Wednesday, February 1, 2023

February 2023 News

Happy February.

Writing

Copy editor Lee Burton has completed his first pass and returned his notes, the marked up document, and a style sheet (which is really exciting to me for some reason). 

I'm loving his work. The idea that the grammar in my book can be consistent from beginning to end is ... it's too alien a concept for me to even imagine. 

Can I share some of his words with you? They're very flattering. He said,

"As I related, I quite enjoyed the piece, and said I’d try to make a point to illustrate in what ways I enjoyed the piece. But even now I find myself falling short in being able to do that at a functional level, because, frankly, the book works, and all its elements are tied together in such a way that everything complements each other. It’s difficult to point to one thing and say I liked this, as everything is part of a unique, competent whole. You have a diverse range of characters, all with their own interesting motivations and character arcs. You have an interweaving plot that never gets dull or lingers. You have an intricate backstory for the world that contributes to the present. You have an intriguing promise of a future that draws the reader through the story. Obviously, a lot of work has gone into your worldbuilding, and in such a way that it’s apparent that each element is not separate from itself but interrelates and connects with the other elements of the story—ie: the story is not happening against a still, placid, incidental backdrop, it’s taking place in a natural, living, breathing ecosystem with an interesting political past, present, and future unfolding for the characters within it. The world works. The book works. I think it is a good book, and I was glad to be reading it and working on it."

I think I'm putting that on the spine of the book. Trust me, there's room.

Kayaks

We had a canoe rental this week. If my records are accurate, (they are. In fact, they're immaculate) this is a first for January. *cue celebration*

We're looking into expanding onto Lake Russell but not exactly as we do in Hartwell. Russell doesn't have residential docks, so delivery isn't as feasible. That said, something is in the works and I'll tell you more as it's confirmed. Just know that I'm stoked.

The Kingdom of Zeal

I recently cleaned it up a bit. Clipped the old dead or dying leaves from the plants. Replaced the 'mechanical filter' (sponge). Cleaned the pump tank and got them all working nicely. While doing that I had to turn off the water flow, and when I did that I observed several fresh water snails living in the creek bed. I'd not noticed them before, but they seem to be doing well.

I need a better close-up camera

Zeal doesn't experience rapid change, at least during the winter, so I won't drop a pile of pics here. But follow me on Instagram if you want to see some recents. I just made a post last Friday.

Next Month

Hopefully there's more to say on the interview podcast I mentioned in passing last month. I want to get that cracking. The goal or theme of the podcast is clarifying in my mind, gradually. I think I want to focus on work, occupations, fulfillment, and the lack thereof. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

January 2023 News

Welcome to 2023. Indulge me for a moment. Let's do a 'best of'. 

I don't like "What's your favorite ...?" questions because tastes shift and time passes and nothing that's my favorite today will necessarily be my favorite tomorrow. Also, I couldn't possibly recall all the games, shows, books, films I ingested since this time 365.25 days ago. That's a lot of of days.
But for the sake of the turning of the year, here are some objects of media that stood out to me as out standing in the year 2022. I'll wrap up with the state of the book and business. 

Favorite Game:

image courtesy of GamesRadar.com

Elden Ring. Without a close second. Exploring this world was amazing. Hours melted while I roamed the Lands Between. The enemies are monstrous and the combat is stylish. If you die, which you will, chances are it's your own fault. 

Runner up: Skyrim. Yes, I'm playing it again. I got Boyo (11) playing it and he loves it too. As it should be.

Favorite Book:

image courtesy of amazon

This is a tough one, but I bet it's Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Uplifted spiders who eventually take over a planet and reach low orbit (and beyond?) with their webs and constructs. Craziness I tell you. Adrian seems to come up with a wild concept (or perhaps even a pitch), then reverse engineer it. Genius. And his eyebrows? Possibly the best in the business.

Runner up: The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell. Also, I don't remember if it was 2022 in which I read Shogun but it's definitely up there as well. 

