Friday, March 28, 2014

Paperbacks and Boxing Gloves

It's been a few days (again) since I posted but, in my defense, I couldn't type. I worked the heavy bag at the gym for an inordinately long time and for the next couple of days my hands were all cramped up and bruised. I literally couldn't type. You know what I did instead? Pretty much nothing.

Except get the paperback copy of my first novel, Awesome Jones, in the mail!!!

Photo taken pre-bruised knuckles
I was going to write something about boxing in Star Trek but all I could think of was the episode wherein Chakotay talks to Alien Brain Figment Boothby and his imagined boxing sessions are the only way for Voyager to escape Chaotic Space. I don't know, maybe that's actually a lot like what's been going on around here lately. Chaotic Space.

I was working on the second Awesome Jones novel when I received the editor's copy of my next release--Silver Tongue. I switched gears to work on that but then got the galley for Awesome Jones. Switched again, read over everything, made corrections, sent it back. Silver Tongue again. Second round of galleys. Sent it back again. Awesome Jones released. Silver Tongue again. Silver tongue finished and sent back. A new short story is released. Doctor appointments are made and gone through with. Awesome Jones paper back is released and I'm punching a heavy bag and tearing up my hands and trying to get myself back in the AJ Book 2 mindset. It feels like Chaotic Space.

But maybe it's ok. My hands are fine now. The book is out. Things are going well. Maybe I don't need a Alien Brain Figment Boothby to talk me through it. Maybe I can just show up here (when my fingers aren't cramped up) and think and write about Star Trek until Chaotic Space feels less chaotic. That seems to have done the trick this time.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Awesome Jones and Data's Cat

I wrote my first "book" when I was about eight years old. I dictated it to my mom and I did the illustrations and she took it to a friend with a book binder (did I mention my parents are bohemian artist types?) and she bound the book. When I graduated from my MFA in Creative Writing program, my mom gave it to me. She'd held onto it all those years, just waiting around, I guess, for the day that maybe I'd make good on the promises I'd made to myself in that first writing endeavor.

And maybe, she should've saved that gift for today. But I'll get to that in a minute. After I wrote that first book, I kept writing. I wrote terrible short stories in elementary school. I wrote terrible poetry in high school. I wrote several terrible novel openings sometime between when I started driving and when I started college.

I thought about that today. The act of doing terrible writing. Making art that isn't so great. And, it reminded me of someone else's terrible poetry--Data's.

My terrible poetry was way more terrible than Data's, btw. 
I never wrote jack in iambic heptameter.

The thing is, though, that you pretty much have to paint a bunch of terrible paintings before you're a real painter. You have to sing a bunch of terrible, off-key songs before you're a singer. And, you have to write a bunch of terrible stuff before you're a writer. You have to get used to getting better. Get used to knowing that you're still not as good as you wish you were but you're closer today than you were yesterday. Artists grow. Musicians grow. Writers grow. Humans grow. And, yes, even androids in the future grow. 

It takes time. Today, my first novel, Awesome Jones, arrived in e-book form on Amazon and B&N and it'll be available in hardback in about a week. I worked on it for a long, long time. I realized today that when I started writing it, I was younger than the main characters but that, in the course of my work on it and its journey to publication, I had not only met their ages but passed them by. In a few months, I'm due to turn in its sequel and a few months after that, my second novel (the first book in another series) will be out. And, while it's all overwhelming right now, I keep telling myself, "This is just a step. This is just a step." Because it is. 

It's a delightful, thrilling, scary, wonderful step. But it's still a step. There's no end. I'm still just the same little girl, sitting on the floor, drawing pictures and filling in the stories around them. Trying to learn as I go, trying to figure out how all this stuff works, how to be human. How to be a good human.

Anyway, if you're interested in THIS step, you can read it. Maybe you'll like it! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Picard With A Vengeance

So I had to take a few weeks (a little over a month, really) off from Star Trek. Though I didn't want to believe it, after a year of daily 3-hour supplements, I'd burned out. I took some time to fill a whole new "recently watched" list on Netflix, cleared out my DVR, read several novels, and worked on my next book.

Then, over the last few days, a phrase from one of the TNG episodes popped into my head and I couldn't get it out. Mot, the barber. Mot, the barber. Mot, the barber.

I couldn't resist. This morning I settled in, spooled up the Netflix, and started Season 6, Episode 18, "Starship Mine." In this one, the Enterprise checks into space dock for a routine baryon sweep and Picard finds himself alone on board with the exception of a group of (not really) terrorists who plan to steal explosive matter from the warp core.

