New Plot Bunnies. Maybe I *Will* Write Fiction Again Someday.

In the last month or so, I’ve had two “plot bunnies” occur to me.

The first one I probably will never actually write, because I don’t know enough about the music industry.

When I was at the Yatra/Iglesias/Martin concert, Ricky Martin gave us this speech. I’m trying to remember the exact words, but it was about, like, putting the whole COVID thing behind us (not like living dangerously, but like not being afraid?) and looking forward to a new world and things like that.

I started pondering a singer who had the power of suggestion that could give his audience hope and determination to make a better world like that. Then I considered the certainty that the recording industry would at least try to abuse those abilities. What would make the singer make the break from the music industry? What would that look like? Would it be ethical to use those powers on an audience even if it were for a good cause? Would the attendees of the concert need to sign a consent form? Would that cause the fans to fall away or become more enthusiastic?

Way too many questions than answers for a situation like that. And, again, I know nothing about the recording industry, so I would only display my ignorance by trying to write this.

If anyone who reads this post would like this plot bunny, feel free. Some kind of attribution would be nice.

Then there’s the second “plot bunny.” This one I like and I may even take a stab at writing. It’s a reversed, or maybe even inverted, Hallmark Christmas movie-type story. And I have a bunch of subsidiary ideas that are in parentheses throughout because, like I said, I’m actually tempted to try this one.

Now, remember that I’m ace and probably more than a little aro, so . . . .

Our heroine lives in a small town where she runs a business (coffee shop? bookstore? independent pharmacy?). She’s been with her boyfriend since forever (high school?) and while she loves him, he’s self-destructive (meth? alcohol? reckless driving while on meth or alcohol?) and it’s killing her to watch him.

So she leaves. She breaks up with him on New Year’s Day and moves to the “big city” (Chicago? San Antonio?). We spend almost a year in book-time on her plans to move (what’s she going to do with her business and home in her small town? how will she find a new place in her new home?) and has her grand opening around Thanksgiving.

Then we watch both her business and her personal life grow. She meets a handsome guy in a suit, coded as possible romantic interest, but it turns out that he’s interested. She’s still mourning her relationship and isn’t interested. And when he won’t back off when she tells him to, she would never be interested. She ends up having to do something drastic (police? self-defense classes? public humiliation? a scary friend?) to get him to leave her alone.

Over the next few years, she opens a second location, develops a found family and gets a dog. Her found family gets together for Christmas. The end.

Originally, the pet was going to be a cat, but they always show women with cats and men with dogs, so why not switch that up a bit. Also, having a dog would give her chances to get out and meet people in a way that a cat wouldn’t.

I may also throw a bone to the “but she neeeeds a maaaan” part of the audience and have one of her found family members be the child of a matchmaker, either professional or avocational, and then if the reader wants to imagine Our Heroine in a relationship, there’s an opening for one someday.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Today we have Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, by Luvvie Ajayi Jones. I loved this book and found it very inspiring the first time I read it. In fact, when I bought tickets for the virtual book tour for Jenny Lawon’s Broken, it was very serendipitous that I had passed up Neil Gaiman and Judy Blume* for Luvvie Ajayi Jones. I didn’t know Jones from anything, but by the time the tour date came, I was almost as pleased to see her as to see Jenny Lawson. And as I wade farther into my planned writing and (hopefully!) proofreading businesses, I may need to reread this occasionally. I have it on my bed right now, waiting its turn after I finish Still Life.

*Put a pin in this idea — I need to write a post about Blume. As a former ace kid, I always kind of had issues. I’ll get into that later.

Back to Cleaning?

I’ve been having a heck of a time with writer’s block lately. This is hilarious because the whole point of NaNoWriMo is to teach yourself to just write. Well, I’m 11 days in and that’s not happening.

So I’m considering procrastinating a bit on writing and maybe doing some thinking about writing while I do it by working on decluttering my closet, cleaning the floors, bleaching my shower, etc.

So. I just hauled my current bag of old clothes out to my car, found most of the pants that I’m planning to cut into strips and macrame into a bag or something.

