Quote of the Moment

"Magic comes from what is inside you. It is part of you. You can't weave together a spell you don't believe in." - Jim Butcher

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Ant-Man and The Wasp - Awesome Team

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead! If you haven't seen Ant-Man and The Wasp yet, you may not want to read the post below until you have. And I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to see it, especially if you like to laugh. So, go on, watch the movie, then come back and read my thoughts.***

Ant-Man and The Wasp -- I'd been looking forward to this movie ever since the first installment of Ant-Man, which was a hilarious movie, and one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe titles. They definitely tried to keep up the humor in this sequel, so I'll give a thumbs up for consistency. Though, I have to admit, while I enjoyed the movie, it still wasn't quite as good as the first where they hit things more on the head with the humor.

Luis's tangents were funny, per usual, and I loved it that Scott's ex-wife's current husband who hated Scott in the first movie now loved him and was hugging him all the time. That reversal was fun.

In Ant-Man and The Wasp we see the repercussions of Scott's actions from Captain America: Civil War. And because Scott is under house arrest, it makes this movie more centralized, taking place in one city. Now I know some people didn't like that it wasn't integrated as much into the rest of the MCU as some of the other movies, but I think it worked. This movie was happening during all the events of Avengers: Infinity War, so it makes sense that Scott doesn't get mixed up in all of that. The nice thing about most of the MCU titles is that even if there's not a ton of weaving with the other movies or characters, it feels like it still fits in the whole universe, and that's what Ant-Man and The Wasp felt like to me -- I knew it was part of the MCU, and there were just enough references in the movie to make it feel that way. Any more and it would have been too much for me, I think.

One of the best things about this movie was that both Ant-Man and Wasp pretty much got equal screen time. If anything, Wasp might have had more kick ass scenes than Ant-Man. I was thrilled to see that she wasn't relegated to a sidekick and that she had a central role in the movie. Quite frankly, since the movie focused on finding Hope's mother, it should have been titled The Wasp and Ant-Man instead!

The whole family theme throughout the movie was great. This wasn't a story of huge, global repercussions, but more personal journeys. And I think it was well-placed after Infinity War since it brought us all back down to Earth (literally and figuratively).

And the villains even reflected this focus. I know, I know, some of you didn't think the villains were big and bad enough. But they weren't the point of the movie, really. They were simply obstacles in the way of saving Janet from the quantum realm. Sonny Burch was your typical money-hungry criminal, and there was just enough of him, in my opinion. Ghost, on the other hand, was a woman striving to stay alive -- quite a different motivation. And in the end, her story was connected to the family theme as well. She'd lost her family in the accident that changed her, but at the end we see that Bill had become her family, since he refused to abandon her.

The one thing with Ghost I would have liked to see was a better fleshing out of her backstory. We pretty much got a big, old info dump. I know they tried to make fun of the fact that they were info dumping, but it wasn't enough to actually forgive the huge info dump that it was. I also figured Janet was going to be able to help her from being in the quantum realm for so long -- saw that not-so-much twist miles away.

And then we had the mid-credits scene. I knew that was coming, too, I just didn't know who was going to be effected. Scott didn't turn to ash, but Hope, Hank, and Janet did! Poor Ant-Man, stuck in the quantum realm. I was hoping for a Captain Marvel reference, but there wasn't anything blatant. I read an article though that mentions she may actually be stuck in the quantum realm? Which would make it connected, however not something neither I nor my husband caught when we first saw the scene.

Overall, I think Ant-Man and The Wasp was well-balanced and it gave me lots of laughs. I'd love to go see it again soon, but I'm also really looking forward to Captain Marvel and how she'll be integrated into the MCU.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Writing Update - June 2018

It's been a rough year. Clearly I've expressed this in some of my past posts, but it was about time that I took a closer look at what was going on and what I should do about it. Unfortunately, the answer turned out to be cutting back on my writing goals.

Everything kind of went to hell last November. I'd had a huge schedule shift in mid-September, and I was able to kind of keep my head above water and give NaNoWriMo a go until I got bronchitis around Thanksgiving. It's been a bumpy road since then, even though I was optimistic that I'd still be able to average the same weekly word count as 2017. The schedule shift didn't work for my writing productivity at all, though, and other life obstacles made it so I crashed and burned at the beginning of this year.

The thing is, the schedule has shifted again (no more naps for my youngest -- yay?). And then it's going to shift yet again in fall (4K four times per week in the afternoons... of course, over the time when I usually eat lunch). My brain is most productive with writing mid-morning, and it's not looking like I'll get my mid-mornings back to write until Fall 2019.

I'm trying "Quiet Time" with my youngest a couple days a week, but she still interrupts and once fall hits, there won't be time for that since I'll need to feed her lunch super early. Again, this all doesn't mean I'm going to stop writing. Afternoons aren't completely out of the question once fall rolls around, it's just harder going for me, so I'm slower.

Also, I've really lacked focus on my health and organizing the house (1001 Reasons Not to Clean -- yes?), as well as spending some quality time with my family. All of this is why I've decided to reduce my writing goals. Then when Fall 2019 finally arrives, I can ramp them back up. It sucks to start going even more slowly, but it does suit most of my mantras I have for the year:

❦ Slow Down.

