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Thursday, May 06, 2021

It All Went Dark

I forgot to tell this story when it happened, but the panic is still planted firmly in my memory, so here we go.

When I took my dad for his second vaccination in March, it was raining. If you remember, the only appointment I was able to get him at the time was 45 minutes away. So we reach our destination, I dig my umbrella off the floor in back, and we head in.

This time, he was brought back right away, we waited our 15 minutes to make sure he was okay, did a little shopping, and then went back to the car. And my screen in the console stayed dark.

Okay, this has happened before when the system has been updating itself. We'll wait for a few minutes, it will come up, and we'll leave.

Only it didn't come up.

This meant no backup camera, no radio, no navigation (although I use my phone more than the car's GPS, and a few other less critical features.

I carefully backed out of the spot and drove the 45 minutes back home. I really expected the screen to come back at any moment, but it didn't. My last hope was that it would return the next time I started the car, but that Saturday, when I went out for groceries, it stayed dark.

When I left the first grocery store, I was trying to think of things I could try to get the screen working again. My mind was as blank as the screen.

My one and only thought was it's a touch screen, so what if I push? I pushed.

I don't know if it was a coincidence or if I really did something, but the system rebooted (like I'd expected to earlier in the week) and everything was back to normal in a few minutes.

It was a huge relief, but man, I'm dependent on that backup camera.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Review: The Final Countdown


***Since this movie was released in 1980, there will be spoilers.***

On Friday night, I was looking for something to watch and started flipping through the movies on Amazon Prime. I was about to give up, when I saw The Final Countdown. I'd seen this movie on television years ago and I knew it involved time travel, so I was in.

The movie stars Kirk Douglas as the captain of an aircraft carrier, Martin Sheen as an efficiency expert from the Defense Department, James Farentino as the air group commander, Charles Durning as a US Senator, and Kathleen Ross as his secretary.

The aircraft carrier is out near Hawaii on maneuvers when it encounters a strange storm. When it clears, the ship is undamaged, but the radio broadcasts are strange. They sound as if they're pre World War II. When a plane come backs with recon photos showing Pearl Harbor as it looked on Dec 6, 1941 and ships that have been long destroyed are sitting there, they begin to contemplate time travel.

This movie is seriously not the best ever made. It's cheesy in spots, and I'm sure it was cheesy even in 1980. Something about it, though, is extremely entertaining and I was engrossed for the length of the film.

There are issues. Oh, so many issues. None of the characters are really fleshed out, maybe because there are so many of them, and there's never a reason given for the time travel. The captain had sent out his ship's airplanes to attack the Japanese on their way to attack Pearl Harbor, but the storm reappears and they're forced to abort. And they're returned to 1980 with nothing have happened to be a compelling reason this ship was transported. I wanted a why!

Despite the problems, I enjoyed this movie a lot. I started to wonder if maybe the script originally had an explanation for the time travel and it was cut from the film version. So I did an online search. And discovered I'd have to pay for the script. No. I guess I'm going to have to live with the questions.

I guess ultimately despite the deficiencies, the idea of a film is to entertain the audience. I was entertained. Recommended.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Prices, Ouch!

I can't remember how I ended up looking at some of my older books on Amazon, but I did and I saw the prices. Ouch!

My friends and readers, I have no control over the prices on the books licensed by Tor and Harlequin.

I was first published in 2002 which means traditional publishing in New York City. While I was able to get the rights back to my very earliest work, I do not have the rights back to my Light Warriors series (controlled by Tor Books) and four titles in my Blood Feud World series are also under contract (controlled by Harlequin).

Believe me, I wish with all my heart I had the rights on those stories, especially my Light Warriors books. I have ideas for more books in that world, but have no plans to write them because I can't control pricing on the first four books.

Things are little different with Blood Feud. First, as far as I know, Harlequin priced them at $2.99, which is where I would have priced them as well. Also, all the books stand alone and I have the rights to the first story and one of the middle ones. I do have an idea for a three-story arc, a series within a series if you will, and I do plan to write those some day.

So I apologize for the outrageous prices on the Tor books. Believe me, I'm as appalled as anyone else who saw the price went WTF? That was my response when I saw it. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get the rights back, but if I do, I guarantee you, the prices will be in line with the books I'm currently writing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

First Person Revisited

 

Last week, I talked about first person and its limitations. I stand by this. The success or failure of a book written this way is incredibly dependent on the characters having strong voices.

As it happens, the next book I picked up to read was also in first person. Here we go, I thought, but I decided to give it a few pages anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised. The heroine had such a fun and strong voice and I was able to read the entire book. The hero's voice was more ordinary, more bland, but as I thought about it, I wondered if two strong and unique voices would compete against each other too much?

In fact, I was so excited about the book that I was thinking of some ideas I had in first person. I probably wouldn't write them this way because seriously, not my favorite tense, but the book I read was so good.

This kind of ties my two posts together. A talented author with the right characters can make first person a pleasure to read. But (and this is a big but) most characters don't have voices that are this strong. The book I blogged about last week? The author should have gone with third person.

This week's author pulled first person off beautifully. I'm leery, though, about reading her other books written in first because what are the odds that her other heroines have voices this strong without feeling as if they're echoing the heroine I just read? I don't know, but I enjoyed her story enough that I'm probably going to find out at some point.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The One Where I Rant About First Person POV

 

I'm going to do a little craft spiel. I'm not sure readers will find this interesting, but maybe writers will?

Apparently, there are a lot of first person books out there now. I'm not a fan of first person--not as a reader and not as a writer. The problem is all the usage of the word I. It grates on me.

But there was a free book deal with one of my jams--I love the friends to lovers trope--so I decided to give it another try. This sat for a while before I had time to get to it, so this isn't a recent book. (And no, I will not reveal the title or author.)

And I found something else to frustrate the hell out of me as a reader. Actually, I can probably separate it out into two things.

First, neither the hero nor heroine had a strong enough voice to carry the narrative. And second, both characters read exactly alike. I couldn't see any difference between their voices, not even a little bit.

The one craft thing I've heard over and over about first person books is that the Point of View (POV) character needs to have a strong voice. If both the h/h are POV characters, then both need strong, distinct voices.

This book I tried to read seriously would have done better in third person POV.

I will admit to being a picky reader. I tend to analyze what I read and that does mean the author has to overcome my editor brain. This also gives me trouble watching movies and TV shows because I'm constantly studying what the screenwriter did. I had another writer tell me years ago that this phase would pass, but it hasn't. I'm still constantly analyzing everything I read or watch. So, like I said, it makes the bar harder to get over. And I pick apart my own writing even more intently!

And now I want to experiment. Could I write a first person story with both h/h as POV characters and pull it off? It would take the right two characters because I don't want them to sound a like and they should have an interesting voice.

The second question is do I want to even try? First of all, I have enough other stories I want to write. Secondly, while I wrote part of a short story in first person (BLOOD FEUD), I seriously do not like first person. The only reason BLOOD FEUD is partly first person is because Isobel insisted. But despite all this, the idea of trying has lingered in my brain. Maybe it goes nowhere and I scrap it, but maybe it could be fun?