Monthly Archives: September 2015

Writerly Writer Between Rounds, Sept. 27th

We’re currently between rounds in the Round of Words in 80 Days challenge. If you’re a writer-type and you want a very flexible “challenge,” now is the perfect time to check out RoW80!

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Updates & Goals

Writing

Wrote 3633 so far this week on “One Ahead #2”. That’s shy of my 5000 goal for the week, but the number of notes I’ve been leaving as I write are stacking up and I think it’s time to do a quick revision of the first 6200 words.

My plan is to finish the rewrite/revision by tomorrow and top out the week with a manuscript of 10K.

The Publishing End

All is well-ish in publishing land. The Martian Engineer’s Notebook, Volume #2 is free this weekend on Amazon and it’s had a good amount of downloads. We’ve also had a few sales of Vol. 1 and some page reads of other works.

Goal for the week: Decide on what we’re promo-ing during October and submit Luck for Hire for our first paid ad.

Classes

Already in my last week of Intro to HTML. There’s a short quiz and a final project due this week. The final project is a simple webpage built to spec. My only worry is that the spec will not be communicated clearly enough. It’s back to work in Python for Data Structures; quizzes and assignments galore.

Blogging

My blogging plan fell off the bottom of my to-do list last week, but that’s okay. I finished reading The Great Failure by Natalie Goldberg, but I really didn’t feel like blogging about it. I caught-up with Deal Me In too, but the story was pretty “eh.” Haven’t finished the Deadlands book yet.

Upcoming:

  • Tuesday: Review of Psycho
  • Friday: Peril on the Screen update
  • Saturday: Deal Me In
  • Sunday: ROW80 Round 4 Goals

Deal Me In Lunar Extra ~ “The Little Maid at the Door”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Little Maid at the Door” by Mary Wilkins Freeman

Card picked: A Ten

From: Found Online via Paula Cappa’s post

Thoughts:

Joseph Bayley and his wife Ann ride from Salem to vote in the election in Boston. Though the scenery around them is beautiful, they are only caught up in their own fear. The Proctors have been arrested for witchcraft and the couple must ride by the Proctor’s house. Every single thing in the woods incites panic. Was that a goat in the bushes or the Black Beast of Satan? And those yellow birds? Maybe they were just yellow birds or maybe they were Goody Proctor’s familiars gone to report to Satan himself about two innocents riding through the woods! This section of the story is told mainly in dialog and that really amps up the feeling of paranoia.

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As they pass the Proctor’s house, Joseph thinks he sees Goodman Proctor and Goody Proctor, who are currently in jail. Ann only sees a little maid at the door of the house, who looks like their dead daughter Susanna. They ride past, unmolested, but Ann contrives a way to go back to the cottage. Is the little girl the ghost of their daughter? Or maybe an image contrived by Satan to woo Ann from her husband? Surely, it couldn’t be young Abigail Proctor left to fend for herself after her mother, father, and sister were taken away…

About the Author: An educated woman, Mary Wilkins Freeman produced dozens of short stories in the in the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of which combine the domestic and the supernatural.

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Deal Me In, Week 39 ~ “Dream Street”‘

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Dream Street” by Mike Lupica

Card picked: Jack of Diamonds

From: Murder on the Ropes edited by Otto Penzler

Thoughts: Back in ’59, Vinny Tavernese was the winner in one of the most famous boxing matches of all time when Augusta “Dream Street” Stone forfeited the match between the fourteenth and fifteenth rounds. Despite quitting, things play out well for Dream Street. Being the Beauty to Vinny’s Beast, he goes on to have a small film career before disappearing from the public eye. Life doesn’t treat Vinny as well. Injuries from boxing are catching up to him and he’s worried about how many things that he forgets. But one question nags at him: Why, so close to the end of the match, did Dream Street forfeit? Had he been paid to take a dive? Had there been some injury that no one knew about?

“Dream Street” is a well-written story, strong on characterization though low on plot. If I were more of a sports person, I might have recognized the name Mike Lupica; he’s a rather prominent sport journalist. I wonder if the match between Mike Tyson and Andrew Golota was inspiration for this story. Golota informed his corner that he would not continue between the second and third rounds, much to the chagrin of Tyson and the crowd. (And all my knowledge of this is based on a Google search.)

About the Author: Mike Lupica, in addition to a sports commentator for the New York Daily News and ESPN, has also written a couple of biographies and quite a few sports novels for youngsters.

