Author Archives: mctiller

NaNoWriMo–11,635 words down. A little behind.

I am still attempting NaNoWriMo.

But I admit.  This week was tough.

I’m feeling the pressure.

My daughter was off from school for two days this week.  So that changes the schedule just a little bit.  She did spend a fair amount of time at her baby sitters, but the change in schedule just threw me.  It happens.

And then I got sick the last couple of days.  I got some stomach virus, and as I write this I think I got it from the children’s museum I took my daughter to on Tuesday.  I’m surrounded by dozens of kids, there’s bound to be a rogue germ around there.

So, I’m behind.  By about 5,000 words.  On the 10th of November I should be at 16,670 words.  So I’m behind.

I’m going to keep trying, but we’ll see.

NaNoWriMo Day 4 only 263–That’s cool

Day 4

Not a big writing day.

263 words

263 words. There is more to life than NaNoWriMo. At least that’s what I tell myself to keep from curling up and crying in the corner.

Did other things for business today.

Also tried to mow the lawn before it started to rain.

You know regular Saturday things.

I pulled out the laptop and went through I what I wrote yesterday and added some new things.  That got me another 263 words.

That won’t get me to 50,000 words in 30 days.

But 250 words a day, over a year gets you 91,000 words, which is enough for two small novels a year.

Which is two more novels a year than 99% of people who say, “I want to write a novel.”

NanoWriMo Day 3–2083 words passed 6,000 words total

I got started later today.

My choice of Starbucks to write at was poor.  It was too crowded.  I went to write on their outside porch.  It was too cold outside to write.

So I drank my coffee and did some morning pages, where I just write in a stream of consciousness to clear my brain before I begin writing a novel.

I then made it to my normal writing spot the library.

There was no world series yesterday, so I got more sleep, and therefore I cranked through til 1 pm.

Ended the day with 2,083 words.

Bringing my total to 6313.  Which is cool, I am over 10% through.

I don’t I’ll write as much on the weekend.  I like hanging out with the family.

But we’ll see.

NaNoWriMo Day 2 1883 words–stayed up too late with the World Series

I got 1883 words done today.

That’s above the recommended pace of 1667 words per day.  But it’s less than what I want to hit of 2,500, that allows me to skip Saturday and Sunday if needed.

More than needed, but not what I was hoping for.

Today was a fun writing time, because I was able to get all these words done, between 9:45 and noon.

I stopped at noon.  I’ve been running on too little sleep watching the world series.  Congrats Houston you deserved it.

(I am useless…)

today was fun too because I also added Dragons to the story.

I needed a reason for why things are bad in the future.  So why not aliens that attacked earth and call them Dragons.

Me writing:

Okay, I need something to have attacked the world from space.

Bugs…

No that’s been used in Starship Troopers and Ender’s Game…

Dragons from space.

Sounds good to me.  Keep going.

Remember this is play.

First day of NaNoWriMo 2,400 words

Today was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month).

Now that I no longer teaching, I figured I would have the time to try it out.  I like the idea of using a deadline and public community.

With NaNoWriMo, you’re not supposed to start until November 1.  Meaning no writing, outlining, just an idea.

From Day 1 of writing.

All I had was this idea for a science fiction idea, a 10 ten year old boy is arrested and placed in a prison that is located on the dark side of the moon.

So the questions: why is he in prison?  What is the universe when there is a prison on the dark side of the moon?  Why is he so important that he needs to be placed in the most secure prison?

With that I began typing.  Using Scrivner I would outline as I went.  When a new character came along, I would write a very quick note about this character, same with setting, write a quick sketch when a new setting comes into play.

I have no idea if I can maintain the pace to keep it up to finish it by November 30.  I have also never written a novel at 50,000 words.  My longest work so far is The Dolbin School 3: The Return of the Professor which clocks in at a little over 45,000 words.

But I enjoy writing first drafts when the words flow, and the story just plays in my head.  That is fun.

