Sunday, December 17, 2017

Witty's Year End Book Review 2017

For 2017, there were fewer books read than usual, but I did try to keep up with current works and refreshed memories.

Some of the rules to note: the works listed may not be new this year, but are ones I've read this year or re-read as a refresher of sorts. Thing is, you should be able to find them in your local library or at least online as an ebook for purchase. The links are to the Goodreads website where you can track your reading library for sharing with friends. That said, this is what damaged my remaining brains cells folks.

Best Fiction

Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi

A new Space Opera series by acclaimed author Scalzi (Redshirts), Empire goes into the ramifications of a change in an interstellar hyperspace system called the Flow that allowed Humanity to spread across the stars. Without it, the human empire of Interdependency falls back to sub-light travel, and entire worlds relying on the FTL trade could die.
Scalzi does an incredible job of world-building in this one, delving into how the politics of a far-reaching empire could work and how fragile such organizations would be. Dark humor abounds, and Scalzi clearly leaves a cliffhanger not because one is required in a series but because the very nature of the novel's crisis can't be resolved so easily.
One of the complaints people have is "what series can I get into" if they're looking at something that's already got 12-to-20 volumes in play. This is brand new in 2017, and now is the time to get into it.

Best Non-Fiction

We Were Eight Years In Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Long-time fan of TNC and third-level member of the Horde, so I'm always reading his stuff. Here, Coates follows up Between the World and Me by examining the shift in American politics from the potential of the Obama years to its dark mirror version of trumpland, where an unqualified failed businessman still convinced enough racist and angry white voters into the highest office in the land (well, that and Russian collusion, but that's on my other blog).
As important a read on the current state of American values, and the horrible track record of racism that haunts us, if you're not reading Eight Years you are ignoring your own nation's perilous end.

Best Graphic Novel (or Ongoing Series)

Mister Miracle, Tom King and Mitch Gerads

Originally part of Jack Kirby's epic Fourth World saga, Mister Miracle had retained a place in the DC Universe by positioning the main character - a New God capable of escaping ANY trap - as a standard hero-with-a-cape. Tom King's reworking of Scott Free, however, steps away from the standard Cape narrative by repositioning Free in the space opera struggle of GOOD VS EVIL between New Genesis heroes vs. Darkseid and the dread armies of Apokolips.
In this reboot of sorts, the war has taken a nasty turn: Orion succeeds in killing Darkseid (!) and Free is charged in the death of New Genesis' leader (and Scott's neglectful father) Highfather. Both worlds spiral further into war, with Free coming to terms with his role in that war and trying to figure out how he can escape his fate in it. Mixed in to all of this are early signs that Scott Free tried "the ultimate escape" of suicide... with the sneaking suspicion that the entire plot may be a Mind Screw trap of Darkseid's to trick Scott Free into revealing what he knows of the Anti-Life Equation...
What makes this series work is the no-holds-barred beatdown King delivers to the existing Kirby mythos, deconstructing most of what we know of that 'Verse and making us question just how noble the good guys are compared to the unsettling horrors of the likes of Granny Goodness. It's not a series for kids, given the level of violence, adult themes, and profanity. I'm not sure a lot of adults would feel up to reading something this disturbing either. It all depends on King's endgame of the series...


Best Work By Someone I Email, Tweet, or Chat With on a Regular Basis

And by that I mean someone who actually writes back!

Do you know how geeked I was Diane Duane replies to my Twitter?

Spock's World, Diane Duane

This one's been out a long time - 1989! - but of the Expanded Universe novels this one carries major importance to a lot of Star Trek fans. Delving into the history of Vulcan - one of the key planets of the Federation, and humanity's staunchest ally in the galaxy - Duane writes of a world on the brink of voting itself out of that Federation, driven by long-suppressed anger that the Vulcan's philosophy of Logic can no longer contain. Mixed in with flashback chapters of how the Vulcan race survived a harsh desert world - explaining many of Spock's physic and physical powers on the show and movies - are chapters covering the efforts of the crew of the Enterprise - Kirk, McCoy, and Spock who would be ruined if Vulcan did secede - to figure out who is driving the secession movement and how to save the Federation from rending in two.
What makes Duane's work here a must-read is not just her well-paced plot even as it juggles between past and present but also how it fits into both canonical and fan-based works (she reportedly based a lot of the material on the Vulcan-Romulan schism from a fan work called Kraith). Well, canonical pre-movie reboots and ST:Ent series. She draws out how a race could form a philosophy on Logic... and then deconstructs it by showing Logic can't solve everything and that "controlling emotions" can only mask some very deep hurts.
She also writes with a humorous bent, especially when she has her personal novel characters like K's't'lk - a giant glass spider - get involved in Vulcan's secession debate. The way she proves her argument with an arrogant Vulcan academic ("Tenured", McCoy quips) is both logical AND funny as hell ("Get all Zen with me..."). Any and all of Duane's Star Trek novels are must-reads: But this is where you should start first.

I didn't get much else successfully picked up by anthologies or magazines for print, so this year is a washout on that front.

Maybe next year... Maybe...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

NaNoWriMo Winner 2017

So I crossed the finish line to 50,000 words.

