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 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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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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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 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 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:


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!


AROW80 Check-In: May 28, 2014

It has finally started to rain — a nice downpour that makes me want to go lay down and listen to Skeptoid podcasts about strange and weird things. So, y’know, that’s what I’m a’gonna do ‘cuz I am lazy.

Two more days until my schedule becomes less nuts! Yay!

Writing Goals: Still as they stand; read and ponder, ponder and read. Typing starts June 1st, like it or not.

Reading Goals:  Got a cool new book called The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell, which is pretty much what it says on the tin. He talks about building a kit of knowledge that would allow a post-apocalyptic society to rebuild a technological civilization. Things like, how to rotate crops and make soap (which leads to chemistry) and such other necessities that would make the post-apocalyptic life less nasty, brutish and short.   Highly recommend it, especially since he’s got a nice bibliography of other useful books.

AROW80 Check-In for May 25, 2014

Happy Sunday! The last couple days have been absolutely gorgeous around here which helps to lessen the impact of my schedule still being a bit nuts.  Luckily, there’s only a few more days of the craziness and then things should even out again.

I managed to get a bit of manuscript reading in last night — which did help me to shake off some inner demons that keep resting on the back of my head telling me the usual old saws of ‘This sucks; your idea sucks; you can’t do this.”   They’re not gone completely, but I’m feeling more confident — at least at the moment.

I’m going to start typing up my manuscript in June, regardless of how much further I’ve read. And I’m considering using at least a modified version of the ideas in this article while I do it: Writing advice you’re not going to like.   The advice in question is to not edit a manuscript, but to rewrite it. As in print it out and retype the entire thing.

For me, this will be modified advice because since my manuscript is mostly hand-written, I will be starting out by having to enter it in from scratch. But I do have some typewritten bits that I’m just going to straight up retype instead of cut and pasting them. Hopefully, this will help some — even during my rereading, I’ve come up with some places where I want to alter things so, consider my fingers crossed.

And, before I go, here’s another googly-eyed men’s adventure novel:

Googly eyes are the only appropriate response to an explosion that close behind you.

Survivalist #1: Total War by Jerry Ahern.


AROW80 Check-In: May 21, 2014

Things are still up in the air around here, so there’s not much to report.  I’ve gotten a bit more reading done on Defcon: Fade Out and I got a mad hair to put googly eyes on some of my post-apocalyptic novels.  Because it would be silly.

Here’s the first:

2014-05-20 18.22.56

Who’sa googly sub? Who’sa googly-woogly sub?! YOU IS!

I’ll be posting more as soon as I can find the cord thingy that lets me hook my camera to my computer.

Also, I’m going to post a review because I read Omega Sub and if I had to suffer through it, so should you guys! it is a cheesy, goofy little time capsule of the early 1990s and a lovely demonstration on how the end of the Cold War forced a sea change (no pun intended) on the post-apocalyptic men’s adventure sub-genre.

In the mean time, I want ice cream. Anybody else want ice cream?

AROW80 Check-In: May 18, 2014

Very short check-in for today. Still busy IRL, but I wanted to post today because I’m afraid if I get out of the habit of posting, I will fall completely out of the habit and back into slothful, slothful ways.

The irony of me posting this just before I go to take a nap before work is not lost on me.  And probably isn’t irony.

Writing Goals: 

  • Not done a blippin’ thing with my manuscript! Other than been doing some noddling around in my brain about ideas and such.
  • Not a writing goal per se, but I have been reading some of my post-apocalyptic men’s adventure novels to help refresh my mind about tropes and also to kill time at work. I am thinking about possibly doing reviews of these books as well.

Goals to work on: These were so nice, I thought I’d do them twice.

  • Keep reading through my manuscript.
  • Fill in some plot holes
  • Sleeeeep.
  • Check in with other folks

AROW80 Check-In: May 14, 2014

I’m going to be busy off-line for the next couple weeks, so my check ins are probably going to become sporadic. Suffice to say, that I’m still reading through my manuscript and while it’s taking me longer to do than I thought it would, I’m kind of glad I’m taking things slow and not trying to bull through too much at once. But, I’m pretty sure May’s going to end up the Month of Reading rather than the Month of Typing. Still, that’s what June is for, right?