❦ Just Write.

❦ Live.

❦ One Word At A Time.

❦ Any Progress Is Good Progress.

❦ All In Time.

If ever I needed to start repeating all of those in my head several times a day, it's now.

What does this mean for my plans for the rest of 2018?

I won't have any publications this year.

Yes, Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2) won't be published until 2019, and the next Fortunes of Fate story is also getting pushed off. The run down of my plans are below. I'm shifting from hourly goals to simple word counts as well.

2018 Writing Goals -- Redo

❦ Summer: Revise 1.5k words per week (1 week off) --- Fall/Winter: Revise 2k words per week (2 weeks off and 3 weeks of planning and other writing tasks). This should put me at 37k words revised by the end of the year. All of this will be on Thorns Entwine the Blade. Before this week, I was 40k into revisions (I know, the word meters are broken), so I will likely have 14k-23k left to revise in 2019 (along with then sending to my editor, applying edits, and formatting before it's published).

❦ Pause critiquing efforts (unless one of my close writer friends needs extra eyes -- I will squeeze in time for them) until I'm ready to do them on a consistent basis again. This doesn't include beta reading and developmental editing for Haunted Unicorn Publishing. That's my side income right now (that mostly covers my writing expenses, since my hubbie is the main breadwinner), and that still takes precedence whenever I have a client.

❦ 1 newsletter per month (this isn't changing, and I'm still sending out chapters of Chains of Nect).

❦ 1 blog post every 2 weeks (another staying the same, at least).

Hopefully simplifying all of this will help me get into a routine for health, house, and family. And once all of that is more solid, I can increase my writing quotas. Also, by lowering my weekly word count goals, I'll actually get to feel the satisfaction of hitting my goals, which always makes me feel better. I've already hit 1.5k for this week -- yay!

Oh, and clearly the 5-Year Plan isn't viable anymore. I'll work on a new one in December to reflect my reduced writing time through 2019. I'm sure I'll be editing that damned thing every year, but it's still nice to have to give me a bit of perspective.

Happy writing and reading, all! Just remember, if Life takes a hammer to the asphalt and the road becomes too rough, sometimes you just need to slow down.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Still A Trio Of Terror

Time for more kitty pictures! Has it really been over a year since I posted any? Well, the Trio of Terror are as naughty as ever. Also, now all three are happy to jump up on the counters without aid of a chair (Sylph also likes being a pillar cat), though Nightshade is the only one who jumped onto the radiator and then a high windowsill right on top of our TV sound bar. Obviously, this didn't end well (sound bar crash, boom, banged). He's lucky he didn't break anything. =/

If you want to pop over to past posts with Trio of Terror pics, you can find them on Kitten, Kitten, Kitten, Kitten Intermission, and Kittens to Cats! Onward with new pictures...

First of all, they still love their cat tree, though it's kind of hard to fit all three on it nowadays - lol.

I am also not allowed to make the bed.

Look at the little heart kitties. I think it's great that we got siblings because they love each other and snuggle instead of hating each other. Though for a while earlier this year Sylph hated Rikku after Rikku came home smelling like the vet (she had her teeth cleaned). Thankfully, Sylph wised up because I love it when the girl kitties snuggle like this to form a heart. ♥

Here's the goofy Sylph, "Ice, Ice Kitty" (yes, sing it to the song that just popped into your head, but say meow instead of those silly beats). She comes running when we're getting ice from our fridge and licks up any little shards that escape. Also, I've gotten a couple pictures of her sitting on my lap. She looks pissed I took a picture, though. There isn't supposed to be any proof she likes to snuggle occasionally. Nope. She's still the most aloof one of the three, and she especially hates strangers -- she'll hide for hours after someone leaves until she deems it safe to emerge.

Nightshade is still our derpy Boo Kitty. No, cat, you're not a stuffed animal, and I don't appreciate you knocking down a bunch of stuffed animals just so you can lay there. Though derpy, he's still the most laid back cat in the house, and he puts up with a lot from my youngest (no matter how much we tell her to be nice and not pick him up).

Rikku is still my snuggle buddy, especially when I'm sitting up in bed. She makes it really hard to get up in the morning when she plops on my chest. She's the, "I'm the Kitty, gotta love me." Yes, must pet her, or she'll chew on your Fitbit. And she's taken the crown for naughtiest in the house. Crazy, too -- Rikku Cuckoo Kitty. Also, she loves to hang off the bed like you see in the picture. Reminds me of those "Hang In There, Baby" posters. So we always say, "Hang in there, Cuckoo."

One more picture. Hey, wait, that's not one of the Trio of Terror, that's Cathulhu!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Deadpool 2 - Forever The Merc With The Mouth

***WARNING: Here it is, your spoiler warning. If you haven't seen Deadpool 2, I highly recommend you don't read ahead, unless you like spoilers. Do you like spoilers? What fun is that? Go get your laugh on by watching Deadpool 2, then come back and read this post.***

Honestly, I'm not sure where to begin. I mean, it's not like I had kids interrupting me while I watched Deadpool 2 (our once per year date night -- ha ha).

