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Double ouch.

June 29, 2017

GV7dxaYc_400x400Yay, LibertyCon is this weekend!

Boo, my tooth is killing me. Apparently it’s an abscessed root or some such thing. What that means is that I’ve spent the last two days columbus-root-canal-treatment-300x297pacing around the house and moaning with an ice pack on my face or a frozen washcloth in my mouth or medicated. It has been miserable. Today hasn’t been as bad; apparently a sign that the antibiotics are doing their job.

Still, the tooth has defeated me and I won’t make LibertyCon. šŸ˜¦ I didn’t want to go and be miserable. I didn’t want to play wait and see until it was too late to cancel the hotel room. So I’m out. I think I’ve been to the last five LibertyCons and I had no interest in missing one anytime soon, but agony is hard to contend with. I’ll be going to a dentist (not my dentist; he’s on vacation) to at least begin treatment (root canal) tomorrow at about the same time that my first panel was supposed to begin. I assure you that I’d rather be discussing short story structure than staring up with my mouth open at a masked, drill-wielding stranger.

To all of you attending LibertyCon, have fun. I’ll be there next year.

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Ah, Summer. The season to write.

June 13, 2017

summercompAt long last it is summer, boys and girls. And for full-time teacher, part-time writers like me, that means the keyboard is calling. Thank goodness I’m not house-hunting like I was last summer, or job hunting like the summer before that. Maybe I can actually get some writing accomplished!

I’ve been pecking away at an old, half-finished draft of a NaNoWriMo project from five years ago. It’s a mess, but it’s a first draft. If I can make it a complete first draft, then I can start un-messing it with the magic of revision. I’ve made a couple chapters’ progress, so it’s something.

PodcastleI also stumbled around the internet enough to find that it’s flash contest season at the Escape Artist Podcasts, specifically their fantasy cast, PodCastle. I’ve sold a couple stories to their sci-fi sister, Escape Pod, but not in a long time. My flash story “Chips” (still unpublished) fared quite well in the 2016 Escape Pod flash contest, slipping into the final round but falling flat there.

I have high hopes for this little fantasy flash this time around. It’s based on a story I wrote for a Codex Weekend Warrior, but it had to be stripped and reworked to fit the contest’s very slim 500-word limit. No, I’m not telling you anything about my story. That would be against the rules. You’ll just have to go read them yourself, vote on the best ones, and hope that means mine.Ā Voting starts July 1st.

I’ve also been re-listening to what I’ve decided is my favorite book, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It’s long (make that looooong), but it’s excellent. WayOfKingsWhy isn’t HBO pounding down Sanderson’s door to make this their follow-up to Game of Thrones? No, not enough sex for HBO (read: none), but someone should be making this and a single movie wouldn’t do it justice. Heck, a single season would have a hard time encompassing it. But I digress… The third book in the series — Oathbringer — is due out this November Oathbringerand I wanted to refresh my memory of the first two books. I should be finished listening to both by November. I’d never find time to read them both before then, but audio books are great while I drive, while I mow, while I do dishes. And listening to Sanderson’s expert craftsmanship really inspires me to write, though it reminds me how very much revision my work in progress will need. But first I need a finished draft.

And now that we’ve come full circle, I’ll end so I can go write.

Write what you know…that you hate

February 23, 2017

As I type this on my phone, I find myself sitting in a hairdresser waiting area, listening to horrible country music (#doubletalk), surrounded by cliche hyper-religious wooden signs. I hate it all. Why am I here?

I’m here because my girlfriend likes how my hair looks when I get it cut here. I’m willing to endure all manner of unpleasantness fur that one little opinion. I’m sure I could get a good a haircut somewhere else, somewhere less excruciatingly quaint, but I’m here.

Mostly I’m reminding myself that people endure negative things, often many, for a single positive. The negative sensations make for compelling description and can really define a character.

That’s all.