Favorite Movie:

image courtesy of koimoi.com

Gonna ask me that right now? On the wake of seeing Avatar 2 a couple days ago? Avatar 2. I think effective world-building, or at least convincing enough to serve the story, is my kryptonite. Impressive choreography in asymmetric warfare is a plus, too, and Avatar 2 crushes that.
A sentient alien whale getting vengeance on technologically advanced whalers? Yes please. 

Favorite Show:

Not gonna lie, I've largely burnt out on Disney (which includes anything under their umbrella). Marvel, Star Wars, even Willow. I don't think they're putting their remixes and remakes and reboots into capable hands, or else surely I'd recall at least one of their recent productions. I can't. Ando seemed like it would be good and I've heard great things. I got 2 episodes watched and enjoyed them. But I couldn't justify one worthwhile show toeing the entire Disney+ bill so I didn't finish it. 

Watched Rings of Power and as a lot of folks have already said more eloquently, Galadriel is a toe. What's she got going for her?
Agency? Sure. She knows what she wants and she's going to go get it.
Motive? "Because I have to." That's garbage.
Relatability? Not really. She wants to war and that's what she's going to do, no matter what. *Yawn*
A character arc? Debatable. If anything, she gets dumber over the season. She never learns from her mistakes. When the time comes to do the deed she's been attempting to do for thousands of years she flops utterly. Doesn't just fail but fails embarrassingly. Will she learn from that? Unsure, but honestly it's kind of too late. I don't like her. 

image courtesy of HBO

Watched House of the Dragon, and I guess if I have to pick a favorite, it's it. Miles better than Rings of Power, but I hate comparing the two because they serve different audiences. As expected with Game of Thrones content, each character has their own motives and will do what they must to see those met. These characters aren't portrayed as immaculate and when they inevitably make mistakes, they pay for them.

House of the Dragon was such a hook for me that I watched the entirety of Game of Thrones again after finishing it. The flu helped buy me time to achieve that. 

I'll tell ya this though: They shouldn't have used GoT's intro theme fpr HotD. Get a new one for f's sake. I think we've heard GoT enough times, and reusing it suggests a void of new ideas. 

Favorite Band / Musician / Composer:

Hitoshi Sakimoto is my favorite composer at this moment and he has been for a while.

The Prodigy is possibly my favorite band at this moment.

None of this is necessarily unique to 2022 but now you know.

Kayaks

Would you believe that we haven't rented out a kayak in weeks? I already told our guests that temperature is just a number. Unsure what they're waiting for. Ice to melt?

image courtesy of me

As far as year review, this one's been great. 2021 business numbers suggested that I'd be safe quitting my day job in IT to pursue this full time. So I quit my job in the spring (but stayed on part-time as I was needed) and put a lot of effort into the kayak biz. Does it pay as well as the day job? No. As great as it did, it didn't pay half as much as the old day job did. Luckily I have a beautiful and industrious wife who believes in me and our business and can carry us during lulls. 

All in all,
Judging this as a business, it's done and is doing great.
Judging it as just another endeavor of mine, it's doing miraculously good. I've spent a lot of time and effort on far less successful endeavors and some of those have almost killed me. 

Kingdom of Zeal


It's so hard to get a good pic of Zeal

I believe that's Bertha, but it could be Ariel

The glass prison thrives. Since it's in my garage the flora and fauna don't feel the cruel bite of winter. Greenery is growing. Minnows are minnowing. As the greenery thickens, it should create the resources for more land-based creatures. Like a frog. 

Writing

Here's the meat 'n taters, as far as I'm concerned. 
painting courtesy of Felix Ortiz
I'm not ready for a cover reveal so until then 
his stylish portrayal of Basalt Kale and Irdessa the Undying will hold the place

We're getting close to release, fam. March maybe? 

Brace yourself for shameless name-dropping.

John Jarrold's developmental edits are complete. In late November copy edits began with Lee Burton. He mentioned getting them finished by the new year, and while I'm stoked for that, I told him not to sacrifice personal time or leisure time on my project. Work shouldn't come above sanity or health, ever. Anyway, once he's done I'll go through his changes (quicker than dev edits, surely) then it's on to cover finalization and type setting and arranging this beefer for ebook, print book, audio book. 

