Monthly Archive: August 2013

Sudden Unexpected Desktop PC Issues

Computer equipment breaks. I’m well aware of that constant threat. I’ve had hard drives go down, monitors stop working, and printers get all cloggy. These things happen at random. Sporadically.

Except for tonight.

Right before heading out to work, I discovered both of my desktop PCs are giving me problems.

On my oldest, the shutdown process ended with a Blue Screen of Death. Something about a power module failure. So… fail! I want the power off. Don’t scare me into thinking things are heading into the crapper. Granted, this computer is at least five years old. But it’s run solidly for a while now, even with Vista as the OS. I keep it off most of the time, booting it when I want to update the software and stuff, or use programs I haven’t bothered to load onto my newer desktop. Or to play Starcraft II, which I have not for some time now. I wonder if the little battery on the motherboard might be going out, as I have left the computer off for an extended period recently. Have to research that. Hopefully things will boot smoothly tomorrow morning when I turn it on.

As for my newer desktop, looks like the hard drive is about to crap out. It boots into safe mode, so that’s something, at least. If it boots tomorrow, I plan to back up as much as I can, maybe deactivate a few programs like Adobe CS5 so I can reinstall them if I need to. I know how to get to a pre-boot diagnostic function. We’ll see if that fixes the problem. If not, then I’ll try to copy everything onto a 750GB drive I have loaded as extra space and make that the C: drive. Though issues with my older computer have me worried, this one has me really irked. It’s relatively new- about two years old. I didn’t think hard drive should crap out so quickly. If it’s only the hard drive and I have a chance to copy everything, then fine. I can live with this. If it’s something else… well, then, I’ll be really disappointed.

Good thing I have my laptop. It’s not given me any signs of crapping out. Most of my important work I keep on external drives, so if it does I should be all right in the long run.

But what are the odds both desktops attempt to go down on the same day? With completely different issues? They’re both hardware-related, so I’m not spazzing out about potential virus or malware problems. And anything hardware related could in theory be replaced. I just find the timing suspicious. I’ll need one computer running to help figure out problems with the other.

This should be an interesting weekend.

First Draft of Witch Warden in the Bag

Well, it took me months longer than the other books in the trilogy, but I finally finished the first full draft of my current work in progress, Witch Warden: The Ux-Blood Trilogy, Book III.

It’s 222 pages, 128,915 words. This is straight prose, of course; no chapter headings, page headers, title page or author information. Adding all that will probably balloon things over 130K, which will irritate my copy editor to no end. I plan to put the manuscript through the wringer and trim the shit out it where I can. But I also want to add some things, too, to make the story more cohesive as a whole. While I hope the additions amount to fewer words after the deletions, I can’t be sure that’ll happen. So a scene or two may have to go or be combined. I think there are a few places where I can accomplish that, but won’t know for sure until I get deeper into the revisions.

I do plan to add more emotional content. I usually wait until a second or third revision for that. Doing so allows me to look at the story overall and see what emotions I need where and when they change. My first drafts are usually all about the plot. Getting that nailed down makes everything easier for me. Readers of both the first and later drafts of my last novel, Witchblood, got to see that process as I posted my revisions. I’m not going through the website theNextBigWriter.com for this manuscript, though I do have two beta readers following along (shout-outs to Jeanie and Janet!). We’ll see if not having a broader audience making comments results in a less-powerful work. I’m confident this story is as good, if not better, than the previous two. But we’ll see.

In any case, I done did up a full first draft! That’s always a cause for celebration! Time for a never-ending pasta bowl at the Olive Garden! Nom nom nom!

Wrote Up a New Short Story!

I was working on my current work in progress, Witch Warden last night. Around 11:00pm, the idea for my latest short story hit me in a flash. I thought about it for a bit, decided it had some appeal, and put my WIP aside for the next four hours. It was good to take a break, really. In the end, I had my latest short story all wrote up! It’s called Crash Site and it’s a science-fiction story of a teenage girl who spots a star which turns out to be a damaged starcraft falling into the atmosphere.

You can read it here! It’s in PDF format, so everyone on the internet and around the world should be able to read it. Tell your friends about it! Tell your enemies! Tell your friends’ enemies!

I’m kinda happy with how it came out. Writing it wasn’t really a challenge- the idea seemed to come to my head fully formed, which is nice. A similar thing happened when I was writing my last novel-length manuscript, Witchblood. I think two short stories tried to get themselves born while I was writing that one. I think I did stop and bust out my novelette Chainsaw, then forced myself to wait until I was done editing Witchblood before writing out a first draft of Closure. Right now Closure is a novelette, too, but when I do the re-writes I plan to add a whole new character which I think will double the story’s size, making it a true blue novella. I hope, though, this isn’t a trend. I’d much rather finish what I’m working on before dealing with something new. Crash Site was a really short and fully formed idea, so I felt it was safe to do so in this case. But those exceptions may be rare. I don’t usually write shorter works. (Though with the number I have now, you might think otherwise.)

