Block Revision – almost finished!

September 19, 2012

After several weeks of hard work, (and taking August off to go to camp,) I’m nearly finished the Block Revision of ‘Children.’ There’s only one scene card left to do, and I should be able to write it tomorrow evening.

It’s a weird sensation. I feel like I’m not sure if I’ve been doing it ‘right’, and I don’t really want to go and reread the lesson until I’m done, having gotten this far. But I’m pretty sure that when I finish this pass, I’ll have a much stronger and tighter novel than I started with. Then I can figure out what lesson 18 of ‘How to Revise your Novel’ is about. 🙂

Sansa view player – a tale of two protocols

September 18, 2012

I’ve had my Sansa View video/mp3 player for well over four years at this point. I don’t actually use it that much anymore, but keep it loaded with content, especially for long trips – mostly as an alternate to the iPod and iPhone, to be honest. It’s very similar to my iPod Nano, actually – a bit bigger, including a slightly bigger screen, but it’s slightly easier to fast-forward on the Nano.

Anyway, I was adjusting the content I had on the View yesterday evening, and that got me fooling around with the two different USB protocols that you can use with it. At first, the View only supported MTP – Media Transport Protocol. Now, the important thing with any data transfer protocol for a slave device, like a media player, is which microprocessor is directly responsible for talking to the device storage. You can’t have both the desktop and the player’s microprocessor reading from and writing to the onboard memory at the same time, because bad things happen if they try to access the same cluster at the same moment.

MTP protocol is the delegation approach – like if the Sansa View is a warehouse, the onboard microprocessor is the stock boy, and the desktop processor is the guy from head office. Here, head office tells the stock boy, “I need you to store A, B, C, give me a copy of D, give me F and not keep a copy, and throw G in the dumpster. Don’t bother me with the details.” And the stock boy does all that.

For whatever reasons, MTP support on the Sansa View was always a little buggy for me – I might copy a bunch of video files over, and one of them would fail. Sandisk released a firmware upgrade that offered the ability to switch into MSC protocol: Mass Storage Class. This is the same protocol that’s used by flash drives, though they don’t really have an onboard processor to worry about. In MSC protocol, the guy from head office tells the stock boy that he’s going to take care of everything and the stock boy doesn’t need to know the details; “just stay in the break room so you’re out of the way.” 🙂

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Six Sentence Sunday: The Witches of Arion

September 16, 2012

Hi, Six Sentence Sunday-ers, and I hope you’re having a good week. This time I’m going to start sharing snippets from the unfinished novel ‘The Witches of Arion’, which I started for Camp Nanowrimo’s August session. This is somewhat raw unedited prose, so I’m sorry for any little mistakes that creep in.

This book started as a prequel idea to my seaside fantasy “The Storm Mirror”, and tells some of how the old dead witch in that story, Grandmother Sunshine, became a witch in the first place…

Nashua had no idea what was missing in her life until the day the Fair came to town.

It hadn’t been anything obvious. There was always food on the table, and a few toys in her room, and she’d learned early that not every little girl was so lucky. Nashua’s father was very important and talked with the Baron of Egya every day, though he wasn’t usually happy when he came back home from the big Manor House. Mother was always very nice to Nashua and Father. There weren’t any other children around their little home, but that suited Nashua fine when she stopped to think about it. Having a brother or sister had never sounded particularly interesting to her.

Most months Nashua went to a school up the hill, six days a week, heading out just after dawn, and school went until the second hour after noon.

I hope you enjoy reading, and thanks for any comments. I’ll try to find some candy for people who reply!

Goals versus Expectations

September 15, 2012

I’m on Holly Lisle‘s mailing list and get some interesting tips from her on a weekly basis. There was a particularly great email yesterday talking about Goals and what she calls ‘expectations’, which a lot of people confuse. Basically, in her terms, a goal is something that you can achieve, (pretty certainly) if you work at it hard enough, but expectations are the things where all you can do is keep trying, do your best – and hope. Like being signed by an agent, being published, having a best-seller, or winning awards. I think that’s a pretty good way of looking at it.

On the other hand, I’m also a bit of a nit-picker. One of the examples Holly gives as a goal is accumulating X many rejection letters from submitted stories. Myself, I would say that submitting stories X many times is the goal. A rejection letter is an outcome that you have no control over, just like a sale, so you can’t necessarily reach X many rejection letters just by hard work. You’re quite likely to, but that’s not the same thing, because by fluke luck you might keep getting sales.


