Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi Books’ Category

The Write Stuff   Leave a comment

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I’m totally grateful I have a job that allows me to work from home. Really. I. Am. As it is, we used a cooperative workspace pre-COVID and all of our files are in the cloud, as is our software, so we’re fluid to begin with. We’re not tied to one place or server. That makes it so easy for us to access whatever we need, create new documents and do all sorts of neat stuff. Wherever I am, I’m usually writing or researching for hours on end. All those words add up to a bunch of sentences that forge into paragraphs and before you know it, there’s a whole document just waiting to be edited by my boss.

When 9:00 am strikes, there I am at my kitchen table, checking the email and social media messages. Usually by 10:00 am I start on my assignments for the day. And when 5:00 pm hits, I’m often in the middle of something so I keep at it until I finish. By then, my eyes are incredibly bleary and dry from staring at a blue-lit screen. So when the evening rolls around, my eyes are too gorped up to write anything. Besides, my creative well’s pretty dried up then, too.

Even writing this blog presents its challenges. Sure, I’ve got plenty to say but no ambition to say it. I really, REALLY hate this whole COVID thing. It’s thrown a monkey wrench into my plans. My Twitter feed is loaded with writers who’re meeting and exceeding all sorts of goals. If I included the number of words I put down daily, I’d beat them all.

Unfortunately, only a select audience reads grant proposals, press releases, blast emails and social media posts. So far as I know, there’s no real story arcs or plot twists in letting the world know my place of employment is hosting a virtual event on Zoom, and in the accompanying press release I’ve sent off to the media to announce it. Although, there is something to be said about the nail-biting, stress-inducing grant proposal…but only after it’s been sent off to the foundation or government agency offering it.

Today’s gorgeous. So was yesterday. Thought I might sit outside and have a cup of something and maybe write some. Within a half-hour, my lungs betrayed me. Damn asthma! Damn pollen! I’m on an inhaler but it only goes so far. It also doesn’t help that the unending roar of motorcycles streaming through my town destroys my concentration, although I’m getting better at ignoring them.

Here I am, in the lower Hudson Valley, and we have so many COVID cases with its share of sorrowful deaths, yet few seem to be paying attention. I took a brief drive yesterday so that my poor car can have its engine kept in shape and I can go someplace in a protective bubble without worrying I’m going to catch anything. Thousands of people were on the road – no lie – and squeezed between all those vehicles were an equal amount of motorcycles. Then those riders hopped off and stood in groups, close, no masks. As I drove through a few towns, loads of people, also maskless, stood around and gathered, no social distancing between them, chatting away as if this was last year.

My town is one of those places that fills up with city people on the weekends and the summer, so it’s no surprise that we have our fair share of COVID cases in town. Even today, people are out in droves, chatting, walking, no social distancing. I really can’t blame people for a little freedom from their homes and worries. But seriously, folks, use a little caution!

Fed up with just about everything, I decided to risk something myself yesterday. I ordered takeout from a restaurant just across the way. I ate there often when things were normal, as they’re good, close and affordable. The last time I ordered from them was March. A day later, on my Facebook page, some well-meaning friend posted a story about how risky it was to order takeout, how one should remove the meal from the bag and cartons and the proper way to disinfect one’s home and self upon placing said meal on your own plate, and to NEVER eat from the original container. I freaked out so much after reading that I swore I’d never do that again. But eating one’s own cooking for too long causes its own level of agitation, so I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed a nice serving of meatloaf, fresh mixed vegetables (not frozen or canned) and a healthy pile of mashed potatoes with gravy. Even went so far as to order a slice of cheesecake that was amazingly delicious. I felt better instantly.

So here I sit now, writing this blog and after I publish it, will go back to my edits for my book that my agent has surely forgotten that I’ve written. My sister has helped me out a great deal trying to get my story into excellent shape. I think about returning to it often, but just can’t get into it for whatever reason. Yet the story lives on in my head, and the characters are beating me up trying to get on with their plots and storylines. I owe it to them to breathe life back into them, and maybe too, my life as a writer.

Stay safe and inspired, friends.

