AROW80 Round 4 2018 — Goals Post

Still plugging away at Omegas: Cake Walk — though I have actually made some small progress this week, in that I finished Chapter Twenty-One (mainly by deciding, “Ok, ending this chapter here, starting new chapter with the next scene!”) and I’m working on Chapter 22.

Looking at the official AROW80 post for the new round, I’ve decided to try setting some S.M.A.R.T. goals for this round.  S.M.A.R.T. goals are ones that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. 

So, here goes something! —

  • Specific: Finish this draft of Omegas: Cake Walk.
  • Measurable: I’m currently on Chapter 22; I’m going to have to do a little work to figure out  how many more chapters the book will be, but I’m going to make a Wild-Ass Guess and say that the book will be 30 chapters long, so I have eight more to go. This is, of course, subject to change.
  • Attainable: I’ve written 22 chapters so far; I can write another eight. I can do this.  The first eight chapters of Omegas: Cake Walk is about 54,000 words. That’s roughly half of the current manuscript and I don’t think the end of the book really necessarily NEEDS another 54K words (since that would put the total manuscript at around 188,000 words total which is waaay longer than it probably needs to be — then again, it’s much easier to take words out than it is to put them in so, we’ll call 54,000 more words a good estimate and is definitely do-able.
  • Realistic: 54,000 words in 80 days averages out to about 675 words per day. Considering I’ve done 50,000 words in 30 days at an average of 1,667 words per day, I think 675 words per day is reasonable (even if I likely won’t be writing 675 words every single day — didn’t yesterday, for example — I can still easily catch up on the days when I can write more freely).  Especially come November, since I’ll be doing Nanowrimo again this year. (I’m dunmurderin over there, if you’re looking for a writer buddy)
  • Time Bound: This round runs from October 1st to December 20th. That’s 80 days (hence the name) so there’s my boundaries.

Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. You can post your own link at the Linky Tools link or join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at #ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Welcome/Introduction v. 2.0

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve created a Facebook page for myself in order to be able to share blog posts over there (Facebook did some kinda shenanigans and made it so you can’t share to a profile any more, just to pages — which is confusing to me because I thought my profile was my Facebook page).

Since I’m eventually going to get up the courage to start sharing my new page with people other than just my girlfriend, I thought I would do an introduction/welcome post here.

And what better way to start than to update relevant sections of the original introduction I did for this blog back in 2013:

Introduction, Part Two: Electric Boogaloo: (cheesy, I know but does it help that I did see both Breakin’ movies in the theater back in the day?)

I honestly don’t remember seeing the first Breakin’ movie (which doesn’t mean I didn’t see it in the theatre, just that it didn’t stick with me if I did), but I do remember being in the theatre for Breakin’ 2: The End Joke That Never Dies.,  And that’s honestly about it, since the movie wasn’t exactly memorable — there was dancing, there was a contrived 80’s movie reason for people needing to dance to solve their problem (which was also contrived n the style of the time).  It’s probably up on YouTube.

I have better memories of Howard the Duck — then again, I’ve watched Howard the Duck again since the 80s. (Though I didn’t see it in the theatres, since back then if I wanted to go to a movie, a significant section of my family would have to want to see the same movie — namely the part that drove and/or could pay for the movie as I had no drivers’ license nor disposable income to speak of).

I bit the bullet and switched over to a WordPress blog because for one thing, it seems to be the most popular option among folks in the challenge and for another, it looks like a better way to get feedback than Tumblr.  I’ll probably get around to deleting the Tumblr blog I started eventually. But if it’s still there in 2016, don’t be surprised.

It’s 2018, heading toward 2019 and the Tumblr blog is still there. It’s an off-shoot of my original Tumblr — and yes, I am beginning to wish I hadn’t gone with ‘crotchgunsamurai’ as my main Tumblr handler.  (In my defense, it’s a reference to the original live action Transformers movie, specifically the part where the Nokia phone is brought to life and sprouts a gun from its crotch and the crazy government agent makes a remark about Nokia phones having the spirit of the samurai — despite being a Finnish company, not Japanese and…look, I just wanted to be able to surf Tumblr and share things! And I liked that little robot! He was fierce!

My main email handle, dunmurderin is also a Transformers reference, though from the 1990s Generation Two comic (which was…odd; it’s the series that had Transformers reproducing by budding. Yeah. The 1990s!). Starscream is talking to himself about how Megatron’s sending him a message about his ultimate fate:

He’s telling me that once his new army is fully mobilized, my services will no longer be required. And given my past record of treachery, I doubt that means a pension and a sign that says ‘Dunmurderin!’

As much as I’m not a Starscream fan, I like this quote. It tickled me, so I used it for my email and the rest is history. And some very strange looks when I’m asked to spell out my email.

Back to the intro!

So, since this is kinda/sorta a fresh start, I’m going to introduce myself again.  My name is Kathy, I’m 43 years old, I work in a call center and I’ve been writing off and on since I was 17 but making up stories and worlds and assorted oddness since I was little. I can still remember being about five years old and talking to myself before I went to sleep and having to stop when my mom would come to bed — and then there was that magical day I realized that I could keep talking to myself when she came to sleep if I just started talking to myself inside my own head. Mind. Blown.

I’m 48 now, but otherwise the rest of this stands. I still work at a call center, my name is still Kathy.

I also owe my cousin Kate a debt of gratitude for getting tired of me, at 12, saying “One day, I’m going to write a story about…*insert blathering about characters and situations*” and telling me, “Why don’t you DO IT THEN?!” with all the wisdom of her then-ten year old self. Thanks Kate! You are the reason I now know that it’s possible to make a notebook go football shaped if you insert enough Post-it notes into it!

