Monday, October 31, 2016

Back in Work Mode

I'm considering myself to be more or less back to "normal" and therefore will start going back to a normal routine. I've had several nights of solid sleep, and the coughing is almost gone. That's about three weeks earlier than it normally would have been without treatment, so that's a win. I've already started doing some housework to get things back in shape after I let them really slide while I was sick.

I'm not going to do National Novel Writing Month officially -- I'm not going to register or anything like that -- but I am going to do it with the next Rebel Mechanics book. I've written the prologue, but everything else will be written that month. Based on the days I have available to write and am likely to write, I'll need to write about 3,200 words a day to reach my likely target word count. I usually try to do about 4,000 to 5,000 words a day, so this is doable. One of life's great joys is recalculating the daily target word count (or number of days required to write) based on going over the target word count.

Meanwhile, I did a lot of development on that idea for a book proposal. I've built up the world, named it, come up with a timeline, and know what the underlying issue is. I'm going to work on that today, in addition to a bunch of errand and business-type stuff, and that will be what I work on in my "spare" time this month so I can get a proposal to my agent before the holidays.

Which means I have work to do, and I'd better get to it!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Breathing Again

I spent yesterday morning at the doctor, getting checked for that nagging cough that I get every time I get sick. I seem to have a very mild asthma that's triggered by illness, but at the moment, they're hitting it with a lot of stuff to get rid of the cough, and then we'll dig into exactly what's going on. As a result, I have a rather complicated medication schedule. I already feel a lot better. There's still some coughing, but not like there was, and I got a decent night's sleep last night, for the first time in ages. It was funny, at first they weren't thinking about asthma because my lung function test came in at 114 percent of "normal." I pointed out that I'm a singer, so I'm not quite normal. Sure enough, when they had me breathe in some medication and tested function again, it really did improve, which was a sign that there was something that needed to be treated.

I'm still going to be taking it easy this weekend to get completely well. I'm probably going to spend a lot of time brainstorming because a lurking idea that I think might make a good book proposal has risen up to demand attention, suddenly a lot more fully formed than it was, and I may develop it enough to give my agent a proposal to work with while I'm busy writing the new Rebel Mechanics book.

This is totally not an excuse to spend the weekend watching movies and reading relevant research books.

It looks like I'm going to be staycationing this year because every time I try to block out time that I could get away, something arises in those days, so I can't even find three consecutive days to go anywhere. I like to have at least that much time, so that there's a whole day that isn't a travel day. The solo I didn't get to do when I was sick got moved to the Sunday of the weekend I'd been planning for, and then there was an event that's on the border of work and fun that Saturday, so that turned out to be a good opportunity to go to that event. Then I'd thought about going away the following Monday and coming back on Wednesday in time for choir, but then there's an important HOA meeting on that Tuesday, and my follow-up doctor visit is that Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, I more than used up any "vacation" time while I was sick and not very productive. So, what I may do instead is give myself time to do some fun things around town, as opportunities arise. If it's a pleasant day and I'm feeling up to it, I can go hiking or walking. I may visit downtown and go to a museum.

But first, I need to get well, as I just don't feel like doing much right now. I'm hoping that tackling this thing that turns even a minor cold into an epic ordeal will end up making me more productive. Fewer days sick means more days writing, which means more books.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Worldbuilding: Using Your World

I've been talking about worldbuilding, getting into the physical location and the society. Now it's time to start using this world. After all, you're not writing an encyclopedia entry. You're writing a story, so it's more about the things that happen in this world than it is about the world itself.

A lot of how your worldbuilding plays into your storytelling depends on your creative process. Sometimes, you build the world, then figure out the possible stories. Sometimes you come up with the story, then build the world where it can happen. You may come up with characters first, then figure out what kind of world they live in, and then figure out the story. You may come up with the story, think of the characters needed to tell the story, then figure out what kind of world they might live in. Or it may be a series of layers -- a bit of each, building as you simultaneously develop the world, story, and characters, with each new idea in one area sparking new ideas in other areas.

