AROW80 Update for 4/17/19: Taco Wednesday


My hair is getting so long (this is what it looks like when I brush it all forward). Not bad for a picture I took at five in the morning without wearing my glasses because that’s when I decided I needed to brush all my hair forward for…reasons.

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This is going to be another quick update, since I don’t have much to report since the last update.

We tried a new restaurant tonight, Rusty Taco. It’s a taco place, hence the name and it’s a pretty good place. I tried their beef brisket and beef fajita tacos and Amy had their fried chicken taco as well as a beef fajita taco. They’re yummy, as are their churros and sopapillas which satisfy the craving for crunchy sweet cinnamon-sugar covered stuff.

Writing-wise, I haven’t gotten much done this week because life got in the way but not in a bad way, just a few things came up that needed my attention, like paying taxes on Monday, sleeping in on Tuesday and running errands with the Amy (and trying the new taco place) today. It was actually kind of nice to take a break from my usual routine.

The good news, I did get an idea for Storm Warnings that will help me explain a few things and I had a separate idea for the larger universe that Storm Warnings and Omegas: Cake Walk are set in and I (hopefully)  will be using later on in other stories.

Catch you on the flip-flop!

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

AROW80 Update for 4/10/19

I was today years old when I found out that Die Hard was adapted from a book. I’m in the habit of listening to YouTube videos while I’m writing, especially when I’m at the library. This means that at least part of every writing session includes trying to find videos to watch. I like a lot of the video review shows on YouTube including one I’ve recently stumbled on called Lost in Adaptation.

Lost in Adaptation features Dominic “The Dom” Smith who reviews adaptations — he talks about the book and the movie as separate entities then discusses how well the movies adapt the books. He’s done all of the Harry Potter books/movies (enlisting the help of an alter ego/side character called Terrance the D-Bag Ravenclaw), and has done side projects that focus just on reviewing books as well as a series that reviewed the 60’s British TV series, The Prisoner.  Be warned: he does use NC-17 language, so these videos aren’t necessarily safe for work or for younger viewers, but he is very entertaining.

I’ll do a recommendation list of some other reviewers/commentators that I like as well as how I think these sorts of commentary can help one’s writing on another occasion. Trying to keep this short.


I have not been working as hard as I would like on Storm Warnings, but I am trying to make up for that today. On the good side, I haven’t restarted it again! So, counting that as a win!

Continuing with the dream journal — it’s now about 25 pages long, so…yeah, I’ve dreamed a lot of dreams over the last couple months!

Still been doing the freewriting thing too. That’s up to a little over twenty pages as well, which goes to show that I can ramble like an [obscenity] when I want to. Now to harness that energy toward writing fiction! *Rar!*

I’ve checked in with my accountability partner and we’ve set up a plan for this round. *fingers crossed!*

While I have not come close to finishing Omegas: Cake Walk, I have figured out a side plot that I think will actually help make the next draft of the book a whole lot better and will tie things together nicely. *fingers again crossed*


I’ve been listening to a J.D. Robb novel in the car. This’ll be the fifth or sixth of Robb’s In Death books that I’ve listened to and I’ve already selected another one to listen to once this one’s done (which’ll be in a day or so).  I shied away from Robb for a while because of some really kind of stupid and petty reasons, most of which center around the fact that Nora Roberts is a romance writer and I don’t read romance.

Side Note:  Yeah, much as I hate to admit it, I used to be one of those folks who sneered at romance novels as being trash (and no, the irony of being a science fiction fan who did this is not lost on me). It was in the early 1990s when my attitude started to change. The internet started becoming a thing and I started looking for information on writing and that led me to a site called All About Romance, which reviewed romance books. For the first time, I got the chance to see romance readers discussing romance books in critical ways and I learned that yes, Virginia, it’s entirely possible to enjoy romance novels and still have a brain in your head.

I actually have read a few romance novels in my time and enjoyed most of the ones I’ve read. It’s almost like any genre can be entertaining if you find the right thing, weird huh?

All of this is a long way of saying that I avoided the In Death series for a long time and finally picked up an audiobook because I was like, “I need something to listen to in the car, we can try this out and see if we like it, if we don’t, eh I’ll bring it back and find something else.”

Long story shorter: I like J.D. Robb. I like the In Death series. I like Eve Dallas and Rourke and Peabody and a lot of the rest of the series. I like the world building Robb did for her version of the future and I can also see it as a cautionary tale for folks wanting to write near-future science fiction series.  More on that in a later post.

I also really like the voice actor who performs the In Death books, Susan Ericksen. A good voice actor can really make or break an audiobook for me. They can also encourage me to read other books just because I want to keep listening to their voice. Ericksen is one who I will look for on other books in the future, as is Ray Porter, Johnny Heller, Bernadette Dunne and Kate Reading (is that not the perfect name for an audiobook reader?!) among others. Oh! Bronson Pinchot is another one — Cousin Balki has some serious range.


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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

AROW80 Round 2 2019 Check-In and Updates

Howdy, howdy, howdy!  

The newest round of A Round of Words in 80 Days started yesterday (Monday, April 1st) so I’m posting my goals for this round and giving a bit of an after-action report on Round 1.

