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Furbabies Promotion Writing Life

How my books are like my cats: a study in surprising similarities.

I’ve raised six cats so far in my life. I’ve written & published six books. There are some entertaining parallels. Check it out:

Here’s my first novel, and also Jake, the first cat who was mine, not a whole-family shared pet.

Ways they’re alike:

  • a bit messy
  • rough around the edges not to everyone’s taste
  • took a long time to mature
  • hold a special place in my heart
  • more about the novel here: bit.ly/controlleddescent

2nd novel & 2nd cat, Banshee:

  • bigger than the first one
  • slightly goofy
  • lots of running around & tail-chasing
  • never gets much respect
  • more about the book here: bit.ly/FlightPlankmh

Third book, third cat:

Alexander Batwing Spook got stuck with “Kitten” as his callname. Like Weaving In the Ends, he was:

  • sleek, dark, & handsome
  • full of attitude
  • in love with yarn
  • more popular than the one who came before him.
  • there’s more about the book here: bit.ly/weavingends

If you look closely at cat 2 & 3, you get an idea of their relationship. That’s Kitten’s foot kicking Banshee in the chin. This perfectly illustrates the relationship between the two books as well.

Onward to the 4th enty.

Like my novella Novices, Bruce, our 4th cat, started off short & got longer (plot for the story, hair, in Bruce’s case) More parallels:

  • did not plan on getting another cat, did not plan on writing this book
  • LGBTQ+
  • sometimes cuddly, sometimes prickly
  • unsophisticated but sweet
  • never went according to plan
  • further book details here: amzn.to/3gMYzUp

Book 5.

This novel was a big change in direction & was unlike any story before it. Scooter, was a new adventure too. More things in common:

  • able to convince people into picking them up
  • thought-provoking
  • dark
  • but sometimes also silly & comic
  • curious? go here: bit.ly/roughpassages

And now, this!

Pippin is my big, bold, gorgeous new cat, all fluffy & huge & complicated. He’s full of goodness, sticks with you, & never goes does what people expect. Just like my latest novel. Which you can find here bit.ly/sharpedgekmh, if you’re interested. One last thing they have in common:L very long tails.

That’s all. I expect there will be a new cat fairly soon, and eventually there will be more novels. It’s gonna be fun to see how (or if) the trend continues.

There’s no deep meaning to this post. It’s winter solstice, my sleep patterns are all thrown off by the long dark nights, and that leaves me antsy & tired at once. I decided to amuse myself, and this happened.

Until later. Happy holidays!

Categories
Media Consumption Whimsy Writing Life

Big Bad Movies

Whatcha watching? I’ve been doing disaster movies. It’s what I do during lulls between other series building up enough episodes that I can binge them. B-movie BAD disaster movies only, to be precise, and only ones I haven’t seen yet.

This limits things more than a reasonable viewer might expect–but many things are possible in this age of streaming.

My current theme is earthquakes, and friends, look at this cornucopia of corniness I had to choose from on Prime Video alone:

  1. San Andreas: MEGA QUAKE, not to be confused with San Andreas w/Dwayne Johnson.
  2. Earthquake (the 2004 one. Yes, it matters.)
  3. MegaFAULT and FaultLINE. Different movies.
  4. 10.5. Not 10.5:Apocalypse, which was a series.
  5. Ice Quake
  6. Magma: Volcanic Disaster. (YEs, volcaoes, but earthquakes feature prominiently in the description.)
  7. Epicenter, which ALSO has assassins & the mob!
  8. Polar Storm, because meteors make earthquakes even scarier!
  9. Geo-Disaster, with a megaquake, a supervolcano AND a massive tornado, all in Los Angeles.
  10. Destruction: Los Angeles
  11. Global Meltdown (kinda says it all, huh?)
  12. Quantum Apocalypse
  13. Nature Unleashed: Earthquake, which adds a Russian nuclear power plant to the party too.

This list doesn’t even get into the large side niche of “movies about earthquakes that accompanied the crucifixion of Jesus.”

No, I am not making that up. “Crucifixion Quake” is a real movie. So is “Risen.” There are many others I won’t bother to list because I will not be watching any of them ever. Not if I have a choice in the matter.

I watched 6 of the ones on my Earthquakes list between last Friday & Sunday. Okay, “watched” might be a stretch. To be strictly accurate, they were running on the television while I did other things, like writing, peeling fruit, and doing research on firepit accessories and sundry other topics of interest.