I guess I'll start with this: it's funny. Yeah, a little simplistic, but hey, it's been hot out and I think my brain melted a little. Of course, it's only funny for those who like Deadpool's sense of humor. And seriously, Deadpool doesn't shut up. Ever. He's the kind of person I wish I could be, coming up with the wiseass remarks and burns in the moment (instead, I'm the person whose tongue trips over itself -- this is why I prefer writing to speaking, I can go back and fix things).

Now, I know there are people out there who say it's pretty much just a rehash of the first movie. But what do you expect from a specific brand of humor? All those sitcoms on TV? Yeah, same kind of humor over and over again. That doesn't make those shows any less funny for people who love that kind of thing (I mean, how many seasons of Seinfeld were there?). Same with Deadpool -- if you loved the humor in the first movie, you'll love it in the second. And if you complain about it being repetitive, you didn't really love it in the first movie and you can go suck a lemon because you're clearly not the target audience.

Deadpool's humor is of course the biggest draw, but like with the first movie, there's still a solid story arc. Mind you, I was a bit shocked that Vanessa died in the first five minutes, though it worked (and well, nothing that couldn't be fixed in the end credits with Cable's little time gadget -- heh). After losing Vanessa, Deadpool needs to find something else to live for, and while he's pretty selfish at the beginning, he eventually makes it his goal to save Russell, a kid who could destroy much of the world if he accomplishes a single act. He even sacrifices his own life to save Russell from turning into the monster that Cable claims he'll become.

Speaking of Cable, I loved his arc (and when Deadpool called him Thanos -- lol). At first, he's the big bad. But you see he's not really bad -- he's trying to save his family. He's simply a hero that's at odds with another hero (and I use the term hero loosely, since we all know Deadpool is the biggest anti-hero, ever). You can see the logic and good intentions behind his acts, even if he is trying to kill a kid. And in the end, he actually sacrifices being able to see his family again to save Deadpool. Of course, the teddy bear he carries turns from charred and bloody to clean and shiny, so he knows his family has been saved. And it was great how after he turned back time, he still aimed to shoot at the kid and have Deadpool take the bullet. So the outcome would be the same. But this time, the skee ball token stopped the bullet since Cable had clearly given it back to Deadpool.

Even with all the humor, the story arc was pretty serious, and this created a great balance.

My biggest qualm was the short screen time for Juggernaut, and his subsequent quick death. My biggest exposure to Juggernaut was with that old 90s X-Men cartoon. And I loved the conflict of Juggernaut with his brother, Professor X. Now, the relationship was hinted at in Deadpool 2, but by killing Juggernaut off, that squashes the possibility of him showing up in an X-Men movie (since the universes have been established as connected). It's one of those instances that I hope dead doesn't stay dead. It would have been awesome to have an Easter Egg at the end with Juggernaut emerging from the pool, as if he was just knocked out instead of killed. Dead isn't always dead, right? Not in a comic book! I can hope.

Oh, also Domino = love! I can't wait to see more of her. That power of hers is pretty awesome, and I always got to love strong women who don't take shit from anyone (including Deadpool). The rest of the X-Force dying was hilarious, too. Especially since the previews were a red herring and made you think they were all in the fight. Super glad they picked Domino as the survivor, though.

I'm sure when I watch Deadpool 2 again, I'll find a few more things that I like, and other things that bother me, but I think this first viewing I was laughing too often to notice many of the negatives. I mean, that's why I went, to laugh. Mission accomplished.

And I can't wait to hear what's next for all of these characters. Even if we don't get Deadpool 3, I'm sure he'd work well in an ensemble X-Force movie!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

1001 Reasons Not To Clean - #31 through #35

Welcome to 1001 Reasons Not to Clean! The main goal of this series is to see if I can actually reach 1001 reasons, 5 reasons at a time (the final post, if I get there, will be 6 reasons). I'm sure I can. It's not just my crazy brain being unrealistic, right? Links to previous posts are below. And feel free to share your excuses, and they might get added to my list (with credit, of course)!

#1 through #5 ~ #6 through #10 ~ #11 through #15 ~ #16 through #20 ~ #21 through #25

~ #26 through #30

31. Spring is finally here! Wait, it is spring isn't it? Mother Nature is laughing again because we kind of skipped over spring and went straight into summer. Anyway, winter is finally done, and you want to enjoy the lack of snow on the ground and warmth in the air.

32. You walked two hours today because you needed to ferry your preschooler back-and-forth to school (no, I don't drive and I have my reasons, we'll leave it at that). Exhaustion doesn't begin to define how you feel.

33. You walked two hours yesterday, and somehow you feel worse than you did the day before. You're getting too old for this shit (or you're just more out of shape than you're willing to admit).

34. You'd rather go for a walk with the family to see if you can spot any ducklings by the river.

35. Instead of quickly and easily snagging the pictures you need for your blog post, you waste an hour trying to figure out why your pictures aren't downloading properly to your computer, only to find out that Apple has switched all of its pictures to a new format (that since you've only recently upgraded to a phone that uses iOS 11, you had no clue about said switch until now). Eventually you find the converted JPEG files peppered in the downloads -- because even if something looks like it's done downloading, it rarely ever is. Hey, you were supposed to be cleaning during that wasted hour (or maybe you weren't and are just using the photo issues as an excuse not to clean...).