I'm not sure why the idea of this episode got stuck in my head but I wasn't disappointed. Picard shimmies around jeffries tubes in his boots and v-neck and calls himself Mot the Barber to avoid suspicion while his senior staff contends with terrorists of their own during a party on the space dock's host planet. This is essentially Die Hard in a spaceship.
Yippie Ki Yay, Mister Crusher.
It's a refreshing change of pace from the typical, "Lets all go to the ready room and calmly decide on a solution to our problems" episode. And maybe that's why it was so accessible for me. Maybe I needed Trek but not Trek. Trek with Picard AND explosions. 

This one has no caption because cool guys walk calmly away from explosions.

Aside from the awesome action, this Starship Mine is excellent for another reason. This late in the series, the stories are executed with the kind of familiarity and ease that only comes with years of working together, writing for and playing the same characters day in and day out. And yet, it doesn't feel tired at all. It feels fresh and interesting and surprising as Picard loads an antique crossbow in his quarters, messes around with a chemistry set, and faces off with Tuvok's apparently secret human half-brother. 
Do you really think you have a chance against me, Mr. Vulcan?
(I admit, that one's a little bit of a stretch)  

OK, so maybe in the grand scheme of things the ideas in this episode aren't super original. Still, it feels nice to see these guys in action. Actual action. 

Now I know how a replicated dinner feels. 
I mean, my favorite episodes of this show are still the slightly more cerebral ones. Darmok, Tapestry, The Chase, Measure of a Man. But sometimes I just need a piece of the action. Picard style. I need to see him, like John Wayne, walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly. 

That was Gary Cooper, asshole.

A Year Ago Today: Weekend Roundup #11
A More Interesting Post from A Year Ago Yesterday: Give Pulaski A Chance

Friday, March 14, 2014

Star Trek Mix Tape: Super Powers & A Pretty Big Announcement

Star Trek is full of guys who are way more powerful than you or I or Kirk. And, I'm not talking about the regular super characters. Yes, Spock, Data, Troi, Odo, and Tuvok all qualify as extra-super-special in our world but, in the world of Trek, it takes some outside influence. Starfleet crews are constantly running up against immensely powerful alien peoples but, sometimes, one of their own exceeds the boundaries of their species and starts acting like some kind of freaked out super hero. It happens enough that I actually managed to pull together a super power-themed mix tape just for you.

1- Where No Man Has Gone Before
TOS: SSN 1, Ep 1 (Actually the second pilot they made) 
Before Sulu became helmsman there was Gary Mitchell. He just sitting around on the bridge, minding his own business, thinking about all the good times he and Kirk had had in the past, and insulting pretty ladies who don't so much want to get with him when he's struck (along with said pretty lady) by a crazy electric pulse. When he wakes up he has god-like powers and killer silver eyes. Spock's super worried about the whole thing but Kirk thinks his old chum will probably come around and stop acting like a jerk. Of course, we know how these things go. 

2- Hide and Q
TNG: SSN 1, Ep 10
Q shows up to stir the pot and dolls out some profound power to a beardless Riker.
To say he's happy about it is a bit of an understatement. 
Actually, Riker doesn't (who knows why) want Q's awesome-as-hell superpowers at first but eventually warms to them. He starts saving lives willy nilly, giving out his own (also inexplicably unwanted) gifts, and acting pretty much exactly like Q. 
Bonus Points: There's a nice long scene here wherein Picard and Q discuss one of the best soliloquies in Shakespeare when Q reads "What a piece of work is man..."from Hamlet.

3- Cold Fire
Voyager: SSN 2, Ep 10
Kes was always a somewhat strange character. Her species only lives about seven years and she came aboard already with some psychic gifts in tow. However, it wasn't until she met up with some renegade Okampans out in the Delta Quadrant that she began to truly hone her gifts. Unfortunately, she realizes in "Cold Fire" that, along with the excessive power, she also has some rather dark impulses. 

4- Plato's Stepchildren
TOS: SSN 3, Ep 12
Kirk's crew come upon a planet peopled by a small group of jerks with ridiculous powers who like to live like Greek gods and order everyone else around. Not surprisingly, after several hundred years of TV-less habitation, they decide they want to keep the Enterprise folks around as playthings. Between Spock, McCoy and Kirk, they figure out how to give themselves super powers so they can fight back. 
Bonus Points: This one features American TV's first interracial kiss-- the famous Kirk/Uhura liplock.

4- The Reckoning
DS9: SSN 6, Ep 21
I know Odo is basically a superhero 24-7 and Ben Sisko is practically a god but, for regular people like Kira and Jake, days pass without them having to worry about wielding mighty power for good or evil--until the prophets and pah-wraiths decide to have it out on the commissary. A prophet takes charge of Kira's body while Jake is inhabited by an evil Pah-Wraith and what ensues is a cross between Marvel and Harry Potter. 