Which ones? MegaQuake, 10.5, Polar Storm, Magma, Ice Quake, and Nature Unleashed. Two of them were so bad they actively drove Spouseman from the room instead of accidentally sucking him into passive watching. I don’t remember which two. They were all pretty awful, and they were all awfully fun.

I’ll cruise through the rest eventually assuming they all stay free. (some movies seem to be free a while, then go pay, then go back to free? Prime is weird.) ANYway. None of them are long–evidently the filmmakers realize that even fans of cheesy corn can’t sit through more than about 88 minutes of it uncut.

This week I have a Roku from library, so I’ll be catching up on the fall releases from Hulu, HBO, & Disney/Marvel. That should be fun.

That’s all for now. Until later!

Categories
1. Storysculpting excerpts Writing Life

Story notes to self

Here be two story nuggets I need to put somewhere I can’t lose them. This way I can come back to them when I get the itch to do a short story later this year (which will happen, it seems to be an annual, seasonal kind of thing like hay fever)/

First, one about a young woman, poor and desperate,  who lives in a land where passing ghosts freeze solid in the winter and brave hunters harvest the souls for…I dunno what, but I know this will be somewhere near the beginning:

The music of winter rolled across field and forest during the dark months.  Snow and ice crunched loud underfoot, tree limbs rattled and cracked to pieces, and bitter storm winds howled their harsh melodies down every chimney while snow whispered rippling descants around the walls.

Everyone huddled close during those long, cold months, and they sang their own songs, long stories of winters defeated and warm summers to come. They sang of hopeful things, knowing the wild music was the sound of survival.

When the skies cleared and the the ice moon shone down bright on a still, silent world, the night air turned so cold it froze the dead and the living alike.

Sometimes, when that stillness held the wilds hostage, a careful listener would hear the rare, delicate chime of spirits shattering against snow.

Then there’s a short story in the Rough Passages universe that I know will start off with this gross little bit:

The black, furry thing by the side of the road was the size of a refrigerator, smelled like a landfill, and had entirely too many flies buzzing around it for Jane’s comfort.

“Hey, Janie, look!” Her sister poked it with the trash stick. The thing squelched and deflated to half its original size with a soft, messy noise, and the stench of decay made Janie gag.

“Ew, Megan, what are you doing?” She backed away fast–too fast.  The shoulder of the road was narrow, she wasn’t watching her footing, and her heel slipped off the graveled edge onto slick grass.  She flailed for balance, then desperately flung herself forward onto hands and knees.

She landed with a jolt of pain, but it was better that than sliding ten feet backwards into the muddy weeds at the bottom of the ditch. Her sweaty, filthy, too-large leather work gloves saved her from scraping her hands raw, but her knees stung through her now-ripped jeans.

They were wet, too. Blood? She got to her feet.  Oh, no. Not blood.

She brushed at the sticky, yellowish ooze. Her stomach lurched, and disgust prickled all along her skin. “Megan, it’s a good thing we’re family, or I would kill you. First you get caught shoplifting like a juvenile delinquent and blame me so we both have to do community service, then you pick trash duty of all the ungodly things under the sun, and now look at me?”

“What?” Megan kept her eyes on the dead thing as if mesmerized by its ugliness. She poked at it again with the stick. “I wonder what happened to it.”

“Stop it! Who cares?” Janie got to her feet and caught Megan by the arm. “Come on, we’re way behind the rest of the crew already.”

“Who cares?” Megan jerked loose and dug in her heels.  “It’s huge. We can’t just leave it here.”

“Yes, we can. We’re supposed to leave road kill for the crew with the shovels. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

The last part came out in a shriek as Megan pulled off her work glove to lay her palm flat against the thing’s hairy side.

It gathered three legs under it and lurched upright, dangling half of a fourth limb, dripping fluids, and sending the swarm of flies into angry flight. When it shook itself, bits of fur, flesh, and gravel flew in all directions. It wobbled unsteadily  down the steep slope into the ditch and disappeared into the tall grass at the bottom.

Janie shrieked again. “THAT WAS THE GROSSEST THING EVER! GROSSER THAN YOUR HOME BIRTH VIDEO. OH. MY. GOD. WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?”

Megan was staring at her own hand. “Uh. I’m not sure, but I want to do it again?”

Unfortunately,  I have no idea what’s going on with these two, beyond Meg rolling unexpectedly into a power that animates dead things. Oh, well. More will come eventually, I’m sure.