However you go about it, the world itself will show in the larger societal conflicts and in the interpersonal conflicts. You'll see that in wars and the reasons for them, in the crises that are affecting your characters (drought, natural disasters, wars, curses), the places your characters need to travel to obtain the things they need, etc. And it will show in the skills your characters have (or don't have), the resources they have, the resources they need, the way they see and interact with other people. It will show in the laws that constrain their actions and the consequences for violating those laws, as well as what the characters have to do to avoid those consequences or make others pay consequences for their actions (is there a legal system, or do you have to take justice into your own hands?). Your world will even show in what your characters eat, what they wear, where and how they live, the language they use, their superstitions and beliefs, their attitude toward authority, and how that compares and contrasts to other characters who might be from a different culture or class.

A lot of how your world is conveyed will depend on how we're seeing it. If you've ever traveled with another person and both of you had cameras, you might notice that each of you has a very different set of photos from the same locations because you notice or are interested in very different things. The perspective of the point-of-view character makes a big difference. Imagine a stranger coming into town and taking stock of his surroundings. If he's a thief, he'll notice how much wealth there is, what objects worth stealing there are, how much security there is, what the consequences might be for thievery, and what possible exit routes there might be. A poor person from a rural area might see even a relatively poor town as wealthy compared to her experience. A wealthy person from a big city may see the same town as poor, shabby, and provincial. A seamstress may notice the clothing, colors, fabrics, and workmanship, while a metalsmith wouldn't notice any of that, instead focusing on the ironwork on the buildings and the armor worn by the guards. A cook may pay attention to the cooking smells coming from houses and the variety of foods available in the market. A hungry person will mostly notice food. A weary person will home in on inns. You get the idea. What would your viewpoint character notice or care about in the parts of the world he visits? If it's not the things the reader needs to know to understand the plot, then you may need to adjust the circumstances -- change the character or find a way to create a situation that will force the character to notice the things you want to convey. I think this is one reason why thieves are such popular fantasy characters -- their work requires them to notice a lot of details, they pay attention to the wealthy as potential targets, and they move among the lower classes. That gives the writer a lot of opportunities for describing the world through the characters' eyes.

One challenge in conveying a world is that a character isn't naturally going to take note of the ordinary. If things are going on just like they always have, most people aren't going to have an interior monologue noting the ordinary details. You want to avoid the "As you know, Bob" conversation in which two characters tell each other things both of them already know. Most people don't sit around talking about the history of the place where they live or think in detail about how a device they use daily works. One good way around this is the fish-out-of-water character, a newcomer who doesn't know these things and who can ask questions -- why does everyone do that when the king passes, why does this city fear that city, how do you use magic, etc. That can either be your viewpoint character who's the newcomer and has to learn the ways of this new situation, or your viewpoint character could be the veteran who has to explain things to a newcomer. The other way to describe the ordinary is to break it. You wouldn't have a character who routinely uses a machine think in depth about how it works when it's working normally, but if it stops working, he may think about what it's supposed to do while figuring out what's wrong. If something unusual happens to break routine, then people might think about what usually happens and what's different about today. If it's a dry climate and it almost never rains, people may not think about the lack of rain, the heat, and the dust, because that's just the way it is. If it rains unexpectedly, then they can notice the difference and notice when things return to normal. Breaking the usual also adds conflict and tension, so it drives the story while describing the world rather than just being description.

Ideally, the worldbuilding should be a seamless part of your story and characters so readers just feel immersed. You want them to understand the world enough to understand the story and for it to feel like a real place. You don't want to become so enamored of your world that you stop the action to tell us all about it.

Next, I'll deal with the special case of worlds that involve magic.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Movie in my Mind

I thought I was going to start writing the book yesterday, but then I realized that I didn't really have an opening scene. I just had the opening situation. I thought I kind of had an idea what might happen in the opening, but that felt too static. Then there was something else I thought I might do, but that didn't work, either. I did some brainstorming and came up with an entirely new option that fits in all the things I wanted. It needs a little more development, but I'm starting to see the "movie" of the book in my head. When that happens, I know I'm on the right track. So maybe I'll get that opening written today.

I also managed to sing some yesterday, even the high notes. I still cough a bit when I try to sing too much (and I have an appointment for an asthma screening on Thursday), but the rest of the cold symptoms seem to have gone away.

I'm considering this a valid reason not to sign up to volunteer at the Halloween carnival on Wednesday night. I figure that standing outside and being around lots of kids would be a bad idea while I'm trying to get well. That means I get sort of a night off without children's choir, though I will still have to go to regular choir rehearsal.

And now to work ...