My weight is doing weird things right now. I’m exercising and watching what I eat and so forth, but I seem to be actually putting on weight? One of the dresses that I am jettisoning was too loose on me once upon a time and now it’s too tight. I don’t even know.

I cleaned out my car a bit and then did a little cleaning in the kitchen. Meanwhile, I’ve decided to write a very, very spoilery Wheel of Time post about my favorite character, who has just made her first appearance in my current reread.

I’ll need a good photo to use as spoiler space, though.

Maybe I’ll even put a cut on this post so that someone just glancing down my home page won’t get spoiled. Because, argh! It’s just. So good.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have the second in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters. This may well be my favorite book in the series. I mean, Percy, Annabeth, Tyson, Grover. What’s not to love?

Now if only I could find my copy of The Lightning Thief. Grrr.

A New Chapter in my Attempt to Dictate Entries

Well, I have finally given up and signed up for a for pay software dictation software.

None of the free software I’ve tried was a damn bit of good, so I downloaded Dragon Anywhere.

Hopefully, this will be a worthwhile thing. I have just signed up for a one week free trial, just to see if this is any good.

Next up, is to see if the wireless headset I use works.

Now that I have this new set up, I up completely out of ideas about what to write about. Hopefully this writer’s block will end soon.

Next question is whether I can transfer this over to WordPress.

Apparently the wireless headset does not work because when I do not have the phone to my mouth it only picks up a few words. Good to know. Now the next question. Can I walk with this? So far I’ve made it about half a block from my house and it’s still working. It’s night, and I’m looking around looking over the phone to be able to see what I’m doing.

Theoretically, I should be able to use the wireless headset. But it isn’t working for some reason. I mean, if you can make phone calls on it, shouldn’t you be able to dictate with it? I will have to futz around with it to see what’s going on with that.

I found a button that claims to copy everything to the clipboard. I am not sure if it’s going to take everything, and I don’t know if it’s going to put everything in the other paragraphs in the correct order, but let’s give it a try. No, I realized that I need to download the WordPress app to my phone so that I can just copy and paste.

There is a pair of ladies walking along behind me talking and I don’t know if this is going to pick up what they’re saying or not I think it might be this could be an issue.

They continued to go straight and I just turned that he will be okay if. If this is able to pick up other conversations, that may be an issue on some of my walks, because I do like to walk, like, on the Riverwalk where there are usually a lot of people.

I just installed WordPress on my phone, and my phone says I’m out of memory. So, it looks like I’m going to be cleaning up the memory of my phone for a while. Wish me luck.

I did it! I’m editing this post on my desktop computer after moving it from Dragon to the WordPress app.

I Went Downtown Tonight (November 1, 2021)

I sat around all day, working on my reading and writing blog posts (this is my fourth post for today, and will go live on November 5), but not getting any exercise, or any reading on The Eye of the World.

I was so close to having The Eye of the World finished and I figured that a trip from my house to the Pearl and then walking downtown from the Pearl and then reversing the trip should be enough time to finish The Eye of the World and, just maybe, get started on The Great Hunt. And it was, too. Yay!

I was a little nervous a couple of times during my walk, but I mostly enjoyed the walk. I saw a couple of Christmas trees while I was out and about, but mostly it felt like a nice, autumnal evening.

I enjoy taking night photographs in the city because the play of light and shadow is so interesting. During the daytime around here, everything’s so bright. We get an occasional darkly overcast day, which makes photography interesting, but mostly it’s just . . . sunny.

Tonight’s picture of the Alamo. There were people standing in front taking family photos, so I decided to get an angled shot for this one.

Unfortunately, even after all of that walking, I’m still 2,000 steps short and it’s 10:45 at night. Let’s see if I can knock some of that out before bedtime (which is about an hour away).

And So It Begins . . .

With a nice case of writer’s block.

I remember being told in that past that when you have writer’s block, just throw a T-Rex into the situation to give your characters something to react to, but since I’m writing autobiographically, I think that’s probably a bad idea.