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War - Wow, Just Wow

***WARNING: I know Avengers: Infinity War hasn't even been out for a week, so you might not have seen it yet. However, there are a lot of spoilers below. It's hard not to spoil something when talking about this movie. And if you've been following any of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, you should really just go out and see the third Avengers movie already! But if you don't want spoilers before you do so, come back and read this post after you've seen the movie.***
I went into Avengers: Infinity War fully expecting some characters to die. With as huge of a cast as this movie has, it was bound to happen.

But I didn't think I'd find myself saying, "Not Loki!" in the first five minutes. Ack! I felt a little betrayed. (Heimdall, too!)

Now, I know comic books are famous for killing people off and bringing them back. I fully expect the MCU to be the same. I mean, Loki came back once already, though this time even Thor admits that he's not likely coming back this time. Which sucks. My hubbie made a good point, though. Loki's story arc is pretty much played out. Not that I want to fully accept that, along with his death, but part of me knows it's true.

Honestly, the beginning of Infinity War is what bugs me the most about the movie. Not because of Loki's death (I mean, I'm upset, but I get it), but because of how it felt like the movie that came directly before it, Thor: Ragnarok, felt kind of pointless. Ragnarok was a great movie, and at the end Thor saved as many Asgardians as he could. To only have Thanos wipe them out? And off screen? I know he only supposedly kills half of each race. Haven't the Asgardians lost enough already, though? It just felt like everything Thor did, in the end, didn't matter. Kind of a big blow when that was the previous movie. (Also off screen is the "decimation" of Xandar, the planet the Guardians saved in their first movie -- though this stings, it's not as much, since that movie is further in the past.)

Wait, you think I didn't like the movie? On the contrary, I loved it! My issues with the beginning aside, Avengers: Infinity War was excellent. With so many characters, it could have easily fallen apart, but I thought balancing them all was done wonderfully well. And Thanos. Wow, just wow. Now that's a well-rounded villain. You could totally see how he came to his conclusions and why he wanted to destroy half of the population of the universe. He thought he was doing the right thing -- it made complete sense to him, and he felt his actions would mean that he'd save life in the universe. The addition of seeing his deep love for Gamora rounded him out even more. This movie was Thanos's story, pure and simple. The Avengers? All the other characters? Just part of Thanos's tale, really secondary characters in this movie, which is probably why they felt so well-balanced.

But speaking of Gamora... Ack! She was one of those characters at the top of my list that I didn't want to die. I was so pissed when Thanos killed her. Again, I get why. Totally makes sense. That doesn't make me any less pissed. For her, though, I suspect she's not going to stay dead. I'll leave my theories until last, though.

The other kind of issue with Infinity War is the end. It's not really an end. It stops in the middle of the story arc. This is clearly a Part 1, and that might upset some people who expect a full story. The cliffhangers push the writer in me toward a brain aneurysm, just a little. You can betray a lot of readers if you end a novel on a cliffhanger. But again, for Infinity War, I get it. This is a huge story, and it needed two parts. Ending it with Thanos watching his sunset works and is fitting, if they needed to stop it in the middle. All is lost now, right? Many of the Avengers turned to ash. Hell, Rocket is the only Guardian left (unless you count Nebula)!

It's an emotional end. Now, I usually get pretty over-emotional about things, but I didn't at the end of Infinity War because I knew it was coming. I knew Thanos was going to snap his fingers, and we were going to lose many of our beloved characters. Not because I read spoilers, either (I didn't -- I don't, and made sure hubbie didn't this time). I expected it. Though my hubbie and I were pretty shocked that Cap and Stark were still standing at the end. There's always a chance they're fall in Part 2, though.

What else do I expect? For time to be turned back. Here come my suppositions for Part 2. All those characters who turned to ash will be back. They have to be. Can't have the next slated Spider-Man movie otherwise. And the next Guardian movie would be Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: The Lone Raccoon (Rodent/Rabbit - hehe). At the end of Infinity War, Thanos's glove is melted, ruined, but the infinity stones are still in one piece, including the Time stone. Doctor Strange did mention that giving up the stone was the only way they'd come out of this -- the only way they'd win. Now that Thanos can't control all of the stones with the gauntlet, the remaining Avengers will find a way to get the Time stone back and use it to turn back the clock.

However, this turning back of the clock will be limited to those who turned to ash, those who died from Thanos's finger snap. Which means Vision, Loki, Heimdall, and Gamora will still be dead (crap). The Time stone isn't the only way to bring back the dead, though. My other guess and expectation is that Guardians Vol. 3 will be Quill and gang seeking a way to bring back Gamora. And they'll find a way! (They damned well better because if one of my fav kick ass female characters is permanently taken away, I will be beyond pissed -- her story isn't over, damn it.)

Of course, all of that is just my speculation. We definitely know that many of the fallen can't stay dead because of other movies that are already planned.

