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Media Consumption Writing Life

And then this happened

That could be a title for every blog post, eh?

Sipping tea and sitting in sunshine with the cat on my office couch was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday morning. I spent a lot more time there than I originally intended.

My one brief peek at the internet was a mistake because along with the wildly irresponsible fear-mongering, scientifically-dubious, hand-wringing over the Omicron surge, I learned there are folks claiming that vaccinated people who minimize human contact and wear masks are doing it because we’re scared of getting sick. That we’re pathologically anxious. That we’re frightened out of our wits and suffering from a mass delusion, even.

OH FFS. That’ll teach me to open up my browser on the weekend. I MEAN. Beyond the WTAF aspect, there’s the projection part (accusing someone of having a trait you actually have.) It really torques me off that the assholes who spread disinformation to undermine public confidence in all information sources do so much better a job than the have reached a new record in Awfulness.

Keeping other people’s germs out of my face when infection rates of anything are skyrocketing is a sensible way to avoid getting sick. Always has been. I hope wearing masks during seasonal virus peaks becomes normalized tbh. And with a novel disease the reality is that eventually I will get sick, but the longer I stay uninfected and the more I can train my immune system beforehand, the better.

That isn’t delusional. That’s common sense — unless you also believe the disease itself is essentially harmless. And to believe that, you have to dismiss hundreds of sources in dozens of countries who have nothing invested in lying about its badness.

Liars who spread disinformation to erode public trust in all existing sources of information? REALLY TORQUE ME OFF. HARUMPH.

ANYway. End mini rant. That’s a big grump, but it’s my only one from today, so…yay? And it ties into the books I’m starting the new year with. One’s on reserve at the library and I’ve recommended purchase of the other. Cultish by Amanda Montell, about the language of extremism, and Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari, an examination of the many ways the modern environment demolishes our ability to concentrate and learn.

In other cheerful moments today, there was snow-shoveling in the sunshine. Spouseman and I even made a tiny little maze in the snow on the patio because, hey, we have a patio! We also took Pippin out for his first walk in snow. I wasn’t sure how he would react to the cold and wet.

He loved it. I shoud’ve known.

That adventure was followed by returning some movies to the library, then coming home for a victorious supper of soup, crusty garlic bread and baked apples.

Tonight’s viewing of Howl’s Moving Castle went very well. I’d seen it before and love it. Spouseman loved it. He also looked at me afterwards and said, “I am proud of myself for being very good about not asking questions.” It isn’t typical Chekov’s gun plotting with every surprise foreshadowed and every character perfectly pigeonholed in a type. It skips merrily along and

Which is a thing I love about Mizaki storytelling.

Then I made more cookies and watched Hawkeye. Good fun. The banter, the complications, THE BROADWAY SONGS AND POSTERS ZOMG. And the scenes with Yelena Belova/Black Widow were extra super fun.

Now I am caught up on the MCU except for the new Spiderman, which I will eventually see. And The Eternals. Is that MCU? I’m not sure. But I have its release noted so I can watch when it hits streaming.

We have one more day of “winter break.” On tap: more Studio Ghibli and a movie called Encanto, which is a Disney thing. And Boba Fett. That should be interesting.

And that is that. Have a sleepy cat photo. Until later.

PS: Pssssst. I almost forgot. Books! I write ’em. You can read em. There are links. I’m not putting one in here because no one ever clicks them anyway.

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Media Consumption Writing Life

First Caturday Saturday

First day of the Gregorian calendar year. For me, a snow day, baking day, sleeping-in day, rest day.

New Year’s Day is not about productivity for me. Things usually get done, many things actually, usually enjoyable ones, but it’s rarely focused goal-targeted labor or anything society recognizes as Useful — not because I have a superstition about the day setting the tone for the rest of the year, no.

No, I avoid being productive on NYD because it’s a day off. Luckily, having a cat means I have help remembering days off are for relaxing now. Pippin has been sleeping like a champ all day today.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions (pointless to give extra weight to an arbitrary annual calendar changeover date, resolutions should be meaningful and embraced whenever a need for one is identified, blahblahblah) but if I DID do them, I would resolve to pitch the word (indeed, the entire concept of productivity) into the trash bin of reality where I would burn it with the fiery destructive force of a thousand flaming suns.

