Midsummer Check-in

Reading

All the Single Ladies. I wanted to like this, I truly did. Alas, it rubbed me the wrong way from Chapter 1 all the way through to the conclusion. It read like it started out being one book, and turned into a different one mid-development. The narrative rolled through a pinball machine of feminism-adjacent topics without focus. “Let’s kinda talk about women’s rights in a “then & now” way, but also a little here versus there, and oh, look, SQUIRREL.”

Also, despite nods to racial diversity, economic classism and intersectionality, the window dressing didn’t ring true for me. The author makes loads of sweeping sociological generalizations based on stories from a limited sample of her friends,  studies about people like them, and also some stories about people the editor evidently insisted on including for comparison.

Yes, I’m being mean and cynical. My blog, my interpretation. Did I mention how much I wanted to love this book? Betrayal makes me bitter. This should have been a PHENOMENAL read, but instead I walked away with this impression:

“Golly-gee-whiz, single [white upper-class, educated East Coast urban] women sure have faced a lot of obstacles throughout history and up to the present day! We’ve come a long way, baby, and marriage is a bummer for lots of women now. Go, independence!”

Um. Okay?

The text is packed with statistics, summaries of statistics, thumbnail historical sketches, and anecdotes. Despite the less-than-coherent development, it’s an excellent primer on feminism & politics for someone who knows absolutely nothing of women’s contributions to history or American society. Since I do know those things from other better sources (go ahead, ask me for a list)  I know important things were glossed over, and fast lost patience with the less-than mind-blowing message.

The heavy sprinkling of sub-conclusions like “Getting married messes up important supportive women’s friendships!” and “Male partners/societial pressures force women to make choices against their own best interests as individuals and professionals!” got on my last nerve.  <deep breath> SO DISAPPOINT.

Disclaimer: I have been married more than 30 years. Women’s legal rights were still fresh enough that I had to fight for a credit card and a bank account with only my name on them. I partnered a man who understood why I kept those accounts, bought a car, and paid all utilities in my name only.  Spouseman groks the struggle, and we support each other as equals.

My experience isn’t the norm for my generation, but neither am I a unicorn. The reasons more women are staying single are a lot more varied than this book admits, and most of those reasons are deeply rooted in old system failures rather than fresh new attitudes.

ANYWAY. Grr. Onward.

Empire of Shadows. Much more my thing. History of Yellowstone region written in that chatty, “I’ll spin the yarn in the narrative and stick the scholarly citations at he end” style I love so much.

I finished my All The Grace Burrowes Novels In Print project (she’s a delight, go read her, historical romance fans) and embarked on an Julia Quinn re-read.

Silverthorn. The next Jacey Bedford fantasy. I liked it. The developments are develop-y, the characters and dialogue are fun, and the world-building is neato-keen. Nuff said.

Watching:

  • Killjoys Season 2.
  • Dark Matter Season 2.
  • Finally watched all of Expanse Season 2.
  • I caught up to Daily Show, Samantha Bee & John Oliver (on Youtube) now & then.

STILL HAVEN’T SEEN GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2. <many sniffles of self pity>

Spiderman: Homecoming. AKA Spiderman guest-starring Tony Stark & Happy Hogan. I loved it despite major doubts about yet another reboot. Best part? So many dialogue zingers, so many non-whitebread non-cliche characters. The plot was grounded in wonderfully-real teen problems too. Usually Peter Parker gets the Hollywood “sure, he’s a kid, but he’s super-smart, so of course he would behave logically and be taken seriously,” treatment, and I can assure you from personal experience that is not how it works. Best news of all: NOT ANOTHER ORIGIN STORY! WOOOOO!

Other Things:

I have tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers growing happily in my sorta-garden. Teeny cucumbers are popping up behind the blooms, and green tomatoes lurk inside the tomato cage.  The peppers are struggling along this year. The sage as taken over its bed, but the butter lettuce is fighting back. (Lettuce is adorable when it grows tall and bolts up pretty little flowers. Ditto radish plants. That’s a thing I learned this year.)

