Daily Thoughts

Author's self-portrait Another (cold!) day out in the libraries today. First Oakville Timberland Regional Library and in a bit, I’ll go to Centralia Timberland Regional Library. I skipped my walk this morning. I don’t miss often. It was 14°F this morning so I decided that I would take the morning off rather than walk when it was that cold. Plus I had the new computer to play with!

Computer

Wow, is the new computer fast! I hadn’t realized how much time I spent waiting for the old computer. I pushed its limits. I’ll have both up right now as I get everything set up on the new computer. So far I’ve set up my files, email, Office, Painter, and Creative Cloud applications. Plus a couple Blizzard games and Minecraft. Even the installs have gone so much faster. I knew the old computer struggled, I just didn’t realize how much.

Earlier I installed and ran Painter, after setting up my Wacom tablet. This is one of the main reasons I wanted a new computer. Painting was so smooth and responsive! An incredible difference. I haven’t tried Photoshop yet, but I expect it’ll respond better as well. I have several different applications that I’ve used, so it’ll be interesting seeing how the others work on the new system.

Covers

Cover art for Revelation SpaceI like science fiction with spaceships. As much as I’d like to, I haven’t read Revelation Space yet. It’s a good example of a book that caught my attention early on because of the cover. It’s more than just the artwork, the typography, and other elements of the cover all work together to create a book that will attract the intended audience.

Cover art for The Sorcerer's DaughterThat’s what I hope to do with the novels in my massive reboot. I want to do covers that work well with my books. Covers convey so much about the genre, and other elements of the experience promised by the book. A fantasy cover looks different from a science fiction novel. Mystery, romance, horror, they each have their own styles. This is the sort of thing that I hope to accomplish with the reboot. It is a challenge to tackle all of those elements myself. It’s also fun!

I work in libraries each day and handle lots of books. Typically I can spot books produced on the indie/self-publishing gradient in an instant. I’d like to create something that wows readers, and is uniquely my work.

Daily Thoughts

Author's self-portrait We’re having some cold weather right now! It was 19°F this morning for my walk. I bundled up. They’re still working on the heat at work, so we’ve got portable heaters running. Hopefully, it’ll get fixed today!

Computer!

My new computer from AVADirect arrived today. I didn’t have much time to do work with it—but it is fast! Over the next couple weeks, I hope to get everything installed and set up. I’ve looked forward to having a faster machine! Many of the things I want to do with data analysis, coding, and illustration should benefit from the new computer. I can’t wait to see how some of the programs work given the improved specifications. And games. This computer will actually be able to work with the Xbox One. I’ll want to get a controller adapter for it.

In any case, right now I’ve only gotten as far as getting Chrome installed and I’ve started transferring files. Even with a fast connection and computer, it’ll take a while.

 

Daily Thoughts

Author's self-portrait I woke this morning to a half-inch of snow on the ground, not so much on the road, and freezing temperatures. It was fine for my walk and commute into the library, just cold! I stayed cold most of the day because our building didn’t have heat (it has been an ongoing issue, maybe fixed this week). Most of that snow from this morning is gone already. Even the other day when we had several inches, melted fast with the rain.

Rusch’s Business

If you have a connection with publishing in any form (writer, publishing, editing, etc.), I recommend you make a habit of reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s weekly business blog. She also posts a weekly free short story and the occasional news post. She is an award-winning author and editor with decades of experience, and a leader in this new world of publishing. I always find it worthwhile to read her posts and look forward to it each week. I’ve learned a great deal from following her work.

Plus, she writes terrific fiction!

Speaking of her business posts, though, if you check out her blog, click the Business Resources menu at the top of her page. Several of those past series of posts cover so much valuable information. She’s also released several nonfiction books based on (and expanding on) her work on the blog.

This week she posted about the Hybrid Learning Curve—not a science fiction title referring to members of the Moreau Society! Instead, it refers to so-called ‘hybrid’ writers with a foot (or more) in traditional publishing and another (or a toe) in the indie/self-publishing gradient.

It takes hybrid writers several books to grasp—on a deep level—the idea of slow growth, growth that builds rather than growth that declines.

