Paradise Icon 4

I know, I know. You don't believe me, posting again this week. Well. Take that.

I wanted to post briefly about Paradise Icon 4, which takes place at Icon 40 in Cedar Rapids on October 15-18 of this year. We have quite a line up of speakers: Joe Haldeman, Ann Leckie, and Tamar Siler Jones.

Unfortunately, we only have ONE SEAT LEFT now that the dust has settled.

So, Let me know if you're interested. Remember, you need to be a neo-pro to qualify, or have your work cleared by me.

My Writing Practice and Fitness Report

Taking a few moments to journal today. I started my comics proposal for Oni Press September open call. Or October. That means right now I'm learning about comics scripting, which kind of takes me all the way back to screen writing class in my undergraduate days. I've thought about three different ideas before deciding on this particular one, a sort of stew of a couple of fandoms I like. Tomorrow morning I start my day writing, so I'll get right back to it then, or perhaps tonight, if I have any time left after this.

***

I have been thinking a lot about Rosenfeld's idea of a writing practice. This really works for me. As soon as I began to conceive of writing as something that was more like a daily meditation, rather than a career goal, I find that most of my reluctance to write disappears. I know. Kinda freaky, init? Especially right now, when I am beginning a brand new novel, coming up with a brand new proposal, and scrapping all but the most basic parts of my troll novel, normally this would be the season for procrastination. It's not, though. It's a chance for me to re-embrace writing for why I love writing. I have stories to tell and they're waiting on me.

Another really truly awesome part of coming back to this spot is that I am reminded that my art is mine, and I compare it to no one else's. No one can write what I write. No one can walk my writing path. There's no point in comparing each others writing or worrying about where you're at. It's one word at a time, you talking that journey. Pretty zen.

Yeah. That'll last.

****

I didn't put up weight stats last Thursday. Let me rectify that.

2015 Highest Weight 213.8 Current Weight 210.1 Lost: 3.7 pounds
Weight Watchers Beginning 224.8 Current Weight 212.2 Lost: 12.6 pounds
Total Loss: 13.7 pounds

And then...I went out and had the weekend from overeating town. Important lesson underscored: weekends that you spend in the car doing things other people want to do, or giri things that are necessary, such as visiting your sister-in-law in the hospital, and then spending the rest of the weekend doing chores result in looking for love, or relaxation in all the wrong places. In short, give me food or give me death, because life sort of isn't going the way I want.

Moral of the story...take your writing with you, and maybe something else to remind you about why you want to get healthy. Or sit something out on Sunday. Let yourself out of the box.

I weigh in tomorrow again. I suspect I may stay around the same, or gain weight.

Exiting news: next week is adult ballet. Yes, I am excited. Here I come Tuesday nights.

Right now, I have about half an hour before I go over to the high school to rescue the husband from volleyball tickets, and then home to home chores. Poop. One of those nights I would go looking for food. Except, you know, no. :)

How's it going with you all?

Monday, Monday, Monday….Paradise Icon

...and what I've been doing today is working on Paradise Icon schedules and such. So, behold my handiwork!

Paradise Icon

And note that there's still one seat left. Could this be you? Hanging out with Ann Leckie, Joe Haldeman, and Tamar Siler Jones? And us? Yes, it could be.

I got nothin' else.

Rosenfeld’s A Writer’s Guide to Persistence

There are many philosophies behind writing and why one does it.

I was lucky enough to be intrigued by the cover of this book while I was at the Writer's Digest conference in New York, and I also found the whole title A Writer's Guide to Persistence: A Toolkit for Building a Lasting Writing Practice.

Writing practice? As opposed to a writing career? In a world where many conceive of publication and accolade as the desirable end of writing, this is an interesting take on writing as art. I find similar philosophies in Wonderbook.

As you know, my main focus in regard to writing is to create meaningful work, and most importantly, to create meaningful work for myself. If I can share that work, so much the better, but writing for money is not my goal. Nor do I think that writing for money is a problem. Everyone's gotta eat. I eat by teaching, and I fear that if I turn writing into a job, it will suck the joy of doing the art right out of it for me.

Yes, we've talked about me, art, stress, Type A, all that jazz before. No need to rehash it. But, as much as I would like to publish, that is not what or why I write. I write to discover. I write to live in worlds. I write to play, and I have a lot of ideas that just keep my mind racing.

There is a focus on frittering time versus doing writing. And it's a question of enjoying your writing. The book is full of support for people who want to establish a regular writing practice, write, and take risk. Enjoy.

So, if this sounds like you, and rather than looking for a book on how to break in, or how to become a best seller, if you're looking for a way to celebrate your art, do it regular, and focus on your own satisfaction, I like this one. I also like Wonderbook but I gushed about that one already.

