2017-11-23

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is the day of the year when American families gather together to consume too much turkey, ham, and all sorts of sugary delights. We are supposed to use the day to give thanks for what we have and to thank others for what they have done. But why limit thanking others to a single day out of the year? The historical facts surrounding the first Thanksgiving are now being questioned. The Huffington Post has a good article concerning this that is worth reading. And, just like Christmas, our society has commercialized certain holidays to the point where the average person no longer understands the original purpose of the holiday. One may as well change the name of Thanksgiving to Black Friday Preparation Day and Christmas to Gift Giving Day.

As far as writing goes, I've made good progress on Collision Course and I'm well into the second half of the new novel. The two timelines are now properly aligned and I believe I have a way to end the story. I don't know when I will be done though as I have competing priorities these days. I've started reading a 1,000+ book on JavaScript as well as an 800 page book on JavaScript and JQuery. I'm also still working my way through several books on CSS and HTML. It's a lot of reading and a lot of learning but I've set my mind to learning how to do website development and I'm not backing down.

The other day, I signed up for the Cleveland Concoction which begins March 9th and runs for 3 days. This convention is unique in that they have what's called the Author Alley where they take books from attending authors and sell them to the convention goers. This is a fantastic idea and I applaud them for doing this. This will be the first time I've attended and if the sales are good I will return. For most self-published authors, conventions are not worth the money unless you just want to go to the convention to enjoy yourself. The Cleveland Concoction might prove to be different.

The other convention that has proven to be a success for me is the Northeast Ohio Geek Expo. I've attended this event for the past two years and each time I made more in sales than it cost me to attend. For a self-published author, this is an event worth attending especially since it is local to me. I treat my writing as a business and every financial decision associated with attending a convention is subjected to a cost-benefit analysis. If the result is a negative cash-flow, I don't spend the money.

I have a lot of reading to do as well as a turkey to cook. Time to end this and get back to learning.

2017-11-11

Snow

This has been a very busy week. It has not been a productive week for writing though. I had something to occupy my time every day. Yesterday (a day off), Cheryl and I just sort of lounged around the house. I never once fired up my writing computer and barely touched the cell phone. It was a day to just kick back, get some reading done, and relax. I had been working on a very complex piece of programming at work and I think my brain just needed a break.

Wednesday, I blew all the leaves out to the street. Thursday morning, the leaf sucker truck rolled by and made them go away. Unfortunately, my one remaining tree with leaves on it decided that Thursday morning was the time to drop its leaves--all of them! So, I spent Thursday blowing leaves again. Friday morning, it snowed for the first time this winter.

The good news is that the house and yard are now prepped for winter and I have a couple days left in the weekend. But now I must decide if I want to write or continue to learn more about the amazingly powerful jQuery programming language. It's a toss-up as to which I like more; writing or programming. Before I took up writing, I would sit and read programming books pretty much any chance I got. Then, I discovered the joy of self-publishing and writing became my new passion. But things are swinging back around.

One of the driving forces behind a writer is the knowledge that the stories he or she creates are going to be enjoyed by others. Our species developed language so we could pass on knowledge and experience to our fellow humans. We began doing so by telling stories and now it is deeply rooted in our behavior. What do you do when you go to a party or are just sitting with your friends? What activity can bring work on an important project to a halt as everyone gathers around the water cooler? Storytelling!

But, without an audience, even the most die-hard writer begins to question if spending hundreds of hours working on a story is worth their time. The itch to write will never go away, but when sales are low for weeks and months on end, the writer finds that the itch doesn't need to be scratched as often. I will eventually finish Collision Course, especially since I am more than half-way done with it. But I'm on the fence regarding whether or not I want to start another book after that. The odds are good that I will--but one never knows.

2017-11-05

Geek Expo 2017

I spent all day yesterday at the 2017 Geek Expo which was held at the Ashtabula Towne Square Mall here in Ohio. Last year, the event was only 1 day long and was held at the Spire Institute (an Olympic training center about 2 miles from my house). This year's event is two days and is in a closed department store at a slowly failing mall. The floor space this year for vendors is enormous and things are much more spread out and there was a large turnout.

I sold a few books and met a few fans. I chatted with lots of good-natured people and got to see all sorts of interesting costumes walk by including a fully functional Dalek. Dragons were well represented. I head back there today. Keep reading to see some pictures of the event.

A fellow author (Andi Lawencovna) shared the table with me for most of the event. She will also be there today. Even though we write vastly different material, we always find things in common to talk about. I'm looking forward to spending another day at the Expo.

I also managed to get some writing done. I finally finished revising one of the two timelines in Collision Course making the actions of the characters in that timeline more plausible. I then turned to the task of synching that timeline up with the other one. Using Aeon timeline, I plotted out the first point of convergence which occurs at the start of one of the chapters. There is a section near the end of that chapter that now carries a large note reading: THIS CANNOT BE HERE! THIS PARAGRAPH DESCRIBES AN EVENT THAT HAPPENS 9 HOURS AND 20 MINUTES LATER.

Today, I will be working on trying to fix that snafu. Word of advice to my future self: The next time I write a story, even if I don't think I will need a timeline -- make a timeline! Sure, it takes a little bit of time. But it will save a lot of time by keeping the sequencing of events clearly laid out and aligned.

As a side note, my best friend living in Minnesota texted me a picture of the 6 inches of new snow they had yesterday morning. As I write this, the temperature is on its way up to a high of 66, I can hear thunder approaching, and we are under a flash flood watch. This is not normal people!

Here are some pictures from the Geek Expo:





2017-10-28

10-28-17 Still rewriting

The rewriting of Collision Course continues. Not only were the two arcs way out of synch, but the storyline in one of the arcs just wouldn't work. While reading the chapters associated with one of them, I discovered that the characters were not behaving correctly. How did this happen? Probably because I've been working on this for longer than normal and I took longer breaks in between to learn about web programming. My normal time for writing a first draft is about 8 months and this one has been going on for longer than that.

The good news is that in addition to fixing things, I've been adding chapters. That means the word count is going up putting me almost exactly half-way through what I would consider a normal-sized book. Bear in mind, this is only a mystical target that does not have to be reached. I don't add fill-in words just to hit my target. When the book is done, it's done no matter how many words are there.

I am at day two into a three-day weekend and I hope to have things straightened out by Monday. If not, it looks like my wife's schedule will allow me to squeeze in a few more writing days during the week. In the meantime, I've mostly put my website learning on hold until I at least get this book whipped back into shape.

2017-10-17

10-17-2017 Rewriting

Many of my novels are written using two or more timelines that eventually converge at some point. Keeping these two timelines synchronized can be a pain in the neck especially if you're a seat of the pants writer like me. That's one reason I bought Aeon Timeline. Unfortunately, I didn't start a timeline when I started work on Collision Course and now I'm paying for that oversight.

About a week and a half ago I discovered that my parallel timelines were way out of sync and I needed to go back and do some serious rewriting. This time, I created a timeline in Aeon Timeline. I'm having to move entire chapters, insert new ones, and cut and paste huge blocks of text to get things to line up. Doing this in Microsoft Word would be a chore especially because I also need to constantly refer to my notes. Scrivener keeps my notes in a window at the bottom of my screen and allows me to simply drag chapters around, move blocks to a holding area, and do all the editing I need.

Additional writing in my novel will not happen until I get the timeline fixed. I'm not sure how long this is going to take especially since my time to write is limited these days.

Also, I'd like to remind anyone who reads this to check out my website and take a look at the Tools page where I've put a bunch of calculations I've found useful when writing science fiction. If you find an error or you would like to see any other calculators added, please let me know.