New York Comic Con 2019!   Leave a comment

IMG_1913Me, having a Mary Tyler Moore moment at the entrance of NYCC 19

So yeah, I went to another New York Comic Con this year. As usual, it was quite the spectacle of costumes, chaos and crowds. I tried going on a Friday this year instead of a Saturday, naively thinking it’d be less attended. It wasn’t. Sheer ridiculousness. But in a good way. Was a bit different this year, though, because I came without my son. He recently joined the Navy, passed boot camp and all that. Missed him, but made him feel a bit less left out by purchasing three “The Walking Dead” graphic novels for his enjoyment. Needless to say, the sting of not being able to attend was lessened a tad.

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Horrible backwards selfie, but who cares? I’m in!

I’m always a bit nervous before I enter NYCC. Will my badge show up as validated? Will I be mistaken for a Changeling and morph into something regrettable? Will my ticket fall out of my bag onto the sidewalk and be snatched up by Sephiroth? But make it through I do, in one piece, despite shuffling through the enormous wedge of humanity struggling to slip through the main gate entrance booths.

Shortly after I arrived, I met up with my friends Arwen and Aragorn. We toured the Jacob Javitz center in search of Funko Pop versions of themselves.

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A royal pair and their handler

I felt kind of important shuffling around with Arwen and Aragorn. Every five seconds they’d be politely pulled over and asked if their photos could be taken. And they graciously obliged.

We went downstairs in the Artist’s Alley, usually less crowded and filled with amazing art from artists whose illustrations fill the pages of famous graphic novels and classic comics. But not today. We gave up after about twenty minutes, quite unable to even get close to any tables to admire their work, except for a female artist whose name I neglected to remember. Her gig was propaganda posters using classic Star Wars characters – you know, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and their ilk. Very nearly purchased one but couldn’t see myself shambling through the crowds carrying one of her pieces without it getting destroyed, even if it was in a carrier.

But I love graphic novels. That’s my thing. I head over to the area where they’re all situated. I can’t seem to find my old pals from Man Vs. Rock, mainly because it’s so crowded and they aren’t in their usual place (sorry guys! I promise to find you next year!), but I do find Oliver Mertz from First Law of Mad ScienceThe same thing happened last year with him – it was so unimaginably crowded last year that I missed his booth. So I made up for it by buying everything up that I didn’t get to do last year. The artist and partner in this venture was also in attendance, Michael S. Bracco.

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Oliver Mertz, new father and proud purveyor of his work

I wind up buying several back issues to catch me up on this wonderful series. I also add to it a T-shirt that reads, “Don’t blame me, I’m the writer.” I’ve already worn it a bunch of times.

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Somewhere in the massive crowds, I spot Dark Horse Publications. OH MY GOD, DO I SEE …NO…IT CAN’T BE…IS IT?

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The comic that guided me through my twenties

There’s a huge banner with one of my all-time favorite comic characters, The Flaming Carrot. I rush up to a booth attendant, pointing to the banner. “Where is that book?” I spurt out, heart all aflutter. He points to a bookcase across the way and I rush for it. I hold it in my hands, turning the pages slowly. All the wonderful memories of this lovingly stupid but heroically brave carrot come racing back. As I pay for it, the booth attendant says, “Yeah, you just missed him by about ten minutes. Bob’s a great guy.  He would’ve autographed it for you.” Oh don’t tell me that. Gosh, I feel a bit disappointed but heartwarmed because this treasure from my twenties rests in the back of my backpack. I later devour it on the train.

I also pick up a couple of copies of Paper Girls, a wonderful series about twelve-year-old paper delivery girls in 1988 who get caught up in a time warp of sorts – two warring factions from the future show up the day after Halloween just as the girls are delivering their papers. I heard it’s now going to become a television series. Can’t wait!

But what’s a Comic Con without costumes? Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of great shots to share this year, mainly because I was struggling to get around. But I did take a couple.

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Kaonashi, AKA No-Face, chronicled on phone by fan

If you haven’t seen the rather creepy Japanese animated film, Spirited Away, well, perhaps you should…or shouldn’t…based on this image and extremely well executed costume. Kaonashi is bound to create nightmares.

And what’s a Comic Con without a swarm of Spidey?

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Web of intrigue? Or a bunch of people without imaginations or resources?