So, who do you think is going to make it to the end of Part 2? And how impatient are you for next year?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Struggle Is Real

Yeah, I know there's a bunch of scary stuff going on in the world nowadays. It all makes me sad, so I tend to avoid it because becoming more sad is a bad idea for me right now. Heck, I've taken to ignoring Facebook for the most part because it has a tendency to effect my mood too much.

Speaking of mood, I guess that's kind of what this post is about. I figured it would be nice to be frank as well as get my current struggles out there -- hopefully it'll be a little therapeutic, too.

Writing isn't as easy as some people may think (and those of you who know writing can be tough are nodding your heads right now, I'm sure). But lately for me, it's been a major struggle. I haven't kept up a consistent writing schedule since the beginning of November. I was rolling with NaNoWriMo, making great progress, and then I got sick. That sick turned into bronchitis on Thanksgiving. While I'm mostly over the sick, aside from a cold or two here and there, the stuff back in November and December pretty much stalled my progress.

I know it's not the interruption alone that has my flailing, though. I've always had some issues keeping it together during the winter, and I'm sure I've mentioned before that I likely get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Heck, I even tried one of those little blue lights one year and it gave me a headache, so I had to stop using it. Last winter was a pretty mild one, so I was able to keep up my momentum decently well. This winter, though, it's been way too cold, and Jack Frost doesn't want to release his icy grip. Mother Nature thought it would be hilarious to give us two snow storms, one on April 15 and one just yesterday, April 18. I think we got more snow in those two days than we have the rest of the winter.

Guess what, Mother Nature? I'm not laughing.

I was counting on April, the hope of spring, and Camp NaNoWriMo getting me back in the game and revising more. No dice with this weather. Unfortunately, I think I'm also still struggling with the shift in work time. I used to write mid-morning when Youngest napped, but since she started preschool, I have her nap in the afternoons. If it wasn't clear before, it is now, that I'm more productive, awake, and alert between 10am and Noon. Which sucks because unless I can convince Youngest to have a couple hours of quiet time in the mid-mornings (fat chance -- she is loud and has already asked me what half a dozen animals eat since I've started writing this post), I'm stuck with this writing schedule for at least another year and a half. Oh, and the days she's in preschool in the mornings, I'm useless since I'm still exhausted from all the walking (next fall she'll be in 4K in the afternoons, and hopefully at a closer school -- I really hope that helps).

Also, when I'm this moody, I sink myself into games and TV, and then nothing else gets done, so the house is a bit of a disaster as well. It could be worse, I know, but the disorganization in the house as well as all the junk we have (I have the pack rat gene from my grandpa, and my kids have inherited it -- not tripping into hoarder territory, but my study has become a storage room... my grandparents had a two bedroom apartment just so my grandpa could store stuff in one room, so I am reminded of that -- yikes), has been getting on my nerves, and every time I start somewhere, it feels like I'm treading water.

It just seems that my mind is in the middle of this never-ending battle, and not writing enough only makes it worse since I'm falling behind schedule. Those nice One-Year and Five-Year plans I had drawn up in December? Out the window!

I am happy that I've made a little progress, at least. I haven't given up, and I've revised some of Thorns Entwine the Blade, even if it's no where near the amount I should be at with almost one third of the year gone. I just have to accept that my schedule will need to be shifted, and publications will need to be delayed. That's one of the nice things about indie publishing -- you're not working on a publisher's deadline, so if life happens you can move things later without getting into too much trouble, as long as you don't have a pre-order up already!

And I do know all of this won't last. Eventually Youngest will be in school most of the day, and I'll be able to write when I'm most productive. Winter doesn't last forever, and my mood will be lifted up with the warmth of spring and summer. I just may need to start factoring in my winter issues when I draw up my future One-Year and Five-Year plans.

I know this post was a bit long, but it felt good to get my recent struggles off of my chest. And maybe if some of you are also struggling through the winter and other life bumps, you'll see you're not alone.

The most important thing is to never give up. Keep moving forward one step at a time, even if you only take a single step some days.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Finalists of SPFBO 2017

So, Mind Behind the Mind may not have made it to the finals for the 2017 Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO), but I figured I'd whip up a quick post to list the 10 finalists!

Now, I haven't read any of the titles yet myself, though I have my eye on a few (and already have at least one waiting on my Kindle -- those darn kids of mine are making it hard to find time to read). But the reviewers who have given these a thumbs up know their stuff, so you may want to consider giving some of these titles a try.

You can find links to all of the reviews of the finalists so far on Mark Lawrence's Blog Post. Also, if you've read any of these titles, please let me know what you thought about them!

Chaos Trims My Beard by Brett Herman

The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson

Devil's Night Dawning by Damien Black

Jack Bloodfist by James Jakins

Pilgrimage To Skara by Jonathan S. Pembroke

Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe

Tiger Lily by K. Bird Lincoln

The War Of Undoing by Alex Perry

The Way Into Chaos by Harry Connolly

Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

1001 Reasons Not To Clean - #26 through #30

Welcome to 1001 Reasons Not to Clean! The main goal of this series is to see if I can actually reach 1001 reasons, 5 reasons at a time (the final post, if I get there, will be 6 reasons). I'm sure I can. It's not just my crazy brain being unrealistic, right? Links to previous posts are below. And feel free to share your excuses, and they might get added to my list (with credit, of course)!

