Monthly Archives: March 2015

Sunday Night Music: Serenity

This is a wonderful version of the Firefly theme. I’ve loved Jesse L. Martin since I saw him on Broadway.

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March 29, 2015 · 1:35 pm

5 Movies I’m Contrarian On

Okay, I’m a little behind the eight ball this week. So, I’m going with the ever popular list post. *grins*

Below are five movies, I hate, but seem to be really popular. In fact, I am so far in the minority on these movies that I rarely say anything about it.

1. Pulp Fiction – This is the most boring movie I have ever attempted to sit through. I watched it just to have the relevant cultural references. If you’re going to watch Tarantino, watch Reservoir Dogs (excellent crime movie) or Kill Bill (amusing hyper-violent kung-fu). Hell, watch Dusk Till Dawn (perfectly cheese vampires).

2. Wizard of Oz – The music is okay, but I just cannot abide Dorothy and I want to punch Glinda. I haven’t been able to make it through the books either. (Didn’t make it through Wicked either. Sorry folks, this one isn’t for me.)

3. It’s a Wonderful Life – Clarence is the only redeeming factor in this movie and he is *not* in it enough to make me willing to sit through this movie.

4. The Christmas Story – Why do people like this movie? Seriously? I don’t like anyone in it. Not the main character. Not his friends. None of them. I don’t give a damn about their lives and I don’t like the movie. Many movies I can at least understand why people like them, this one leaves me completely blank.

5. Ace Ventura – Jim Carrey why must you continue to ruin my life? I consider this patient zero for the infection of crap comedy in the world today. Fart jokes and stupid voices are not comedy. At least not *all* of comedy. Class it up Hollywood.

What movies are you “supposed” to like that you just can’t stand?

Cross-posted at The Art of Procrastination

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‘Top 10 Books From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit’

This week over at the Broke and Bookish the theme for Top Ten Tuesday is:

‘Top 10 Books From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit’

Since I am constitutionally unable to pass an opportunity to talk about the books/series I love, I’m going to take up this meme. 🙂

1. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis CarrollThis one is still one of my favorites, as anyone who’s seen my Alice collection can attest. I have more than a hundred different copies of it with different illustrations or translations.

2. The Dark is Rising series by Susan CooperMy fourth grade teacher recommended I read The Grey King. I was hooked and I read the series multiple times over my childhood and even as an adult.

3. The Black Cauldron series by Lloyd AlexanderMy mother read this series to me as a kid. I loved it.

4. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. SayersMy favorite Peter Wimsey book. Peter’s under-cover in an ad agency. It’s brilliant and holds up to several re-reads.

5. Rum Pum Pum by Maggie Duff This is an Indian fairy tale about a crow who is seeking vengeance against the corrupt king and allies he picks up along the way.

6. My Mother Sends Her Wisdom by Louise McClenathan and Rosekrans HoffmanThis is a Russian folk tale, I believe. And it has a great message about planning and listening.

7. Albert Campion series by Margery AllinghamAllingham is actually my favorite of the big three female mystery authors of the time (Sayers, Christie, & Allingham). You don’t hear much about her though, which is a shame. (And the tv series is pretty good too.)

8. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. LewisAslan was very important to my childhood. I loved the first book much more than the others. (The Last Battle didn’t happen in my world. Though, I’ll still read it.) And you *must* read the series in the original published order. The chronological order doesn’t work because if you don’t know the information from the first book, you don’t *care* about the rest of them.

9. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. TolkienMy mother first read this to me when I was a toddler. Then, about once every two years between other series. I’ve read it a good four or five times myself. (I’ve even read and annotated the appendices.)

10. The Nero Wolf series by Rex StoutNero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin are my go-to detectives. I enjoy their interactions. I love Archie’s voice. And the mysteries themselves are always nice and twisty, but Stout always gives you all the clues you need to get to the right answer.


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Sunday Night Music: Jackson 5 and Bach

I love cross-genre music.
Check out this Piano Guys Mash-up/variations:

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March 23, 2015 · 12:40 am

Resistance is …

“Writer’s Block” is a mythical creature that gets blamed for everything from not starting projects or finishing projects, to not getting edits completed. It’s an excuse for another glass of wine or five more minutes (hours) on Pinterest.

Many pros will tell you that it doesn’t exist. It’s seen only by virgin writers who believe in it. Special Snowflakes with artistic temperaments and fae-touched vision.

Be that as it may, what’s real is resistance. “Resistance” is a psychological term, which, when used in therapy or analysis, implied that the client is resistant to change or resistant to confronting an issue. Normally, this also implies that there is a deeper issue which must be tackled to overcome what is now a road-block or plateau in therapy.

I am using it in a similar fashion. When an author claims writer’s block, what they’re really saying is more often “I’m tired,” “I’m bored,” “I’m scared,” “I’m frustrated,” “I’m depressed,” “I’m in trouble,” or even, “I don’t actually want to be a creative person, but I’ve been saying it so long that I’m ashamed to let go of it,” or “This is harder than I thought.”

And what they want is attention, tea and cookies, and someone to gossip with or bounce ideas off.

