Welcome to the new folks who have joined in the past month!
The summer has officially ended here in Ohio. Temperatures have dipped into the cool fall weather in the evenings, which means lots of clean-up in the garden and flower beds to prepare for next year. It has also been an educational experience, as we planted a large number of plants this year and last and are now seeing how they impact our small backyard ecosystem.
For example, these little guys never appeared in our backyard before we planted milkweed. We did so to support the butterfly population, not knowing these black and red bugs (called, not surprisingly, milkweed bugs) show up and devour the innards of the long seed pods produced by the milkweed plants. As the cold weather has moved in, they’ve bunched up on the nearby arborvitae.
We’ve seen a massive increase in bees this year. We’re lucky to have a nearby neighbor who keeps bees in their backyard because they no doubt have been visiting daily. The bees pictured below are all over a celosia flower, which flourished for months and brought this neon pink color to our backyard.
THE RED SKY is moving along, having just passed the 56,000-word mark, aiming at 80,000 by the end of the year. When I wrote THE BLACK SKY, I made a very detailed map/timeline that was important for keeping the separate storylines straight, especially in the back half of the book. For THE RED SKY, I’m giving myself a little more leeway and I think/hope that is paying off.
There are all kinds of ways to write a book. This has been shared many times before, but people tend to fall into a couple of categories: Pantser, Plotter, and Plantser. Panster is literally just writing by the seat of your pants - no plan, outline, very little throughout ahead time, and discover the story along the way. The Plotter is the opposite - everything is planned ahead of time before the writing begins. That’s what I was on THE BLACK SKY, however, the new book is a combination of the two - a Plantser. I know the general character arcs, story arcs, etc. but I’m letting things change/evolve as I go to serve the story. You can read a much longer explanation here if you like.
For THE RED SKY playlist on Spotify, here is what I added: Ava soundtrack by Bear McCreary, Tom Clancy’s The Division soundtrack by Ola Strandh, and the G.I. Joe: Retaliation soundtrack by Henry Jackman.
ALL SYSTEMS RED (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by MARTHA WELLS
What an absolute blast of a book. I’m late to the Murderbot game but glad I’ve finally caught up. A snarky, mildly depressed, introvert robot that’s also a badass? Hits it out of the park, and the novella length really keeps the story tight. Looking forward to reading the whole series!
ABADDON’S GATE (The Expanse #3) by JAMES S.A. COREY
Of the first three Expanse books, this was the first time I wasn't jumping at the chance to read the next chapter. Losing the perspective of Bobbie and Avasarala for Bull, Anna, and Melba didn't work for me. I'm still invested in the series, but perhaps seeing the TV show first built up my expectations too much. It also didn't help that Ashford, who was so well written for the show, is a rather one-note bad guy here that wasn't particularly original. Not going to stop me from continuing with the series, but hope it rebounds in book four.
DARK MATTER (S.2, Netflix) - Upped the stakes and ended on an exciting cliffhanger.
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (S.1, Hulu) - Stellar first season, very much looking forward to more.
TED LASSO (S.2, AppleTV) - More complicated and less cheery but still engaging.
OATS STUDIOS: VOLUME ONE (Netflix) - A collection of sci-fi short stories that is equal parts hits and misses.
BLACK WIDOW (Disney+) - Entertaining but not essential, the best parts were the family interactions.
DUNE (HBOMax) - Villeneuve does everything right, keeping the story compact and visuals epic. Looking forward to the just announced Part 2.
If you like your alternative rock with a touch of dreaminess and melancholy, the debut album by Aaron and the Lord (Aaron Perrino of The Sheila Divine) is really good and features multiple appearances by Tanya Donelly of Belly/Throwing Muses.
A few reminders before you go:
READER REVIEWS! If you read and enjoyed THE BLACK SKY (or any of my books for that matter), I would be grateful if you left a positive review or a rating at Amazon or GoodReads. Reviews help other people find the book.
All previous newsletters are archived. Lots of stuff to check out including a link to the original 2011 screenplay of THE BLACK SKY, hints and helps to get started on the real work easter egg hunt teased at the back of the book, and more!
For those that have read THE BLACK SKY, you may remember a mention or two of a bar called “The Dank,” the place Tessa worked at in college where she and Bishop met. I created a virtual playlist for this “punk rock bar,” which you can check out on Spotify.