Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us

The Abyss Surrounds Us The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pirates. Sea monsters. Giant laser pointers. Girls kissing.

I feel like that's sufficient to tell you why this is a 5 star review, but I'll elaborate.

So it's the future and there are pirates. What's a society to do? That's right - genetically engineer enormous sea monsters and teach them to follow wrist-mounted laser pointers aimed at pirate ships!
All is well and good until the pirates obtain a monster pup and force a young trainer to raise him to be ebil. Her life, the monster's, and a pretty pirate girl's all hang in the balance.

It sounds like I'm mocking it. I'm so not. I genuinely loved this.
It's got great action scenes out of a summer blockbuster and so much tension. No one is good or bad, and it's an amazing look into morality and how we justify our actions. The main character kills some people. And she feels good about it - it's a triumph for her and her monster - but she feels bad about feeling good.

I wasn't impressed with the ableist slurs thrown around in a few chapters, but at the same time, they're kids. Pirate kids. They're not going to stop and say "Maybe I'm using words that are offensive to mentally disabled people."

But all in all, an exciting book with some great female characters. Everyone needs to read this.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 22, 2017

People Watching (and Jen Pretends to Care about Sports!)

I love people watching. You can get so many ideas for characters that way.

And I don't know if I'm just noticing them more, or if Oneonta has experienced an influx of interesting people lately, but I've been making a list of my favorite strangers. Those people who you see and just want to say "TELL ME ALL ABOUT YOUR FASCINATING LIFE."

Feel free to adopt them for your own stories.

  • Big, tough, Italian-looking man in a monster truck shirt, eating ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.
  • Duck-Dynasty-type fella - long gray beard, get-off-my-lawn face, so much camouflage - getting out of a pickup truck. Which had a Pokeball antenna bopper.
  • Guy dressed in what first appeared to be a robe but ended up being a full karate outfit, going through self-checkout at Walmart with a large pack of assorted Tupperware.
  • The Twelfth Doctor drinking a milkshake. (Okay, maybe not a very interesting stranger but he looked so much like Peter Capaldi from Doctor Who that I'm almost wondering if there was a costume contest going on somewhere. He even had the sunglasses.)
  • Guy casually walking down Main Street in a hospital gown with his well-dressed friend. It was tied and he had shorts and a shirt on underneath. They were several blocks from the hospital or any doctor's office.
  • Old man with long beard, cowboy hat, and Rottweiler, his arms crossed as he watched a street cleaning machine. He and the dog both looked very critical.

And now, sports.
Yes, sports. Also known as "kind of like Quidditch but without the good parts."
I don't care much for sports that don't involve broomsticks, but my friend Penny's grandson, Cody Bellinger, is on the LA Dodgers. And he's awesome. Breaking all the records (or some of them. I don't know. Sports).
And we're trying to get him in the All Star Game as a write-in for the outfield on the National League team. I don't know how many people I'll reach with my little writing blog and Twitter, but I thought I might as well try because Penny is the best.
If you want to fill out a ballot, here's the link: https://www.mlb.com/all-star/ballot?tcid=ASG17_mlb_homepagemediawall (you can pick random people or you don't have to fill out the whole thing)

So, have you ever seen an interesting stranger?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fire Anthology

I love a good coincidence.

So, Rhonda Parrish is editing an anthology called Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns, with a submission call for stories about creatures associated with fire.

I've been slowly writing a story to submit, but was worried it was too far off from what she would want. My fire creature is the Beast, my adaptation of the Greek chimera but set in a prehistoric Africa. The Beast terrorizes early humans, marking for death any who dare make eye contact.

But through her reign of terror, she (inadvertently?) gives them the nudges they need to evolve into modern humans, burning down their trees and forcing them to walk upright and develop tools. I'm nearing the end now, and I think it involves my main character learning to use fire.

But in an anthology filled with magic and dragons, is there room for my strange little invented folktale?

Yes. Rhonda just posted a wishlist for the anthology. She says:

"I’d like something that dates back to when humans first gained control over fire. Whether this takes the form of something set in prehistoric times or a take on more of a ‘How raven brought fire to the people’ or ‘How Prometheus stole fire from the gods’ type thing… well, that would be up to you."
So I'm pleased, and confident in my story's chances at being considered. Now I just have to, you know, finish it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Craft Time!

You know that feeling when you've made a baby hat but you don't have a baby to model it?

Alternate caption: When you have to Google "what age baby has the same head circumference of a large cat?" to know if your hat will fit.

