Writing Update: April 2022

Look at me being all accountable and posting two months in a row.

The Quiet Dead

My zombie plague novel is with an editor now. I should have it back shortly and I can start working on it again. I keep toying with submitting it to small press, but then I think, what if they don’t want the other books? There are at least five in the series, and I promised myself that I would put out the whole series. On top of that, I’m having an argument with myself on whether or not this is horror or thriller. Most zombie novels fall into horror (or so they’re tagged), but when I think of what defines the horror genre, I come up with stories that send chills up my spine and make me not want to turn the lights out. This is a story about surviving a zombie apocalypse and while the dead coming back to life is pretty scary, I don’t think it qualifies as Horror. At least, not mine. They’re mostly just a prop or a motivation that pushes the story forward.

Down Finnegan’s Hollow

I finished the major revision to my ghost story, Down Finnegan’s Hollow. I’ve added a few turns that, I think, have made it a better story than what I originally wrote. I’m putting this one away for a bit. Let it ferment, and I’ll look at it again in a couple of months. For now, I’m just basking in the fact that it’s done!

Untitled Alternate Reality

The Story Formerly Known as Gutterchilde is what I’m working on next. I’m very excited about this book too, and I think there’s a good chance I’ll finish the first draft this year because it’s the same kind of excitement I had for Eva and Skye. Hell, I might even add the Arlington Creed spin-off series to my list.

I took this story back to the drawing board, so to speak, gutting it completely, but retained some key points. I’m also working on maps that I want to include when I set it up to publish, to give the reader some points of reference. I love city-building games, so map-making is an extension of that. My deadline is to complete the first draft by August 31st. I should have a good idea at this point, as to whether or not to work on the second book of my zombie plague novel. The first draft for that book is already written, and I have half of the first draft for the second Eva and Skye done as well.    

Ugh, so many stories, but the important part is I’m finally in a place to release them.  

Movie Night: Morbius

INDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5108870/

Genre: Action/Adventure/Horror

Rating: PG 13

Synopsis: Searching for a cure to a rare and fatal disease, biochemist Michael Morbius experiments on himself with a serum created from vampire bats, and inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism.  

