Mar 312016

The short answer: almost done, but not quite.

As mentioned earlier, I was on-track to be done by the end of the month. Everything had started to align. Cody and I started churning through the polish pass; cleaning up wording, tossing unnecessary sentences, refining entire paragraphs to improve clarity and impact. After (once again) stressing over what I would do for the book’s cover, having a preconceived notion of what I wanted that cover to be, I stumbled across a stock photo1 that — though it didn’t fit the preconception — declared itself the perfect cover for this story, so I even had that part all set.

Then two things happened.

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  1. Ashes‘ cover is also a modified stock photo []
Mar 072016

I don’t know what happened yesterday, but I got up, went down to make coffee, started working on the book…and didn’t stop until I reached the end of the book.

The third draft is done!

What does that mean? The third draft is the final story- and character-revision pass. The next pass, generating the final draft, comes from an aloud read-through with Cody for phrasing, grammar gaffes, and general technical consistency. This will fill a few evenings and will also be Cody’s first actual exposure to the full text of the story, as opposed to just hearing me talk about it. Meanwhile, I’ll also be doing peripheral work: figuring out the cover, deciding what appendices to add, etc.

Most importantly, though, it means that the book is coming. Soon. Very soon.

As with Ashes, I’ll be releasing a few sample chapters here on the blog once they’re finalized. That could even be imminent, so stay tuned!

Dec 272012

I should really write this post later today, but since having had some time to digest the 48fps experience of The Hobbit, I have revised my opinion somewhat. When we stopped in to visit my parents, en route to see Cody’s parents, we went to see the standard 24fps version of The Hobbit with them. It seemed the logical choice, since the point was to share with them the experience of the story, not the novelty of the “new” cinematic format.

Throughout the entire thing, I found I sorely missed the doubled framerate. It felt far more difficult to track action, frame stutter seemed far more evident, and on the whole I actually wanted the increased framerate back.

I’m curious to see if this holds true this evening, when we plan to go see The Hobbit (for our fourth screening!) with Cody’s family.

In any case, I thought the before/after/before comparison was eye-opening.

Aug 052012

Cody has been poking me to watch a new show she’s picked up, Teen Wolf. As I understand it, it’s a loose remake of the Michael J. Fox classic movie, created by MTV and starring a cast of pretty people. From that description, one can imagine I was not overly enthused by the idea.

I was quite wrong. This show is a blast.

The characters alone are worth the price of admission, especially Stiles–our plucky protagonist’s sidekick, best friend, and confidante. Scott–the protagonist–plays clueless with admirable skill, and both Allison and Lydia are some of the best high school female characters I’ve ever seen, delightfully defying many of the obnoxious-but-expected tropes one gets with the typical high school drama, while playing others deliciously straight.

I’m currently 5 episodes in, and would happily recommend it to anyone.

Slashdot posted an interesting article about using neutrinos to communicate through Earth at high speeds, and how the rise of this technology might make a neutrino-based SETI more feasible. Neutrinos are especially attractive as a communication medium because they’re very fast (not quite as fast as light, but damn close) and they penetrate through just about everything due to very weak interaction with other matter.

It’s entirely possible a more advanced civilization would have given up radio in favor of neutrinos long ago, which might be one reason (other than the vast size of the galaxy, and the apes and angels argument) we haven’t heard from anyone yet.

In the realm of transhumanism, the John Templeton Foundation just fronted University of California, Riverside a $5 million grant to study immortality. They’re mostly focusing on the philosophical aspects of it, and how culture influences views of afterlife and such, but there are elements of it that deal with actual perpetual life. I love seeing stuff like this get taken seriously, though I also worry about the global catastrophe that immortality would cause.

See, all societies to this point have been based on death. One generation follows another, and with each successive generation, we see changes and advances. More than that, though, the prior generation makes room for its successors. With immortality, all of sudden that all stops. People don’t die off, they just continue to multiply. We’re already heading toward a population crisis; immortality would make it even worse. There isn’t a way to feed what amounts to infinite people. Unemployment would explode. Societies would stagnate, with the previous generation maintaining political power and retaining their ingrained views.

But on an individual level, who doesn’t want to live forever?

Jul 272012

Four months!

A great deal has happened. 38 Studios closed, meaning the beautiful and amazing game I spent the last two years working on will never see the light of day. The studio’s closure hit some employees very severely, since it happened with essentially no notice and every expectation that the situation we were in was something we could emerge from. We couldn’t, we didn’t, game over. Cody and I don’t tend to be extravagant spenders, and her benefits are equivalent to mine, so we simply rolled onto her plan with no interruption.

We finally got a dog! We adopted Crichton (named for John Crichton, FarScape’s astronaut protagonist) from a rescue shelter that operates out of New York. He’s a German Shepherd mix of some kind (strongly resembles a Rhodesian Ridgeback, too), born tailless. He chose Cody immediately, and that was basically that. He’s been an amazing addition to our lives and it’s actually hard to imagine what life was like before him. He’ll be six months old on Cody’s and my second wedding anniversary.