Monday, October 24, 2016

Autumning Elsewhere

I managed to sing in the choir concert last night. I think I even got all the notes. I'm not sure how pretty it was, and I definitely wouldn't have been up to singing a solo, but I did get through it all. I would be doing a lot better, but the ragweed levels shot up, and so now on the tail of a cold/cough/whatever, I've got a bad allergy attack. I've decided that my new grand plan in life is to get to the point where I can "autumn" elsewhere, in a place that actually has an autumn and that has lower ragweed levels. It tends to not be so bad when it's cool and damp, so I need to follow the cool and damp. I think I'd be a lot healthier overall if I were away from Dallas for September and October. I think my writing productivity would go up because that kind of weather energizes and inspires me, and I'd get more work done if I were healthy, so it might even end up paying for itself.

We had a day or so of cool, fallish weather, but I'm back to sitting around the house in a tank top and haven't yet put the real comforter back on the bed, and it's almost November. The leaves haven't started turning. At this rate, we may start getting fallish around Thanksgiving.

I wrote the first words of the new book on Friday, the prologue. Today, I'm going to make myself start in earnest. In order to afford to autumn elsewhere, in addition to buying a new house and moving, I need to write like a fiend for the next few months. It's time to get out the Word Count M&Ms.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Getting Started

I got a really good start on plotting the new book yesterday and may even try writing words today. I have the opening planned and know the main story goal. I have a good sense of what the ending will be and what the midpoint should be. Since starting with that much and then winging it from there worked so well in the last book I wrote, I'm tempted to try it again, doing my plotting a little at a time.

I am a little ashamed at how long it took me to remember that I needed to figure out what the goal was. I was trying to plot and coming up with events, then realized that I didn't know what the main character wanted to accomplish and what the main story question was. That was my struggle in writing the previous book in this series. I was midway through when I realized that's what I was missing. I didn't have a good throughline because of that, and it took a lot of rewriting to fix it. It should help that I know it now.

I think I'm going to keep the newspaper articles at the beginning as a way to recap the previous books. It's a device that fits with the story, and it's a good way to remind readers what happened before without having to insert too much of that into the narrative. I'm reading a book now that's a sequel to something I read last year, and I'm having a hard time keeping up with it because I didn't remember all the details of events. The author did eventually weave enough information in to remind me, but it would have been nice to have more of a refresher up front.

Now I just need to get my brain back in order enough to string words together.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Catching-Up Time

I made it through children's choir last night. The kids were actually surprisingly good. I don't know if the more challenging ones were tired and behaving better or if I had that good a lesson so they were engaged rather than acting up, but the usual challenge didn't have to be taken outside and only one other kid had to have a time out in the hall when he got a little overexcited. Now I just have three more sessions this semester. Next week is the Halloween carnival, then the week after that is the children's worship service, then I have two weeks, then Thanksgiving, and then one week before we take a break for the holidays. I can do three lesson plans.

I also found out that instead of getting one of the grad students to fill in on my solo, the choir just did something else, a piece that's familiar enough they were able to just run through it Sunday morning. Which means I still have to sing it, if I ever get my voice back entirely. It turns out that doing this helped the choir director better align some of the pieces he had planned because he was having second thoughts about the piece he had planned for that Sunday. I've got about a month now to get well and get back in shape.

I feel like I let a lot of stuff pile up this week that I should have been doing but couldn't concentrate on. Maybe today I can start getting to it all. I need to write some cover copy and do some work toward all my branding stuff. And brainstorm a book so I can plot it and start writing.

So I guess I'd better get on that, huh?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Revolutions are Hard

Yesterday, I took a look at the synopsis I wrote for what I had then planned as a trilogy of Rebel books, and wow, I went pretty far astray on my plans. I did stick to the planned plot for the first half of book two, but then went on a totally different tangent and ended up in a different place. Meanwhile, I didn't even get to the stuff that I'd planned to get to that needs to happen. Book three may end up being the second half of my planned book 2, which means I might have a four-book trilogy. But then I've heard that it's better to have series with odd numbers of books, so I may need to go to five. I guess I'll have to see how this book shapes up.

Basically, what it comes down to is that it's very hard to have a revolution -- something more than just an uprising. Creating a new country takes more than just the armed revolt. You have to have something in place to run the new country and make it work. And you have to get a lot of people on board, at all levels of society. That's one of the things that was fairly unique about the real American revolution. It involved participation from the landed elites down to ordinary people, all working together. The ordinary people might have had an uprising but probably wouldn't have been able to put together a national government. The elites had the government and the Declaration of Independence but wouldn't have been able to win the revolution without the ordinary people. That kind of cooperation among classes was unlikely in British society at that time.

