Sunday, 3 July 2016

Wheels, Writing and Weekends

The word of the week is fecundity.

June 27 – IMAX... at home?

Who wouldn't want a home theatre?

Better question: who wouldn't want a home theatre made by none other than IMAX?

The question to ask yourself then is: how much would THAT cost? Answer: about $400K USD, and that's for a basic model.

The thing about home theatres is that they're all customized according to the whims of the person having them installed. Who also is paying for everything in the end, so it only makes sense that things are customized.

Yet a custom home theater couldn't get an IMAX experience, until now.

Personally, after taking a look at the IMAX Private Theatre site, I wonder if it's not smarter to ask oneself a different question:

Who wouldn't want a theatre as a home? You could spend about $400,000 or so to build an IMAX Home Theatre, with another $100,000 to add a house to it. All you really need would be a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and a little bit of storage, with maybe some outside space when you emerge from your IMAX caved to look at the real world once in a while. With today's houses costing an average of half a million dollars anyway, it only seems reasonable, if you have the cash.

Too bad real life isn't like the movies in that regard.

June 28 –  Dark Crystal Anew!

Two and a half years ago, entered a contest: The Dark Crystal AuthorQuest.

While I didn't end up getting the top prize, I did make quite a few friends and placed favorably, being a Top 20 Editor's Pick out of the almost 500 entries - not too shabby at all, in my humble opinion.

The winner of the contest, Joseph M. Lee, went on to write the official prequel novel to The Dark Crystal, which was released today, I'm happy to say!

Can you spot me in the audience? Hint: I'm wearing a vest...

Shadows Of The Dark Crystal is the first of a planned four book series aimed at young adults by Jim Henson Ltd, which brings a smile to my face. Being able to read more about one of my favorite fantasy franchises all these decades later is wondrous, and as a bonus I am privileged to be able to communicate regularly with the author gifted with that honor.

It's been illuminating to be able to see a bit of the process from the inside, and to get some feedback on my own AuthorQuest submission from J.M. Lee. I understand now why my piece wasn't chosen by the Hensons: it wasn't as YA-friendly as J.M. Lee's was, going to a more detailed and darker place then they had envisioned for the revival of The Dark Crystal franchise.

I'm eager to get my hands on a copy of Shadows to read over the summer, so that I can see for myself in print what wonderful things my friend is done with the beloved world I remember from my childhood. You can read a lovely interview with him here, where he talks about the process of adjusting his writing to create a world that met with the approval of the Hensons - fascinating stuff!

Some days it's really good to be a writer!

June 29 – What Might I Make?

On the topic of writing: what do writers make, on average?

It's a harder question answer than you might think, as the publishing industry has changed almost unrecognizably over the last decade due to the dual rise of e-books and self-publishing.

It used to be that there is only one route to becoming a Real Author: write something Good and True, then submit it to one of the Big 5 publishing houses and hope that someone noticed how Good your book was. Then along comes a Contract( hopefully with favorable terms ) and with that just wait for the book sales numbers to start rolling in. With luck, your sales figures would mean that you could just keep writing and not have to worry about holding down a job any longer..

Nowadays, that's all been turned on its head.

There's a TON more data available in the last five years to everyone involved in making books than there ever has been before, and it's illuminating to see how much things have changed from the traditional publishing model.

For starters, independent authors can make as good( or quite often even better )a living writing and selling their own books - ebooks and print both. That's a stunning revelation, because if you sell your own books, then you don't have to worry about the convoluted accounting policies of publishers that may result in you getting only pennies per book that is sold: you are in control of how much money you make based on what you sell your books for and how you market them. In essence: you are your own best friend, because the harder you work to sell your books, the more you will make if you're smart about how you do it.

It's not all roses, however. According to various data sources, the vast majority of writers out there don't make enough money to live off of independent of any other sources of income. They may make enough to supplement their day jobs, but in effect they're working a second job by choosing to write, and that's only as good as the amount of time they can put into it while still being efficient in what they produce. Being too tired to write means that what comes out isn't good work.

Still, I'm quite hopeful: I have good work coming out of my writerly mind and I'm getting a better picture of what to do with it with every passing day as I do my research diligence on the business end of writing. It's scary, but I'm certainly not going to be going into this completely blind: it's great to see that there's so many options opening up and I can choose the best one for what my work represents.

It's an exciting time to be a writer!

