Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

One of Those Weeks

It’s been one of those weeks, squiders. Where you can’t find any time to do anything around everything else you need to do, and then, when you do manage to find time, it turns out that something is either missing or wrong.

(I’m talking about the week ending today, not the week that started Sunday or Monday. For clarification.)

First, there was Nano, when I came to the realization that people where having planning parties and whatnot, and I hadn’t even come up with what I was writing yet. (The beginning of September seems like forever away from November, and then all of a sudden it’s not.)

We talked about that last week. But what I didn’t tell you guys was that it took me FOREVER to find that first chapter. I knew I’d written it, there were even excerpts on one of my writing forums, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find it. I knew it wouldn’t be on my desktop or laptop as neither have been in use long enough (the desktop is about three years old, after the last one ate it, and the laptop I stole from my husband about two years ago after my own laptop’s battery could no longer hold a charge at all), but it wasn’t on my back-up hard drive. And it wasn’t on my old laptop after I dug it out and got it operational. And it wasn’t in my Google Drive, and…

I eventually found it on an SD card I used to use both for back-up and to easily move stories between desktop/laptop. My current desktop doesn’t have an SD card slot (still annoyed about that) so I stopped using it.

(And yes, I have backed it up now.)

Then there’s the nonfiction stuff. I’ve been working both on a new SkillShare class and the books, with the goal of having both published by the end of the month. They’re related, with the book being about finding story ideas and the class being about setting up an idea storage system.

On the book front, I need to make covers for the workbooks, and, as they need to be paperbacks, I need to make wraparound covers. So I went in to get templates only to find that the pocket idea book I made is smaller than KDP will print a book. And I used Canva to make said idea book, and I can’t resize it unless I upgrade to Premium.

(There is a 30-day trial, so I may just go ahead with that and make sure I get all the covers for the entire series done in those 30 days.)

I’d also like to make a printable PDF version of the workbooks that people who buy the paperbacks can download and use, or possibly provide an ebook version with the printable PDFs somewhere, but I’m not 100% sure how to do that without making Amazon grumpy.

On the class front, I’m having the worst time with filming. I did most of the PowerPoint voiceovers, only to find that because I was congested you can occasionally hear me breathing. (I might be able to cover that with background music, but I can’t decide if that would be weird to have or not.) And I filmed one of the talking head segments (in two pieces, because one is of my face, and the other is a demo section down on my desk) and they’re both weirdly corrupted. They both have a half second where half the video goes all colored and pixelated. And of course they’re in the middle of a sentence, making it hard to cut or fix.

Not sure how to deal with that. I don’t particularly want to re-film those segments (because they’re long), and I have no guarantee that it won’t happen again, potentially worse. My camera is probably dying and will need to be replaced. Hooray.

And then there’s costume issues, notably that I need to cut a section off the glasses and haven’t managed it. (What the heck are these things made of?)

But I did sit down this morning and pound out a complete, workable plot for the City of Hope and Ruin sequel (which, no, you haven’t heard about lately, because Siri and I have been having the worst time and frankly took the summer off). It took me about three hours to go through everything and organize it, but it happened, and I am cautiously optimistic that Siri will also like it and then we can get this dang book written.

So maybe things are turning around.

How are your projects going, squiders? Thoughts on video editing and/or background music?

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WriYe and Publishing

Oh good Lord, it’s September.

I mean, I like September. Autumn starts, in theory, which is my favorite season. But it also means we’re getting into holiday season shortly, which is always a bit hectic.

Also my normal con gave me an Authors’ Row table, which I don’t think I signed up for, so I do need to email them and make sure I’m on the co-op table list instead.

Anyway, new month, new WriYe prompt.

Publishing: Is it something you aim for? Why or why not?

Ha! The easy answer is yes. And I have done so. Because…why not? I honestly think that’s what I thought before my first story came out in 2007.

Bonus:
Which route would you choose, self-publishing or traditional publishing? Why?

I do a mixture of self and traditional publishing, because there’s benefits to both, and while I have been publishing for a while, I still consider myself to be in an experimental phase.

The nice thing about self-publishing is that you have full control of the final product–the cover, the price, the distribution channels–and can set your own schedule. If I want to publish every two months, great! As long as I’m maintaining quality and so forth, I’m free to do that.

The nice thing about traditional publishing is that you have other people helping you to put out the best product you can, and, in theory, you have people helping you with the less intuitive stuff, like the marketing. Plus there is still a small stigma attached to self-publishing in some circles, so there is a bit more legitimacy.

Will I settle on a single one at some point? Probably not!

Big plans for September, squiders? If all goes according to plan, my first nonfiction book and its associated workbooks will come out this month! (Which means the outlining one will be out next month, just in time for Nano.) Plus I’ve got to get ready for MileHiCon and cosplaying for next month and then, fingers crossed, I think I’ll actually get to do Nano this year.

