Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stuff and Fluff

What is that you say? It's been too long since I've posted an update?

Well, here you go:

Writing:
Since February, I have written at least 200 words a day, every day, until this week, when life kicked me in the teeth. When life does this, it throws my emotional equilibrium out of balance. When that happens, I can stare at the story-in-progress on the laptop screen for an hour and not be capable of writing a single word.

I went through this for about a year, as I struggled with depression. It's only in the last three or four months that I've been writing again, and it has felt good. Events in the past week have brought that progress to a halt. Temporarily, I hope.

My current project is a short story for an invite anthology. I took a break from the novel to make sure I submitted to this project.The submission window is open now. I have time to finish, revise, edit, polish and submit the story before the window closes, but this week certainly hasn't helped matters. I hope to get back on track quickly.

Reading:
I finished Jeff VanderMeer's "Annihilation" last night. I saw the movie first, which sparked my curiosity enough to pick up the book. Which is better? I enjoyed them both in different ways because they are different stories. It's like two writers started with the same basic worldbuilding and premise -- a group of female scientists enters into a mysterious zone known as Area X -- and built their own stories from there. Overall, I enjoyed the book more because of its slower pace and VanderMeer's poetic language; it's unsettling without being frightening. I don't do well with horror, and the movie was pretty darn scary at times.

Before "Annihilation," I read "The Rook" by Daniel O'Malley. I'd heard good things about it. I ended up feeling meh about it. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. That's a result of my own preferences and not a reflection on the quality of the book. I can see why the book is popular and has fans. It's just not my thing.

Everything Else:
The "Hotel Haunted" anthology should be coming out soon. It includes my story "Unfinished Business." I will post information when I have it on how you can order the book.

Spring is coming! Yeah! But this is what my neighborhood looked like this morning, which meant the cancellation of the kiddo's soccer game.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Story Sale! To "Hotel Haunted" anthology

I've signed the contract, so it's time to share the news that I'll have a short story in the upcoming anthology "Hotel Haunted," published by WolfSinger Publications.

As you might guess, the story, titled "Unfinished Business," takes place in a hotel and involves the paranormal. I was grateful for the invitation to submit to the anthology for a couple of reasons. First, I like the theme. Second, it got me to put my butt in the chair and finish a story for the first time in months. This story kickstarted me into writing again.

The anthology will come out sometime this year. I'll share more details as I get them.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

I finally got around to seeing "A Wrinkle in Time" today. The critical reviews and general reaction were lukewarm, so I went into the movie with low expectations and, surprise! I loved it.

For me, the movie hits the right tone, and it mostly gets right the themes and characters. The young actress who plays Meg (Storm Reid) does an excellent job portraying her spunk, intelligence and insecurity. The three Missus are fun. The costumes, makeup and special effects are gorgeous. This is a movie that benefits from seeing it on a movie screen.

The changes from the book were minimal and didn't bother me. The Murray family is streamlined with the elimination of the twins. The centaur is instead a giant flying leaf of lettuce with a head. Aunt Beast is gone (which is fine with me because I didn't think that chapter added anything to the story and was weirdly uncomfortable, anyway).

The one scene in the book that has stuck with me since I was a kid, of a suburban street with ball-bouncing children, was brought chillingly to life on the screen.

All in all, the movie worked for me.

In my small group, there were two other reactions.

The first one, from those who hadn't read the book: They had difficulty following the plot and, "The last half-hour, I felt like I was on drugs."

The second one, from those who had read the book, was that the movie didn't capture the essence of the story and changed too many things.

It's been awhile since I've watched a movie that generated such divergent opinions.

Next week, I plan to take the kids to see "Black Panther." Our first attempt to see this one ended in disappointment when every showing was sold out. That was opening weekend, and this is more than a month later. This time, I predict success.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I'm not Irish, and mostly this day means avoiding the downtown parade route and the epic traffic backup that it causes every year. Still, have a happy St. Patrick's Day.

I'm at work today, at the assignment desk alone except for my cold virus, listening to scanner traffic and hoping the city refrains from fires, shootings and general mayhem. Mayhem is difficult enough to deal with when I'm healthy, which I'm not.

Work update ... I wrote the above sentence about three hours ago. Since then, the news updates have been steady but not crazy-busy. My station shares a helicopter with the other three major Denver stations. We usually don't launch on Saturdays, but we did so today for a fire in a small town on the plains east of the metro area. The chopper is now headed toward Boulder to shoot video of the area where a hiker fell earlier today and sustained bad injuries. Also today, I've updated information from three of yesterday's stories: two shootings and a wildfire that evacuated 250 homes overnight.