I must admit I was a bit disappointed this year. There wasn’t any real banging exhibitions that’d capture my imagination. In 2017, there was a terrific curated exhibition for Star Wars (and I blogged about it). Also, The Tick and his vehicle came that year, plus so much other things to see. But this year? Sure, there’s the usual video game corrals with the million mile line. And the authors who charge $100 for an autograph. There are panels that are quite public and others that you can’t get into because the line is from here to Texas. But it’s so crowded and there didn’t seem to be any visitor-friendly exhibitions for the past two years. There’s a lot to take in, and I’m glad the event is so successful. I do support it, but maybe next year I’m going to try for a Thursday, which seems to be the slowest of all. They were practically begging people to buy tickets for that day, although a friend of mine who went said it was kind of busy.

After hours of barely managing to see all that we came to see, Arwen and Aragorn were getting mighty hot wandering around in those heavy robes, and my back began to kill me after toting around fifty pounds of graphic novels. We struggled to find the exit, although we kept stumbling into loads of entrances. Along the way, we ran into literally dozens of Spidermen/people, who gathered together for a show of kinship. 

Finally, just before the event ended, we called it a day. I had a great time as usual, although this blog can’t even begin to touch upon all that I experienced. The photos don’t do it justice either, but if I wrote about every single thing, including the overpriced food and standing in enormous lines for the toilet, this blog would never end.

So I leave you to enjoy what little I’ve written, and hope to bring you much more next year!

My Summer Reads   Leave a comment

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Since I write speculative science fiction with strong female protagonists, I’d thought I’d spend this summer reading female sci-fi writers writing books with strong female protagonists. You know, to see how they do it. Maybe I can pick up a few tips here and there.

So what’s in the pile?

All of Elizabeth Moon’s “Vatta’s War” series. I accidentally picked up the fourth book in the series, “Command Decision,” not realizing it was a later entry in the storyline when I bought it. I read it anyway. Sure, I didn’t get some references but it didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve got four other titles to read so I know what’s going on. Then after that, Ms. Moon added “Vatta’s Peace” to the collection. I’m looking forward to adding that to the list as well.

Last winter, as I sat on the examination table waiting for my doctor to see me, I occupied myself by reading “Command Decision.” The doctor walked in and noticed the book. He immediately pulled it from my hands and said, “This series IS AMAZING! So what did you think of the others?” That’s when I admitted I hadn’t read them. He then goes on telling me the plot lines, characters’ foibles and a few spoilers. While I enjoyed his hearty endorsement of the series, I fortunately forgot most of what he said. I’d love to find out for myself what dangerous situations Kylara Vatta has to dig her way through.

Octavia E. Butler, “Parable of the Sower,” “Parable of the Talents,” and “Kindred.” Oh, wowThis writer has me gobsmacked. No wonder she was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and two-time winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. Not only is her prose wonderful, her stories will leave you on the edge of your seat. One can never be certain about anything in her worlds. Twists aplenty. Beloved characters die. In her worlds, nothing is certain except uncertainty.

I read “Parable of the Sower” first. Butler predicted the present measles epidemic when it was written in 1993. In “Parable of the Talents,” she predicts a Trump-like character who runs and wins the office of president, and the ensuing rise of racism and rabid Christians  wreaking havoc on an already fragile America.

Butler’s foresight all those years ago gave me chills. I’ve actually put sticky notes in the pages where her words ring close to true. But my favorite is the sayings she created in the books, and one in particular:

“All that you change, changes you.”

Right now I’ve begun “Kindred.” I’ve only read the first chapter and the range of detail and emotions she conveys has me hooked.

My sister teaches college. Her school offers a course on Octavia E. Butler’s literature. I only wish I lived nearby. I’d audit the class!

Happy Summer Reading, Folks!

 

 

 

 

Limited Universe   Leave a comment

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It’s been roughly a year since I’ve written in this blog. There’s a reason for that, actually. And it’s as vast as the Newfoundland wilderness, as pictured above.

I’ve been thrusting all my efforts into completing my book edits, rewrites, corrections, updates and such things one does to get a manuscript off to my agent. It took a lot more time than I ever thought it would. Truly.