And I still owe Kate a debt of gratitude for telling me to shut up and do it. It’s been a long, long journey to get to this point, but I’m where I am now because of her getting irritated with me all those years ago. Thank you cranky ten-year-old Kate!

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That’s it for now. See you again soon. Welcome!

 

AROW80 Goal Post for Round 4 — October 1st, 2018 to December 20th, 2018

Ok, this list is going to be super-short and to the point:

  1. Finish Omegas: Cake Walk.
  2. Plot out the Will Cartwright story that started this whole Universe 46534 megillah all them years ago.
  3. Blog more regularly than I have been — like, at least once every couple weeks or something, you know? I could use the outlet.

Beyond that, looking forward to the library nearest my house reopening on September 23. It’s been remodeled and it looks super-spiffy on the outside. Can’t wait to see the inside!

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Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. [No Linky Tools Link this week, so feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at #ROW80

AROW80 Check-In for September 19, 2018 — the Final Check-In (of Round 3, 2018).

It’s the Final Check-In, and I feel fine.  I’d rather be feeling accomplished but I’ll settle for fine. Fine is good.  Fine is a place to start anew from.

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Today, I’m actually working on Omegas: Cake Walk — as in, I’ve actually managed to write some words that are (oh please god) going to move the story forward! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve got an outline of what I want to have happen next, which is hopefully going to give me a roadmap I can follow to get actual writing done.  Now, I just have to sit down and put words to paper.

You know, the tricky part. For that definition of ‘tricky’ that includes “the really, really painfully hard and difficult part that takes forever! It’s like beating my head against a wall! *whine* *gnash teeth* *cries*”

*ahem* *collects self* It’ll get done, I know it will, it’s just taking longer than I want it to. I’ll get there eventually, this is just a dry spot. (I’ll talk more about my plans in my Goals Post for Round Four — out soon!).

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In other news, I created a Facebook page for myself as a writer. You can find it at Doomsday Writer, Kathy Pulver — I created it mainly because Facebook changed their policies about allowing WordPress sites to reblog posts to Facebook profile pages. If you want to reblog, you need a Facebook page instead. And I want to be able to share my stuff over at Facebook because of reasons. (Mainly because I want to be able to share to most/all of the social media platforms I’m on, part of that whole ‘build your online presence’ thing writers are supposed to be doing these days).

For now, it’s still a fairly small potato, but eventually, I hope to make it something more. So, for those who remember the early internet, just imagine a bunch of “Under Construction” .gifs and .jpegs here).

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Beyond this, there’s not a whole heck of a lot to report. I’m continuing to plug away at the scene I’m working on, while listening to Linkara review comics and eventually, I’m getting pizza! Because I’ve earned it, damnit! Pizza and fried apple pies — because I never did get pie the other day.

Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. [No Linky Tools Link this week, so feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at #ROW80

Not the Onion: the NRA (spokesperson) vs. Thomas the Tank Engine

So, this is a thing I saw on Facebook tonight…

N.R.A. Show Puts Thomas the Tank Engine in K.K.K. Hood to Criticize Diversity Move — link goes to a New York Times article, which does indeed reprint the image of Thomas the Tank Engine in a KKK hood that appeared on a recent episode of the NRATV program Relentless. Because the show’s host, Diana Loesch, was trying to make the point that adding diversity to the cast of Thomas the Tank Engine is like racism because acknowledging that your show could be more diverse means you’re admitting to being racist? Or…or something? I…uhh…yeah…we’re going to unpack this for a bit…

Quick Take: Oh for crying in church…thank god I had something to eat before I saw this. This kinda stupid you don’t want to try taking on when your blood sugar’s low. As it is, I think I’m going to need ice cream after this.

So what’s going on?: Apparently, the Thomas the Tank Engine show is  going to be introducing several new characters in some upcoming episodes. The show’s going to have Thomas leave his home island and go visit other countries, like China, India and Australia and so Thomas is going to meet trains who aren’t generically British and/or white like he and his friends are. There are also going to be some new female trains added to the cast.

It’s been a while since I last watched Thomas the Tank Engine and I was never the target audience for it, so I don’t remember if they had any female train characters. What I mostly remember from the show are a bunch of male British characters who, if I had to put a race to them I’d peg as white — and Ringo Starr and George Carlen playing Mr. Conductor during the live action bits.  And I’m not Googling anything about the show because that way lies madness. Feel free to offer corrections/links to more accurate Thomas the Tank Engine info in the comments.

I’m more interested in looking at this quote from the article above, about Diana Loesch, who aired the Thomas the Tank Engine in the Klan hoods because:

In the segment, Ms. Loesch, an outspoken conservative commentator, questioned the decision to add the new characters, including Nia, a train from Kenya. How, she asked, could the children’s show introduce “ethnic diversity” when its anthropomorphized characters are mostly trains?

(Note: Links in quote were there in the original article; also, Nia’s adorable!)

If you’ve watched kids shows from, well, ever, you’ve seen characters that aren’t human or even humanoid who’ve been assigned genders and ethnicities before. It’s an accepted part of animated storytelling, right?  If the character has eyelashes, she’s a girl.  Accents = ethnicity (which can get confusing when the characters are supposed to be aliens — unless Ironhide is supposed to be from Cybertron’s Deep South).

But, even beyond that, it’s really not that hard to figure out how you go about introducing ethnic diversity with non-humanoid characters — Nia is a train who was, presumably, built in Kenya. Not much of a stretch for her to think of herself as Kenyan, is it? I mean, we talk about cars being Japanese and vodka being Russian and pastries being French so why can’t a train be Kenyan? Pretty sure Thomas and his friends think of themselves as British, so it’s not like there isn’t a precedent going on.

