Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunday Check-in

The ROW80 Streak continues. Had a productive Saturday night. 1618 words, I know it doesn't sound like much but it's my third highest word count for a day this year. Logan's story is complete- as far as getting to the end. I'm in the process of revising some earlier chapters, and building a complete first draft copy. Some things were written out of order, so I have to go back and insert them into the proper places. Once that's done, I know I have a couple of small things to add in to the story. Then I can look for my rough patches and see how much frosting I need to add to make it all nice and smooth. Then it'll be time to hunt up some betas/critique partners.

So, for Saturday onward I switched WIPs and worked on that second novel that I wanted to complete draft 1 of. The words seemed to flow much faster and in larger chunks. Maybe the 29th Century C.E. agrees with me more than the 21st? :D I'm going to write on this one while I edit/revise/rebuild Logan. (We've had a Six Million Dollar Man, can I get money to rebuild Logan? The 6 Thousand Dollar Novel? Maybe? ;-) (I tried!))

Friday, July 29, 2011

TV Review: Legend Quest

I saw this show promoted on the SyFy channel ahead of its premier, and thought I might check it out, it looked interesting. A guy going around the world searching for legendary artifacts. Sounds like a good formula right? Indiana Jones on a weekly basis.

A friend on twitter (let's name-drop: it was Victoria Dahl )asked for an opinion about the show, she liked that sort of programing, but something seemed.. off to her about it. So, I promised I would check it out and see if I got the same vibe off of it she did.

Something else that I watched was conflicting with the time slot though, so it wasn't until the third episode that I finally got the chance to watch the show.

The Concept:
A symbologist travels around the world on the trail of the greatest treasures and artifacts in history in two thirty minute segments in a hour formatted show. Think a cross between Dan Brown's hero Robert Langdon and Indiana Jones, in your living room for an hour a week.

Okay, I'm down with this. The idea of the show is off to a great start.

The Execution:
Well, here's where the train runs off the tracks.

The Cast:
Ashley Cowie is the host. He's a real-life symbologist and adventurer. To me, he gives off a vibe like he's so much smarter than the viewer and that he's talking down to us. Not condescending, but, yeah. Condescending. Plus, he looks like a walking billboard for cargo pants from some adventure outfitter clothing line.

Kinga Phillips is the show's field producer and Cowie's default side-kick. She's kind of cute, and makes for decent eye-candy. Her main purpose on the show appears to be to do the grunt work, such as setting up meetings with the locals, and to stand there and listen while Cowie explains things on camera.

The Show:
The camera work is too choppy. I understand that this is a documentary-type show, shot in the field without stediy-cams and the like, bit could be done much smoother. Shot could last longer than 1.2 seconds as well, to give the viewer more time to digest the imagery before cutting to something else. They travel often in vehicles, with Cowie driving and a cameraman in the front seat. This puts the camera lens much too close to the side of Cowie's face to be comfortable. The same could be achieved with a mini-cam mounted on the passenger-side pillar post or stuck onto the inside windshield. Really, this is what the guys on Top Gear do when they road test cars, and it's much better that way.

The animation work used to illustrate the particular points of history Cowie is explaining to Phillips is very cartoon-ish, and poorly done. Figures with heavy black outlines. It looks like cheap, badly drawn anime. The early seasons of South Park with their construction paper animation looked much better than this.

The format needs to be fiddled with as well. Two thirty minute segments jammed together in an hour format with Cowie standing in front of a black screen giving a bit of tie-in commentary to bind the two segments together. I think the show needs to change to a single artifact set up. 30 minutes (22 after commercial time is factored out) feels too rushed to adequately cover the history of each artifact and the journey. A longer period spent on each artifact would allow Cowie to build a case for his explorations, and avoid my next point.

The host takes too many straight-line leaps of logic. I wouldn't jump over a crack in the sidewalk even if Cowie told me it was safe. He seems to jump from conclusion to conclusion in a straight line, without allowing for the possibility that other conclusions may be drawn from the facts. Whether this is due to the time constraint for each segment, I can't say, but it is an annoyance. It's like he's saying "I've figured this out, and it has to be this way because I'm so smart, and I'll tell you why I'm so smart after the commercial break."