The story is tech-heavy. Every time I thought I had something fresh and new, my take on whatever technology I included in my story seemed old and antiquated with each revision. So I wound up taking great chances on what finally ended up in there. God, I hope what I created sounds plausible and not stupid…

My agent received the manuscript two days before Christmas. Then I took a sorely-needed break. Turned my attentions elsewhere. Read two wonderful novels I should’ve read long ago: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and Walkaway by Cory Doctorow. Plus I read a series I’d been meaning to get to: Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series.  So all of that kept me quite busy.

Reading after writing is like a wonderful spa visit. I immerse myself deep into another writer’s prose, drinking it in like a gulp of fresh mountain air. It’s resetting my imagination. I enjoy seeing how others put words to good use, to describe things in other ways, to invent new realities.

And after I turn that last page and finish the book, I feel a sense of regret. Of saying goodbye. Letting my new friends go and continue on with their lives without me. Because you know those characters will.

Maybe that’s why I chose to write a series. I’ve started the second book now. Figured it was a good time to do so, now that my agent has the first.

To tell you the truth, I got a little sick with my characters. I visited them so often I’m sure they got fed up with my prying into their activities daily. And just when they thought I’d leave them alone once and for all, I rewrote a scene. Or ten. Ripped out their old dialogue and inserted fresh.

Now, my characters move forward, onto new adventures. Face staggering challenges! Question their place in the order of things. Will they make it? Or will they succumb to a deadly nightmare?

Truth be told, I know how the second book in the series starts, ends and gets to the middle, but I’m fishing around for plot movement right about now. I’ve got plot holes that’ll rival black holes right now. And when I do, I take a break and visit posts from NASA, ISS, JPL and Emergency Kittens on Twitter.

But it’s my goal to continue up with this blog. It’s nice to have a diversion apart from writing my book. I missed posting it and promised myself I’d do it every week…but never did. So I will.

I hope you’ll follow along in my few adventures in writing, as well as my musings including the moon, stars and beyond.

 

Posted April 2, 2019 by seleneymoon in Editing, Personal Anecdotes, Sci-Fi Books, Writing

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Moving + Writing = AAAAAAUUGHH!   Leave a comment

Moving Day ~ 1955 North American Van Lines ad, Roger Wilkerson, artist

Here we see a happy, cheerful event, perhaps a turning point in this 1950s perfect version of setting up home in a nice, shiny suburb. The movers, meticulously dressed in sharp, crisp uniforms, shift this family’s worldly goods from the immaculate truck into, one presumes, an immaculate house. A perky puppy leaps near the cute kid’s trike as Mom beams her approval. Smart move! she’s thinking, Now, what box did I pack the scotch in…

In the real world, moving is no such thing as presented above. I should know – I’ve just moved. On top of that I downsized. Who needs all that space when you can streamline life down a few more boxes than a college dorm graduate?

My belongings originated from several destinations: a storage space miles from my new home, plus the stuff I was dragging my former house. I selected some pieces from my parents’ house (would you leave behind the Danish modern meets American Southwest bedroom set? Or the glass lamp with the faded lemons on the inside? I think not) brought more from my last house and wedded the two in domestic bliss.

Since I always need to write, my desk and computer get first dibs on placement and setup. Trouble was, I pulled out all of the wires and neglected to individually wrap/identify each. A spaghetti pile of cables defied my will as I labored to separate them and identify their purpose. My brain scrambled. Now what does this go to again? After a while, I sorted and connected, but not without a gourmet selection of unprintable words.

And even though staring at my computer allows me to feel somewhat normal, a partial turn of my chair reminds me of how much I have yet to do. Sure, I took the worse of my boxes and shoved them in the basement. It’s easy. There they’ll stay, until that next spurt of boundless energy springs forth, oh, let’s say, in 2025. Do I really need that stuff anyway?

What I need is to write. I have a whole host of line editing to do for my book, plus this blog, as well as other pieces and bits I’ve promised to do. While I might be frustrated, I’d be worse if I didn’t have my instrument of creativity available. So please excuse me while I return to my most important task at hand: ignoring the boxes while I figure out how I’m going to make my unpublished work a  runaway bestseller.

Now, where was I again? Ah yes, Chapter three…

 

Posted October 29, 2017 by seleneymoon in Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi Books, Writing

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Line Editing A-Go-Go   Leave a comment

How odd the screen looks when you take a picture of it with an iPhone…

It’s come down to this: either I buck up and face the monumental editing task that awaits me, or give up being a writer.