Now I need to move that kind of thing into the Gilded Age, which had its own kind of class consciousness, even in the real history. There were massive divides between rich and poor then, with the rich people being really, really rich and the poor people being extremely poor. There was social movement possible, though, with some of those very rich people having come from next to nothing. They had a little trouble breaking into the upper crust, in spite of their wealth. So, how bad would it have been if the British class structure were still in place and the upper class had a physical difference -- magic -- that separated them from the rank and file? And that's where the idea for these books came from.

So, to complete this series, I need to progress things to the point that they're able to have a successful revolution and put together a government that might actually work. The fun thing about alternate history is that I can fix some of the things that went "wrong" with our history.

I have more brainstorming and plotting to do today before I attempt to go deal with children's choir. I may go to adult choir rehearsal to listen, but singing is still out of the question.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Woefully Underprepared

I got well enough yesterday to actually manage some sitting and thinking. I made a list of things that could or should happen in this next book, and a few scenes started to come to mind. I'm feeling a bit better today, though I had a rather rough night, so I'm hoping to do more brainstorming work this afternoon. My pattern seems to go that I need to go lie down and rest a bit after breakfast, then feel well enough to get up and do something, then need to rest again, then have a few hours of feeling pretty good, and then later at night I feel really tired and that's when the coughing kicks in.

During this afternoon's up-and-at-'em phase, I'm hoping to make a run to Target and Kroger because I was woefully underprepared for illness. I was out of most of the cold/flu medication I usually keep on hand, and I didn't have much good "sick" food handy. Fortunately, I'd made a vat of vegetable soup a few weeks ago and had some in the freezer, but I didn't have any chicken soup or ingredients for chicken soup. I have this weird thing of not being able to eat canned chicken noodle soup, mostly because that's what they usually give you in recovery after day surgery as the test for whether you'll be able to keep anything down. Supposedly, it's gentle on the stomach enough to be given on an empty stomach. But I tend to have a delayed reaction to anesthesia, so let's just say that after they've decided I'm fine and send me home, things get unpleasant in the car, and that's now what I associate with canned chicken noodle soup. Now I can only manage to eat the kind that's dry that you mix with water, or else I do a mix of chicken broth and chicken stock (I find that soup made with just broth is too weak, but with just stock it's too strong) and throw some fine noodles and frozen peas and carrots in, maybe some bits of chicken breast if I have any handy. I also ran out of multivitamins, which I probably need to make up for not having much appetite right now.

My aim for this week is to get well enough to sing in this weekend's choir concert. We're doing a Schubert mass, and I've put a lot of work into learning it. I'd hate to miss yet another singing thing because of this illness. At the moment, I can talk for a little while without coughing, but singing is out of the question.

But brainstorming is going to happen today. I have a book to plot.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sick Day

Wouldn't you know, after all the work I put into learning that solo, I came down with a killer virus so that I woke up Saturday morning with no voice at all, and it only got worse from there. I spent Saturday drinking fluids and trying everything I could to get better, but it was a lost cause. I spent yesterday in bed watching history documentaries on cable because I just didn't feel up to sitting up. Today my throat doesn't hurt as much, and I can talk without pain, but I'm utterly weak. I took my laptop to bed and am making use of my bedroom TV.

I've decided to give myself a sick day, since the main thing on my to-do list was sitting and thinking, and I don't really feel like doing either. If I get ideas or get some brainstorming done, that'll be a bonus.

Now I'm watching the Harry Potter movies on cable. It's that kind of day.

Friday, October 14, 2016

One Project Done, Starting the Next One

I got the book finished and off for formatting, so today's to-do list involves working on some cover copy and then brainstorming the next book. Yes, my to-do list for today is pretty much "sit and think." I love this part of working on a book.

In the meantime, I'm trying to fight off a very inconveniently timed cold and/or allergy attack. I have to sing a lot of high notes on Sunday, so I don't dare lose my voice. Lots of liquids and vitamin C and allergy drugs will be involved the next couple of days. It's a good thing all I have to do is sit and think.

And it's the perfect day for it, as it's nice and rainy. They said last night that the rain would be gone by noon, but it's still really gray, which is okay by me.