This notion of slow growth building impacts more than just writers. It also impacts readers. And librarians. It creates interesting challenges. Rusch talks about the difficulties faced by hybrid writers with the first books in a series controlled by a traditional publisher. Librarians are familiar with the difficulty when books are unavailable because a publisher holds the rights, but isn’t making the book available. We might want to buy the book and can’t get it. Readers ask us why we don’t have all the books in the series (setting aside issues finite space and funds that make it impossible to keep every series intact and available), sometimes we can’t get the books, even if we want to have it in the collection!

Cover art for Closing the DealCopyright is a terrific thing for writers. Less so, however, when they have signed terrible contracts. Some writers are stuck with waiting to take advantage of the 35-year clause in copyright law that allows writers to cancel old contracts. Can you imagine having your property tied up for 35 years? Rusch’s book on contracts should be on every writer’s shelf, wish list, gift-giving list, or all of the above!

Seriously, if you’re thinking of publishing (indie, self, or traditional), you should have this book along with the Copyright Handbook from Nolo Press.

I can’t stress it enough. Absolutely critical books to read.

Daily Thoughts 12: The One With All The (Reboot) Novels

Self-Portrait of the authorThis morning I hit the road again, going to the Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library and the Montesano Timberland Regional Library. Nice—cold!—day to be out in the libraries. Good places for folks to go, warm up, read a book or magazine, and have a place to go.

The One With All The (Reboot) Novels

I thought it’d be nice to post a list of all of the novels I plan to republish or publish as part of my massive reboot. Will these all happen next year? No. I’d love to have them all out next year, that’s not going to happen. I don’t plan to release any of them until I feel they’re ready. I do plan to share my progress. This list outlines (by genre and series) the scope of the reboot, twenty-two novels, plus I included four unfinished titles planned. That doesn’t include all of the other books and series I have planned! If I included those, it’d be a much longer list. I never run out of things to write, illustrate, and share.

Science Fiction

Moreau Society

Dark Matters

Brock Marsden, private detective and member of the Moreau Society. He uses Galactic technology to incorporate the best traits of other species into his genetic makeup, in order to become a better detective and solve the toughest cases.

The Gingerbread House

Brock races to save his planet from a killer holding the entire world hostage.

Past Lives

Brock Marsden, a private detective, enhanced with the DNA of other species. Now he faces his toughest case — to rescue friends trapped in the past he wanted to forget!

Past Dark

The crew of the Terran Expedition ship Australia went to Cyeechie to explore and discovered instead betrayal, death and the start of a war that would change humanity’s future.

Synthetic Pain (planned)

Land Lubbers

Cabin Boys

Two brothers, Douglas and Brennan Dunne, sought a life in the new world with their uncle—never expecting to be abducted by a crew of mutated sea creatures!

Sea Legs

For now, Douglas and Brennan Dunne served Captain Atlas—the Great White Shark transformed by their uncle’s serum. Tides changed, and Douglas waited for their chance to escape!

Murky Waters (planned)

Others

Stowaway to Eternity

Chief Steward Abel Michaels of the CrunchBang starship Neutron’s Sonata, investigates a murder on a cruise to a black hole.

Time Retrievers

Diann Walker, her pug Simon, and her golden retriever Niki solve mysteries by tracking people back through time.

Europan Holiday

His fans know him as Europa Nick, the guy online pretending to explore Europa in a tiny space-age cabin. Pretending, until he finds himself trapped in a miracle.

Fantasy

Goblin Alley

The Bloodied Fang

A high school cross country star in the run of his life—across two worlds!

The Eleven Lords

Hunted by an ancient evil, Dalton faces his greatest race yet!

Trow Forge

Three lives intersect in a race that to save—or damn—two worlds.

Dark/Urban/Horror Fantasy

Dead Things

Waking Dead Things 

Ordinary high school teen worried about getting her driver’s license, dates and passing classes. Oh, and dead things.

Dreaming Dead Things

Dead things in high school? Bad. At college? Deadly!

Killing Dead Things

In Bramson Bay, Oregon, dead things stir and Ravyn must put them down.

Filming Dead Things

The legendary filmmaker that shared dead things with the world—the story behind the films.

Chaining Dead Things (planned)

Pierce County

Dirty Old Vampires

New schools are the worst―especially when the Matt, the cute guy in her class, ends up being a really old vampire! Perv. Gross. It’s up to Natalie to stop him!

Naughty Young Werewolves (planned)

Others

Downland

This house hides secrets. A history of death, a house unlucky for those who step inside. Beneath this house lies terror!

Full Moon Nights

It’s 2030 and humanity is nearly extinct. The meek did not inherit the Earth.

