First of all, I’d like to thank Deirde at A Storybook World for this cool blog award:
Wow – can’t believe how this summer is flying by – I mean, really fast, though maybe not this fast:
This is the US military’s new unmanned Falcon HTV-2 (Hyperonic Technology Vehicle 2), touted to be the fastest plane ever at a top speed of Mach 20, or 13,000 miles per hour.
13,000 MILES PER HOUR!
That’s London to Sydney in less than an hour, according to this article in the UK’s Guardian.
That’s amazing. But what’s even more amazing is that the military lost the plane 36 minutes into its test flight.
Lost. The. Plane.
Millions of dollars in time, research, and materials, not to mention countless man-hours, literally vanished into thin air.
The Falcon HTV doesn’t have a great track record. There were only two built: Falcon HTV-1 and Falcon HTV-2.
Last year, the Falcon HTV-1 was 9 minutes into its test flight when, according the Guardian article, the computers detected a problem and sent it into the ocean for safety reasons.
One vanished into thin air, the other at the bottom of the deep blue sea.
So much for the human attempt to break its own record.
To see how nature does it, watch this video of a REAL falcon diving, in which her top speed is recorded at 242 mph.
Will the Real Falcon Please Stand Up?!
Now that’s more like it.
So, back to how fast the summer is flying by and what I’m working on.
I’ve got two projects right now – writing a novella set in the Watcher world, and publishing Watcher itself.
One of the things I’ve learned about self-publishing is that it means wearing many hats. A lot more than I realized. In addition to writer, editor, publisher, distributor, and publicist, I’m learning to be a book designer.
If you’re new to the industry like I am, there are all sorts of things to consider when you want to get your book out for public consumption. Not only do your story and your words have to BE good, they have to LOOK good. Here’s an example of some of the challenges I’ve recently faced:
~ learning all of the details that go into designing a book…all the little details I’ve always taken for granted, such as what you want in the header and/or footer, where to place the page number, what to include on the copyright page, what font to use, acknowledgments, dedication, author bio…
~ deciding on a cool font to use for my title and chapter headings. OMG – there are thousands and thousands to choose from. But it’s critical – an attractive title font goes right along with the cover, and helps make the inside part of the book look professional.
~ realizing that all the best designed books use the title font for the first letter of each chapter. I only had to replace 65 of them by hand.
~ pushing the chapter headings down the page so the first page of the chapter starts about 1/3 to 1/2 way down, and of course, at the same level as all the other chapters. Styles makes this easy if you’ve used them correctly. I discovered I hadn’t. Doesn’t sound too bad, but I have a prologue, an epilogue, and 63 chapters…
~ adding extra pages at the end of certain chapters so that all of the new chapters start on the odd (right-hand) page – and the heading placement is the same as all the others. This is where I discovered that section breaks can be a real pain in the ass.
~ fighting with styles and section breaks so that the header doesn’t print on the new chapter pages (the ones with the chapter heading), but maintains the sequential numbering and the proper even- and odd-page header set-up on all the rest.
~ discovering when I thought I was all done with the inside formatting that the first paragraph of a new chapter or a new section is NOT indented. Yeah, never realized that one. Not only do I have the prologue, and epilogue, and 63 chapters, I have several section breaks PER CHAPTER. But not all is lost. I think I can fix this with <cringe> modifying the styles so that I don’t have to remove the indents by hand…without blowing up my whole document. I hope.
Once the inside is finished (nearly there – I can almost taste it), then it’s time for the cover.
Which I am NOT doing the artwork for.
No way. No how. Don’t got that creative bent. Even my stick figures are lame.
But…I know peeps. And I got a peep working on my covers (notice I said covers with an ‘s’ – Watcher is only the first of a trilogy).
In the meantime, I’m putting together a plain cover for a test run. I’m planning to print up a half-dozen proofs as review copies for some special readers I’ve been holding in reserve.
But what that means is that I still have to put together a temporary cover layout, which includes front, back, and spine.
When that’s done, I’ll convert it to PDF, hopefully maintaining all of my painfully-arranged formatting, and hand it off to my indie publisher, Dark Dreams Publishing (more on that later).
So…that’s what I’ve been up to during this rapidly-passing summer. I just wish it would slow down to falcon speed and not try to be a Falcon HTV.
But it may a bit late for that – too soon I know I’ll look back and say, “Where did my summer go?”
Hopefully I’ll have more to show for my efforts than the memory of a vanished blip on a radar.