My poor Sulley.
Actually, he doesn't really mind wearing hats. As long as he can shake them off, he'll just sit there calmly for a while. (His annoyed look is because there's a camera in his face.) And he's never played with yarn or tried to take my projects apart. He's a good boy.
(And yes, I know I should be trying to keep cat hair out of things made for babies with sensitive skin. The yarn is too scratchy for a baby anyway and the hat was just me practicing increasing and decreasing before I did a hat for myself.)

And then I made this for my aunt.

It's cross stitched, about six inches across I think.
(That blue string at the bottom is not attached and wasn't noticed until after we took the picture.)
And this is the pattern I made for my current project. It's a parasaurolophus!
(Art tip: Can't draw feet? Add foliage!)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities.

I'm revising. And that's the worst part of writing because, even though I love making all the pieces fit, it doesn't feel productive and there's random attacks of "WHAT IF I FIX IT AND IT'S STILL AWFUL?????"
Am I wasting my time on this when I could be working on something better? How would I know when it's time to give up on a project? Is my lack of interest because I have ADHD and can't stick to one project, or because it's boring?
But some interesting developments on one story have reignited my interest. In my notes for Blue Incarnations, I mention Flarpball a lot. Flarpball was a placeholder I used because I wasn't sure what sports would exist in the future, and it was never supposed to be part of the book past draft one.
Until a friend on Twitter got involved. He asked me something about Flarpball, I said "I don't know. I kind of imagined it like lacrosse but on hoverboards" and next thing I know he sends me the history and gameplay of Flarpball.
And it's awesome. And it fits in with my world and uses technology that might actually fix some plot problems!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Revenge of the Editing Notes

I'm revising FreakShow. The notes from my revise & resubmit are incredibly helpful and I agree with them.
But you pull one plot thread, and the whole thing unravels.
I changed one scene. One. And now I need to change the next five chapters and probably delete two more, except for the important information in those chapters that I have to fit in somewhere else.

Anyway. Big bunch of notes from the end of Blue Incarnations. Now I just have to actually edit it.
I'm surprisingly pleased with the end, but it'll be a lot of work to make the beginning match it in quality. Or plot.



This sword was pointless.

(I swear that pun was unintended.)

"His moustache makes him look like he has a squirrel stapled to his face." I forgot about this line! I love it so.

The president is also gay? This is amazing.

Bobson. That's the best last name you could think of?

Really. Children shouldn't be planning assassinations. REALLY?

WOW THAT WAS SO ELOQUENT NOT. (I have this written in the actual manuscript but the line it refers to isn't that bad?)

Remember: just because I can't imagine anyone but Jeff Goldblum playing this character doesn't mean I should add a Jurassic Park reference here. Even if they ARE being chased and he IS looking in a mirror and they really MUST go faster.

Somehow I doubt "swearer-inner" is a real job title.

I assume by "I slide down the window" you meant she opens the car window, but it took me a second to figure out that she isn't a Wacky Wall Walker.

And Carey is fat again. (I swear this man changes size every scene.)

I don't think that part of the helicopter is called "feet bars."

NO. She does not have extraterrestrial boobies. Try "unfamiliar" instead of "alien." (She currently has the memories of her male past life uploaded into her brain, and he is finding her anatomy distressing.)

And Carey is skinny again.

What a very subtle transition, not.

Find a better name for the bad guys than "BGs." I keep seeing it as "Bee Gees" and Barry Gibbs has no business in this story.

Can we call them the Knights on Broadway?

No, that would be ridiculous. (...right?)

We need to nail down once and for all which one is Sasha.

Okay, knock it off. I think FreakShow filled my "OMG stars are so pretty!!!" quota for the millennium.

And Carey is fat again.

How many times has she almost had a Winnie the Pooh incident?

People don't sidle often enough.

"This one dispenses of whatever semblance of charm and warmth of the last." What even is this attempt at a sentence?

In which a fruit plate is a major plot point.

OMG, seriously. Stop being surprised by the awful things your corrupt government is doing.

And now Carey is tall. No mention of weight.

The character I imagine as Jeff Goldblum is described as rubbing his hands together like a fly and I don't know if that was an intentional reference to The Fly or not.

One of the Sashas is now named Rosita apparently and I don't know which one. I really need to name these people better.

Do better glazier foreshadowing.

Let's use three different tenses in one sentence. Omg.

She never said that because these last chapters are from a book with a better beginning than the one you wrote.

Ooh, those jungle scenes are going to be full of Legends of the Hidden Temple references, aren't they?

You forgot who she threatened? It was like two pages ago.

Chief Justice changed his name there.

Let's finally add a backstory for Phyllis. In the epilogue.

Okay that ending was actually good.