Art is interesting. Our reasons for doing it are varied. I want to feel joy and get close to the divine. But no, they can't have my money back from my first pro-sale either.

Projects Live!

I'm beginning to remember why I stopped writing so much last year. Work is a monolith I almost can't climb over. It is true that we are a very popular course of study. The person that's busiest, hands down, is my assistant, but I'm up there. Couple this increased work load with the fact that I take an hour for lunch in the middle of the day, during which I walk, and add on my writing hour every day but Thursday, and you will see that time is precious.

So, here I am writing in the evening. I think that what I need to do is cut back on my expectation of journaling every day, and shooting for 3 times a week. That seems reasonable. However, important lesson--don't forget that you have to write to support EVERYTHING, and journaling without writing is cool, but not why we're out here.

***

I wanted to mention the new project. I have figured out the names for the books, and I have begun The Pawn of Isis, which is a stand alone book from The Vessel of Ra, but is also a sequel. The conceit is that it is written by Carlo Borgia as a record of the events that happen at the book so the next generation of children know their family, and warns them of danger to come. Sounds cool to me. Right now, everything is rough, so we will see if I can deliver on the potential of the beast.

***

I don't want to tell you about the Oni Press idea yet. It's a fun, fun idea, and I'm excited about it, but I want to spring it whole upon the world. Like Athena or something. And, as soon as I have an acceptable draft of Pawn for the Paradise Icon gang, I'm all over the comics idea.

***

Bryon, the spousal unit, asked me if I've ever thought of working on something at the same time as something else, and the answer is yes. I may yet return to Troll Boys in Decorah, discarding large chunks of that story before. But only when I've written myself into a corner, and I need something to stew.

And that's what I'm doing to stay out of trouble. You?

Coming to a Pet Store Near You…

...the return of puppies as they were meant to be! Not a usurped name for a political slate of unhappy writers who felt persecuted, but instead, you know, furry little scamps and scampettes that can be cuddled with and taken on walks.

At least we hope so.

***

And...aye yi yi, school begins. I have very little time to do much of anything write now except serve my students. Tomorrow, I teach. AND I have actual writing time tomorrow. This excites.

So, you might want to know a bit more about the projects I'm working on? I'll describe them pretty darned soon.

Fast Friday Facts

Weights from Thursday:

2015 Highest Weight 213.8 Current Weight 210.5 Lost: 3.3 pounds
Weight Watchers Beginning 224.8 Current Weight 213.6 Lost: 11.2 pounds
Total Loss: 13.3 pounds

More or less stayed the same this week. Variables? Eating too much some days. Loads of exercise. Drinking more. As always, gotta get the early eating of all my extra points kind of under control. If I could stick with the 30 points weight watchers allots me a week, I think weight would fall like raindrops. Thinking about ways to get that impulse eating out of there.

***

The menopause experiment is finished. I am not. Took me 4 months to find that out, but now we know for sure. Not that I intend to do anything with my newly re-discovered fertility.

***

The Big Book of Borgia actually has a REAL title now, thanks to clever old Mr. Stump. It will be The Pawn of Isis, which is just perfect. You might detect a pattern, if you remember the last book's title is The Vessel of Ra. Look forward to The Wisdom of Thoth, The Wrath of Horus, and that book which used to be called The Substance of Shadows, but will now have to be The NOUN of INSERT EGYPTIAN GOD HERE. Maybe one of those will be called The Judgment of Ammut, but I'm not sure about the one before/after that one. And finally... The Honor of Hathor.

Yeah. Looks like around seven. I could write one more book as well. Esme could have her own book. Maybe... The Prisoner of Set?

Nice. Titles. Just gotta put some words around those.

***

Off this weekend to Comic Con Chicago. Bryon's actually going in. I'm going along for the ride to read Wodehouse to him, and to write while he's getting Carol Spiney's autograph. Good times.

***

Monday I think I'll talk about artistic vision versus marketability, which surprises no one since I just titled seven, maybe eight books that have nary an offer of representation on the horizon.

Be safe out there.

And That’s the Novella!

A few months back, I had an open invitation to revise and resubmit The Ground is Full of Teeth, my weredog novella. No guarantees, as always. I did want to do this, but I wanted to wait until the novel was done. THAT took me longer than I thought it would, but now that The Vessel of Ra is out and about, the novella was the natural next step.

I am pleased to say I handily made my goal of getting it out by the end of August. I am now ready to begin new projects.

Next up? I begin the next Klaereon book, writing just enough to be ready for Paradise Icon. The working title is The Big Book of Borgia, hence shorthand 3B. No, of course that won't be the real title, but it describes the conceit nicely.

Like I said, just enough for Paradise Icon. Then, a couple of tiny projects, and back into the novel with feeling!