The other thing I need to think about today is taking a fall vacation. I kind of want to repeat last year's trip, but then there's something to be said for trying something new. The place I went last year was just what I want, but I've often found that trying to repeat something that was wonderful can end up being disappointing. Maybe the trick is to not try to repeat it but rather try to turn it into something new and different. You can go to the same place but go about it in a different way. This is a relatively low-stress kind of trip with a nice immersion in nature.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Proofreading and Singing

I have four more chapters to proofread by reading out loud. I only did a couple yesterday because I could feel my voice straining, and I had choir in the evening. I've got the solo in this Sunday's piece, and it's really challenging, with a lot of very high wailing, so I didn't want to wear out my voice before rehearsal. I'm taking it slow in the reading because of this, with frequent breaks. That's why it's taken me so long. Maybe in the future I should avoid the conjunction of a choir solo and the read-aloud proofread phase.

At least I learned I won't have to do that solo as a solo for the early service, so I won't be singing As at 8:30 in the morning while wrangling kindergarteners, who are also singing in the early service.

I really need to make a habit of practicing my upper range. Singing second soprano in choir means I usually don't sing those notes, and then I get rusty. When I first started working on this piece, I was straining a bit, and now those notes come easily.

Meanwhile, I think I'm at the point where I'm going to force myself to call a halt to the developmental research reading for the next Rebel book. I may do specific research that may be needed once I have a better sense of where I'm going with it, but this is research to get ideas. I did have a synopsis for this book, from back when I was working on the proposal for the first one, but the second one went way off-plan, which had such a ripple effect that what I had planned for book 3 is now no longer viable. There are some things I may be able to salvage, but the structure is going to have to change significantly.

This weekend, when I'm not singing, I plan to do some major brainstorming sessions, and I'd like to start drafting next week. And then I can start the research reading for the next book. Ideas for that are already popping into my head.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Worldbuilding: Society

I'm continuing a series of writing posts on worldbuilding. Last time, I talked about geography. Now it's time to talk about the people who inhabit the world, since they'll probably have a lot to do with the way your story shapes up. People can be very influenced by the place in which they live. That can have something to do with climate -- you get very different cultures at the equator than you do in harsh northern areas -- or location -- more remote areas are likely to be more homogeneous, while places that are easy to get to will probably end up being more diverse. That diversity doesn't always come without struggle and opposition. If you look at patterns in immigration in port cities in our world, you see initial opposition to newcomers, who at first keep to themselves in enclaves. Gradually, their children assimilate, and the greater culture begins to adopt some of their culture (food, arts, etc.). They become part of the greater culture, which is then resistant to the next wave of newcomers.

What kind of people live in your story setting? Think about their daily lives -- what are their homes like, what foods do they eat, what do they do for fun, what are some of the key industries that might employ them, what kind of arts do they pursue? One tricky area that tends to get left out in fiction is the matter of faith. Most human cultures have had some kind of belief system that explains their origins and the world around them. These belief systems may grow and strengthen, get replaced by something else, morph into something else, or fade away. Even a society that has become more secular has generally made a choice to turn away from old beliefs, and there are people who still hold onto them. Most legal systems have developed from religious laws, and a lot of cultural rules and attitudes have their roots in religious beliefs. Many of the arts were first used as expressions of faith. You get a richer world if you at least consider the question instead of creating a world where this doesn't even come up. You could get a very different society by imagining an old religion with a very different set of beliefs and tracing how those beliefs affect laws and culture. That could change traditional gender roles and views of morality.

Are the people in this area conquerors or the conquered? There are nations that tend to be the aggressors and those that tend to get overrun, either because of their geographic location with no natural barriers or defenses or because of their tendency not to put up a fight. Is the conquered nation currently under occupation or control, or are they autonomous again after being liberated by someone else? History of conquering or being conquered will affect the psyche of a nation and possibly the attitudes of the people living there, as well as their view of outsiders, violence, and the need for a military.

How does the economy work? What is traded? What is produced? Is there currency, or is it a barter economy? Is there any kind of economic control by the government, or is it a free-for-all? What's the distribution of wealth? How do people feel about the distribution of wealth? Is there a class system, and how flexible is it? Can someone move up just by amassing wealth and status, or is birth a major factor? If there is a rigid class system based on birth, how did the upper-class families attain their status, and when?