I didn’t read any early reviews for this movie. I find that most critics now can’t be bothered to do a balanced review of anything.

~~~~

Review:

Morbius came about as a Spiderman anti-hero. I never read any Spiderman comic, so I went into this movie with no idea of what to expect. I am a fan of Marvel movies, and I’ve always thought they do better on the big screen than the small screen.

Jared Leto’s performance was good, as was Matt Smith’s and all the actors, and yes, both Hubby and I couldn’t help but see Dr. Who a few times, especially when the character was dancing about. The plot was good, a bit weak in places but I’ve written screenplays and getting all the important ideas into a script can mean losing others. It’s a trade-off in order to get as much of the basic plot on the screen as possible. We see the friendship between Michael and Milo grow, how they support each other, and how they are eventually pulled apart by the Morbius serum. While Milo was willing to give in to his newfound powers, Michael, the reluctant anti-hero, felt a deep sense of guilt over the lives he took, but in the end, only one can survive.

The director’s choices for the movie are more a matter of taste. I like linear storytelling and hate it when a story starts in the present day, then jumps back several years/decades, and then jumps forward. I think it’s sloppy storytelling, but I’m not going to get into it, because like I said, it’s a matter of taste.

The special effects and makeup were incredible. The facial transformation from human to bat is creepy, gruesome and awesome. I thought the visual effects when Michael uses his new abilities, (black mist), gave an ethereal feel to the scenes, and really made it feel like the character was taping into something supernatural.

As for the end credits, I’m not even sure what any of that was about.

3 out of 5.

Writing Update for March 2022.

It’s been two months since my last update. I am an Aries. One of our traits is that we start many projects but finish very few. That’s been my problem for the last few years, and I’m not sure how to fix it, or if I can. Over the last two years, I had plenty of time off (due to lockdowns) and I could have used that time to write, but I didn’t. I’m not going to beat myself up about it either. Life just got in the way and that’s all there is to it.

I’m looking forward now. Especially for this summer. I have four projects I’m working on, the first is my zombie novel. I’m getting it ready for publication. I’m looking at a June release. It’s the first book in a series of 5 (yikes), and I have a good idea on the overall plot and it’s one of those ‘need to get it out of my head’ things. This and other stories have poked at me for the last seven years, and I need to get them out.

The second project is my magical realism novel, but I think I’ll rename it The Magical Hair Solution. It’s done and I have given myself a late summer release date for it. Again, I’m self-publishing. I thought this was a story agents would want, but I was wrong. That’s okay. I’m not upset.

The third is my ghost story Down Finnigan’s Hollow. It’s one of two ghost stories I want to put out. I had a hard time with the ending of this one, and like my zombie story, it went through some hard revisions as well. Right now I have less than ten thousand words left to write and a solid ending. I’ve given it a mid-October release date and I really want to stick to it.

I’ve decided that the few scripts I’ve written I’m going to rewrite as novels. There is one that I originally started as a novel, a sequel to my zombie series, that I thought would be good as a script, but lately, I don’t feel scriptwriting is my thing anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m putting out another novel for the first time in years, but I’m just feeling the love for the format.

Now add in my 4th project—a podcast.

Yup, I’ve taken the plunge, BUT, it’s part of the Strong Women, Strange Worlds website that focuses on women and other under-represented gender identity authors of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I’ve toyed with the idea of a podcast for months, but it wasn’t until Terri Bruce asked me to do one for Strong Women, Strange Worlds site that it finally came together. I have a launch date of Friday, June 3rd. I know it’s a few months off, but I need the time to find, record, edit, and upload a pile of interviews. I’m aiming for one a week and maybe some group podcasts sprinkled in between, not sure yet, but it feels good getting back into interviewing authors again. I really like the series that I did a few years ago.   

Do I have a pile on my plate? Maybe, but I think it’s doable. I’m only focusing on four projects right now, and as I check them off my to-do list, it gets easier. I haven’t been this excited about my writing in a long time and I can’t wait for you to read these stores.

Adventures in Restaurants: One expensive outing!

It’s been almost four years since the last time I did a restaurant post. haven’t done one of these posts in a long time. When covid broke out, my province went into lockdown three times, and now that we’re heading into our third year of covid (let’s hope not), we did manage to go out a few times. Our big splurge was when we went to Ottawa for our anniversary. We booked a table at a very classy restaurant and the mean was incredible!

This was the most expensive dinner we’ve every had, but it was so worth it. You can see the pictures HERE.

We started with drinks (naturally); rye and coke and negroni with appetizers, and I was surprised to see that they didn’t have escargot on the menu, so I had to settle for shrimp and Hubby had a crab cake. Both were awesome.

Main course was steak and lobster for me, and stuffed rainbow trout stuffed with crab meat and baby shrimp.

Funny thing about this place, they serve sides in separate dishes, so we had sauteed wild mushrooms and roasted broccoli.

I had desert but the desert I will remember was a surprise from the chef, who learned (probably from our server) that it was our anniversary, so he prepared a special treat. We finished the meal with a glass of ice wine for me, and a B-52 coffee for Hubby.

Yes, I took a picture of the bill.

This was an important night for us. Not just because it was our anniversary, but it was the first time in almost a year and a half that we dared to go out and try to have a normal night, or as normal of a night as possible. I’m not sure how many more of these special nights we’ll have in the future, at least not ones that were this expansive, but it’s a small step toward the new normal.