I’ve been shopping around this novel series a bit when, not surprisingly, I’ve been turned down. Yeah, yeah, rejection is inevitable. I ain’t crying about that. It’s part of it. Busting your cherry in the publishing world. One can’t call themselves a writer if they’ve never been rejected at least a hundred times, right?

But after I’ve been subjected to line editing…well, I’m a bit awed that my grasp of the English language seems tenuous at best.

See, for years I’ve been a copywriter. I’ve created pamphlets with the best of them. Wrote web content. Magazine articles. Radio scripts. Flyers. Really, anything that needed describing for a demographic, I did it. Always kept strict adherence to my grammar. Rarely use an Oxford comma or dangling participle. It was this ability to write, coupled with my vivid imagination, that goaded me into writing. And yeah, the story I came up with’s brilliant.

The way I tell it…let’s say it’s a work in progress.

Everyone needs a good editor to make work shine. Hey, diamonds aren’t anything to brag about when you yank them from the earth. Takes a lot of refinement before someone at the local chain store decides it’s the one for the hon. And sometimes a writer gets too close to his or her work. Can’t see errors. I bet if you pressed your face right up to the Mona Lisa, all you’d see is a glob (or the hand of the armed security guards ready to haul you off). You’ve read your work so many times even your characters are sick of invading their turf.

I asked a seasoned, published writer (in this case, my sister Gwen) if she wouldn’t mind reading my book. Since she has an MFA in creative writing and is a college professor, I figured why not. 2,454 comments later, she provided me with all of the details of what makes my book not exactly the novel it can be. While she agreed the story was compelling, the massive instances of head-hopping, substituting internal dialogue for first person singular, thin descriptions of locations or purpose of plot, amongst other things, she pretty much said I needed to go back to the drawing board, but this time with guidelines.

That’s a lot to absorb. Many writers would find all those comments intimidating or insulting. Not me. If I ever want my book to see the light of day, I’m getting to work.

Right after I come home from New York Comic Con this Saturday. I promise!

 

 

 

The Takeaway   Leave a comment

Jennifer Armentrout

Last weekend I attended the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference. As always, it was a splendid affair, full of other writers and readers eager to meet old friends, make new acquaintances, freshen up skills and even make a few pitches to agents and editors. I managed to do all of the above, and more.

Perhaps what influenced me the most was the above speaker – Jennifer Armentrout. She’s widely known as a Young Adult and New Adult writer, but one glance at her list of books reveals her prolific ability to write just about anything. Ms. Armentrout was the keynote speaker on Saturday, delivering one of the memorable speeches I’ve ever heard.

Jennifer Armentrout delivering the keynote speech at the LSFW Writers Conference

After listening to her, it wasn’t difficult to understand why she writes as much as she does. Sure, she loves her craft. Has a fantastic imagination. Can spin tales out of nothingness and make them live in universes not quite explored by others. But that’s not what hooked me. It’s what she does: take risks.

Anyone in a creative field has to either take risks or quit. It’s not a wimpy business for sissies, no way. Although there’s plenty of self-doubt to paint the Sistine Chapel over and again, one learns quickly that if one keeps that up, one’s going nowhere in the publishing world. Yeah, in drearier moods I count myself among the talentless and weak. And sure, who doesn’t need the occasional pat-on-the-back to be reminded that your prose is worth reading?

Jennifer won’t have it. She’s got books to write. Amazingly, she’s stuck with the same agent for her entire career, but she’s taken some incredible risks. Taken offers from publishers who might not have paid her what another would, but offered her greater freedom for her creativity. Not afraid to tackle a subject she knows little about. Maybe even try self-publishing and see what happens. At any rate, she sits down in front of her computer and composes her works for eight hours every day. Sometimes more. But she has to. It’s part of her, to dream, to create, to write.

Perhaps the most powerful engine driving her is a simple matter of her health. At a routine eye exam, it was discovered  she has retinitis pigmentosa, or RP. It’s the gradual withdrawal of one’s ability to see. It’s a cruel disease. As it progresses, the peripheral vision fades, resulting in ever-increasing tunnel vision, until the curtains close forever. There is no cure. At the present time, her vision is still with her, although her peripheral vision is fading.