I’m going to check in as I can and visit other blogs since that’s something I can do more easily. Hope everybody is keeping themselves at the right temperature for comfort (we just got the air fixed in our apartment yesterday, ohhhh so nice!) and that the weather stays sane where y’all are.



AROW80 Check-In: May 11, 2014


Writing Goals: 

  • Read over and took/made notes on Chapters 3 and 4 of Defcon: Fade Out tonight and managed to find a couple goofy continuity glitches.
  • Figured out a plot point/back story for the first book in the Defcon series that will help tie the whole series together (I hope).

Goals to work on:

  • Keep reading through my manuscript.
  • Fill in some plot holes
  • Sleeeeep.
  • Check in with other folks.

AROW80 Check-In: May 7, 2014 and IWSG

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2 Hello! Short (sort of) Long rambling post tonight; since I’m focusing more on replying to other folks’ posts since I’ve been bad about that lately.

Writing Goals: Started reading my manuscript for Defcon: Fade Out and making notes on it. I’ve been waffling back and forth between feeling like I’m making some progress and feeling like I’ve bitten off waaay more than I can chew. So far, I’ve been good about shaking off those feelings but it is hard — as I’m sure y’all know.  Still, only way through it is to do it! And I’m going to do it, because I know I can.

Personal Stuff: My girlfriend and I were driving home yesterday evening and our car was running funny (namely the air conditioning wasn’t blowing as strong as it should have been) so when I was stopped at a red light, waiting to turn left, I turned the car off with the expectation that it would turn back on.  It didn’t. Instead, it clicked at me and I swore at it. I swore at it a lot!

After several unsuccessful attempts to get the car to start (because, y’know, maybe if we turned the key just once more, it would start!), I got out and headed to a nearby drugstore to see if I could borrow their phone to call Triple A.  Because, y’know, my cell phone was at home — but that’s ok because my Triple A membership was expired (which I knew going in). I reupped my membership with Triple A and they sent a tow truck out so I headed back out to the car where my girlfriend had been waiting and getting to listen to people honk and swear at her because the car wasn’t moving.  (This despite us having the hazard lights on — which pretty much means “Dead in Road.”)

One very helpful individual yelled at her to move the (expletive deleted) car — because y’know, apparently we hadn’t thought to do that.  And, again, the hazard lights were on, dude!

I got back out to the car and we waited for the tow truck and played a rousing game of “How many people will ignore the hazard lights?”  It turned out to be a  number significantly higher than zero, though I was more annoyed with the people who were the first to pull up behind us — anybody behind them couldn’t tell we weren’t able to move. The tow truck driver showed up and I told him what had happened and he brought out a jump pack to see if he could start the car. It worked and he offered to follow us home just in case we stalled again on the way.

Which was a good thing, since as we were pulling into the intersection to turn, I turned on my headlights and the damn thing died again. And I swore again. So, another jump and I was able to get out of the intersection and pulled onto a side street.

We got another jump and I turned on the headlights again and the car died for a third time. This time, I swore and cried and told the Triple A guy just to tow it back to our house since I wasn’t sure what garage to take it to. Particularly since we didn’t have any way to get back home from the garage or back to the garage (because I had temporarily forgot about the concept of rental cars).

The driver was nice enough to ask Triple A to put in a note so that I could get the car towed to a garage today without it being counted against me. So, the girlfriend and I were waiting in the tow truck and I was feeling miserable and wondering if we’d be able to get the car fixed before I had to go back to work on Thursday and this very, very, very nice lady came out to the car carrying a cold glass of lemonade for me because apparently I looked just that miserable.  She hadn’t seen the girlfriend, so she went back and got her a glass as well.

