Thursday, September 1, 2022

September 2022 News

It's cooling off here in South USA. I know some folks look forward to Fall and Winter. Not I. Summer is my favorite. Give me muggy 100 degree days over boots and coats and steaming breath any day. Any day, I tell ya. 

I visited the site of the Guidestones. It's all flat earth now. No sign of the massive monoliths. Just thought I'd share that. 

not even a chunk of granite remaining

Writing

My developmental editor, the inimitable John Jarrold, has finished his work and given his feedback on my edits and his response is overwhelmingly positive. He's made such gold-plated comments as
"This is working better now"
"Ausgan is definitely more interesting"
"Obsydia's dealings with Haik are more understandable"
"these changes add both interest and weight".
I know those words in themselves mean little to you, dear patient reader, but they lift my spirits through the ceiling. 

He's voiced some ideas on how to tweak this big baby book further, to crank more personality out of the characters. I'm considering and applying those forthwith. 

Next is line edits and my dilemma, as I've mentioned, is how to get this stage done quickly and effectively while spending less than a million dollars, by God. I just ran the document through a browser-based manuscript analyzer that promises to fix grammar. It had some hilarious results, and a couple of 'hooks' to try to get me to spend money. 


So much data, and I don't know what it's suggesting. 90% fast paced paragraphs seems like a good thing, though, for an adventure story about monsters, magic, and murder!



I find this one funny. 
AutoCrit, "Adverb count is nice and low. But your Generic Descriptions, as compared to GENERAL FICTION is looking rough. And so is Showing vs Telling. And don't get me started on the loathsome Filler Words!"

me, "That sounds serious. Can you give me more info on that?"

"Yeah, as soon as you pay me."

It's almost as if generating intrigue, rather than ensuring document's wellbeing, is the purpose of the free version of AutoCrit. Hmm.



This one just baffles me. Power Words? Is that a phrase I should recognize? I use 255 forbidden power words? I don't think it means swears because the book has about 240 instances of f*ck alone. There are greedy and lusty power words? 1,470 fear power words?? I'm clueless. 



This report is particularly useless. The book is 3rd person limited, present tense. But if a character remembers a thing, now we're in past. And if a character sees a root that might trip you if you're not careful, now we're emulating 2nd person, future tense. 

Fact is, I'm going to need a human for line editing. I don't trust AI to respect character voice or a fantasy worlds or style. 

Kayaks

With this cooler weather the yak industry is slowing down. It is holding steady for us though, what with the varying school start dates and Fall break schedules of the surrounding areas. 

The fam and some friends had a little yak adventure the other day. We were out exploring an island on the lake and a storm fell on us. We had to take shelter in a cave. Not my beloved though. 

Wifey preferred the fallen tree over the creepy cave

We're gearing up for the Fall and Winter. Planning for different strategies and clientele. Looking into fishing kayaks and canoes.  

Gaming

I'm back into Stardew Valley again. This is a great stress-purging sorta game. I'm making a vineyard, like I do, and maximizing my farm's profit which feels somewhat antithetical to the game's whole point. 

Still playing Elden Ring. It might be my favorite game. I rarely deem a game 'favorite' or even top 5. But this game... It's so good.
I see myself eventually buying one of those thick, official strategy guides. Not to learn to play better but to dig deeper in the lore and the bestiary. 

Next month

Will the book be done? Probably not. But that'd be cool. Then you'd be able to read it. In reality, I'll probably make plans to slather the internet with it, then revert to my usual introvert self and not even mention it's released. 

Time'll tell

dtl


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

August 2022 News

Welcome to the narrow slice of internet wherein I record some doings.

Music

My bandmates and I saw Rage Against the Machine Sunday night. I've wanted to see them forever and it was everything I ever hoped it would be. Here's a couple pics.

da boys

RAGE! Zack hurt his leg and was sitting the entire show.
It's okay. We did all the jumping for him.

A little bit of the ol' F you I won't do what ya tell me

I missed moshing!

To be in their 50s, they've still freakin got it


Lake Hartwell Kayak Rental and Delivery

Would you believe it? Another record month, and this one by a landslide. Thank you thank you, hold your applause until the end please.

I'm always a little hesitant to discuss details of the trade. I prefer it remain mysterious and I make it all seem super easy. Also, the day will come when real competition arrives and it doesn't seem smart to give them a leg up on how to out maneuver us in this industry.

The fact is that competition WILL arrive, it's just a matter of when. And sharing my tips and tricks might indeed improve them. But this isn't necessarily bad for LHKRAD. I believe the lake is big enough for all of us. I also believe the service and prices we offer will be hard to beat. I also believe if a business or service requires monopoly to be worthwhile, then it's not a sustainable business. All that said, here's a bit of behind the scenes.

Improvements and upgrades this month include:

www.hartwellkayak.com

A new website!

My good friend Drew built it and I love it and am still adding to it and I want you to go look at it now. Now. NOW! We're doing a give-away on social media. Go follow us on IG or FB and share that post up top and comment and maybe you'll win $100 toward any rental package. 


The tandem hauler. 

This thing is a life saver. When I get to a location, I have zero expectations of guests helping me haul yaks (but I will not put up a fight if they insist). They paid me. They're on vacation. I'm on the clock. I'll do the work. But there are only so many rocky mountainous terrains I can haul a 70 lb kayak up in 90 degree weather before developing resentment, no matter how many pushups, pullups, and squats I bang out. I know that resentment is the endgame of any and every job but it must be forestalled!

Two life jacket racks (not pictured). Not one, but TWO. Crazy, I know. It's not high-engineering but every little convenience helps.




The double decker truck rack. 

Some of my deliveries take me places that are not at all trailer-friendly, usually because of steep inclines on skinny driveways flanked with decorative stone and no space to turn around. That's not a problem if I can just pop the trailer off, turn it and the truck around, then reconnect. It's not heavy when it's empty. But it's not always empty. And in the spirit of preserving my ancient decrepit bod and preserving myself so as to continue this as long as possible, I can't be manhandling a fully-loaded trailer in the dark and hoping it doesn't slip away from me and careen merrily into a guest's car or their AirBnB or their tent. That would negatively affect our bottom line.

I double-decked the truck and sideline the trailer unless absolutely necessary. 

Things to do before cold season:

Get my hands on some canoes and fishing kayaks. We've had inquiries for both, particularly in colder months.

Things to do beyond that:

Branch out and conquer other lakes. 

Fully eliminate the expense of gas by acquiring an electric vehicle.

Writing

My second novel, codenamed V&V, is first of a two-book series. It's in late stages of developmental edits. I'd love it to be on the market in 2022 and from where I'm sitting, there's no reason it shouldn't be (which is a perfect thing to announce if you want to curse the whole endeavor). 

I'm 2,000 words into the outline of the sequel. I could be further into the actual writing of it but there's a lot fighting for my attention at the moment and I admit I've neglected it. How long will it take me to turn this outline into a novel of comparative size to book 1? A billion years if experience is any indicator.

I mentioned last month that I amn't loving the title anymore. I hate coming up with titles. I suck at it. If I could outsource that, I would. My beta readers offer the most useful feedback on title ideas, them being among the very few who've read the story already and know where it's going. If only they'd just name it for me. 

Next month

I hope to update you on book stuff! 

see you then

dtl

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