Yeah, I know that doesn’t make much of a difference in the real world, but I like to think about the remote impossibilities as well.

So – what goals are you working on now, and what hopes and expectations are you entertaining?

Lots to say about ‘Much Ado…’

September 14, 2012

So, I went up to the Toronto International Film Festival today, to see the last screening of Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” and I loved it. I’d recommend it to anybody, whether they be a fan of Joss Whedon, Shakespeare, both, or neither. But I’m going to direct most of what I have to say in this post to anybody who might be in the same boat as I was coming in:

  • No familiarity with this specific play. I knew that it was Shakespeare, and I’ve read and seen around a dozen Shakespeare plays, but ‘Much Ado’ wasn’t on the list until today.
  • Some familiarity with recent popular television shows and/or blockbuster movies. (I don’t think you’ll have to have seen anything by Joss for this to make sense.)
  • Not much familiarity with typical ‘festival films’, as such.

There are a few things that struck me about the movie that I’ll mention by way of introduction. It’s in black and white, and most of the dialog is in the traditional Shakespearean mode, though I suspect there are very small moments where it was updated for clarity. That was very jarring for me at the start, but I found myself getting used to it very quickly.

There was also a kinduv cool dissonance between the medieval/Renaissance aspects of the script, and the modern setting Joss puts it in. The characters are still Italian lords and ladies who have just returned from a war, but they drive around in cars and play music on ipods. (The ipod got a huge laugh from the audience the first time.) To intimidate someone before challenging a duel, Benedick shows a gun in a shoulder holster instead of gesturing to a sword at his hip.

I found it a little hard to keep track of the cast of characters, so for anybody who’s interested, I’ll share a quick rundown, along with hints about where you might have seen these faces before. More or less in order of appearance:

Benedick is a gentleman, soldier, and confirmed bachelor. The movie opens on a wordless scene of Benedick dressing and leaving Beatrice’s room as she sleeps. He vows to never get married or fall in love, and has nothing but scorn for men who do. He’s very witty and is well regarded for his sense of humor, and trades all kinds of verbal jabs and spars with Beatrice whenever they run into each other. He has recently served in a war on the side of Prince Pedro, who he’s close to. Benedick is played by Alexis Denisof, well-known for playing Wesley on ‘Angel’ and Sandy Rivers on ‘How I met your mother.’

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My Nano ML’s journey has begun, kind of

September 13, 2012

I went to meet some writer friends and fellow Wrimo-ers at a new coffee shop this evening, scouting it out as a possible Nanowrimo venue. One of the friends is a many-times Hamilton ML, and I’m joining her as Nanowrimo Co-ML for the first time ever. We decided that the place, the Mulberry cafe, would be a pretty good place for a Kick-off party, because we can reserve their gallery room, but maybe not so good for a write-in as the only tables with outlets are also closest to the loud music.

I’m very excited about being a Nanowrimo ML for the first time, but also a bit nervous about the responsibility, and of having to keep up with my friend. I’ve been ML for Script Frenzy before, but that was always fairly small and low-key. I’m going to need to up my game for November. It should be a fun challenge.

I also got two short scenes finished for Block Revision, and Elizabeth Twist got a page and a bit scribbled in with her pen. (My Co-ML brought a netbook, but wasn’t able to get any writing done, blaming the music.)

So it was a great evening.

What I’ve been reading lately: September 2012

September 12, 2012

Well, I’ve definitely been reading a lot. As I think I’ve mentioned, all the waiting in lines I did for Fan Expo and Dragon*Con helped – it’s easy to pull out a Kindle (or a smartphone or PDA) and read while you’re waiting for that Q&A session or autograph, and I read several of the Buffy season 7 comics on the plane when they don’t allow you to have electronic devices turned on.

But I can’t blame all my reading progress on conventions. I recently finished the last ‘Harry Potter’ book, (which was a great read, I was so excited as I was getting near the end, with the Battle of Hogwarts and the final confrontation between Harry and You-Know-Who, not to mention the stuff with Severus in it,) and the Fourth Harry Dresden book, Summer Knight, which was enormous fun in a completely different way.

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed reading anything quite so much recently as the moment where Dresden gets the Maguffin back from the bad’un at the height of the climactic Faerie battle scene. Before running away with it, he imitates Road Runner and yells “Meep-meep!” 😀 Not many authors could make a moment like that work, but Jim Butcher gets away with it because it’s consistent with what we’ve learned about Harry in the books leading up to it.