You may see yourself here. But now you know that there is a deeper reason that you aren’t writing; you need to find out what that is. You’re not a fae-touched Special Snowflake, you are a writer. You want to fix this, and be a professional.

It’s all well and good for pros to say “just do it,” but if you’re tired and cranky and depressed, then there’s something else that needs to be dealt with.

So how does you deal with those issues? If you’re tired, in a physical sense, take a fifteen minute nap or meditate for fifteen minutes, then sit down and write something. (Even if that something is “why naps are beautiful.”)

If you’re bored, try Write or Die. Set it to the automatic erase level and write for five minutes. If you stop typing, the program starts eating what you’ve written. Or challenge yourself by moseying over to Chuck Wendig‘s blog and checking out one of his challenges. Then, when you’ve done that, work on your main project again.

If you’re grieving, dealing with a major stressor, in the middle of a depressive spin, or even just have the flu, that’s okay. Deal with those problems. The writing will come back. Make yourself well. Or find a way to work around it. Drag a journal into the bed with you. Burrito on the couch for awhile. Call your therapist and talk it out. Use whatever coping techniques you need. Just believe that the writing will come back. Maybe not tonight or tomorrow, but some day. I’m going to get metaphysical for a moment: the writing is part of you and it cannot be destroyed — only changed by circumstances. Maybe you don’t write fluffy humor stories anymore, that’s fine. Change direction.

I went for nearly year without a new project or finishing an old one. For me this is a big deal. (I do three-day binge writing, and otherwise produce copious amounts of words, even if no one reads them.) It wasn’t until I discovered a physical issue and fixed it that anything got done. I still go through phases when I’m not feeling well where I don’t even answer email. It’s okay. It happens.

If you’ve decided that you don’t want to be a pro writer, that’s okay. I give you permission to walk away. Feel free to keep reading about writing and publishing. Just stop beating yourself up for not writing. Be a reader instead. If you keep focussing on something you now hate, you’ll never find the thing you love. And love is much better for you than hate. So try something else creative — painting, crafting, photography. Find something you love.

If you’re thinking “this is hard,” you’re right. Writing is hard work. Publishing can be gruelling. Dealing with editing or negative reviews or market indifference can leave you feeling like a newly shorn sheep. Suck it up, Buttercup. If  this career is what you want, learn to cope.

Resistance is real. Don’t let it stop you. I believe in you.

Crossposted at The Art of Procrastination.

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All is Vanity

I always forget that there are new people entering the writing world who don’t research the Hell out of publishing before they aim for a publishing contract. They don’t even make themselves familiar with how publishing works. This was brought strongly to my attention when an acquaintance was pointed in my direction. She was having editor issues. (Not the first, surely not the last.)

I asked the question “which publisher are you with?” for purely selfish reasons. I always want to know who to avoid. She gave me a name which I googled while I was on the phone with her.

“Oh, you’re self-publishing?” I winced at this point because I recognized an infamous name associated with her publisher. She wasn’t aware of the fact that she was 1) with Author Solutions 2) Self-publishing 3) being sadly and utterly screwed by not knowing how to write a query and 4) didn’t know how to find a publisher in her genre. (I realize my parallel construction has been wrecked in this paragraph, but moving on…)

She didn’t know the main rule: “Money flows toward the writer.” She signed a contract and paid a lot of money to get a publishing contract.

Now, I have opinions about vanity presses, which I will now hereby separate from self-publishing. In general, vanity presses are scams.

There is nothing wrong with paying an editor to edit your work prior to self-publishing.

There is no reason not to hire someone to create your cover if you don’t feel your art skills are up to it.

Hire a marketer or layout artist.

Heck, find an off-set printer to who will do all the above for you.

But MAKE SURE they follow through on their promises. Research is your friend.

Always check Writer Beware. Google the company. (It took me less than 15 seconds to find warnings on the above referenced publisher.)

Vanity Presses don’t always follow through. Those related to Author Solutions? Oh, they are a danger. Red flags all over the place. Author Solutions hides under the skirts of other publishing houses. They upsell and upsell and provide crappy products on the back end. (At least by everything I have found on them.) They’re dangerous and they’re in the middle of a lawsuit for breach of contract and more. The lawsuit is pressing to be turned into a class action suit, but this is still in litigation.

So rule of thumb:

1) Genuine publishers do not ask you for money after accepting your query.

2) Publishers pay editors.

3) Publishers pay for cover-artists.

4) Publishers pay printers.

5) Publishers pay distributors.

If you are self-publishing:

1) Research distribution channels! Amazon is not the only one.

2) You pay for the editor.

3) You pay for cover art.

4) You pay for printing.

Bottom Line:

Before paying for *any* service, research the company. 

Writer Beware
The Author Solutions Case

Crossposted at: The Art of Procrastination

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Sunday Night Music: Straight Up

I love tap dance and I have a strange 80’s kid fondness for this song:

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March 8, 2015 · 4:01 am

Sunday Night Music: Jolene

Jolene… at 33 rpm. It sounds incredible.

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March 1, 2015 · 12:38 am