No one can predict when or how long her vision will last, but Jennifer isn’t waiting for the lights to dim forever. She’s got stories to tell. She’s not waiting for blindness to set in. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself, nor does she expect anyone else to. So there she is, eight hours a day, writing like there’s no tomorrow, taking risks, and nothing will ever stop her.

It gave me a whole new perspective on not only writing, but life. We are put here on earth to succeed. If we don’t, we’ll fade. Why should I let anything hold me back from trying my very best to endure? Aren’t my words worth the risk?

Why, indeed?

Why I Write Science Fiction   Leave a comment

Tomorrow I’m going to a writers conference. I’m expecting the turnout to be a little low, mainly because of the awful weather we’ve been having.  Unless you’re planning to go skiing, two feet of snow with more expected tends to put people in a sour mood. That doesn’t mean the conference won’t be fantastic; it will. We have two huge NYT bestsellers as keynote speakers, a whole batch of editors and agents from big names will be taking pitches, fantastic workshops to take and panel discussions to watch, among other things. Besides, there’s going to be friends I hardly ever see in attendance too, so that means some serious catch-up time over a few, so we can discuss our works and lives.

I joined this well-respected group several years ago, under the influence of my sister Gwen. It’s called Liberty States Fiction Writers and it’s been around for longer than I care to admit. We’re in the process of making many changes, including the website, to accommodate our growing membership and genres represented. Most of our members are published, some by big names. There’s even New York Times bestselling novelists that are part of the team.

If anything, I’ve invested a lot of myself with LSFW, and in turn, they’ve given me the confidence to forge ahead, even when I’m sure I’m a failure. Even the most confident of writers need a bonk on the head occasionally, or a few words of encouragement at least, to get moving towards that computer and be creative. I never imagined I’d be able to write an entire book, and here I am well into the second.

Many writers I’m around are romance novelists. They’re all great at it. Come up with real tear-jerkers and tales of sorrowful gladness. Stories range from no-holds-barred sentimentality to BSDM. That’s fine. Even LGBT romances are on the upswing – good news.  One of the best LGBT writers I know is a fine, humorous man and an excellent teacher whose lessons I apply to my work.

Me, though, I’ve never been one for sentimentality. You might even call me a cynic. True love didn’t conquer me. It led me down a golden path and kept me hidden, until it gave me the boot. I’ve never had much success with romance, so anything I’d write regarding that subject might sound dismal, hopeless and anything but happy. No Hollywood endings for me, no siree!

Instead, I found solace in situations that simply didn’t exist here on Earth or in our timeline. Sure, the characters might inhabit a strange world, but it’s my world, dammit, and if I want my characters to explore the possibilities of atomic substructures in subspace, so be it. Scientists quibbling over launch trajectories in equatorial locations seemed so much more interesting than, let’s say, getting flowers from a handsome fella. Not knowing what lies within that abandoned research facility on the moon and worse, who – or what – attacked it is definitely more intriguing than what dress the bride’s going to wear. Genetic mutations, nanoscience, coded machinations set to manipulate and govern sure beat the heck out of will she or won’t he.

That’s not to say my characters don’t believe in romance. They do, they engage in it and it doesn’t turn out well for them, either…but they find themselves working on scientific issues and dodging conventions while building worlds using insane technologies and writing sick codes. They don’t have time for flowers and chocolate. They get right down to business, then figure out how to beat the enemy at his/her own game.

They say you write about with what you’re familiar. To me, that’s sci-fi. It’s been my best friend since post-toddlerhood, has never let me down (although I’ve been disappointed a few times) and keeps me on the level. And creative.

So that’s my story. What’s yours?

Many Happy Returns of the Day   Leave a comment

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A birthday cake of dubious function and flavor

Tomorrow is my birthday. Amazing how they creep up on you. It’s not like I wasn’t prepared or anything; February 16 seems to come every year, at least once. And sure, I’d like a cake like the one pictured above, although I think I’d stand a fair distance from it, should the attractive brunette choose to light it.