And ‘Summer Knight’ is #49 on my 52 books in 2012 list, which suggests that I’m well ahead of schedule! I wonder if I can make it up to 70 books in the year.

Other titles I’ve finished recently:

  • The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
  • All Together Dead, by Charlaine Harris
  • Vampire Diaries: The Struggle, by LJ Smith
  • Castle Kidnapped, by John de Chancie
  • Buffy Season 8: #3-5
  • Star Trek New Frontier: Dark Allies, by Peter David
  • Dragon’s Kin, by Todd McCaffrey

I’m currently reading “The Glamour Chase”, a fun Doctor Who novel I picked up at a convention years ago, and “Star Trek: Behind Enemy Lines”, which involves some of the characters from TNG in the Dominion War plotlines from Deep Space Nine.

By the way, Happy Programmer’s day to any fellow coders out there. I saw something about this earlier on twitter, but it wasn’t until I was doing a bit of math to see how well I was doing on the reading that I remembered the reasoning for Programmer’s day – it’s day 256 of the year. 😉

And if you’re a Nano-er and haven’t seen this yet, go vote for Nanowrimo at Chase Community Giving. They could get a donation of $50-250 thousand dollars!

Disappointing news for would-be campaigners

September 11, 2012

I’ve had a lot of fun in Rachael Harrie’s platform-building campaigns (or crusades, which is what they were called before all the bad press around the crusades got the name changed. 😉 ) I was looking forward to the Fifth Campaign in the second half of 2012, but apparently, like Patrick Stewart’s visit to Toronto, it’s been postponed until 2013.

Now, I can sympathize with whatever else Rachael’s got on her plate at the moment, and nobody else can really run a full Writers Platform-Building event like she can, but if there’s any other blogging crusaders-at-heart out there, maybe we can still get together and have some bloggy, Platform-Building fun this fall. To start with, I’m hereby opening applications for a new Crusader Spotlight series, running from now to October 30th 2012. If anybody wants to start a Crusader Challenge blogfest, count me in! And let me know about any other Crusadey fun you can think of.

Crusaders ho! Who’s with me?

Six Sentence Sunday – Gotta have that look 12

September 9, 2012

Check out the full list of participants over at the Six Sentence Sunday home site. In the world of the future, anybody can use genetic treatments to look exactly how they want – or can they? This will be my last six from ‘Gotta have that look’, and hopefully I’ll be able to pick something new to share sixes from by next week!

First Six. Second Six. Third Six. Fourth Six. Fifth Six. Sixth Six.
Seventh Six. Eighth Six. Ninth Six. Tenth Six. Eleventh Six.

I could recognize the voice. No matter how much she changed her look, she hadn’t touched a vocal cord manipulator in a year and a half. “Thanks for coming to visit me, Diane.”

A fluffy pillow hit me in the face before I spotted it coming. “You’re not welcome,” Diane screamed. “You really frighten me, Jimmy, and if anything more serious than this had happened to you, I’d have… well, I don’t know what I’d have done, and you might never have known, but I’d never have forgiven you.”

Muchos big thank-yous for feedback and comments!

Block revision: Picking up where I left off

September 8, 2012

So, I said at the end of July that I’d resume Block Revision (Lesson 17 from the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course,) in September after I was back home from Dragon*Con. It took a few days, but I started on Thursday, and now I’ve got four new scenes blocked out, taking me up to scene 39 out of 57 scenes on my Focus Outline.

It’s going okay so far, but I feel like I’m in stop-and-go traffic instead of cruising down the revision highway. I’ll set the timer for 45 minutes, play the Monastery music, sit down, bang out one scene, look at the next… and have just no idea what I need to do with it. I think maybe I’m just out of touch with the Focus Outline, and maybe what I need to do next is review every card from here to the end of the book and let my subconscious chew on them and figure things out.

Or I may need to get the entire Block Revision layout back on the living room table. I’ve only been getting what I need so far, which includes:

  • Alphasmart
  • Focus cards
  • Completed pages
  • Pages yet to work on
  • Pens
  • Important character notes
  • Binder of not-so-important notes
  • Beverage container
  • Snacks if I can work them into the diet

Then again, maybe I’m worrying over nothing. It took me a while to work up to speed in July, even after the week of preparations I took to make sure I was ready to start on Block Revision.

I’ll get it done. I’m sure of that.

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