Anyway, I had a good feeling all day after finishing Crash Site. It just came out pretty well. It’s nothing spectacular or game-changing, just a little short story. It’ll probably end up in a collection I’ll put together at some point. And I think it’ll deserve its place!

Progress on A Child of Byne Publication

Hello!

While writing the manuscript and creating the cover may seem like all the hard work, it’s turning to be getting the actual story into publication suffers from its own set of speed bumps. Nothing unusual there.

First, the files have to be submitted to the printer for approval. When that doesn’t happen, nothing moves forward. For an author to finally get all that “hard” work done only to have the publisher not submit the files for printer approval in a timely manner… well, other considerations pop into mind. (Smashwords, anyone?) Author loyalty only goes so far with so many options these days. But for me, it will take a goodly number of such oversights to push me off to new avenues.

Then small issues appear when the printer finally does receive the finished material. The publisher forgetting to request a new template for an agreed-upon lower price for the finished product can be a simple oversight in an otherwise busy world. Taking the long view, though, and seeing it as part of a trend (like forgetting to upload the finished files to the printer) adds to that feeling of “maybe there’s something not quite kosher here.” But again, I understand.

I’m in no hurry to get things published, really. While it’s a joy to have a finished product in hand and be able to say, “I did this!” there’s no great stress in getting it out there. It will happen with a certain inevitability if the author means it to be. For example, I probably spent too many months dinkering with the back cover artwork than was necessary. I’d even put it aside for weeks at a time. If I intended for the book to be put on sale in a timely fashion, I certainly wouldn’t have procrastinated like that. So I’ve no real issue with my author-friendly publisher pushing an actual publication date further along with a couple of honest oversights. In all honesty, my part of the process is essentially complete. (I still have to proof the first copy and make sure it’s all spiffy, which I did not do for the first proofs of Terrorcruise and Earth Cell, much to my regret, but that’s a fun thing!) Now I have to let the rest of the process run its course.

A Child of Byne will be published soon. Likely before the end of the month. Which is fine with me. Just thought I’d pass along some of the little bumps in the road that I’m encountering now, stuff non-writers might not know about. These problems are out of my control, so I’m not fretting about them. Each issue will be resolved, or has been. Eventually I’ll have my prize in hand. Like the writing and art-working, all the rest of the process is exactly that. Part of the process.

An End to My Long Chapters

Readers who’ve braved my Ux-Blood Trilogy (and I know there’s one or two of you out there) know I went crazy on the chapter size for those stories. Chapters of 20K words (which run about fifty or sixty pages) are not uncommon- and may even be at the light end of the scale. I think the longest chapter might be forthcoming with Witch Warden– chapter 3 at over 24K words. There’s a lot going on in that chapter, but… well. (Though I will say chapter 3 of the novella, A Child of Byne, is pretty stinking long, too.)

Why did I stick to a mere six chapters and an epilogue for all three books (a mere four chapters and an epilogue for A Child of Byne), with the results being ridiculously enormous chapters? This may sound hookey, but it’s due to the structure of the original series, written in the early 1990s, each manuscript also being six chapters long. Now, they weren’t as long. I don’t think a single one of those books breached the 100K word barrier. Those chapters might have been considered long at the time, too, but with the updated versions (which you the reader get to read) things sort of got out of hand. I didn’t really know going in how big (pardon the pun) an issue this would become. For the series, I thought it would be nice to have a certain consistency in the book structure as it did with the cover art. Looking back, though (and looking ahead to the publication of Witch Warden), it’s not something I foresee me ever doing again.

Today, as I embark on chapter 6 of Witch Warden, my current work in progress, I realize that this will be the last ginormous chapter I write. I see it easily hitting the 20K word count. At things stand, the manuscript is around 106K words, so chapter 6 and the Epilogue will edge it into 130K word territory- about on par with the second book in the series, Witchblood. I’d like to trim Witch Warden down a bit, and will have a chance to do so in the revision process. But there’s also tidbits I intend to add to round things out. They might cancel each other out and leave me with a 130K word manuscript after all. But no matter how things turn out, chapter 6 will be the final big, bloated monstrosity of a chapter I will probably ever write.

I don’t regret how these books have shaped out. I think they’re pretty fun stories. I don’t intend to write a series again for a while, though, as it got somewhat stale at the end (even though I think this final book is probably the best where the story is concerned). And as far as the size of the chapters go, I will have more mercy on my dear readers. Lord knows if they’ve read this far, they’ve suffered enough.