And is any of this changing, on the verge of changing, or subject to change if outside forces (like events in your story) act on this part of your world? Is someone -- either your hero or your villain -- trying to change it? How stable or precarious is your society? Is it strong enough to survive a disaster, or will it all fall apart if one thing happens? Is there some similar or contrasting society nearby that may affect this society -- enemies that might invade, enemies this society might invade, allies, potential allies? Where does this culture fit into the overall world? Is it better or worse than other cultures?

History is a great place to look for ideas of how a society might develop and what can tear it apart.

Once you've developed all these things about your world, it's time to think about how you'll show them in your story, and that will be the next topic.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Getting Serious

It's time to get serious, so I moved back into my office instead of sitting on the sofa, like I have all summer. Well, it's not entirely about being serious. I've got a crick in my neck from the way I was sitting on the sofa to read from the computer while proofreading, so I've moved to a location that allows me to sit with better posture. I cleaned out the office a little to get the new phone/Internet stuff installed, but I need to get it a little more set up for proper work.

Because boy, am I going to have some proper work to do. I think I know what the next project after the next Rebel Mechanics book will be because one of the candidates popped up last night to develop itself. I now know more about the heroine and I really want to write her. I'll do a brief brain dump today to get that information down, then get back to my proofreading and research reading. I think having three projects in various phases of development might make my brain explode.

Speaking of projects, it looks like the new Enchanted, Inc. book will be released December 13. The audio version may come a couple of weeks later. It's not absolutely set in stone, but considering that I'll have a final draft this week ready for formatting and I saw the first pass at the cover art yesterday, that should be on target. There may also be something else around that time, so stay tuned …

Then I'll be able to switch gears (get it?) and get down to some serious Rebel work, and then I can also start brainstorming more about that other project.

And somewhere along the way, I need to clean and organize my house and do a purge because I really hope to sell this place, find another, and move early next year (though I also need to write a lot of books for that so I can afford the kind of place I want and be able to fix it up properly).

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fantasy Adventures

I was going to say I was lazy this morning and skipped yoga, but really, I skipped yoga because I wanted to get more work done. I need to finish proofing that book, and then I have a lot of other things to take care of, like finding an illustrator to do some cover work for something new I have in mind. I have a vivid mental image of the style I want, but haven't been able to find someone who does that, and when I've found a book that has something similar, I can't find info on the artist. I want something kind of cute and semi-cartoony, similar to what's on the Enchanted, Inc. books in tone but a different style of art. Everyone who's been recommended is closer to manga than I want, or else more newspaper comic-style. I think I could probably best describe what I have in mind is the kind of illustrations on the slightly arty humorous greeting cards -- the Hallmark Shoebox Greetings style.

In other news, I watched the first two episodes of Westworld, and it was certainly thought-provoking. It's based on the 1970s Michael Crichton movie about an immersive Old West theme park/live-action game in which there are robot "hosts" that interact with the guests. The hosts can't harm the guests, but the guests can do anything they want to the hosts. It's unfortunately probably rather realistic that a lot of the guests use this as an opportunity to rape and murder, though there do seem to be some guests who just go to play out an adventure, like finding gold with a prospector or joining the sheriff's posse to track down bandits. Things get tricky when the hosts start becoming a little too realistic and become more self-aware, so they're affected by the trauma they keep getting put through. I do hope that the series gets into how a human is affected by committing violence against something that seems very human, even if it isn't human. The series is done by the people who were behind Person of Interest, so I can imagine there will be all kinds of delving into what it is to be human and how humans can go too far.

Anyway, I found myself thinking about what kind of theme park like that I'd want to visit. Since I have no desire to rape or murder anything, I wouldn't really need robots to create the environment, unless it's strictly a case of ensuring that the storylines play out or for purposes of hygiene -- less historical stench and less risk of disease if all the animals and most of the people are robots. Really, I suspect I'd be kind of a wimp about adventures. I don't even like regular theme parks all that much because I don't like being scared, even if it's a "safe" scared. I wouldn't want even the illusion of being in danger, regardless of whether I knew I couldn't actually be hurt. I also like my creature comforts. I'm not into sleeping on the ground, and I don't even like Renaissance festivals that use Port-a-Potties instead of having real bathrooms.

