Categories
1. Storysculpting 3. Other Things Media Consumption

Some new doings.

Mostly I’m writing, but I squeezed in a bit of this and a little of that.

Da bookses

Illusion Point Jayne Castle. Reliable brain-free romance of the SF variety. I would call it paranormal since the main elements are psychic powers, but it’s a clever setting in an alternate dimension settled by near-future humanity and then marooned there. So basically it’s contemporary romance with a tidy spin on ESP and lots of fun props like mag-rez guns.

Fall of Light & Spirits That Walk In Shadow  by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Aaaaahhhhhh. Hearts and flowers. I  LOVE this woman’s writing. I’m hunting down all the books I missed over the years because she does not have huge commercial appeal, just delicious prose and quiet, emotionally rich stories that play at the margins of magical realism.

Da viewage

NCIS mini-marathon. I have done one around this time of year every year since I first discovered NCIS. (2011, maybe?) It will go on for a while. Twelve seasons takes even me a long time to go through, and I don’t binge so much as gorge .

Mozart in the Jungle Season 1. A series centered on the unique sub-culture of elite classical music? Sweet. Sign me up!  Bonus: the writers/producers are even attempting to portray the trappings of classical music performance accurately? Astonishing!

Here’s a silly thing.  I was told this show was a lot like Slings & Arrows, but I must confess that description left me with the (utterly mistaken) impression that it was about the struggles of a community orchestra somewhere in the boonies with a jungle. Nope. Couldn’t have been more wrong if I’d tried. I like Lucky for me being wrong does not detract from my enjoyment of things. I love this–even if it is about NYC (yuck face) — and I’m looking forward to working through all the seasons a little at a time.

Da other stuff

In the continuing household medical adventures category: Spouseman starts “kill every last little gleam of possible cancer cells with fire from above” radiation therapy in a couple of weeks. Once he’s doing that, they want him on a low fiber, low FODMAP (look it up) diet. Something to do with being very precise about the targeting and not wanting the innards moving around a lot. He has little tattoos now too.

Practical upshot 1: he gets to be guilt-free “nuttin but meat n taters” guy for about 10 weeks. (I exaggerate slightly. He can have oatmeal too. And applesauce, green beans and suchlike.) and 2: before it all starts we’re having fun cooking all kinds of things he won’t be able to enjoy while it’s happening. Chili. Stews. Chowders. Salads galore. Lots of garlicky, spicy  things. Plenty of savory goodness.

And I’m scheduling. Shocker. It feels unnatural, but I want to do at least 3 cons as a selling author this year. DragonCon is set. I’m going to try to hit Indiana Comicon this spring. (Last minute. Just the way I like to stress myself…) What else? We’ll see.

Categories
3. Other Things Media Consumption

Letter to a Dead Friend

We all cope with grief in our own ways. Writing letters to a dead man is one of mine.

Until the end of 2016 I spent hours on the telephone each week chatting with Dan Berli Brown about books, movies, television, games, tropes, philosophy, life the universe, and fuck knows what else. We both adored overthinking the deeper truths stories reveal about ourselves and our society. And we both loved to talk. Past tense, him being dead and all.

I miss him fiercely every single damned time I think “I need to remember to tell Dan’l about that,” and that’s too many times a day to count. So this  Other Things media post went all epistolary on me, and the next few probably will as well.


Hey,

It’s been entirely too fucking long since you last called and said, “Hey, what’s up?” because you’re bored, can’t sleep or are waiting for the coffee to brew. So here’s the rundown on what I’ve been doing — because if I don’t tell you, you’ll get all pissy when you find out about it later and I say, “Oh, yeah, I knew about that.”

Movies:

You’ll hate my latest movie marathon. I did all the Harry Potter movies. In order, binge-style. I watched the last one twice. I dunno. I felt like wallowing in heroism, sacrifice, and happy endings for some reason.  And then I watched the Adventures of Baron von Munchausen. Terry Gilliam. Because nothing says life like a big dose of absurdity.