Felix Ortiz is my cover artist, and he nailed it as far as I'm concerned. I'll be hitting up Shawn T King again for the cover text (and whatever else I can commission from him). I reached out to him already but truth be told, I jumped the gun. Wasn't 100% committed to my title at the time and may have come off wishy washy. Hopefully I didn't spoil potential business with him because his work is impeccable.  

Next Month

Among other things, we'll be closer to publishing. 

Oh, also, I want to start a podcast where I interview random people. Riveting, I know. Unsure exactly what's driving me to do this but I can't shake it. 

See you then

dtl

Thursday, December 1, 2022

December 2022 News

Happy December. Please forgive this post's brevity. I'm trying to shake a cold but it's shaking me. 

Writing

The most crucial thing to report is that copy edits are underway for V&V. Lee Burton of Ocean's Edge Editing has begun his holy work on this behemoth. Join me in wishing him godspeed and a Midas touch. 

You'd think seven years would be plenty of time to settle on a title. Turns out if you're me it's not. Crazy thing is, I know the title of the sequel already. That one's easy. I digress. 

Kayaks

We're in the market for merch. I'd love to have something available before Christmas. Shirts and hats at the least. Time'll tell. Watch LHKRAD's social media for details on that. 

Paludarium

The Kingdom of Zeal thrives. I've named the four minnows, since they've all developed personalities. Of the ladies, we have Ariel and Bertha. One is quite independent. The other gave birth after arriving in Zeal and now runs the pond. Of the fellows, there is Meeno--named by my 4 year old--and Timmy, after the runt from a Christmas Carol. 

Next Month

It's possible that the first pass of copy edits will be done. See you then.

dtl



Wednesday, November 2, 2022

November 2022 News

Happy November, family. 

We camped last month. It was refreshing and well needed. A bit cushy for my minimalist preferences but I'm not complaining. 

food is my priority while camping and we brought a ton

watching slasher flicks in the wood at night

Let's get into it shall we?

Writing

This part'll be quick. Copy edits are due to begin late Nov / early Dec. 

Meanwhile, I've updated chapter headings to have more detail and personality. Some readers might hate the wordiness of these new chapter headings. Personally I love 'em. For the most part, I just snatched a line from the chapter that exemplified the mood. Bonus points if it's ambiguous. This works so well it feels like cheating.
Examples include:

*bear in mind that final edits aren't complete and these may change*

My objective was to give readers a sense of physical location (if you read the book you'll understand why that's helpful), and a glimpse of the point of view character's mindset. 

Paludarium

I've learned that Zeal is either infinitely studyable and entertaining or numbingly boring and pointless, depending on the audience. Some of my friends can't bear to lay their eyes on it, apparently out of fear of spontaneous narcolepsy. Others want details and updates constantly. "How's the oak tree doing?" "Has mama minnow laid her eggs?"  That sorta stuff. 

I find it enthralling, luckily. It is my baby after all. The majority of the life inside has been there for about 1 month, so I began a journal of my observations. Only then did I truly appreciate how much I've learned about these plants, insects, mussels, crawfish, snails, and minnows. 

Today's report for you will focus on the death and life of an apple.

It started as a snack for snails.
They loved it, but continued to wander and graze elsewhere as well.

When the apple core fell over, I noticed new life arising.
(not just the penicillium expansum, aka blue mold, that enveloped the apple.)

The snails love munching certain leaves, and apple seedlings aren't exempt.
I encaged these two young apple trees for their protection.

Zeal started as a way for me to attempt to maintain a somewhat enclosed ecosystem, particularly with the goal of eventually applying some of what I learn to Schala, the digital enclosed ecosystem. Lessons, confirmations, and surprises have abounded on that front. I've grown fond and protective of my collection of invertebrates, flora, and fishes. 

Kayaks

Yakkery diminishes in these cooling months, but it never dies. A couple weekends ago we rented out almost our entire stash to an outdoors club at a local university. 

