Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Wife

I thought about sharing some intimate story of how my wife and I met. I wrote the tale of how we established trust. I went into a great deal of detail and erased it all. The picture is something my friend Dan (thanks man) took at the dungeons and dragons table. It does a lot to explain why I love her.

-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grubbs Concept

-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator


-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing Fiction w/o Friction Part 2

Once I had a list of stories and characters complete with descriptions I set about defining the world I was going to write within. I needed to define the cosmology of the world, the societies dwelling within it, and acquire a rough geographic location for the stories to take place. None of this was central to telling a good story, being more necessary to my own confidence.

I defined the cosmology as a collection of earthly bodies, acting as lenses or filters for primordial forces, swimming in the cosmic soup of the void and the elemental powers. This dimensional strata was something I struggled to construct in a visual form until I found a neat mental mapping App for my iPad. Up until that point I worked with a list of metaphysical concepts that would influence the world and the folks living in it.

After doing that I had to write the details of the various societies dwelling within the Dreams & Echoes world. Each was influenced by a different primordial force, and allowed to persist in the world. I hate stories where a group of people seem to persist in a situation for no conceivable reason. I like to read things that make sense while catering to my intellect, allowing me more energy to suspend my belief.

Detailing how those societies or civilizations interact, the means by which they subsist, and their goals can often be summed up in three sentences or less. Anyone wanting to take this road need not make it overly complex. You're only going to change your mind about everything half way through the book anyway. Write to get closer to the primary goal of writing the book. As soon as it starts getting in the way, you're taking too long to prepare.

There is no page requirement for providing the basic landscape of a world you plan to use as the backdrop for your fictional works. I have almost a hundred pages of notes, drawings, and diagrams for Dreams & Echoes. However, I plan to write more than ten book in that world from various angles. That's less than ten pages of prep, per book, for my writing style.

Once I have a good feeling for the world and the content, I'll write some anecdotes or short stories to create a narrative that is distinctive ton the world. Having a distinctive narrative helps me identify whether I am in the mood or frame of mind to work seriously on a particular project. If I can't summon a particular voice, I'll write something else.

I promised I would not be that writer with a shelf full of unfinished projects sticking to one until it was complete. This is, of course, totally impossible if you vary your writing style or narrative. This gives me a sense of the projects that are more difficult to write for. For those particular books, I never pass up the chance to write when I'm in the right mindset. Useful futility I call it.

-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Writing Fiction w/o Friction Part 1

The process and preparation that went into writing my first book was somewhat arcane. I think it is worth committing everything I've done to a record of sorts. Do I think anyone will look at what I've done and find something they can use to help in their own writing? I severely doubt it.

Every book begins as a glimmer of an idea waiting to be born in one of a dozen different ways. Dreams & Echoes began as a Live Action Role Playing Game (2002-2003) adapted to allow people to play supernatural creatures in a post apocalyptic setting. I had a creative staff and roughly twenty five participants who went through the process of exploring my ideas. I mixed metaphysical and temporal concepts to give people a fun outlet every other Monday night.

Only a few participants had any inkling that they were a part of something that went beyond your typical LARP. Most were content to show up, dress up, and just socialize. In the end the project imploded because people on staff couldn't get along. Pretty typical for the Live Action Crowd, drama at the expense of fun.

I wasn't ready to let go of the idea of Dreams & Echoes however. The Live Action Game had lasted almost a year but barely scratched the surface of my ideas. I had a big story to tell and I wasn't going to let a few small minded people discourage me. In 2004 I wrote my own Table Top RPG for the purpose and showed it to a few people. It wasn't well received. A year later I decided to play test the RPG anyway and gathered a couple of tables together for the purpose.

Those RPG tables would provide me the mental exercise to explore my ideas and the feasibility of them with a real audience. From those tables I birthed fertile science fiction and fantasy worlds to write within. Eventually I called the RPG Storytelling Sciences, because in reality that is exactly what it was designed to do. I would tell my story with the participants acting as the main characters. We relied largely on dice and mathematical language to steer the outcomes for hundreds of hours worth of play testing.

