Summer Reading & viewing, etc. Lots of etc.

First, a list of non-media activities.

  • I’m collecting subscribers for my new-release emails. (you can be one, click on the big “click here” button somewhere on this post) and I wrote a whole new story about Jack Coby as a teenager to lure people in.
  • All my books are moving into wide distribution off Amazon-exclusivity, and if your your library gets ebooks through Cloudlibrary or Overdrive, you can ask them to get my books for you that way now.
  • I’ll have a boxset edition of the Restoration ebooks soon. Just needs a cover image.
  • Sharp Edge of Yesterday: A Rough Passages Novel should be back from the editor any day now, and its cover is almost done too.
  • My new ghost mystery work-in-progress is over a third of the way finished.
  • Went on a cherry-picking day trip to Michigan & had a blast. 22 lbs of tart cherries, 5 lbs of sweet. and a major tendonitis flare-up afterwards.
  • I survived being a featured reader at Gumbo Fiction Salon and have the mermaid necklace to prove it.
  • The yard is in happy jungle mode, and the first veggies have been harvested.
  • The butterfly-garden summer volunteer gig is in full swing, and  I can’t believe it’s year 7…wow.
  • I’m spending much less time online and getting more things done in real life.

…things like watching TV & reading. Books first, then TV, then movies.

All the Confederation Universe books, Tanya Huff. I was writing about Jack Coby and got a free Confederation book from the Nebulas conference, and that was justification enough to re-read all of Ms. Huff’s Condeferation books. I adore her writing, and this universe feeds my love of Space Marines and fabulous space opera world-building.

If you want to see the result of my writing efforts, sign up for the new-release emails. It’s an exclusive subscriber story.

The Werewolf of Marines trilogy, Jonathan P. Brazee: Rollicking good men-at-war military paranormal popcorn reading.  I’ll reward myself with the Space Marines series …after I finish Ghost Tome

Neogenesis & select re-reads of other Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.
Because I finished TWO short stories and sent a book off to an editor, I rewarded myself by catching up on the  Liaden releases from the last little while. *HAPPY SIGH*

Instinct season 1: Basic buddy-cop drama, with the obligatory “not-a-cop sidekick” twist that allows for lots of rule-bending. BUT. The characters are complex, the plots are off-the-wall entertaining, and the acting is excellent. Bonus points for the character and his husband being portrayed as a couple with believable couples issues and dialogue.

Luke Cage Season 2: The plot took a turn to the grimdark side, which isn’t to my taste, but the situations supported that bleakness a LOT better than most lure-of-the-dark-side stories. And they didn’t trash the character’s development the way Certain Other Series did. (Looking at you, Jessica Jones, with your sexist WTFuckery) Hoping for some gritty, difficult redemption arcs next season.

Red Sparrow: IMHO this movie wanted to be Atomic Blonde crossed with Alias by way of La Femme Nikita. Spoiler alert: fail on all fronts. Some fine performances, but the slow pace, murky character motivations and reliance on absurd complications…big nope.

Wrinkle In Time: It could have been great. It was okay. I loved the lush visuals. I adored the Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsis & Mrs. Who. Great casting on the kids. Meg & Charles Wallace were very much how I pictured them in my head. Sadly, the directing just felt clunky and telegraphed, which did the dialogue no favors. I could also wish they’d stuck closer to the original plot–far too much screen time on fleshing out backstory that didn’t need fleshing &

Greatest Showman: Wellllllllll, I loved it, but hey, it’s Hugh Jackman singing and dancing, so cut me some slack. It’s a fantasy about a world that isn’t this one, about someone who isn’t the real P. T. Barnum–it’s about a charming and socially-conscious rebel, not a manipulative money-grubbing status-climber. Yeah. Singing. Dancing. Uplifting as fantasy.

Game Night: I can see why it was popular, but it was not my cup of whiskey. The plot is a mess of cliches and sends a slew of awful messages (not least of which is “lying to people and humiliating them is hilarious”)

I Kill Giants: It was…good, I guess? Gorgeous film, sweet and simple. I was not the target market. The general plot & likely resolution were obvs within 10 minutes.  The protagonist was about 5 years too old for the way she was handled by adults in the film. (Retreat into fantasy is natural for grieving kids. The protag is in her teens and no one even mentions

The Quiet Place: as long as the premise is accepted, it’s a decent post-apocalypse horror flick. (plot holes include farm fields somehow planted silently after civilization’s collapse  due to noise-targeting monster aliens and people who can’t manage non-baby sex iwhen obstetric care and/or A CRYING BABY will likely be fatal. Seriously? The sex menu is huge, people. Plenty of ways to have max fun without baby-making.)