Round One 2019 Summary/Review:

Back in January, I set myself the following goals for the first round of AROW80 – here they are with updates:

Goal: Finish Storm Warnings — which I have now started about five times, but I’m currently working on a draft that I’m liking. Writing short is freaking hard, people.

Status: Storm Warnings is still unfinished. And as of today, I’ll be restarting it for the sixth and hopefully last time (more on that under the Goals post for this round). I’ve revised a few decisions I had made about the story’s length and focus and this time, fingers crossed, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I think I’ve finally struck upon an outline that will work.

Goal: Finish Omegas: Cake Walk — which is still in the same limbo it’s been in for the last few months.

Status: Omegas: Cake Walk is still in limbo but that’s ok.

Goal: Post in my blog at least weekly as part of my checking in with AROW80.

Status:  Didn’t quite make it to weekly posts, but I have posted more frequently than I did in the past.

Goal: Post and track my progress in the 365 Day Challenge on the group’s spreadsheet.

Also, Friday is my birthday! I’m going to be 49 years old (I’m a prime number squared!) – which means next year, I’ll be 50. And while I don’t have 2020 vision, what I want to do for myself for my 50th is to finish at least one story and get it ready to be submitted for publication. I’ll keep you posted how that goes!

Status:  I’ve been tracking my progress with my own spreadsheet and I’ve been posting my updates pretty regularly in the official 365 Day Challenge spreadsheet.

Goal: Write at least 4 times a week and produce a total of at least 2,500 words.

Status:  This is the goal I have been knocking out of the park. I’ve been consistently meeting or exceeding my weekly goals. Since January 25th, I haven’t missed a single day of writing and each month, my word production has been going steadily up. So, color me very happy about that.

That said, there are some things that I want to improve upon going forward, especially in regards to what I’m writing. As it is right now, I’m including just about any writing than I’m doing as part of my word goals. Some of that has been my work on Storm Warnings – both the actual writing of the story and the plotting/general noodling around with ideas that I’ve been doing. I’ve also started a couple of other things that I’m using to flex my creative muscles.

The first is my own take on a dream journal. I take notes on what happened in my dreams and write it up, along with whatever book I happened to be listening to when I went to sleep (I usually listen to audiobooks to help me drift off). The idea is that this is a way for me to potentially mine my subconscious for ideas. And I’ve had a couple dreams that are ripe for being turned into stories, so I’m calling that a win. I’ve also gotten some ideas for characters and potential scenarios as well.

What’s really interesting to me is how often things from the audiobooks I’m listening to don’t appear in my dreams. In the month or so that I’ve been doing this, there’ve been maybe two or three times where I can make a direct link between something in a book and something in my dreams. Don’t know as this proves anything about subconscious learning, but it’s kinda neat to me.

The other is also a kind of journal, which I’m using to do freewriting as a way to get ideas and thoughts out of my head and onto the page (and to make a word count on days when maybe the fictional creativity isn’t wanting to flow like I’d like it to). That’s a little less structured than the dream journal and is more just me rambling about stuff as it comes to me.

And, as of this week, I’ve started an idea bank – I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of ideas for my various fictional universes. The reason for using Excel is so that I can sort the ideas by various criteria. This is especially helpful for story ideas like the universe that Omegas: Cake Walk  and Storm Warnings are set in where stories can be set in entirely different time periods.

What I’m hoping to do going forward is to start focusing on counting work that actually goes somewhere – the journals are good but I want to start actually producing work that I can show to other people. Specifically, work that I can start trying to send out to sell. Because ultimately, I want to get published. Preferably traditionally published, but I’m not about to turn my nose up at self-publishing. So toward that end, here’s my goals for Round 2.

Round 2 Goals:

  • Finish Storm Warnings – I’m working on this for the April 2019 iteration of Camp Nanowrimo. The good news is, I have finally struck on a formulation for the story that does what I want it to do and I actually managed to outline the whole thing from beginning to end so that inspires confidence in me!
  • Touch base regularly with my accountability partner – I didn’t do this as well as I should have last round and I am sincerely sorry about that. I’ve gotten out of the habit of talking to folks online and I need to get better about that.
  • Stay the course on my dream journal and freewriting – Because I enjoy doing both and I think they have the potential to be very useful for future endeavors, whether that’s story ideas or blog posts.
  • Finish Omegas: Cake Walk This is something that’ll probably be on the back burner until May or so, since I’m putting my main energy into Storm Warnings, but I do still keep nudging at the story in the back of my head.

For now, going to wrap this up with the boiler plate links and talk to you folks soon!

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

Oh, where is my Facebook? Oh, where is my Facebook? — No, seriously, where is my Facebook!?

Sing my pain, Larry the Cucumber!

So, if you’ve been on the internet today, you probably know that Facebook is experiencing an outage. I went and made a meme about it because that’s the level of creativity that my brain’s at right now. Which is annoying as hell since…

Because shut up that’s why, Junior Asparagus, you goody-goody little….

*cough* I mean, I *have* been writing. I’ve been working pretty diligently on Storm Warnings and it’s been a bit of a slog. I’m still pretty much at the beginning of the story, much to my annoyance. When I originally came up with this idea, it seemed so damned simple. Like, I knew exactly what I wanted to write and where I wanted to go with it — well, except for the ending. I had no idea how the story was going to end. I’m good at ideas, I’m good at beginnings and I’m decent at middles but endings are my Waterloo.

