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

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

March 2022 News

These always sneak up on me! Here comes a lot of pics & some updates.

February Recap in pics

Camping & caving

Camping in 25ish degrees Fahrenheit was a first for me, and not something I care to do again soon, although by the end I'd pretty much figured out how to conquer the cold. 


we fashioned a clothes line and got mistaken for gypsies.
I wish I was kidding.

Day 1 cave was a casual exploration just off the highway. Quite muddy.

Day 2 we had to scour a mountainside to find the cave entrance.
It honestly reminded me of Indiana Jones;
studying the map, the compass, the topography, the hints.

Entrance 1. It wasn't the 30' drop that stopped us on this one,
it was the waterfall at the bottom.

Entrance 2. Mark and Trevor got deep enough to realize our timing was off.
The tunnel they crawled into was half-submerged in icy water.
Regrettably we had to withdraw.

Entrance 3. Way more accessible than the other two, 
but it only accessed a side quest, not the full cavern.

Good place to stop for lunch though!
The insides of caves hover around 65 degrees F, even in the dead of winter. 
Bear that in mind if, for example, nuclear war sends us back a few thousand years.
Caves might be how the species makes it through.

pictured: Myself and Firstborne
I've never managed to capture the wonder and 
claustrophobia of caves in picture form,
but that doesn't stop me trying.

Acting

Boyo was Dickon in The Secret Garden
It was his first "real" play (including grown-ups)
and he is madly in love with it. I may have a theater child.

Ben Weatherstaff and Dickon Sowerby

Rock show

SoS returned to play at South Hart Brewery.
There's B.Dunc in the setup-process.
The crowd got kind of nuts toward the end, but nothing was broken,
no one was too hurt (or at least we weren't),
and no one ended up in jail (to my knowledge).

Writing

We're closing in on the end of developmental edits. Dev editor John Jarrold (yes, I'll drop that name every chance I get) showed me a lot of "opportunities for improvement" in my story and I've taken the last YEAR to work on them. Yes, it's a long time. The book is 285,000 words which is roughly a thousand pages. Is that too long? I don't know. Probably. I won't make any excuses. On the plus side, I anticipate more writing time in my near future. (that feels like a dangerous thing to announce)

After dev edits come copy edits. My aforementioned band (Something Once Sacred) has some good-paying shows these days so the expenses should hopefully be covered. 

After copy edits I get to figure out how to type-set again. (kill me)

Kayaks



It's almost time to go hard. There's social media pages to build, imagery to upload, ads to create, boats to clean and decal. Fun times. By God I'm looking forward to sunshine, fresh air, and 100+ temperature days.

semi-related:

Job Opportunity

Royston LLC is seeking to hire an IT help desk position for its Royston, GA location. Entry-level with the potential to learn and grow. If you get in on this in time, I'll train you. 

Job's recommended stats: 5-10 years trouble-shooting PCs and anything that can connect to a PC. Yes, anything.
My recommended stats: The ability to confidently approach, communicate with, and get along with literally anyone.

Follow this link to apply: Technician, Help Desk 

Schala & Zeal

It's too cold to progress Zeal and we're too busy to work on Schala prototypes, but that's okay. They're both solid enough endeavors to weather a little neglect, and perhaps even improve in clarity because of some distance.

Next Month

So much uncertainty. I'm not making any promises. Except that I'll see you then.

dtl


Tuesday, February 1, 2022

February 2022 News

So many things are new! Let's stick to the interesting bits. But first, look at these stats. Read it and weep, you illiterates. 

cherishing this before NYT gets their claws on it and spackles it in ads

Editing

I'm making progress! Added backstory for Kraus the Corpse. Cleaned up some [name withheld] and made him less obnoxious, more fun. Added some geography, Sprake lore, foreshadowing. 

There's still work to be done, and that's before I even get going with the copy-editor. 

Frankly, I'm kinda over this do it yourself sh*t and we're not even to the fun part yet. I'm almost willing to forfeit rights to my own IP just to pitch to a trad publisher and let the tedium be their f*cking problem. This takes for f*cking ever and I'm tired of doing it all.
/rant

Schala

My firstborne, who is a math major, has created a functioning Schala engine in Minecraft. Next step for him is to add another variable, thereby exponentially increasing complexity (and the potential for chaos), then doing it again. Meanwhile, the next step for me is to get acquainted with SQL. I need objects. Piles of them, all defined and interacting. 

I'm sorry I explain so little about what we're doing. I know ideas are cheap and they require elbow grease and brain juice to matter, but this one's just too ripe to risk it by spillin the beans.

