s funeral. I did however get a chance to visit with my family and shared some good memories of my uncle.  It was good to go home for a few days and see old, familiar places and people.

Typing Goals: I’m still working my way through Chapter Four and am at 22,317 words right now (and will probably add a bit more before I go to bed).  Right now, the typing is going slow because I’m making changes to the scene I’m working on but I’m happy with what I’m doing so that’s a plus.

Goals for this Week: Finish typing up Chapter Four and work on getting back on goal as far as my word count goes.

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AROW80 Check-In: 7/23/2014

Not much of a post this week. My uncle Bob passed away Monday morning. It was…not entirely unexpected, since his health hasn’t been the best for the last few years but it was a surprise and a shock. I’m going to miss him; he was a good man and I wish he’d had more time to do…hell, everything.

My girlfriend and I are heading up to my home town for the funeral tomorrow and I’ll be out of town for the next few days. I hope everybody has a wonderful week and I wish everybody good luck with their goals.

Goals for this Week:  I’m not setting any writing goals for the rest of this week. Otherwise, I’m going to go home and say good bye to my uncle and hug my aunts and cousins.

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AROW80 Check-In: 7/20/2014

Typing Goals: Chapter Three is typed up and I am on to Chapter Four, with a grand total of 17,285 words.  Which puts me on track for 100,000 words by the end of this round!

Goals for this Week: Finish Chapter Four and reach a minimum of 21,250 words by Wednesday July 23rd.

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AROW80 Check-In: 7/16/2014

Typing Goals: As of 11:51 pm Dayton, Ohio time, I am at 11,005 words and am on Chapter Three, Scene Five. I’m hoping to get in at least a couple more scenes tonight (Chapter Three is a ridiculously long one).

Edited to add:  As of 0214 am 7/17/14 — 13,157 words and just finished Scene Six!

The outlining is going well; it’s now around 4 pages long and growing. Part of me is kind of worried about  whether I should be working on revising as I go but I’m afraid if I do that, I’m going to end up spinning my wheels and endlessly rewriting the first three chapters. So, for now, I’m going to continue on typing away and making notes. And maybe revising things here and there as I go without making it a huge commitment.

One big problem I’ve been having with this project is the fact that I am working on what is supposed to be the LAST book in a series so even once I finish it, I still have to write four other books before I can consider trying to sell this one.  I’ve got ideas for a few short stories in this universe, but I’m also wanting to try and get a novel done that I can send out. So, thinking ahead to Round Four, I’m planning on working on a different novel, one that isn’t part of a series (or if it is, will be the first book of a series).   But that is for the future. For now, there is typing!

And, on the plus side, I’m learning things about writing a novel with this project that will, hopefully, we very helpful come the next book.

Goals for this Week: Finish typing up Chapter Three and move on to Chapter Four.  Continue to combat the insecurity monster that rides on the back of my head and tries to tell me that I’m wasting my time and all the other usual hogwash.

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AROW80 Check-In: 7/13/2014

Typing Goals: Chapters One and Two are typed up for a grand total of 6,376 worlds. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to this week, but blame that on having gone to see a Planet of the Apes double feature, which was AWESOME!

I’ve noticed some plot holes in what I’ve done so far, but I’m keeping a separate Word document for taking notes of what I want to fix, which is very good for keeping me focused on my goal of getting things typed up.

Goals for this Week: Get Chapter Three typed up; make a stab at better organizing Chapters One and Two.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (or, GOAL ACHIEVED!)

Short, spoiler free review of Dawn of The Planet of the Apes:  OH MY GOD THIS MOVIE WAS SO AWESOME! GO SEE IT! GO SEE IT! GO SEE IT!

Longer, spoiler free review of Dawn of The Planet of the Apes: The girlfriend and I planned to go see Dawn pretty much once the trailers first started showing up.  We were planning on going to an 11:30 pm show, but when I was looking to see if there was another movie we could fit in to kill time before that showing, we found out there was a double-feature of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn.  So, y’know, we jumped on that!  Especially since it’d been a while since either of us had seen the first movie.

We made a date night of it, going out to dinner (we considered getting Caesar salads but went with stir-fry instead) and then heading over to the theater to loaf around a bit waiting for the movies to start.

I’m glad we did the double feature, since seeing the first movie again helped refresh my memory of what happened and helped me to get some of the references in the second.

The second movie was soooo good! Excellent storytelling, Hit a lot of the beats you expect in a post-apocalyptic/conflict between cultures kind of story but hit them well and without a note out of tune. The ape effects are superb; Andy Serkis is an amazing actor, particularly considering that he does most of his acting in a motion capture suit.

There’s going to be a third movie coming out in 2016 (according to the guy in front of us) and I cannot wait!

AROW80 3rd Quarter Check-In: 7/9/2014

From Kait’s round three post: OWN YOURSELF AND STATE YOUR ROUND 3 GOALS

So my challenge to you for Round 3 is to OWN YOUR DREAM.  Own the title of writer.  Because there’s only ONE QUALIFICATION for being a writer–and that is to write.  It’s not a designation that belongs only to the published, not a designation that belongs only to those whose support themselves by their words. 

Ok, here goes nothing! I am a writer, I AM a writer! I AM A WRITER! And boy is it scary to say that out loud — well, so to speak. I mean, I’m not saying anything as I type that and presumably you who are reading this aren’t reading this out loud (but if you do, please give me a nicely triumphant voice? Thank you in advance!).

Goals for this Round:

Taking some advice from the article on goal-setting linked in Kait’s post, I’m going to set some realistic, actual achievable goals, rather than stating some nebulous end-results.

1. Type up my novel, DEFCON: FADE OUT: which I’ve actually started on as of last night. This goal is going to entail a lot more than simple typing, since I’m going to be editing as I go but a large part of this goal is going to involve turning a handwritten manuscript into a typewritten one. Toward that end, I’ve set myself a word count goal of about 8,750 words per week, with a first week goal of 13,750 words since I figure it’s better to start stronger at the beginning when I have more oomph in my mojo.

2. Create a cohesive manuscript: I’ve got about 100,000 words of Defcon: Fade Out written and I figure it’s probably approximately 3/4ths of a story all together. Since I can’t do any typing while I’m at work, my plans for work are to review what’s written and shape out the ending of the story.  Toward this end, I’m going to be working on coming up with an outline for the book as it is and plot out where it is supposed to be going.

3. See Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — because this movie is my JAM! I, for one, welcome our new ape overlords!

4. As a secondary goal, I want to try and come up with ideas for shorter stories.  This is a blatant attempt on my part to try and produce some potentially marketable fiction with an aim toward making some money. Not a lot, just enough for me to be able to say “I wrote this and I got paid for it!” Wow, it was scary to type that too!

5. Be better about checking in with folks. Last round, I let that fall by the wayside and I don’t like that I did that. Going to set a goal of checking in with at least 3 people every week.

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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!