I might be willing to trade my bellybutton for an ending. Actually, several endings.

Though, in all honesty, my original plan for the story was good but it wasn’t complete. For one thing, I didn’t have any idea why my heroes were getting involved in the story’s main conflict. Or, more accurately, no idea beyond “I, the author, have assembled you in this scene because this is where I want you to be so you can do the things that will get the story running so ok, you’re here, start doing the things!”

And, the characters did do the things. Except that the things they did were just not good. I went through probably half a dozen rewrites of the opening scenes to try and get Storm Warnings to a point where it was something I liked and that felt right. And every time I thought I had it, it would slip away and I’d be back at square one.

I didn’t alter this one because this is pretty much how the plot of Storm Warnings has been treating me. Minus the cute little French accents.

This past week, the whole “Hey, why are the characters actually doing any of this?” thing occurred to me in a big way. So, I set down to try and figure it out.

And I’m kinda happy with what I’ve come up with. It’s a good idea, I think. Or at least a good first-draft fourth-draft idea. It doesn’t just give the characters a reason to be in the scene, it also gives them some actual stakes in the story — which is a good thing, since I want these characters to come across as real people, fighting against the evils of their day, not plaster saints who are above everything and judging others from on high.

So, this is a long, rambling, roundabout way of saying this: writing is hard. Having a plan before you start can serve as a map through unfamiliar territory, but sometimes the map doesn’t mention that the bridge you were expecting to be there was wiped out by a flood.

I knew Storm Warnings was going to be tricky to write for a few reasons:

  1. It’s set in an alternate universe with superpowers and magic and aliens and all the other comic book superhero tropes that show up in Omegas: Cake Walk and the other stories that I’m setting in Universe-46534. — so there’s the need to balance those elements and keep them plausible and believable
  2. I’m introducing not one, not two, but four main heroes as well as an equal number of secondary heroes/characters who will Be Significant In the Future. — Yeahhh, really not sure how I thought I could fit all that in 6,000 words. That was like, wow…yeah.
  3. While this is actually the third story I’ve started in this universe, it’s chronologically the first story to take place in Universe-46534. The characters being introduced will be historical figures in other stories. They’re the original heroes of this world — well, among the original heroes. So…yeah, that’s tricky!
  4. It’s set in the past — specifically, in 1937, so I’m having to check things to make sure that I’m getting details right. On the other hand, the fact that this is an alternate universe, I’ve got some wiggle room for certain things.
  5. The bad guys are literally Nazis. — They’re based on a couple different pro-fascist/pro-Nazi groups that were active in America in the 1930s and 1940s. The trickiest part about them is not turning them into cartoonish mustache-twirling bad guys.
  6. The good guys are from backgrounds that are different from my own — two characters are gay, there’s a few Jewish characters (including some Jewish mobsters who are very happy to get the chance to kick Nazi ass — which is also historically accurate). This, along with the historical setting, adds a couple levels of difficulty.

But, see, I’ve accepted this challenge and I’m going to keep working on it. Because I think this’ll be a good story once it’s finally done. I like the characters, I like the plot I have set up and I like this universe. It’s just sometimes, it’s hard to see the path because it hasn’t been cleared yet. And you’re the one who has to clear it. With an ax. Not a big ax either. A little rinky-dinky ax up against a redwood tree the size of an aircraft carrier or something.

Note: Instagram is also down but I don’t use Instagram so I’m not making VeggieTales themed memes about it.

Other Writing Blather — I am meeting and/or exceeding my goals for the 365 Day Challenge. For the year to date, I’m at 50,000 words! Yay me!

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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at #ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more. You can also learn more about the 365 Day Challenge — which is closed for 2019, but you can prepare for 2020!

Baby, It’s *All The Expletives, Deleted* Cold Outside

So, if you live in the Midwest, have access to social media/the news, or some combination, you’re aware that a huge wonking chunk of the United States is experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures. As in, it’s warmer in Antarctica, Siberia and possibly on freaking MARS than it is in some areas of the US today. Where I am, in Southwestern Ohio, we’re experiencing temps in the negative single digits with wind chills down into the negative 20s.

I did not go to the library today. Other than sticking my head outside for a minute, I haven’t left the house at all today. Yesterday, I ran errands and picked up supplies for today — a roast for the crock pot along with all the fixings (new potatoes, baby carrots, onion soup mix, mushrooms), some Oreo cookies, milk, pop, etc. — because the plan was to stay hunkered down inside the apartment with the Amy for the duration of the freezing weather.

I also filled up my gas tank. And I’m hoping like hell that I won’t have cause to regret not having gone out to start my car today. I should have gone out during the day when the sun was up but I didn’t and I’m sure as hell not going outside now that the sun’s gone down.

Instead, I stayed inside today, took a couple of naps, listened to some audio books, joined the Amy for lunch (she had to work today — thankfully, she works from home), played Facebook games and surfed social media and ate some seriously delicious pot roast (if I do say so myself, which I do).

