Friday, July 1, 2022

July 2022 News

Last month I wanted to come here today and report another record month for Lake Hartwell Kayak. Well here I am, doing it. June was a record month. 

Yaks


It's a funny industry - kayak rental and delivery. You might have a span of days where you drive ~500 miles, dropping off and picking up 20 kayaks. Then you have 3 dry days and you start second guessing every life choice you've ever made, sure that your business will crash and burn tomorrow. Maybe that's the tourism industry in general.

I'll tell ya how I expend my energy and thoughts while not directly working on kayaks or driving: I analyze data. All the data. Rentals, purchases, locations. I try to make operating expenses cost less money and time. Try to make the income more often and higher. At first I was only rocking an Excel sheet for data analyzing but it got too complicated and error-prone. I needed a database. 

For a long time I've wanted an excuse to learn SQL. This is a perfect one. I want to generate reports, determine our busiest days, slowest days, busiest areas by city or zip, slowest areas, rental behavior of campers and of airbnbers, etc. 

Learning SQL will also help eventually with..

Schala

.. the dynamic environment simulator engine. What better way to store and reference and update a thousand living objects? Or a thousand thousand. SQL obviously. 

Writing

Last month I also hoped to return here and report that V&V is complete. I can't do that, unfortunately. Mr. Jarrold began his read through on April 19th and is still at it. I'm not complaining. There's enough going on and as soon as he's done with his part, it will be time to chisel at that manuscript again (not to mention pay him my other leg). 

Regarding V&V, I think I'm changing the name. V&V should be the name of the series. I want to focus the names of book 1 and 2 on something more story-specific. On what exactly? I have no idea. Why do books need names by god?

Next month

Will I report another record month? The completion of the book? Time will tell. 

See you then

dtl

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

June 2022 News

Happy June to you. This month's most poignant updates are on the yakkery. Long story short: It's going quite well.

Kayaks

May 2022 marks Lake Hartwell Kayak Rental and Delivery's 1-year anniversary. 

our very first waiver, written on a McD's bag

In May of 2021 we did a total of one rental and made $90 income (not to be confused with profit). Since then we've made some improvements. I won't bore you with the details but in May of 2022 we made almost $3,000 income. It was our best month by a thousand dollars. As my buddy Peter would say, "Yippy kayak mother****er!"

I'm excited, but also nervous. We're venturing into uncharted waters. This business will sink or swim based on decisions made exclusively by us. Storms will come along to try and steer us off course. Worst of all: I may run out of water metaphors.

Writing

Edits are still underway for book 1. Meanwhile book 2 is coming together. I'm drafting and compiling the notes I've been collecting. I think all told it's about 30k words worth out outlines, quotes, notes, etc. 

Captain Jeret leading Promontory soldiers
art by Felix Ortiz

It's kind of intimidating to write the follow up to this novel. Book 1 is 285k words, epic, and was written during unusual circumstances. Book 2 promises to have more epic scenes, more tragedy, more magic and monsters and weather-manipulating monks. 

"But," said that wee inner voice, "What if I can't deliver?"  

I suppose that same question can be asked by anyone, at any time, about any endeavor, including making lunch for the kids or going to work. Well, I have to at least try.

Zeal

The Kingdom of Zeal is coming along. Most of the trickier parts--fountains, hoses, filtration, draining--are done, or at least plotted. Some might argue that the truly tricker parts will entail a non-biologist plebian maintaining a living, closed environment with as few extinction events as possible. 

Zeal in progress
(it doesn't look like much, I know)

Don't worry, I'll start small. Plants, moss, algae. Once it is thriving, we'll see about adding more mobile heterotrophs.

Watching

I love and hate finding good shows. They tend to inhale me and prevent me doing anything besides vegetating until they've run their course with my attention and emotions. Thanks, Ozark.

The latest season of Love Death + Robots did that and more. It inspired me. There's so much imagination going on in those short episodes. I highly recommend it. It's like Black Mirror, but more sci fi, more violent, and animated.

Next Month

My hopes for next month are that I'll be reporting Hartwell Kayak's most successful month again, and announcing the completion of V&V Book 1.

I'll see you then

dtl


Monday, May 2, 2022

May 2022 News

Welcome to News. News you can use, no less. For what is up to you. tp?

Reading / Writing

I messed up and read the 1975 historical fiction Shōgun by James Clavell. Amazing book. Loosely based on and inspired by actual English navigator William Adams aka Miura Anjin and James Clavell's own adventures as a WWII prisoner of war in Japan and Singapore. I say I messed up because it makes my own work look pitiful in comparison. 


I loved it. Strong and varied characters. Gripping, if wandering, plot. Authentic world-building (but is it world-building if it's historical fiction?). A guy Wikipedia quotes called Shōgun "a virtual encyclopedia of Japanese history and culture; somewhere among those half-million words, one can find a brief description of virtually everything one wanted to know about Japan."
I'd only modify that to say "... about 1600s Japan."

If I had a nit pick it would be the usual for classics of that era: Pacing. There are parts that could have been tightened up and parts that could have been better expounded on. 