Gearing up to paddle out

Off they went, never to return.
Just kidding. They returned the next day.

In the coming weeks we have requests from canoeing campers and brave yakkers. 

I pledge to camp on an island before the year is out!

See you next month

dtl

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

October 2022 News

Late post, apologies. I blame holiday and information overload. There's news on all fronts and pictures I want to share and I've been on a break. 

Writing

I've secured a Canadian copy editor (they taste the best) and gotten on his schedule. If all goes well, we'll complete copy edits by February. Sooner, maybe. Then it's a matter of finalizing the cover and setting up the manuscript for ebook and physical print layout. 

Nice! So the blurb or synopsis or maybe a brief description is available? 

Ha. Hahaa. No. Surely there's someone who can devise that for me. I'll pay. 

You're telling me you've been writing this for seven years and you don't know what it's about?

Pretty much, yeah. But that doesn't mean it's about nothing. Just means I'm too close to it. Can't see the forest for the trees, you know?

I guess. So then how do you plan to sell it?

I figured I wouldn't. Just trying to get it written and off my plate so I can get on with my life ffs. 

I'm not feeling very encouraged to read it. 

Would threats help?

Not really. I'm an abstract manifestation of some type of devil's advocate. A product of your insanity. What could you hold over me?

How about crazy pills? I'll start taking them.

No! I'll read it, I promise!

And buy it?

Yes, and buy it.

Sweet. NYT best seller list, here I come. 

Paludarium

The Kingdom of Zeal is alive! 

sure is hard to do it justice with pictures

snail munches apple

minnows cavort

snails roves detritus

mussels lick

I'll tell you some present occupants and their presumed tiers (in general terms). I'm limited to reporting what I've seen. There's surely a pile of objects in there I'm not even aware of. 

T0, detritovores: Snails! A bunch of them. I dropped some detritus in the glass prison for them, and they love it.
Fresh water mussels! Probably 7-10 total. They licked the water, liked it, and promptly buried themselves in the pond floor.
Also got some millipedes and springtails and the occasional cricket.

T1, producers: Moss, river grass, small yard plants, algae, an oak tree. The sphagnum moss I mixed with the soil has sprouted. I didn't know it would do that, but the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. I'm going to bonsai this oak tree. 

T2, consumers: 4 minnows (and I think one's pregnant), 1 juvenile crayfish (he's sneaky. Never know where he is, and I'm not reaching in there to flip over rocks). Some of the larger snails veer into this tier as well. We had a giant leopard moth caterpillar guest, but I think he bailed.  

T3, secondary consumers: None at present, aside from tiny spiders that come and go. Zeal can't support T3s yet.
Zeal does, however, foster local wildlife as opportunities arise. A lizard crashed here for a bit to recover, after surviving a run in with mama kitty. A joro spider came to visit the garage and was introduced to the paludarium. She didn't stick around, but I don't blame her. Their webs are way bigger than this aquarium, and Zeal's not crawling with bugs yet.

To get the T3s cracking, I need more T1s and T2s. For that I can either wait for them to naturally grow or catch some local flora. But it's fall. My options are limited. 

T4, tertiary consumers: The apex predator will arise from this tier. We're definitely not here yet. I expect that a lucky bullfrog might one day fill this role.

Schala

On the subject of home-made, interactive environments, my Firstborne (aka Donavon, graduate of UNG with a degree in Mathematology) has put our pontification and plotting to purpose by fashioning a playable demo of Schala using C++ and higher math, not limited to the Lotka-Volterra equation, which deals specifically with population growth. I'm very lucky he's a genius. Not sure how I'd have progressed elsewise.

I promise, it's way cooler than it looks

He's on version 3 (at least) of a text-based program that allows one to hunt, gather, and travel and observe their effects on an environment of variable size and biodiversity. It's very promising.  

The Yak Bizz

You know what it is. Runnin yaks and taking pictures of the lake from all angles. 

Oh, we got a canoe! Call us now for all your canoeeds. 


Next month

Maybe I'll post on time! See you then

dtl