2015-07-26

Productivity

Accomplishments this past week include:

  • Resurfaced my blacktop driveway.
  • Sealing the gap between the house and my cement sidewalk and back patio.
  • Charging and updating all of our computers (2 desktops, 2 laptops, and my netbook).
  • Chased a steam locomotive from just outside of Youngstown to Ashtabula.
  • Caught up on a bunch of television shows that have been sitting on the hard drive for a long time.
You will notice that writing does not appear in the list. I have been putting off doing some things around the house because of my desire to write. Last week, I decided to catch up on the growing list of things that needed done. I will have time to write this coming week while I'm at the Schrodinger Sessions.

I did manage to get a small amount of writing done. Dragonverse Origins currently stands at 53,695 words.

Next week, I will be attending The Schrodinger Sessions, a 3-day course on quantum physics at the Joint Quantum Institute located just north of Washington D.C. in Maryland. Several of my Launch Pad acquaintances will be attending as well. Merrie Haskell (Launch Pad acquaintance) will be driving to my house and we will ride together from here in my car. I'm looking forward to the trip: I get to spend some time with an award-winning author; I get to see a few of my author acquaintances again; I get to learn some quantum physics; And, I will be meeting up with a group of alumni from the International Space University (www.isunet.edu) as well as some local authors. This meeting will take place in a bar called (appropriately) Science Club (www.scienceclubdc.com).
 
My wife is still asleep and words that must become part of Dragonverse Origins are jumping up and down in my head wanted to snuggle up next to the others that are already in the novel. Time to start writing.

2015-07-19

WorldCon Panel Schedule



Dragonverse Origins now stands at 53,000 words. Feedback from my content editor has been very positive. I'm looking forward to his detailed comments. Much editing will have to be done to turn this into a finished novel.

I've been reading the material I finally received from SFWA. (Two previous welcome packages never arrived. The third arrived opened but the contents were all there. Thanks to Kate Baker for sending out the replacement packages.) Being a member of SFWA has been a goal of mine since I published my first book. Being accepted as a member meant a lot to me. Going to WorldCon as a panelist as well as a SFWA member...well...words cannot adequately describe how I feel.

I've been reading the SFWA bulletin included in the welcome package as well as the other material. I am amazed to discover I know quite a number of the people that are mentioned as well as the authors of some of the material. I know these people because of my connection to Launch Pad. It has been an amazing journey since I first attended Launch Pad and I can only imagine what the future is going to bring. I owe Mike Brotherton a huge debt.

My WorldCon schedule is finalized. If you are planning on attending WorldCon, please look me up. here are the panels I will be on:

Self-publishing — How To Do It
Thursday 11:00 - 11:45, Conference Theater 110 (CC)
Once your book is written, what next? Successful self-published authors explain how to go from manuscript to completed book, or ebook. (This panel discusses the sources, processes and procedures. Marketing and promotion are covered in a separate panel.)

Stu Segal (M), Doug Farren , Nick Mamatas, Linda Nagata, H.M. Jones

Launchpad Meetup
Friday 18:00 - 18:45, 401C (CC)
Have you attended a past Launchpad? Would you like more information about Launchpad http://www.launchpadworkshop.org/about/


Stroll with the Stars
Saturday 09:00 - 09:45, Breezeway/Statue (CC)
A gentle morning stroll with some of your favorite authors, artists and editors. Meeting each morning at 9AM in the Breezeway between the INB Theater and the Convention Center (check your map), and returning in time for 10AM programming.

Stu Segal (M), Kevin J. Anderson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Troy Bucher, Vincent Docherty, Doug Farren, Toni Weisskopf, Connie Willis

The Future of "Back to the Future," or, just where is my flying skateboard?
Saturday 12:00 - 12:45, 401C (CC)
In 1985 Marty McFly set the dial on the DeLorean to 30 years in the future. As we approach 10/21/15, the date Marty set, does 2015 bear any resemblance to the future of "Back to the Future"? Panel discussion of imagined futures versus realities.

Stephen Segal (M), Troy Bucher, Neil Clarke, Doug Farren, Megan Frank

Finance for Writers
Saturday 14:00 - 14:45, 303A (CC)
What are the implications for writers under contract to a publisher vs. self-published writers? Tax issues

Gail Carriger, Doug Farren, Madeleine Robins, Kevin Wiley

The New Space Opera
Saturday 15:00 - 15:45, 302AB (CC)
We've come a long way since the days when "space opera" was a derogatory term. Many of SFs best writers over the last 20 years have written space opera. What's made the difference?

Rich Horton (M), Jeffrey A. Carver, Ann Leckie, Charles Stross, Doug Farren

Self-publishing — How to Market Your Work
Saturday 16:00 - 16:45, 303A (CC)
Your manuscript is done, you've found your printer, uploaded your files, and your book is done. Now how the heck do get people to buy it? Successful self-published authors share their methods.