The secret to my pot roast is dry beefy onion soup mix and Coca Cola. Mix the two in a cup, stir and pour over the roast and fixings. Don’t fill the cup too full, because the soup mix makes the Coke foam up. Also, use crock pot liners, those are the greatest invention ever.

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In writing news: I hit 3,337 words for last week and wrote for six out of the seven days. So, yay! Go me!

I’m also still working on the current draft of Storm Warnings (meaning, I haven’t restarted it for the umpteenth time) and I’m really happy with how it’s playing out. I’m not going to meet the deadline I had for it, but I’m comfortable with that. I’ve learned a couple things from not meeting that goal that I’m going to try to incorporate in my writing habits going forward.

The most important of those lessons is to be willing to start over if what you have isn’t working for you. I’ve restarted Storm Warnings probably about five or six times and have finally managed to find a format that works for me. I’m thinking in the future, a bit more pre-writing, trying out different strategies and such might be a better way to go about things. Especially since I want to get to the point where I’m turning out stories at a faster rate than once every couple years.

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We got a surprise delivery of baked goods from the Amy’s mom! Blueberry muffins and a lemon poppyseed cake! Yes, she drove over here in the freeze. She said she wanted to get out of the house and since she has a garage and could go from garage to our place back to garage, it wasn’t too bad. She made it back home safe and sound. The muffins hit the spot after pot roast.

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Writing Goals for the Week: 

  • Keep on trucking with Storm Warnings
  • Check in with AROW80 members, especially my accountability buddy

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

Starting Over, Again!

I went to the library today! Well, actually, I went to two different libraries today and did some writing at both of them! Not as much as I would have liked but I’m getting back into the swing of things so I am happy.

I also hit up a local grocery store and got some delicious roast turkey and a kaiser roll for lunch. Made an impromptu turkey sandwich in my car and munched on it while I watched the rain.

One thing I can say about Midwestern weather — don’t like it, you just have to wait for it to change. Last Saturday, we had six inches of snow, Sunday and Monday we had single-digit/sub-zero temperatures with high winds, Tuesday we had temperatures in the 30s, with a bit of rain and today we had rain and temperatures got into the high 40s/low 50s. Almost all the snow we had is now gone.

We’re not supposed to get more snow this weekend (I don’t think) but it’s going to get cold again. Yayyyyy. Then again, I have friends in Duluth who are seeing temps in the negative 30s so, I will not complain if I have to wear an extra sweatshirt this weekend.

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Writing Goals: For the 365 Day Writing Challenge, I set a goal for myself of writing at least 4 days a week and writing at least 2,500 words per week. So far, I have been over my goals every week, both on words and on days! Happy me!

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WIPpet Wednesday Math: (1+2+3) x 2 = 12 +1 9 = 31, so here are the first 31 paragraphs of the current draft of Storm Warnings:

One day, if he was very lucky, Louis Zane would meet Al Jolson and punch the Jazz Singer right square in the snoot. Maybe that would make them even for the fact Louis had had “April Showers” stuck in his head all evening.

The logical part of his mind conceded that this was as unlikely while his well-brought up side noted it was unfair. His pedantic nature wanted it noted that Al Jolson only sang the song – if anyone should get punched, it should be the guy who wrote it. Which set his curiosity to wondering who exactly that was?

One thing that the entire committee agreed on was this: punching Jolson, even in a fantasy, was still a better option than pasting one on his boss, who’d put the damn fool song in his head in the first place.

Either way, April could take its showers and the flowers that bloomed in May and shove them wherever it was that the moon went in June.

It didn’t help that his lower back was starting to join in the griping, adding its complaints about his decision to come traipsing out on a cold and drizzling April night, wasting his night off to come stare at what his strict Norwegian grandmother would have described as “a bunch of gruesomely heathenish gewgaws.” After all, he could have been back home in his apartment, nestled in his favorite chair, listening to The Rudy Vallée Show and rereading Thank You, Jeeves while getting on the outside of some decent scotch.

But instead, a pair of golden-brown eyes that were the polar opposite of roguish had asked him to come and he’d been powerless to say no to them.

“Lou? Are you all right?” said the thief who’d stolen Louis’s poor heart – and his night off – clean away. Oscar Miller looked over at Louis from where he’d been sketching one of the exhibition’s more heathenish treasures: a six-foot high pentagonal granite pillar carved with runes and designs.  “Is it your leg? Zeeskeit I told you not to wear those new shoes tonight. Do you need to sit down? There’s a bench around here some place.”

“No, it’s not my leg. My shoes are fine. I don’t need to sit down.” Louis wasn’t entirely lying. His leg wasn’t bothering him, not any more than it usually did and while he probably was going to regret wearing his new Oxfords, he didn’t need to sit down. “Remember, I grew up in the sticks. I used to walk five miles to school, one way, in snow up to my waist. Standing around the Shikagou Art Institute waiting for a lecture to start isn’t going to kill me.”

Oscar’s concern melted into a grin that could have made the May flowers bloom even without April showers. “It was three miles last time,” he said. “Uphill. Though the snow was only up to your knees.”