Oh! And if you missed Friday’s post with the nonfiction covers, please pop over there and let me know your thoughts. Thank you!

See you Thursday!

The Internet Marches Ever Onward

I’m putting together a cosplay, squiders.

It’s been a while. The last time I cosplayed was when I dressed up as Amy Pond from Doctor Who for Denver Comic-con back in 2014. That was just a closet cosplay (meaning I just wore clothes I already owned) so it didn’t take a lot of work.

(It also didn’t work particularly well on its own. One person recognized me the entire day, and she was dressed as River Song. One friend I ran into thought I was Mary Jane from Spider-Man which, fair. What’s one redhead in normal-ish clothes from another?)

The last cosplay where I actually made costume pieces and whatnot was when I did Agatha Heterodyne from Girl Genius for WonderCon back in 2010.

But before that, I was a big cosplayer. I’ve been that person who’s spent a couple hundred dollars and six months of their lives on a single costume. I’ve made props, armor, shoes. I’ve styled wigs (though not well, ahahahaha). I’ve made my own patterns. I’ve embroidered and appliqued.

That was before, though, when I was still employed and childless. And, to be honest, I haven’t really had the inclination to recently either.

But anyway, I was kind of remotely thinking about cosplaying, and then a friend said, “Hey, that sounds fun, I’ll do this other character,” so now I am definitely cosplaying and have the main part of the costume put together.

But it has been a while, and this costume makes use of something I’ve not done before, and that’s FX contact lens. These are contacts designed to make your eyes look inhuman in some way, either by changing the shape of the pupil, or being a weird color, etc.

(These are otherwise normal in size/shape. The whole eyeball kind are called “scleral contacts” and are apparently very uncomfortable.)

I am extremely nearsighted, so I will need prescription lens, of which there is a very limited supply, boo. But I thought I’d go to my old cosplay hangout and check out the forums to see if people knew other alternatives I might have missed.

The hangout in question is cosplay.com, which is a lovely website that not only has a forum, but allows you to keep track of and display your costumes.

Or, it did.

Admittedly, it’s been a while, and I haven’t been on the site much except to show pictures of costumes to various people every now and then. So I was very surprised to find they’re in the middle of revamping the entire thing, and half my costumes and most of the forums are MIA.

(It doesn’t help that it seems like it’s been revamping for several months.)

Have you ever had that happen? You go back to some place you used to hang out at all the time to find everything has changed?

Anyway, I’m out of the loop and looking for a good cosplay community to hang in, if you know one. Otherwise, I suppose I’ll flounder about and do the best I can.

(Alternately if you know stuff about prescription FX contacts, hit me up.)

How’s your Tuesday, squiders?

Hooray for Flash Fiction

In the interests of full disclosure, this post was supposed to go up yesterday. However, we lost power for several hours and nothing was charged, so you get it today instead! (Sorry.)

Hi, guys! It’s the end of July (now the beginning of August), however the heck that happened. I have had a very good couple of weeks since we stumbled home from our road trip. I’m finally feeling a little more like myself, and I’ve gotten quite a bit done.

I finished the last nonfiction book, and am currently putting together betas for the books/workbooks.

I made three finalized drawings for the Landsquid picture book as examples for an illustration portfolio (so now I only need to type up the manuscript and put together a list of places/agents to submit to, and then…I think I’m good to go?).

And I wrote the middles and ends of five short stories for my flash fiction class. While the class wants you to aim for 500 words a story, the first two are around 1000. That’s on purpose, since I’m submitting one to an anthology and planning on using the other one as a freebie for my newsletter, so I wanted them to be a little more substantial.

I’m pretty pleased with all five stories, truth be told, though two of them are only borderline spec fic and so I’m not 100% sure what to do with them.

But, best of all, I wrote.

If you remember, after certain traumatic events back in May, I was having a really hard time with fiction. So having five completed short stories feels really nice.

And since we’re into August now, we can talk about plans for this month! Or at least for next week, because that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. WriYe is doing a challenge called 7DN (or Seven Day Novel), where you write a minimum of 15K of a novel in a week. It must be a new project, and it should have some semblance of a complete arc.

I’ve got a horror/scifi idea I’ve been poking which I think would be perfect for the challenge, so I need to outline that here in the next few days. And I think the challenge will be a good indicator of whether or not I can give Nano a try this year.

How did July go for you? How’s August looking?

Foundational Books: Winnie the Pooh

This one works somewhat backwards from normal because I, like many people in my generation, came into Winnie the Pooh through the Disney movies/TV shows. We had a VHS of the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh that I watched to destruction, and I was a great fan of the New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh television series.