At one point I was running three tables every two weeks for a minimum of four hours each. I kept detailed records at each table, gauging my audience's reaction of certain types of stories and characters. Also, everyone had a great time. I could always tell when I'd stumbled across something truly magical, particularly at my Dreams & Echoes tables.

Grubbs and Nippy were written to be very small characters, almost barely a foot note to begin with. The people at that table turned a five minute encounter into something that lasted almost an hour's worth of table time. Even after they got written into the first novel, people have asked me about prequels, short stories, and maybe a graphic novel on those two unlikely heroes.

Numenarch was the same way. I had always written him to merely be a legendary figure, but whenever people had the chance to meet him with their characters during the course of play, the whole tone at the table would change. Even when I stumbled to portray him during the course of the story, people still looked forward to his presence.

Having to mechanically render every character, weapon, and the worlds in which they dwell has helped immensely. I've written no less than five books for Dreams & Echoes that just talked about what characters could or couldn't do, the paths they can follow, and the implements at their disposal. Three out of the five saw lengthy periods of play testing that opened my eyes to a lot of what worked and what didn't. These RPG books are like blue prints or play books for writing my novels.

What it all amounts to is this:

The story I've wanted to tell has already seen numerous audiences.
The characters have already endured the scrutiny of those same audiences.
The substance of the worlds in which I write had to leap the same hurdles.
During the course of all this, I took detailed notes, logging critical data.

It has been crucial to have a peer group (thanks everybody) willing to listen to my ideas, and share in the burden of assessing them. Is there any advice I could give to someone about to start their career writing fiction? Do not write fiction while dwelling within a bubble.


I have gotten some great feedback from a couple of folks on the first draft of my first D&E Book. I am so grateful to those who took the time out of their busy lives to aid me. Thank you.

The second draft should hopefully be done sometime before July 4th. Then comes the flurry of red pens, and reading and rereading the darn thing until it is as perfect as I can get it. I'll be glad when it is all over and the thing is finally published.

I am still uncertain as to how I'll actually get the thing to see print. Guess I'll worry about that when I actually have a product. I hate putting it off, but the more I read on the subject right now, the more conflicted I get. Part of me wants to just let someone else do the work and shop publishers.

Some part of me wants to be a publisher.

-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator

Monday, June 21, 2010

iOS4 for iPad

Apple says we'll be waiting until the Fall for iOS 4 for iPad.

Most of what the iOS4 did for my iPod Touch was pretty cool. The new features are really valuable to that particular device and will probably be even better on an iPhone. Exciting for anyone who uses either of these devices.

iPad users?

We've already got a neat Photo App.
We've already got a neat Mail App.
We've already got bluetooth Keyboard Functionality.
We've already got a bunch of stuff.

We also don't have a lot of stuff. Stuff that is specific to iPhones and iPod Touches.

I'm wondering what iOS4 for the iPad will bring.

Multi-tasking? Such as it is.
Folders? As I've said before, I'm very excited about that.

What else can we look forward to? I have a wish list.

Fix the Wi-Fi connection issues. They are few, but fix them.

Allow Pages, Notepad, Photos and similar to export directly to third party Apps like Dropbox.

iPad (HD) Apps for Clock, Weather, Voice Memos, Stocks, and Calculator. (Shaddup!)

Fix the Pages App so it doesn't lose any formatting when importing from the desktop version.

While I'm dreaming, App Store and iTunes Apps that were easier to navigate would be nice too.

Update: I just watched the video on Apple's website for the face time functionality. The last twenty seconds of it made me feel like a reprobate heel. Everything I've said about how putting a camera on the iPad or any similar device would be a bad thing? I take it all back.

iOS4 First Impressions

Downloaded iOS 4 for my iPod touch (latest Generation) and fired it up.