Gothic September ~ “The Fall of the House of Usher”

gothic septemberGothic September is hosted by Michelle at Castle Macabre. Visit for all the details!

“The Fall of the House of Usher” is firmly Gothic. It starts with the House, crumbling into the tarn and clearly doomed by the zig-zagging fault that extends from roof to foundation. Roderick Usher even believes that the house has sentience. The “House” of Usher also refers to the family line, which Gothic novels are often very preoccupied with. Secret lineages are the order of the day, but in the case of the Ushers, it looks like their line will end with Roderick and his twin sister, Madeline.

The narrator is an old friend of Usher’s, called upon to journey to the family’s manse to provide cheer to the ailing Roderick. In comparison to the narrators of “Ligeia” and “The Cask of Amontillado,” this one is quite sane and offers commentary about his own mental state as well as Usher’s.

Usually, it’s the women who get the detailed description, but this time it’s Roderick Usher who gets the full Poe treatment:

…an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely moulded chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of moral energy…

In fact, Madeline is strangely absent. She too is ill, given to fits of catalepsy, but our narrator doesn’t seem too concerned about providing her with cheer. He thinks he sees her pass through Roderick’s room, but he doesn’t follow her. She does die and Roderick decides to inter her in a copper-lined room of the house to avoid possibility of premature burial (although being left in a copper-lined donjon doesn’t seem to be much better). Days pass and both Roderick and our narrator start feeling a little jumpy. One night, during a strange electrical storm, we see Madeline again and the House of Usher finally falls…

ripnineperilshortThis story also counts for RIP X!

#ROW80 ~ Sept. 20th Update & Round 3 Wrap-Up

Update & Goals

Writing

Finished a cleanup pass on “One Ahead #1” on Wednesday/Thursday, and got to work on “One Ahead #2.” I decided on Thursday that I wanted to get 2500 words done on it by the end of today. Four days, 2500 words. Not a problem! Unfortunately, I was a bit brain-fogged Friday and Saturday. As of right now, I have 1500 done, but am in good position to write another 1000 today. As long as I stay focused…

Goal for the coming week: 5000 more on “One Ahead #2”

The Publishing End

Moved three of our books to KDP Select. Two are suffering from price change lag, but I’m sure they’ll catch up. Discovered what was behind Lucinda‘s download spike using a service called Mention. It seems that a couple free ebook site listed it. Alas, Mention is too pricey for me to continue to use after the trial is up.

Goal for the week: Keep an eye on the prices on our KDP Select books and get things started regarding what promo channels we’re going to use. Next Saturday: Promo for The Martian Engineer’s Notebook, Volume #2. It’ll be free next weekend if you’d like to pick up some info about the science in The Martian.

Classes

Week Two of “Python Data Structures” involves installing Python on my computer, which I did during the first class. No assignment, but I’ll probably review since I’m rusty at doing things from the command line. Week Two of “Intro to HTML” has a quiz of 29 questions.

Blogging
  • Monday: “The Cask of Amontillado” review
  • Tuesday: Motherless Child review
  • Friday: Peril on the Screen #2 – Peril in SPAAACE!
  • Saturday: Deal Me In – “The Trial Horse” by Clark Howard <– Brain fog prevents reading too! Might get it done today.
  • Sunday: ROW#80 post

Upcoming:

  • Monday: “The Fall of the House of Usher” review.
  • Tuesday: A review of something I haven’t finished yet! Or, if I’m lame, my Deal Me In catch-up.
  • Friday: Review of Deadlands: Ghostwalkers
  • Saturday: Deal Me In
  • Sunday: Some sort of writing update post.

Round 3 Wrap-Up

Round 3 is nearly over! Since I don’t usually post on Wednesdays, I’ll wrap today.

On the writing/publishing front, it’s been a quiet, but rocky summer. Eric’s been writing a lot. I’ve been drifting along. My pie-in-the-sky goal was to get “One Ahead #1” published. We’re close. I survived our July travels and “One Ahead #1” is in the can.  We had just added Eric’s Martain Engineer series to KDP Select back in July and obviously we’re happy enough with what’s going on to add other titles.

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Visit other Row-ers and encourage them!

#RIPX ~ Peril in SPAAACE!

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In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

That, of course, is the tagline of the movie that kicked off one of the scariest, most suspense-driven science fiction franchises of all time: Alien. In horror, isolation and the unknown are prevalent themes; ones that can be explored well in science fiction.