#1 through #5 ~ #6 through #10 ~ #11 through #15 ~ #16 through #20 ~ #21 through #25

26. It's Ostara/Spring Equinox (first official day of spring!) and you have eggs to dye with your kids. Maybe this year my Wish Egg should be to wish away having to clean ever again.

27. Since it's the first day of spring, and you're the kind of person who goes against the grain, you don't want it to appear that you're doing any Spring Cleaning.

28. Well, it's spring! And wouldn't you rather go for a walk and enjoy a nice spring day instead of cleaning? Wait, it's cold outside because you're dumb enough to live too far north for spring to actually start on the first day of spring. But it's much nicer to imagine there's lovely weather and you're walking outside in it instead of cleaning. (Also refer back to #17.)

29. When you actually try to clean, a cat declares your file box as his. And he's too cute to move, which makes it easier to give up on cleaning. Even when he jumps out, the disruption has solidified your decision to throw your hands up in surrender.

30. You'd rather play Summoner's War. (How many games am I up to now?)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Powerful Women in Black Panther

***WARNING: Haven't you seen Black Panther yet? Oh, well, if you haven't, you may not want to read on, as there are spoilers below. I've seen it, and if we didn't have to watch our pennies, I'd go see it again in the theater. It was that good. So, go on, add to its box office numbers if you haven't already!***

It's actually really hard for me to talk about Black Panther because I feel like I'm not going to do it justice. There's so many layers to the movie that this measly little blog post won't be able to cover it all. Plus I'm sure there are layers that I don't understand as deeply as many other people. I'll leave those layers to the more knowledgeable ones.

The main layer I want to delve into is all the strong women in this movie! OK, so this isn't really going to be a typical review, but more of a reflection (and I'm going to try to keep it brief). I'll probably mention more than just the strong female characters, but don't expect me to pick the movie apart.

Wow, I have to say, wow. I mean, I'd been looking forward to this movie for a long time. It got to the point where my husband was poking fun at me because I'd squee every time a preview came on. It called to me, and I knew it would be different (in a good way) than the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it was. But I had no clue how many powerful women would be in it. This made me love it even more.

Shuri, Nakia, and Okoye -- these three women stole the show. Almost literally. Many times their characters overshadowed Black Panther/T'Challa himself. It honestly felt more like a movie about the people surrounding and supporting Black Panther, not just a focus on Black Panther. And his strongest support are all women.

The beauty of these three women, though, is that they are very different from each other.

Shuri has a razor-sharp wit along with a razor-sharp brain (she totally reminded me of Q from James Bond with all of her awesome gadgets). In a pinch, she's also still willing to jump into a fight. How cool are her panther guns? I may have just ordered a Funko Pop of her yesterday from Hot Topic. ;)

Nakia is the love interest for Black Panther, but she's not fawning all over him, and she makes it clear that her life goals are more important than love. While Black Panther still tries to nudge her, he still understands who she is and needs to be. I love it that he's not trying to protect her the whole movie because he knows she can take care of herself. Nakia also declares she's not a fighter, but a spy, even though by the end she jumps into the fighting and kicks plenty of ass.

Finally, Okoye, is a fierce warrior. One who is devoted to tradition and the culture of Wakanda. She even refuses to support T'Challa's family when he (seemingly) loses the challenge to Killmonger. She fears nothing, and she'll defend whoever's on the throne, unless they break or ignore the rules.

I seriously can't wait until the second movie, and I hope some of these women show up in some of the other movies in the MCU!

One final thought from me, but about Wakanda. I enjoyed the integration of culture and tradition right alongside technological advancement. It was nice to see the technology didn't destroy the culture that existed in this society. There was also a bit of a mix of fantasy among the science fiction with the Heart-Shaped Herb and the spirit realm.

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many layers, and I thought for the most part they were woven together wonderfully.

"Wakanda forever!"

Thursday, February 08, 2018

1001 7 Reasons Not to Write

What, you were expecting 1001 Reasons Not to Clean? I really hope I can't find 1001 reasons not to write. But lately, as you can see by the delayed blog post, a lot has been getting in the way of my writing. So, here's a mini list. I hope someone can get a chuckle out of the aggravation below (or others can completely relate).

7 Reasons Not to Write

1. The flu. Not just you with the flu, but your eldest child and your husband. Of course, the youngest child escapes the wretched sickness unscathed, so not only are you dealing with feeling miserable, but you have to contend with a preschooler's high energy level. Even if you had the energy to write, or the brain space, your joints hurt too much to type.

2. One of your cats has a UTI. And the first round of meds didn't work properly. So you're trying to keep an eye on his litter habits and also conferring with the vet. Then you need to take him in another time because the second round of meds still aren't doing it. Finally you need to stress over buying him new, expensive food (that you feel is filled with crap)... which all three cats in the house will need to eat because you'd waste too many hours keeping them separate. Exactly when am I finding time to write with all this going on?