I had a streak of housecleaning today. Now that I’m going through my books and discarding the ones that I don’t think I’ll ever read again, I’m starting to have empty bookshelves. Okay Empty book shelf. Which is no longer empty because I have 10 years’ worth of old National Geographics on that shelf now. But that, also, leads to cleaner areas elsewhere. Eventually it might look like human beings live in this house. Or maybe not. It remains to be seen.

We had, by my calculations, 30 trick-or-treaters today. Not as good as last year when I had to retreat when I ran out of candy, but better than in past years.

I keep saying, “today” when it’s technically November 1 now. My days begin and end when I get out of bed in the morning. And I haven’t been to bed yet, so it’s still today for me.

I already had a post lined up for November 1, so I guess I’ll queue this up for November . . . 2? I’d like to keep up my one-post-a-day momentum until I build up an audience of some sort, but I don’t want to run out of books that I’ve read before the end of the month.

Well, I’ll schedule this for the 2nd and we’ll see if I can write another couple of posts today. Once I run out of books, then I’ll start spreading them out a bit so that I have time to do more reading for more Gratuitous Amazon Links.

I wonder if my next post, which I’ll write after I get some sleep, could be the first of a Wheel of Time Amazon Prime series countdown, like I did with my NaNoWriMo countdown. The problem with that is that, since I’ve posted November 1 (and 2) already, my countdown will be outdated before I can post it.

Oh, well, I’ll come up with something. Or not. We’ll see.

For today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, we have Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale. I love this book. It’s the tale of Miri, who lives in a country in fantasy-equivalent Europe. The town she comes from, Mount Eskel, is a quarry town, where they quarry a white stone that is more or less fantasy-marble. The god of their world has told his priests that the next queen of their land will come from Mount Eskel, and so the government have to set up a school to teach a selection of girls from the town some of the things they’ll need to know when the prince chooses one of them to be his bride. It’s just . . . :chef’s kiss:.

I Should Be in Bed

I really should. I have to be up in a little bit, but I just finished Hollywood: Photos and Stories from Foreverland, by Keegan Allen and I have thoughts.

I bought this book from the discount table at a store. I’m pretty sure it was my own store, but maybe it was a different Walmart. I started it a while ago and really enjoyed it, but something interrupted my reading and I just found it again and decided to sit down and read it cover-to-cover.

It is a truly fast read — most of the book is photographs — but it made me think things. So I’m going to try to capture some of my thoughts before they disappear.

I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of pictures of people. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a sign of autism* or of facing some of the abuse I’ve faced in my life or if it’s just how I am and there is no real “why.” So, when the first few pages of landscape turned into pictures of people, I was kind of disappointed. But Allen clearly loves to photograph people and somehow it shines through in the beauty of the people he’s photographed in this book.

Not everyone in this book is conventionally beautiful. There are old people and scarred people and one guy with a forked tongue, and somehow, they’re all beautiful. I wonder what his secret is. Maybe it’s just love.

There are also poems and little vignettes written by Allen that are stories of the people who come to Hollywood. Some are running from something and some are running to something. Some achieve what they dream of and some do not.

And as I read them and empathized with them (yay for reading!) I also reflected a bit on my own past. Recently one of my friends posted a quote about how we become what we need to be to survive. And that is very true in my case, but it’s time to expand beyond that, I think.

My whole childhood, I wanted to write. One of my first pieces of fiction was a story I wrote when I was in . . . second grade? . . . about a friendly black widow spider. I’d just learned about venomous spiders and they frightened me, so I decided to take away the fear by making the spider a friend.

A few years later, I discovered the Nancy Drew books and decided that writing adventure/mystery books in that vein would be a good way to become a writer. I was horrifically embarrassed by my first attempt, in which my girl hero was visiting Egypt and got attacked by a lion. My uncle knew that I wanted to be a writer and he asked me what I was writing. I was afraid to tell him because, well, a lion? Really? He asked me if I knew where lions were from, and I said, Africa, and he asked me if I knew where Egypt was, and I said Africa. He told me that why would I think it was stupid to have someone attacked by an African animal in Africa. That made me feel a lot better. Rest in peace, Uncle Edward.