So to get myself I wrote a quick chapter to get myself going:

The prison door slid open and prisoner 8311 stepped forward into the center of the room, his binders came off as the doors slid in a hush behind him. Prisoner 8311 rubbed his wrists and sat down on the bunk that extended from the wall. The pristine, white room had a sink, a toilet, a small video screen, and a white rug in the middle of the small cell.

“Prisoner 8311 meal time will occur in fours hours, you will be notified when to be ready,” said an electronic voice from the speaker high in the wall.

Prisoner 8311 laid down on his bunk, put his hands behind his head, closed his eyes and napped.

Prisoner 8311 dreamed about his tenth birthday party when he was not referred to as Prisoner 8311, but was referred to by his given name–Quinton Alexander.

Which was yesterday.

 

Then I was off and running.

New School Visit Page

I’ve had a few people ask about visiting schools.  Which is very cool.

As a former teacher in Virginia, I have spoken at several different schools in Virginia and in New Jersey.

Each school has different needs for their lessons, so I have left the contact page simple.  Just reach out to me.

Click here to visit the page.

Or you can contact me through this form here:

Tomorrow I Start Writing a New Book

I start writing a new book tomorrow.

I recently left being a teacher to write full time.

I have income coming in several different ways, but I want to focus on my publishing business.  And that really is what it is—a publishing business.

And publishers need books to publish.

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So as of tomorrow I will have THREE book project on my plate.

First, I need to finish final edits and formatting for Finals: The Dolbin School Book 4, which I am currently serializing on Steemit.

I finished the second draft of another book on Friday.  That book is called Charlotte Morgan and the Great Big Math Problem, it’s about a third grade girl and her friends who like numbers so much they started their own club to investigate numbers.  During the book the third grade friends deal with bullies and the silliness of being third graders while finishing it up with competing in the school wide math competition.

It’s the first book I’ve written from the first person point of view.

Every page of the book has some sort of math or numbers in it.  During the math competition I have the math character Charlotte explain in head how she solves a problem.

Tomorrow I start writing the sequel to that book.

The second Number Investigators book.

I have no real idea what that book will be about.  I’m thinking it will be a business story where the friends decide to start a business.  That’s a good way to work in numbers.

I am a writer.  But I am also a publisher, and publishers need stories and books.  That’s the name of the game.  I don’t have time for writer’s block.

My favorite quote on writer’s book comes from Louis L’Amour:

“Start writing no matter what.  The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

That’s my own approach.  My order goes like this; first writing, second ideas, and third, then the good ideas come.

But writing is always first.

I enjoy writing stories.  That’s my new business.  So on Monday, I go to work and I start a new book.

I am totally cool with that.

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The first chapter from my newest book Finals: The Dolbin School Book 4

Finals: The Dolbin School Book 4

This is the first chapter from my next book, in pre-proofed form.  It’s still in the final editing phase.

You can preorder the book on Amazon now.  I hope you check it out.

Chapter 1- Spring Time

Bam!  The sound of the ball hitting leather echoed through out the field.

Jake Cooper took the ball out of his mitt and shook his glove hand.  “Nice throw, Mark.  Have you been working out?” he said.  He went to throw the ball back.  “I’ll try not to hurt you when I throw it.”

“Just throw it!”

Jake adjusted the bandage on his nose before he threw the baseball to Mark.  His nose still hurt, from fighting Brad Cushing.

Jake threw the ball.  It zipped through the air.  The loud sound of the ball smacking Mark’s hands came from eighty feet away.  “Did that hurt?”  Jake asked.

“Nope.” Mark replied, gritting his teeth.

The warm weather on the first day of May, brought the student body of Dolbin School for the Extraordinary out.  Jake Cooper and his friends Mark Daniels, Bruce Johnson, Red, Cal Jacobs, and Henry Cho tossed baseballs between them.  There was no game planned.  It was just a lazy Sunday afternoon.

“Throw to someone else, I going to get out the PGX,” said Mark.  He put his glove down and walked over to his backpack.  He pulled out a drone.  It was white and shiny.  He pulled out a tablet and tapped in instructions.  The PGX hovered four feet above the ground.