Romance

Watching You Sleep

An insomniac comic book store owner meets a narcoleptic science fiction writer.

Waiting For Cake

Tessa pulled her life together after her husband died, except for romance. Looking in a mirror, she couldn’t imagine anyone loving her again.

Mystery

The Task of Auntie Dido

Feline sleuth C. Auguste Dupin, and his librarian Penny Copper investigate a mystery.

Fun!

That’s the list. Twenty-two novels to put out in hardcover, plus more novels to write. If I included all of the books that I have notes about, it would triple the length of this list! As I’d mentioned earlier, I don’t plan on getting these all out in 2017. I don’t know if I’ll get any of them out in 2017. I need to review each book, deal with design, layout, typography, and cover art! I’ll release them when they’re done. Granted, I don’t want it to take forever either!

Right now, I’m on winter break. At the end of January I’ll be starting my last semester of classes, but then I also have my e-portfolio to complete in the fall semester. During summer, I’ll work on the e-portfolio too. I will have time to work on the reboot starting in June 2017, so about seven months out of the year, but the MLIS degree is the priority.

Daily Thoughts

Self-portrait of the author Good afternoon! I’m writing this at the Elma Timberland Library, where I’ve had the opportunity to spend the morning. After lunch, I’ll head down the road to the McCleary Timberland Library for the afternoon. How great is that? I get to spend the day working in libraries. I’m pretty lucky.

Writing

Cover art for the Successful Author MindsetI’m reading Joanna Penn’s The Successful Author Mindset (one of several books I’m reading). It dawned on me today that I have an opportunity to write while I’m on winter break from school. There’s a whole lot of other things I want to do too—but I will find some time to write. I haven’t written very much fiction since going back to school. It’d be good to get more written. I might work on more stories for Drive-By Stories, and/or maybe develop some ideas for another novel. I’m not going to attempt a novel right now, but I could get some things together.

Illustrations

I’d also like to spend time working on illustrations (and websites, coding, etc.). Obviously, my time isn’t unlimited. I have to pick what I’m going to spend time on. I want to spend time with family, too, and there are some movies I want to see during this break.

Drawing and painting, though, that’s a big one. I’d like to work on some fundamentals and practice. It’d be nice to work on developing a regular practice. With the massive reboot planned, I intend to reissue all of my existing books. That includes those currently available and those that aren’t up, originally released under pen names, and several as-yet-unreleased novels. For each of those, I want to do new illustrations, covers, and for some at least, interior art as well.

I’m not Frank Frazetta, Matt Dixon, or Michael Whelan. I have a long way to go still, but I don’t plan to let that hold me back. I want to take my publishing efforts to the next level with this reboot and part of that is creating original cover art. Why? Because I enjoy it. Because I want to improve in that area (along with design and other elements).

Publishing

I mentioned rebooting publishing. When I buy books by my favorite authors, I try to get hardcover books. I enjoy having those books on my shelf. I’m fond of print. I read a lot of e-books, I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I sometimes buy the same book in multiple formats. Still, I enjoy collecting nice hardcover editions by my favorite authors. Some authors, I have books in mass market paperback, hardcover, and e-book.

With my reboot effort, I plan to release hardcover books. I plan to do the best job I can with them. And as I move forward, I intend to keep doing hardcovers. The trade paperbacks are fine, but I want hardcover books. I’ve experimented with a few books in hardcover (Full Moon Nights came out in a limited hardcover). I’ve learned more since then, and plan to continue learning. So, as best as I’m able, I want to release the sort of books that I want.

Of course, I’ll also do new e-book releases.

Trying New Things

I love learning new things. For me, that’s the strength of self-publishing. I’d describe indie publishing a bit differently. An indie publisher hires people to do the work for them. A writer/indie publisher might hire someone to do the layout and design, the cover art, and various editing jobs. Some of it, they may do themselves. Nothing wrong with any of that. Many things work that way.

A self-publisher may or may not hire people to help them. There’s no clear dividing line, more of a gradient. I see self-publishing as an opportunity to learn and try new things. On the gradient from self-publisher to indie-publisher are many different variations. The more an individual does themselves, the closer it pushes them into the self-publishing spectrum.

Quality?

I give my best with whatever I do, as much as I’m able. Does that mean I’m going to be ‘as good as’ [fill in the blank] at whatever you care about? I don’t know. I hope to be the best I can.