5- The Nth Degree
TNG: SSN 4, Ep 19
After Barclay comes in contact with an alien probe, he wakes up in sickbay feeling a little super power-ey. He soon displays heightened intelligence, ability, and confidence. And, unlike the rest of the schmucks on this list, he's not only not asking questions, he's freaking thrilled
"I've finally become the person I've always wanted to be. Do we have to ask why?"
I wrote an entire post about this episode, my ongoing appreciation of Barclay, and my own wish for superpowers last year so I won't tread over all that stuff again. Suffice it to say, I love this one and it perfectly rounds out this mix tape.

Now it's time for the Big Announcement part of this post. Today, the cover of my first novel, Awesome Jones, was released by my publisher, Seventh Star Press:
This is a pretty big deal for me. This book has been a long time in the making and, in just about a week, it will be available for purchase! Check out Seventh Star's press release for more information. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I've been reading and watching a lot of bleak stuff lately. Reading Wuthering Heights, Batman: Death of the Family, like a ton of murder mystery novels--specifically And Then There Were None, Watchmen, Marvelman etc. And watching things like Black Sails, True Detective, Call the Midwife (I love this one but come on, every episode operates in exactly two modes: hope and tragedy) and Game of Thrones. After a while, it starts to get me down. And, without my regular Star Trek booster, I was found myself really needing something to pick me up.

Enter the revival of Cosmos. If you're reading this blog but don't know about the original Cosmos, you should really go check it out and then follow that up by reading everything Carl Sagan ever said and did. I get it, though, if you find it hard to get into. This program originally aired on PBS in 1980. And it shows. If you didn't grow up with Sagan, it's probably hard to get past the haircut and the corduroy jacket.

That's why they invented Neil DeGrasse Tyson-- astrophysicist, internet sensation, and space tie/vest connoisseur.

I've loved this guy since Nova Science Now or maybe since he killed Pluto and wrote a book about it. And when I heard he would be the presenter for the revival of Cosmos, I knew he'd be perfect. I didn't realize how right I was or how much I needed this show until it started.

This version of cosmos is faster and flashier than its predecessor but it doesn't shy away from hard science and fast-paced facts that aren't dumbed down. It has an urgency, too. It's clear that Sagan's push for exciting science education for the masses was an entire generation ago and a new ambassador needs to bring an update, an excitement, an urgent message to popular TV-- be curious, ask questions, don't be afraid of the answers. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the perfect guy for this.

And, in the end, he tells an amazing, personal story that explains, in part, why he's the perfect guy. So, go watch it.

It was exactly what I needed. At the end of the episode I felt refreshed, revived, optimistic, and excited. Maybe it'll do the same for you.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Cat Detectives and Bloodwine

I've been super into mysteries lately. I've always loved Sherlock Holmes. I read all the stories when I was about fourteen and then read them all again in 2012 and into 2013.  After I was done I had the most ridiculous craving for old Brit Lit so I went over to Jane Eyre (on the recommendation of my now Trek-addicted sister) followed by Pride and Prejudice then Bleak House and A Christmas Carol and then took up Wuthering Heights in January. When that was over... I don't know what made me do it... but I bought Murder on the Orient Express. Then And Then There Were None. Suddenly, I found myself completely caught up in Agatha Christie. I can't get enough of these old mysteries and, while picking up some comics a couple weeks ago, I noticed Blacksad. 

Come on. A French noir (written by Spanish dudes) mystery comic where the protagonist is a trench coat wearing kitty-cat who smokes and swears and gets in fist fights? I'm about halfway through this thing right now and I'm loving it. I have like, no time to read now. Aside from regular life stuff, I'm working my way through the edit of my second novel, Silver Tongue, and trying to finish the outline of the next book in the Awesome Jones trilogy. Hardboiled cats getting in boozed-up alley-way scraps with lizard guys is just not a thing that I can make a ton of time for... but I want to. Because it is awesome.

Still, I was working and reading in the living room yesterday. Walked out to find a snack and came back and happened to get a new look at my little corner of the sofa. I laughed out loud and thought, "This is awesome."

See the other book there? That's the Star Trek Cookbook by Neelix/Ethan Philips. It's full of amazing (Earth-friendly) recipes for your favorite Trek foods. Sisko's Shrimp Creole with Mandalay Sauce, Cat Food Subroutine #219, Prune Juice Cocktail and Klingon Bloodwine. I can't wait to make this stuff. It pushes me a step closer to being excited about Star Trek again. And, you know where it came from?

A reader. She read my post about being burned out on my favorite show and my recent baking compulsion, connected the dots, emailed me and said, "Hey, I've got this book..."

I got it in the mail a couple days later and I'm so, so, so grateful to her. Thanks to her and to all of you for being thoughtful and insightful readers and for sticking with me even though I've not been able to stick with Trek. I'm sorry about not writing about Trek right now but cat detectives aren't so bad, right? Hopefully soon I'll have a post with pictures of my success/failure with Plomeek Soup à la Neelix!

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