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Writing update: I've been working on the novel every day for a month, at least 200 words that usually turns into 300 or 400 words. The total word count so far: about 11,000. I'm happy with that. For me, this isn't about huge word counts but about consistency, and writing every day.

Reading update: I finished reading "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" by Madeline L'Engle, which is my least favorite of that series so far. My son and I finished "Children of the Fleet" by Orson Scott Card last night, and with my daughter, I'm reading "Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs. On my own, I'm now reading "The Rook" by Daniel O'Malley.

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In other news, this is the newest member of the Hicks family:



He belongs to one of the kiddos, who continued to ask for a guinea pig for six months before my husband and I finally relented. Turns out, I like the little guy. His name is Thunder, and the kiddo takes very good care of him. Best of all, the kiddo's anxiety attacks have eased considerably since Thunder came into our lives. I never would have thought a guinea pig could serve as an emotional support animal, but this one does.

I have to close here because the day job will occupy the rest of the evening, with a shooting, possibly a homicide. Such is the way of the news industry. You can be blogging about your family guinea pig one minute and calling the police department PIO about a shooting the next.

Have a good evening, all.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March

March 1. Woot! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, we've made it through the coldest and dreariest part of the year, otherwise known as January and February. Welcome to the light at the end of the tunnel.

I surprised myself this month. After my short story attempt blew up, I spent about a week not writing anything. In the last two weeks of the month, however, I've written the first 5,000 words of a novel. Yes, a novel. If that's not surprising enough, here's more: It's mainstream fiction, not speculative, and I'm working without an outline. This feels like, "Hey, why don't you jump into the ocean without a life jacket and dog-paddle back to shore?" It's daunting and exciting.

Also in February, I read a couple of books, "Six Wakes" by Mur Lafferty and "Roomies" by Christina Lauren. I'm currently about a third of the way through "The Swiftly Tilting Planet" by Madeleine L'Engle, which I'm not enjoying as much as the first two books in the series, but it's still good.

It's amazing how much I've managed to get done, considering the other demands on my time. There's the day job, of course, and my 2e teenager is requiring more attention recently, as well. Speaking of the day job, I need to go do that, so I'm cutting off this post here. Have a wonderful day, all.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

End-of-January Progress Report

A couple weeks ago, I posted my goals for 2018. Mostly they are monthly goals. Let's see how I did in January:

One new story completed and submitted every month. In January, I completed a story and submitted it to an invite-only anthology. The editor accepted the story! That's my first acceptance of the year. I'll share more after the contract is signed.

I immediately jumped into another story and was 3,000 words into it. That's when I started reading an SF book that came out last year and is getting attention in awards circles. My story and that novel have too many similarities in premise and execution in the opening pages. This happens sometimes. There are no new ideas. In this case, any editor who would see my story would think I was copying at best, stealing at worst. So it's with quite a bit of frustration that I'm abandoning the half-finished story, at least for the time being.

Resuming my involvement in writer groups? Hasn't happened yet.

Read at least one book I haven't read before every month. I read "The Book of Dust" by Philip Pullman. I also reread two books I last read when I was about 10, so it was like reading them for the first time: Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" and "A Wind in the Door."

Take Care of Myself. Well, no. I haven't done this. I haven't had time to think about me. Unless you count taking an actual sick day when I had food poisoning instead of going to work. I did go see "The Post" with my dad one morning while the kids were in school. Does that count?

The end result: I was half successful on my resolutions in January.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Publication! "Terra Forms" in Perihelion Science Fiction

After a hiatus, Perihelion Science Fiction is back!

Even better, I have a story in the January issue. Woot!

I co-wrote "Terra Forms" with Dustin Adams, an excellent writer and friend. It's a short story about two androids whose mission to help their human crew scout out possible planetary homes for a new colony goes awry when the human crew all dies in a horrible accident. Now these two androids have no choice but to complete the mission alone, but they have opposing ideas on how to accomplish that.

Dustin and I wrote this story to submit to the Writers of the Future contest, where it received a silver honorable mention. We're excited that our story found such a great home.

If you want to read more of Dustin's stuff, you can check out his blog right here.

I've been published once before in Perihelion, a time travel story called Loopholes, in February 2015. Don't bother clicking on my blog link to the story, though, because it appears to not be working. Hmm. I'll have to check on that.

Anyway, enjoy the new story! While you're there, linger awhile with the rest of the issue, too.