But the Invading Earth stuff I've written is a complete mess and nowhere near finished.

I NEED for once in my life to finish a damn novel. So this isn't over.

Finish the chapters. Edit the mess. Find a cover artist. Get 'er published.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I Survived the Clermont Comic Con... Mostly Because It's Not a Walk-A-Thon Up Them Hills

Have you ever BEEN to Clermont? You know, you can live a long time in Florida and get used to the idea of everything being flat or at least hilly, but by GOD you go to Clermont and all of a sudden you're dealing in VALLEYS AND MOUNTAINS EVERYWHERE! If you had to bike from place to place your heart would give out by the ninth block, I SWEAR...


Anyhoo, here are some photos of my Sunday excursion to the Clermont Performing Arts Center for their annual Comic Con:




The Pikachu Car made it to Clermont! And was able to drive up those damn mountains!


There's Scott trying to keep things organized. Met Scott through City of Heroes and a couple of events he hosted at a comic book store he once owned in Clermont. If you wanna keep up with his antics, check out Florida Geek Scene!


Here's me getting set up at my table! Remembered the book display this time!




Getting all set up for the day!


Getting the cosplayers walking by my table! I am trying to time the photos so that the Clermont Comic Con logo will be on that screen.



There was a film crew working on a documentary at this convention.


WONDER WOMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!! P.S. Justice League is a good movie. Way better than the shoddy Batman v Superman.


Battle of the Planets! Sadly, no Voltron cosplayers!



The table next to me was selling vintage Star Wars action figures and toys.


OMG. There is a classic Chewie action figure WITH BOWCASTER RIFLE.

Yes. I bought it.



Another closeup of the display table, because...


I HAD A CUSTOMER BUY THE STRANGELY FUNNY Vol. ONE COLLECTION! WOOT.


And hey, huge shoutout to John Crowther and his family as they were at the convention promoting their Rochelle series as well as their wrestling comic books.

So all in all, it was a good day.

One last thing: I need to try and show just how mountainous Clermont is.



Happy Turkey Pagan Sacrifice Day to ye all!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

CON TIME: Clermont Comic Con 2017!

I shall be hawking my wares THIS SUNDAY November 19th at the Clermont FL Performing Arts Center!


Follow the link here for address, hours, and tickets!

I will attempt to do some NaNo Writing while there!

Monday, November 13, 2017

I Survived the Orlando NaNo Region Write-In

While I'm a Municipal Liaison for the Lakeland/Polk County region, it helps to mingle with the other Regions in the area to maintain good ties, and let fellow writers know that other regions are nearby that may offer the occasional freaky event.

For example, the Orlando group has been doing this 'Round the Disney World Write-In where they go on a Sunday - when it's not as busy - and then commute across the various resorts (the hotels and restaurants are open: the parks themselves are EXPENSIVE) to find places to sit and write and experience the Disney ambiance.

The other Lakeland ML, Michelle, suggested joining in since Orlando is just an hour's drive away, and it'd be fun to see the sights. I was curious how the event would pan out, and one of the things about Write-Ins is that it gets you away from homebound distractions.

So, I went.


You had to park at Disney Springs - the open shopping mall area - because it's FREE, and then boat across the resorts to the Port Orleans / French Quarter stop, where the Write-In starts. I was late getting to the park, and worse I got lost trying to find the boats, so I admit I was a little stressed out by the first stop.


They had 58 (!) people show up for this Write-In!


We then had to take a tour bus across to the Magic Kingdom gateway for the monorail ride to the Polynesian resort. I've been here before...



And those statues are something of a family in-joke. I'll tell more later.


I actually got a lot of writing done here, and there were decent seating places to rest awhile.


The next stop was the Grand Floridian, where they had a Cinderella/Prince Charming procession and dance-off, which was won by Olaf I believe.


This was me by the end of the day. I wasn't able to get any writing done at the Grand Floridian: too noisy, too overwhelming.

And a Grand Finale at the Grand Floridian, as the survivors posed in front a a Gingerbread House before we ate it for nourishment. (I am somewhere in the back, since tall people shouldn't be seen in group photos)

It was a crazy, hectic Write-In. While it was good to get out, and it was great meeting a lot of the Orlando krewe, it was a bit stressful trying to move from one place to another. I've been told this was double their turnout from last year, so it's likely the logistics for this event got overwhelmed. I hope when they plan this for next year, the Orlando MLs do two things: 1) ask a Disney resort (the Polynesian was the best of the three IMHO) if we can rent out a spot (if a shared fee is needed by attendees, make sure it's not costly) for the Write-In or 2) reduce the dependence on the bus services, which caused a long delay for one-half of the group.

I hope everyone who attended got some writing done, and a hearty good luck to everyone doing NaNo!

Friday, November 3, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017: Write-In at Starbucks


There will be a Write-In for Lakeland NaNo at the Lakeside Village mall location at:

Starbucks, 1314 Town Center Drive S-102, Lakeland, FL 33803

This will be facing Harden Blvd.

Starting at 4:30 or so, it's an open event so you can arrive when you can and leave when you need.

