Are You Hungry in 2022?

 

This is not a Snickers commercial, assessing your physical hunger level. (Actually, I could go for one of those, right about now.) Let me back up. I was thinking today of my own hunger level in regard to writing. From a young age, I wanted to write anything I could write: stories, novels, play scripts, movie scripts, poetry, graphic novels, essays. I attempted any and all forms of writing. But as I grew older and rejections happened, my hunger slackened. In other words, I played it safe.

But who was I hurting by doing that? Me. So in 2022, I’m tired of avoiding an activity just because of the fear that someone else might not like what results when I try it.

Maybe you feel the same in this dawning of a new year. So with that in mind, my new year’s giveaway is a $50 gift card to Amazon/Amazon UK or some other source that will inspire you in your goal to advance in your writing or illustration, your artistic endeavors in needlework, or your whatever is legal. Maybe you want to purchase a craft book to boost your skill. Or, if you’re like me, you want to buy a coffee table behind-the-scenes book featuring a movie you enjoyed because you’re fascinated by the process of the filmmakers. (The Art and Soul of Dune, anyone?) Or maybe you want to buy a book from a trusted source (like Bookshop.org) or some crafting supplies (Hello, Michaels or JOANN) to inspire you to greater heights.

   

Comment below to be entered in the drawing. Be sure to name the place where you would want to spend the money. I hope to post the winner sometime next week after my next deadline.

Happy New Year!

Still Here


I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve heard people say that during the holidays, publishing slows down. Maybe that’s true on the manuscript reading end, though I can’t really verify that. But with the pandemic, some editorial jobs were cut, leaving existing personnel scrambling to find help with acquired manuscripts. That’s where freelancers like me come in. So my deadlines have been like a certain movie franchise—fast and furious.

Four projects are due in January. But I will try to keep posting more even as more holidays approach.

TTFN.

Here image from parkslopeciviccouncil.org.

I Didn’t Know I Needed Dune (2021)

I don’t know about you, but my soul is weary these days. I’ve struggled to write anything—especially a blog post (though freelance deadlines also played a part in that).

When a friend suggested a trip to the movie theater—first time in about nineteen months—to see Dune (2021), I jumped at the chance, having watched a reviewer give a glowing review of it. I’m not normally swayed by reviews. If I want to see a film, I’ll see it without watching any reviews beforehand. I watched a review this time, because I was afraid that Hollywood would mess this up. Gotta be honest. You see, I’ve read three of Frank Herbert’s Dune series and loved the 2000 miniseries adaptation of some of the books. So I was wary to say the least, as was the friend who invited me to go.

Have you seen the movie? This is not a review, but rather, a post about how a beautifully made film can assist in the restoration of a weary soul. Dune (2021) is the only film I’ve seen by the director—Denis Villeneuve (who also cowrote the screenplay). And though I majored in radio/TV/film 800 years ago, I didn’t learn much. (That major was short-lived anyway, lasting only a year.) So I can’t speak with any sort of authority on cinematography or any other aspects of filmmaking. You know how you can look at something and know it’s good, but you don’t understand all the ins and outs of what makes it so good? That’s how I felt while watching Dune.

I knew what I expected to see—an epic saga taking place on a desert planet. A reviewer called Dune (2021) a sandy Game of Thrones. Apt, but a little unfair, since the first Dune book debuted in 1965 and George RR Martin’s first book didn’t roll out until 1996. So maybe Game of Thrones is a stony Dune. But I understood why the reviewer said that, since most people might know Game of Thrones while knowing next to nothing about Dune except for a movie that some disliked.

Anyway, what captured my attention in the film the most were the seeming simplicity of the camera shots and the moments of silence. Characters often stood gazing at the scenery or walked together in silence. On screen, we might see one image highlighted—like a woman whose diaphanous train blows in the wind or a close up of the face of the main character (played by Timothée Chalamet, below).

Many films seem cluttered in comparison, with characters and objects crowded on the screen. You don’t know where to look first. But in this film, certain images arrest you as the camera pans.

Watching Dune reminded me of Seven Samurai and other foreign films with less dialogue. Moments would go by without the characters saying anything. That felt like ma space—a rest between intervals of action. .

In a day of constant chatter through text messaging and a never-ending stream of images on social media, I cherished the choice moments of silence and stillness. This is not to say that the film lacked action. I used the word epic for a reason. Lots of fight scenes ala Lawrence of Arabia. If you’ve seen that movie, you can picture what I mean.

Anyway, I needed it.

Photo of Chang Chen playing Dr. Wellington Yueh found at filmfed.com. Timothée Chalamet found at jacketscreator.com. And yes, you can purchase a coat like that. Dune movie poster found somewhere else that I forgot to notate.