The lady, whose name was Irene, offered us this advice: “A car is like a romance, when it is good, it’s wonderful and when it is bad, you are miserable but the troubles are temporary.” (I’m heavily paraphrasing; I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to remember things, plus the tow truck’s engine was loud.)  And it did help; so did the lemonade which was cold and not too sweet or too sour.

IWSG Aside: now that I think about it, that’s pretty good advice about writing; when it’s going well, you’re over the moon and things taste better and the birdies sing and when it’s not working, well, it’s grey skies and things taste like dust and the birdies…they aren’t singing, suffice to say. But, give it time and things will get better, the car will get fixed, the writing will get done, so keep on truckin’!

Back to the car story: To make an increasingly long story short, we got the car fixed today. Triple A kept their promise and towed the car to the garage I chose without charging me for it; the garage was able to fix the car today with no trouble — turned out the alternator had gone out (second lesson of the week: if the car tells you there’s a problem with the charging system, get it to a garage ASAP. Even if the car’s diagnostic thingy tells you that everything is fine.) And we were able to rent a car with a minimum of hassle — which I picked up about the time we got the call that our car was fixed so for tonight, we have two cars so, go us!

Nerd alert: The rental’s a Chevy Impala which made me go HEE! Because, y’know, that’s the car the Winchesters drive in Supernatural and why yes, I am that nerdy!

AROW80 Check-In: May 4, 2014

Happy May the 4th!

I’m not what you’d call a huge Star Wars fan, but the movies have been a presence in my life since I was a kid.  I can remember seeing the first Star Wars movie in the theater and being freaked out during Empire by the sight of Darth Vader’s exposed brain and taping the Ewok celebration song from Return of the Jedi when it played on the radio.  I can even, vaguely, remember watching the Star Wars Holiday Special — though I don’t remember much about it.

But even beyond the movies, there was still Star Wars here and there, tucked into the corners of my life.  The Droids and Ewok cartoons, the Wookie Storybook that I used to read to my cousin Bobby when we were kids, the Star Wars Christmas album with it’s toe-tapping holiday classic “What Do You Get  a Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Has a Comb?)”

On a camping trip to South Dakota, me and my cousins listened to an audio tape version of the movie. Plus, at our campsite, my cousin found three or four Star Wars figures that some other kid must have buried and forgot about.  And I bought the novelization of Empire Strikes Back at the campsite store (considering this was around 1980, I think Empire had just recently come out).

Writing this, I’m finding that there isn’t really a point in my life where Star Wars wasn’t there — acting as a kind of white noise in the background.  The Special Editions of the original movies — and while the fireworks at the end of Jedi were cool, but the “Yub Yub” song is still my favorite part of the end of the trilogy.   The Prequel Trilogy…which I can honestly say I don’t entirely hate, but which isn’t ever going to be MY Star Wars trilogy (and that is just fine).

Even right now, sitting in my living room, I can look over at my bookshelf and see Star Wars novels on the shelf (particularly the Republic Commandos series by Karen Traviss which is easily some of my favorite military SF). On my DVD shelf, there are boxed sets of the Clone Wars cartoon — which is/was awesome, even if the original animated movie was just…not. So not.

If there’s a point to this ramble, I think it is this: good stories can and do take on lives of their own and can bring inspiration and joy for generations to come. So, thank you George Lucas for taking us all to a galaxy far, far away and all the magic and wonder and silly, silly arguments you’ve inspired.

And though I am generally fairly even-keeled about things like this, I will fight to the ground* over two things: Han Shot First and Sev Lives!

*no, not really. The ground is pretty mucky around here right now and I got my new capris on. Also, I am lazy.

Writing Goals: Haven’t gotten a blessed thing done as far as rereading my manuscript goes. I did do some research, but otherwise I’ve been reading the Kate Burkholder mysteries by Laura Castillo.

Defcon Related Note: I was very pleased while doing my timeline research for the Defcon ‘verse to find out that Return of the Jedi came out well before November 10, 1983 (the day the war starts). Because a post-apocalypse is terrible; a post-apocalypse where you don’t know if Han got unfrozen is unthinkable!