That said, I don’t think there is an absolute metric of quality when it comes to art (any art). I love books other people might hate. I look at Bob Eggleton’s skulls on Brian Lumley’s Necroscope books and damn if they don’t stick with me! I remember eyeing those books several times before I gave in and picked them up. As much as I love those covers, I doubt it’s going to be to everyone’s taste.

People judge everything. That doesn’t mean that their taste is universal. When it comes to artistic expression there is only one thing I think is important: expression.

I think there is tremendous value in individual artistic expression. All ambitions aside, I think it is fantastic that some people express themselves. I think supporting that is important. I think it makes a difference when people have opportunities to express themselves.

Friends, web reviews, librarians, publishers, reviewers, and critics—these are all filters to help us identify expressions that we might enjoy. With so much individual expression out there, it can be helpful to have tools to find what we’ll enjoy.

I enjoy creating my own individual expressions. I appreciate the support and interest when someone picks up one of my books. I hope they enjoy them. And I’m looking forward to creating more!

 

Daily Thoughts

Self-portrait of the authorIt has been a busy day! I’ve been going since I got up this morning. First, walking. Then out to the Evergreen State College library to return books I checked out for this semester’s project. Followed that with shopping, taking the family out to lunch at the Shipwreck Cafe, and then out to see Fantastic Beasts. Worn out!

Books!

Cover art for Scratch Programming PlaygroundFor someone on a book-buying fast, I seem to be getting a bunch of books! Not novels. The books today are all nonfiction, some required texts for next semester, and some optional, but helpful titles like Scratch Programming Playground.

I’m taking a course in gamifying information, which will involve some Scratch programming. It looks like a lot of fun, and something that I’ll enjoy playing around with before the semester starts. The Globalization book looks interesting, and will no doubt be helpful, but is far more academic. I have another that hasn’t arrived yet today. Should be delivered shortly.

Computer!

This next semester I’ll have my new computer. I received an email today that it is on the way and should arrive this week. The computer I built over eight years ago continues to slog along, doing the best it can, but parts are wearing out and it is simply behind the times at this point. It will take some time to get everything set up on the new computer. Hopefully, that process will go smoothly.

Fantastic Beasts

If you haven’t already seen Fantastic Beasts, I recommend giving it a shot.

I love the Harry Potter books. The movies, I enjoyed but found they paled so much by comparison to the books. This movie was just that—a movie set in the wizarding world, but one that we haven’t seen before. A different time, a different setting, and new and interesting characters. Out of all of the movies in this universe, I enjoyed this one the most.

 

Daily Thoughts

Author self-portrait It’s been a long day! I spent the day completing my final project report and demo for the Big Data Analytics and Management course in my MLIS program at SJSU. I wanted it done today so that I’d have tomorrow free to celebrate the end of the semester with Kate and Xander.

Project Demo

The project demo is a brief overview of some of the research I did on my Unstable Ground: A Decade of Oklahoma Earthquakes project. I uploaded it to YouTube to share on the class board, so I’ll include the link here too.

I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted with the project—there just wasn’t time. I had ambitions to do much more, ambitions that had to be scaled back to fit the scope of the project.

Stuffy Battle

Father and son playing in a hammock.A more immediate celebration was having a stuffy battle with Xander—in the hammock with an epic music collection playing (thanks to Amazon Music). Stuffy battle, in Xanderverse, is a bit like a Pokemon battle or a pet battle in World of WarCraft. Only I have no way to know what’s possible, or how I’m doing, except for Xander telling me. Strangely, I usually win. I think it’s because he wants ‘my’ characters to keep leveling up so he can continue the story. Today ended with my opponents escaping with the blackberries, followed by a cinematic with the evil clam character.

Winter Break!

If it wasn’t already clear—I’m done with the Fall 2016 semester! Grades should be available right before Christmas. I think I did fine this semester, though my GPA did dip a bit with INFO285 (I learned a lot, though). Nothing to worry about. The only thing left to do for this semester is to save discussion posts so that I can use those in my e-portfolio. I’ll be on winter break until late January, giving me time to work on other projects (and begin reading books for next semester).

Screenshot of Trello Board

It’s weird (but good) to see my Trello board empty. This semester was a bit more stressful than some previous semesters. I’m looking forward to Spring 2017—my last semester of classes (with my e-portfolio in the Fall).