Hope everyone is getting their word counts and staying focused on their next novel of noteworthiness.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017: Day One. First Line: We were somewhere around Bartow, on the edge of the citrus farms, when the drugs began to take hold...

(thinks it over)

Nah. It doesn't make sense.

Anyway, today is the start of the official National Novel Writing Month!



Get to it. 50,000 words. You can write this.

I'm going to write that Young Adult novel idea suggested by Diane Duane. And you can't stop me!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Last Jedi Librarian

I fear I may be the last Jedi Librarian in the galaxy...



But I shall defend the trick or treat candy for the Younglings to my dying breath!


And yeah, this is what happens when you don't own a Chewbacca tie for the workplace.

TRICK OR TREAT, Bartow!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

I Survived the Florida Writers' Conference 2017... And Found Out I'm Using the Apostrophe All Wrong

(small no)

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times...

It was a long day for me, driving early to avoid the I-4 traffic even on a Saturday morning. I'd been up ever since 3 AM, so if I look a little pale or puffy eyed in my Selfie, well that's just me being a fat 47 year old.

I *am* cosplaying as myself for how I dress at comic-cons promoting my works.

At the writers' conference they host sessions on how to promote yourself, such as this one about "Book Promotion On A Budget" by Nancy Cohen...


There was a luncheon offered...


They ask a handful of agents and publishers to judge on a Gong Show event, where people give them a 2-minute pitch (more than an "Elevator Pitch" but not a whole summary) about their books. When I attended two years ago, the judges were pretty harsh (and I intentionally flubbed it just to be the class clown for the day) but this year they were more complimentary in their critiques (and this year I think most of the attendees figured out how to do it right).


Oh, and there was CAKE.

As far as motivation towards writing, I've gotten some pep talk from two of the attendees, and so I hope to get at least one project completed before the NaNo stuff overwhelms me.

Good luck.







Thursday, October 12, 2017

Looking at places for NaNo Write-Ins in Lakeland

There's been a suggestion for using the Starbucks at Lakeside Village (just off Harden Blvd). as a possible Write-In locale.

Checking it out now. The best thing is that the big tables in the middle of the bistro have power outlets underneath, meaning people can use laptops and tablets during the Write-Ins.

Now it's a question of figuring out the best evenings to host them.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Getting Prepped for NaNoWriMo

October 1st means we're one month away from attempting another NaNoWriMo!

I need to coordinate with the others in Lakeland region and get the word out.

Here's to getting 50,000 words of a novel done!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Writing Prompt for Labor Day

Still in the middle of it, but here's what happened:

Back to work.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Special Deal on Strangely Funny III

Okay, thanks to the publishers at Mystery & Horror LLC, there's a 50 percent off code for the anthology Strangely Funny III.

All you have to do is go to the Createspace market at http://www.createspace.com/6210217 and type in this code when you get to the Checkout:

7LSEAM9S

and that will make the item half-off.

If you do purchase the book, please take the time to read my story "Minette Dances With the Golem of Albany" and please leave any reviews of the book because the authors who contributed to these anthologies need the uplifting motivation (well, if you liked the story, if you didn't at least make note of our proper grammar and use of punctuation).

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Survived Epicon 2017. Did You?

My biggest regret from the weekend trip was not getting to hear "Hit the Road Jack" over at the Ray Charles statue.

In the meantime, I documented the atrocities. Have a look!

Every librarian has the habit of visiting other libraries when they travel.

This is the main library for the county system.

The Ray Charles Plaza across from the hotel.

Piano keys motif! There are speakers around the monument, but the water fountain made too much noise...

Getting set up Saturday morning at my convention booth!


I keep working on my arched eyebrow look.

This is my official Geek Cosplay outfit. I'm dressing like I did in college.

Early morning crowd as the events pick up.

Pokemon Cosplayers. I think. I know the one on the right is a Pikachu.

A view of the main panel booth, taken from the above center seats.

One tip for running an Author/Artist booth: Have something to attract the passers-by.
Hence the bowl of candy.
If I learned anything on this trip to Albany GA, it's that the people here LOVE KIT KAT BARS.

Zatanna Cosplayer posing with Captain America Cosplayer.

Anime/Manga Cosplayers... for something I haven't read or watched. Hopefully someone will tell me.

I think this is a gamer Cosplay. The Armor and Weapon most likely shaped foam, to keep it lightweight.

Alice in Wonderland Cosplay!

Wonder Woman! And Dark Knight!

Wonder Woman didn't want to fight Bats, but we talked her into
humiliating him instead.

A big reason I traveled up for Epicon was to visit Albany itself. I was born here,
but haven't been back since the family moved in 1974/75 to Virginia. It took some time
following directions from my parents, but I found the road where we lived when we left.
I vaguely remembered how the road was straight, with large front yards and tall trees.
Sadly, I did not sell any copies of the books I brought to the table, but attendees did take some of my bookmarks and contact info, and also the coupon for 50 percent off on any Createspace purchase of Strangely Funny III (which contains the apt story "Minette Dances With the Golem of Albany."). If anyone wants the coupon code, please email me and I'll forward you the code!