The next big turning point in my writing was in high school. My freshman year, my mom was not impressed by my high school’s newspaper**, so she encouraged me to apply my sophomore year. So I did, and by golly, the only people who got in were those who had had straight As in freshman English. I hadn’t; so, so much for that. I very briefly considered journalism after that, but gave up on that idea quickly because if I couldn’t get into my high school’s newspaper, what was the point?

My junior year, I sweated blood over a short story about a girl who worked in the local ice cream restaurant (based not-so-loosely on the Baskin Robbins down the street from my house). Several of my friends loved the story and I submitted it to my high school’s annual literature magazine and it didn’t get in. My friend Donna was incensed. She actually went to the teachers’ lounge to ask the faculty advisor why it hadn’t gotten in, and the advisor said that it was a great story, but it was too long, so they couldn’t publish it.

My senior year, I had a creative writing course, and several of the things I wrote for that class did get into the magazine, despite my not having submitted them. My teacher submitted them, which was amazing.

Then I had a hard time settling into college and by the time I got it back together, I was an A student in Education and my writing fell by the wayside for those years. I toyed with a novel about two teenagers with hyperactive and distracted ADD (I didn’t realize that was what I was writing, but yeah) who go on a fantasy adventure and find themselves becoming friends, but that never really went anywhere.

I got my writing back together in the mid-9os when I discovered fanfiction. I wrote a lot a lot of stories during that era. Then Thomas and I split up and . . . so much for that.

That brings us to the current era, when I’m having trouble writing fiction. When I found myself needing money, I made a few hundred dollars writing for content farms. I wrote some history, some travel, some . . . gardening? And really discovered that non-fiction has some appeal for me. If you’d’ve told 13-year-old me that I’d enjoy writing history and travel so much, I’m not sure I’d’ve believed it.

I’m now considering some fiction. It’s like, oh, maybe a Rubik’s cube or something. I take my fiction out and fiddle with it a bit and then put it back. I then return to my history and travel writing and book reviews.

The two fiction things I have at the forefront of my mind right now are a fantasy novel that started out as historical fiction about a world where Chinese explorers discovered North America before the Europeans do and a steampunk story about a sibling pair carrying classified information cross-country from their dad to their mom. I’ll continue playing with these and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll be a novelist.

I might even actually write that ADD-kids book I wrote two chapters of back in the 1980s.


*I’ve never been diagnosed and I’ve done online screenings that say that I probably am not diagnosable, but I do have some traits that people on the spectrum have. If I’m on the spectrum, I’m on what one of my friends calls the not-inconvenient end of it.

**Now, I’m paraphrasing here, since this was, oh, dear God, 41 years ago, but she said something about how the newspaper read like it had been written in a foreign language and translated badly into English.

In Searching for a Tagline . . .

This is going to be a short post to make up for missing September 16.

I’ve never chosen a tagline for this blog because nothing really appealed to me. So I just put “A Blog in Search of a Tagline” up there.

That being said, I may be on the track of something usable. I read a study once that said that people who spend their money on experiences are happier than people who spend their money on things.

And, well, I definitely spend my money on experiences — travel and books. And now I’m blogging about travel and books. So I think that this weekend I’m going to dig through Google for that study and see if there’s any quotes I can make punchy enough for a tagline.

In other news, a new series based on the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson is coming out on Amazon Prime in November, so I’m thinking that maybe that’ll be a theme for NaNoWrMo this year. Maybe not the only theme, but definitely a theme. Some posts will be basic plot summaries, some will be in-depth looks at the characters, some will be squeeing about spoilers.

I need to come up with some idea of how to mark spoiler posts. When I first started blogging, I was told that it was polite to use cuts so that people visiting my blog wouldn’t be overwhelmed by text and scared off. So I did. And what traffic I did have plummeted. I went back in and removed the cuts and it went back up. So I don’t use cuts anymore. Maybe someday I’ll get steady traffic and will be able to keep it with cuts, but for now, no. I don’t think it’s very professional to use ROT-13 in a blog, but that may be my best solution just so no one can see that (choosing random surprise ending from a movie here . . . .) Rand’s been dead all along.