Another thing I've noticed, and this happened int he very first episode is directions. In the Mayan Talking Cross segment, Cowie keeps saying they are going west, or due west from site to site chasing the trail of the Talking Cross across the Yucatan. On the map, when the journey is displayed, the route shown clearly goes Southwest, and closer to South than West. Either Cowie can't read a compass right, or else his compass is off by 40 degrees.

Nothing so far has ever been definitively found on the show. In six artifact hunts (three episodes), the closest Cowie and Phillips have come to finding what they were after was viewing a 6th century C.E. sword that "might" possibly be the source of the Excaliber legends. Other hunts have ended in walled off passages, or rubble filled caves.

The Verdict:
Kinga Phillips can fill out a tank top and a pair of shorts or jeans, but even that isn't enough to make me want to keep tuning in. I understand that this show is on SyFy, and therefor probably done on the cheap as much as possible. However, I've seen this type of program done many times before and much much better.

Keep yourself questing on the trail for more legendary television.

Comments? Opinions? Let's hear them!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Check-in

Much like the heat in Texas, I'm hot. I've hit my ROW80 goals every day for 11 days now. (Haven't started writing today's yet) 11,112 words. And on my 1kx365d goal, a 10 day streak for 11,713. There's some free writing in addition on this second goal that's giving the difference in numbers. I've got two separate spread sheets going to track all this.

Yes, I am being that organized for this. I blame the NaNoWriMo report card someone started several years back.

Where are all these words going? Well, everything written for ROW80 has gone into finishing a novel I started 4 years ago. I have few scenes left to write, and then I have a completed draft zero for DEFAH. (My acronym for the current title) Once that's done, I'll need to add/adjust my ROW goals to include some editing/revision time for DEFAH. Logan, Miss Farnsworth, and the gang are almost ready to see the world outside of my head. they've been scared/tortured enough in my mind for the last 4 years.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

ROW80 Check-in

And ROW80 rolls on. I've been hitting all of my word counts, 1000/day this week. Since Sunday (750), with my ROW writing and the free writing I do after my ROW is finished, I've also hit my personal daily 1K for 365 days goal for a week straight. This beats my previous longest streak of 6 days. However, I'm still 164K behind on this goal. LOL On Monday the ROW goal goes to 1250, so I hope to extend that 1k/365d streak for the next two months. And catch up a bit!

DEFAH is growing. I'm ramping up to the big fight scene. Logan has just been escorted into the Big Bad's lair, and is now being informed on just how badly he's been tricked. In video game terms, Logan has already dispatched of on the minor bosses, and he's about to face off against two level bosses, and the villain. All at the same time. And he's essentially got three bullets left in his gun, so his aim has to be perfect.

What's in store for Logan today? That is yet to be written. It's time to gather all the loose threads together and thread the needle.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How To Successfully Gain Me As A Follower

I'm noticing an annoying trend on twitter. Maybe it's new, or maybe I've just now noticed it.

New followers who are spectacularly failing to receive my follow back.

This isn't going to be a rant. Think of it as a handy set of guidelines to tweet by. :)

I use Hootsuite to tweet with. On the profile page for a tweeter it gives me the option to look back through the last several tweets you've sent. After your initial profile in 200 characters or less, this is one of the major decision criteria I use for follow/no follow decisions.

It's not hard people. Seriously.

  • Be interesting - If all you tweet about is the ducks you fed at the pond, I'm probably not the follower you want. Ducks can be interesting (And sometimes even tasty!), but if you're just ducks 24/7/365, I'm going to go load my blocking gun. As I'm writing this, @JStevenYork just shared a fascinating youtube video with his followers about the design of the lunar rover, and how it fit into an empty 5ft tall x 5ft wide x 5ft deep wedge-shaped storage space on the lunar lander. THAT is being interesting, folks.
  • Be relevant to me - Okay, this one you CAN'T control, but it's really not too hard. I have lots of interests, you'll probably fit in one of them if you try. Just look at my log line for the blog for inspiration.
  • Interact with your followers - Put the SOCIAL in Social media. If you aren't talking to people, you're not being interesting to me, and probably less relevant.