Funny how Leosch doesn’t seem to have a problem with that, though. It’s almost like ethnicity only becomes a touchy subject when it’s not Anglo-American. Kind of like how gender only becomes a problem when it’s not male (Transformers fandom, looking at you).

How much of this is actual confusion on Loesch’s part and how much is faux-confusion meant to serve as a rhetorical gambit, I don’t know. The generous part of me wants to think that maybe, just maybe, she’s honestly so unimaginative that the idea of non-humanoid characters having identities beyond “I’m a train” is throwing her for a genuine loop.

The cold and cynical part of me is less inclined toward such generosity.  That part thinks this ‘confusion’ is willful ignorance on Loesch’s part — it’s not that she can’t understand how a train could be Kenyan or female, it’s that she doesn’t want to understand.  Understanding someone else’s point of view is difficult; it’s much easier to sneer at something and dismiss it out of hand.  That way, you don’t have to face the fear of the unknown.

Which is what I think is at the root of most if not all of this kind of anti-diversity pushback that we’ve seen since, well, since always but especially in the last decade or so. Too many people think that other people gaining recognition and representation means that someone else (i.e. them) has to lose recognition and representation. But that’s not true.  As the meme says, it’s not pie.

Source: https://imgflip.com/i/1ijiwh (and now I want pie…)

 

Seriously, I think I’m going to go get some pie…

AROW80 Check-In for September 12, 2018

Ok, so, I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I wanted to when I started this back up — but on the other hand? I’m blogging a heck of a lot more than I was before I started back up so, counting that as a win.

Which, oddly enough, seems to be a bit of a theme for me lately. I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and found out that my A1C hasn’t changed since my last visit — which is good, since it didn’t get worse but which isn’t great, because it means I haven’t done much of anything to lower it. Still, counting it as a win because stalemate means I still have the chance to improve.

And speaking of stalemates! Omegas: Cake Walk has been stalled for a while now because I’m trying to figure out the ending. Or, more accurately, trying to figure out the next steps that will lead to the final confrontation that will lead, ultimately, to the ending.

In the spirit of not burying the lede, I’ve finally gotten a line on what I want/what needs to happen next and I’m pretty happy with it. It ties together things that I’ve already established and ties into my main POV character’s backstory in ways that please me (vague post is vague, I know….) — I’ll come back to this in a bit, here’s my super-secret writer technique for figuring out what should happen next:  I stopped writing.

I could try to make that more complicated than it is but it honestly boils down to the fact that I stopped writing, took a break and worked on other things for a while.  Mainly, I started typing up the notes I’d taken from The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4,000-Year History of the Superhero by Jess Nevins c. 2017, which led to me deciding to do a bit more digging into the history of superheroes and some more note taking. In fact, I’m still working on that; I’ve recently finished reading through On the Origin of Superheroes: From the Big Bang to Action Comics #1 by Chris Gavaler and I’m currently working my way through Super-History: Comic Book Superheroes and American Society, 1938 to the Present by Jeffery K. Johnson (in this case “the Present” is about 2010).

If you’re looking for books that entertainingly think (and occasionally over think) about comic books and superheroes and how they relate to world and/or American history, I recommend all three of these (plus Gavaler’s Superhero Comics, which I have but haven’t read yet but which touches on some areas of interest to me — including a discussion of the American eugenics movement and superheroes). Oh! And Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye — which I listened to as an audiobook rather than took notes on but I got some good crunchy brain food from it, oh yes indeedy!  I still want to read or listen to Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman too.  And The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid.  Not to mention the books that look at superhero comics’ Jewish roots (seriously, with the possible exception of the creators of Wonder Woman, nearly every other superhero was created by a Jewish writer and/or artist), like:

Plus there’s also The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju — if you want to understand the moral panics against D&D, various flavors of popular music, video games, social media and every other moral panic that’s happened since the early 1950s, read this book. The arguments against all those things got their roots here.

Oh! And the last one I’m going to link to (I swear, otherwise this is all I’m going to be doing for the rest of the day): Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate by Richard Bowers — it talks about the 1940s radio shows where Superman did indeed battle a thinly-veiled version of the Klan and about the real-life guy who went undercover within the Klan to funnel information about them out.  It’s a fun piece of history right up there with my two favorite stories about Jack Kirby:

  • Favorite Jack Kirby Story #1: Kirby helped create Captain America — he was the artist, Joe Simon was the writer.  Captain America debuted in December 1940 — a full year before the US would enter World War II.  Like Action Comics #1, this comic is likely better known for its cover than for its contents.  This is the book that has Captain America decking Hitler. It came out at a time when there were Americans who fully supported Hitler and the Nazi movement (shocking, right?) and, as is the way of such folks, they voiced their objections to the cover in an erudite and mature fashion.Nahhhhhh, they threatened Simon and Kirby’s lives. To the point that the mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia offered protection to both of them.  (Apparently, Fiorello was a Captain America fan; he also once read the Sunday funnies to kids over the radio during a newspaper delivery strike, so nobody would miss out on their favorite strips).  But, that’s just background to my favorite bit of the story (Note: Timely is what Marvel Comics was originally called):  Once, while Jack was in the Timely office, a call came from someone in the lobby. When Kirby answered, the caller threatened Jack with bodily harm if he showed his face. Kirby told the caller he would be right down, but by the time Jack reached street level, there was no one to be found. (source: The Kirby Effect: Making it Personal
  • Favorite Kirby Story #2:  Is sadly not true and I’m disappointed that it’s not but I’m glad I found out the truth.  The story I’d heard was that Kirby, who helped create Black Panther, was told to put more white people in the comic — so the next issue he had Black Panther fighting the Klan.  It’s not true. It feels like it could be true, based on the fact Kirby clearly had no problem bringing real-world evil into his comics and the fact there was a storyline where Black Panther went up against the Klan — but Kirby didn’t write it. You can read more about the myth and about the actual comics here: Black Panther and the Myth of Kirby vs. the KKK.
  • Substitute Favorite Kirby Story #2: Kirby served as a scout in Europe during World War II.  He served with a unit that liberated at least one concentration camp (it should probably go without saying, but Kirby was Jewish; it’s theorized that one of the reasons he was drafted as a scout was because he spoke Yiddish).  This and his other wartime experiences helped to shape his future work which included a lot of anti-fascist elements. Source: 8 Ways Comic Book Legend Jack Kirby Fought Fascism. 

