Monday, August 31, 2009

End of August Report

I'd hoped to get several stories in the mail this month. I managed one. A second is nearly done, but won't be ready until tomorrow at the earliest, so it won't qualify. I've done considerable writing, but not much has jelled this month. I hope to do better in September.

On the other hand, I'm now into the third round of edits for Flying High with Cobblestone Press. This is the final round, and then I assume I'll be slotted into the publication schedule and get a date certain for its release. I will, of course, let all and sundry know the moment I hear anything.

The editing process has been interesting. We've been sending drafts back and forth using Microsoft Word's Track Changes and commenting feature. Or they have, anyhow. I've been using either Word (on the laptop) or OpenOffice (on my primary PC). OpenOffice can handle Word's formatting, so it works--but either a) the translation is not 100 percent, or b) my unfamiliarity with the Track Changes and Style features of these programs is causing me trouble.

I've almost never used the Styles or Formatting features of Word or OpenOffice. We never made much use of it in my late, lamented day job, and I never used it at home. Any formatting I did I generally did by simply inserting italic or bold coding where needed, or justifying the text, or changing the font size on an ad hoc basis. Which was all I needed at work OR at home 99 percent of the time. Plus, mostly I formatted things to be printed, not electronically published.

That's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. I'll master it in the end, but it make take a couple of days of reading up on it and practicing. It'll do me good in the end. It'll add to my skills with Word, which won't hurt when job hunting, and since I fully intend to sell more stories to epublishers, knowing how to use these features to write and edit my manuscripts won't hurt in that arena either.

So. On to other things. My goal for September: to get at least three stories finished and submitted for publication. I'll also be attending the Kris and Dean Show in Lincoln City two weekends from now. I hope to learn a lot there. I will report on how it went.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Round Two!

And the winner is...everyone! Or so I hope.

Yesterday I got the second set of editor's comments and changes to my story. I went over them, accepted or commented on the changes and emailed it back. I also added a dedication and a bio for myself. One more round of edits and we'll be ready to publish. At that point I think I'll get a publication date. As soon as I know it, fear not--I'll let all and sundry know when my deathless prose will be unleashed on the world.

Meanwhile, I'm currently working on another Wicked submission to Cobblestone Press. I'd hoped to have it done by now, but it's coming along more slowly than I'd hoped. I'm making steady progress, mind you, but more slowly than I'd planned. Still, it should be ready to send out in a day or two.

Other than that, I've got half a dozen other stories simmering in the back of my mind. Some are partial drafts, some are mostly just ideas at this point. I was hoping to have finished and sent out several stories this month, but it hasn't happened. Such is life. I'll try to do better in September.

September will also see me attending a writer's workshop in Lincoln City, Oregon. I'll be attending the "Kris and Dean Show" put on by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katheryn Rusch, two successful writers who, both separately and together, have published many, many books and make their living as novelists. They've also both been editors, among other things, and have a lot of useful information to impart. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Defying Gravity--and Relativity

I've been watching Defying Gravity since it premiered a few weeks ago. I'm a science fiction fan, so I decided to give it a try despite hearing it described as "Grey's Astronomy". Which is true enough--there's plenty of soap opera stuff in the show. They do lots of flashbacks to the astronauts' training, and to a Mars Mission that went wrong when two of the protagonists had to abandon two fellow astronauts on Mars when they left.

There's angst aplenty, plus lots of hookups (drunken or otherwise) among the astronauts and astronaut wannabes during training, and some aboard the ship. There's also a mysterious alien maguffin (a Martian, I suspect) secreted aboard the ship and using weird alien mind whammy powers to impose its will--causing a couple of astronauts to be grounded at the last minute so two others took their places, among other things.

It's fairly realistic as television science fiction goes. The ship has "personal quarters" modules on rotating booms to provide gravity in the living quarters. There's no "torch drive"--the ship uses a reaction drive (no magical reactionless propulsion) and thus isn't under continuous acceleration. The ship is as spacious as tv spaceships always are, but I'm willing to cut them some slack on that. The rationale for the "artificial gravity in the non-rotating parts of the ship is harder to swallow: some kind magical "magnetic" nanotech fabric in their uniforms which is attracted to the floors, thereby providing "gravity" of a sort. Yeah, right.

But the biggest blunder (or decision to simply ignore reality in favor of drama) is the fact that they are constantly having real-time conversations via (crystal clear) video phone with people at Mission Control on Earth. That's a problem for my suspension of disbelief. Here's why:

This most recent episode had a character state explicitly that the ship was about 30,000,000 kilometers from Earth. The speed of light is (very roughly) 300,000 kilometers per second. The ship is 100 times that distance from earth--which means it would take 100 seconds (over a minute and a half) for someone on the ship to receive the words spoken by someone on earth, and vice versa. More than THREE minutes are required for a character to ask a question and get a response.

Yet they're still having real-time conversations. Therefore, they appear to possess FTL communication. You'd think they might have mentioned that....


I received a marked up copy of my story "Flying High" by email today from my editor at Cobblestone Press, along with the CP style guide and a "how to" document for using Word's "track changes" feature. I went over the edits this afternoon. I accepted most of them, suggested different edits for a couple, and made a couple of comments. Then I emailed it back.

I did the editing on my laptop, which runs Windows XP, because my primary PC runs linux and I use OpenOffice instead of Microsoft word. I didn't think OpenOffice could read or work with the track changes feature so I used Word on the laptop instead. But just a few minutes ago opened the emailed copy of my story (the one with the editor's changes rather than my own) in OpenOffice and discovered that I could, in fact, read and work with the changes in OpenOffice.

That's good. It means I don't have to depend on the laptop do my editing. In any case, that ends round 1 of three rounds of edits before it's ready to be published. I still don't know when it'll be published, but we're moving toward publication. Hurray!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cover Art--Again!

Now that I've signed off on the cover proof (metaphorically speaking--no actual signature, just an email exchange), I've received the whole art package. Several images of the cover in various sizes, a banner and a half-banner, and a cropped image from the cover to use as a "button" or icon for promotional purposes.

So if you look to the right, you'll see one of them. That's the cover of my forthcoming Wicked story from Cobblestone Press. I'm very excited!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cover Proof!

I got an email today from one of the artists at Cobblestone Press with an cover proof for my story. It looks good! Still don't know when it'll actually be published, but it's moving forward. Yay!