  • Be a spammer - You're just asking to get blocked and reported.
  • Be a link whore - You links might be interesting, maybe even useful, but I'm not going to follow you.
  • Fill your tweets with quotes of famous people - If all your tweets consist of these, you're not going to have me following you.
See? Simple dos and don'ts. Follow them, and I'm more than likely going to follow you back.

Any tips for separating the wheat from the chaff? Feel free to share them!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Check-in and Experiment Results

I'm still hitting my daily word count goals, which crept up again on Monday from 750 to 1000/day. Last night my main character Logan was down in the company's research & development lab, talking to Sir Isaac Newton about weapons to hunt demons & gods with. Someday you might even get to read this. :)

In the experiment I ran on Sunday's check-in:
  • I had 48 views and 12 comments, which leads me to believe only 25% of my viewers are real people (or people that can be bothered to leave a comment - Thank you all!
Among the commentators who played along:
  • 3 views from Google+
  • 7 came from the #ROW80 
  • 1 from the Linksy tools page
  • 1 from my Twitter bio.
Onwards to today's writing goal!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Row80 Sunday Check In And Experiment

I finally had my first daily goal failure on Friday. It just wasn't a good day for writing. 168/750 that day. However, I'm still ahead on total word count by 1400+ words, even with my failure. So, it's all still in the black.


Now, I'd like to conduct an experiment and I need your help!
I'm trying to determine how many of my views are bots, and how many are actual humans.
Leave me a comment down below and tell me how you came to this post, via
  • Me directly by a twitter or Google+ link
  • Someone retweeted my link (Mention who so I can thank them)
  • Or direct email notification.
Results will be posted with Wednesday's Round Of Words 80 check in.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Boarding Call

If we ignore history, we are doomed to repeat it. Or, something like that. What can we learn by looking back at history? Well, I can see an interesting parallel between the Digital and Indie Revolutions in the publishing world and the deregulation of the airline industry in the 1970s.

Seriously. Stick with me and I'll explain.

First, a little history to get you up to take off speed. Federal regulation of the U.S. airline industry can be traced back as far as the 1920s, and became serious with the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938. The government basically said who had the authority to fly which routes, and how much passengers could be charged.

For example, from New York to Chicago, you might have had both United Airlines and American Airlines authorized to fly the route for a ticket price of $40 round trip. From Chicago, American could fly passengers to Los Angeles, and United to San Francisco, but not American Chicago-San Francisco or United Chicago-Los Angeles

To stand apart from the competition on a route, airlines competed on services, like inflight meals (yes they did consist of more than a sandwich and yogurt/fruit snack), and passenger comforts (hot towel any one?). Anything to make your trip a pleasant and memorable trip, in the hopes of securing your future business.

Most airlines at this time started out as small operations and grew into regional carriers. Some of these regional carriers grew into national carriers, with networks across the country, all connected by a backbone of a few connecting routes. Any Joe Millionaire could start his own airline, as long as he was willing to fly where the government said he could.

Then 1978 and the Airline Deregulation Act happened. These long time controls were removed,and airlines now had the freedom to fly any route they cared to, for any price they thought passengers were willing to pay.

New start-up airlines exploded all over the map. Expansion and market penetration was on the minds of every airline executive. Every major airline now had to compete under a vastly different set of rules.

Some start ups clawed their way into markets, others flopped because of bad business plans. Many disappeared into the major airlines of the time through buy-outs, mergers, and consolidation over the last thirty years.

Hey, wake up! History lesson is over. Still with me? Good.

Now, you're asking yourself "What is this idiot talking about? What has this got to do with the publishing world?"

Big publishing has long acted like the government, "regulating" who would be published and what they could be paid. This went on for decades, over a century.

Then came the three-headed monster of The Digital Revolution, Social Media, and the Indie Publisher Explosion.