(special note – today is a nine-day for those who care about such things!)
It’s kinda hard to think about rain right now. It’s over 100° F outside and temps are expected to reach 103° by this evening. Not a cloud in the sky…
But today is the Rainy Day Blogfest, hosted by Christine at The Writer’s Hole, so to help remember what it’s like to be cool and damp, I’m featuring a short excerpt from my WIP Watcher. We join Sunny just after she’s had ‘dinner’ and is feeling content for a change.
To help set the mood, here’s a quiet little piano tune by Justin St. Charles and Nine Inch Nails:
It starts to sprinkle as I run along the shoreline of Lake Cachuma. I don’t care. Being wet doesn’t bother me and neither does the cold. In fact, sometimes I find the cold invigorating. Warmth, on the other hand, is quite pleasurable, especially on the inside after a hot meal. Warm days are great too, if I can protect my skin from the direct sun, which isn’t easy. People look at you funny when you’re wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck and gloves and it’s 90 degrees outside.
Jogging back to the BMW, I catch the scent of wild pig and veer off to follow it. Pigs are tough to kill because they’re so low to the ground and their barrel-shaped bodies are difficult to grip. Their necks are short and stout – breaking them is not very feasible. And they have tusks, right near my target area. I did kill one once, though, a young adult, and I thoroughly enjoyed his buttery-sweet blood.
Scent trails are easier to follow when the weather’s damp. I detect several now and slow as the scents become stronger. Weaving through the bushes, I freeze – foraging along a marshy area are three adult females and six babies. I watch for a moment, then melt into the brush.
That is one thing I will not do. I will not kill mothers or babies – of any species.
Retracing my steps, I pick up my trail again and continue on to the car. Between the deer and my twenty-mile run, I’m finally relaxed, and I smile from the sheer joy of being in the woods.
The sprinkling has turned to rain, and I stop and lift my face to the sky. I rejoice as the drops hit and trail down my cheeks, and open my mouth to see if I can feel them on the inside as well. Rain dances across the leaves and rocks in a liquid ballet, and I listen as each drop makes its own music, creating a soft woodland symphony.
Laughing, I shake my head, flinging water off my hair to add to the concert, and take off running again.
First of all, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of songs by one of my favorite independent artists, Justin St. Charles. I discovered him on the Nine Inch Nails remix site and he’s pretty talented. The first song, Reckless, tells the sad story of a breakup. It’s a soft hip-hop tune that’s quite heartwrenching. The second is a remix he did of a song by Trent Reznor’s new band, How To Destroy Angels called A Drowning. Justin’s remix is called Drowning Without Me.
Posted with the permission of the artists who believe in sharing their creative passions, here’s Reckless and Drowning Without Me:
Did ya happen to notice today’s date?
Yeah, today is a nine day. For those who are new to my blog, I have a thing for the number nine – it’s a really cool number.
Why, and why is today a nine-day, you ask?
Just add up all the numbers in the date, then add the numbers in the sum. So 16 August 2010 is: 1+6+8+2+0+1+0=18; and 1+8=9!
Nine’s a special number and has all kinds of strange effects on numbers involving it. For example, multiply any number by nine. The result is a product whose integers also add up to nine (ex: 9 x 5 = 45; 4 + 5 = 9). Multiples of nine are kinda weird in another way – the first digit increases as the second digit decreases. For example:
9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90. The pattern resets itself when 9 is multiplied by any number ending in 1, such as 11, 21, 31, etc.
Which leads me to my next weird little factoid, only this one is a word.
Yes, it’s a real word.
Want a clue as to its meaning?
You can find it at the end of the line that begins with the word ‘cool’
Yeah, that’s it.
An interrobang is a special symbol that’s the combination of a question mark and an exclamation mark. From Wikipedia:
The interrobang, interabang (pronounced /ɪnˈtɛrəbæŋ/) or quesclamation mark, ‽, is a nonstandard English-language punctuation mark intended to combine the functions of the question mark (also called the interrogative point) and the exclamation mark or exclamation point (known in printers’ jargon as the bang). The glyph is a superimposition of these two marks. A sentence ending with an interrobang asks a question in an excited manner, expresses excitement or disbelief in the form of a question, or asks a rhetorical question.
It looks like this:
It can be created in HTML or XML documents by typing ‽ or ‽ and some word processors will display it using the alt code ALT+8253 .