Also an FYI...I have sent out 150 queries this year. Wow. Doing my part. I'll let you know if anything comes of any of it, of course.

Working now. Catch you all later. I probably won't do this tomorrow, because it's all sorts of beginning of the year teacher jazz. Hope to see you on Friday.

Fitness Rule Number One?

Amazon princess tried her first barre class last night. The morale of the story? Don't push yourself too hard too fast, and don't forget that you have to do something you love.

First of all, let me say this: I'm okay! They worked me to a nubbin, and I poured sweat and had shaky muscles. However, they stretched me out very well, so I don't have any residual ouches this morning.

That said, important lesson of fitness learned last night. I was in a class that was out of my league. Waaaayyy out of my league. I asked the teacher about this, explaining about my fitness level with an honest eye. 65 pounds overweight. 50. Should I do this?

I expect that she was thinking that you can't get there without doing this. So I took the class and had to make several stops in the action because I didn't have it. So much of the class was not fun. Lots of calisthenics and some weight lifting. A little bar work, but again, more calisthenics. So, a little of the class felt like dancing, but very little.

Part of me wants to stay and do it. If I can do this class, I would have gotten into shape. I think it might be wiser to return in 20-30 pounds. This body I have right now is hard to move around physically. Perhaps the newer body wouldn't be.

So, I made the decision this morning not to do it again. The reason is two-fold. I didn't like it enough to be enthusiastic about it, and I would be doing it to prove to myself that I could. I don't think that this is the way to go--deciding to pursue fitness because you are stubborn. I also need to work my way up to this. The second reason? I didn't have much fun. And that's gotta be what I'm looking for, to stick with it.

Today, I discovered an adult ed class I can take for free. Adult Ballet. Probably more of what I'm looking for as a dancer, and a good way to move in the right direction. It doesn't avoid strength training entirely, as dancers get some good strength training. So I will do that, and the college will pay for it. I will watch my diet and lose weight, and some day, some day I may return to the barre class and do better.

Or I just might stay with the dancers and do resistance training on the Wii. That's for the future to know.

Anyway, I feel good about this decision.

“It Doesn’t Have to Match”–The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Idea attack. Went to see the new Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie again last night, and was struck with some cool ideas about writing about spies, which I like.

I am not baffled by critical response to the new film, but I have to say that I am surprised by my own. I had the potential to be one of the film's harshest critics, but rather, I truly enjoyed the film. Let's talk about why.

Illya, in the film, usurps fashion choices Napoleon makes for a woman recently brought out from behind the Berlin Wall. "You dress her like you think a woman from the Iron Curtain would look. Her fiance would not want her to take the Iron Curtain with her." Napoleon complains about an accessory choice Illya makes--a belt and a dress that do not coordinate. Illya says, "It doesn't have to match," between gritted teeth.

I see some obvious parallels. This is not the Man from U.N.C.L.E. of the 1960s. Not that Guy Ritchie isn't trying. Some critics have complained about the music during the action sequences, which is a trade mark of the original show. Some are not certain about the "lack of story," and I gotta say it has about the average amount of story of an U.N.C.L.E. two-parter from the old days, and a hella more story than movies like Transformers or Jurassic Park. Other people complain the film has more style and less substance. Perhaps. And yet others, those who have no connection to the original, or are under a certain age, are simply staring and asking, "WTF, Guy Ritchie. Did we even need this film at all?"

It's a film that isn't going to garner a wide audience, that much is a certainty based on the box office. It seems targeted at older viewers while trying to employ some action film techniques that might attract younger viewers, and the heroes use their heads as well as their weapons. There are zero spectacular effects, really. I am disappointed that we probably won't get more films based on this, although Ritchie has my full support to make more movies. I'm just not certain that more than a certain niche of US film goers want to see this kind of thing. Not heavy enough to be a drama, not light enough to be a comedy, not spectacle enough to be a summer film, it is all of these things in smaller doses. I do like my moderation.

Another wonderful thing is Henry Cavill's performance as Napoleon Solo. He has been criticized as bland. The man isn't Robert Vaughn. But by damn, he's trying to be. For those of us who have watched the old show, Cavill clearly has done his homework. I would faint dead away if it turned out he hadn't watched the show, because his mannerism, his flat humor, his understated expression, they are Napoleon Solo. The guy is built all wrong, but that said, he's doing the best that he can.

And the loving recreation of the 60s is great. Crappy small European cars, correct vintage clothes and make-up, and wonderful, wonderful camera shots make this thing feel right.

