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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Lightning Flash Non-Fiction: Writing; Dr. Who & March for Science; American Gods; YouTube Find


A lightning flash.
Credit: Pixabay.com



I was desperately and futilely looking for a topic for this evening’s post but couldn’t think of anything. So I decided to go with news bits or, what I like to call, lightning flash non-fiction (or even Lightning News Flashes). I call them that because they are very brief news flashes. Although I don’t believe in depending on a brief news story over full coverage of an event, both myself and you readers out there are short on time and I’m not a full-time news journalist. So I don’t rob you of the full story like too many so-called news outlets do just to attract an audience to make profit, I put the link to the full, or at least fuller, story in each flash. Just click on the link and you are there in a, uh, flash (provided you don’t have a slow internet connection). And so here they are:

Writing Project Updates: I finally finished copying and pasting the text from my manuscript of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” to the template for the print edition.  However, in order to meet Amazon’s 24-page minimum, I now need to insert some ads of my past work. Also, last night, I reached just over 29,000 words of a 30,000-word goal writing my first novella! That is, my first that I haven’t abandoned.

Doctor Who Joins theMarch for Science: Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi, who currently plays the series’ title character, participated in this weekend’s March for Science, according to io9.com. The March is a global movement against the Trump administration’s denial of climate change.

American GodsTV Premiere and Comic Release: This TV series based on Neil Gaiman’s best-selling book starts April 30th! Sadly, yours truly’s cable doesn’t get Starz, the network that will be airing the series. He’ll have to wait until some generous patron donates a copy of the series to his local library. Or, if it’s really as good as they anticipate, just buy it on DVD. Also, an American Gods comic book is already out.

YouTube Sci Fi-nd: Yours truly was searching YouTube for a vintage Saturday Morning show to watch this morning (because he hates the majority of today’s kids programming since it seems to not really be for kids). And in his cyber video quest he found Big Foot and Wild Boy. This half-hour sci fi series was part of the Krofft Supershow of the ‘70s when glitter rock (a.k.a. glam rock), disco and Bigfoot were at their most high. Yes, it’s corny, but a good B-rated kind of corny.  



Part One of a Two Part Debut episode of  the 1970s' Bigfoot and Wild Boy

And so there’s your pop culture news in lightning flashes. Tune in next week for, hopefully, a bigger story of what’s going on in the writing world of sci fi and fantasy.


Until then . . .  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Tedious Job of Copying and Pasting to a Manuscript Template

Pasting my draft of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” to the manuscript template for the print edition is taking a little longer than I thought it would. I didn’t realise how tedious it would be to cut and paste from my manuscript to the template. I have to do it paragraph by paragraph rather than in larger sections. When I did it the latter way with The Fool’sIllusion  it screwed up the entire format and so I had to keep readjusting the settings which doing so delayed the book’s release. I think the template is formatted based on paragraph breaks more than on larger units of text.

Cutting and pasting my manuscript one paragraph at a time was so redundantly frustrating that I had to stop after about an hour and get out of the house for a while. So I hopped into my Chevy Malibu (a.k.a. a “Classic”) and drove down to one of the nearby fast food joints for a diet cola and to work in some revisions of the short story I’m currently working on. I had to get away from the redundancy of working on a single project in one location. Speaking about that, author Allan Krummenacker has a post up at his blog about working on several stories simultaneously. It’s really interesting, especially when he talks about how he trained his mind to work on several projects at the same time.

I’m going to try to work a little more on the formatting for the print version of “Circa” this evening. Tune in both here and at my Facebook page for its progress and to be the first to know of its release! Also, if any of you have had experience with Word manuscript templates and know of an easier and more efficient way of cutting and pasting a story into the template then let me know. I would greatly appreciate it!


Until next time . . .  


Rows of identical cartoon rabbits.
Credit: Pixabay.com

Saturday, April 1, 2017

How To Rid a Book Template of Chapters; No-Fool’in Book Giveaway

I wish this were only an April Fool’s joke: the print edition of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” is not ready. Earlier in the week I started transferring the story to the manuscript template but then found out that there were some technical problems. The template was made for a book divided into chapters. I don’t use chapters in “Circa” since it’s a short work. But problems like these can easily be fixed. I simply placed the cursor of my mouse on the first tab of a chapter’s opening page. Then I back-spaced until I got rid of the chapter heading as well as the page break. The page breaks are often used so the next chapter won’t begin on the same page as the end of the previous one. I did this for the first page of each chapter.