I also went to the theater for the first time in forever! With friends! We did the brunch & big screen bad movie thing, and it was stupendous fun. Underworld: Blood Wars. How bad was it? It started with a longer monologue than Highlander 2. Yeah. Highlights (if I can call them that) lots of the Discount Lesser Hemsworth (Theo Gates) flexing in fight scenes and Kate Beckinsale in black latex. Lots of ridiculous action and plot holes big enough to drive planets through. It’s setting the 2017 movie quality bar very low.

What else have I been doing…watching TV of course.

Black Mirror, man. Wow. Did you tell me I should watch this? I should’ve seen it YEARS ago. Like the Twilight Zone stretched into hour-long episodes. Writing, acting, production all top notch. Brain-twisting, heart-wrenching, gut-turning. Bleak and all-too-believable.

The OA.  The soundtrack is first-class, the direction & cinematography are beautiful, and it touches on some intriguing concepts: life after death, dimensional travel, healing after trauma. Alas, it suffers from a severe case of 21st century sllllooooooows. (slower than Battlestar Galactica: Pocket Knife, I kid you not.) Plus the reveals are a mixture of hokey and “Are you fucking kidding me?”   It’s reaching for a “mystery wrapped in an enigma” feel, but the long, lingering redundant reaction shots suck the life out of it. Skip this and re-watch Stranger Things again instead.

Sherlock. Season 3. You totally missed out on this one. Started dark and deadly, bounced into epic with the middle episode, and wrapped up…well. NO SPOILERS AMIRITE?  Yes, yes, you were right all along about the other Holmes sibling. Go ahead, say “I told you so.” Smartypants.

And yeah, I’ve been reading.

One of those Regency romances.  I don’t have the title because the library keeps not sending the email receipts. It was the latest Mary Balogh. Reliable and enjoyable. No facetious comments or eye rolls, or  I will counter with,  “Star Wars novels you read even when you hate the author.” We all do odd things that make us happy. Never could understand why you did that to yourself.

Burning Page.  I was telling you about the first in this series the day before you went in for your last clinic visit. You know, the one where you ended up in the ER and then the ICU? The stories just keep getting better. Dangerous fae just the way they should be, a Sherlock Holmes analogue, a multiverse of great magic/tech mixes, and a feisty Librarian with a capital L. You would eat it up like candy. Well. Not candy. Not you. Red meat, maybe. Read meat, even. There. A bad pun for your collection.

Oh, and I’m writing again. Jack Coby and Amy Goodall are getting into trouble with a big supporting cast and some unfolding domestic strife. I wish you were still around to give me the usual snarky lines for them to say.

That’s all the trouble I’ve been getting into lately. I would ask for a new batch of effusive recommendations and pithy warn-offs, but you won’t have any, so I’ll have to muddle along.

Anyway. I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing. Talkatchalater.

Categories
1. Storysculpting Detours Media Consumption Writing Life

Cruel Winter Blues

One of my best friends died. I didn’t lose him, he didn’t pass on or away, he didn’t cash in or check out, or depart, he died. He was a man of short stature, large appetites, and indomitable spirit, and life killed him as it will murder us all in due time.

It went like this: he felt ill but he didn’t have time to be sick, so he put off going to a clinic until he could no longer breathe. Within a month he was dead,  destroyed by a hyper-aggressive illness that pitted his immune system against his organs and ravaged them faster than his body could fight back. Gone. He loved well, he lived honorably, and he died.

I know the traditional response to loss is to go all carpe diem on shit and art like there’s no tomorrow because damn, there might not be one and there are so many important stories left, but…

I miss him. He was a staunch friend, a better human and a relentless supporter. I couldn’t go back to the monster Marines I wrote for him until I coukd type without leaking saltwater all over my keyboard. And to work on anything else with that story unfinished felt like betrayal.

So I took a few days sitting low and quiet, and gave grief time to sift off life’s main path and settle in the corners where it will stay forever. There was fiction to gorge on, blankets to wrap up in, and good times to remember.

Books:

  • Closer to the Chest Mercedes Lackey.  Valdemar is reliably likable. I needed that.
  • Kingfisher Patricia McKillip. Collect a double-handful of Arthurian-related tales from all over the map, put them in a blender and puree. Pour into a contemporary magical-realism setting. Garnish with delightful trope subversions. Kick back and enjoy.  Snarky side note: I will wave this book under the noses of everyone who starts reciting “Good authors never <insert style quirk here>”  It’s deep, lovely, and dark, but if you’re a stickler for active, stripped down adverb-less prose and have zero tolerance for narrator references, steer clear. It worked for me, and someone must like her stuff, multiple award winner that she is.