(Seriously, it was a fantastic show and I wish they would re-release it in some form so I could show it to the small, mobile ones.)

I loved the characters, the way they’re all willing to help and go on adventures in their own ways. I liked that they’re so rarely going against each other as a source of conflict, and I liked how each character is given the opportunity to push beyond whatever their core element is, to grow as the situation demanded.

(Tigger has been and shall always be my favorite, but I am also fond of everyone else. Rabbit’s probably my second favorite.)

When I was 15, my grandmother, who knew of my great love for Tigger (I have never been subtle in my preferences, and at the time had several t-shirts and stuffed toys of the character, and we’d been to Disney World the year before and I’d managed to find Tigger for a picture), gave me a lovely hardback edition that’s a combination of Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. It’s fabric-bound and has golden bees engraved on the cover.

I still have it. And the small, mobile ones and I are into The House at Pooh Corner now.

The original stories are refreshing, each chapter a standalone adventure that never gets too scary or sad, peppered with little bits of silliness and a sense of love and friendship, especially between Christopher Robin and Pooh, or Pooh and Piglet.

It’s a nice thing to share with my family.

I know A.A. Milne came to resent the Pooh books, and Christopher Milne was never comfortable with the fame that came along with them, which gets into the argument about creation vs. creator that we see a lot, but the stories themselves are sweet, and I appreciate that they show that it’s okay to love your friends and to help them when you can.

(Also, if you’ve not read A.A. Milne’s The Red House Mystery, I highly recommend it. Apparently the only mystery he ever wrote, which is too bad.)

Read the Winnie the Pooh books, squiders? Thoughts on the books versus the animated versions? Favorite A.A. Milne book/play?

Foundational Books: Everything by Louis Sachar

I was originally just going to talk about the Wayside School series, but here we are.

Did you guys read those? They’re each a collection of short stories that take place at Wayside school, a school that, instead of being 30 classrooms next to each other on the ground, is 30 stories tall, one classroom on each floor.

(There is no 19th floor.)

(Except when there is.)

The stories themselves are vaguely horror, with evil teachers doing crazy things and weird kids with weirder traits. They mostly take place on the 30th floor, with the same class, so you get to know the kids and their quirks and there’s continuity throughout the series.

And there were a couple of books in the series about weird math, which I may or may not have enjoyed a dangerous amount.

The Wayside School books are an interesting mix of clever and weird, so when Holes came out, I remember being surprised that it was by the same author. I think I read some of Louis Sachar’s non-Wayside books previously, but they didn’t make much of an impact.

Holes, however, is brilliant and I love it a lot. And apparently so did everybody else since it won the Newberry and the National Book Award.

I remember being deeply invested in Stanley as a character, and being impressed with how interconnected each character was to each other, either in the present, or in the past. I think it’s probably the first book I read that had so many levels of story present.

It’s also not a terribly depressing book, despite some of its subject matter. I almost feel like that’s more effective, that if you make everything dark and gritty and horrible it just puts people off and makes it harder to see the lessons the story is trying to teach.

What do you think, squiders? Did you read the Wayside School series or Holes? Or was there another Louis Sachar book that fit your interests better?

Foundational Books: Alien Secrets by Annette Curtis Klause

Woo, squiders, it took me a while to figure out what this book was. I mean, I remembered the book itself–I read it probably a dozen times as a kid. I remembered the main character’s name.

I did not, apparently, remember the title of the book properly, nor could I find it in my basement stash (which is where the books I took from home ended up). Hooray for the Internet, I guess.

(But where did the book end up, then? Questions, questions.)

Alien Secrets is a 1993 children’s science fiction novel by Annette Curtis Klause.

This was probably one of the first science fiction books I read that was really, truly science fiction. (That wasn’t related to Star Trek, at least.) A lot of the books we read when I was a kid was your standard collection of Caldecotts and Newberry winners–things like Maniac McGee, Number the Stars, Caddie Woodlawn, Bridge to Terabithia, Where the Red Fern Grows–all wonderful books in their own rights, of course.

The closest thing I think I’d read before was A Wrinkle in Time, which is arguably science fiction, but it’s not mainstream science fiction, with spaceships and aliens and all that jazz.

At this point it’s been a long time, and I don’t remember the story too well (and with my copy currently MIA, I couldn’t flip back through it to remind myself). The main character Puck (not her real name, never is) makes friends with an alien on her way to meet up with her parents, who are on another planet. Said alien has had an important artifact stolen from him, so there’s a degree of mystery to the story.

Now that I’ve looked the book up on the Internet, I can see that there’s wildly varying views on it (Publisher’s Weekly, for example, did not care for the book’s pacing), but, for me, this was an important book, and helped cement my love of science fiction.

Read Alien Secrets, squiders? What book do you feel got you into science fiction and/or your favorite genre when you were a kid?