Anyway. I can’t accept the premise because it’s so damned stupid. ANYTHING THAT HUNTS BY SOUND CAN BE BLINDED/CRIPPLED BY SOUND. The strategy isn’t complicated or secret. The organized military could’ve created safe zones inside noise-protected “blind spots” with layered perimeter defenses and created traps to eradicate the monsters the same way.

But then there wouldn’t be a movie about brave sacrifice blahblahblah….harumph.

Westworld Season 1: this series was disturbing for many reasons that I don’t think occurred to its writers. It’s brilliant in potential, and I will keep watching it because it’s kinda like watching a beautifully filmed car crash, but wow. It’s a pretentious mess of unexamined racism, misogyny & truly muddy pseudo-existentialist nonsense.  Conflict arises from some questionable philosophies, and the story spent a lot of time building to a “huge surprise reveal” that disappointed me in all possible ways.

The show is so, SO pretty, though.

Logan Lucky: total miss. Did not finish. (Do you know how boring+annoying something has to be for me to turn it off? I WATCHED ALL 4 SHARKNADO MOVIES ON PURPOSE.) I do not know how this got made. The script must have looked good to someone.

Victoria & Abdul: an unexpected delight based on a true story that turns out to be actually true or at least true-ish. Wow.

That’s a wrap. I’ll try not to keep updates closer together and shorter, but no promises.  I have Gen Con in two weeks (AAAAAHHHHHHHH KERMIT FLAILING AAAAAHHHHH) and a lot to do with edits and prep for Dragon Con after Gen COn, and writing and reading a bunch of books on my TBR list…and so on. Life is busy.

Until later!

What I did while I wasn’t gone

I took myself on a writing retreat last weekend. It was mostly a mental trick to take advantage of physical preparations for travel to a convention I ended up not attending.

Since I had planned and prepped be away from home for a four-day weekend, I figured that meant wasn’t responsible for anything at home those fourdays. I could ignore my whole Regular Life guilt-free and wander off to my computer any time the urge hit.

I finished a short story I’ve been tinkering with for over two years and published it for my email list subscribers (I also set up that process from scratch, a post in its own right.)

I also made headway on a second short story and wrote about 5000 words in Ghost Town, my current novel in progress. I write slower than a Galapagos turtle walks, which is why I rarely post word counts (and loathe them as motivational tool)  For reference, that’s about a usual month’s worth of writing. In 4 days. Yeah. So mental writing retreat as a working trick…definitely helped. I plan to do it again. Sometime.

But writing isn’t all I did. This is a media consumption post too, so here’s what I took in.

Throne of Glass series. Sarah A Maas. Finished all the books currently published (yay!) now have to wait until at least October to read the one that’ll wrap up the current series. (BOO!)  There’s a lot I could say about her books, but I said most of it in a previous post. One thing to add: the things that bugged me in A Court of Thorns & Roses series are less overt in this one. No idea which came first, don’t care, just liking them more.

Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach. Kelly Robson. SWOON. So good. Go read it now. It’s a short book, (novella) but it will stick with you in the best of ways. I inhaled it over two meal breaks and a walk.

Yes, I read on walks. I was tripping off curbs and veering towards lamp posts long before it was trendy with Pokemon Go. Don’t worry, I’ve never run into anything, and I always pause at roadways to watch for traffic. But I digress. As usual.

Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach reminds me of Connie Willis & Kate Wilhelm ( two of my SFF favorites) at their very best. Not because it had time travel, although it does, nor because of the science, which it is ALL ABOUT,  but because of the way both those elements were presented: brilliantly, elegantly, and enjoyably.

Time travel was an essential element but not a pitfall of paradox or an excuse to wander into theoretical physics for far longer than the narrative could bear (Woo!) Science was at the center of the plot without ever stampeding over the characters or dragging the story into a slough of exposition, (WOO!!!) Plot & characters were also amazing.

Basically, if you want fresh, new classic-style SFF relevant to and written for today’s world, this is it.