The Digital Revolution gave birth to a new form of publishing for authors, the ebook. Social Media allowed authors to create networks of followers (potential customers). And Indie Publishing allowed authors the freedom to write whichever book they wished, regardless of 'market trends' and demand- if it is written, it will find an audience. Authors could now write, publish, promote and sell their own books for their own prices, without an agent or a publishing contract.

In short, authors can now be their own airlines in the deregulated era.

It's a chaotic, turbulent time for the publishing industry. Times are changing, technology is changing by leaps and bounds, and publishing is changing.

Is it now still necessary to have Big Publishing involved to be a successful author? Not always. Authors have long had print and then ebooks available from their websites, basically a parallel to the versions offered by their publishers. Now some authors are taking the leap and going without Big Publishing.

J.K. Rowling is going it alone. She has started Pottermore, the portal for all things Harry Potter, including the soon to be released ebook versions. How will her sales numbers turn out? It's entirely too early to tell, but any author with the smarts to grab on to the situation can have their own success without Big Pub behind them. Heck, 99.995% of authors with Big Pub backing don't turn out her numbers.

Are agents and editors now lining up at the unemployment office because of the revolution? Not hardly. New publishing houses, literary agencies, and editing services are growing in this new age. The opportunities are out there. Authors can literally pick and chose the best fit for themselves. Big publishing, specialized small publishing, or inde, each is a viable path to success.

What does this mean for authors now? Big Publishing hasn't gone anywhere, but it is in a state of change. The competition has increased no matter which route to publication today's author chooses. The author now has to work harder, be smarter about their business, and promote themselves more than ever to build brand recognition.

The workload has gone up, but the skies are now literally the limit.

Where would you like to fly to?
Comments welcome.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blog Lessons and ROW80 Check In

30 days into blogging and I see a couple of points that are starting to become obvious.

  • No matter what time of day or night you post a link on twitter. you're going to get some hits on it. Hits yes, but very few (if any) comments. This leads me to believe that mostly I'm being read by bots. This would also explain why I've gotten so many one-off views from foreign countries.

  • I can't compare my blog to others. My blog is mostly personal and boring, and I know this. Still, it's having some kind of online presence, a platform. That's what publishers and agents want to see, right?

  • I don't have enough interaction with my human viewers. I'm not sure if it's the site design, some option I don't have checked, or if I'm just that boring with my posts (likely!). It's something I need to work on.

  • The other thing I know is that this post is over and I can go have breakfast!

* * *

ROW 80 Check In:

9 days in, 9 daily goals exceeded. I'm getting writing done every day, but I'm finding that most of these goals are being met just under the wire! I seem to write better/more consistently at night than I do during the day. This makes it a challenge when you haven't written all day and it's 10:30pm, and you still have 750 words to meet your goal. May not sound like much to some, but I type slow. Word goal for every day this week is 750. Until Sunday's check in then.

Comments always welcome. (hint hint!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Six Pack Book Review

I decided to do a book review for today's post. I mention books as one of the topics I'm likely to talk about in my tag line, but I haven't really do so yet. Lots of writers/bloggers do book reviews. But, I thought, why just review *A* book? Why not review my favorite books for the first half of the year?

What are my criteria? Well first, I had to read the book between January 1st and July 4th. Second, I only picked books that I rated as five stars on Goodreads. If you haven't tried Goodreads before, I've found it a fabulous resource to track the books I've read.
So, armed with those two ironclad criteria, here is my first bi-annual "1/2 year Book Review".

At the Queen's Command by Mike Stackpole (@MikeStackpole)
Format: Print
Available: (Print and Kindle) (Print and NOOK)

What would Colonial America have been like with magic, and dragons? This is a book for any fan of fantasy, colonial history or just a good read! The quickest way to describe this book is The Last Of The Mohicans meets The Lord Of The Rings. Stackpole has a love of colonial history, and it shines through brightly in the foundation and attention to detail in the book. It was fun to read the book, following the heroes through the wilderness and try to puzzle out which parts of real world New England and Canada the action takes place in.