TurboTax Self-Employed

I also started work on my taxes today, using TurboTax Self-Employed. I’ve used TurboTax in one form or another for a long time. I’m glad to see they have a version focused on self-employed people, including those with a day job earning some side income. One of my goals for 2017 is to work more on our business at Glittering Throng Press.

Daily Thoughts

Self-Portrait of the authorMy focus today has mostly been on the semester’s final assignments. I did come across this post at BoingBoing People really, really suck at using computers, which reports on The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think over at NN/g. The summary makes the overall point of the article clear, “Across 33 rich countries, only 5% of the population has high computer-related abilities, and only a third of people can complete medium-complexity tasks.”

Every day librarians help users with computer-related tasks, and we’re starting to do much more. The article makes another crucial point not included in the summary, “In total, across the OECD countries, 26% of adults were unable to use a computer.” A quarter of adults are unable to use a computer.

Librarians provide a key resource to help the 95% of users that lack high computer-related skills. This next week I’m planning to share a plan to provide more opportunities in our libraries.

Planet of the Apes

I’ve always enjoyed the Planet of the Apes movies (except for the terrible ending of the Tim Burton version). I’ve enjoyed the recent series of movies and was excited to see the trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes.

I plan to be in the theater to see this one! The new Spiderman: Homecoming trailer looked like a lot of fun too. We don’t tend to go to the theater often. With the improvements to our local theater’s seating and operation, it’s much more enjoyable to go see a movie than it used to be. I’d like to get over to see Fantastic Beasts, and we’ve got to see Rogue One (of course)!

Quake!

No, not the video game. The quakes in Oklahoma that I’m studying as part of my final for this data analysis class. I thought I’d share this quick visualization graphing the magnitude and depth of earthquakes each year. It’s pretty boring until 2010—and then watch out! One more tiny piece in this final project.

 

Daily Thoughts

Self-Portrait of the author Kids are so annoying. They yell. They say thoughtless things. They play the same cartoon with squeaky voices again and again and then imitate the voice and laugh when you ask them to stop. And yet, if something was to happen to your child, you’d give anything to hear them make noise again.

This morning I got the chance to go out with Xander and watch him have a blast sledding down our little hill in the rain. Between the rain and warmer temperatures the snow is nearly gone already, but we still had that moment.

Coding

Cover art for Teach Your Kids to CodeI’ve also enjoyed talking to Xander recently about coding. I’ve asked if he’ll help me with the Scratch programming I’ll be doing in my class this spring, plus I have some books (and another surprise for him) on coding. This evening I went through the first chapter in Teach Your Kids to Code by Bryson Payne. I love that these books use Python. I have some other, more advanced books, on Python as well since it’s a language I wanted to master.

I’m going to review this one, and Learn to Program With Minecraft, before we get too much into doing some coding. The first chapter was a quick introduction to simple variations on the ‘Hello, World’ concept and a simple form of mad libs.

Example of Python coding

Final Days!

I’m off tomorrow and plan on finishing up my final reports in the next couple days. Then the winter break starts!

Daily Thoughts

Author's Self-Portrait Went out tonight to lock up our surviving chickens, and only Patty was in the coop. I put on boots and tromped up and around through the woods looking for Third without any luck. No sign of her. Nothing visible in the snow to show any sign of intruders. I got back to the coop, knocked the ice out of the water and took the empty bowl to the house to get it filled.

On the way back my light flashed across something by the back corner of the house—wait, what was that? Third!

She’d roosted on a tomato cage leaning against the wall. Snow covered her back. With the black and white feathers, in the dark with the snow, she was nearly unnoticeable.

Kate said that they’d been hanging out by the back door. We figured that when it came time for them to go to the coop it was already snowing hard. They probably walked along the back of the house until they were close to the coop, at which point Patty walked on through the snow and into the coop. Third, having never been in snow (she’s several years younger, we haven’t had snow like this since she’s been around), must have chickened out. Instead of walking through a few inches of snow she decided instead to perch on the very thin—cold!—wire tomato cage.

I picked her up and carried her to the coop and put her inside to keep Patty company. Crazy chickens.

Final

Cover art for Definitive XML SchemaI’m finishing up my final for my XML class tonight. Nearly done with the test, but not the subject! Comments aside about the class (I’ve submitted my evaluation), I have much more to learn. Next up on this topic is a big book, Definitive XML Schema by Priscilla Walmsley.