Movies & TV:

  • Zero Theorem & Time Bandits I needed a Terry Gilliam evening
  • Hot Fuzz 
  • SHERLOCK!!! Episode 2 was everything I could wish.
  • Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets & Askaban. My goodness they were all so young…

Stories:

Oh, the Berli tales I could tell. There was the time when he low-crawled the length of a driveway and up concrete steps to prove a point, that day he spent a two-mile hike rhapsodizing about the first cigarette he would smoke at the end and his lighter wouldn’t work when we got there, the visit when he showed up on day three of a week’s leave and had a full beard already, the nights he would call at 1AM to chat about some book he was reading because he knew I’d be awake…

Some adventures will find their way into books now. It’s the least I can do. Back to the words I go.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” -George Eliot

 


Note on death euphemisms. Berli had little patience for them, even less than I do. But I know he’d be okay with someone saying he was pushing up daisies, or better, resting after a long squawk. 

 

 

Categories
1. Storysculpting Media Consumption

Holiday & post-holiday doings

The usual lists of media I’ve absorbed and activities completed, plus all the dull personal doings that that don’t fit under the writing, publishing, or authoring headings.

Books

Lots of fluffy froufrou to balance out the Monstrous Tomes of Weber from last post.

  • The Perks Of Loving a Scoundrel Jennifer Mcquiston
  • Chasing Lady Amelia Mary Rodale
  • A Season Of Ruin Anna Bradley.

All 19th century British society romances. Great dialogue, fine characterization, and plots as simple and predictable as sunrise. Just what my brain needed.

And a delightful find: A NEW AUTHOR TO LOVE: Genevieve Cogman.

  • The Invisible Library
  • The Masked City

Alternate-worlds fantasy. The Library sits between variant worlds. Librarians seek out unique books, Dragons champion logic, Fae thrive on chaos & narratives…secrets lurk in every corner.  The third book in the series comes out January 10 and I can’t wait.

Movies

I haven’t seen a new theater release in ages now. The group prefers a theater I physically cannot bear. (I tried. I did. Four separate occasions, four separate instances of back and leg pain requiring the Big Aleves for two+ days. No movie is worth that.)  Plus I am not a fan of opening night dinner+movie eventing. I am not wholly hoopla-averse, but  expensive/ loud/ large group dining plus a crowded theater is 1.5 crowds enough to wreck me.  My wallet and my nerves prefer breakfast & a matinee if dining out before a movie at all.

So I’m not getting out, and if I don’t see a movie the first weekend, I usually end up waiting until it hits home viewing. That’s a longwinded lead-in to explain why I am seeing movies at home, mostly on DVDs from the library.

Let me move onward to this year’s holiday marathon:

  • Die Hard 1 & 2
  • Lethal Weapon
  • A Christmas Carol (B&W Alastair Sims 1951)
  • Bells of Saint Mary’s
  • We’re No Angels
  • It’s A Wonderful Life

Others:

  • Finding Dory
  • Spiderman 2 (the most recent incarnation)
  • Secret Life of Pets

Television

Sherlock. The only show worth noting from this time period. I re-watched the whole series around the weekend of New Year’s, and hosted an afternoon of foods+ (another)re-watching of season 3+the long, long long overdue season 4 premiere on New Year’s Day. I could say many things both complimentary and snarky about the new episode, but a) I’m sure others on the interwebz will do better analysis and b) I’m avoiding all critique until the season is done.  Until then, I’m happy to sit back and see where the writers go with with the glorious, fascinating, eminently watchable mess they’ve made.

Kitchen Magic

So much baking. All the fun. brown sugar oat brittle. Christmas sugar cookies. Various breads. Chocolate-chip caramel cookies. Swedish butter cookies.  The oatmeal cherry cookies were a hit with the Sherlock watchers, so I’ll be making & freezing more of that dough for sure. Maybe I’ll make scones for episode 2.

And soup. It’s soup season. Last week it was split pea with Christmas leftover turkey & bacon. I’ll do chili this weekend.