I can't detect any increase or decrease in performance. My iPod Touch functions as it always have, with the same amount of speed, battery life, etc.

Yes, it multitasks according to the basic definition. Juggling is probably a better definition as it seems to keep things in the tray until they are needed or pulled up to the screen. From the home screen, you can double click the home button to reveal a tray showing every app you've opened recently. I assume these apps, if they had the functionality built into them, could run while you were in another app. Pandora is the only App I've got right now that does that like a champ. Everything else was designed push functionality, which is kinda messed up.

When you have the tray revealed, press and hold one of the Apps like you when you want to rearrange them. It gives you the option to kick them out of the Tray. Basically it's a quick way to stop an App without thumbing over to wherever it happens to be on the home screen.

No more instant messaging on my iPod Touch for awhile.

iBooks is fantastic on the iPod Touch. While it pains me to say this, I hope it functions this good on the iPad after it receives some iOS4 love.

Being able to set wallpaper on the home and lock screens is cool, and like the iPad the firmware update installed some stock stuff for the purpose.

The new folders option is snazzy. Just drag one App into another one to make a folder, at which point it gives you the option to name it. Then drag more Apps into the folder, all of which appear on the thumbnail as tiny um... thumbnails.

The Mail App got a nice makeover. It looks better and it takes a few less gestures to reach your account information. It also has an option to see all your mail from all your accounts in one window. Super Good.

Photos seems to have some new functionality as well. There's a tab at the bottom for Faces, Events, and Albums I don't recall seeing before.

Calculator got a new icon.

All in all I'm very pleased and can't wait for it to come out for iPad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Yesterday, I sat around a table with two of my good friends. I'd done one of them a favor, garnering me a drink on their dime. The other had done me a favor, and acquired a drink (and a cookie) as a consequence. The best part of all that? No one was keeping score. Doing a favor for someone is the best excuse to spend time with that someone. My grandma keeps promising to make me a pie for helping her with my computer. I don't care if she ever does. She has 41 Grandchildren, and helping her with her computer gives me unfettered access and time with her.

Those minutes are of incalculable value.

There are only three treasures worth procuring in this life. Relationships, the experience that comes from Travel, and Education. These are the only things that have a chance of enduring beyond this life. They are those things which we garner by the purest acts of our agency.

On Fathers Day I'll be doing a red-eye trip to Salt Lake with my Dad. Hopefully, we spend only an hour or so in Salt Lake before turning around for home. The best part about traveling, is the getting there, those moments where we have nothing else to do but contemplate the universe. I suppose the destination should be filed under education when cataloguing our experiences. Regardless, it's best to have a good attitude about being trapped in a car for 10 hours.

So much of what we do in life is waiting. What we do while we wait is just as important as whatever it is we're waiting for. There is a lot a good iPad (shameless plug) can do to help with that, but there is something to be said about starting a conversation with random folks in line with you, writing a song on a napkin, or having a great thought you share with no one.

I'd like to think I was a fountain of sensible advice.

Be careful.
Look before you leap.
Save every cent you can.
Don't hurt anyone.
Be as boring as possible.

That advice taken liberally by yours truly has resulted in acid reflux, general anxiety disorder, and seven years of time spent doing things that wasn't writing my books. Basically, my ability to analyze the risk/satisfaction ratio of a given course of action was crap. If I couldn't see an almost certain benefit, I wouldn't do it. I garnered the means to exist, while denying myself any motive to do so. I had multiple creative outlets, but none that embraced my true passion.


Party like a rockstar.
Armor up and leap.
Money is a means to an end only.
Hurt anyone that threatens what's important to you.
Grant yourself something to look forward each day, each week, and next month. Thinking much further ahead than that is just dreaming.

Make sure you dream.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Taking Inventory

I've got a new book I'm simply calling the Amnesia Project for lack of a working title. I'm 10k words into it and already feeling like this is just me stretching my legs, but its fun to write when I lack the focus or concentration for more serious work. Watch, it'll be the thing that sells like crazy while my more serious work languishes. Way of the world.