****

Now, what's changed? Well, two key components have changed. First of all, these characters are troubled. Napoleon and Illya were not thieves nor pscychotic KGB agents with issues to overcome. This is Ritchie's invention, trying perhaps to reinvent the spy for the modern audience in a film that is hommage to an old show. We no longer like our characters squeaky clean, and quite frankly, I think I like the added dimension. There is a tension between the two agents as they work on opposite sides, which I find interesting and again deep, and there is actually transition as the movie proceeds. This is unlike the action of the 1960s, where good guys just kind of start good, no real motivations required.

And there is the changed Illya Kuryakin. If any of you know the original show, Illya, played by David McCallum, was the breakout star. Skinny, intellectual, hair like a Beatle, young women all over the US swooned and swooned and swooned. Ritchie has taken some serious liberties with the character. Oh sure, he's smart and competent and still has a certain kind of vulnerability, but he's also a gigantic weight lifting dangerous man of action with emotional issues tied to what happened to his parents? Do I like it? Yes. I loved David McCallum, but I find this transition agreeable. There's enough there of the original character that I can work with. The original Kuryakin probably wouldn't have added enough excitement or tension to the film, nor have existed in the environment where Russians can hold his past over his head.

Now, we really don't know much, if anything, about how Vaughn's and McCallum's agents got together. There was just this international organization fighting these international criminals, and they just sort of ignored the Cold War, except when it affected the whole world. Outside of the show, the CIA and the KGB continued to work, and U.N.C.L.E. was trying to show the world a way to be better.

In this film, modern audiences might have found that approach naive or at least not sophisticated enough.

I'm not sure what happens next for Ritchie and his films. I think that the almighty dollar will shut him down. I've never liked a Ritchie film before. I couldn't even try his super anachronistic Sherlock Holmes and the other cannon that I know is too reminscent of Tarantino whom I despise. I am also previously not a Cavill or Hammer (Kuryakin's new actor) enthusiast. Yet, these elements and personas have all been brought together quite successfully in this film, as far as I am concerned.

Should you go see it? Well, I know people who should. I'm looking at you, Chris East. But I don't know. Do you like the 60s? Do you like spies? Will you be offended by deviation from the original? Do you even care about a film that is many things but not enough one thing? I don't know.

I can say that I really, really liked it, and I think critics are spending the harsh unnecessarily. But I also know that most critics are more neutral, and a few tend toward positive reviews, which is why we're looking at a C kind of rating for the thing.

Go and see it for yourself. After all, if you do, I might get a sequel. You'd be doing me a favor.

Stitch

Sometimes in our lives we choose something. I remember making conscious decisions to choose, say Harry Potter, or Wonder Woman. Sometimes something chooses us. I never made a decision to choose Mary Poppins, because at the age of 3 I was mesmerized at a drive-in in Guam and it just was.

In my adult life, I generally make choices about what to devote my time to, or what to pursue. Even when something chooses us, we weigh the pros and cons of how it would be, or even look about a choice. Example? Um...I like cheesy 70s music. Not disco, mind, but yes, I do like Neil Diamond, Seals and Croft, ELO, and Wings. Just for examples. There is some 70s music that will make me actively change a channel, but I do like it. Yet, I used to think I was somehow less cool by liking this cheesy thing.

There is a time in our adult life when we outgrow the cool. Okay, I really don't know about you, but I no longer care about the cheesy music thing. Or some of the cheesy books I like, movies I like, things I like to do (why yes, I do roleplay, thank you). Still, every once in a while, you have that old pause.

Appropriate pause. Throat clear.

Some years ago, when I had more respiratory problems, back before the discovery of my dust allergy and allergy shots, I was up late coughing up my lungs. In order for my husband to get some sleep, I wandered downstairs and rested on our chaise. I turned on the television and saw Lilo and Stitch for the first time and was captivated by what a sweet film it was. I was surprised, because the focus of the ad campaign had been largely about Stitch's nuisance potential. Another iffy movie of questionable taste for kids, I thought. Not so, it turned out. Still, I never bought the film.

When we were on the Disney cruise, I decided to watch the film again, and was captivated again. The decision was made to buy the large stuffed Stitch in the gift shop, who now gets into our laundry, into our cereal boxes, rides our animatronic dinosaur (which I know every home in America has), and generally expresses creatively for me and the husband what our cat voice overs once did. And lo! There were two sequels.

Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch sounds like it should be a sub-standard production from that time frame, the famous Disney ...two films, which were a way to make a buck on the home video market. However, it too is a charming film. I can't recommend the long-running cartoon, or Leroy and Stitch, however, which are very juvenile, and look like Disney trying to cash in on the Pokemon phase.

So...if you like cartoons, and if you like cute, touching cartoons, with a little naughty on the side, I'd recommend Stitch.

Lilo also, because hey, you know, can't have Stitch without Lilo. And she's weird. She's gonna grow up to be a fine geek on her own.