Ok, stepping away from the subject for now because, again, I could go on about the history of comics and how we owe so much of our popular culture to creators who existed on the outside of the mainstream — which would naturally segue into the influence that Baroness Orczy and the Scarlet Pimpernel had on the creation of characters like Batman and Superman (via Zorro) and that would, of course, link back to the fact that modern science fiction essentially began with Mary Shelley and how ironic it is that a bunch of gatekeeping wetsocks want to whine about how women have no place in science fiction and comics when those genres were essentially created by women (you’re welcome!) — and THAT leads to me wanting to do a riff on the Maui “You’re Welcome” song from Moana with Mary Shelley as Maui and that way lies madness! And a complete derailing of what I was trying to talk about.

So, wrenching the controls back from, errr, myself and getting back to it:

Part of the reason for dipping back into this research — other than finding a way to feel like I’m working on writing when I’m actually not — is that I’m wanting to create a superhero universe that has some depth and heft to it, like the Marvel or DC universes do. To do that, I decided a while back that I needed to create the heroes that started things off. Toward that end, I wanted a better idea of how these heroes came about in our world — with the difference being that in the universe of Omegas: Cake Walk, the heroes are real, not legends or four-color images of fantasy.

I’ve got a few ideas and eventually, I’ll share them but they need to percolate a bit longer before I do.

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I said earlier that I’d finally gotten a line on what I want/what needs to happen next  in Omegas: Cake Walk and that I’m happy with it, especially since it ties things together in my POV character’s backstory with what’s going on in the book, as well as a few other bits and bops in ways that make me happy.

How’d I do it? I went back and thought about my POV character’s identity and how it shaped their experiences prior to the events of the book.  Since the character’s identity is different from my own (*insert finger-waving of vagueness here!*), I went online to a writing group and asked for help from folks who might share that identity.

I was nervous about doing so, not so much because I was afraid of that the question would offend a person of the identity I was researching but more because I was dreading getting writing ‘advice’ along the lines of ‘don’t worry about that PC crap! Just write what you want! It doesn’t matter!’

I don’t like that kind of thinking. It brings out my inner Credible Hulk and it’s hard to write a long, well-though out rebuttal on a tiny phone keyboard.

Citing Credible Statistics - the Credible Hulk - Feature Image

Source: Are You Sure You’re Citing Credible Statistics in Your Blog Posts? (which has nothing to do with what I’m talking about but is where I found the above image). 

Luckily, it went well — I got a lot of good advice from people and didn’t have to deal with any bigots or anti-PC apologists. And that advice led to me taking a minute to stop and think about the character’s life prior to the book and how their identity might have been shaped by their life experiences, which in turn led to thinking about how that identity might shape their decisions and experiences during the book itself. Doing so gave me the added push I needed to sit down and write a brief outline of how I’m planning on going forward. It’s honestly the most and the best work I’ve done on the book itself in a month, maybe longer.

I also found out that I’m going to need to do a bit of work when I go back over this draft to make sure that this information is included because otherwise, the book’s not going to make a lick of sense. Not even two licks.

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I’m almost at my self-imposed time limit for this library (I could stay longer, but I want to go home and get something to eat — I’m thinking chicken wings). Another time, I will talk more about my thoughts on Writing the Other and the importance of diversity and representation in writing. Until then, hope you guys have a good week and stay safe.

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Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

 

 

 

 

A Round of Words in 80 Days: Round 3, 2018 — Goals Post

I’m going to keep this relatively short and sweet. For a change. My goals for this time around are:

  1. Finish Omegas: Cake Walk: As in, finish the first fully typed up draft of the story from beginning to end and then take a break before going in for a round of editing. I’m fairly close to the end of the story now, so hopefully between July 2nd and September 20th, 2018, I can manage to get it done.
  2. Write more blog posts: For no other reason than that it’s fun to ramble about stuff. Specifically about writing. Maybe about reading, especially about post-apocalyptic mens adventure novels.  And about world-building.
  3. Start researching Omegas: Long Shot: I have some of the research already done, I just need to finish up a bit more and then start trying to craft a plot that can combine time travel, Pleistocene Americans, and cheesy syndicated TV shows.
  4. Noodle around with some of my other WIPs that are currently on the back burner and that could be brought round to the front for a bit. 

Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

Harlan Ellison, 1934-2018

Harlan Ellison, Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer, Dead at 84 – Link leads to NPR obituary.

Harlan Ellison was one of the first writers I read nearly as much of his work as I could get my hands on. His short story/novella “A Boy and His Dog” was partly responsible for my lifelong interest in post-apocalyptic fiction and the movie that was made is more than partly responsible for 13 year old me pestering my mom about getting a VCR.

