Sunday, 19 March 2017

Star Trek, Servers, Storage Units and St. Patty's Day

The word of the week is plucky.

Mar 13 – Normalizing

I'm doing better by the week now.

With spring just around the corner, I'm almost totally recovered from my leg difficulties, walking works not only without a hitch but even energetically. It's been great to just stride from task to task with gusto instead of fragile caution.

My stomach / abdominal tension seems to have eased as well, due to a combination of meditation, mental focus and ensuring that I'm sitting properly at work while taking regular breaks. All of which means my abdominal core is no longer one giant bunch of clenched muscles from the tension... so when I eat a meal, I no longer feel like I'm full halfway through and it's just sitting there. Huzzah!

I've also gone completely off the St. John's Wort as of this week, down from two a day a few months ago to nothing, and to know will affect either: not even the smallest hint of anxiety has surfaced, and my heart beat is rock-steady no matter what activity I'm doing... apart from exercise, of course. Which I'll be getting to soon enough, in April.

This week, I had a few days when I felt totally normal: even with a lot of my mind task-wise, I felt focused and full of enough energy to Get Things Done, despite some very busy days at work due to some short staffing. It was... refreshing!

In a way, I feel pared down to my essential self again: there's just regular me( with my lovely girlfriend! )my day job and my writing to focus on now, this spring, with little else on the docket apart from the few leisure activities.

Overall, I feel I'm a much better place now than I was at the end of 2016.

Mar 14 – Happy 50th!

Who would've thought it possible?

Tonight, my critique group met again for our monthly review of each other's chapters( well, 2 out of the 4 of us had chapters, I wasn't one of them ) and it was our 50th get-together - good thing somebody was heaping track, as I'd forgotten.

So, while we've been doing this now for over four years, only one of us has produced a finished novel, which was self-published locally and online. In writing terms, that's actually a high percentage, considering that most writers work alone and a vanishingly small number regularly participate in critique groups like ours.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again today: the four of us all feel extraordinarily fortunate and blessed that we've gelled so well as a critique group and friends. We consist of two fantasy into science fiction authors, two men and two women, and we all come from different backgrounds, so we have a balance diversity of opinions to offer. Which we do in a trusting and nonjudgmental way while still delivering the necessary criticism to improve each other's works each month.

I know that without my critique group, my books would be nowhere as far along in their development as they are now and while I'm still a ways from publishing, I have confidence that thanks to my group, my writing is as solid as it can be.

Here's another four years of making each of us better writers!

Mar 15 – That's Tiny!

It's funny sometimes to find similarities in other people's lives your own experiences.

Years ago, I re-purposed a unit in the basement storage room of the building where I was living as a retreat of sorts, again where I could study and work, since my shared apartment at the time had no private space where that could happen. As it turns out, I ended up hosting regular D&D sessions down there, with up to six friends coming over to a game for hours and hours on the weekend in perfect comfort, apart from the fact that we had to walk around the building to use the bathroom in my apartment.

But, could you actually( and legally )live in a storage unit?

Well, an enterprising engineer in Seattle did just that. He wanted to live in the city, but didn't want to spend massive amounts of money to do so and given the cost of urban real estate in that city, you had to get creative to make his dream come true. So he purchased what at the time was just 182 sq.ft of storage space in the basement level of apartment unit and converted it into a home, with many creative design elements that took full advantage of space he was going to be living in:

While it's not my taste, I admire how he made best use of the space without making it feel like it's just a clutter of temporary fixes. The stainless-steel elements really tie everything together - literally - and make it all work.

Mar 16 – Earnest Earnings

What can I expect to earn as an author?

Every writer asked themselves that question and unfortunately there's no one simple answer to give. For myself, I must start with writing the best books that I can, and then doing my best to ensure they find the widest audience.

The biggest part of that process happens when a publisher is interested in a book, and decides to offer an officer in advance, a process which many new authors don't understand. 

It works like this:

 As you can see, it's complicated and the sobering fact is that most authors won't see a penny beyond their initial advance for their book, unless their sales go through the roof... which is all you can hope for while doing your best to work with the publisher yo publicize your work during its release window.

In which case, you want to ensure that your agent gets the best advance amount possible, which is all part of their job working on your behalf as the author. It's complicated and somewhat depressing when you think about it too much, but knowing how the system works if you're going the traditional publishing route is essential to becoming a professional author, per everything I've read.

For now, all I must do is worry about finishing my books; the rest will come later.

Mar 17 – Joe Vs. Groundhog Day?

Wow! I wasn't expecting to read this today:

At the dawn of the ’90s, a film was released that was so quirky, so weird, and so darkly philosophical that people who turned up expecting a typical romantic comedy were left confused and dismayed. That film was Joe Vs. the Volcano, and it is a near-masterpiece of cinema.

Neither was I expecting that the author of the article would write nearly 6500 words delving deep into the meaning of Joe Vs. The Volcano and in doing so make several comparisons to Groundhog Day... ! How could I not read the entire article, which I might add was excellent! But for those of you who either don't have the time during creation, this paragraph at the end sums everything up neatly:

I guess this now means that I will have to pick up Joe on laserdisc later this year...

Mar 18 – Afternoon Delight

My lady and I spent the day in two pubs and a restaurant.

The first couple was just for lunch, as we met someone in Quadra Village to buy this rare belt-fed beauty for a future project, and amazingly got it for a mere $25:

These usually go for $100+ on eBay, and it's unique in that it's belt-fed!

We then cast about for a quiet place to spend the afternoon, other than my apartment( which had Old Lady Leadfoot thumping around all day overhead )and decided on the Ross Bay pub over in Fairfield. We absconded with board games in hand to a corner table there at the pub, to spend the quiet hours between the lunch and dinner services playing Dragonwood, Hive and Forbidden Desert. I lost all three games of the first, the second was a draw and since Forbidden Desert was a cooperative game and we didn't perish under the desert sun, it was a win. We finished up with dinner there and left just as the Saturday Night Music Bingo was getting set up, so I also consider that a win, too.

Later that evening we attended a friends' one-day-past St. Patty's Day party, to which I wore a green hat and tie, looking rather stylish with my lady fair:

We didn't stay all that long, though the party wasn't as crowded as last year because the weather was nicer more people were outside on the expansive deck. We both grabbed two seats by the food table, complete with the table I managed to obtain( see above )which made it quite comfortable for both of us to just sit and enjoy ourselves.

The best part? These white chocolate and macadamia green cookies, made by my co-worker, Penny The Cookie Fairy... I consider myself doubly lucky in that I can now again have the occasional cookie AND that she works in my office, making cookies to order for our staff!

Mar 19 – ST: Beyond

Yesterday morning I watched Star Trek: Beyond, on NetFlix and it was... okay. Spoilers below, in the form of a 17-minute review of the film that's fun and spot-on:

Visually, the movie was full of gorgeous CGI scenes, even apart from the usual hero shots of the Enterprise... before and after it got blown up. The characters were better developed, though Kirk was still too immature for his position as Captain, and Keith Urban's McCoy was spot-in in my eyes, with the same going for Spock.

The star of the film in my opinion however, was the alien Jayla, an ally that the crew of the enterprise discover on the planet Altamid. Her combination of smarts and combat skills parallel that of my own character of Niishe, which I greatly appreciated. While I found a few small flaws with the overall believability of the situation( she happened to be using a fully-functioning Federation starship as her house! )the character really resonated with me, as did the fact that she held her own alongside the Enterprise crew and was instrumental in their victory.

G33k Alert: Today, I also managed to scratch another project off my when-I-get-time list! My old PC, the Blue Frankenstein, has been sitting around for many months, waiting for me to finish putting all its guts back together again as a home server. I'd toyed with the idea of setting up a custom OS such as a Linux flavor or some such, but as it happened I managed to look into a super-sale on Windows10 codes online back in December for a mere $10 each... meaning I could set up a fully-functional windows PC without needing to strain my brain learning a whole new set up. I can always pop in another drive with something new in the way of operating systems if I want, but for now my goal of just getting the computer up and running has been achieved. I even remember to use to simplify the setup process, cutting down the tedious hours of install time for dozens of software packages to clicking just one file - amazing!

That's all I'm doing for now, however, as I have a lot to do and this new computer is meant for leisure time like watching movies, as well as software learning projects in my spare time. It will be great to have, but until my novels are finished, I'll only be tinkering with it now and then, but at least it's functional now and not hanging over my head as wasted hardware. I certainly won't be leaving it running all the time either, which would just be a waste of power for now.

The rest of my day, after working on my blog on and off, was spent editing my first book’s fourth draft. I’m about 1/3 of the way through my edits, and I’ll need another pass-through once those are done to be happy with more polishing… but I’m aiming to have it complete by May 31st, a little over two months hence.

There’s plenty left to do before then, and if the sunny skies today are any measure, the future’s looking bright indeed for my writing.

It's the first day of spring tomorrow, and I'm excited. The change back from daylight savings time has seemed to affect me positively, in that I'm up and running at 6:30 every morning and getting tired around 11pm, which is just about the perfect amount of sleep for me as long as it's happening on a regular basis. While my sleep quality has declined somewhat in the last two weeks, likely due to the lack of St John's Wort, it's been rising again this week, which I ascribe to the change in clocks. Here's to looking forward to a productive spring!