So, if I were going to have a theme park like a Westworld, I decided that I'd want a Narnia experience. You go to an old house, and you open a door to find a magical world where there are fantasy creatures and talking animals, and you can go on quests and adventures, with technology simulating magic. There would also be accommodations built in, so that you'd stop for the night at a place where there's a nice mossy spot on the ground (a concealed mattress) and a secluded pond with a waterfall feeding into it (a camouflaged tub and shower). Toilet facilities would be hidden in a cave. A "magic spell" would result in meals appearing. There might be hints of a potential threat to give your quest a ticking clock, but it would mostly be about puzzles to solve and characters to interact with. Mostly, though, I think I prefer reading about adventures to living them. There are all kinds of things I like reading about that I wouldn't want to experience myself.

Though if I were going to write that story, it would involve someone who thinks that's what they're getting, but there's a glitch, and they get transported to a real fantasy world.

Not that I need more story ideas.

Friday, October 07, 2016

New Fall TV

I ended up with two days off from posting because the new Internet/phone service installation took all morning, during which time I was offline, and then I had to run errands, and then I was catching up on what I should have done in the morning, and then I realized the day was over. The new service requires a few changes, in that my wiring doesn't support both phone and Internet with the kind of service they're offering now, so my phone jacks no longer work. My phone has to be plugged into the Internet router, which meant I had to get a cordless phone with multiple handsets, which was one of my errands. I'd have wanted new phones anyway because the new service comes with Caller ID, and my old phones didn't support that. I ended up getting a system that will pair with my cell phone, so I can use the home phone handset to make/receive cell calls. That should mean less running around the house when my cell rings. The other cool thing is that because I now have voice over IP phone service, I can use the NoMoRobo feature and block robocallers. That should block most of the scams, as well as many of the political calls. Just in time for the election!

The school visit on Wednesday went really well. The kids seemed to be at least moderately interested. The 8th graders may have been a little too cool for it, but the 6th graders were enthusiastic. I got good feedback from the teachers and principal, and I've seen some nice things posted by parents who are friends of my friend who helped set it up about what their kids said. It turned out that one of the teachers in this school was a high school classmate, so we had a mini reunion there. Meanwhile, my friend who helped set this up has roused the power of the PTA moms and is determined to get me speaking all over the area.

Now I guess I need to write more YA books if kids are starting to catch on.

In other news, the fall TV season has begun. I've started with three new shows so far. I wasn't planning to watch the TV version of Lethal Weapon, but I read surprisingly good reviews for it, so I gave it a shot, and it's better than I expected. It's still essentially a brainless 80s action movie that's more about the characters than the action, but it does that pretty well. Though I must say I was less impressed by the third episode, so I don't know how long they'll be able to sustain it. How much havoc can they really create in the city before something gets done?

I also liked the pilot for Timeless, the one about time travel. A terrorist (maybe?) has stolen a time machine and seems to be going back in time to change things, for a reason that remains unknown. They still have the prototype time machine that's paired with that one, so they send a team of a historian, a soldier, and a scientist from the project back to try to stop him. The thing that possibly elevates or differentiates this series from others with a similar premise is the suggestion that there's something more going on. Also, there are ramifications in the present from things that they do while time traveling. So, there's a lot of potential there, and they're using the time travel premise for more than just a way to get to a different time and place to have adventures in history.

There's also a new animated show on Disney XD from the same people who did Phineas & Ferb called Milo Murphy's Law, about a kid who pretty much embodies Murphy's Law. He's a big-time jinx. If something can go wrong for him, it will. But instead of him being a Charlie Brown kind of guy and moping about his bad luck, he's developed impressive coping and survival skills, and he goes around prepared for just about anything. As he says, he's found that screaming doesn't help and all it does is damage the larynx. If you're with him, disaster is likely to occur, but he'll also know exactly how to get out of it. The kids who avoid him because he's a jinx end up having much less interesting lives than the kids who are friends with him. It looks like it could be pretty cute.

I haven't yet had a chance to watch Westworld on HBO. That may be for tonight. Otherwise, there isn't much new this season that interests me, and I like not spending so much time watching TV. Not that I've been spending that time on writing this week, but now that all the life upheavals are over for the week, I'm going to get back to proofreading today.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Not THAT Busy

Maybe it wasn't the yoga class yesterday because I'm still tired today after a good night's sleep and letting myself sleep until I woke up. I blame ragweed. I was so spacey and not wanting to work yesterday that I actually did something that's been on the to-do list for weeks that involved making a phone call. My phone/internet are being transitioned to fiber, as they're stopping their support of the traditional copper wiring-based service, and I had to call to set an appointment for installation. It's actually a plus for me as I'll be getting more/better service for less cost, but it did require making a phone call, and will require installation. I was able to get an installation appointment Thursday morning, but that means I need to tidy the house a bit because I'm the kind of person who cleans up before repairmen come over. Also, he'll need access to outlets, I'm sure.