So, This Happened

I’m not a mechanic. So if you are, you might shake your head at what I’m about to tell you. So, not long ago, I went out to start my car. When I did, it sounded like a garbage truck—a new development since the day before that. I called the mechanic I usually take the car to and asked if I could bring it, telling him I thought the muffler had gone bad.

He said, “Yeah, drop it off tomorrow.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I believe in prayer. Not saying you have to, just that I do. So after praying, I was certain I needed to drop that car off not the next day, but that day. So I texted a friend and arranged for a pick up at the auto shop. Not half an hour later, the mechanic called and said, “It’s not the muffler. Your catalytic converter was stolen.” (If you’re wondering what that is, click here to be taken to a Wikipedia article.)

He texted a photo.

That took a moment to register. He asked pertinent questions like, “When did you notice the change?” I explained that whatever happened had to have happened during the night, because the car was fine the previous day.

He advised me to make a police report. So I called them. An officer came out right away with the news that the previous night, catalytic converters were stolen out of several cars in the area. A group of thieves had been busy in this area. Why, you might ask? (Or you might not wonder. My dad and a friend said this is happening all over the country.) In Illinois we have the emissions test requirement. The deadline for the test is October 31.

My sister-in-law then texted an alert she received on more thefts in a nearby town. Here is part of that:

Sigh. So I had to file an insurance claim and am now in a rental car as I wait for my car to be fixed so that I can pass the emissions test.

Hope you have better news. If so, please share it.

Photos were given to L. Marie.

Do You Care What People Think?

See this penguin? (Yes, it is a penguin despite the coloring.)

I thought about using this penguin in a post with another topic. But the fact that I thought about using it prompted this post, because it shows I care what people think of me—whether you think I’m clever or creative. Though I don’t like that aspect of myself, I can’t deny the truth of it. Oh I know you’re way more mature than me and don’t care what other people think, so just bear with me even if you can’t relate to this post.

Penguin amigurumi pattern by LittleMagicHouse: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleMagicHouse?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=859475851

We live in a culture of likes/dislikes. I don’t have to tell you that. Social media is all about likes. YouTube algorithms and ad revenues are based on how many likes a video, and the channel overall, gets. You can’t even call your cable company about a service aberration (and I have done this multiple times) without being asked to fill out a survey about their service. Memo to cable providers: If I call about a service outage, that is not a good time to ask me to fill out a survey.

If you’ve written a book, you know all about the need for a certain number of good reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other outlets (like Kirkus). A bad review can be devastating, especially if the reviewer takes the time to tell you how terrible your book is and shames you for writing it.

Have you purchased a meal or anything else lately? More than likely you were asked to fill out a survey or to like and review the company on social media.

Caring what others might think is the main reason why we Botox, dye our hair, dress like people many years younger than us or cooler than us, say cutting things about the manuscripts of others in writing workshops, go through several photos before posting on social media, and sometimes outright lie. It’s what caused a woman ahead of me in line today at the grocery store to turn and say that she was sorry she couldn’t let me go ahead of her (her grocery order being much larger than mine) but she was in a hurry and couldn’t do so. It causes us to avoid saying no, even when we know we need to do so, out of fear of displeasing someone. This is not to say that we should avoid pleasing others. That’s part of loving others. It becomes problematic when we compromise who we are out of fear of what someone might think.

I’ve heard people say, “I don’t care what other people think.” And I want to believe them, since they state the fact so forcefully. But since they aren’t hermits living in a cave by themselves, and since they shower, my logical mind tells me they might have at least some concern for the opinions of others. This is not to say we shouldn’t put our best foot forward or that we should be uncivilized. But sometimes, at the back of my mind at least, I worry, What is so and so going to think?

So, I guess a better question for me to ask is, how much do you focus on what others might think? You don’t have to tell me. This post isn’t to shame anyone. I wrote it to ask the question of myself, because I’m tired of doing things out of fear of what someone else might think or say—an outcome that may or may not come to pass.

People pleaser image from AvenuesCounseling website. Other photo by L. Marie.

When I Relax, I . . . Work?

Sadly, I did not get a post out last week to announce the winner of Charles Yallowitz’s War of Nytefall: Anarchy. The week got away from me with its awful stress. I’m sure you can relate to stress. One of these days, I’ll have the emotional wherewithal to tell you alllllllllllll about it. For now, let’s discuss a stress management tactic—rest/relaxation. I don’t mean taking a nap, though my mom says that’s her favorite form of stress relief. I’m not much of a napper, because napping subtracts from my nighttime sleep hours. The only time it doesn’t is when I’m really ill.

