I’ve been doing something kind of different lately.  Different for me, anyway.  I’ve been looking at some of my old writing — and fixing it.  And it’s been kind of mind blowing, some of this stuff I put in the trunk because it never sold — I know how to fix it now.  I have this novella I wrote 10 or 12 years ago.  It never sold, but I’ve been working it over to turn it into a novel proposal.  It’s actually nice, because I’m so clearly a much better writer now.  Clearly.  I’ve got the old draft sitting on my desk, and while I’m using it as a guide, I’m pretty much rewriting it as I type scenes into a new file.

Because I’m such a big advocate of revision, I thought I’d show you what that looks like.

The old version, from 10+ years ago:

Just two weeks ago, I was safe in my ivory tower. Assistant Professor of comparative literature, with nothing to worry about but when I had to be at my office for office hours. Well, publishing and getting tenure, but those were too big to worry about right now.

Technically, I didn’t really have to be at my office for office hours, since students never actually came to my office, not like they did in the old days. But they did call with all the usual questions and I had to be near my screen to answer them.

“Professor Cox?” said one of my Intro to Mythology students. I touched the screen to open a chat window and saw the face of a nineteen year old’s desperation looking back at me.


“I know I was supposed to turn in my paper yesterday, and I know I didn’t, but I was really hoping I could get an extension, just an extra day or two–”

I had a script for this. “You got the syllabus along with everyone else, you know my policy–no extensions.”

The anguish in the young man’s twisted face showed the pain of someone who’d never had to worry about anything worse than a late paper. “But Professor Cox, I really need this grade. . .”

I let him go on for a minute. It was part of the script. Finally, I let out a heavy sigh. “All right. Just this once. But I need it by the weekend and it had better be good.”

Just like that, he became the happiest person in the world. “Thank you, thank you so much.


And the new version (still rough, I haven’t really proofread):

I really shouldn’t have been here. But here I was. I hadn’t decided yet if I was sorry. Give me a couple of days.

Just a week ago, I was safe in my ivory tower, nothing to worry about but camping in my office for office hours. Well, publishing and getting tenure, department politics, course loads. But those were too big to really worry about.

Not that students actually visited office hours anymore. It was all emails and messaging.


I emailed back a file of the syllabus–that they’d gotten at the start of the term along with everyone else–with the due date highlighted. If that made me a terrible professor, so be it.

If any of them ever actually showed up in person, I would give them an extension.

In a word, the second version has more personality than the first.  It’s punchier, with less exposition, it’s less mechanical.  The exchange with the student?  That’s basically irrelevant to the story and is mostly there for contrast, to show Addie’s normal life.  I reduced from 10 paragraphs to 5, and it conveys all the same information, and it’s funnier now.  At least I think it is.

The new section has voiceThat’s what I was missing in my writing 10+ year ago.


KITTY SAVES THE WORLD is due out in one month!  Squeee!  It’s gonna be epic!  We’re putting a calendar and some events together and stuff so stay tuned.

In the meantime, the July issue of Lightspeed Magazine has a brand-new story by me: “Crazy Rhythm,” which is about silent-era Hollywood and WWI tanks and all kinds of good stuff like that.  You can buy the issue now, and the story goes live on the site next week.

Also announced today, the anthology Swords v. Cthulhu will include my story “The Lady of Shalott,” which is indeed my Lovecraftian retelling of the ultimate story about what happens when one gazes upon the forbidden.  That’ll be out early 2016.

I was just thinking about a number of stories and projects I’ll have coming out over the next year.  There’s quite a few! Of course I’ll let you know when they’re available.


my weekend

June 29, 2015

I’ve been in the SCA for just over 15 years and I finally acquired a period canvas tent for camping events.  It was serendipity, as often happens with these things.  Someone else was selling hers right when I was ready to start looking.

Isn’t it lovely?  The beautiful forested site with the burbling creek nearby (not flooding, huzzah!  But it was awfully close…) doesn’t hurt.

camp tent

This is a movie about how GMO’s are bad and how terrible things happen when women neglect the children they’re meant to be looking after.

I finally decided that the filmmakers knew exactly how silly this all was and meant for it to be a comedy when, after the last battle, Chris Pratt’s character and his favorite velociraptor give each other respectful nods across the plaza before the ‘raptor turns and trots off into the jungle.  This is that kind of movie.


**cuddles baby brontosaurus with all possible cuddles**


still hacking!

June 24, 2015

I’m making progress.  I even got together a crew to go see Jurassic World tonight, so I’ll have the review for that Friday.  Maybe.  Working on it.  SO BUSY.

Here, have a butterfly from the Key Largo trip:


Guys, I’m SO BEHIND on movie watching.  I want to see Jurassic World but I’m not going to get to it in a timely manner.  I’ll confess, the only reason I want to see it is for Chris Pratt and his posse of trained velociraptors.  But you know what?  That’s enough.