Now I have to see if there are any other technical challenges in the template but I won’t be able to tell until I start pasting my story’s text to the template. Unless you’re an expert at book design, which I’m not, formatting your own book is really all about trial and error among other tasks in self-publishing.

Since I work with Libre Writer for typing my manuscript does this mean the above method only works for that? Actually, it will especially work for Microsoft Word. Word’s help website is where I learned how to do it. I had tried Libre’s online help centre but when I did a search for how to delete pages only results for deleting other things came up. It shows you how compatible Writer is with Word but how bad Libre’s help site is. But I can’t complain too much since Libre offers its software for free. The method for deleting pages may differ slightly with other word processing software.

I’m going to work on the print edition of “Circa” throughout the week. And since I may not be doing a post next weekend because one of my in-laws is tying the knot, I’ll let you know on my Facebook page when the print edition is out. Or maybe even when it’s not out. So visit my FB page throughout the week for updates on that as well as for other neat stuff.


Jester holding a scepter topped with a skull wearing a jester cap.
Credit: Pixabay.com



Since the print version of “Circa” has seemed like nothing but a joke ever since I said several months back, around Christmas, that it would be comingsooner than expected, I’ll make up for it with a no-fool’in April Fool’s offer. From midnight tonight through tomorrow, Pacific standard time, you can get a free e-copy of my short fiction collection, The Fool’sIllusion

Have you tried using Word templates to format your book? What has been your experience with them?


Until next time . . .  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Choosing Fonts and Wordprocessing Software

Light-up computer keyboard
Credit: Pixabay.com




A couple of weeks ago, I was about to format the print version of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” but ran into a software compatibility problem. When I tried transferring the text of my manuscript to the Word-based formatting template, offered for free by Kindle Direct Publishing, my word processing software, Libre Writer, by default used a sans serif font in place of the template's serif font. Sans serif is a font-type that does not have the elaborate design, such as extra curves and “tails”, that serif font has. It is strongly recommended to use serif for formatting a fiction book. I had to open the template file with Libre since my laptop doesn’t have Microsoft Word. At the time, my desktop, which had Word, was not working.

Libre Writer offers plenty of serif fonts but I wanted a  style most fitting for fiction. I looked at some articles about fonts. One of the articles recommended FontSquirrel.com as a source for free fonts. So I looked at the various serif styles there, and found one that one of the other articles recommended, Crimson (which is simply the name of the style, not the color), and downloaded it.

It was only last Sunday that I picked up my desktop from the computer repair service, but it no longer had Office on it. The repair technician had to remove Office in order to fix the computer. There's a more logical explanation to why he had to do that, but it's a story for another time. Earlier today, I was debating whether to download a copy of Libre Writer to my desktop or to use the text editing software, WordPad, that came with the Windows 7 OS that the computer repair tech installed.

Even though WordPad is a more advanced alternative to Notepad, and so is a text editor and not word processor, it has many of the same functions that word processing software has. Unlike Notepad, it has many of the same standard fonts, such as Times New Roman, as most word processing software. So I thought I would try it as an alternative to Word and see how it worked out. However, I just now found out that it may not be as compatible as I thought, at least not for using Word-based templates. One of the problems is that it does not divide the document up into pages like word processing software does. So I guess I'll be downloading a copy of Libre Writer after all. 

I hope to have the print edition of "Circa Sixty Years Dead" available on Amazon by the next post. 

Until next time . . . 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trump Supporters Angry With 'High Castle'’s Fictional Radio Program

io9.com announced Friday that Tweets about a fictional pirate radio show based on the Amazon streaming TV series, The Man In The High Castle, angered several Republicans and Trump supporters. No, the radio show is not a high seas scallywag geek program. Instead it refers to a type of underground radio. The conservative Twitter users thought the show was a real one produced by anti-Trump protesters and so reacted to its title’s hashtag of #ResistanceRadio by lashing out criticism. This was likened to the radio broadcast of H.G. Well’s War ofthe Worlds of which many listeners who tuned in late flew into panic thinking the Martians really were coming. However, in the case of Resistance Radio the reaction is one that says “the rebels are coming”.  