The second draft for my first D&E novel is going slowly on purpose. I'm really enjoying the process of going through fixing my own work, adding in the small details, tweaking the dialogue, and so forth. It isn't like teaching a child you helped to create ride a bike or say their first words. It's more like teaching that child to fire a rifle, or just believe in themselves. The second draft seems to speak with more confidence than the first.

Went ahead and wrote 3k words on the second D&E novel after lunch, beginning with a narrative written by Precept. I like imagining I'm one of the characters in the story, writing as they would have written the story. Then, in the aftermath going back and writing it in a different narrative detailing the events as they actually occurred. I often wonder what it would be like to have the words as history wrote them in my hand, traveling back in time with me, to witness the actual event.

My RPG files managed to crawl back out onto my desktop as well and I've resolved to publish them for free PDF download from my website in the next couple of weeks.

Need to to blow off the dust on my Intuos4 and return to sketching for my web comic. I really like the internet as a medium and have totally fallen in love with the process. Even if I never get a web comic posted to my site, and the spot I set aside for it remains empty, I really enjoy the creative act of drawing. I should settle on a trio of main characters and get to work figuring out how I want them to look, write storyboards. I'll do that tomorrow. Or maybe the day after. Pretty soon. Maybe.

Updated my website. I still need to lay out next months work in my Things App and in iCal. I've fallen a couple of weeks behind trying to work on my health and my sleep schedule. For some reason my body wants to sleep from 2 - 11 AM no matter what I do. Maybe I should quit fighting it and just work and sleep when my body wants so long as I stay on schedule? Dunno.

Tonight I'll be running the second table for my classic Dungeons and Dragons game. Rather than use my iPad to render and prepare everything like I do for my other tables, I've got completely pencil and paper. It is nice to know there are some things that should not be touched or tainted by technology and are best represented as it was intended. Yeah, there's at least one person using their iPhone to roll dice at the table, but it doesn't detract from my personal enjoyment of the game.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Process

Ten thousand words into my second book and I am struck by how rough my initial ideas seem. The beginning of any story often resorts to a sort of crude verbal contrivance. As the author we have to grab the reader early even resorting to deception or misdirection to that end.

The first chapter has to set a prescident though. I looked carefully at what I'd written and realized I'd lied to the reader inthe first chapter and thus damaged the suspense in the second. The lie was a needed deception based on the narrative, but I wonder if there isn't some higher road.

The most powerful asset anyone telling a story can possess? A trusting audience. People expect a certain level of chicanery from a magician, for thf purpose of providing entertainment. Storytellers are rarely afforded that luxury.

Merely telling a convienient truth falls somewhere between stating the obvious and stalling. Your audience might forgive being deceived in order to make the truth more interesting by comparison, but this just seems like more stalling.

I should fix what I've done now before I proceed.

-- sent from my iPad mini. n_n

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I've been in a big hurry. Wrote the first draft of my book in something like 19 working days and immediately pressed the wife for an edit so I could start the second draft. It occurred to me that in the aftermath I needed to have people that weren't my wife and I read the thing before I set about adding eight thousand words or so to it. I selected a handful of the most trusted and ethical people I know to read it, and sent out a PDF or handed out a physical copy. Now comes the part where I wait to the limit of my patience for some feedback before diving into the second draft.

What the hell do I do until then. I'm pretty patient I like to think. (shut up)

I did a couple of paintings on my iPad, and started the second edit. Diversionary but completely unsatisfying at this point without more practice and my feedback (respectively). Then it occurs to me, I could just start writing another book, or two. My RPG continues to roll to the bottom of my priorities list, even though it would probably take less than a week to finish the work.

Writing another book before I've even finished the process of publishing the first? Crazy talk. Having no understanding of my own process because I haven't refined it yet... makes me wonder if I'm going to second guess what's in the first book while writing stuff for the second book. Write a book outside the Dreams & Echoes world about something totally different. I have only a single idea for another book. More crazy talk?