So I guess that today we’re having a Germane Amazon Link: The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan. I’ll probably not have Germane Amazon Links all month, though, just in posts where I talk about events of one single book. For posts about character arcs and so on, I may do Gratuitous Amazon Links.

Crap. Where Did I Leave Off?

I want to try for a mini-NaNoWriMo for September. I don’t expect much, since it’s almost September 3 and I’ve written, well, about this much.

I left off on my travel memories sometime in the 1980s and I still have 30-some years to go. I also have been doing a lot of reading this year. Like, right now, Goodreads thinks I’ve read more than 90 books.

I haven’t read more than 90 books, because there are a bunch of books that I don’t ever intend to read again and I got in the habit of flagging them as read on the date that I remembered having read them. This adds quite a few to my book total. I’m slowly moving them to December 31, 2020, so that when I actually finish 2021, I’ll have a correct number and then my numbers for 2021 won’t be thrown off until . . . .

Maybe I should move them farther back. Or, yeah, I’ll just make December 31, 2020 my permanent place to abandon those books and from 2021 on, my book counts will be accurate. We’ll play with that idea at first and see how it goes.

I’m really thinking about taking turns writing about books I’ve really enjoyed (with not-so-gratuitous Amazon links therein) and books that I didn’t enjoy at all (with slightly-more-gratuitous Amazon links).

I think that has potential.

Now where did I leave off on travel memories? I didn’t realize that I had finished our 1988 New York/Philadelphia/Baltimore trip. Woot!

So now I’m on our 1989 trip to Florida. I only did half of this trip with my folks. I drove down to Florida with them, then flew back and stayed at my in-laws’s so that I could spend some time with Thomas.

So it looks like next up is St. Augustine, Florida and then Epcot. Yay!

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Turns out my Amazon links are a real mess. I don’t even know where I left off. I think I’ve spent more time poring over my Goodreads list to figure out where the heck I am. I seemed to have gone from October of 2020 to . . . oh. I figured it out. I read Solutions and Other Problems in October of 2020 *and* in January of 2021.

So. Back to October 2020. Or, well, November of 2020. In November, I reread a whole bunch of graphic novels and collections of issues of comic books. I need to figure out how to tackle the collections because marching lockstep through Ms. Marvel Volume I, Ms. Marvel Volume 2, . . . doesn’t sound like fun.

So let’s do the beginning of the comic sequels to the Avatar the Last Airbender series. Or, maybe we should start with the Avatar the Last Airbender series and then go from there. This link is for Blu-Ray, but you can get DVDs from a link on that page.

Next up, The Promise comic sequel. Woo!

Series I’ve Read: Philip Jose Farmer’s The Dungeon

Oh. Wow. While going through my memory for books that I’ve read, I just remembered The Dungeon.

The Dungeon is about a group of adventurers traveling through, well a dungeon that’s somewhere undefined. It may have been underground or in a pocket universe or wherever.

Our original point-of-view character is Clive Folliot, who is looking for his missing brother, Neville. Along the way he teams up with a giant spider, a cyborg, and his own granddaughter (great-granddaughter? great-great granddaughter?) They have adventures with public domain fictional characters, figures from mythology, and so forth.

Here’s the kicker, though. The Dungeon is a six-part series where the first and last books were written by one writer, and the middle four were written by three different writers.

And for the most part, the three writers play well together and the story holds together really well. Until the last book, that is, when apparently the original writer didn’t like where the middle four books had gone and wrenched it in another direction entirely without any rationale for it at all.

Obviously, Richard Lupoff, the writer of the first and sixth books, has never done a round robin story. Unless you set out where you want to go ahead of time, you’ll never go where you want to.

I have one particularly, well, I don’t know if “fond” is the word. “Schadenfreude-full,” maybe, of me saying at the beginning of a round robin story that we should plan it out ahead of time and one writer in particular vetoing it because it’s “more fun” if it’s full of surprises for the writers. So, when it came my turn, I gave that writer a surprise. I could see where they were heading and when my turn came, I interpreted what they had said in a completely different way and headed the story off in a different direction.

They threw a fit about how they were heading for resolution X and I just said, “You wanted surprises. I gave you a surprise.”