The Man In The High Castle is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name. I can’t say a whole lot about the novel or TV show since I haven’t read the former or watched the latter, as much as I’m a big fan of Dick’s work. But I can say that, as with most science fiction, the TV series and its brainchild audio show mirror current events, particularly through the subgenre of alternative history. High Castle is set in a 1960s period after Nazi Germany and Japan have won the second world war and taken over the U.S. Anyway, the conservative Twitter users’ reaction to the hashtag shows that science fiction reflects the issues of the day regardless of the time period it is set in.

Science fiction is social commentary in many senses and this is particularly so with alternative history fiction, since history is a direct reference to past society. Certain periods of history have been used in literature and film to symbolise contemporary issues and this is definitely the case with alternative history (also referred to as alt-history). Like steampunk, dieselpunk, atompunk (which High Castle can be said to fall under this third one) and the many other -punk subgenres of sci fi, alt-history comments on modern day issues through a historical scope--comparing those issues with ones of the past--basically showing that history does repeat itself. An example is, though this may not be the intention of the TV series, equating an ultra conservative presidential administration like Trump’s to a fascist regime of the past like Nazi-ism.

 As far as conservatives’ lashing out at #ResistanceRadio goes, a similar situation occurred with the third Star Wars prequel, Revenge of the Sith, in 2005 with the Bush Administration. Conservatives and Bush supporters saw the movies as bad-mouthing the president of that time and accused them of comparing him with the villainous Emperor Palpatine. Whether such social commentary was intended or not, only the producers would know. But even if it was, and even if the same is true for High Castle and its Resistance Radio, is it a crime? After all, art is often a commentary to the issues of the time it’s made in, and that includes pop art such as film and TV. Not to mention radio. The First Amendment especially allows for this.
 
Until next time . . .   


A pirate's skull backed by crossed swords.
Credit: Pixabay.com

  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Machine is Robbing the Book Cover Artist

A cartoon robot is holding and pointing to a pencil.
Credit: Pixabay.com



It looks like I’m going to have to outsource for the photographic version to the cover of “Circa Sixty Years Dead”. I tried getting together a digital cover during the week and I just couldn’t do it in the little time that I have. It’s a hell of a lot tougher than one would at first think, but a lot of the problem isn’t that it’s tough. A lot of the problem is that I’m just not a digital artist. I am a freehand artist. Yet I know the majority of the book market today does not call for freehand illustrated book covers which is a damn, sad thing because it is a result of the total reliance on computer technology that is robbing the freehand artist of what he/she does best and puts their heart and soul into.

So while I don’t embrace the digital trend in book cover illustration, I need to sell my books and so I am willing to have a digital cover edition of my book made. I won’t go into the details of this circumstance here because I’ve already done that in several past posts. Here are the titles and links to them:








When I make my book cover illustrations from my own hands, I do so knowing I’m not going to make big sales on the books that I apply them too. So, in a way, I’m sacrificing a bigger bundle of money I would get in order to help keep freehand art alive and serve the needs and desires of the minority readership. But to make sufficient money from the books, I’ll have to give into that capitalistic notion that says the machine makes the product “better”. And so I have to offer, as an option, a digitally produced cover illustration edition of the book.

If given the choice, would you purchase an edition of a book with a hand produced cover illustration over one with a digitally produced one? In doing so, do you believe you would be contributing to preserving freehand art?

Until next time . . .

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Guest-blogging On Fiction Writing, RPGs and LARPs

I apologise for not posting last week. I was unusually busy with other things. But this week author Christine Rains has been very kind to allow me to guest-blog at her site. Because my post is already live there, I’m going to keep the one here short and take a break on this Carnival/Mardi Gras of madness Saturday night by finishing up a card game of Arkham Horror and then watching some horror(ible) flicks!


Five board game player pieces wearing Carnival masks.
Credit: Pixabay.com



Speaking of games, for the past month or so Miss Rains has been featuring articles about the similarities between role playing games, also known as RPGs, and fiction writing and how the two influence each other. So my article there discusses the topic, particularly in light of live action RPGs (also known as LARPs). So please head on over to Christine’s blog and take a look at the article. Any comments you might have you may post in her box there. I’ll check for them periodically.


Until next time . . .