To bring this around to my RIPX celebration, here are a few perilous sci-fi offerings that I’ve enjoyed lately.

Aliens3: The Novelization by Alan Dean Foster

I don’t listen to too many audio books, but I wanted add some RIPX spice into my life while I did silly things like dishes and laundry. This is the novelization of the oft-maligned third Alien movie. Personally, I think the movie is pretty okay, directed by one of my favorites, David Fincher (Se7en, Gone Girl). The story adapted by Alan Dean Foster isn’t half-bad either. The slam-dunk factor here is the narrator, Lance Henriksen. Henriksen is known for his many genre rolls as a character actor, including Bishop in Aliens and Aliens3.

Ghost Ships

The sea-faring age had ghost ships, vessels that had met strange and mysterious ends and continued to sail without a crew and brought doom in their wake. Space-faring science fiction has often taken that concept and blended it with the horror theme of meddling with forces beyond human understanding.

Event Horizon (1997)

A rescue ship is sent to investigate the Event Horizon, a space vessel that had disappeared seven years prior. Event Horizon, unbeknownst to the general public, had been fitted with an experimental gravity drive that creates an artificial black hole in order to interdimensionally travel long distances in space. The rescue party finds an empty ship. The last video log graphically depicts the insanity of the previous crew. Is the Event Horizon haunted? Or has is breached dimensions better left unknown?

This is a pretty tense film. Featuring Sam Niell (Jurassic Park), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), the acting is solid and so is the direction by Paul W. Anderson. It isn’t for the faint of heart though. Some of the most disturbing footage is only flashed for a few seconds, which leaves plenty of room for your mind to fill in the gaps.

The Black Hole (1979)

I’m going to admit it right now, this film might only be scary to me, and five year old me at that. The Black Hole was released in 1979 by Walt Disney Productions. I was a big Star Wars fan at the time (a fan of any science fiction, really) and my grandpa thought to to see it would be a perfect outing. (Grandpa and I went to see pretty much every Disney release/rerelease.) While it included a couple of cute, anthropomorphized robots, it was also Disney’s first PG release. I ended up having a few nightmares about the scary, anthropomorphized robot that ends up in “hell” with its creator on the other side of the black hole… (This didn’t stop me from owning a read-and-play record/book combination that I’m sure drove my parents up the wall as much as I played it.) On rewatch, the ending is still a little discomfiting.

Neil deGrasse Tyson has called The Black Hole the least scientifically accurate movie ever, but I wonder if he’s taking into account that it was made in 1979. It does have the distinction of having the longest computer generated sequence ever (up until that time) included in its opening titles.

#ROW80 ~ September 16th Update

A Wednesday update since I’m feeling optimistic or enthused or something. Don’t worry; it won’t last long.

Writing

Ended up doing a marathon rewriting session on One Ahead on Monday night. I made coffee at 7pm. And still got to bed by about 1am! That session of work actually felt…good. Eric read Tuesday. He thought my ending was stronger, bolstered by an earlier scene which I’d expanded. He said there were a few notes which I, in trepidation, didn’t look at until tonight. My fretting was for nothing. There were two notes, easily taken care of.

So. Huh. I finished a novella. Fancy that! I haven’t finished anything in a really long time.

Work tonight is going to be going through and making sure I have all my names and places noted in my spreadsheet bible and take care of some light formatting. Eric’s going to give it a couple more editing passes in the near-ish future. We need to nail down a name and a cover.

The rest of the week will be starting the next One Ahead story. The first took three months. I’m shooting for a second draft of the second to be done by early November.

The Publishing End

Eric and I are going to shift a few more titles to KDP Select and experiment with running more promos. We’ve given a lot of books away and have a goodly number of reviews. It’s time to shake it all up. I’ve also had two download spikes in the past month involving two different books that I can’t account for. I’m happy about it but perplexed. One could even say, bemused.

Classes

The online classes actually started Monday, but I didn’t dive into any course work until Tuesday. After looking at the syllabus, I decided to jump to the second Python class in the series. The early part will definitely be review. Both the Python class and the HTML class have a session deadline, but all the class materials are available now. I can work ahead if I need to!

Blogging
  • Monday: “The Cask of Amontillado” review
  • Tuesday: Motherless Child review
  • Friday: Peril on the Screen #2 – Peril in SPAAACE!
  • Saturday: Deal Me In – “The Trial Horse” by Clark Howard

ROW80Logocopy#ROW80 is a blog hop!
Visit other Row-ers and encourage them!