AROW80 Check-In: April 30, 2014 — One Month Down, Two to Go

 The Month of World Building is over!  

Thoughts about this exercise:

  • First and foremost, I am pretty proud of the fact that I actually did some world building! I filled out three or four checklists and addressed some areas of the Defcon story universe that I’ve needed to work on.
  • Filling out checklists is hard, at least for me. I start off with the best of intentions to answer ALL THE QUESTIONS (to paraphrase Hyperbole and a Half) and lay out all of my ideas in a clear and concise format and end up staring at the page thinking “…answer all the questions?!” because I get caught up with the idea that I have to fill out the template or checklist as it stands.  Which leads to me giving up because I can’t answer one or two questions for whatever reason.
  • I learned this time around that one way around this personal stumbling block is to give myself permission to drop or alter questions to suit what I want to talk about.  Since 90 percent of the stuff I’ve written is likely never to be seen by anyone but me, it’s easier to let myself play fast and loose.
  • There’s a lot of world building that I don’t need to do, mainly because it’s already been done for me.  The Defcon ‘verse is essentially our world up until November 10, 1983 when all hell breaks loose. There are huge chunks of information that I don’t have to create myself – the geography of the planet, the languages spoken, etc. – just adjust and adapt to suit my needs.  This makes things a lot easier. Kind of like cooking one of those boxed dinners where you just add the meat.
  • On the other hand, while extrapolating from research and building off of the real world makes a lot of my world building a bit easier, it doesn’t cover everything.
  • There are lots of fiddly bits of this and that making up a world and trying to nail down everything is all but impossible.  That way lies madness, I am finding. Best to focus on the details that are important for the story at hand.
  • There is still more work to be done, but taking a month to pause and reflect has been helpful.

Looking Forward:

May is the Month of Typing – i.e. the month where I turn my hand written manuscript which still has missing chunks into a cohesive, typewritten whole that has a beginning, middle and end. For realsies!  Ideally, I’d like to have a complete first draft by the end of May but I’m fairly certain that the Month of Typing is going to end up being The Two Months of Typing With Additional Handwriting to Fill the Gaps.

So, here’s the plan: I’m going to start off by reading through what I have and taking note of what I’ve already done and seeing where the larger holes in character and plot are.  I’m planning on taking a couple, three days for that and maybe start actually typing by Sunday or so.  The good news is, I’m a fast typist so I can knock out a few pages at a time here and there at odd moments.  This is likely going to be a marathon, though, not a sprint.

During the down time at work, there’s going to be more world building, especially trying to expand on the plots and ideas important to the first four books in the Defcon series and also working on character development.

Personal Stuff:

Had an appointment with my primary care physician on Monday and found out that, since January, I have lost 18 pounds – 12 in the last month, most likely due to the Invokana I’ve been taking since my daily walks have gone by the wayside.! I’m now about 242 pounds, so go me!



AROW80 Check-In: April 27, 2014

Quick update time! Because it is late and I am tired — y’know, typical Sunday morning ’round these parts!

I finished a fictional species template checklisty thing tonight; I cobbled it together from a few different ones — namely How to Create Fantasy Races or Species, Part 1Sentient Life Forms and Template for Creating and Building a New Fantasy Race for your Fictional World or Story with some additions from Lee Killough’s Checking on Culture

World Building Goals:

  • Noodle a bit more; I found an Extreme Culture Checklist that I’m going to mine for things to work on. Since I’ve decided to continue working on world building/character development next month, there’s not quite the urgency to get things wrapped up that there was but I’d still like to fill the notebook I’m working on by Wednesday night. Just as a goal/stopping point.

Other Goals:

  • Get ready for the Month of Typing (i.e. May) — which will begin with the Reading of the Manuscript. And the Gnashing of the Teeth and the Wailing of the “WHAT THE WHAT?!”
  • Check in with folks since I’ve slacked off lately. Grr.