Format: Print
Available: Amazon (Print and Kindle, Kindle UK) (NOOK) Apple iBook Sony E-Reader Kobo Diesel EBooks Smashwords

This book was a hoot from start to finish. Adam is an immortal who's just trying to get through life. Staying drunk for large chunks of it is his plan. But when you've lived as long as he has (and as many places!) you make a few friends and more than a few enemies. That's when his life gets complicated. Doucette fills this book with loads of humor and well written flashbacks into Adams past. I blasted through this book in a little more than a day. It's a quick reading page-turner that left me giggling in stitches the entire time.

American On Purpose: The Improbably Adventures Of An Unlikely Patriot 
by Craig Ferguson (@craigyferg)
Format: Print
Available: Amazon (Print and Kindle) BN (Print and NOOK)

I read this book and the immediate question came to mind: How the #$%& did this man live past the age of 17?! I love "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson". Over the years he's given us peeks and stories from his life on his talk show. Now, the autobiography of a former blackout drunk gives us the stories that the CBS censors wouldn't let him tell on air. I howled out loud reading this book. WARNING: There is some graphic subject matter covered in this book, and it's not entirely safe for the faint of heart.

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
Format: Print
Available: Amazon (Print and Kindle) BN (Print and NOOK)

This book fairly reminded me of Firefly. If you're into a misfit crew thrown together by fate or circumstance, each one with his or her own secrets to hide, this book will be right up your alley. The further you read into the book, more and more of each crew-member's story becomes exposed and tangled together. If there were one thing I would have included in the book would be a map of the world. Given that this is a story about a crew of airship pirates, a navigation chart would have been a nice touch. The good news is there is a sequel already. I can't wait to get hold of that book to continue the adventures of the Ketty Jay and her crew.

Dead Barchetta by Kathryn Lively
Format: Ebook (Kindle)
Available: Smashwords Amazon (Print and Kindle) BN (Print and NOOK)

I saw this title on a list of books in a blog tour for the Troops over Memorial Day Weekend. the first thing that I thought on seeing the title was "That looks like a Rush parody title." I am a huge Rush fan, so examined the book blog further. I am *so* glad I did. What I found was a mystery thriller written by a Rush fan for Rush fans. Hero Matt "Lerxst" Johnston plays guitar in a tribute band that specializes in Rush and Grateful Dead songs. This book is packed with sly references to both bands. The story sucked me in rapidly; Lively writes a lot of humor into the story, and enough plot twists to keep you guessing right up to the last pages.

Format: Ebook (Kindle)
Available: Smashwords Amazon (Kindle)

This was a type of book not in my normal routine. In fact, I'm not sure how I would classify it: Action-Romance? Chick-lit-Thriller? Gervasio herself calls it Contemporary Romance, so that's what I'll go with. Again, outside of my norm. The characters were well done, and completely believable as three-dimensional people. Anna "Nemesis" Mussolini is an Italian Mafia Princess bartender who can sling drinks and snark with equal ease. She's been burned too many times by love and has given up on men. Then she realizes that she has the hots for the boss she's worked a year for, and does he have the hots for her too? Don't come to this book expecting some shy, retiring violet for a heroine. Nemesis is a thoroughly modern woman who can go toe to toe and shot for shot with anyone. Gervasio did an excellent job with the details in this book, I could see everything happening before me. Listen up, Hollywood. Nemesis would make a great movie. And the best part is, this is only book one of the Kick-ass Girls Club. I can't wait to see what Nemesis and the other girls in this club get up to.

There's six book reviews for the price of one. Where else are you going to find such a deal in today's economy? Check them out, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Nothings and ROW80 Check in

So, it's Sunday today. I've got nothing profound or prophetic to say today. So sorry to disappoint you all.

Here's a few tidbits to tide you over until I come up with witty.

NYT's bestseller James Rollins tweeted my Friday post to his 15,000+ followers on twitter. This paltry, little, nothing rag of a blog. To say I was surprised and shocked doesn't cover it! Thank you sir, big shout out to you!

Speaking of Friday's post, I'm thinking about taking one of those random thoughts I shared and making a full entry on the subject. I need to do some research and hammer down all the nails first. Keep watching for it.