So, let’s hear it for our three middle writers — Bruce Coville, Charles de Lint, and Robin Wayne Bailey, for doing a great job on those middle books. I’ve never read anything else by any of those authors, I don’t think. I’ll have to look into it.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is the March 2020 Fantastic Strangelings Book Club pick — We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry. This was my favorite book club pick until July’s Mexican Gothic, which we’ll do later. We Ride Upon Sticks is set in Danvers, Massachusetts, which is where the original accusations of the Salem Witch Trials took place. The 1989 Danvers Falcons girls’ field hockey team is the worst in their district (in the book, in real life they actually were an excellent team). Then they sell their souls to Emilio Estevez and suddenly things start to improve for their team. Is it teamwork and friendship, or is it witchcraft?

Let’s See If I Can Make this Quick Post Quick

Ha! That’ll never happen. I have to be up in nine hours, so I don’t want to spend all of it writing; I’d like to get *some* sleep.

Let’s think. I guess that last night’s dream will take up some words towards my 35,000 word goal.

I was at the movies? Watching a movie on television? Something like that. And the movie that was playing was one of the Harry Potter movies. I don’t know if they were the original Daniel Radcliffe ones or newer ones. But as the movie progressed, I found myself actually *in* the movie.

And the longer I was in the movie, the less Harry Potterish the movie seemed. I met a man with a small child and the man told me that he had a new wife, not the mother of the child, who, when he said her name, I recognized it as the name of a woman who had figured in a video that had gone viral in which she had been behaving badly. I don’t know what she was doing; I think she may have been mouthing off to a cashier or a waiter or something.

The group I was with ended up inside Malfoy Manor somehow, and while we were snooping around, it occurred to me, like a memory that I already had, not like something that I’d been told, that the guy I was with had a twin brother who’d died somehow.

We ended up inside Narcissa Malfoy’s wardrobe and I remembered a scene where Hermione was wandering around in there and that the very back of the wardrobe is where the most beautiful of all of Narcissa’s beautiful clothing was located.

I seem to recall having an ongoing theme of beautiful dresses in my dreams. I swear I had a dream where my mom had a hidden wardrobe of gowns in the back of her closet (or was it in our basement? dreams are weird).

This, in turn, may have been influenced by having seen a wedding gown dressing room at my local Sears when I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was looking at. I only saw a room with mirrors all over and a platform in the middle. In fact, I never saw another one until I was getting ready for my own wedding.

Anyway, Narcissa’s wardrobe was a room full of shoes and purses, laid out more like a shoe store than anything else, and then a small closet at the back. You open the small closet and there’s another type of clothing in there, like, pants and skirts, maybe and an even smaller closet. Then you open the even smaller closet and there’s another type of clothing, like tops, and a smaller closet. And then eventually you come to a very tiny closet about the size of the knee hole in a desk and that’s where the gowns were.

Something happened there and we ended up in some kind of danger and someone rescued us. It was a person of indeterminate gender dressed up in a way similar to a sandperson from Star Wars. They were wrapped in brown fabric and had some kind of mask on their face. I got the impression that the person who rescued us was the twin of the guy in our group.

When we got safely out of Malfoy Manor, we bumped into a woman who was a kind of mother figure for our group and we ran to her and I hugged her.

When I first woke up, I realized that the place we were was less like Hogwarts and more like New Rome from Rick Riordan’s mythology books. There were entire families living there, not just students.

And now that I’m thinking about it again, I realized that the entire dream took place in some kind of shelter, like maybe a cave or something.

One day fiction will come back to me and I’ll be able to parlay at least one of these dreams into a book and maybe, just maybe, be able to make enough money to survive on my own. Maybe.

I know that my Gratuitous Amazon Link should be a less gratuitous Harry Potter or Rick Riordan book, but I think I’m going to continue to go through my Goodreads list like I have been doing. So, today we have The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, by the Try Guys. In The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, each of the Guys takes an area that they feel insecure about and sets a goal for improving that area. We watch their journeys and get to enjoy the humor that the Try Guys are famous for along the way.