  

One of my favorite forms of rest/relaxation, besides watching this show (based on the book by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus)

or playing this

is to crochet. I’m currently making an underwater habitat for this little whale as part of a gift.

   

Whale crochet pattern by LittleMagicHouse

Coral, seaweed, and shell patterns by TheYarnConspiracy.

It might seem like a lot of work. And it is. But with every stitch crocheted or felt sewn, that’s minutes of stress off my back. I’m not sure why it works that way for me. Some people do crossword or jigsaw puzzles (looking at you, Jill Weatherholt and Charles Yallowitz); I crochet. I like to keep my hands busy while watching a movie or show on Netflix.

What do you do for relaxation? While you consider that, Marian Beaman, consider yourself a winner of Charles’s latest book!

Thank you to all who commented and faithfully read this weird blog.

Book cover and author photos courtesy of Charles Yallowitz. Other photos by L. Marie.

How Much Time?

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Hi! It’s L. Marie. It’s been a minute since I last posted. Sorry about that. I drew a blank every time I thought about what to post (summer? Independence? COVID?) so I didn’t. 😑 But here I am finally. It’s about time, you’re probably thinking. And to that I say you’re absolutely right about the subject of this post.

The catalyst for it was a YouTube video I watched on a videogame, Link’s Awakening. The YouTuber proclaimed that it took 11 hours to finish the game. For him, that seemed to be an incredibly long amount of time. The median amount of time for the game, which I’ve played, is 14 hours. Click here for more details.

Link

That got me to wondering about time and how relative it is. With that in mind, consider your answers to the following questions below. My answers are in bold.

What’s the longest amount of time you’ve spent . . .

  • Playing a videogame? 1000+ (Animal Crossing)

Animal Crossing

  • Writing a short story? Two weeks for a 1200-word story. I spent a week writing and rewriting a five-hundred-word chapter and five days writing and rewriting a three-hundred-word story.
  • Writing a novel? Three years from draft to revision
  • Binge watching a TV show (not counting special events like the Olympics) or miniseries? Six hours for the TV show. A friend and I binge-watched episodes of the first season of Heroes back in 2007. We spent ten hours watching the miniseries, The 10th Kingdom years before that. It debuted back in 2000.

Tenth Kingdom

Novel adaptation of the series

  • Knitting a sweater or some other craft work? A week.
  • Other?

I see you staring at the thousand plus hours I listed for the videogame. For some, a videogame might seem like a waste of time. I won’t debate that here. But I’ll just add that the game was played over the course of 15 months. And that amount of time is not unusual considering the pandemic. Click here for an article that discusses the matter.

Years ago, I read a blog post by a writer who wrote a novel in nine days, revised it over a couple of weeks, and sold it to a publisher less than a month later. Granted, she had already published a fantasy trilogy. But I recall balking at what seemed (to me at least) an incredibly short amount of time. Some of that balking—really, sour grapes—stemmed from the three years I’d spent on a novel only to net zero sales.

Time is relative.

Sometimes I’ve felt shame over the amount of time I spent doing something. Ever feel that? Like for instance, the fact that it took four hours for me to defeat the first dungeon in Link’s Awakening, when others, like the YouTuber I mentioned earlier beat it in 55 minutes. I know that’s innocuous. But I’ve also experienced shame after hearing about how quickly some authors gained an agent (one now famous author I read about gained one a month after querying), knowing I spent years querying to no result.

Is there anyone among us who has cornered the market on time—who knows exactly how long anything should take? Oh, I know there are jobs where time limits are premeasured. I once had a proofreading job where one of my five supervisors told me that certain assignments took a certain amount of time and I had better adhere to that time frame. But what I’m getting at here is that it is so easy to criticize someone for not “measuring up” to a specific amount of time.

I can’t help thinking of my undergrad years and how some students were shamed for taking longer than four years to finish college. A guy who worked on the food line at my dorm had been there four years when I arrived and was still there when I graduated four years later. Now, I think the average amount of time to finish college in the U.S. is five to six years. Go here for an article on that.

Do you ever share an opinion with others on how long something should take? What do you do when someone shares an opinion with you?

Clock image found somewhere online. I used it before in a post back in 2013, but got tired of scrolling through the photo library to find it. Other photos by L. Marie.

Blog Post Birthday Edition Take Seven

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Um, hi. I feel like I should reintroduce myself because of my recent disappearance. A huge revision editing project sailed away with most of my time. A bad cold (is there a good one?) had already swamped me. Added to that, the flu-like symptoms (days of that) from a shot and well, here we are.