This past weekend was my first weekend at home in a month, and I’m having trouble fitting everything in.  I still haven’t seen Avengers: Age of Ultron a second time, and I really want to.  But I did finally see Mad Max: Fury Road again — mostly because I’ve been asked to write a formal review of it, so it was actually work.  Haha, right.  Things I noticed this time:

  • All the names.  After the first viewing, I had to look up the names on IMDB because I didn’t catch any of them, but they really do all get used in the movie.  I’m visual, and often need to see things written down before I “get” them.  This is why I don’t do audio books.
  • You know the blue swamp land with the stilt people, and they’re listening to the creepy crows cawing over and over again, louder and louder?  Those aren’t the birds making those sounds.
  • Who is the main character of the movie, Max or Furiosa?  Well.  Whenever a gun goes off close to Max’s ear, there’s a high-pitched whine in the soundtrack.  Whenever there’s an explosion near Max, the soundtrack goes muffled for a couple of seconds.  The story may be about Furiosa, but Max is absolutely the viewpoint character.  It’s quite a literary detail and I love it.

Being home meant I could finally finish binge watching Daredevil.  Great, great stuff.  It gets even better in later episodes.  Ep. 8, Fisk’s backstory?  One of the best hours of dramatic TV I’ve seen in a long time.  And I want to do a bit of a rant comparing this to Game of Thrones, because Daredevil has as many shocking deaths and as much violence as Game of Thrones — but why is Daredevil more effective than this last season of GoT?  Well, Daredevil doesn’t include any sexual violence.  It also gives its characters time to mourn and reflect.  The deaths aren’t there just to shock the audience — the characters react to them as well.  We can mourn with them.  I have more thoughts, but that’s just off the top of my head.

And one last observation:  So I watched the trailer for the new Fantastic Four again, where they get their powers through interdimensional travel rather than space travel, and I couldn’t help but think that that’s EXACTLY LIKE “The Four” in Planetary.  Which means I don’t think I’m going to be able to watch this movie without laughing.  So yeah, gonna pass I think.

But I’ll probably end up seeing Batman v. Superman for the academic exercise, even though my expectations are very, very low.

At least we still have Ant Man to look forward to.


The Flash — 1990

June 19, 2015

Since all our regular TV shows finished for the season, this week for our Monday dinner-and-TV extravaganza, we pulled out the DVD’s of the first Flash TV series from 1990, specifically to watch the Trickster episodes, which some of our party had not seen.  Here, have some opening credits:

So. Much. Nostalgia.

I loved this show when it first aired.  By the late 80’s we were completely starved for any kind of superhero media at all.  The glory days of the late 70’s to early 80’s had dried up, and there really wasn’t anything — until 1989 and the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman movie.  I remember how revolutionary that movie was.  How dark and menacing and awesome.  We ate it up like popcorn.  Now of course, in hindsight, the Burton Batman movie is to the current crop of Batman movies what the 1960’s TV show is to the Burton Batman movie.  So dated.  So cheesy.  Never would have thought that could happen.

The 1990 Flash is direct result of the success of the Batman movie.  You can tell they mined the same aesthetic — the art deco gothic setting, the over-the-top everything, the molded latex suit (I got to hear John Wesley Shipp speak at DragonCon in 2007, and he said they would lysol the suit out at night and it would never quite dry completely by the next time he had to wear it, and it got pretty rank. *shudder*).  The theme song is by Danny Elfman.  And at the time the show really did feel dark and serious and mature and…

Well.  Watching it now?  It’s freaking adorable.  That flying hair trick to show that Barry has left the room?  The new show uses that trick too, but somehow on the old show it’s deeply hilarious.  The whole thing is silly, but the silliness is seamless and the actors manage to play it straight.  It’s lovely seeing John Wesley Shipp, Amanda Pays, and Mark Hamill in their original Flash incarnations.  It’s really lovely seeing all the easter eggs the current Flash has slipped in referring back to the old show with love.  The Trickster warehouse from the new episode?  The costumes?  Perfect recreations.

The 1990 Flash only lasted a season, which is too bad, because I think its heart was in the right place.  It’s dated, but it’s fun, and we enjoyed watching it.

Here’s my big question:  I pretty much believe that Mark Hamill landed the role of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series because of his stint as the Trickster, where he managed to convey psychopathic evil under the outrageous Trickster antics.  But here’s the thing I’d forgotten:

Trickster acquires a sidekick named Prank.  Prank is a pretty woman who develops a very unhealthy infatuation with the Trickster and devotes herself to supporting his cause, while constantly throwing herself at him.  Sometimes he relents and returns her affections, sometimes he rejects her — all this keeps her coming back for more no matter what.

Prank predates Harley Quinn by at least a year, near as I can figure.

Do any of the comics/superhero wonks out there know if there’s a direct connection/inspiration between the two characters?  Because dang, it’s a little obvious watching that episode now.



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