Since I’ve been resolved on that point for years already, it doesn’t count against my “no New Year’s resolutions” resolution, right? (Is that a paradox, to have a resolution about not having resolutions? ANYway. It’s definitely a digression.)

After being awake until 3 AM, we rsolved to wake up whenever and successfully enticed Mister Pips into snoozing with us until nearly 11 AM. Fancy brunch was had here at home, courtesy of frozen foods purchased back when the world wasn’t so viciously contagious. There was lounging, and reading, and a long walk in the falling snow. Napping happened. Also a teeny little bit of writing, (in addition to this, I mean. Serena and Parker are walking puppies and not talking. It’s fun. And funny.)

In fits and starts between other activities I made split pea soup, no-rise bread, and baked apples. We’re now enjoying the feast with a split of Sauterne (yummy sweet French white wine) while watching Jungle Cruise. Which is much better than I expected. Perplexing and occasionally bizarre, but fun.

Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Paul Giamatti, and a bunch of other people who look vaguely familiar navigate a convoluted screenplay that has some major African Queen meets The Mummy vibes. Good actors chewing up scenery through a quip-heavy actionfest with some pleasnat surprises? Yes, thanks!

Along with everything else fun today, there is popcorn. Because this is a popcorn flick for SURE.

This one has some extra fun running gags and better than average dialogue, too. So I’m happy.

Back when my dad took my to Disneyland for my birthday, ( we lived in SoCal at the time) I would ask to go on the Jungle Cruise multiple times because I loved it. I also loved the Undersea adventure, the Pirate Island, and the Haunted Mansion. And yes, It’s A Small World.

BTW, a father who’s willing to go through It’s A Small World multiple times a visit multiple times a year is a parent who truly loves his daughters. (My younger sister used to alternate between IaSW and the Mad Hatter’s Teacups all day long on her birthday trip, or so the family story goes)

A second digression! And it’s only the first day of the year. Go, me.

My other not resolution for the year is to be Very Direct and Talkative about my projects and how proud I am of my existing books. So. Please buy my books, read my books, review my books, recommend my books if you love them–and I’ll keep writing books regardless.

That’s all for now, until later!

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3. Other Things Authoring Book reviews Media Consumption Writing Life

What’s up in my world

There’s a long list.
  • Getting all my book covers updated so I can order more copies of my books for summer cons.
  • Looking into adding Ingramspark for paperback distribution & ordering.
  • Eyeballing the need to redo interior graphics because see above. (also because I think one of the files might be corrupted or I screed up page breaks somewhere)
  • Finalizing plans for Indy Pop Con & Printers Row (I won’t be there, but my books will, thanks to awesome, awesome friends.)
  • Working on character card graphics. second-guessing myself over whether I should bother with getting those printed because who cares?
  • Waffling over doing pins with the Unity logo and/or the Poz hazard symbol. (see above)
  • Deciding whether to do more patches or not bother yet. (I still have lots)
  • Trying not to worry about not doing ebook promotion on social media. Freaking out about the total lack of sales lately.
  • Hammering away at a blurb for Sharp Edge of Yesterday.
  • cleaning up old graphics & book drafts on my hard drive. So. Many. Obsolete. Files.
  • Revising, revising, revising! Sharp Edge is getting shinier by the day. My nerves are getting more frayed by the day as I run low on TIME.

<deep breath> It will all work out. I know. I’m just…revving really hard on the inside, even when I seem perfectly calm from the outside.

Reading

I am in “read low-brain-power things to recharge” mode.  I have now re-read all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s fantasy works, and am working my way through Anne Bishops Others series. The more I re-read Bujold, the more I am awed by how effortlessly she unfolds the stories and interweaves world-building description with description/plot action.  The books really hold up over time & through multiple re-reads. Anne Bishop…weeeell, now. I am in a mood where plot structure quirks and iffy gender role presentations are irking me bigtime, but I still love the concept, characters, and overarching story of this series.

Movie Viewing:

AQUAMAN aka “Underwater Thor.” Good fun. Okay, not really GOOD, but totally fun.