June 30 – Driving Innovation

Can tires ever be cool?

Sure, I don't own a car, but being the in the scifi-writing business, I always appreciate new concepts and ideas about the future. Who doesn't like thinking about that sort of thing?

Goodyear has come up with an interesting concept called the Eagle-360, the tire unlike any other that you might have seen. For one thing, it's a sphere - have a look:

This tire was first conceptualized in the film I, Robot, giving the ground vehicles in it unprecedented mobility and control. I love the idea of magnetic levitation, as that also adds a controllable aspect to driving we've not seen as yet in vehicles. If cars in 10 years switched over to this system, I'd be sorely tempted to get one just for the fun factor alone.

Plus, it just looks really, really cool...

July 1 – Celebrate!

It's Canada Day again!

Every year on this day, I give quiet thanks for being lucky enough to have been born and raised in this amazing country. I'm grateful that I have had so many opportunities to experience other cultures and peoples existing together peacefully within the borders of Canada while celebrating their differences.

Canada is a delightful country, with all its distinctive regions. Below is a comedic look at how we all get along as Canadians in our own unique ways:

Today I spent my time in two places. First off, my lady and I attended a quiet celebration at one of her friends houses, as part of her poetry group. It was in a quiet suburb off the beaten path of the main roads of Victoria, and we spent a few delightful hours ensconced in a sunroom looking out at the perfect writers backyard: full of plants and overlooked by majestically tall trees of a ravine beyond.

In the evening, we traveled out to a friend's place in Sooke, to bask in the perfect outdoor temperatures of a backyard barbecue. It was nothing like last year's oven-like experience, as moisture-laden clouds drifted through the trees from the nearby ocean to mist the area with their cool kisses on the skin. Delightful! We had a great time catching up with all of our g33ky friends, and I ended up heading home with a box of some old Star Wars toys that my friend was clearing out of his storage area to make some room. How could I say no?

What better way to end the holiday then with Star Wars gifts, I ask you?

July 2 – Whew!

It was quite a busy day for me!

As was the weekend, I got quite a few things done around the house, as it is my wont to do. Working during the week as I must, my evenings are usually split between relaxation and writing, with not a lot of time to catch up on other things that need doing, like organizing, shopping or other general household tasks. Yesterday, I had someone come by the house to clean as I have for the last few months to do some cleaning, which freed me up to do my own tasks - well worth the minor cost and it gives them a boost to their own business as well.

It felt good to get things done.

In the evening, my lady and I attended a charity dinner at a local high school. A good friend of mine was the head chef in charge and made a magnificent showing, with perfectly-cooked roast beef, mashed potatoes and tons of Caesar salad. The evening's entertainment was also fun, with multiculural dancers and a choir singing. We stayed for about 3 hours total, but I had to leave as my headache was getting worse, despite earplugs lessening the din, which at times reached 89 dB - gymnasiums aren't exactly quiet spaces when packed with 400 people for dinner!

July 3 – Relax...

I didn't get up to much today, which was nice.

Having had a 4-day weekend with three very full days, it was nice to just spend the afternoon not doing too much of import. I ended up catching up on a few more episodes of the computer-animated Clone Wars TV series, which was recently made available on NetFlix.

Originally, I had little interest in watching the series when it first came out in 2008 as it seemed rather childish to me at the time. However, I went back for a look at it t earlier his year for a few episodes and realize that it had a depth of writing that wasn't apparent in the first two episodes I'd seen back in 2008.

Have a look at this clip and see for yourself. It's where Asajj Ventress, a Sith Assassin who has lost her way, falls in with a group of bounty hunters who include a familiar face. It's quite good, and I'm impressed that such a long original-material SW clip has stayed up on YouTube for over 3 months:

Other than that, it was a typical Sunday in that I started writing my blog around dinnertime and put the finishing touches on it well before 8 PM. I think that's going to be pretty standard for the next six months at least, as it allows me to wind down for a few hours afterwards and get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Heck, I may even get up early to write at this rate!

I've had a lingering headache for the entire long weekend, which has been somewhat frustrating. The weather hasn't really changed, apart from some rain on Friday, so I've no real idea as to why I've had to pop a few headache tablets every day to keep it under control. Hopefully it's just the slightly higher air pressure - and a REALLY windy weekend - that's been holding steady and as of Sunday night. It's more of a headache-echo than a real headache, which is something I'm grateful for.