Mulch has been laid down, and more weed death has been sprayed. Call me Godzilla, stomper of weeds. Transplanting of wayward perennials will occur soon.

I have baked in the new oven, and it works. Blueberries are ripe, and I have socked away sour baking cherries this year too. Scones will definitely keep happening.

That’s all the news outside writing-world. In writing land…I’m getting there. I’m achieving a regular working schedule for the first time in months, and the progress is there on the pages of Heartwood. To ensure the regular butt-in-seat part, I am posting one of my older novels up to Wattpad (link: https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger) as a serial, two to three chapters a week.

That’s all from this neck of the woods for now. Ta until later.


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

Summer Reading Adventure on Wattpad!

Update 9/12/2017 This book is COMPLETE. You can read the whole story from beginning to The End without interruption if you like. Enjoy!


I am posting a serial novel on the Wattpad website this summer. The book title is Downrigger, it’s a cyberpunky, dystopian-ish science-fiction thriller, and you can read it for free as I post and polish it chapter by chapter. More details on that at the bottom of this post, quick link right here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger

Why am I doing a Wattpad book? That’s a story by itself and the reason for this post.

It starts with the quotation Art is never finished, only abandoned. That pithy remark is attributed to everyone from Leonardo Da Vinci and Picasso to W. H. Auden. I can’t source it definitively, but I do like it.  In this case this book that will never be finished, but it’s done enough to share.

Downrigger has been around long enough to legally buy and drink alcohol. Heck, it’s old enough that it wouldn’t get charged an exorbitant premium for auto insurance.  It’s been revised and re-written and updated, and it’s more than ready to meet readers.

Why offer it on Wattpad? Why not sell it?  Welp, to be blunt it’s a worthy and wonderful read, but it isn’t the right shape, size, or type of book I can sell.

Sure, I could make it commercially viable. I could force its adorable, sprawly epic mass through a formal editing and proofing process and turn out a heck of a thrilling novel…or two…or most likely three…but that would take a lot of time and creative energy I want need to devote to newer, shinier projects that excite me more. Not to mention money. Editing etc would cost money, and money is a thing.

Why not let it sit in a drawer until the time is right? Because if it stays on my hard drive, it will tug at my attention and demand I play with it, and I cannot afford that distraction. (see above, re: newer, exciting projects)

Also, I think now is the time.  Wattpad is a good open forum for free reading (you do NOT need to be a member to read as long as you bookmark the link to the book. Here’s that link again:  https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger


Book blurb & cover:

A soldier without a memory.  A secret government project pushing the frontiers of neurology and psychiatry. A nation rebuilding from the ashes of revolution, still torn by social and political strife, in a future where the boundaries between technology and society are blurring.

Doug Berman is a murderer, or so everyone tells him. He paid for his crime by forfeiting his past and starting over. Now he’s a file clerk for an isolated scientific community dedicated to psychiatric research and treatment, and he makes installments on his debt to society one dull, drudgery-filled day at a time.

When he’s offered the chance to play tour guide to the community’s newest group of clients and volunteer test subjects, he jumps at the chance for a little extra pay and a big break in routine.
But within seconds of meeting his first volunteer he suspects he’s made the second biggest mistake of his life.

Michael “Hook” Martinez doesn’t know his own full name, where he is, or how he got there, but he’s certain of one thing: his enemies want him to fail in his mission. Now, if only he can figure out what that mission is before someone gets killed…

This story takes place shortly after the Restoration of the United States, after the fiery violence of the Revision Years died down but before the chip rot plagues began.

downrigger6.png

 

Happy summer reading, all.


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

The latest in things

The latest in updates.

Things viewed:

Wonder Woman. It did not disappoint. It thrilled, it pleased, it made me laugh…and a few million people are deep in the honeymoon phases of “I lurve this thing more than anything ever” so I will keep my assorted nit-picky “I wish this trope would DIE” grumbles to myself. I adore Gail Gadot and I thought her casting was a fab choice all along, so I get to say VINDICATED!!! with shoutycaps and extra exclamation points.