Sarina Dorie, Doug Farren, Kameron Hurley, Annie Bellet

2015-07-12

Grammarly

This week’s post is coming to you from Georgia. I’ve been on vacation this past week visiting my dad in South Carolina and then my daughter in Georgia. Due to the driving and visiting, I have not added a single word to Dragonverse Origins. I have, however, made some minor changes to a short story I wrote called Ship’s Log. I was originally planning on sending this story into a contest until I looked at the prizes they were giving out. First prize is a copy of Scrivener – already have that. So now, I’m thinking of sending it out to a magazine. This will be my first attempt at this – I might be asking my author friends who do this for a living for some help.

We had one incident on the way down. While traveling through the mountains we encountered what at first looked like a large rock in the middle of the left lane. I had a semi on my right and a cliff on my left. I drive an SUV so I centered it over the rock and hoped for the best. We heard a loud clunk and when I looked in my rear-view mirror I watched the van behind me swerving around trying to avoid what looked like aluminum debris. Everything seemed fine so we continued driving. We pulled over at the next available exit and I climbed underneath to have a look. Whatever it was, ripped part of my undercarriage covering (the plastic running from the front to about midway to the rear) off. No other damage was noted. I’ll have to replace it when I get home.

Here’s my final comment concerning a program called Grammarly:

  • The algorithm is definitely much better than the one built into Word. But, like all such software, it will occasionally suggest a change that is wrong. Never assume any grammar checker is correct – verify what it is suggesting before you implement the change.
  • The integration into Chrome and Word is quite good. My only complaint about the Word version is that while you are scanning a document the auto-save feature, as well as the track-changes feature of Word, are disabled.
  • The Chrome and Safari extensions are totally free looking for contextual spelling errors as well as 100 points of punctuation and grammar. The paid-for versions of these extensions will check for over 250 points of grammar and will analyze the sentence structure.
  • The premium version of the service includes an add-in for Microsoft Office. For a writer like myself who spends 8 or 9 months writing a story and then another 1 or 2 months editing, paying for a program you only use for a short period of time might not be worth it. On the other hand, a good editor can easily cost twice as much as the subscription fee. If you send your manuscript to an editor, then Grammarly might not be a program you want to pay for. If you prefer to take your chances and not filter your manuscript through an editor, then you should seriously consider a Grammarly subscription.
  • I write my first and second draft in Scrivener. Grammarly does not integrate with this very popular writing tool. But, I don’t do my grammar checking in Scrivener—I use Word, and Grammarly integrates very well with that program.

The bottom line is that buying a Grammarly subscription will strongly depend upon how you write and how often you need a grammar checker. For myself, I have an editor (my wife) and paying for another opinion is not cost effective. If you write a lot of short stories, if you want to grammar-check your blog every week, if you need a good grammar checker on a regular basis, then, by all means, get a subscription to Grammarly—it is worth the money in those situations.

2015-07-05

Websites

There are 3 basic ways to build a website:

  1. Create your site on a host that uses a proprietary site builder (Webs.com).
  2. Host your site with a company that supports WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or any of the other easy-to-use open-source CMS (Content Management System) platforms.
  3. Build your own using site creation or site design software.
There are so many options that it's difficult to choose a single path to success. I started off using Webs.com and their proprietary site-building software. Recently, I've been reading up on WordPress (I learn a lot just by reading the manuals and then playing around) and so far I'm impressed. In researching the content of this post, I've learned there are many more alternatives, far to many for me to list here.

I am far from an expert in this field! I picked WordPress because that is what powers the Launch Pad site and I've made a commitment to help keep that site updated. But, I won't be comfortable doing so until I've had some practice at using WordPress. But WordPress is not the only popular CMS out there. I searched for "WordPress Competitors" and found a huge world of software I didn't even know existed. For a good review check out this article: wpbeginner.

I will continue to read up on WordPress and then I might look into some of the alternatives. My goal is to help Professor Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready keep the Launch Pad website up-to-date and also to move my own website off of Webs.com to a platform where I have more control. Webs.com is a good choice if you are just starting out. Their SiteBuilder software makes creating and maintaining a website relatively easy. But if you want to do anything fancy, you'll have to move it to a different host. Because Webs.com uses a proprietary interface and they do not allow FTP into their servers, you cannot migrate your site from them. You must build it fresh. This is something I am seriously considering doing.

Before you decide to build an author website of your own, do some research. Spend a lot of time researching because moving your site is not easy. Find a host that's been around for awhile and has a good reputation and then pick your website design philosophy. I might choose WordPress and then again I might go another route. I'm still researching.

Dragonverse Origins now stands at 51,225 words. Even though last week was challenging, I managed to get in quite a bit of writing. I also wrote a short story - something I haven't done in 3 years. I have not decided what to do with it yet. I'm considering submitting it to the science fiction magazines to see what happens. Who knows, it might be accepted.

My apologies to those who read my blog via my mailing list. The link I sent out was active for only a few hours. I talked about saying goodbye to my mother-in-law who passed away on June 29th and was buried on July 2nd. The rest of the family did not want the news to be distributed too soon so I pulled the post and reposted with a different heading. I was off work last week helping make the arrangements. If you're interested in the process (and it can get complicated) send me a private email and I will get back to you. Funerals can quickly become ridiculously expensive and the funeral homes love to use a person's grief to extract more money from their pockets. But, done right, a funeral homes services are indispensable.

Next week's post will most likely be late. I'm going on vacation and writing a post while driving is probably not recommended.