Have you gone out for date night since the pandemic began? How did it go?

Five Things Every Writer Should Know About Instagram.

I like to call Instagram the Twitter of pictures.

For those of you who don’t know, Instagram is a picture heavy social media site. It also hosts videos as well. Probably in competition to TikTok and YouTube, but personally, I like it just for pictures.

Instagram is one of my favourite social media platforms. I post so many different types of photos, from personal to business and connect with others who do the same, but it’s my favourite because I don’t have to think of something clever to say, like I try to do on Twitter. With Instagram, I can throw up a picture and leave it at that, and honestly, it’s one of the simplest platforms to use, and like all platforms there are good and bad sides to it, so here are 5 things you need to know about Instagram.

  1. Picture heavy. As a writer, you want to reach as many people as possible and that means you have to expand your audience to include non-writing people as well, and Instagram is a good place to start. I think of it as another way to be creative. You can post pictures of themes that run through your story, maybe of actors or places that you used for character and story inspiration. I sometimes post snippets of my works-in-progress. A visual excerpt of the actual word file.
  • You can link to other platforms. Instagram is owned by Facebook (or do we call them Meta now?), but that doesn’t mean that you’re limited to what you can connect to. Facebook -yes, Twitter – yes, Tumblr – yes, and I have it connected to my WordPress blog, so pictures come up in a side bar. Connecting one social media platform to another an greatly expands the range of your audience and you may pick up a follower or two.
  • Limitation on what you can do with pictures. Apart from a few filters, Instagram doesn’t have a lot of options to fancy up your photos, BUT, you can upload pictures from your computer, so if you do something fancy in whatever paint program you have, you can easily share it.
  • Can use hashtags just like with Twitter. The whole purpose of having social media accounts is to connect with others, and it’s much easier when you use hashtags. You can even follow certain hashtag topics, so anyone who uses ones you’re following, will pop up in your stream, and vice-versa.
  • Very user friendly. After Twitter and a blog, I would suggest (once you feel comfortable) having an Instagram account. Want to post a picture? Click on the icon of a box with a (+) sign, and it will either open a box (on your computer) to drag a photo, or, on your phone it will have all pictures that is in your gallery, and you just pick the one you want. You can do multiple pictures as well by clicking the double screen icon on the bottom right-hand corner.

Instagram has been around for almost twelve years and there isn’t a business site that doesn’t have an account. It’s fun, simple to use, but it can be a time suck as well. There are so many creative ways a writer can use the platform to promote themselves and their work. I’ve mentioned a few in this post, but if you think of others, I’d love to hear it. I’m always looking for a good idea for a picture.

The Crystal Realm: When the negativity of the world starts to mess with you . . .

(This is kind of a continuation from my Wiccan post)

Recently, I’ve integrated more crystals to my life. You know how much I LOVE them, and with the ongoing negativity in the world, it was taking a tole on my well-being, so, what’s a better way to counter-act that nastiness, but with banishing, negative-clearing crystals!

I already own a hematite ring, a black tourmaline crystal and an onyx ring (needs to be fixed), but before the holidays I bought a second black tourmaline that I can hand on a chain and a black obsidian bracelet. You can see them HERE.

I know this looks like overkill but considering what each of these stones can do and the fact I work retail, I don’t go to work without them. 

 

A Wiccan Journey: Onto a new year!

Over the last few months, I’ve worked on reiterating my beliefs back into my life. It’s been difficult. With stress from work and the holiday season, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and do anything ‘witchy’, and once again I’ve lapsed into not doing anything at all. I started doing three card tarot spreads every day for myself, but once the holidays season really ramped up, I forgot, or was too distracted to do one.

I liked doing these little readings every day because it helped me to mindful on the moment and they would show me what I had to focus on for the day. It was a simple three card spread; what the day would bring, what I need to focus on, and what I need to let go of. I used both the normal and reverse interpretations as well. It’ll take me longer to learn them all, but the cards mean things when they’re reversed, and I don’t want to miss out on that knowledge.

The easiest part for me to remember of the Tarot is the four aspects of the Minor Arcana. Spades-mental, Cups-emotions, Wands-physical, and Pentacles-energy, but I tend to get confused when it comes to the Court cards. I know they can represent a real person and represent that part of our personality us as well, only I keep thinking it’s about a person and the few times I’ve had one come up, I sat there and tried to figure out who this person could be.

I have several Tarot decks, but I like the Ryder-Waite deck the most. Maybe because it’s the traditional deck and I want to learn that first before venturing on to the others. I have one deck, it’s very nice, but the interpretation of the cards is much different than a traditional and I need to have a good understand what the original represents before I venture into new representations.

I think this, along with using more crystals, will help me ease back into my practicing my spiritual side again.

Random Question of the Month: If the world fell apart tomorrow, what would you miss?

I thought of this question the other day getting ready for work, and it’s trickier to answer than I thought. There’s so much that goes into our daily lives, so much we’ve come to depend on, and just assume it’ll always be there, but what if it wasn’t? What if all the technological advancements of our modern world disappeared? And by ‘modern’, I mean the era that began after WW2, otherwise we might as well go back to pre-industrial or even post Medieval periods of history . . .

But I digress . . .

What is the one thing you would miss the most?