Thus, I made an executive decision that since the deadline I set for myself to proofread this book was arbitrary and it's not urgent that it be done this week, I'm not going to stress over it. In addition to the cleaning I need to do before Thursday, I'm spending tomorrow morning at a school. When an old friend who helped set up the school visit invited me over for dinner tonight and I almost refused because I was so busy, I had a moment of realizing that most of the "busy" is self-imposed. So, I'm taking the late afternoon/early evening off to go have dinner with my friends and see their kids, one of whom I've never met in person and two I haven't seen in ten years (and it sounds like her kids are really excited because apparently they decided I was spending the night and were fighting over whose room I'd sleep in).

Proofing is so critical that it's hard to do when you're tired, distracted, or spacey, so I'm doing it bit-by-bit, reading out loud, and taking breaks. If I finish this week, then great. If not, I'll live, and meanwhile I'm using some of the breaks to do research for the next book.

I think tomorrow I'll skip a day of blogging, since I'll be out all morning, leaving early.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Revolution on the Brain

It's being a very Monday Monday. I have a lot to do this week, and all I really want to do is crawl into a blanket fort and nap. Of course, that could be because of everything I need to do this week. I need to "adult" big-time, and I don't really want to. I'm going to have to rethink the Monday morning yoga class because it's starting to make me feel like I'm behind before the week even starts, as I get nothing much else done on Monday mornings, so I'm catching up early into the afternoon, and then I don't get my usual work started until much later. We also have a new teacher who has a very different approach. Physically, it's more or less fine, but there's a different atmosphere. The previous teacher played very soft "yoga studio" music that was mostly ambient sound -- some nature sounds, maybe a little flute type music. This teacher plays church praise music, which is a musical genre I'm not crazy about to begin with, louder than I'd really like (I can barely hear her over the music), and then she cranks it up higher during the relaxation time. I actually physically convulsed when she did that today because it was such a jolt. It didn't help that the singer she was playing did that thing where they deliberately sing just a bit flat, and the loud off-pitch music just isn't relaxing for me. It's a class held at a church, so I guess that's her thing, but it's not my thing. It's hard to get into a proper yoga mindset when you spend the whole class wondering if you should say something about not being able to hear instructions over the music and getting more and more irritated by the music.

I may look around to see what other class days and times might be an option at other yoga studios nearby (there are a ton), or maybe develop enough self discipline to do it regularly at home at times that better fit my schedule. I think it might work better for me in the evening as a way to wind down because it makes me sleepy. It wasn't an expensive class, so I'm giving myself permission to only go when I really want to for the rest of this semester, and we'll see how it affects my week. When I was sleeping later in the mornings, the class forced me to get up, and I got home at about the same time I usually got settled down to work, but now I'm usually well into my day by the time I get home, so I feel behind, and I don't like to start the week feeling behind.

In other news, I think that perhaps the universe was doing me a favor all those times when circumstances kept me from seeing the movie Reds. I finally watched it, and it wasn't what I was expecting. I was thinking something closer to Doctor Zhivago, though from the perspective of someone involved in the revolution, but that stuff didn't kick in until the last hour. Most of the rest of it was pretentious people making pretentious speeches and living bohemian lives, with Diane Keaton apparently not aware that she wasn't still playing Annie Hall. I got a couple of idea notes out of it, though. Then I finally got around to the Rebellion miniseries on my DVR from earlier in the year, about the Irish Easter Rebellion. That one's more interesting, and possibly more relevant to my needs. It's funny, I thought that The Tudors was some kind of full employment program for Irish actors, but there's no crossover that I've noticed so far with this series, which also has an Irish cast. Maybe all the people who got noticed in bit parts in The Tudors are now working outside Ireland, and this was the next wave. They've been showing the first season of The Tudors on Ovation, and it's fun spotting all the people who have done other things since then. In this series, though, the Irish actors get to play Irish characters, for a change (except for the ones having to play British characters living in Ireland).

It looks like I'm going to have revolution on the brain for the next month or so, but first, I have to proofread the previous book.