Louis returned Oscar’s grin, though his was the moon to Oscar’s sun. “Yeah, well, not all of us grew up soft like you, city boy,” he said. “Seriously, I’m fine. We’ll be sitting soon enough. Don’t worry about me, I’m just still peeved at Wallace.  The man’s a blister.”

Oscar’s smile dimmed, the sun going behind a cloud. “He’s still after you to do that interview with Goltz, isn’t he?” he asked. “It stinks that he’s not even giving you a choice.”

Louis shrugged. “Oh, he gave me a choice,” he said. “I can do the interview or I can clear out my desk. So, I’ll be doing the interview tomorrow evening. It’s going to be a slog, but I’ll pick up an extra bar of Lifebuoy and scrub myself extra hard afterwards.”

Oscar looked pained. “I’m sorry, Lou,” he said. “You could still tell him no—”

“—if I wanted my career to be as crippled as my leg is, sure,” Louis said, then sighed. “Which, believe me, I’ve considered, especially since listening to Goltz rattle on about how wonderful ‘der Furher’ is and how his German-American Peace Alliance is just a social club and not a bunch of Nazi boosters like the Silver Shirts or the Bund is going to seriously test my ability not to deck the fascist prick.”

Oscar chuckled. “Have I told you lately that I’m proud of you?” he said.

“Yeah, yeah,” Louis said. ““I’m just blowing off steam. I’m a big boy, if I didn’t want to talk to lame-brains and crackpots, I’d have stayed the hell out of journalism.  I’d be back on the dairy farm, staring at a cow’s backside instead of talking to a horse’s ass.  Enough about me; go back to enjoying the art.”

“You’re sure?” Oscar asked and for a brief, reckless moment, Louis considered ducking in to give Oscar a quick peck on the cheek.  Instead, he went with the better part of valor and smiled at him.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll be fine.” Louis gestured at the pillar in front of them. “What’s the deal with this thing?”

Oscar’s enthusiasm crept back into his voice. “I’m really glad I brought my sketchbook. Some of these carvings are just incredible! You’d think they’d just been carved.”

“Really?” Louis edged closer to Oscar, leaning in to look more closely at the pillar. “You can tell just by looking?”

Oscar proceeded to point out various motifs and portions of the carving, gushing all the while about the use of line and form. Louis didn’t understand half of it – his appreciation for art didn’t extend much further than a deep-seated admiration for the illustrations in the Arrow Collar ads – but Oscar’s enjoyment was contagious. Especially when he shifted from discussing the art of the pillar to how he was planning on incorporating some of the designs into his latest comic strip.

“See, these look just like Martian hieroglyphics,” Oscar said, pointing at a group of runic carvings running up one face of the pillar.

“Speaking from experience, are you?” asked a voice that was as rich as cream and confident as Lou Gehrig playing stickball against a kindergarten class. Oscar’s eyes went wide and Louis turned to see what had stunned his companion to awestruck silence.

Grant Godiva would have turned heads even if he hadn’t been as rich as Masa Musa, even after the Crash of ’29. While he was touted in the press as a self-made millionaire, he’d started off with generous support from his inventor father, who’d turned a patent for a newfangled drill bit for oil fields into a lucrative business by leasing the part, rather than selling it. After his parents’ deaths, Godiva – then only a lad of seventeen – had gone on to sell the Godiva Tool and Die Company and used the money to found Magnum Enterprises, a holding company with interests in motion pictures, aeronautics, medical research, radio, newspapers and just about anything else that caught Godiva’s interest for more than five minutes. There were those who said the young man had really just created a way to print his own money, which seemed borne out by the fact that Godiva had brushed off the worst of the market crash like a bull brushing away a pesky fly.   Louis fought against his own impulse to gape like a hick just in from the sticks and turned his attention to the woman on Godiva’s arm.

Josephine Maxwell was the granddaughter of former slaves who’d become millionaires after achieving their freedom.  Her parents had both been born into wealthy families and had passed along not only that wealth but also a family tradition of hard work and social reform along with a not-inconsiderable fortune. Her father, Caleb Maxwell, held various business interests in Shikagou and throughout the rest of the United American States. Her mother, Martha, on the other hand, stuck closer to home, organizing various improving committees from the family’s Bronzeville neighborhood home while also finding time to run the Shikagou Crusader.  Josephine didn’t have a real job – instead, she did odd jobs for both of her parents, assisting them in various aspects of their financial and social obligations.

In addition to now being the second richest person Louis had ever met, Josephine Maxwell was also a tireless crusader for social justice and reform. While she’d always been involved in various causes, from women’s suffrage to the plight of the worker to racial equality, Josephine didn’t just march and hang up banners. Under her nom du masque, Belladonna, she fought crime and corruption on a much more direct level.

And over the last year or so, she’d roped Oscar and Louis – though not necessarily in that order — into her crusades as well. Louis helped mostly by funneling information her way – which had more to do with why he’d agreed to do the Goltz interview than his editor’s threats – while Oscar was serving as something between a partner and a protégé, working under the alias of The Green Carnation.

Tonight, all three of them were in civilian drag, having opted for a night at the museum to both enjoy the exhibition of Grant Godiva’s Britannic treasures and allow Josephine and Oscar to take a much-needed break from Oscar’s training. For his part, Louis was simply glad to have the opportunity to spend time with Oscar even if the venue wasn’t his first choice. Still, there was always the chance for a late-night supper at Hott Pepper’s Steak House over in Towertown.