And I hope WW ends up with more movies than Superman and Batman combined.

Tammy. I do not know why I put this in my Netflix queue. I dd not hate it. Plenty of hists and some big misses. Not my kind of humor for the most part, and some bits of it actively offended, but…when Melissa McCarthy hits it, she knocks it out of the park. So.

Sense8. Season 2: I enjoyed…but.  SO MUCH BUTT. (sorry could not resist.) The writing went into a sadly predictable Wachowski Bros tailspin (all pretty, no plot, coincidences get capped by dei ex machina and are trumped by absurdities, while character contradictions breed like mice)  In short, I can see why it got cancelled. The expensive music rights for all the long, lingering Feelings Montages had to be adding up too. If they’d indulged in less Moody Prettiness and added more plot progression instead, the costs might have been justifiable, but no.

Gotta say, though– if it had been renewed,  I would have eventually hated it. The Asian Female Martial Artist Stereotype’s inability to remain clothed already had me ranting on Facebook, and it takes a lot to get me complaining about that trope.  I have SUPER-high tolerance for justifying nudity. BUT.  Sense8’s female nudity was heavily sexualized where the male nakedness was not, AND the flesh-baring was disappointingly far from equal-opportunity. One Super-Hot Gay Latin Movie Star and lots of butts in orgy scenes do not balance out the half-naked girl-fights and bad-girl seductions. And that was only one trope. There were more spinning out of control.

So, anyway, I loved the first season, I loved parts of the second one, and I wish they could have a few episodes to wrap up the plots that were nearly complete, but season 2 destroyed my faith in the writers’ ability to complete any story in a satisfactory way.  Ah, well. On to the next show. Here’s hoping Stranger Things gets its sophomore season right, and that Black Mirror can keep up its streak.

Things Read:

I have only three more Grace Burrowes books left to read, and then I will have to leave Regency/Victorian England and move to 1635 or 1636 or whatever year that alternate history series has reached. I need to pick a non-fiction read for June too.  Haven’t decided on a topic, so suggestions are welcomed.

Things Uncategorized:

  • I had on my caregiver hat for most of May (those life detours, they keep a-coming) so several author expectations got sidelined and/or postponed. The format review for Rough Passages collection is complete, and Powerhouse is nearly ready for audio release.  Designing new business cards, bookmarks and other swag is still on the to-do list. (I collected great ideas for beyond-bookmarks swag from the SFWA Nebulas conference! But that’s another post.)  Stay tuned for announcements, but don’t hold your breath.
  • Spouseman is healing up from the last round of repairs and gaining back stamina, so that means we’re getting garden-puttering done and walking regularly again. We are planning day trips and possibly even a Real Vacation ™ soonish. V exciting.
  • I have discovered the productivity app/role-playing game/community Habitica.com and am still loving it to pieces after several weeks, which bodes well for it becoming a favored tool in the life organization kit.
  • I have renewed my resolve to stop stressing over my inability to Produce At Speed. With that pressure removed, things are flowing again. I am simmering scenes for a new project on the back burner while I edge ever-so-slowly towards completing Heartwood.  The Habitica and Freedom apps are limitingtime lost online, and I’m keeping my brain energized by doing regular writing warm-ups and posting on the Other Things blog. (linked for the curious)

It’s summer, and the things, they keep happening. Expect pictures in future posts.

PS: my hair is still blue.


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 my website on this page 

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

Quick Cat Update

Before I get to the feline details, I am ecstatic to report good news about my very own superhero Spouseman.  He’s checked off one full year since surgery, and got a thumbs-up on the first checkup test since the radiation regimen. So we’re moving into the “Dealing With All the Side Issues ” phase of recovery after cancer treatment. Building up stamina, testing new physical limits, designing new workouts in the Danger Room…okay, I might be making up that last bit. Or not.

Let’s talk about the cat.

