Viva Las Vegas!

Despite my affinity for the song*, few of the lyrics to “Viva Las Vegas” apply to my recent trip to Sin City.

I gambled, not at all.  Of the thousand pretty women, I only saw a few fairly attractive faux show girls working their “Pictures with a Show Girl” schtick on the Strip. The neon flashing and the one-armed bandits crashing have even been mostly replaced with LED screens and push buttons. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a “swinging” time, it just means that  Doc Pomus &  Mort Shuman didn’t take into account going to Las Vegas to see magic.

Continue reading “Viva Las Vegas!”

Magic Monday, 1/21/19


I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I’m a sucker for magic history, but I usually don’t delve much farther back than the 1850s. Back in October, Mariano Tomatis gave a lecture about where the Gothic and stage magic sometimes intersect.

If you don’t have time to watch/listen to the lecture, it’s also available at Tomatis’ Blog of Wonder in post and slide show form.

It’s Monday! What am I…

…reading?

Part of the reason I wanted do fewer formal reading challenges was to make room for things like Kaleena’s #PoeAThon.

I’d been thinking about reading some Poe, so this was perfect! And it’s still going on this lovely Monday! Today, I’ll be reading “For Annie,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Premature Burial.”

I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be with my TBR this month since I read Laurant: The Man of Many Mysteries last week. Next, I’ll probably read a couple Shelf Maintenance titles.

The Hellbound Heart
The Circus of Dr. Lao

I’m thinking Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney. Or, maybe I’ll head to the library before the 24 in 48 Readathon this weekend.

…doing?

I’m engaged in the usual late-January things: listening to basketball, watching tennis, playing some ultimate frisbee, reeling over the fact that the first month of the year is 2/3 over.

One thing is different from most years. This year I won’t be participating in New Year Fest, our yearly local ultimate tournament. I’ve decided that playing more than three games in a day is not fun and should be avoided. Even helping out on-site has been murder on my back the last few years. So, instead, this weekend I’ll be doing the 24 in 48 Readathon. Switching out one favorite thing for another…

What *was* I doing?

Writing Update, 1/16/19

2018 ~ What Happened?

2018 was an interesting year.

In 2017, I came away from WesterCon with a bunch of creative energy. Unfortunately, by the end of the year, I had ground out on the novel I was working on* and was feeling pretty dismal again. Eventually, I switched gears to work on a project conceived, in fact, at WesterCon: an anthology of classic/public domain stories that featured automata.

I read a lot, I thought a lot about it (to the point of actually writing some introductory material for each section), and then I hit a slight snag with how I wanted to publish it. In the end, I decided to just put it up for free. If you’re interested in classic works of science fiction, Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is available for free at my webpage.

Uncanny Valley immediately led to two other things.

First, I learned to format Kindle ebooks using HTML. It makes for a much cleaner, nicer looking ebook. I did it for Uncanny Valley and then I converted most of Eric’s and my other ebooks. (Only PHYSIC and the Weordan books haven’t been switched over.)

Second, I decided I wanted to “clear my plate.” I’d had the first in a series of novellas about 95% done for quite awhile. For marketing-type purposes, I had been sitting on it until I finished a couple other stories in the series. The thought was either to release them separately in quick succession or group them together as a larger book. But neither of those things had happened in the previous year, nor did they look likely to happen in the near future. So I decided, “What the heck!” and put One Ahead: The Case of the Sorrowful Seamstress up on Amazon. Good call? I don’t know. Mentally, I felt lighter.

Then I had a new idea and, like a person who doesn’t already have three-ish other unfinished series and another half-finished book*, I started a new mystery novel in November for NaNoWriMo.

*That would be Wicked Witch Retired. I’ll get back to it.

2019 ~ What’s Going to Happen?

Well, currently, I’m working on the novel I started at the end of last year. I don’t have a title yet. I’m referring to it as Jane Anderson Mystery #1, so apparently I have high hopes for my magician’s assistant sleuth. Second draft has been going a little slow. Reading my journal from last year, it seems a January slump isn’t unknown to me. But this week is looking pretty good.