So, how are you? You good? *Nods and shuffles like I do at a party when trying to make awkward small talk before giving up and going off to find food, preferably a cupcake.*

My birthday happened toward the south end of April. I couldn’t post about that until now. This is not a pitiful cry for birthday wishes, however. This birthday wasn’t a significant milestone. In fact I can only describe it by this emoji: 🤷

Ever since I left college (ages ago; Fred Flintstone and I were classmates), my need for birthday parties or excitement on my birthday has diminished. Oh this is not to say that kind friends and family haven’t taken me out or celebrated in some way (though the factors mentioned in the first paragraph prevented any sort gathering this year). But I no longer have the requirement of doing anything on my birthday.

How about you? Do you like having a big celebration on your birthday?

This post is my annual birthday giveaway weeks late. Traditionally, the giveaway involves a present similar to what I received. This year, I received a number of Amazon cards, so I will be giving away a $25 Amazon card (or the equivalent on Amazon UK) to one commenter.

Amazon-icon

And no, I am not giving away one of the actual cards I received. I spent that money! If you are anti-Amazon, and would prefer some other retail outlet, please let me know in the comments.

Cupcake illustration from dreamstime.

Details, Details

Quiz time for fiction writers. No need to fear. This is easy.

  • As you think of the main character(s) in your work-in-progress, what color is that character’s hair? Eyes? (See? Easy-peasy.)

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  • Does he or she have a nickname? If so, what is it?
  • Where does that character live? Town, city, or rural community? What is the character’s street address (or what are the landmarks that lead to this dwelling if an address can’t be given)? This can be a made-up address like 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Kudos to whoever knows this address from an old TV show. Skip to the very end of the post to see if you are right.
  • What animals are in this character’s life (like a pet or a warhorse)? What are their names? Species? Colors?

Now think of a secondary character and answer the above questions. If you have fifty secondary characters, could you easily answer the same questions about all of them?

By now you are probably wondering why I’m being so nosy. Well, for one thing, sometimes I forget some of the information about my characters, especially in a book with fifty plus characters. That’s why I have to keep a list of people, places, and things, especially when I am writing a series. But I keep a list even for a standalone book with fewer characters. Nowadays I add to the list as I write the book. I remember how tedious it was to write the list after the book was done.

I’m wondering how many authors keep a list of pertinent character information. Some authors have told me they keep track of everything in their head. Do you? If you don’t keep a list, would you consider doing so? I ask this also as someone who wears the freelance book editor hat from time to time. I have had to email or text authors to inquire about hair and eye color, names, addresses, etc. because of inconsistencies found while editing.

Speaking of other useful things to have, I also think of a timeline sheet for a book. Do you keep a list of the day-to-day events (for example, June 4—the Fruit Fly Festival in Harbor Creek)? If you say a book starts on a Tuesday in April and ends on a Wednesday in May, do you check a calendar to make sure the timing of the story events works? If you’re writing historical fiction, do you search the internet to see if May 4, 1925 really was on a Monday as you mentioned in your manuscript? (It really was on a Monday, by the way.)

may-th-day-month-simple-calendar-icon-w

Maybe you’re thinking, Why should I do any of this? The editor is going to check all of that. True. But why not do it for your own sake, instead of waiting for a busy editor to take time out of his or her day to ask you questions about inconsistencies. After all, none of us is perfect. Okay, I take it back. You are. But for everyone else, if you keep a list, maybe the questions won’t have to be asked by an editor (or a reader, who might not be kind).

This public service broadcast was brought to you by I-will-now-mind-my-own-business.

And now onto the winners (finally) of the following books written by Charles Yallowitz and Sandra Nickel respectively. (Click here and here for the interview posts with these authors.)

savagery TheStuffBetweenTheStars

New Charles Author Photo SandraNickel

The winner of The Stuff Between the Stars is Marian Beaman. The winner of War of Nytefall: Savagery is S.K. Van Zandt.

Marian and S. K. Van Zandt, please comment below to confirm. Thank you for commenting!

Address Answer: 1313 Mockingbird Lane is the home of the Munster family in The Munsters.

Author photos and book covers courtesy of the authors. Eye image from lolwot.com. May calendar image from dreamstime.

Um, So Next Week Then?

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Hi! Sorry about the shortness of this post and the fact that once again I am posting on Saturday. This week, I said I would announce the winners of these books.

savagery TheStuffBetweenTheStars

The week got away from me due to a tough project that I am slowly, carefully working on. Every time I looked up, another day had passed. And here I am writing this post on a Friday!

With that in mind, I unfortunately have to postpone the announcement of the winners until early next week. You might wonder, Why not do it now? I like to take my time writing posts, even a post to announce the winners of the books I’m giving away. Besides, the winners have not yet been generated.

Once again, I’m sorry. See you, hopefully, next week.

Jean Luc Picard facepalm from fanpop.