Our grumpy old fur-baby Scootercat has been struggling with “idiopathic digestive issues” for nearly a year. That’s a fancy way of saying  “the poor cat’s insides are wearing out.” It translates to ten months of watching the cat vomit up food, hair, and/o bloody phlegm on a daily basis–sometimes three or more times a day.

We still don’t know what caused the upset or what made it last so long, but we do know he didn’t have any bacterial infections, urinary crystals, tumors, esophageal strictures, or bowel obstructions. He just horked up whatever he ingested and then some.

Ruling out horrible conditions was all well and good, but knowledge didn’t keep food inside the cat or clean up the disastrous results of rejection. And anyone who says animals don’t understand cause and effect has never watched a sick pet contemplate his food dish with equal parts desperation and disgust. Poor Scooter started grumbling at his food while he ate, as if warning it to stay down this time.

I am relieved to report Le Petit Chat Noir is finally feeling better. He still has arthritis and gets anxious when he can’t find us because he’s too deaf to hear us moving and too blind to see us across the room, but he’s eating like a high school athlete and is back to yakking at birds from window sills and chasing his nemesis the iPad reflection along the walls.

What miracle cure did the trick? No idea. Various remedies were applied as suggested by Reliable Veterinary Experts.  After multiple unsuccessful attempts we landed on a boring sensitive-stomach food Scooter could keep down, then added tuna flakes to encourage extra feeding.

Indulging the little monster’s love of being scrubbed with a wire brush after meals seems to help too. I think it distracts him long enough for the food to get from his stomach into his short little carnivore’s gut.

In any case, here be more photos of our happy, elderly feline.



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 my website on this page 

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
storysculpting header 2 brushes and paints

Sweeping Away Distractions

I have a serious inertia problem. Getting started is a bitch. Switching tasks is worse.

Yes, I know, concentration is hard for everyone. All the same, those who know me IRL will attest to my epic difficulties settling AND my amazing ability to barnacle once I’ve landed.

A high inertia score does have its upside. I have been known to forget meals and forego sleep entirely while immersed in a Big Doing. I can be nigh-impossible to pry loose from a task once settled. The trick these days is avoiding the perils of the internet.

I do not blame the internet for my inertia, no. Back in the day, I could channel-surf for hours. I could waste hours reading the newspaper. I would clean things. But unlike those old-school distractions, online bread & circuses ars ubiquitous and inescapable. It’s not only on my computer, it’s on my phone. My reading tablet. It tempts from all sides, at all hours, and willpower is a finite resource.

The nasty reality is that I either lose creative time to social media and my various online obsessions, or I can forfeit creative energy to the effort of ignoring those temptations.

Or I could enlist the aid of artificial intelligence in my fight to focus.  That’s the route I’ve taken. I now have an internet-blocking program to  fight the good fight for me.

I forked over ducats for the Freedom app. (Green butterfly logo.)  It has a simple interface, seamless cross-device compatibility, and it was the most customizable program I found. See, I need certain kinds of internet access for many aspects of my creative work, from use of the online thesaurus to historical fact-checking etc, but I need to be prevented from channel-surfing my way through other sites.

Why that app? There are pro’s and cons to all the internet blockers. Better bloggers than me have written excellent comparisons. I will not attempt to top them. A search on “reviews of apps to cut down on distractions” or “internet blocking app review” will net a fine selection. I did a lot of research. (Yes, I saw the irony in spending time online researching ways to spend less time online…but it had to be done.)

The Freedom app’s best aspect for me is the ability to schedule by day, time and device — I do not even have to will myself to turn on the distraction-remover. It happens automatically. And if I need-need-need to override it, I can do so on the phone or tablet easily.  But mostly I don’t.

I do not regret the hours I spend diving down figurative internet rabbit holes after odd facts & critical resources, and I am infinitely improved by time spent with the generous amazing folk who have befriended me in the virtual world.

But. Oh, BUT.

The online party never ends, and I can’t stay  24/7/365.  I have reading to do, I have plants to water,  I have a cat to brush…

I have stories to write. And now I have more time and more energy for them.


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 my website on this page 

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