For me, I think it would be doing anything online. Sure, I can still write with a pen (barely though. Have you seen my handwriting?), but the loss of instant communications or the ability to immediately look information up for anything whenever I wanted, is a hard thing to let go of. I would adapt, eventually, but considering in this scenario there is no power—which runs EVERYTHING in our world—it would take a very long time before forms of communication and information gathering would return.

I’d miss the interaction with my online friends, that’s for sure. I think I have more friends online than I do in real life. Not that this bothers me, I’m picky about who I hang with, especially in the time of Covid. I’ve come to know a lot of great people, writers, and non-writers alike. They ‘get’ me when very few people do.

It would hit me hard in the writing department. Do I really need to look up Every. Single. Thing? FOMO is a real problem sometimes, compound that over the last couple of years and I’m amazed I even THINK about not being online Considering what I write, I don’t think I could do research for any of it without the help of Google. I’m used to doing quick research for a few items as I’m writing. I don’t think a library could hold up to that, let alone have the specific information I need. Do they have pictures of dead bodies at the library? Could I access them? Would they let me access them?   

What about you? What would you miss? Let me know because this really interests me.

The Green Side of Life: It’s that time of year!

To be thinking about gardens, and no, it’s not too early either.

I’ve done container gardens for the last few years, with some veggies planted in the main garden. The container ones were good, but I found I have to water A LOT to keep up with the plant’s needs, and the last few summers we had long hot spells, I couldn’t keep up with it all.

This year is going to be different. While I’ll still use the containers, I’m also doing raised beds in the back yard. Mum is always saying how there’s not enough ground to really do a good garden (I disagree) and when she took down two tall evergreen bushes at the front of the deck, I thought the space it left behind would be a perfect place to do two raised gardens. That’s my plan and made more real over the holidays when Hubby bought me a $300 gift card from Home Depot for the wood, and Sithboy got me a seed starter. I am seriously looking forward to this summer. I might even take some time off to get the garden ready.

It should be big enough to put in four kinds of tomatoes (yes, you read that right), and a few other things. I need to document how much sun the area gets, but it should be good. The only obstacle is the neighbours maple tree, but I don’t think it shades the back deck. As for the containers, I’m not putting them on the deck. It seemed like a good idea at the time but pulling the hose all the way up there was really a nuisance.

She’s had three trees taken down over the last few years (they were dead or dying) and that’s opened up the yard quite a bit. I’m also thinking of using the ‘dark’ end of the garden. The maple tree is at the far corner of the neighbours property, and the damn thing shades half her main garden. I’ve done some research and I think I can plant some spinach and other leafy veggies there. That would be cool. I did spinach a few years back and it got so hot out that the whole thing went to seed.

First step is documenting the area of light. I took a few pictures yesterday and I’ll do that every month on the same day and time. It’ll take me a whole year to map out the area, but I’ll have a better understanding of where I can plant things.

You can see for yourself what the yard looks like HERE.

The ideas are brewing!

Of Writers and Prose: When obsession is incomplete.

For years, I was obsessed with acquiring a literary agent. I thought it was the only way to become a published author, but shortly after I sent out my first short story, self-publishing became a thing, so I went with it. In the years that followed, my drive to acquire an agent has waned, but the idea did not.

This whole agent thing, it pokes at me, especially when online events happen. It’s almost as though I need this assertion that my writing is good and the only way that can happen is by landing an agent. I know that’s not true, but it’s this little chunk of doubt that persists, and if I don’t act on it every now and then, it festers and becomes toxic.

I’ve written three books that have been turned down. One I eventually put out myself and the other two (which includes my most recent novel) I will probably do the same. I truly thought I had something with my magical realism novel, even got a nibble, but in the end, it wasn’t meant to be, and I must face facts that agents can’t connect to what I write. Am I sad? Maybe a little, but the biggest problem I face now, is accepting this and moving forward.

A small part of the reason I haven’t put out any books over thee last seven years is because I hung on to this idea of having an agent. I’ve worked on other projects, but in the back of my mind, the notion that none of these were any good depleted my love for the project to a point that I had convinced myself that a better idea would come along, and I would put all my energy into that project.

I wrote five novels in the last six years; Down Finnegan’s Hollow, The Possession of Mercy Moreau, two zombie novels, and my magical realism, plus I started umpteen others, but it wasn’t until Eva and Skye that I felt I *had* something and threw my energy back into writing, solely on the hopes that THIS would fulfil an agents wish. Now that it hasn’t, how do I break this obsession? How do I stop lingering over a dream and just start writing for me again?   

Oddly enough, while writing out the first draft of this post, Hubby and I went out for breakfast, and a crow flew across the street in front of us. When I looked up what that meant (because I am superstitious), the information on the web site coincided with what I was writing about.

            The crow is trying to bring attention to unhealthy behaviors that are holding you back. The crow is literally trying to stop your tracks to metaphorically give attention to self-sabotaging behavior that is holding you back. It could also mean that big changes are about to happen in your life, but they will lead to long-term happiness and success. 

So where do I begin? How do I break this mindset? I’m not sure, but this last story is strike three and I’m not going to try again. I love all the stories I’ve written, and plan on publishing them. I’m not sure when, but you will be seeing them in the future.

Hopefully.

Wish me luck.

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