 “Hello, Maxwell,” Louis said, giving Josephine a friendly, if somewhat curt nod. “I was wondering where you got off to. Didn’t know you ran in such exalted company. I’d have dressed better.”

Truth be told, Louis did feel more than a little shabby next to Josephine and Godiva – especially Godiva who was dressed to the nines and as handsome as a Michelangelo painting. If, say, Adam had climbed down from his fresco and climbed into a midnight blue suit pinstriped with gold thread, slicked back his hair and persuaded Mikey to sketch in a pencil-thin mustache.

Like Godiva, Josephine was dressed to impress in the height of fashion, but she drew the eye more because of how understated she was. Unlike Godiva’s top-dollar pin-striped suit, Josephine wore a simple tailored suit that was well-made but not flashy. The black-olive wool of the skirt and jacket contrasted well against both her chestnut brown skin and the tawny lion-yellow silk of her shirt.  While she wasn’t what Louis would have called classically beautiful, her features were strong in ways that would have been harsh on a woman with less presence.

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This Week’s Goals:

  • Keep working on Storm Warnings
  • Be better about checking my personal email and visiting other members of AROW80 and WIPpet Wednesday

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

Visit The WIPpeteers for more information about WIPpet Wednesday

Early Morning Update

Hello! It is 0632 local time, I have successfully survived the second Snowmageddon of the month — last week we got about seven inches of snow over two days, this weekend (the 19th-20th) we got probably about six inches total, plus we had freezing rain and high winds and single-digit temperatures. So, that was fun.

Oddly enough, despite us getting six inches of snow Saturday night/Sunday morning, I ended up not having to scrape my car because the wind cleared the snow away for me. So, that actually was kinda fun. Or at least neat.

I’m working still on Storm Warnings — I started my draft over yet again but I am REALLY happy with this draft. I’m thinking of changing the focus of the plot slightly. I’m also thinking this might be the first story in a series that maybe I can turn into an interconnected book some day.

Also: for Week Three of the 365 Day Challenge, I hit 5,826 words for the week! And I’m on target for this week! W00t!!

And now, I am going to bed. ‘Cause I am sleepy.

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

An update and a film review

Or, a film review and an update.

The Amy and I went and saw Aquaman tonight. One of the local movie theaters was running a flash sale this week where all tickets for all shows was five dollars Monday through Thursday, so we figured what the heck? It wasn’t quite as good of a deal as when we saw two movies in one day for free (due to pre-purchased tickets and a gift card) but it was close enough.

Full disclosure: I like Aquaman and have ever since I was a kid. Which is saying something because when I was a kid, Aquaman was that member of the Superfriends whose claim to fame was owning a jet ski and being able to talk to fish. It’s probably because I was going through an oceanography phase around the same time (what, didn’t every young girl in the mid 1970s/early 1980s go through an oceanography stage?!).

Aquaman as a character gets a lot of undeserved grief because of that old Superfriends cartoon. Unfortunately, the possibilities of the character didn’t get explored well (or, at all) back then, which is a shame. He’s gotten better treatment in recent comics, though. Which pleases me.

Aquaman is the third movie I’ve seen in the last four weeks or so (which for me is a lot of movies to see in a fairly short time). Back in December, we went to see Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, both of which we saw in the same day thanks to the previously mentioned gift card/pre-bought tickets.

No Spoilers Ahead: Of the three movies, Aquaman was probably the weakest. It was fun, but unlike Bumblebee and Spider-Verse, we didn’t leave the theater raving about the movie. Instead, we left it talking about how the movie was just a little bit extra and not really in a good way. It’s a damn pretty movie and the underwater scenes are well done (though, some of the voice work could have been better because it was kind of hard to hear what characters were saying). Jason Momoa joins the ranks of actors in superhero movies who seem to have been born to play a particular hero.

The movie did to some things well — namely, they handled Aquaman’s origin story quickly (easily done since there’s not much to it beyond “lonely lighthouse keeper meets Princess of Atlantis, baby ensues”) and jumped from his childhood to his adulthood, with him in full hero action without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

We did get to see a few important bits of his upbringing, folded into slower portions of the movie. I liked the origin we got for Black Manta — though I would have liked to have seen more of him in the movie. In fact, I think they could have focused the movie on that story and left the other portion for a sequel. Or balanced the two storylines better.

The movie does set up a sequel but I’m thinking they’re going to have a harder time setting up the stakes because of the way things were handled in this movie.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed in the movie, but I’m glad I didn’t pay more than five bucks a ticket for it.

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Writing Update: I’m still working on Storm Warnings and I’m thinking that I might end up doing something different with it than I have been (yes, I could be vaguer!). Still also toying with the idea of the Open Novella Contest, but am less sure about doing that. I dunno. I am waffling so much, I should go sit in syrup.

Oh! On a happy note: I’ve made my goal of 2,500 words for the week already! I just need to write one more day to make my “write four days out of the week” goal too!

Right now, I’m tired and I think I’m going to go to bed. Hope you guys have a good week!