Ellison wrote a lot of interesting and edgy stories. He also is one of the first authors whose non-fiction writing drew my interest. I remember telling my mom about an essay Ellison wrote about a civil rights march and how the National Guard had their guns pointed at the marchers, not at the people threatening them and how outraged I was by that.

A description of an episode of the Outer Limits that he wrote, called “Soldier” had a lifelong impact on me as a writer, mainly in the shape of my enjoyment of creating certain types of characters.

His “A to Z in the Chocolate Alphabet” is still one of my favorite fantasy stories – for all that it’s really just a collection of snippets each themed around a letter of the alphabet. I have a comic book adaptation of it and it is a prized possession.

As I grew older, reading some of Ellison’s writings, especially about his problems with the TV industry, led to me becoming less than gruntled with him. On the one hand, by that point I was old enough to understand that yeah, the TV industry was producing a lot of crap but on the other hand, for all the righteous criticism he gave, Ellison didn’t seem to have a problem with taking their money. Also, he seemed more than ready to throw fans of his TV work under the bus.

Some of the stories I’ve heard about Harlan Ellison tie into the idea that he was “America’s weird uncle,” the guy who would say anything, no matter how outrageous and charm you with the story afterwards — especially if he can control the entire narrative.  Things like him sending 213 bricks, postage due, to an editor who refused to pay him.  Others, like his groping of Connie Willis at the 2006 Hugo Awards, serve as a reminder that weird uncles can and often are, assholes who can talk a good game.

I haven’t read much of Ellison’s work in the last twenty or so years except rereading “A Boy and His Dog” a while back. I’m sad that he’s gone, but mainly in the sense that this serves as a reminder that bits and pieces of my childhood are slowly vanishing from the world. And considering how problematic some of the bits and pieces of my childhood were/are, that’s not necessarily a bad thing but, as problematic as he is/was/will continue to be, Harlan Ellison had a fairly big influence on me as a reader, a writer and a person. My condolences to those who will be most affected by his passing.

Because today’s Election Day here in the U.S., have a snippet!

When I first started plotting Omegas: Cake Walk, I settled on April 2007 for reasons that escape me now (honestly, while there is a specific reason for 2007, the reason for April is more “Ehh, this’ll do” than anything else). Specifically, I set the story during the week of April 23-30, 2007 (again, for no better reason than “The events in the story take place over a week, this is a week that’s as good as any other week in which to set my tale”).

Come to find out, once I committed to the time frame, the Democratic Presidential debates occurred during this time frame. While Omegas: Cake Walk doesn’t take place in our reality, it takes place in one that’s similar so I decided to run with the idea. Which led to this exchange about voting and how living in a comic book universe could screw things up:

“I’m just saying: voting’s a waste of time,” Frankie said as he plucked half a dozen oversized strawberries from the tray and stacked them onto a paper plate. “Whoever wins, somebody’s just gonna go back in time and step on the wrong bug and screw everything up. It’s inevitable.”

“That only happened once, back in ’52,” Laney said, smacking the table and causing a small avalanche of plump, green grapes to cascade down from the tray. Frankie scooped them up as well, as she continued. “And once the Sequential Safeguards were able to straighten things out and push through the Eckels-Simpson Act to outlaw political tampering with the time stream.”

Note: Yeah, this a multiple-part reference to “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury, in which a character, essentially, steps on the wrong bug and screws everything up. The story was published in 1952 and the character who screws things up is named Eckles.

The law also references the Simpsons episode “Treehouse of Horror V” — specifically the short “Time and Punishment” in which Homer tries to fix his toaster and ends up destroying multiple timelines.  “Stupid bug, you go squish now!”

Note the second: I agree with Laney, voting isn’t a waste of time. In fact, voting today took a lot less time than I was afraid it would and I was able to get in and out of my polling place in less than fifteen minutes (wasting time between 5 am and 6:30 am on the other hand….that took some doing).

Note the third:  Currently, the plan is for the next Omegas story, Omegas: Long Shot, to involve time travel, Pleistocene Era America, and cheesy syndicated TV shows.

 

 

Omegas: Cake Walk in one sentence

My attempt at a one sentence description of Omegas: Cake Walk —

When a desperate phone call from a top scientist’s estranged daughter threatens to derail the highest-level superscience conference, the call goes out to the one team that can rescue the girl and keep her safe from the clutches of the cult she’s trying to flee — after all, when the job’s a cake walk, who can handle it better than the Omegas?

 

AROW80 Round 2 Check-In for 4/11/18 plus WIPpet Wednesday

I’m working on typing up Chapter Eighteen of Omegas: Cake Walk! In fact, I’ve managed to type up what I’d written and now I’m trying to work on bridging the gap between the end of that and being able to pick up from some earlier stuff that I want to fold into this chapter.

*backing up a moment*

I write mostly by hand, since that’s easiest for me to do at work. Omegas: Cake Walk does already exist as a finished handwritten draft (encompassing three full 3-subject notebooks plus some other smaller note books). The draft I’m working on now is a typed-up version of the handwritten one — and as is the nature of drafts, there have been changes made. So, as I’m going along, I’m having to write new bits to bridge gaps, fix plot holes and generally just be better than what was originally written. That’s where I find myself now.

In a word? Blorp.

The good news is, today I have a lot of time to spend writing since it’s my day off. I’m currently sitting in the children’s section of my favorite branch of one of my local libraries using their computers. Surprisingly enough, the kids’ section can be a lot quieter than the adult section. It also feels more open and inviting. Plus, sometimes you get to hear/see little kids doing cute/adorable things, so that’s a plus.