 

I’ve put my first book into the “finished in 2017” list.  I’ll try to list books on Goodreads more diligently than I have in the past.  No promises.

And if you want to read MY first novel,  I dropped the sale price to 99 cents in Kindle format through January 8th.

Why? Why not? I can afford the occasional loss-leader, and I enjoy making it available. No, running a steep discount is not devaluing my work or books in general, nor is it “ruining the market for everyone else.”  If having sales devalued merchandise then…no, no, not getting into economics & market theory today. That’s all the shares for this round. I’m done.

 

Categories
1. Storysculpting Authoring Promotion

NOT a 2016 Year-End Post

No, really. It’s only my usual Things I Do lists. This one’s subtitle is “things I made last year,” but that doesn’t make it a year-end summary. It’s about the action, not the annuality. And yes, annuality is a real word.

So what did I do?

A. I published not one, not two, but THREE audiobooks. Both my Restoration novels and my first of my Rough Passages Tale are now in a listenable format. Yes, your library can buy these as well, or they can be downloaded from Audible.com. You can even get it free from Audible without a membership if you email a request to me (dawnrigger at gmail dot com) for a free gift download while supplies last.

 

B. I published a combined print edition of two novellas I released as ebooks in 2014 & 15. Only $9.99 for a full-length paperback if you want to buy one for someone or to complete
your collection– or you can just put in a purchase request at your local library.

C. I contracted with local graphic artist Nicole Grandinetti for a new Flight Plan cover, I reformatted the interiors, and hired local editor Lynn McAllister to do a final proofing edit. Then I uploaded the results to Kindle Publishing and Createspace. Ta-dah!

D. I made some of my lovely words available to people who only download iBooks or Nook books, or who read through services like Scribd. All my Rough Passages Tales and the Partners Omnibus are now available from a cross-platform distributor called Draft2Digital.

E. I put serious time into a photo manipulation program and designed a new cover for Nightmares so the series would have a more cohesive look. None of my home-designed covers will win any awards, and I loved the original Nightmares graphic, but the new one better represents the storyline.  That’s something, I hope.

But wait, there’s MORE!

F. I bought and registered a block of ISBNs to Dawnrigger Publishing and dove into the long, complicated, tedious process of entering my book information into the Bowker Books In Print database. I’m sure it’s a cakewalk for detail-oriented people, but oy, the details. Yes, it was expensive, but with 9 titles to register in multiple formats — and more to come for certain — it was time.

G. I finished the “final draft” of a novel I’d been fighting for nearly two years. It still needs revision, but it’s complete in more-or-less its final form, and that’s a point I’d nearly despaired of reaching.

H. And then I dug into the challenge of taking a story idea I was heavily invested in keeping short and letting it expand to become the length it wants to be. Heartwood will be at least a novella when it’s complete. I have no idea when I’ll finish it, but it will be finished next, whenever. One major lesson I have accepted this year: I can only aim my energy in one direction at a time.

When I look back, it was a busy year, but I never felt I was moving forward, never noticed the tally growing. Here we are running full tilt into the new year, and still it’s hard to believe. It’s a blind spot, what can I say?

It’s why  I pause to record life every so often to remind myself that I ACCOMPLISHED MORE THAN BREATHING, BY GOLLY. It’s a good feeling.


Postscript: I once did a whole post being clueless about where I’ve been until I look back at what I’ve escaped. 2016 was a year of ugh, yuck, blergh and meh, but it was better in some ways than 2015, which was marginally better than 2014.

Why? Because I started leaking mental sand in early 2014. (No logical explanation. No external causes to analyze. No trauma, no villain. No narrative. Hello, biochemistry. But I digress.)

Everything takes more effort when the brain sand starts spilling out. It’s like running in knee-high water or going up a down escalator. I can keep moving, I’ll make progress, but it’s slow and exhausting. I could think and feel and create when I also clung tight to all those slippery intellectual and emotional grains and pressed them into a functioning mind shape. But whenever I relaxed my guard or got distracted, the crumbling started all over again.

This year was a struggle and full of dire badness, but ideas began sticking together without so much extra daily work. A bright point. I’ll take it.  Hallelujah.