A Divided Peace. Tanya Huff. Happy sigh. Always a joy to read her words.  Aaaaand now I have to go back and re-read all the Confederation novels. If I could write military science fiction a tenth as well as she does, I would do a whole novel about Mercury Battalion. But I don’t have the chops for making the Corps a realistic centerpiece. Maybe if someone with experience wanted to co-author…yeah, I would totally be up for that that.

ANYWAY. Onward.

In the viewing circle, I watched a fun season of superhero television show, Black Lightning, and a serious movie about a real world hero. Marshall. (it’s a biopic-style movie  about one of Thurgood Marshall’s early cases.)  

I enjoyed the drama of the movie, but it seemed bizarre to me that the titular character, an AMAZING human being who was part of so much civil rights history–who MADE so much history, was not even the narrative center of his own movie. (A white guy was.)  I am not surprised that was the angle Hollywood took, just angry and aggravated. They could have done so much better.

But I’m loving Black Lightning, so I’m batting over .500 in viewing satisfaction.

Still haven’t seen Deadpool 2 or Ocean’s 8, but they’re on my list. And Jurassic Park Episode whatEVER is next up in Major Hollywood Kaboom Movies.

So until then, it’s back to writing-writing-writing.

 

Where does the time go…

I’m going through one of those phases when the amount of time passing feels vast in comparison to the activities spent filling it. (I call these phases “days of the week with names ending in y.”)  And so I list what I have done as a way to pin down the belief that I did SOMETHING.

Books read: 

Gates of Tagmeth (Kencyrath Book 8) P. C. Hodgell.  I treated myself to the latest in this series as a reward for finishing a Particularly Difficult Scene.  Am now working my way backwards through the series (as one does. What, doesn’t everyone do it that way?) Anyway.  I’ve now also re-read Sea of Time (7) and Honor’s Paradox (6)  and I’m halfway through Bound in Blood (5)

Some hours disappeared down the rabbit hole of ebook formatting research. ‘Porting all the ebooks legally-purchased over a decade into my currently-preferred reading device… was a bit of a challenge. Blame various technology changes. The internet came through once again.

Television viewed:

I caved in & started watching Marvel’s Defenders. I want to punch Iron Fist in the face every single time he’s on screen.  Otherwise, I’m not hating it.

Sportsball Sunday Afternoons is an autumn event here in Chez Herkes. Because it’s soothing and silly. Who’s playing? Not really important. Two teams. A bunch of sports announcers. Unintentionally entertaining events are guaranteed.

Movies:

Beauty & The Beast The live-action Disney remake. Watching it reminded me of listening to a virtuoso musician perform etudes. It was amazing from a technical perspective, gorgeously executed and brilliantly made, but in the end it felt like an exercise.  I did learn that live-action musical numbers with studio sound affect me the same way as uncanny-valley facial animation. They both bug the shit out of me.

Kung-fu Panda 3. BECAUSE PANDAS, THAT’S WHY.  I don’t know enough about the mythology or culture it hypothetically shows to speak on possible problematic elements. I do confess I loved the sneaky choral rendition of “Kung-Fu Fighting” playing in the background of fight scenes. I wondered if I was hearing things, but no. The whole song with words played during the credits.

Oceans Rising. It looked bad sci-fi, so of course I was tempted into viewing it. What a wreck. A total monstrosity of cinema from start to finish. I enjoyed every minute. The movie equivalent of gorging on generic chips & dip. World-spanning disaster movie filmed almost entirely inside rooms with no windows.  I also learned a bit about inertial navigation systems . From Google, not from the movie, which (unsuprisingly) got it wrong.

Things Written:

I’m not sharing numbers. Measuring progress by word counts gives me hives. (Not judging. It works for folk! It’s fab! Count & post away. I won’t see it. I avoid looking the way I steer clear of scented dryer sheets, and for the same reason.) But I digress. Suffice to say I am pleased as punch with my progress. Especially since I did it despite doodling away half a day and more on pretty autumn pictures and other detours into visuals.

The hardest set-up scenes in Heartwood are done, I’ve laid in all the remaining chapter titles, (it’s a new weird thing with this book. I can’t write scenes until I have titles for them) and I did hours of unnecessary research finding the perfect name to re-name a character. The rush-to-conclusion plot avalanche is in full flow. On track to finish before my self-imposed arbitrary deadline. I know that’s asking the universe to derail me. Don’t care. I’m flaunting my happy progress dance.

Away I go to keep up the momentum.


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn