Thursday, February 10, 2005

Take Back the Web

I've been using Mozilla Firefox at home for the past couple of weeks. There's a lot to like in this browser, even aside from the integrated pop-up blocker and spyware blocker. I like being able to open new pages in tabs, rather than whole new windows. I like the tight integration with Google, my current favorite search engine. Finally, I like the fact that it has nothing to do with Microsoft.

Now, I'm not one of the radical MS-phobes that think Bill Gates is taking over the world. I use Windows as my operating system (98 SE at home and XP Pro at work) of choice and MS Office as my office suite of choice. The price that you pay for Microsoft products can be a burden sometimes, though. I'm not talking about the price in dollars (or Euros or yen or whatever). I'm talking about the intrusiveness and buginess of the software itself. As a former Windows NT 4.0 MCSE, I know what I'm talking about here.

The biggest problems are that Microsoft has grown to large, and it is ruled by marketing. The various development teams are obviously not talking to each other, so the software tends to work together as well as it should. After nearly 20 years, they have finally got the Office suite working pretty well, but the operating systems are another story. Windows 98 Second Edition was the only Microsoft Operating System since Windows 3.1 way back when that was actually stable.

XP does OK, but it does have some major peculiarities. Take Service Pack 2, for instance. How could a comapny release a patch that actually broke the operating system even worse? No communication between the development teams and rushing to meet a deadline set by marketing without regard for the needs of the software development cycle. That's bad business.

Get Firefox. Use it. See for yourself.

Putting the soapbox away now.

New features

I'm now BlogRolling my links. Maybe I can sorta kinda keep them up to date better. I've got more I want to add, but it's such an enormous pain in the ass to edit the template every time. BlogRolling just makes life easier. Isn't that what technology's for? Is anybody in Seattle listening?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Going it Alone

And so I find myself all alone in the Great Marketing Debate: go high or go low? Fortunately, as a Southerner, I am heir to a great love for hopeless causes and a willingness to fight to the end for issues about which I am clearly in the wrong. Ok, ok, I'll go meet with General Grant. Just get that bastard Sherman out of my back yard, already!

I've been toiling uphill on this one. I forgot the overriding principle: Shit rolls downhill. The best thing to do is start at the top and let things settle to their own level.

With that thought in mind, I went ahead and submitted "In the Hands of an Angry God" to Lenox Avenue this afternoon. They want quirky and weird, they say. Well, in the immortal words of The Joker: "Wait'll they get a load of me!"

Research continues

I need to be able to bring this world to life to anchor the characters. The Vikings were violent and adventuresome people, but they lived with a very deep idea of justice and honor. In order to get what he wants (his wife back), the protagonist is going to have to violate that code in some serious ways. The magic he is going to have to employ is dangerous and unstable and he will pay an extreme price for both the obtaining of it and the use of it. For his sake, I sure hope Freya's listening.

Something to ponder

The question has arisen: "Will the Pope resign?" I ask instead: "Can the Pope resign?" Can he really abandon his Divinely appointed post at will? Even under extreme circumstances? A tough question.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Tentative

Started work on rewriting "Wolf Moon" this morning and got one scene completely done with ideas for another couple of scenes that may need to be inserted. I've been really scared to mess with this story for a long time. Not because of content, but because of the language. This story contains some (I think, anyway) beautiful language and compelling images. Early on, I ruined several stories by over-editing and such-like shenanigans. That left me a little leery of the whole revision process. I'm gaining in confidence as I go, now, and I think I can handle this job. I need to get moving on this. Time's a-wastin'!

Market Madness

Thanks for the "rule of thumb", Holly. Unfortunately, my situation is somewhat different. I am submitting to the semi-pro market and selling absolutely nothing! I don't like to consider what that says! One thing I can say with confidence is that no one ever told me this would be easy.

Got to go do some more research on Vikings now, particularly Berserks.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Back and Fill

A blast from the past. "Wolf Moon" is now back on my rewrite list. This is one from long, long ago, one of the first stories I ever wrote. I still love it. This is the first story that ever woke me up at night demanding to be written RIGHT NOW!!!! I finally gave in at 3am and knocked out 1200 words (basically a detailed summary) in about 2 hours. Went back the next day and fleshed it out some.

"Wolf Moon" has a mythic feel to it, and is written in an apocalyptic style that seldom comes to me. When it does, the results are usually very good. The story needs a lot of work, but I think the end result will be worth it. At 1800 words, it is still not much more than an outline, but I think I can handle it now that I can write actual dialogue (well, OK, "attempt" to write dialogue! :p ) and have some grasp of scenes and character development.

This all came about while I was doing some browsing on Ralan's Webstravaganza. Not looking for anything special, just poking around to see what's new. I looked in the "Anthologies" listing on a whim (I don't usually look at them, I don't know why) and saw the listing for Vintage Moon. The connection was immediate. "Wolf Moon" is a werewolf tale set in Scandinavia during Viking times. This is one I really look forward to whipping into shape.

Raising My Sights?

A friend, one whose opinion I value, asked me over the weekend why I keep submitting to low-paying markets instead of going for the big markets first, then working my way down. A very good question. The fundamental answer: confidence. I don't see myself as being a good enough writer to break into the big markets yet. Yet. I have always been methodical, preferring to start from the bottom and work from a strong foundation.

That may not be such a good idea in this field. How will I ever know if I'm good enough if I never try? I think I'll modify that strategy some and look at the stars first, then bring my sight back Earthward if it whould not work out. I'm sure-as-Hell not getting anywhere stuck down here in Amateur Hell.

Required Reading

I've been reading Atlanta Nights by Travis Tea. This is the book that some members of the SFWA used to scam PublishAmerica. It's available at Lulu.com for $11.95 and all proceeds go to the SFWA's Emergency Medical Fund. It's worth every penny.

I have only made it through Chapter 5 so far. I have to stop frequently and let my eyes dry and my sides stop hurting. This is by far the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, wonderful, fantastically awful writing ever. It should be required reading for every person who would dare to call themselves a writer. These writers do not just break the rules, they shatter them, grind them to dust, burn the dust, and scatter the ashes. Characters change names, verbs change tenses, adjectives and adverbs cavort across the page in Dionysian abandon. I understand that there is at least one instance where a character suddenly changes gender, but I have not seen that yet. Something to look forward to.

I highly recommend this book. It is one of the most hilarious I have read in a long, long time.