NaNo-UhOh

November 3, 2016

I had a good first day of NaNoWriMo. I went to a write-in, met some people, almost made my word count for the day before leaving, typed more when I got home and inched over the daily goal. Not the best start, but solid.

Day two? Much less successful.

I’ve been having trouble with a tooth. I went to the dentist to deal with said tooth. The dentist told me she would “get me out of pain”. Apparently her strategy was to make me realize the pain I was experiencing was nothing compared to what it could have been. During her (alleged) attempt to numb my tooth, I experienced the most severe agony I have ever felt in my entire life. I was Westly in the Pit of Despair the first time Count Rugen hooked him to the machine.

nottofifty

Why am I telling you this? Well, it’s hard to write while doped up on pain meds. That was last night and this morning. I switched to ibuprofen this afternoon so I could operate things like motor vehicles, cutlery, and kitchen appliances. Fortunately the ibuprofen is holding and I got a little bedtime writing in, though I’m still short of my day two goal, let alone day three. But it’s progress and the weekend cometh…including a bonus hour. I’ll get back on track as long as my face doesn’t explode again.

NaNoWriMo, Almost Time-O

October 29, 2016
tags:

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200It’s that time again, for large doses of caffeine and larger doses of keyboard time. Time for typist’s cramp and plot-related breakdowns. Time to push excuses aside to make room for all the words to come pouring out. Time for National Novel Writing Month!

I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times, with varying degrees of commitment. This year’s participation was a last minute decision, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to get my write on for quite a while. Excuse accepted. (Not that the excuse to write should not be confused with the excuses not to write that were pushed asideĀ in the opening paragraph.)

Here are the top 5 reasons I’m excited about NaNoWriMo 2016:

#5 – Ā It’s Nice to Have a Goal

It’s way too easy to just let things slide. Oh, I’ll write tomorrow…next week…next month…once midterms are over…in the summer…once we’ve moved…after the apocalypse. Well, a goal is stronger than excuses. Or it is if I let it be. Tough as it can be to reach my daily writing goal, the goal also gives me a place to stop writing for the day and feel accomplished. “This” is the bar for writing success for the day, week, month. That’s something I can work with.

#4 – New Support Structure

November marks one year that my girlfriend and I have been together. (One year. That status of “girlfriend”could probably use an upgrade soon. But I digress.) She is artistic and caring and fun and beautiful, and I’m eager to add “supportive of my writing” to the list of adjectives. She’s gung-ho about my NaNo participation this year and very much wants to see me writing again. Without dredging into the past, I’ll say I’ve never had genuine household support when I had writing goals. I can’t wait to see what it’s like. Living with a writer isn’t always easy, but I have faith in this one.

#3 – New City, New Writers to Meet

borotnLast year’s job change has me in a new city and I really don’t know many people here, especially writers. NaNo meet-ups and write-ins mean I get to change that. Maybe I’ll make new friends; maybe I’ll be inspired by their commitment; maybe I’ll want to finish just out of a spirit of competitiveness. Regardless, some good will come out of this new social discovery.

0609162128d-1-2#2 – It’s Time to Get This Story Written

I think I’ve bloggedĀ before about the middle grades novel that my daughter and dog inspired. It hasn’t gotten written yet. I have a couple false starts, but nothing serviceable. Yet the idea has been burning in my brain for too long to let it go unwritten. The time has come. And 50k is a pretty solid word count for a middle grades novel, so this could be the real thing.

#1 – Time to Write Again

If you’ve visited this blog in the past few years, you know that I haven’t done much writing. Ultimately it was the 2012 NaNo that marks my last significant keyboard time. Blame it on what you want (job, parenting, life changes, etc.), I’m not okay with not being a writer. So whatever gets me back into the habit is a good thing.

Check back here for updates on my NaNoWriMo endeavor. Brief updates, mind you, since blogging time isn’t noveling time.

Am I allowed to talk about Luke Cage?