3. One of the computers in the house decides to stop starting up properly. Since you're the one who built the computers in the house you not only need to fix it, but also troubleshoot what's wrong. This includes taking apart your other computer to test a part in the problem computer. After determining the failing part, you need to jump through hoops to request a replacement because it's still under warranty. Though you wonder why you just didn't buy a new one after paying an insane amount of shipping to send out the bad part. When the replacement part arrives and you sit down to install it, you realize they forgot one of the cords needed (oh, you think I don't need power to the CPU?), so then you need to stop in the middle and wait for them to send the missing cord. Once it arrives, you finally fix the computer, and breathe a sigh of relief when it turns on and stays on. Writing? Hell, yes, this whole debacle sucked up a lot of writing time.

4. Yup, caught the cat with the UTI peeing in a corner (unfortunate side effect of the poor kitty being sick). After dealing with the mess he made, you realize that the computer room hasn't had a good, full clean for years, and your paper clutter is turning into new, sentient beings. So you move everything out of the computer room and decide you're taking a week off of writing to get this room cleaned and then everything moved back in, excluding the paper clutter that needs to be gone through, then recycled, shredded, or filed. Surely this will only take you a week. Two weeks later with that paper clutter still filling the dining room and living room, you laugh. It's a sad, miserable laugh because you've spent a decent amount of time dealing with it all, but life still decided to get in the way of better progress.

5. It's fucking cold. All you want to do is hide upstairs under the covers and hibernate. Winter sucks and needs to go away. Typing at the desktop computer freezes your hands and feet. And of course since you have Scrivener 3 on the new Macbook, it will be a headache to convert files back and forth from Scrivener on your desktop (since 3 isn't out for Windows yet), and you don't want to deal with the slow as molasses HP laptop when you have a super speedy and shiny Macbook which is ten times better. Revisions? Hahahaha.

6. You have to walk in that fucking cold 2 days a week for 2 hours each of those days (the things us parents do for our kids). And no matter how much you try to resist falling asleep in the afternoon, it's a losing battle since you're so exhausted from the cold and the walking that you nod off instead of writing.

7. Because all the proverbial shit seems to be hitting the fan, your will to even try has been depleted. To the point that it's coming up empty. I mean, every time you try, you just get more shit flung back in your face, so what's the point? It's much easier to play a game on the iPad or watch some TV to drown out the screaming coming from the inside of your own head.

***NOTE: I understand some people have it a lot worse off than I do. The above are all a bunch of little, rather annoying things. But they're all my little, rather annoying things, and it feels like a lot when it's personal. Right now, I don't have enough spoons left to think past my own personal world, so please forgive me.***

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Darkness in Star Trek: Discovery

***WARNING: You bet there are spoilers! Hard not to with this series if you've watched past episode one - lol. So, if you don't want to be spoiled, move along. And I'm sorry to those who can't watch this show due to it being on CBS All Access. Honestly, it's worth the price.***

Yes, we shelled out the money for CBS All Access so we could watch Star Trek: Discovery. I have been a Trekkie since I was a kid, when my dad would turn on the Original Series (and promptly fell asleep in his recliner while I watched -- lol). So it was impossible to resist a new Star Trek series.

However, I'm guessing a lot of hardcore Trekkies might be disappointed. It's not your typical Star Trek. No, it's much darker.

And I love it.

While I also loved the old stuff, I'm not one of those people who is going to poo-poo this new series just because it's different and not what one would expect from Star Trek. I feel it's wonderfully written. And oh, do I love the darkness (which is why I tend to write dark myself).

Most Star Treks feel more distant, as you're following the bigger cast for the most part. Discovery, though, feels more up close and personal -- you're clearly following Michael Burnham around. From one ship to the next even. Though scenes aren't relegated to only ones with her in it, she still seems like the central glue that holds it all together. And it makes for a pretty powerful story, in my opinion.

Yet even though she's the focus, the things that happen aren't always done to her, which was well thought out. In the episode where Harry Mudd is resetting the timeline (and killing everyone on the Discovery off each iteration) it's not Michael who realizes what's going on, but Lieutenant Paul Stamets. Of course it made sense that he was aware of it, and it was refreshing to see that it wasn't Michael who first realized the problem.

I do love the show, and waiting a full week for the next episode has been a special kind of torture (the long break was even worse). But that doesn't mean I don't have some dislikes and criticisms.

My biggest issue, even 11 episodes into the season, is the physical change they made to the Klingons. I prefer them looking like Worf. Really a small quibble, if you think about it. I understand why they wanted to make some changes like this, but I can't help but wish I was looking at the Klingons I grew used to in Star Trek: Next Generation.

The other thing that kind of gave me an eye twitch was the false bait in the previews. "Oh, look, it's a Star Trek with a female captain and female first officer." I was super psyched for this. But then by the end of episode two, the aforementioned captain is dead and Michael is stripped of rank for being a mutineer. I mean, it's great story-telling, of course, but I still feel like I was fooled. Now we're on a ship with both a male captain and first officer. Though in the alternate universe, things do get a little mixed up (Emperor Georgiou, anyone?). Michael's actually a captain, and so is Tilly (I hope she keeps that hairdo when she returns to the right universe - lol). Still, that false hope from the previews still has me a little bitter.

