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Giving to, not just dealing with

Sometimes leaving is a process. I’m off to Hartford’s Connecticon this weekend to work my publisher’s table and learn direct sales by doing. Which means I should have spent the week blogging reflections on the industry and marketing and such. Instead I did a lot of weeding and yard work, which was twice as hard and thrice as hot as it would have been a month earlier – but we were busy a month earlier too.
I suppose this is a note about work-life balance, or about how to maintain when one doesn’t see balance coming anytime soon. It’s a simple note where I pass on a friend’s advice – to treat your acts as gifts not chores. 
It helped my stress level, at least. Certainly, thinking about getting things done to spare my family or make things more fun for them in my absence made the pouring sweat and the bent lawnmower shaft and all the cleanup a bit easier! 
As my efforts for my own book take more time, the rest of my life will not stand still. I have to give to it, rather than deal with it. 


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AwesomeCon DC 2016 – this weekend!

AwesomeCon is a large fan convention in Washington DC this weekend, focused on visual media – this year especially, it’s a Whovians paradise. Are you going?

Saturday will just be splendid fun, but the Friday and Sunday sessions have several good panels for my booklife.

I’m hoping to see: Comics in WWII, Giant Robots, Strong Women Characters, Nanobots – which together cover my debut novel, my serial novel, and my crazy SF work-in-progress – and attend at least one of the marketing panels. Continue reading


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Pandoc makes for easy document conversion

NaNoWriMo 2015, Day 01by the site’s count, 1966 words, seventy more than my goal. It went smoothly, without many breaks. When I was within 300 words of the goal I was more interested in using them to flesh out what I had already written than to push forward. This kind of internal editing is what they all tell you not to do, but it helped me find places I was repeating myself and places where I hadn’t gotten the point across.

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My serial novel developed an idiosyncratic workflow for each week’s chapter:

  • I wrote plain text files using Markdown syntax which I discussed here
  • I send my editors Word docx format
  • My final version goes out in HTML

It works for the project. I like to compose drafts in plain text, with no settings to change or distracting questions from the software. Using Markdown syntax, I tag words or lines for later formatting. It’s also easier to write on the go. Markdown-aware smartphone text editors are nimbler tools on phones and tablets than full word-processors.

In Word docx format, my editors can use the Track Changes feature, letting me accept the edits into the final text with a click. Since the final destination is a WordPress website (and, an ebook), it “goes to press” as HTML.

Thanks to a nimble command-line document converter called Pandoc, I can get clean trustworthy conversions between different formats. I can use each app for what it does best, and maintain a smooth process. Continue reading


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On technology in fiction

Modern and future readers don’t need to be convinced that technology will improve to magical levels; we’ve seen it happen in our lifetimes, in our children’s. To explain more than absolutely needed is to write for the past, but the dead will not read us.

So I have become pointedly effacing on the subject of gear. I don’t want to say anything not immediately needed for the story to continue. It is enough that a tool acts; the tool itself should be as invisible as a butler, and the action the thing of import.

This is a stylistic choice, a convention, but it is informed by function. Continue reading