CAPTAIN MARVEL. I am so totally in love with this movie. SORTA SPOILER ALERT? Vaguespoilering, anyway. Tons of fighty fights but no Huge Climactic Boss Battle, a woman protagonist who is unabashedly kickass because she wants to be, not because angsty or tragic or conflicted or Cuz A Man Helped, and oh, wow, the sub-plot with the gas-lighting and all that foggy, gray moral ground.  <happy sigh>

Television Viewing:

VICTORIA ON MASTERPIECE. I waited until it was all done to watch it through. This show is…problematic.  So much celebration and happy-ending-making and literal whitewashing of historically horrible events, decisions, and people. The progressive, enlightened attitudes of mant characters are pure fiction,  and the subtext of “see, they weren’t such bad people, they did X and Y and that was GOOD?”  is far from subtle.

But. Oh, but-but-but. The costumes and characters and the writing come together to make a fluffy fantasy narrative that is a delight to my eyes and brain, and so I enjoy it.

THAT ONE TORNADO SHOW ON THE WEATHER CHANNEL. Yes, they have like, umpteen storm shows, but the only one I can stand is the one that’s basically a minute-by-minute documentary of the specific tornado, with as much rasw footage as they can scoop together from eyewitnesses.

I tried to watch some of the others, but they were…painful reality TV, with worse talking heads who say nothing and information diced up so fine and fed out so slowly it HURT. Cannot Watch. Maybe if I had the flu.

And that’s about it.

I mean, there’s lots of other things, sure, between garden, and family, and playing with my Instant Pot but nothing for blog yet, and this post has run on long enough.

Until later!

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Writing Life

Inside my head

  • You know  what happens when I am a Good Homeowner and schedule regular maintenance? I discover our heater has a cracked heat exchanger, that’s what. The old one lasted 26 years, so I have no complaints. And it explains the weird behavior of the CO detector last winter. (A couple of times on super-cold days it would beep once, then stop.  Now I know it was catching the exhaust seeping back from the exchanger and saying, “HEY, I SMELL CARBON MONOXIDE…no, wait,  it’s gone now, never mind.”)
  • So, anyway, we’re getting a new heater soon. (Apparently some people wait for the crack to get big and immediately dangerous. Yikes. Nope. Not me. I like breathing.) The AC unit is just as old and didn’t do a good job this summer, so we’re budgeting to replace that too. We could plug in electric heaters and not freeze but Spouseman will melt in a Chicagoland summer without cooling. So that’s the latest big deal.
  •  Anyone analyzing cable television shows by their advertising would conclude that the main audience is, “people with diabetes and/or cancer, people who care passionately about condiments, and people who need cheap car insurance and expensive security systems.”
  • The latest in searches:
    • bubble wrap invention date
    • single item narcissism
    • pumpkin size varieties
  •  Media update!
    • Book: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah Maas. It’s the big sprawly, conclusion to the long, long, looooong classic fantasy saga. It would be easy to list out a dozen things about the series that rub me entirely the wrong way, and a half dozen more that make me wince…but…I liked it anyhow.
    • View: Jurassic World. Um. I enjoyed the dinosaurs, but ugh. It’s one excuse after another for major CGI battle & chase scenes, with gratuitous gore. (Keep in mind I don’t mind gore qua gore. In this movie it was jarring in the wrong way.) Oh! OH!  And  “diversity characters” who are walking weak stereotypes? Awful. Worse than the ridiculously thin villains.  Did I mention I enjoyed the dinosaurs?
    • ViewOcean’s 8. Fun, basic, heist movie. The callbacks to Ocean’s 11 and 13 were super too. I kept thinking Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock were the same person in different wigs, but that’s not a flaw in the movie, that’s my brain’s little issue with face recognition.
  •  Random cat pic:

    This is the earliest pic of Scooter I have in the blog archive. Enjoy.

  • No Context WIP snippet:

    The tenth time the dog sprang to his feet and alerted to a blank spot on the wall, Deena lost her patience. “Seriously, Bazel? What is your issue?”

    And someone answered in a deep, pleasant drawl, “He has good instincts. So do you, grand-daughter.”

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Categories
3. Other Things Media Consumption Whimsy Writing Life

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!