October 5, 2016

marvels-luke-cageBinge complete. I just finished watching Luke Cage on Netflix. Much like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, it was very well done. I’m not sure I should talk about it much further. I will, because I often do things I shouldn’t do, but I’m probably asking for trouble. Yes, that is largely due to the color of the stuff that keeps my internal organs internal.

By the way, there may be some small spoilers here. I’ll do my best to avoid it, but no promises.

I have seen a fair amount of online criticism about Luke Cage being too black. Not the character specifically, but the cast and plot as a whole. I’ve seen even more criticism of this criticism. I’m not here to criticize but to consider why Netflix/Marvel made that choice and why I agree with it.

lukecage_sdcc_2Let’s acknowledge that the cast is mostly black. (I can say that, right?) Not all, but mostly. I’m pretty sure Detective Scarfe and Shades are the only white guys with major roles. (Maybe that one politician, and the racist corrections officer, and the doctor…but it’s not about keeping score.) So what? We’ll skip over the argument that many shows would be hard pressed to find two major characters cast by minorities because it’s been done to death and really isn’t relevant.

_51047076_harlem_pop_464graThis is a show set in Harlem. Yes, Harlem. Are there only black people in Harlem? Of course not. However keeping Harlem black is one of Mariah Dillard’s driving motivations. Is that racist? Part of the point of the show is to make us ask that question. Us being all of us, not one race or another. Wanting to preserve art and culture aren’t racist. Wanting to see your neighborhood thrive without driving out the lower income families that live there sounds like a great goal. Wanting to exclude people of other races sounds kinda racist. But the goal and motivation turn out beside the point when you look at the methods being used by Mariah and her cousin Cottonmouth to accomplish that goal. It isn’t the motivation that makes the bad guy, it’s the actions.

I felt that the show went out of its way to paint Harlem from a lot of angles. Yes, there is crime. Yes, there is culture. Yes, gentrification is occurring. Yes, there is a strong resistance to that by the locals. This is what makes Harlem a compelling setting. There is a lot of conflict and stress and hope and despair inherent in the neighborhood itself. Harlem is a character in the show, probably the most complex character in the cast. A setting that contributes to the story, even drives the story, is a huge asset to storytelling. And that setting is viewed the most intimately through the eyes of the people most connected to it.

I’ll admit, I had a few problems with the storytelling. The ethnicity of the cast wasn’t on the list. Why didn’t they ever mention the bar that Luke was working at in Jessica Jones; you know, the one that blew up? (Maybe I missed that reference.) How did Luke and Claire apparently make a round trip from New York to Georgia in a car in a day? harlemsavannahWhy didn’t Luke’s childhood boxing training come up in the prison scenes like they did at the end? (I don’t think that qualifies as a spoiler, does it?)

There were also elements of the storytelling that impressed me, particularly because they didn’t pull the punches (much) on race-sensitive issues. The suggestion that “all the black fathers are gone” was pretty hard-hitting, even if that stereotype (like most stereotypes) isn’t accurate. The relations between the black community and the police was perhaps downgraded (especially considering the current climate) but not ignored.

So why are people complaining about it? Because Luke Cage was different in a way that made people uncomfortable. I confess, I felt a little uncomfortable at times watching the show. Not in an offended way, but in an outsider-looking-in kind of way. I felt like I was seeing into a world I wasn’t meant to see. (That feeling lessened the further into the show I got, when the hero/villain plot took over the story.) Being an outsider is uncomfortable, but also eye-opening. And somehow the show managed to give me that feeling without completely alienating me. I don’t need to have the same skin color as a character to empathize with them. I was able to feel for Luke and Misty and Pop, even at times Cottonmouth and Mariah. That’s good storytelling, anyway you slice it.

It’s about time

September 15, 2016

It’s been quite a while since I submitted anything. I think I tossed one into the abyss a great many months ago. Well, today I sent out two, plus one micro story based on a photo prompt. Will anything come of these endeavors? More than I was getting leaving them in the drawer…