I had the excellent fortune to work with many amazing people at 38 Studios. One of them, with whom I worked very closely, made mention to me that his wife’s company was looking for a PHP developer. “Why, I’m a PHP developer!” I thought. I’ve been paid for PHP work in the past (when I worked for Northeastern while attending school there, and when I worked for Blue Fang), I use PHP on a regular basis in my own web projects, and I have a technical mind as a result of working on software for the last six years. A month after 38 Studios laid us off, I started work at Surf Merchants in Boston. So far, it has been amazing. The people are awesome, the company is fantastic, and I get to work in PHP every day–and get paid for it! I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, probably as a result of spending six years in a very volatile industry.

Ashes is making steady progress, thanks in part to my new commute that has Cody drop me off at the commuter rail in the morning for a 30 minute train ride into Boston. I use that time to continue working on the third draft, and have hit the troublesome middle section I mentioned several posts ago. And it is, indeed, troublesome. I thought I was nearing the end of chapter eighteen, only to realize that I was going to have to re-re-tool chapters fifteen through eighteen to make everything flow correctly. This is what happens when you think you remember your story treatment, but don’t actually double-check.

Joined Pax Gaming, to which Cody already belonged, and have started playing both The Secret World (due to Cody’s exhuberance and a desire to play an MMO together again) and Star Trek Online. I was very pleasantly surprised by STO. Cryptic did a great job capturing the feel of the Star Trek universe. Kudos to them. TSW is a blast, too, and I really dig the flexibility of their system, and the general ambiance of the world–except for all the damn zombies.

Why is everyone so into zombies? I mean, I guess Ashes sort of has zombie-like creatures in it, but not really. It seems like zombies are part of the modern zeitgeist, and I do not understand the appeal at all. I suppose the same argument could be made about vampires, but vampires don’t bother me nearly as much (or, at all, really; I enjoy vampires). I wonder if there’s an element of appeal to the monster. With a vampire, it’s a creature that has power, that has traits that are desirable despite the drawbacks. Same with a werewolf in some ways. But a zombie? Where’s the draw there? Why would you want to be a zombie? Why would you want to live in a world populated by zombies? I don’t get it.

I mentioned it briefly above, but Cody and my second wedding anniversary is coming up in a bit under two weeks. Last year, we went on a cruise. That’s not so feasible this year, what with Crichton and all, and it’s left us somewhat stymied as to what to do instead. Every time we think of things to do and look at the cost, it seems so inefficient compared to the cost/benefit ratio of a cruise. Instead, we’ve talked about doing something smaller for our anniversary (a nice dinner, for instance) and something larger later on.

I came across a fun little program called Manic Time, which tracks your application usage and document/website usage by time. I want to use it as a motivational tool to show myself how much time I waste that I could be writing. With actual metrics staring me in the face, I think that’ll be a decent motivator to not spend so much time idling.

That’s about it for now!


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Mar 062012

I’ve had an urge to write a post on all of the various things I’ve learned about writing so far. However, it feels presumptuous and pretentious to think I’ve learned anything until I’ve finished–much less, sold–a book.

Got some more work done on Draft Three last night. About 1/5th of the way through the chapters at this point, though given the massive overhaul the middle of the book is getting, I have no idea what portion of the total work that actually represents.

I’ve largely been basking in the release excitement for Mass Effect 3 today. Cody and I ordered the collector’s edition, which should arrive on Thursday. With any luck, we’ll have a chance to play some come the weekend.

Other fun things on the agenda for this week/weekend include: finishing plans for a picket fence in the backyard, in preparation for puppies; doing taxes; and visiting car dealerships in advance of actually buying that new car we’ve been talking about buying since we got married. We recently inherited a second car from my grandmother, but it’s temperamental at the best of times. Coupled with my clocking 70 miles per day, getting a new and fuel-efficient car makes sense.

Great Big Write

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Aug 242011

Slammed through another three thousand words last night. Like so many things, it feels self reinforcing: the more I write, the more I want to. I just need to keep moving and all will be well. I’d love to be have the second draft done by the end of the month, though I doubt that’s realistic. If I maintained 3,000 words per day, that would only place me at around 55-60,000 words by the end of the month, and my current projections predict the complete draft will be nearly double that. In order to hit 100,000 words by the end of the month, I’d need to consistently put out close to 9,000 words per day. Even at my most exuberant, that’s pushing it. 2,000-3,000 feels pretty good, though.

I mentioned it on Twitter, but I haven’t mentioned it here yet. This Friday, Great Big Sea is playing in Lowell! This will mark my third time seeing them live, but the first time that Cody and I will be going with a friend of ours that we’ve indoctrinated into the GBS fold, but who has never seen them live. I am delighted by this and completely confident that she will have an excellent time.

Really, everybody should go see GBS. They are that good.

Aug 222011

Cannot run out of time. There is infinite time. You are finite. Zathras is finite. This…is wrong tool.

I have many, many projects that capture my interest. Writing is foremost among them, but so too are home improvement projects, costuming, digital art, web development, programming, learning to play the guitar, and so on. I often lament that I simply don’t have enough time to do all of that and my job and spend time with my wife and spend time with friends.

But that’s really a load of crap, isn’t it?
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