Here I go again, another 19 days staring at my iMac while I try to tell another very long story.

The War Begins

There are companies whose only service is to track what you cut and paste from articles you read online. Tynt makes millions off people hitting command (or control) C to watch people copy text from articles. Basically, its spyware that companies actually pay to have on their website. Most of the print media is banking on the advertisements placed alongside their clumsy websites and clunky web content. Only the most tech savvy media outlets seem to have websites that aren't garish or difficult to navigate because of advertisements.

There are RSS feed programs that can strip the text you want while leaving the java-scripted spyware and ads in the dust. The New York Times went after Pulse recently for the usual legal mumbo-jumbo and for a few moments in cyberspace, Pulse was taken off the App Store. A relatively small event in the history of the internet. Or is it?

The comical part of companies like the New York Times going after apps like Pulse or Instapaper is that these apps weren't removing the ads or the java script that tracks your cut and paste, and Lord knows what else on purpose. It was simply the nature of the way the apps had to be written for Apple's device. You can't save offline content without removing java script, and ads made in Flash won't run on Apple's iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone and have to be automatically excluded for an RSS feed reader.

As the people who produce media trip over the folks crafting filters for folks to view that media, it occurs to me that companies like Apple are going to get caught in the middle. Excluding Flash was a brilliant move on Apple's part. Early adopters got to experience the web largely flash (advertisement) free, Apple got tons of free publicity, and they get a piece of every app like Instapaper or Pulse that sells as a filter for web content.

Will companies like The New York Times generally resort to litigation instead of innovation? I bought a copy Wired and Sideways for my iPad on principle alone, I want the medium to succeed. We live in a world where most people are running a 3-5 year old Windows PC or Laptop, with a browser one or two steps removed from the latest version. Not everyone is savvy enough to go in and change the core programming of their OS thwarting companies like Tynt, or have their news routed to a RSS Feed reader to avoid obnoxious ads and other intrusions on the senses. Most people will suffer with crappy web content because it is all they have ever known.

All it will take is one serious invasion of a person's privacy and the market will grab onto that headline and market browser ad-ons, apps, and services to "protect you". Yeah, companies like Norton, AVG and McAfee have been making money for years keeping an unsuspecting populace safe from computer viruses developed by some hacker trying to get your bank account number or credit card number. So what happens when legitimate programmers start competitively making real money selling programs that protect people from having their privacy or senses intruded upon by companies peddling media using legitimate web content?

Companies like the New York Times can either...

A) Make a kick-ass website with ads blended into the content in a stylistic and pleasing way. Also, the web content tracks only when you visited the site, and what hyper-linked text or ads you clicked.

B) Instead of giving money to web developers and creatives, they give them to Lawyers and try to produce litigation to suppress apps like Pulse and Instapaper.

Personally, I think the reason Pulse came back to the App store so quickly is that the New York Times is a savvy newspaper and knew they were making a gigantic mistake.


Tynt Blocker Extension for Safari (Hurrah!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Avatars of the Void should fill a person with dread, apprehension, and no small amount of fear. Most of them have never been human, and have no perspective relative to the temporal existence most finite beings are forced to live. Hinth, The Crone (pictured) quickly learned the value of such things in the wake of her sister's destruction trying to protect Green (also pictured). She will eventually becomes one the Penumbral Society's greatest allies.

Rendering Character

I wanted the Shades from my book to be otherworldly looking but have a lot of color. Humans granted a spark of the Primordial Shadow itself are going to look, well... Shadowy? Trying to render Numenarch with this thought in mind yielded a strange result. Not super happy with it because I know what everyone will likely think when they see it.

I think I'll try painting a shade that isn't Numenarch.