A goal I’d like to have this year is to quickly switch to working on other projects if I get too bogged down in a particular one. (And hopefully not spawn other projects.) I have the tendency to “work” on something by doing nothing. Shockingly, this leads to not much getting done. I have formatting left to do on existing books. I have two other Uncanny Valley-style public domain things that pretty much just need covers. I have other One Ahead stories. I have Wicked Witch Retired to finish. (My mother would also like to see the second Aleister Luck book…)

I should consider myself lucky: I have lots to read and lots to write.

#AMonthOfFaves ~ These are a few of my favorite things…

For the month of December, join hosts  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge for their annual #AMonthofFaves blog event—a fun way to recap the year that was. They have every day of the event (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) planned out, and you can join in anytime! More details.

For December 3rd the prompt is:
[The 2018 Favorites Edition] – e.g. to eat, drink, wear, smell, see, do, enjoy, best purchases, most used gift received, most used purchases, favorite concert, outdoor activity, place visited, most squee worthy moment of the year, etc.

You know that song “My Favorite Things”? When I was a kid, I used to think that was a pretty lame song. I mean, doorbells? Whiskers on kittens? White dresses with blue satin sashes? Those are your favorite things? But as an adult, man, life is all about being able to appreciate those sorts of small things. So, without any further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from 2018 (or thereabouts).

Continue reading “#AMonthOfFaves ~ These are a few of my favorite things…”

December 2018 TBR

Between #NonFicNov and #NaNoWriMo, November so busy around here that I can’t believe it’s December already, despite Christmas trees and seasonal music.

But December it is. I have a pretty good line-up of books ready to go and for the first time I’ll be participating in #AMonthOfFaves. Should be fun!

Unholy Land
An ARC that was preempted by #NonFicFov. 
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
An impulse checkout from the library.
Ashes to Ashes: The Songs of David Bowie, 1976-2016
An ARC I will  be working on through Dec. & Jan.
An impulse ARC.
Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds (The MIT Press) by [Shelley, Mary]
A final stab at some #FrankenSlam volts!
Grim Tales
Perfect for dark days.

The End of #NaNoWriMo 2018

The problem with falling behind, but having a make-up plan, is that if you fall behind on the make-up plan, you’re kind of screwed. And partially, that’s what happened to me. I tapped out of NaNoWriMo last week with 32,907 words written.

But also I was at a point where my plot had shifted around a bit. One or two things weren’t working and, instead of piling on more errors, I decided to call it a day on the 50K goal.

Since last week, I’ve smoothed out some plot things and some character things. I have an ending in mind, which is a good thing. I’m doing some research and I’m looking forward to starting a 2nd draft/rewrite.

So, not a NaNoWriMo win, but 32K words that I didn’t have before and intentions to move forward. Still don’t have a title…

I used Mind Meister to put together my plot plan. It’s a work in progress.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Update

Today is the 15th—the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo—so I figured I’d do an update.* So, how has it been going?

Word-count-wise, good. I had planned 25 days of writing 2000 words/day with five days off. I haven’t taken any days completely off, but I’ve definitely had a couple of (four) days of sub 1666s days. I’ve also four days substantially over 2000. My best day has been 2715 words which it possibly the best day of writing I’ve had in my entire *mumble mumble* years of writing. According to my plan, I should have 26,000 words written by the end of today. I’m currently at 25,069, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Story-progress-wise, eeeeehhh. I’m not good at story planning. I always feel like, if I plan, I’ll lose interest in the story. As weird as this sounds, I like to be surprised at what might come up while writing. This would be fine if I were good at finding my ways out of story holes, which I’m not. But I have a rough idea of where I’m going and am trying to keep the story moving in that direction. I’m also continually repeating “This is a first draft. First drafts are terrible. But you can’t have a second draft without a first draft.” I’ve been adding a lot of comments. The story will need a lot of work, but I can’t fix a story that doesn’t exist.

* Okay, actually, I figured I’d do an update because I don’t have a review ready. I’m reading The Coddling of the American Mind (which came off hold at an inopportune time) and a book about the last half of David Bowie’s career which I have slated to last until its publication date in February…