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

AROW80 Check-In for 1/9/2019

Quick check-in because I’m trying to get some more done on Storm Warnings, which is actually kinda/sorta coming together.

  • 365 Challenge: Week One — I managed to write at least four days and I hit a grand total of 2,735 words for the first week.
  • Blogging — I posted three times last week, so happy about that
  • Storm Warnings — I’m making some progress on it and hoping to make more tonight and tomorrow. All thoughts, prayers and well wishes accepted.
  • Other Writings — I have a vague idea for the Open Novella Contest which I’m still not sure I’m going to do; it largely depends on how far I get on Storm Warnings.
  • Accountability Buddy: AROW80 is trying something new by having participants work together to keep each other encouraged and accountable. I met my Accountability Buddy this week and I look forward to working with her!
  • WIPpet Wednesday: January is the 1st month, this is the 9th day of it 1 + 9 = 10. Here’s ten paragraphs of Storm Warnings — be warned, this is raw, unedited first draft stuff so, it’s gonna suck.

It was the kind of thing that, eventually, Louis Zane knew he’d look back on and laugh – or at least chuckle ruefully over while he poured himself a stiff drink. But at the moment, he was nearly ready to chew nails and spit carpet tacks – not that he could show a sign of his frustration. Or, rather, he could, but not in the way he would have liked.

What he wanted to do was stride manfully over, grab Oscar Miller by his lapels and shake him until the peanut that served as his brain rattled back into place inside his stupid, handsome head and read him the riot act for playing hero like a damn fool. Unfortunately, he couldn’t for several reasons.

The first was simply that the closest he could come to a manful stride was a somewhat dignified limp, thanks to a left leg shortened by a bout of polio when he was six. Then again, he did have a stout ironwood cane that could easily be used for the beating of sense into the aforementioned stupid, handsome head. Louis dismissed that idea on the grounds he’d simply break the cane.

The second was that berating Oscar in public would give the game away. As far as the assembled bystanders knew, Oscar Miller was simply a poor dear who’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time when a group of ruffians had decided to try and rob the Shikagou Art Institute. The only people who knew Oscar’s secret, that he was in fact the Green Carnation, Shikagouland’s newest member of the costumed adventurer set, were Oscar, Louis and, of course, Josephine Maxwell, Oscar’s mentor/partner in crime, who was currently daubing at a cut on Oscar’s forehead, likely in hopes of disguising how quickly it was disappearing.

The third reason was that, once he’d finished berating Oscar for foolishness, Louis would have wanted to wrap his arms around the stupid, noble idiot and hug him until his ribs creaked. The sight of Oscar, sprawled on the marble floor of the Pen and Ink Gallery, looking dazed like a poleaxed steer had caused an icy hand to tighten around Louis’s heart. Never mind that his intellectual side knew Oscar was fine, or would be once his bell stopped ringing. Never mind that the gallery was full of cops, museum staffers and rubbernecks, none of whom were likely to be all that sympathetic to a couple of gays. Much as Louis wanted to be the one tending to Oscar, it was safer to let Josephine do it.

So, since he couldn’t yell at Oscar and he certainly couldn’t fuss over him, Louis took refuge in the next best place: sarcasm.

“If you really wanted to get hit with a rock, we could have gone to Lincoln Park instead,” Louis said, looking down at Oscar, who was looking up at him with a sheepish, still slightly dazed expression. “You didn’t have to come out here just to ram your head against some poor statue.”

“Megalith,” Oscar said, the faintest trace of a grin starting across his face. “Remember? That’s what Dr. MacSeoin called it. It’s a tenth-century Viking Age megalith.”

“Yeah, well, so it’s a rock with a pedigree,” Louis glanced over at the six-foot tall pentagonal granite pillar, which was carved with designs Louis’s strict Lutheran mother would have called ‘gruesomely heathenish’ where Dr. MacSeoin stood conferring with Grant Godiva, the pillar’s nominal owner. The pair of them were examining the spot where Oscar had hit the pillar, periodically gesturing toward it as if to illustrate a point. The scene reminded Louis of being back on his family’s dairy farm, watching his father and uncles debating the best treatment options for a cow who’d done herself an injury. Louis frowned as Godiva pointed to something he was sure might be a smear of Oscar’s blood on one of the pillar’s faces. “Uh-oh, better get your checkbook ready.”

“To be fair, he didn’t smack into it by choice,” said Josephine, looking up at Louis with an enigmatic smile. “One of the thieves threw him into it. I’m sure Mr. Godiva will be understanding, given the circumstances.”

Plans for this week include continuing on with Storm Warnings and maybe start drafting out ideas on the Novella contest. I’ll check in again soon. Have a good week and happy writing!

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

Visit The WIPpeteers for more information about WIPpet Wednesdays

Quick Update for 1/6/2019

Seriously going to have to keep this fast because I literally have to leave for work in five minutes. So, here’s what’s up:

  • Still working on Storm Warnings — and I’m going to need to ramp up the speed on that if I’m going to meet the due date.
  • Considering taking part in Wattpad’s Open Novella Contest II — which would mean needing to write 2,000 words of an idea that fits one of their prompts by January 29th.
  • Needing to get back to Omegas: Cake Walk — which has no deadlines but my self-imposed one of getting the damned thing done this year.

