One More Orbit

So … tomorrow is my birthday.

I don’t have much in the way of plans. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that I have no plans. I’m considering just taking a nice long bike ride, and maybe making a stirfry afterwards. Nothing fancy. But maybe relaxing.

I hope so, because it’s been a really up and down sort of week. Month.

I won’t trouble you with all the ills of my life. Let’s face it, that’d be a pretty unfriendly post. Life has just been … rough. Lately. I’ll leave it at that.

So … happy birthday to me, I guess. I really don’t feel like celebrating.

Yeah, I know there’s not much to this post, and it’s a little down. But on the positive side, there isn’t much direction to go but up, so …

Here’s hoping it does.

In the meantime, the work goes on.

Duel of the Marvels

So, in this past week I have seen both Captain Marvel and Shazam! Hence the title there. If you know your comic history, you know that the heroic protagonist of Shazam! takes on the name Captain Marvel, a deliberate choice by his creator’s to stick it to Marvel comics at the time. There’s a lot more history with that which went bouncing back and forth, but there are comic historians who’ve delved into that particular legal and trademark battle and produced write-ups for you to read with a little Google-fu, so I won’t go into that here.

No, instead, I’m going to drop my thoughts about both Marvel movies. One film #21 in Marvel’s massive and magnificent Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, the other the newest entry in DC’s own attempts to mimic Marvel with a DC Cinematic Universe. Which was good? Were either? Were both great? Well … let’s talk about. And I’ll start with the more controversial Captain Marvel first.

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The Tale of My Wrist (With Pictures!)

Okay, first up, all the pictures in this post are going to be hidden behind the jump. There’s not even a featured image for this one, despite me having ten pictures of my wrist at the ready for the post. Why?

Because some people do not want pictures involving even a little blood or pain. And some of these pictures are a little gross. So if you’re squeamish about that kind of thing … Yeah, this post past the jump is going to be a little unwelcome for you.

Anyway, that warning out of the way, today’s post, as promised, is about my wrist injury. How it happened, what’s been going on since then, and my recovery. Because it’s a fun, interesting tale.

I do have one small bit of news on an upcoming thingamajig before I get rolling on this however: This month’s Patreon Reward! It’s going up tomorrow, and it’s a doozy of a preview. What of, you may ask? Well, my current project is, as I’ve mentioned a few times, a Halo novel! The first three chapters of one, anyway. The plan is to pitch the first few chapters and the outline at Gallery/343 and see if they pick it up.

But since that’s what I’ve been working on, this month’s preview is going to be an excerpt of the first chapter, which I finished yesterday. Pre-alpha, naturally, but it’s a lot of fun. I’m enjoying it so far, and in fact really want to get back to work on it, so let’s get to this post so I can continue working on it! But if you’re a Patreon Supporter, check back tomorrow!

Now, about my wrist injury. Let’s start at the beginning …


I have a part-time job working at a local convention center. While my full-time hjob is writing, which takes about 8-10 hours of my day, often more, it doesn’t pay all the bills yet. So I have to work part-time in order to make ends meet. This means that my average workweek ends up being around 60-70 hours, but hey, sacrifices for the job, right?

Writing, to be precise. The other job, well … let me tell you about it.

I work in the operations department, which is setting up, taking down, cleaning, and other assorted tasks vital to a convention center. If you’ve ever been to a convention or a vendor’s conference of any kind and seen hundreds of chairs set in nice neat rows, huge panels of staging, drapery, dozens of tables all set up with nice tablecloths and skirts …

Yeah, we do all that. We set it all up. We keep it clean. We straighten it up. We take it all down. And more. If I listed all the things we do, it’d be a post into and unto itself.

We’re also the absolute lowest of the low where I work. So low that most of the time our department feels like an afterthought to the office part of the building. Lately there’s been one manager who’s started to reel that back (great guy, him I back) but it’s been pretty common with our job to be handed incomplete diagrams, measurements that don’t conform to reality or the laws of physics, and other things like that which we’re just expected to “fix.” Our shifts have gradually been pushed further and further into the night so that events can run later and later (the current common shift is 9 PM to 3 AM or 10 PM to 4 AM), with no compensation offered for the extreme lateness of the hour. The pay is also low, so low that we’ve had serious retention problems and our department is quite understaffed. Right now about half our department is made up of high schoolers, because they’re the only people we’ve managed to attract with our low wages (which are below the living wage—not minimum, just living—in our area). Which comes with its own problems as minors can’t work certain hours, but that’s another story.

Why do I work there? Because the hours are flexible enough that I can focus mainly on my writing, and just sort of somewhat disconnect and do the job to make it through. But if it sounds like the place may have some issues, well … yes. I’m explaining this because it leads into how I got this injury by kind of giving you an idea of how it is in our department.

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OP-ED: Can I Be Blunt? I Can’t Stand Modern Cover Design

There, I’ve said it. This post has been a long-time coming (it was actually planned for the week after LTUE, but then that big bit of metal fell …) but today we’re finally getting to it. And the title pretty much sums it up.