# # # # #

WIPpet Wednesday Snippet Math: April 11, 2018. I’m going the easy-peasy route and giving you page 11 of Omegas: Cake Walk, which is the last page of Chapter One.

What You Need to Know: Dr. Sarah Lawrence has gotten Dr. Josephus Zilsch out of the press conference before he behaved *too* badly (though he still managed to say something outrageous to a member of the press) and to a meeting about the upcoming conference. At the meeting, she’s introduced to Felix Valentine, leader of Magnum Team and his teammate, Torque, a genetically engineered enhanced human (known as an ECHO).  Sarah’s been receiving phone calls from an unknown number throughout the chapter and has been ignoring them up until now, when she finally answers with the hopes of telling the person off. Instead, she gets a message she wasn’t expecting which leads to….Page 11:

Sarah stared down at her phone’s screen for a moment, letting out a long, shuddering breath. “That was my daughter,” she said. “She needs my help.”

“That’s going to have to wait, then,” said Dr. Zilsch. “You’ve got more important things to be worrying about this week. Than dancing attendance on that ungrateful brat.”

“Yeah, she’s got an entirely different ungrateful brat to worry about,” Emma said. “What’s happening, Sarah?”

“My daughter is in trouble and she needs my help in getting away from the cult she’s been living in,” Sarah said. “Her father dragged her along with him when he remarried; I didn’t fight him as much as I could have – or even should have because Mackenzie seemed happy with him and – and I was busy with the expedition to Deep Mu, but now? She needs me to help her get away and I’m going to be helping her.”

Sarah looked up, taking in everyone at the table with her eyes blazing before focusing her rage on Zilsch. “I am getting my daughter away from those people or else.”

“Or – Or else what?” sputtered Zilsch.

“Or else you can find someone else to take your abuse,” Sarah said. “Good luck with that. You’re going to need it.”

“You can’t do that!” Zilsch yelped, slamming his fists down on the table. “I won’t let you! Damnit, Richards! Talk sense into this woman! I can’t be without an assistant! Especially not this week of all weeks!”

Dean Richards looked at Sarah with concern. He seemed more genuinely worried – or at least less self-involved than Zilsch. “Dr. Lawrence, I think perhaps we can handle this situation without resorting to such drastic measures, don’t you?”

“You damn well will handle this!” Zilsch said, his eyes rolling wildly. “I will not face this conference without Lawrence! I need her!”

“If I may?” Valentine’s voice was as calm as the surface of a still pond. “I believe my people can handle this. But, could I ask for a bit more information? What, exactly, is the issue at hand with Dr. Lawrence’s daughter?”

“She’s a damned Womackian cultist!” Zilsch said. “You heard the woman! That bratling is a dyed in the wool follower of that wannabe space princess!”

Valentine looked to Sarah, one eyebrow cocked up at a curious angle. “Ma’am?”

Sarah let out a long, shuddering sigh. “He’s right,” she said. “Mackenzie’s father joined the cult shortly after we divorced. She’s been part of it for the last four or five years now.”

“I see,” Valentine said. ‘And she wants out now, I take it?”

“Yes. I don’t know why and I honestly don’t care about why she wants out. I only care about the fact that she’s asking for my help,” Sarah said, clutching her hands into fists. “She’s – we’ve been estranged for a while now. This is the first time she’s called me in months. She just sounded so scared, so small. Mr. Valentine, I don’t know if you have children but well, I haven’t always been the best mother to Mackenzie but I can’t let her suffer like this. Can you help?”

“Ma’am, if it will help keep the conference running smoothly, I’ll be happy to put some of our people on it.” Valentine’s smile was straight out of a toothpaste commercial, all shiny, confident white teeth. “You have my word on it; they’ll get your little girl back. No worries.”

Sarah nodded, swallowing a lump in her throat. “Thank you,” she said. ‘Thank you so much. But I want her back before the opening ceremonies on Thursday. Otherwise, I will handle this myself and you can find another babysitter for Zilsch.”

“Dr. Lawrence,” Valentine said. ‘You have my word on it; she’ll be back safe and sound before you know it.”

# # # # #

Powered by Linky Tools:  A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers.  Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.

AROW80-2018 ROUND 2 Goals Post

It’s been a few years, but I’m ready to give this another go-round!  I’m going to keep my goal short and sweet: finish my current WIP’ s second draft, which is almost done!

One challenge, other than that I’m hitting the “Endings Are Hard!” Wall of Doom, is that I’ve started a new job (internal promotion at my current job), so there’s going to be some adjustments since I’m adapting to changes there. But, I’m confident I can succeed.

Looking forward to a productive round with everybody!

Happy Easter and Happy Passover

Edit to Add:  The project I’m currently working on is called Omegas: Cake Walk. It’s set in the Gem City universe I created a few years ago.  If you click on the Gem City tag, you can see some of my earlier musings on the universe in question — though some of that has/will fall to the forces of Retcon eventually.

Powered by Linky Tools:  A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers.  Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

*Insert Cheesy ‘It’s Been A Long Time’ Joke here*

But, WOW has it ever been a long time since I posted here. A lot has changed since I last posted but a lot really hasn’t. Still working at the same job, still living in the same apartment, still with the same incredibly awesome girlfriend, still in Ohio and still writing.

What’s really new? I finished a complete first draft of a novel set in the U-46534 universe and am on my way toward finishing the second draft of that novel. Pretty well chuffed about that.