OK, enough of the negative. I shouldn't dwell on that because overall Star Trek: Discovery rocks.

I actually re-watched episodes one through nine before the second half of the season started up. And lo and behold, I noticed several things I had missed my first watch-through (I don't read many articles and Easter Egg bits on the internet, so don't raise that eyebrow at me). The biggest was that Captain Lorca has a Tribble! And once I noticed the darn thing in the first episode, I wondered how I'd missed it the whole time when I kept seeing it in subsequent episodes. The noise I had mistaken for a computer was actually the Tribble!

I love Tribbles. I should have named one of my cats Tribble... maybe a future cat. ;)

Anyway, I can't wait to see the rest of the season and what new darkness will be discovered.

What do you think about Star Trek: Discovery? Love it, hate it, aren't quite sure yet? No matter if you agree with me, I hope you live long and prosper!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

2018... What? Already?

Nothing like the end of a year and the beginning of the next sneaking up on you. I'd love to snap a picture of my 1-Year Plan written in my Bullet Journal for this post, but alas it hasn't made it into the Bullet Journal yet.

At least I have a 1-Year Plan, even if it's only in a Word doc right now. Guess what? I have a 5-Year Plan, too! That was pretty damned hard to do, though it's only drafting, revising, and publication goals.

Last year, I jumped into the year with too high expectations for my productivity. I can declare this, since I didn't hit all of my goals. But I'm still thrilled with the progress I did make. So this year, I'm going to be more realistic. I crunched numbers (numbers are fun), and my plan for this year follows how productive I was last year. Yay for realism? Hehe.

Before I get into a few items from my 1-Year Plan, just know, if you're patient, you'll discover which Tarot card won in my survey. You just have to read to the end for it. Oh, the suspense! ;)

I decided I needed a few mantras for 2018. Maybe if I repeat these every day, they'll sink in. And I think they say a lot about where I am in my writing career right now.

2018 Writing Mantras

❦ Slow Down.

❦ Just Write.

❦ Live.

❦ One Word At A Time.

❦ Any Progress Is Good Progress.

❦ All In Time.

Writing kind of took over my life last year, which is why the first one is, "Slow Down." I love to write and I have a writing career to build, but I don't want to sacrifice everything else in my life, including family time. In 2017, I felt like I was scrambling with writing all year and ignoring everything else too much.

With that said, my main writing goals for this year follow! (Note: This excludes any developmental editing and beta reading work -- I do have a limit of work hours per week scheduled for that as well, though.)

2018 Writing Goals

❦ 10 hours per week of writing and writing related tasks. (No more, no less -- though I have some scheduled weeks off.)

❦ Maximum 2 hours per week of critiquing.

❦ Complete revisions and do an edit of Thorns Entwine the Blade.

❦ Draft, revise, and edit the next Fortunes of Fate story. (What card will it be based on? Keep reading!)

❦ Start revisions on the poor, neglected novel, Dead As Dreams

❦ 1 newsletter per month -- each one will include a chapter of the first draft of Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession in mobi and epub formats!

❦ 1 blog post every 2 weeks. (Yup, I'm reducing the blog post frequency again -- I may have a few extras, though, depending on how the year goes.)

That's the main stuff. Oh, you wanted to know about publications? Yes, yes. I still plan to release two titles in 2018, but right now I don't have publication dates. I don't want to stress myself out with firm deadlines. Progress is what's important.

2018 Publications

Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2)

Untitled Fate Story (Fortunes of Fate, 7) -- Sorry there's no title yet!

This post has gotten rather long already. So I won't go into my 5-Year Plan extensively, but I will mention some general details. Again, it mostly contains word count goals for drafting and revision along with hopeful publication dates. I expect it to change each year, as a plan like this is mainly just to see where I'm heading and isn't set in stone.

You already know the publication goals for 2018. So... 2019 -- Dead As Dreams and GSD vs. Everything. 2020 -- I'll be working on the draft and revisions of the third Trinity Torn novel for most of the year, so publications will hopefully be 1 Fate story and 1 other story connected to Trinity Torn. 2021 -- The third Trinity Torn novel, a Fractured Fairies story, and a Devil Made Me story. 2022 -- Downward Spiral, the first title in my Urban Unicorn novel series, 1 Fate story, and 1 collection of short stories (old and new).

5-Year Plans are scary, no? I think they are.

OK, I promised to reveal the Tarot card, didn't I? This post is huge! Maybe I should leave it for next time. You can wait two weeks, right?

Fine, fine. I'll be nice.

I had 2 votes each for:

❦ The Chariot
❦ Temperance
❦ The Empress

But there was a card I had 3 votes for. And that card is...

❦ The Hermit

So that's the next one I'll be doing! This will be interesting. Jasp, the protagonist of the last Fortunes of Fate story, was a bit hermit-like. Which means it will be fun to see what I can do to make this next story completely different. The options are plentiful, especially since I can pull from the upright and reversed meanings of the card.

Thank you to all who voted!

I hope everyone excels with their 2018 goals. I'd be happy to hear what anyone else has planned for the year, writing related or not!