Critique aside, Shōgun has done the evil deed of making me highly critical of my own work in progress. I think this was inevitable though. It doesn't matter how much I love the book I'm writing, if I sit on it too long my contentedness erodes. It needs to be freed. I'm making progress on that. Final developmental edits are done and I've given the manuscript back to John Jarrold for his perusal. After he's done his finishing touches I'll approach a line editor. Hopefully by that time the band will have made me some more dollars, because it ain't cheap to outsource edits on an eight hundred page book. 

Lastly on writing, I figured that while John's holding the manuscript ransom and it doesn't behoove me to chip at it, I should start the next book. It had been a while since I simply wrote, particularly first draft / paving the road writing, so I was worried it might be hard or even insurmountable to write the 285,000 word sequel. But I opened a document and had a thousand words down in less than an hour. This is promising. 

Kayaks

The business is up and running. If you're reading this, I need you to go like/follow my Facebook and Instagram pages, please! The more the merrier. Who knows, I might just convince you to rent a yak. 

Made some progress on the automated booking feature of the website. It's brand new and needing feedback. If you have the time/means, look at it (on our webpage), try to book a yak and tell me how it could improve.

The Kingdom of Zeal

You know, the ol' paludarium. I've progressed this a bit - building the structure that will house the pumps for the creek / waterfall. Here comes a pic to tide us over. I don't share a lot of pictures because I know how "work in progress" this is, and how the potential is not self-evident. 

Pictured: Pump housing disguised by lava rocks, with four pumps circulating water

Gaming


Oh uncle Davey, it's been a while since Gaming made an appearance!
That's because it's been a while since a game impressed on me. Then came Elden Ring. 

Picture courtesy of the Guardian.

I'm sure everything of value has already been said elsewhere and more betterly than I can. I'll just focus on what I love. The world is epic. Monstrous things of all shapes and sizes are around every corner, and each is more violent and/or disturbing than the last. The setting is incredibly unique and varied throughout. You might find a cave opening in the corner of unassuming ruins in the middle of nowhere that leads to the most mesmerizing game environment you've ever seen. Firstborne was playing over the weekend. He got to a new area and said "I've said this like twelve times surely, but this might be the coolest place I've found so far."

The game gives you ultimate freedom to explore wherever you want, ignoring whatever main quest there is as you please. This means you can just as easily wander into low-level goblins (who can still murder you if you take them lightly) as a dragon that could one-shot you even if your level was doubled. It really raises the stakes of exploration, while making it worthwhile with the items and experience you gain doing so.

I won't call it perfect, but it has been a long time since I played so immersive a game.

Next month

Yak biz will be in full swing. We might even have a new webpage by then. I'd imagine edits will be back from John, and I'll either be applying fixes or have handed it off to a line editor. P'raps Zeal will be full of life. 

I'll see you then

dtl


Friday, April 1, 2022

April 2022 News

There's a single thing this month's post is going to focus on and that's

Lake Hartwell Kayak Rental and Delivery. 

(image for those of you who can't read text)

I want you to follow our page on FB - https://www.facebook.com/lakehartwellkayak

I want you to also follow our page on IG - https://www.instagram.com/lakehartwellkayak/

Even if you've got yaks already, follow us. I'll post pictures that make you hate your job, just like you like it. 

Hey, what's that new thing in the corner? you desktop people might be asking. (Sorry mobilers)

oh you mean this?

That's a link to our website, you sweet child. Currently it only holds our rental rates and the means by which to reserve your yak (my burner number and our email address) but anticipate epic upgrades forthwith!

Also in news

Yesterday was my last day at my full time job. I walked out the door despite girthy monthly bills demanding my coin so I can heave all my tremendous effort into the yak industry, which is known for being cut throat and corrupt. April Fool's. It's chill and enviable. I mean look at this freakin picture:

Myself, Wild Jax (rip), Boyo

But David what about...

...that book you've been writing?

Still in the works baby. You'd be surprised how much more writing I can accomplish when I'm not dedicating 45 hours of my work to saying 'Have you tried restarting your computer?'

...that paludarium you were building?

See above answer. I've actually made progress on the kingdom of Zeal, but amn't dropping a photo here because this is a yak post, fool.

...that dynamic environment simulator engine called Schala you promised?

See above! My quitation results in everyone winning! ... Except the IT department I left behind who might be starting to feel the deep agony of my departure (if nothing else, because I had the filthiest banter in the group chat).

Next Month

Expect to see me on the curb with a cup begging for your change, unless by some stroke of fortune kayaks are fun in which case look for me on the cover of Forbes. There's no in between.

I planned to be done with editing by now, but the day job was gripping my final minutes there like some desperate ex. Soon? I hope.

I'll see you then

dtl



Monday, March 7, 2022

10 Year Anniversary

I just noticed the 10 year anniversary of this blog is upon us. Figured I'd look back on the blog's origins and see where I was. See what's changed, what's the same.