Until later!

 

Categories
Detours Writing Life

The latest in random activities

Lately I’ve been caught up in Totally Unnecessary Work.

What did I do? I changed the menu bar colors on my website.  Wooo, yay, right?

I had no business tinkering with the website. It looked fine, and I have zero applicable skills. Changing structural elements requires knowing CSS, an aspect of programming I never learned because I taught myself basic website HTML before CSS came into wide use. (Why, yes, I AM old.)

The project  started early in the week. I was doodling around online and discovered internet resources on changing CSS.  Since I have wondered, off and on, if I could change website colors off I went to investigate the possibility. It didn’t take long to find answers other people got from experts, and it looked simple enough.

So I copy-pasted the suggested codes into the CSS editor on my site.  Did it work as written? Of course not.

First, changing CSS gets complicated behind the scenes.  It’s full of what I’ll call dialects and accents and slang.  How a change works on a specific site depends on a ton of structural elements already in place. There are things like “child themes” and cascading consequences to changing a single element (hence the name) plus the order in which commands are entered can differ by site too, and some codes have to be overridden with other commands…

Second, I can’t see  any of the original code because I’m using a training-wheels/bumper-car/TOTALLY UNBREAKABLE website.  Basically I pay people to maintain the big, complicated chunk of programming that runs the site for me. The price is that I’m locked out of all the dangerous parts of the code and can’t see any of it. It’s a fair trade, but it does complicate an already-complicated process.

And third, there’s the ever-present finicky complication common to all computer programming: one wrong space or punctuation mark can mess up everything. True confession: I am Not Good at spotting finicky mistakes when I make them (whereas I am Very Good at making them.)

Once it was clear that changing colors was a complicated issue involving skills in which I had zero expertise,  did I stop fumbling around in the dark like a sensible person?

OF COURSE NOT. I kept tinkering. Partly because I’m stubborn–but mostly because I knew I had that nice, cushy safety net. I can poke and play with code all I wanted without ANY fear of breaking my website. Freedom to play and learn is priceless.

So I played, collecting tools,  finding more code online and comparing the pieces to see how they differed and making minor changes to see how they connected. Then I went all  hyperfocus on it and hammered at things until they WORKED.

Huzzah!

 

Now, instead of a white menu bar with black lettering and blue/white highlighting color scheme, I have a gray menu bar with black letters, with a black & red highlighting scheme.

Was that worth 20+labor hours? Of course not. The defaults were fine. SERIOUSLY. They were fine.  So why did I bother? I have a list of reasons. (Of course I do.)

1) In the future I can change menu colors to anything I want. Black/red/white is a horrible highlighting scheme from a design standpoint. Honestly.  I know that. But I’m leaving it like this for a while.

2) It was a nice lesson in CSS vocabulary, names of elements & operations etc. The knowledge may come in handy again someday. Who knows?

3) I learned a ton about how the CSS codes interact too. Once again, new skills are never worthless.

4) Working out hierarchy, coding grammar, naming quirks & overrides for my site’s theme by brute force experimentation WAS FUN.

I had fun and made a thing and learned things: these are the justifications I throw at my conscience, which is muttering about the wasted time. Not great excuses, perhaps, but they’re what I have. (And I like the colors, too, boring though they be.)

Anyway. That’s a wrap.

Categories
1. Storysculpting Authoring Detours Promotion Whimsy Writing Life

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

Today is the one-year release anniversary for Rough Passages.  Never has a book been more aptly named, for oh, so many reasons. Read on to get the details.

3 years ago today: I was struggling with a novel I eventually set aside, building my author website, & coping with various health troubles. Barely treading water, creatively.

2 years ago today: I was struggling with Spouseman’s major health troubles, working on a frustrating short story, and coping with the aftermath of painful dental surgery. Ugh.

1 year ago today: still mostly struggling, and I let down a lot of people, but support from friends, fellow authors, & readers kept me going. Rough Passages happened because of that support. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I went on to finish the story-that-turned-into-a-Rough-Passages follow-up novel, and THIS year? This year, that follow-up is in revisions, I’ve completed 2 new short stories, and I’m 3/4 done with a novel draft in a different, brand-new series.

It’s a happy day indeed.

Here’s my pretty baby:

Super-powered grandmas, doomed teens, and monster Marines.

A buy link in case you want one: get Rough Passages here