I’ve heard the expression, “Many happy returns of the day” said to me on my birthday. It sounds really nice, if you ask me. But what exactly is getting or being returned here? I did a little investigation, and here’s what I came up with:

  1. The Earth has gone around one time and arrived at approximately the same place as it did a year ago, so made a return.
  2. It’s the name of numerous television show episodes, films and songs.
  3. One’s birthday will be full of happiness and joy, necessitating a wonderful return on the “investment” of a birthday.
  4. As found in Wikipedia’s entry for the phrase:

    …by Lady Newdigate in a letter written in 1789 (and published in Newdigate-Newdegate Cheverels in 1898)[1]

    “Many happy returns of þe day to us my Dr Love”

    The letter was written in London on the 31st of May 1789 by Hester Margaretta, Lady Newdigate to her husband, Sir Roger Newdigate, 5th Baronet, and refers to a wish for their wedding day.

  5. Winnie-the-Pooh preferred using this greeting as he wished his friends a happy birthday.

Now, I’m not one of those who gets all teary-eyed when I’ve gained an extra year or two. I mean, I can’t help it, nor can anyone. I get more upset with circumstances surrounding my life than the actual years marking its passage.

But there is something I can do, and that’s celebrate. It’s an abbreviated vacation from all the woes, sufferings and stupidity that seem to fill my life these days, and it’s an excellent excuse to eat all of the things I shouldn’t be eating (except on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, National Potato Day, etc.). Plus, I get to hang with my friends and complain about things in general, all while overindulging.

So what will I do on my birthday? Get up, go to the gym, continue working on my second novel, eat, get dressed, go out, eat, have some fun, eat cake, drink and otherwise be merry.

Life is rough. Why make it any harder by not celebrating a birthday?

 

The Surreal Life   Leave a comment

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I’ve been asleep at the wheel lately. Dali’s picture best describes how I’ve been feeling as of late: melted, propped up, in a barren landscape far from any civilization save for a remote outpost of questionable value.

Life isn’t always fair. It splays out an awful lot of unwanted changes, blitzkrieg-style. For the past year, I’ve been caught in that proverbial rock-in-a-hard-place spot that makes it hard to go forward. Seems like I’m forever exhausted. Depressed. Unmotivated and uninspired.

Last autumn, I shared these sentiments with a fellow writer friend. He’d been thrown a horrible loss – his father was killed – and said that writing was the best therapy to work through his grief.

Took me a long while to sink in, but yes, he’s right. Absolutely right. I have to force myself to lose myself in dreams, not to sleep, but to write.

It’s been so long that I’ve created anything meaningful that I nearly lost faith in my abilities. What if my words amount to drivel? Shapeless streams of verbiage? Worse, an over reliance of adverbs?

I sat down with my second manuscript, still uncompleted, and gave it a good, hard look. It’d been months since I added anything to it, plus I have about two-thirds more to write before it’s finished. Sure, there’s a lot of changes I need to make, stuff needs to be tightened up and fleshed out. But you know what? It’s not bad. It’s not even a real first draft yet.

As I read through it, I gathered the plot’s flow in my brain. The characters arose from their long rest and seemed refreshed to resume their roles in my imagination. They even gave me a few clues as to how they’d like to beef up their storylines and get that action rolling once more. After going through it a few times, misty sketches became solid outlines. And here’s something positive: once I got that manuscript back inside me, the holes in the plot that dogged me so much are now filling in. No more potholes, but real patches to sketchy patches that vexed me.

My sister Gwen’s been egging me on, too. Said I need to get on with it. Claim my talent back from the dead and stop crying zombie. Get on with it already. Of course, she’s right.

Perhaps the best words of wisdom I found was from a friend on Facebook, yet another writer. He posted this link from Cracked.com – “How To Be a Better Person.” It’s REALLY hard to admit to the truths in it, but the short of it is that if you want to be a success, you’re going to have to work your ass off, accept failure as a learning opportunity, and expect to keep working until you either give up or shrug off frustration, obstacles, naysayers, pests, pessimists, and your own laziness and limitations in order to succeed. See, the longer you work at something – and it doesn’t have to be writing – the better you become. That, and all the losers quit, therefore opening your field a little wider. And that, my friends, is where an opportunity might show up.

Now, I need to take my own advice. I’ve been out of the writing loop so long that it’s a little scary sticking my feet back in the icy pool. It’s going to take a few dips before I get used to the numbness, but after a while I’ll get used to it again. And I’ll swim.

Here’s to 2017. My year of literary triumph, and yours too.

 

 

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