First off, a picture guarantees higher views so let's knock out the me 10 years ago vs today bit:

Exploring the woods of the Sandbar with sunglasses I bought on honeymoon
in the Dominican Republic. Jax the dog was surely with me (RIP).
And I bet I turned this day into a short story.

a month ago

Right. I'ma just post my very first blog and react to it in bits. (Original post here)
Bolded, smaller text is the original, posted March 2nd 2012. All else is my reaction.

I am one hundred percent new to blogging.  This is partly because I've never felt I had anything worthy of being heard to say and partly because it has no immediate return on investment for me. (I am a simple person)
However, with the rise of social networks, let's face it; we're all bloggers to some degree, albeit some more detailed than others.

I'm no longer new to blogging, but I have solved the dilemma of believing I have nothing to say worthy of being heard: I don't care! I post for future me.
'No immediate return on investment' still rings true. What's the point of this post? Nothing really other than to document one slice of one moment in time. I do value that. Things change a lot. When I wrote the above, chances are I didn't know that ten years down the road I'd be a bereaved parent nearing the far side of a global pandemic. 
Lastly, I'd say that we're more bloggers (aka micro-historians) now than we were then, but now also vloggers and streamers, etc.

My main motivation to blog (I really do hate that word... and twit... seriously) is to post news and status updates of my writing.  I am currently in the wild throes of writing my first fantasy novel (based in a new and as yet unheard of world) and it is a learning experience to say the least.  I am hesitant to write anything specific, including words, names, events, histories, etc. so therefore, I'm not very sure exactly what it is I will write... I guess only time can tell.

I'm over my aversion to blog. Twit is still stupid. Then again, I'm not sure it was ever a term.
Little did I know this blog would become my definitive 'news and updates' solution.
I'm now in the wild throes of writing my second fantasy novel, based in the same world as the first - Silexare.
It's adorable to look back at my overprotective nature about revealing writing specifics. I know some part of me is like "this is subject to change" and that is a valid reason not to discuss details. But a larger part was fiercely (naively) protective of my own ideas, as if an idea without work is worth a half a hill of steaming shit.

It would still be three years from that post until I eventually published A Sawmill's Hope. I hope it's not another three before I publish V&V.

As I log more, you may notice a subtle (and by subtle I mean extreme) inconsistency in my writing style.  To be clear, this happens as my mood shifts and flares... In my finished work, I have means of solidifying a style and I intend to administer said means effectively.

Accurate prediction, I'd say. And with lots and lots of time, my writing has gotten more consistent despite mood shifts and flares. My novel-writing style is still a work in progress and hopefully it always will be.
But I have no idea what that last sentence was referring to. More naivety, doubtless.

So, concerning my current project...

So far it is a tale of several fellows who set out from their homeland to search for a ___.  Actually so far it is a story of a young man who seeks to save his family's business and possibly gain some sort of acceptance from his mildly disappointed father...  Actually so far it is just some guys wandering around in the woods.  

Another thing that hasn't changed since then: I'm absolutely horrendous at succinctly pitching my books.

I have had to take a break in the actual writing, however, to learn everything I can about alchemy.  When I tell this to people and they ask me, "What is alchemy?" I find that my wildly uneducated response has changed depressingly little despite the hours and days of research I've put into the subject.  This is mainly because alchemy, for its purposes in the book, will have its own definition, history and uses; all based loosely on my studies of alchemy's true, shady history.
That said, after compiling all my notes down from over a hundred pages to a single MS excel document (an annoying habit I have) I think I'm ready to continue writing.

We shall see.

Here's a thing I've improved. I am more able to recognize and differentiate productive writing time from other things. I studied alchemy for months. I'm still infatuated with the topic. But it wasn't at all necessary. In the chapters in question I could have written [they do alchemy stuff] and moved on in the draft. Then on second draft, I could have expounded. As it was, I stopped writing for like two months and when I returned to write out the scene I was overburdened with concepts I found cool, but that didn't add to the story.

Please note: I have never aspired to be a great author... only to create.  The ability to tell stories began as a child when I discovered that fiction was far less incriminating than fact.

That part hasn't changed at all. I don't aspire to be a great author. I do aspire to create, and whatever quantity of ideas and plans and inspirations I experienced ten years ago have only multiplied since then. I've learned to create outlets for my ideas and those outlets aren't always going to be books. If I get the ideas out, more spawn. In themselves, ideas are cheap. I shouldn't treat them like gold nuggets. 

Don't get me wrong. My manuscript in progress is (against all odds) still my very favorite fantasy novel to read. Editing it is challenging every single time because I just want to read it and experience the story again and again. I don't mean any of that in a narcissistic way. Writing and reading V&V is therapy. It's also a collection of people, places, and things I find awesome. I believe the world's population is large and diverse enough that, by great coincidence, someone else will inevitably feel the same way. 

If you asked me to pitch the story in a sentence, here goes:
V&V is a gritty epic fantasy that explores how grief transforms us, for better and worse.

Let's meet back here in 10 years. Compare again.

see you then

dtl