-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Good/Bad News Bean OSX

Well, there will be no Bean for the iPad. However, Mr. Hoover says he's working on a new version for the Mac. While I'm saddened to hear that I won't have my favorite text editor on my favorite device, I can't wait to see the next version.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I have thought of little else save my book for the last month. My mind is consequently clouded with the feeling of being completely unfettered with thoughts only of tommorrow. It is like the feeling one gets at the end of a school year with the summer looming ahead, and trying to sleep when every night feels like Christmas eve.

I highly recommend the sum of the task that is writing a book. I think everyone should do it at least once in their lives. Even if you only have the time to write one page a day. In a year you'll have a 350 page book and something to be proud of.

Giddy to continue the last few steps before I publish, I keep waking in the middle of the night, my dreams granting me no peace. Each time it is like waking up after you've fallen asleep in the forest. Wind in the trees, the sound of whatever woke you rapidly fading into the night.

I wonder if I will remember writing this in the morning?

-- sent from my iPad mini. n_n

Friday, June 4, 2010


There is a distinct advantage to only being one piece of the puzzle, one cog in the big machine, or a single step in the process. There is less stress, the ability to really specialize in a given area, and feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself.

I don't think that's what I want to do.

I watched a couple of videos on my Cool Hunting app on my iPad. The first was about a bed maker in Sweden that hand makes mattresses. They control every aspect, and only build the mattresses to order. The whole process is done with a great deal of thought. They didn't reinvent the wheel or anything, but there are beds made by these guys still in use a century later.

The next video was about these guys who make chocolate back east. They hand sort all the beans, and have a custom process for providing a product that is pure and made by people who care. I really liked the idea that they could be successful by seeking simplicity with a craftsman's pride.

Beds and chocolate, products that everyone probably needs or wants at some point.

Books. Publishing a book... there are many options. The chief complaint I have seen about ebooks is their poor arrangement and editing. I can pay Lulu one hundred dollars to arrange my work in ePub format, or I can learn to do it myself. It is very tempting to just pay someone else to arrange my work, but I feel like it is part of the craft most authors have never embraced, letting a traditional publisher handle the details.

I want to be a craftsman in this regard, not just telling a good story but also arranging my own works in various digital and print formats. I think it had always been my intention to do so, but it makes more sense to me now than it did before.

-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Stack

As I wrote the final words to my book, I felt a great rush of achievement. It is something I had for nine months sought out, researched, and taken careful steps to plan for. I knew that the preparation would be worth it in the end when I decided to sit down and write the darned thing.

67,978 words.

397 pages in Courier 12, double spaced.

25 Days, including weekends, almost a week behind the probably impossible schedule I set for myself.

I look forward to going through and beginning the process of editing. Knowing myself, the book will probably swell to the 75k words I had envisioned. It seems to be the nature of my mind to see the numbers in something clearly as it works itself out.

I am so glad to be on the other side of the hardest part of writing a book, just getting the story down on paper.


One of the characters in my book carries a Mare's Leg. Feel free to mute the sound so you don't have to listen to the mostly worthless ... monologue?

Update: Found a video that has a cool good ol' boy instead of a D-bag.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Best Part

After writing almost 7500 words yesterday, I am still behind schedule. My brother Matthew reminded me that if we always met our goals, we would never be truly testing ourselves. I dismissed his words at the time because little would comfort me in my quest to feel bad about failing to meet a personal deadline.

In all, I'll have written a 75,000 word book in 25 days, including weekends. Regardless of my personal goals, that seems really fast. There is part of me that would deny myself the respite of a social life and concentrate on getting the whole of the Dreams & Echoes series written in less than a year.

The more I write, the easier it gets.

The problem is that my old Dungeons & Dragons books call to me. I have even contemplated running an old basic, circa 1977, table complete with awarding experience points for gold pieces recovered. My diversions provide me so much in the way of fuel for my creative endeavors.

Or maybe I should spend the month of June painting pictures to go at the head of each chapter of my book as a distraction from the tedium of editing. I already made a list of characters I would like to render in sketchbook pro, in my Things app, with my thumb.

The best thing about nearing the end of any project? Figuring out how to pass the time until you begin the next one.

-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator