Book Accomplishments

As part of my drive to not be a mopey “I deserve nothing” bastard, I figured I’d highlight some of the things I’ve directly been involved in. By directly involved, I’m counting actually authoring stuff, or acting in an official role in the books production some way (so I’m not counting myself just being a ‘backer’ of something, like in Kickstarters for example). My brain would love to tell me that I’m just being self-indulgent and boasting, but I just think it’s nice to share things I’ve done with people. It’s also nice to make public some of the small pieces of ‘proof’ that real things have actually come of my work. This isn’t a complete list, but it’s most of the things I feel proud to have been a part of that I actually have physical, real-world copies of.

books

From the top-left going clockwise, we have:

The Mechanical Bard: Ninth World Tales

The Mechanical Bard: Ninth World Tales is the name of the Numenera Fiction Anthology I founded along with other members of the Numenera fan community. It’s a collection of 6 short stories sourced from authors within the Numenera fan community and hopefully, assuming all the licensing can be sorted, it will be available in PDF and print. This is a test print copy for my own personal use and it isn’t available publicly yet (but hopefully soon!). The book contains two short stories by myself, one of which can already be found in the wild on Ninth World Hub, and I also wrote the introductions to nearly all the stories within. The introductions are told in the style of preambles by the Mechanical Bard, a fictional narrator of the tales within the collection. Soon there will be a website to accompany this that will hopefully become a place where the whole Numenera community can share fan-fiction together.

Ninth World Assassins

Ninth World Assassins is a supplement for Numenera focused around (surprise!) assassins. My contributions to the project were mostly in an editing capacity (though not proofreading) and providing feedback, the odd bit of re-writing and some contributions of actual text to the book in a number of different places. On a side note, Andreas Walters, the publisher and author, is a great guy and you should expect to see more things from both us working together in the future and he also has managed a lot of the publishing gubbins with The Mechanical Bard.

Do: The Book of Letters

Do: The Book of Letters is a supplement to the roleplaying game Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, a delightful, child-friendly, story-telling game by Daniel Solis which I backed on Kickstarter. Gameplay revolves around people sending letters to the temple asking for help, and those letters form the basis of the ‘missions’ the players (as pilgrims) go out to complete. During the Kickstart there was a call for submissions of letters from the backer community, so I submitted one and it was picked for inclusion in the games supplementary letters book. I think this was my first ever piece of published game writing.

Rails 4 Application Development HOTSHOT

Onto the more technical side of things, I acted as one of the Technical Reviewers on Rails 4 Application Development, a book that covers developing several different kinds of applications, from Pinterest clones to simple video hosting and streaming sites. The book gives a lot of great insights into building more web applications with Rails 4 beyond the typical “to-do list app”.

Learning Devise for Rails

Another book I was a Technical Reviewer for, in fact, the first one, this book covers learning to use the Devise gem for authentication on your Rails application. It’s for beginners, so doesn’t get super advanced, but it’s great if you are just starting out and want to get to grips with the systems Devise provides.

Triad: Hath Three Parts Wrought

Triad is my first (and only) completed NaNoWriMo novel. As a result, it’s terrible, but it has a lot of good ideas. For a long time I’ve had the ideas of a world about which fiction could be written or within games could be run, but it existed almost entirely inside my head. The novel was a way of getting those ideas out onto paper, so as such it can be a bit info-dumpy at times and obviously being a NaNoWriMo novel and pants-ed the entire way through, it quickly becomes ludicrous. However, the raw, unedited draft is available publicly on the internet if you wish to offend your eyes with terrible writing. This print copy was created using the free CreateSpace offer winner of NaNoWriMo get, just so I could have a nice physical print for editing. However every time I look at the story I physically cringe from the awfulness, so it’s yet to go through a rewrite or edit phase.

So NaNoWriMo is over though if I’m honest…

So NaNoWriMo is over, though if I’m honest it ended for me barely a day after I began so I reach December with barely 1 days worth of words written, let alone the whole 50k minimum. I wasn’t really expecting to have the time or energy to work on it, as the commute to work after 2 years is starting to wear me down, so I’m not really too cut up about it.

And on the happy note of the commute, I finally passed my driving test. I passed it by the skin of my teeth, more by luck than I’d like, but hell, I’ll take the win after the umpteen failures I’ve already collected. Now I have the fun, fun, fun time of trying to get car insurance that isn’t cripplingly expensive. It’s looking might it actually might be cheaper to buy a brand new car on finance and pay the insurance on that, as the insurance on my current car (which depressingly I realise I’ve owned for almost a year without being able to drive it) is more than double the quotes I’m getting on new cars and the finance costs of new cars over 5 years or so are roughly equal to the insurance premium (which should hopefully drop after the first year) whilst also having better fuel economy. Kinda sad that I buy a used car, only to find almost a year later it’s as if not more expensive for me to own and run than a brand new one.

Money, money, money! Arrrrgh!

NaNoWriMo Cometh!

NaNoWriMo is on the horizon once again. After putting out a call for suggestions on what story to develop via Google+, the story Crowd Dodging won out, so this years NaNoWriMo will be a tale of three teenagers inventing their own sport, losing control of it to big media and then fighting to take it back.

Or it will be, if I can actually get it written.

I’ve been having trouble outlining it, coming up with scenes, etc. The idea just don’t want to form in my head. This is typical of me, I’m not a great planner in any sphere, for example in programming I find it much easier to think through ways to do something by trying the actually code a solution, rather than by planning it all out with flow charts and everything else beforehand. However, I do like having lots of goals to meet, which, without a plan, is quite hard. I think instead I might have to outline as I go and use my notes more as a map to refer back to for consistency, rather than as a guide of where to go.

However, what I have done so far is working out well. I’m using Zim, a desktop wiki application to keep notes, which I save to a dropbox folder so I can access them wherever I go. Mapping out my protagonists is going reasonably well, I’m currently using the Dresden Files RPG character generation sheets to flesh them out a bit (the game uses FATE as a rule system, which is fairly story-focused and works very well). I’ve been doing with using Fiasco or Do as scene generators, but neither really suit the genre I’m writing for, so I’ve not bothered.

The worst thing though is that I’ve been quite busy recently since getting off holiday, so I doubt I’ll have much time to develop my outline further or even get any writing done. Which is why I’m worried about not having an outline, because without clearly defined goals, I’m likely to flounder in the limited time I do have!

But what the hell, lets have a go anyway.

No More NaNo

Okay, NaNoWriMo just isn’t for me. I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried, but it just isn’t happening. This is my 7th or 8th attempt now and like all but 1 its ending in failure. This November I was just too busy, the i-series event just took it out of me and I didn’t recover until I was almost 20000 words behind and even then still felt too mentally drained to be fully creative.

Furthermore, my story sucked. I never got any of the research or organisation stuff I wanted done and so it was utterly, utterly terrible. While that didn’t bother me per se, it made starting writing again hard as the compromise I have with my inner editor is that I will at least try and maintain continuity which necessitates re-reading what I’ve written to remember where I am in the story. Reading you own writing and hating it is incredibly demoralising though and so that’s part of the reason I’m calling it a day.

To be honest, I think I’m throwing in the towel permanently. Winning NaNoWriMo is definitely the excepting to the rules with me and being that I’m often so busy in November I just don’t have the time and this on-going illness of mine really doesn’t benefit from the stress of the challenge. Frankly, I’m not getting anything out of it any more, which is sad because I really did enjoy it and so sadly I have to bud BaNo adeiu until my life has room for it again. I’ll keep on writing of course, but at my own pace on my own terms.

Farewell NaNo, it was fun.

PlaNo WhinO

I don’t really have any kind of plan or pattern to writing. I don’t have a method or plan of attack, generally I just play it by ear. This isn’t exactly the best way, but I’ve always found I tend to flounder and get stuck with a sort of ‘analysis paralysis’ if I think things out to far or try and plan to exhaustively. I’m historically terrible at estimating deadlines or any kind of project management, so I’m a little confused as to why I’m trying to do so this time around for the coming NaNoWriMo.

Maybe it’s because this novel I’m writing this time I’m actually serious about trying to publish. Maybe I’m insane to think I can, to be honest, I’m riddled with doubts, I’m not sure I’m in love with this story in the same way I have been with previous works. I dunno, gah! Doubts, doubts, doubts.

Regardless, I’m going to tackle it head on and make myself go through the effort of multiple drafts and revisions. So far I’ve mapped out character, event and location relationships using some mind mapping software and I’ve slowly been making a list of various plot points I want to address. I’m still a little hazy on a lot of the specifics of the plot developments but I’m planning on expanding on the points I have – not writing the story and ‘cheating’ at NaNoWriMo, but rather just writing slightly more detailed story cards, brief scene coverage and more detailed notes about what is going on between the characters at that point in time. I’m going to start drumming up some character cards as well, making something akin to character sheets from roleplaying games.