“You’re not going to take our pictures with that? Right.” Bruce asked.

“No.  Did you forget to put on your make-up today?” Mark replied, without looking away from his drone.  “But we could record practices with it, or even games, and review defensive adjustments and other things.”

Bruce paused from throwing the ball.  “That’s not a bad idea, Daniels.”  He threw the ball back to Red.  “We need to remember that once we get to the 6th grade and are able to play D-Ball.”

“I would think the coaches in middle school would already have that idea, and that they would already be doing that,” Mark pointed out.

“I thought you guys would be here,” said a female voice.

The boys turned and saw Maggie Crenshaw running to the field.  She was carrying a backpack.  She stopped and put down the bag.

“Brad isn’t here, if you’re looking for him,” said Jake.

Maggie ignored Jake’s comment and motioned to the drone floating above the field.  “I have a PGX as well.”  She pulled it out of her bag.

Mark looked at the drone and then at Maggie, “I thought you were more of an athlete.”

She frowned at Mark, “Simply because I am athletic, and play sports, doesn’t mean I don’t like tech as well.”

Maggie pulled out her tablet, swiped and tapped instructions.  Her drone rose next to Mark’s.  Maggie smiled, “Want to race?”

Mark smiled, “Of course”.

Maggie smiled.  Her tilted to the side and took off toward the outfield at blazing speed.  Mark’s drone was pushed backwards from the force of the air from her drone.

Mark turned his head.  “Did you make some modifications on yours?  I didn’t think that a PDX had accelerant thrusters?”

“They don’t.  I added them myself,” Maggie grinned from ear to ear.

Mark lowered his drone to the ground, and pointed at Maggie’s drone “Can I try?”

“Sure.”  Maggie stopped her drone, it floated waiting for the next instructions.  It was a 100 feet away and floating 20 feet in the air.  Mark took the tablet.   He saw himself standing next to Maggie on the tablet, from the drone’s cameras.  Mark swiped on the tablet.  He could see the campus as he viewed the different cameras.

“The accelerant app is right there,” said Maggie reaching over Mark’s shoulder and pointing to a red icon.  Mark tapped instructions for the drone to head back to him.  He pressed the accelerant icon.  It zipped right back, and stopped, floating twenty feet above his and Maggie’s head.

Red pointed to the drone and then at Mark, “Hey, do you think you could race that thing?”

“I could race it.  But I am pretty certain that I would lose.”

“Maggie, did you bring your baseball glove?  You can ball with us as well if you are done showing the drone off,” said Bruce.  “You seem pretty athletic.”

She shook her head, “I’m not Extra Strong or a Runner, I’m a Healer.”

Bruce shrugged his shoulders.  “You can still play with us.”

Mark handed the tablet back to Maggie.  She brought the drone down to the ground and turned it off.  She set it next to her bag.

She pulled a baseball glove out of her bag.  She smiled and pounded her glove. Mark picked up his glove and a ball and threw it to Maggie.

Jake continued to throw to Cal as he turned to ask Maggie a questions, “Maggie, if you like playing ball, why didn’t you come with us before?”

“No one asked me.”

“Not even Brad?” Jake replied.

Maggie stopped looked at Jake, she threw the ball at Mark.

Jake smiled, “Sorry.”  He turned to throw at Cal.  He adjusted the bandage on his nose and threw the ball at Cal.

His nose hurt.

Cars 3–Finally a Cars movie worthy of the Pixar name

Cars 3 finally gives us a Cars movie that worthy of the Pixar name.

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The first Cars was at the time of its release (2006) the least successful of the Pixar movies, that honor now lies with The Good Dinosaur.  Which made the release of Cars 2 a little of surprise, but then Cars 2 went for the James Bond spy angle, throwing Mater into the main role.  Because everyone loves Mater.  For a Pixar film, it still flopped.  And for my money, it is the least Pixar of all the Pixar movies.  (But then again, a bad Pixar movie is a winner for other studios, that’s how good Pixar is.  And that could be the subject of another essay.)