I don’t like modern cover design for books. At all. And the more books move toward this modern design, the less I enjoy it.

What’s not to like? First and foremost, the size of everything. There was a time when a book had three primary things on the cover, in addition to some smaller things that could sometimes appear. You had the name of the book. You had the name of the author. And you had the cover image itself. And these were displayed with a decent hierarchy in mind. The cover image was usually foremost, followed by or sharing equal billing with the title.

Now, however … that’s not the case. One of the trends right now is that the author’s name has to be AS BIG AS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE, dominating as much of the cover as it can. At first it was just under the size of the name of the book. Then it became the same size. Now? On a lot of books, it’s even bigger. You can find book covers with the author’s name taking up over a third of the cover. Or more.

Personally? I can’t stand it. I get that there are “reasons” behind it (I heard about them at LTUE, and you’ll definitely hear them from the Indie crowd), but even with those “reasons” I still can’t stand it. Especially as the driving force behind it is … well, it’s kind of childish personally. It’s the old “Bigger is better” idea.

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Book Burning: Now Available Digitally

So by now, if you’ve got your focus enough on the book industry that you’ve got a decent feel for the pulse, you’ve probably heard a little about Amélie Wen Zhao. If not, well, here’s the basics of it.

Zhao was one of those individuals who wanted to be an author. So she worked hard, polished her craft, wrote a trilogy, and with a little (okay, a lot, it’s publishing) luck, got a publisher to bite for her first trilogy.

Note that I used the word “was” rather than “is” in that paragraph. That’s because Zhao no longer is. Why? Well, because the “eternally socially conscious” crowd descended upon her before her books had even been released, slamming her with one-star reviews and accusations of racism to the extent that she contacted her publisher and asked to please cancel the publication.

Why? What grave crime did this woman commit that could see her so hounded that she asked her publisher to cancel everything? Everything, mind, on the first of three books, which had already made it as an ARC to early reviewers where the feedback was averaging four out of five stars, no mean feat for a first release? What sort of horrible, socially unjust thing was she doing?

Actually it was two things. One was that she dared write a book where oppression was not based on skin color, but on something else. And, as one one-star Goodreads review put it, that ‘is just bad.’ Because clearly all oppression should be based on skin color, apparently. How dare Zhao write about people finding other ways to oppress people?

But second? She wrote about slavery, and she is not Black. Yes, you read that right. She was attacked for writing a book that had slavery in it because she’s Asian, and as such should not be allowed to write about slavery. Because clearly China  never had slavery or anything like that.

So yeah. In the face of mass harassment from these “socially minded” individuals (and sadly, even other authors), Zhao pulled her book, issued an apology, and backed out.

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The Most-Read BaBW Post to Date

So, I got curious the other day and started digging through site history on here. Why? Well, I can look at stats here on a yearly basis (but not lifetime, for some odd reason) and started wondering about each year’s most popular Being a Better Writer posts. What, I wondered, was the most popular (read: one with the most views) to date?

Now, granted, this is a little unfair. Posts that have been around longer have much more time to rack up views, so older posts automatically have an advantage. Case in point, the most highly-viewed BaBW post comes from 2015, so it’s had four years to gather its viewcount. The post right behind it has had two. The post that I believe to be in third place has only boomed recently, since it became a wikipedia reference.

Anyway, not much point in beating around the bush. The (current) most read BaBW article of all time?

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The Mountains

Writing a book is like climbing a mountain. A long, arduous trek, with ups and downs, flat easy bits, and hard nearly vertical portions that require all of your skills and tools. And there are moments when it feels like you’re never going to reach the top, like the book will never be done and you’re just endlessly ascending a slope for some purpose you’re not even sure of.

Now, once you get to the top? You bask in the view, take it in … and look at the next mountain in your path, because if there’s another book, there’s another mountain. A career in writing? Well, it’s kind of like making a commitment to hike each individual mountain in the Rockies.

And some of them will be great hikes, and some of them … are going to try their best to break you.

One of the hardest bits then, I think I’d add to this, is that these hikes are done, for the most part, completely solo and without much in the way of external input until the very end. Only in that final sprint to the top, when the editors and Alpha Readers begin looking over your work, do you interact with others. And then after the book comes out, when there’s a flurry of recognition that flashes by for a week or two … and then it’s gone. Just like the news stories of the first conquest of a mountain, it’s announced, but very quickly the world moves on, and it’s on to the next mountain for that author.

So, why am I talking about this? Well, a number of reasons. I’m in the last third of another mountain right now, and so far it’s been a far more arduous experience than was planned. Longer, too. I’m working to get it done, but the snow is deep and thick (this is actually a more accurate analogy than you might think) and it’s made things a bit of a slog most days.

I’m not stopping, mind. I’m going to finish this mountain and start the next. That’s how the job goes. But it can be (and right now, is) a slog.

Which makes the number of people who’ve gathered around just to tell me to give up, call it quits, or lambaste me about how it really isn’t all that hard all the more grating.

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