I tend to find that I can be a lot more organised and creative when I can organise my ideas visually and more important, spatially. Playing with some physical cards, organising things, making patterns I can actually see and move with my hands – I think it’ll help. Then again, maybe it wont, it’s not something I’ve done before and maybe I’m invested in it merely as a kind of crutch, hoping it will save a story I secretly believe is doomed to fail.

One thing I do know is that I should stop double-guessing myself and just fucking do it.

It going to be harder than ever this year though. Last year I wasn’t going to be at one of the i-Series LAN gaming events and last year I didn’t have minecraft eating my soul and every spare minute of my time. It’s going to be fun this year though and even though I’m dreading it, I’m really looking forwards to actually writing properly rather than whenever I feel it, on a whim, without any real goals or developing existing works rather than constantly churning out new ideas and leaving them without an ending or most of the time without a middle or much of a beginning either. Writing something with a proper goal in mind is important and exciting but it’s scary too, ugh.

Well, I need to come up with another 250 words to bring myself up to this days total if I want to stay on a roll. Sustaining 750 words a day has suddenly become hard. I’ve also suddenly started playing minecraft, yeah… correlation in this case definitely does mean causation I’m thinking. I’m also not exactly writing without distractions at the moment either. Last one I wrote whilst at work and needed to go and get lunch in the middle of it, now I’m writing while watching TV and yeah, it isn’t working.

Ugh 150 words now. It’s not even NaNo yet and I’m already struggling. There is no hope for me. I need to find something to kick my arse, the trouble is the reward thing doesn’t really work with me because meh, I can do without, after all I don’t have the thing now and so I’m fine to do without. A problem with the whole Epicureanistic mindset I guess. I’m just going to have to focus on the sheer awesomeness of what it will be to get published or the not quite as much awesome, but still pretty good thing of getting an agent or publisher at least show some interest or the lesser still, but none the less satisfying set of rejection letters from agents and/or publishers. Getting a response at all would be a good thing, it means that I’m actually a real writer rather than just a poser that churns stuff out but doesn’t actually write.

Stats

I Did It!

This year, like every other, I’ve been throwing myself at NaNoWriMo, desperately trying to squeeze out 50000 words of pure novelly goodness. Every year, I’ve failed, usually even before I reach the half way mark. This year however, I finally did it.

nano_09_winner_120x240

I won NaNoWriMo!

I’m completely chuffed. it’s a story I’ve wanted to write for ages even even though this particular revision of it is absolutely terrible, I’m proud to have finally completed it none-the-less. I may edit it come March in NaNoEdMo but for now I’m just blown away to have achieved it at all.

If you feel the need to read a piece of utterly terrible literature that emerged from some in-depth world-building combined with basically no story planning whatsoever, then you can find the story on Protagonize.com. It’s called Triad: Hath Three Parts Wrought, and it’s a piece of shit but I love it :)


Yesterday evening (and most of the very early morning today) we had a party round Lorcian’s new flat as a sort of belated house warming. We did a massive radio show special for around 5 hours or so on TGR with several of the other GRN DJs that came down to visit. We had a laugh, everyone got very drunk and we played highly disturbing, homoerotic Japanese muscle flexing games on the Wii (which I apparently have a knack for, I held the highest score of the night!)

In other news, I’ve completed a whole month at Multiplay! It’s been awesome and I’m really enjoying myself there. There been some minor technical hiccups since switching from developing on a Mac to using Linux (everyone else there is using Windows but I’d literally go insane if I had to) but I feel I’m really starting to come into my role there and hopefully things will progress a bit faster now that I’ve found my feet. I still miss Textmate and any of the alternatives I’ve tried have various issues. At the moment I’m using netbeans, but it’s terribly slow when doing code completion after having been running for a few hours, especially on a large codebase like I’m working on. I’d like to try the E text editor but it’s been an arse trying to compile it under Linux on Ubuntu Karmic. I might try running the Windows version with WINE, though I don’t fancy relying on a non-native piece of kit for my primary editor.

I’ve recently switched to using the Chrome browser daily builds from the karmic ppa and damn, it’s crazy fast. I am astonished at how fast it runs and for now it’s become my primary browser. It really makes the web an entirely different place, the difference is that much.

So yes, it’s been an interesting month. Rubbish and filth are piled high where both Dru and I have been ignoring chores, housework or basic human hygiene in lieu of writing as much as we can in any spare our we have so we’ll have some interesting times ahead but all I can think of now is how awesome it is to have finally won NaNoWriMo.

Hell yes.