Which made the release of Cars 3 surprising.  But with director Brian Fee, we finally get a touching, human movie about Cars.

Lightnin’ McQueen is at the top of his game, winning most of the races he runs.  When he loses it is to competitor that is his equal. Until he is beaten by Jackson Storm, a rookie car, who is clearly the younger stronger car.  Jackson Storm, like a up and coming young athlete is arrogant and cocky.

And when other of Lightning McQueen’s contemporaries begin to retire, he begins to feel the pressure to retire as well.  McQueen doesn’t want to be told to retire.  Like many us, we want to make that decision ourselves, being told it is time for use to hang it up is difficult for any of us.  So at the final race of the season Lightning McQueen over extends himself, ruptures a tire, and flips in a crash, injuring himself badly as the season closes out.

McQueen goes into a deep depression for several weeks until his gril friend Sally Carrera tries to convince him to retire, but McQueen demands that he will be the one to decide when it is time to go.

This Cars movie is different because McQueen finally acts more grown-up than the arrogant, cocky, clueless kid we see in the first Cars movie.  Here we finally get a McQueen that is clearly vulnerable and, dare-we-say-it aging.  And that gives the movie more human touch than the other two combined.

Chris Cooper plays the voice of the coach to Doc, Smokey.

Cristela Alonzo plays the voice of trainer Cruz Ramirez.  source

The movie does have the regulars from previous films.  Amazingly Larry the Cable Guys’-Tow Mator is regulated to maybe ten minutes of screen time.  And you know what?  It works.

There is a pretty funny side scene of McQueen at a demolition derby.  source

Lines from Paul Newman and Car Talk brother, Tom Magleozzi, who died years before this movie was made, and their lines were archive recordings.

Paul Newman as Doc.  source.

Not the greatest Pixar movie, but Cars 3 tones down the sheer silliness and brings back the Pixar touch to the Cars series.

I would recommend on checking this out on Netflix when it becomes available or catching a matinee.

This post originally appeared on my Steemit blog.

Atomic Blone Review

Atomic Blonde is a visceral experience.

Based on a the graphic novel, The Coldest City, by Antony Johnson and Sam Hart.

The time is 1989 just days before the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Which occurred when I was in high school, but now seems to be a time regulated to history books.  By setting it during this time, we can now tell spy stories between waring states, as opposed to hidden terror threats.  The good ol’ days of spy stories.

Directed by David Leitch, who was a co-director on the first John Wick movie.  David Leitch got his start in Hollywood as a stuntman, and it shows in Atomic Blonde.

Charlize Theron, plays Lorraine Broughton a highly skilled MI6 officer, is perfect for this role, tall, blond, attractive, and physically fit.

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James McAvoy plays David Purcvell, and John Goodman plays Emmet Kurzveld a CIA operative.

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The story is told from a deep briefing room, where a beaten and bruised Charlize Theron is telling the story of tracking down a double agent who has a list of all the spies who work for MI6.

And that’s really all you need to know for the story.

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The movie is all atmosphere and action.  And it is great action.

Unlike the action other movies, where the hero is never hurt, does get exhausted, and takes on thousands of faceless bad guys, here fight scenes have weight.   When protecting a Russian defector, Theron is in an elevator and stops the elevator and instead of coming out blasting, she waits with heavy breathing and waits for one of two bad guys to come at her.  In a fight with two bad guys, it is heavy and intense.

She gets hurt, injured, and the bad guys don’t die easily.  As the scene progresses she becomes more injured and tired.  She eventually narrows down her opponents to one, and at one point they are both so injured and tired they just stand across from each other with labored breathing and staring each other down.  Each opponent running on empty, bullets have run out, and fighting with only the items left in the room, in this case a wine opener, the director brings a real excitement to what could have been just another easy shoot up the bad guy scene.

The movie is a great who-done-it, but ultimately this movie is about atmosphere and style.  And what wonderful, fun style it is.  I recommend it.

Rated R-for extreme violence, nudity, and sex.