Other new things: started watching the CW’s Arrowverse shows after getting hooked on Legends of Tomorrow (pretty much entirely because Captain Cold and Heat Wave were on the show and Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell are amazing together and also very easy on the eyes. *swoon*). This led to me watching the Flash, which led to Supergirl and Arrow and now Black Lightning (which isn’t set in the Arrowverse but which is an incredibly good show, especially if you like superheroes in the real world).

Saw Black Panther — loved it.

Tried Bolivian food — loved it.

Went to Ohio’s Amish Country — loved it. Want to go back. The pies…oh god, the pies…

I’m going to try getting back into blogging because I miss having a place where I can blather on about stuff. So, *fingers crossed*.

 

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!

Negotiations…

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. 

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!

Reblogging: Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you by N.K. Jemisin

Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you.  by N.K. Jemisin.

Confirmation bias doesn’t cause the phenomenon of Mysteriously Whitewashed Medieval Europe. (Or Peculiarly Denuded of Women Europe, or Puzzlingly Focused On The Nobility Europe, or any of the other bizarre things we tend to see in medieval Europe-flavored fantasy.) Confirmation bias causes the freakouts that occur whenever somebody points out these phenomena, and names them as inaccuracies.

 

For a variety of reasons, this is relevant to my interests since post-apocalyptic stories in general and the post-apocalyptic men’s adventures I’m trying to riff on with Defcon are loaded with their own confirmation biases that I want to poke many, many holes in.

 

Spaaaace!

I’m watching the original Cosmos with the girlfriend and WOW did this series hold up well! The effects — so far — don’t have much of a dated feel to them and it’s just awesome getting to listen to Carl Sagan talk about space and science.

I’ve got the new Cosmos taped and will hopefully be watching it while I’m off work this week.  I’m expecting my reaction will be similar to this little lady’s:

Source: SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING: SOMEBODY FILMED THEIR DAUGHTER REACTING TO COSMOS @ the Mary Sue. 

 

Weird dream….

I had a very weird dream last night — as you do — where many weird things happened but in which the weirdest thing was that I was explaining the historical backdrop for Defcon: Fade Out to a group of people at a bar and Casper Weinberger  — sort of/not really — was among them, nodding approval as I got my facts straight about the state of US vs. Soviet relations circa the early 1980s.

This is either a sign I’m on the right track or a sign I’ve got one wacky subconscious. Either way, it’s all good!

Also, Chapter Fifteen is done!

The Liebster Award

 

liebster-2-212x207

Tonette dela Luna was kind enough to give me a Liebster Award for my “sheer magnitude of awesymmetry” and I am now getting around to posting about this award with all do apologies to her for taking this long to get around to doing so. I do appreciate it

The rules for the award — or at least this iteration of it — are thus:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you. — so, thank you to Tonette dela Luna
  2.  Answer the ten questions asked by aforementioned lovely person. — See below!
  3.  Nominate ten other awesome and lovely people. — Not done yet, but will get on it as soon as I finish #4
  4.  Send off ten questions you’d like them to ask you. — need to come up with some questions
  5. Let the nominees know how awesome they are by popping by their blog to inform them of their greatness. — To be completed!

TEN QUESTIONS BY ME (well, by Tonette dela Luna):

1) You. Dinner. Plus five guests. Alive or dead, real or fictional. Name them. Oh, and as a bonus, what’s on the menu?

The dinner would be at the Olives restaurant at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I’ve actually eaten there once and it was the most amazing experience ever and if I’m going to have a once in a lifetime meal, I’m having it there! Not sure what anyone else would be having, but I’ll be having a steak and their tempura green beans.

As for the guests, hooo…ok, my girlfriend is a given so I’m coming up with five other people in addition to her: Stanislav Petrov – because the guy saved the world and the least I can do is buy him a great dinner; Harriet Tubman – because she has been a hero of mine since I was a child; Bill Mauldin – because his Willie and Joe cartoons helped to teach me about the realities of war; Carol Burnett — because her variety show taught me so much about humor  and, to be utterly, utterly sappy, my dad who died when I was five and who I never got the chance to know.

2) You just won $1,000,000.00, tax free. First off, congrats. Question: what plans do you have for the money?

First and foremost, I’d pay off my debts which luckily would still leave a nice chunk of change left over, so I’d set up some savings for me and the girlfriend. Sadly, I don’t think a million would be enough for me to quit working but it might be enough for me to cut back some of my hours and would definitely be enough to build a cushion for the two of us.

I’d help out some friends of mine and set up a fund for my younger relatives (the ones who are basically under 21) to help them with their future plans – college, trade schools, etc.

Then, once that’s squared away, I’d make some donations to charities – Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, some local homeless shelters and to my hometown school district among others. Most likely in that case, I’d call up the school librarians and ask about their wishlists. And I’d likely make a nice dent in my wishlists as well.

3) Ever feel you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time? Pick any point in history you feel you’d most likely fit in the best.

Oddly enough, not really? I like this time about the best – okay, so I don’t really have much in the way of experience with other times – but if I could go back to any one point in time, it’d probably be back to the Early Cambrian period to see trilobites.  Or go back to the Library of Alexandria with a wand scanner.

Oooh! Or, there was apparently this one battle during the Crusades where the European knights were mounted on stallions and the Arab/Muslim knights were mounted on mares and I once heard someone speculate that at least some of those mares were probably in heat and I think that would be a thing to see.

Ok, last choice: the day the Berlin Wall came down. I’d love to be in Berlin for that.

4) Do you believe in the paranormal? Care to share any inexplicable stories with the rest of us?