Beyond that, all is well, hope you guys are having a good week. I did manage to hit my goals for the first week of the 365 Writing Challenge — here’s hoping for continued success in Week Two!

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

Ok, Don’t Get Used To This…

Second day of the new year, second post in the blog! W00t! Got a streak starting here folks — but, like the title says, don’t get used to it. I am going to be working on posting more often, but I’m not at a point where I’m ready to go daily yet.

This is the first check-in for the first round of A Round of Words in 80 Days for 2019. And there is not a whole heck of a lot to report, since I announced my goals yesterday. I have worked a bit on Storm Warnings and did some tinkering on a couple spreadsheets I’m going to be using for tracking purposes.

Spreadsheets, I’ve discovered, are incredibly useful for writing purposes. You can use them for all sorts of things — time lines, plotting, tracking progress, etc. Also, if you need to do a lot of fiddly math, it can do it for you. AND with Excel, you can do things like conditional highlighting to get the spreadsheet itself to show you bits you deem important. Spreadsheets are seriously fun — and I realize just how dorky that sounds but I do not care, I am owning my spreadsheet love.

Plans for tonight are to work some more on Storm Warnings — which’ll carry over into my plans for tomorrow and Friday. I’m hoping some solid working time will lead to me having a completed draft by this time next week. Fingers crossed, folks and I’ll catch you on the flipside.

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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. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

AROW80 Update for 12/5/2018

Let’s just assume that the traditional “It’s been a while since my last update” mea culpa/opening has been written and move on from there.  Ok? We good? Ok, moving on then. 

First things first: Omegas: Cake Walk is currently stalled while I’m working on another story, working title Storm Warnings,  which is…currently stalled. (Anyone else sensing a trend here?) Working on them was going to be my project for NaNoWriMo 2018 but due to a variety of reasons, including plain and simple “Don’t Wanna, Not Gonna,” that didn’t happen.  Am I disappointed? Yeah, especially since 50,000 words would likely have finished both projects and I could be sitting here basking in the joy of having finished them.

But, I didn’t work on them as hard/as much as I could have or should have so instead, I’m sitting here five days into December, with nothing really done to speak of and still in a heck of a slump. Which is not a fun feeling, let me tell you. 

I’m more annoyed about not having my short story done than I am about not having finished Omegas: Cake Walk.  O:CW has been in the works for a while now so I’m used to the idea of it not being done — plus, finishing this draft just means exchanging one phase of the project for another (namely, paring the book down from 150,00 words to a more manageable size). 

am disappointed that I don’t have Storm Warnings done though I’m also inclined to cut myself some slack for reasons I’ll get into in a moment.  The main reason I’m disappointed is because the story is going to be relatively short — under 8.,500 words (so 0.0567% of  Omegas: Cake Walk’s original hand-written length) — so dashing it off should have been relatively quick and easy.  Especially since I had 85% of the plot worked out prior to starting NaNoWriMo, so by rights should have been able to knock Storm Warnings out in a week.

There were some things about Storm Warnings that made (and make) it trickier than other stories I’ve written. First and foremost is the fact that it’s a historical piece, specifically, it’s set in 1937. Well, a 1937 since it’s also an alternate universe, which makes things easier and more difficult, simultaneously! Fortunately, the internet is supremely useful for looking up facts both mundane and obscure — and ‘alternate universe’ can cover a lot of relatively minor sins.

The other problems are related to the first and have mainly to do with issues of characterization for my heroes and my villains. In both cases, I’m writing about people very different from me and wanting to make sure I do them justice.  In the case of the heroes, this means not wanting to make Identity 101-level mistakes and in the case of the villains, this means not wanting to create scenery-chewing, cut-rate Snively Whiplash-clones. And in both cases, I want to remain true to historical accuracy — which, at the risk of sounding arrogant, is the thing I’m least worried about. History is on my side in a lot of what I’ve got planned. 

Sorry for the vagueness, I’ll go into more details once the story itself is done. 

In other news, I’ve started watching the newest season of Doctor Who, the one with the lady Doctor. It’s the first season of the show I’ve watched more than one or two episodes of (the last season I remember watching had the version of the Doctor who carried the question mark umbrella; the episode was Paradise Towers, I think?). I like the female Doctor and I like her companions — especially Ryan and his grandfather.  I’m still working my way through the episodes available on demand through Spectrum. I just finished the episode with Rosa Parks and it about made me cry but that’s partly how well done it was and partly how hormonal I am at the moment.  I’m seriously alternating between “This is so touching!” and “I’d eat my entire foot if I could get it in my mouth.”  (Instead, I’m going to eat some  fancy popcorn and maybe some jelly beans. Sweet Erma Bombeck, perimenopause is like second puberty — nobody wants second puberty!). Oh, and I had an idea for one of my older WIPs, Butcher’s Bill, so that’s happy-making.

And on that note, I’ll check in with you guys later.  It’s time for Arachnids in the UK — I need to alternate between eating and being creeped out.  And finding Jodie Whittaker adorable. 

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Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writingchallenge 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 fellowROWers. Feel free to join us onFacebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!