Have you ever had an idea for an innovation that seemed so freaking obvious, it made no sense for it to not exist yet? Have you ever had such an idea, then found yourself on the stroking sideline as someone else invented/created/developed it and it was blisteringly successful?

If you have, particularly if you've experienced this more than once, you'll understand why I'm so tight-lipped about Schala. She's revolutionary. I understand how little this means to you, my dear reader. I understand how "head in the clouds" and perhaps even narcissistic I sound. All I can say is, watch and see.
If someone creates Schala before I manage to, I won't be surprised. And if they do, I doubt I'll be able to improve on it. (sorta how Google improved Ask Jeeves. Facebook improved MySpace. Spotify allegedly improved the musical suggestions of Pandora)
I believe to achieve Schala's second iteration you'd need a deeper background in neural nets, biology, and machine learning than I have.

Snow in the South?!

I live in Georgia USA, as some of you know. We don't get much snow here so we flip out when it actually sticks. By day 3 it has overstayed its welcome and needs to go back to yankee land.
Anyway, here's pics

Snowin it. Yes that's a skunk hat

Attempted snowman. Who knew they got so heavy?

Front yard. There's a driveway there somewhere

I was trying to catch a snowflake in detail

 
* So sparkly *

Kitty trails!

Deer trails

Rabbit trails

Mucho trails in the woods

Paludarium

Haven't made much progress on the Kingdom of Zeal in the last month. The next steps include puzzling things together using spray foam, silicon, and glue, and this freezing temperature doesn't welcome such activities. 

Next Month

By crikey, we're going camping and caving next weekend. The weekend after that Something Once Sacred has a show at the brewery downtown (which might be my favorite place to play). Maybe I'll get some pictures of some of those activities. Will I be done with dev edits? Time'll tell.

see you then

dtl




Monday, January 3, 2022

January 2022 News

 Happy 2022 to you. Let's get into it, we're late getting started. 

As usual, I took off (day job) the last two weeks of the year. The ol' refresh button for my mental health. You understand. I made a to-do list and was able to smash 9/10s of it. 

Writing (editing as it were)

Over the break I knocked out the last of the character overhauls. What remains in edits are proper introductions and foreshadowing of persons and events, and some general tidying up. 

Assuming I can exercise discipline, development edits should be done in the first quarter of the year. Then I need to find and hire a line editor for a 285,000 word book for less than $3,000. Christ almighty it's almost enough to have me pitch this book to an agent/editor/publisher and put the expense on them. Almost. 

Paludarium

is a word I learned recently. My good friend David Floyd was getting rid of a 60 gallon aquarium. When I saw pictures, it was love at first sight. 

I bought it from him, and have gone through all the hardware that came with it and made a game plan. A paludarium includes a water and terrestrial biome. A hybrid aquarium/terrarium. It doesn't necessarily feature some exotic scorpion or salamander, but it can. What I hope to achieve with mine is low-maintenance ecological balance.

Construction will start with the geology and water flow. Once that's functional and settled, I'll add small plants. Moss, little ferns, whatever. Then decomposers like soil bugs, earthworms. Filters for the water like fresh-water mussels, etc. After that, we'll see what else fits. Crustaceans like woodlice, crayfish. By the spring, my yard is always exploding with sticky little frogs. I'll probably scoop some of those for my glass prison. Maybe a worm snake if one's forthcoming. 


Cleaning the tank

Testing the pumps

One day I found the water in the tank splitting sunlight like a prism

While my abrupt infatuation with a paludarium may seem out of left field, it isn't. It ties directly into Schala, who's been discussed but not yet defined here. She is digital. The glass prison is physical. I want to observe, adjust, and fine-tune a dynamic self-sustaining ecosystem, full of lifeforms native to this area, each complementing one another directly or indirectly. Most of that can also be said of Schala.

While writing this, I've realized the name of the land that will occupy this glass prison is Zeal

 

Lake Hartwell Kayak 

My beloved wife and I launched a kayak rental and delivery business last year and it's exploding, despite that we did no marketing until about a month ago.  

truck all dolled up for the Christmas parade

We've got a bare-bones website that suits its purpose, but I'd like to see expand soon. Have a look. Soon we'll make the Facebook and IG pages public. 

logo courtesy of the one and only Brandon Duncan
acclaimed artist and vocalist/guitarist of award-winning Something Once Sacred

If you're in the area this summer, hit us up. We'll take care of you.

Stay safe, and I'll see you next month.

dtl