I’m a skeptic, so I think that what we call paranormal experiences can often be rationally explained…but I am also more than mildly superstitious about things.  For example, I knock on wood a lot – and I’ve even justified knocking on plastic because the oil that’s used to make plastic used to be trees and therefore is a kind of wood.

Though when I was in elementary school, my aunt and I did once see a UFO – as an adult, I think what we saw was a collection of several swarms of bees or other insects, which, while it isn’t aliens from outer space, is still pretty freaking awesome if you think about it.

5) Do you believe in fate, love at first sight, or coincidences? If yes, why? If no, why not?

Not sure about fate or love at first sight – I think they can happen but it’s probably pretty rare – but coincidences? Oh yeah, those happen all the time. They’re part of the weirdness that is our universe.

6) Do you believe we’re alone (or not alone) in the universe?

It depends – do I think that there is life in some form somewhere else out there in the infinite vastness that is the universe, then yes. There are too many planets out there that are similar enough to Earth — not to mention, the discovery of extremophiles here on Earth tells us that Jurassic Park did get one thing right — Life Will Find A Way.

Now, do I think that they are buzzing our planet and that they made a secret deal with Eisenhower back in the 1950s or that we have their technology hidden away in Area 51, no. Mainly because I don’t think that the US government could keep something that huge a secret.

7) If you were offered a seat on one of the first spacecraft excursions they’ve got planned, would you go? Why or why not?

Ooooh…I don’t know. I’d want to go, god knows I’d want to go. I mean, it’s space! Bit I have a bad feeling that I wouldn’t do so well in space.

8) Have you ever done or said something you regret, only to take it back and make things worse? (Uh, no. I’m not asking leading questions that might potentially albeit anonymously find their way into one of my books because, really, that would be wrong, but seriously, inquiring minds want to know, right?)

Oh yes, yes I have.  And that’s all I’ll say on the subject, oh questing author!

9) What is one thing you regret NOT doing or saying, and to whom?

I regret not calling my maternal grandmother more before she passed away.

10) What did you have for breakfast this morning (or the morning you read this question)?

Chinese food! Egg drop soup, General Tso’s chicken, sesame balls and crab Rangoon (I work late 2nd/early 3rd shift, so I’m usually waking up around 3 in the afternoon and therefore breakfast is often made up of lunch foods).

 

Relogging: The cost of reading every book: We know their names

The cost of reading every book: We know their names.  — this article by slacktivist is about the founding of the Library of Congress and the origins of the books that helped begin that library and the all too real cost in human lives paid for those books.

From the article itself:

Elsewhere, I’ve seen it said that the last people who might have read everything were probably Thomas Jefferson (d. 1826) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (d. 1832). Whether that’s true of either I don’t know, but Jefferson certainly tried. Jefferson’s problem was that Virginia did not have a library that held every English book, so to read them all, he had to buy them all. That was expensive. It took more money than Jefferson had, so the acquisition of his vast personal library put him deep into debt.

That debt was part of the reason, or the excuse, Jefferson gave for never being able to afford the emancipation of his slaves — something he always said he wanted to do, yet somehow never quite got around to doing.

I, Frankenstein Review — SPOILERS AHEAD!

Just got back from seeing I, Frankenstein with the girlfriend and since a couple folks asked me to let them know how it was, here goes. I’m going to try to keep the visible spoilers to a minimum. My more detailed and spoilery thoughts are going under cover; you can highlight them and read them if you want and avoid them if you don’t. The code comes from here: http://amadi.dreamwidth.org/40143.html?format=light

I, Frankenstein Review

Overall, long story short review: It was a good turn off your brain and don’t think about it too hard kind of movie.  It’s only about an hour and a half long, so the story is compressed.  I think it might have been better if it had been at least a half an hour longer and gone into the main character’s backstory a bit more and set up more of the world.  If you like Supernatural or Van Helsing and the Blade movies, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Also, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a 3D movie and it was soooo cool! The glasses worked and everything! I’d been told once by an eye doctor that I’d never be able to see 3D movies but they must’ve improved the technology because I was able to see it just fine.

The main story of the movie is that 200 years ago, Frankenstein’s monster killed his creator’s bride and the scientist died trying to hunt the monster down.  The monster then finds himself in the middle of a war between two supernatural groups and the main part of the story takes place in the present day in a city that might be London, based on the accents of the majority of the people in the cast and some of the architecture.

The Creature ends up being a pawn in the battle between good and evil (as y’do) and is also struggling some with his own identity though this isn’t really addressed that much and is kind of wrapped up quickly near the end.

By the way, the demise of the big bad is pretty frickin’ clever.

One semi-major nitpick under the highlight: The good guys in this film annoyed me because they came across as the kind of arrogant good guys that I just *hate*. The sort who think that because they are the good guys, whatever they do is right and just. Like, oh, not bothering to talk to the Creature about his situation and offering to help him avoid the evil forces out to get him. They even name him, like you’d name a dog. (The fact that they named him “Adam” of all the overly cliché names for artificially created beings, didn’t help, either.)

All in all though, I enjoyed I, Frankenstein. It was goofy and there were some plot holes you could sail an aircraft carrier through but that’s kind of what you should be expecting from a Frankenstein’s Monster vs. Gargoyles movie, isn’t it?

Edited to add: Aaron Eckhart, the guy who plays the Creature in this movie does an awesome job and makes for a damn attractive cobbled together reanimated corpse. I mean, there’s a point where the Creature takes off his shirt and it’s like, “How did Victor Frankenstein find such a good-looking bunch of corpses in 18th century Germany? Was there a set of octuplet super-models in the village or what?” This is not a complaint.