* * *

My Round Of Words 80 Sunday check in:
I've hit my goals for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. In fact, I've exceeded my daily goal (500 words) every day so far for this challenge. some days as by as little as 6 words, and by as many as 402 for last night! This last is encouraging, because on Monday the goal jumps from 500 to 750/daily.

I'm already seeing that what I've written this week is going to need massive editing/rewrites/details filled in. I have a vague idea of what the scenes should be and how they fit into the story, but I'm mostly pantsing them right now. What the heck, it's a first draft right?

Pantsing won't cut it next week with longer word goals. I need something a little more concrete to build on. I want to map out a route for the week this afternoon.

Comments always welcome.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Brain Drippings De Jour

The blog finally lives up (or down) to it's name. Very random posting today. You've been warned. If you bailed out now, no one could blame you. Certainly not me.

Still there? Good. Buckle up, and return your seat backs and tray tables to their full, upright and locked position. It's about to get weird.

There's a parallel to be drawn between the current state of the publishing world's digital revolution and the airline industry. For decades, the airlines were told what routes they could fly, and for what price. When the airlines deregulated in the late 1970s, it became a free-for-all. Airlines could fly wherever they wished for whatever price they thought customers would be willing to pay. Airlines that learned to adapt their business model to this new 'freedom' survived. Those that didn't disappeared. After deregulation, there were a slew of start-up airlines, anyone with enough money could have his own airline.

Today, many writers are pushing out into new territory (e-books) with the same independent spirit of start up airlines. They aren't locking themselves into the traditional publishing routes of Big Publishing Houses and doing it themselves, through small indie publishers or releasing e-books thru their own websites. J.K. Rowling just announced that she's going at it on her own, with her own portal for the Harry Potter E-books. Today's indie authors are building networks of followers/readers/customers through social media.

The digital revolution. It's the new way to fly.

Irony Defined:
"Captain America" movie promotion appearing on Canada Dry Ginger Ale products. It's not Captain North America. He's red, white, and blue - there's no Maple Leaf in there.

Writing is to building as editing is to... auto-body repair?
Yesterday a friend lamented the differences between writing and editing. Writing is a creative high, while editing? Let's face it, you're just fixing a car wreck.

Team Work:
There is no "I" in TEAM. However, looked at the right way, half of the team is ME. Think about that one. ;)

Commitment To A Project:
I'm always starting things and never...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ROW80 Update 1

ROW80-3 Goal Update 1 - July 6, 2011

Day 1: Goal 500 Wrote 839
  • Hit my ROW goal for the day, but fell short of my daily goal of 1K each for the year.
Day 2: Goal 500 Wrote 543
  • See above, but missed daily goal by a wide margin. Need to do better on that.

(This is the first one of these I've done. If anyone has suggestions for making this less BORING of a goal update, let me know.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Round Of Words In 80 Days Goals

ROW80 is new to me. I've never tried it before, but I'm going to give it a shot. I've been woefully under-productive this year. So, I'm going to ambitious with my goals, and I need some or more of you to keep me accountable.

My goals are many:
  • A progressive daily word goal- 500/day the first week, 750/day the next, 1000/day the third week of July and 1250/day the last week of July. August starts at 1000/day and progresses to 1750/day the last week. And for the rest of the challenge, I am aiming for a goal of 1500/day. An extra 250 words/day jump isn't big, but it adds up over time. I need to get better about being productive on a regular, daily basis. I can spew words out for NaNoWriMo, but the rest of the year, my productivity nose-dives. ROW80 may be the impetus I need to break that habit.
  • Finish the full first drafts of at least two novels. I have too many projects that are languishing in the 50-60K area that are unfinished, lacking only 30-40K to be complete. This has to end.
  • Fight the Curse of the Brand New Shiny. I CAN NOT write on anything new during ROW80-3. I can make notes, jot down character ideas, plot points, and the like, but I can not write a single word on a new shiny idea until Sept 23rd. (This is a hard one and is going to suck; I have ideas for 3 new novels in my head)
  • Start the editing/revisions on one of those finished novels.
Can I really make these goals? We'll see.