Just imagine – if this symbol were widely used, there would be no more confusion as to which order to place the question mark and the exclamation mark for those instances when you need both.
Before I begin, I just need to point out that today is a NINE day. Nine days are always good days for me.
One of the things I enjoy about other bloggers’ posts is reading the comments. The commenter may confirm the relevancy of the topic, offer their own interpretation/experience, or suggest further sources. Sometimes the comment is just an attagirl (or boy) for a great post, or, rarely I hope, a negative remark from some disgruntled reader. I haven’t experienced any bad ones myself yet (of course, I haven’t had all that many comments on my posts, either), but hope I can handle it with grace if/when it does happen.
But I have received some comments that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And today, I received one of the most memorable ever. It was from a longtime friend, a writer I knew from before I started writing, and one whose support encourages me to keep pursuing this craft. His name is töff, and he is the creator and driving force behind the Fresno Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers.
Here is his comment about my novel Watcher that made my day:
“I hereby claim the honor and privilege of being the first person ever to read /Watcher/ while giving blood. The dream scene about Marie is dramatic enough in its own right , but try reading about the loss of a lifespark while your own blood is pumping out through a 16-gauge needle.”
Now that’s a dedicated reader and a devoted fan – willing to give up his lifeblood in order to immerse himself more fully in the story.
I heard about this from Chris (one of my friends from FSFW) and immediately thought, “I have the perfect scene. I was just working on it.”
Thanks, Chris, for the heads up!
And without further ado, here is a scene from Watcher (oh, and today is a nine-day, BTW!):
The first thing I become conscious of is that whatever I’m lying on is not hard. I cautiously reach out, expecting to feel air, but instead touch softness and fabric.
I open my eyes open and lift my head to look around. A bed, my bed. Not a tree branch.
Or maybe it is still a dream, I realize, as I turn and see Nicolas stretched out next to me, leaning on his elbow with his head propped up on his hand.
“Good morning,” he says in a low musical voice, his emerald eyes shining.
As before, words stick in my throat, unable to escape. So this must be a dream after all.
He reaches out and brushes back the hair from my face, then softly strokes my lips.
But that felt pretty real.
He shifts, then leans over and kisses me on the mouth.
Oh, this is definitely real.
I feel my body respond, and then he is crushing me to him. He holds me tight for a long moment, then slowly releases me and leans back. He reaches out again and starts working the tangles from my hair with his fingers.
“I was unable to comb all of these out earlier, as you were sleeping on this side.”
“You carried me off the mountain,” I croak, my voice finally breaking free.
“I did,” he says quietly as he continues to pick at my hair.
“You are here.”
“How long have you been here?”
“Since the night you left. A month ago.” The pain beneath his words is unmistakeable.
“A month? I’ve been gone a month?”
It’s all a blur of mountains and forests, lakes and meadows, blood and more blood.
He purses his lips, but does not answer. His green eyes watch my face as I feel the wilderness sing in my soul. He touches my cheek, jarring me back to the present.
“You waited here,” I whisper. “All that time. For me.”
“Yes. I could do…nothing else.” Again I hear the pain, accompanied by loneliness, and wonder how he survived.
Because the only way I did was to give myself to the blood and to the wild.
Once more it calls, and I shut my eyes and remember the colors and smells that caressed my senses, and the wind that softly brushed my skin. Life is so simple out there. Hunt and run and swim and sleep. No complicated emotions to manage, no one to argue with, or be disappointed in, or be embraced by, or be loved by.
My eyes grow damp as tears begin to well up beneath their closed lids.
“Sunny.” His voice is calm and soothing. Feather-light fingers again touch my face.
Startled, my eyes fly open. Yes, he is still here. This is not a dream.
But I need to move, to stretch, to run. My body’s not used to being so still for so long. Slipping out of the bed, I back across the room, watching him. He gets up as well, and part of me starts to panic. I turn to the closet, take out a pair of jeans and a sweater, and slip them on. I don’t need shoes–quit wearing them weeks ago.
“I need to go,” I whisper to the floor on my way out.
“Will you come back?” he asks, his voice strained.
“I don’t know. Maybe.” I take a long, slow breath. “Yes. I just need…a little more time.”
Turning, I head for the back door. As I open it, I hear him in the doorway behind me.
“I’ll be here,” he says.
I breathe deeply and step outside, inhaling the pine and other scents that make up the forest, and take off up the mountain at a dead run.
This month’s post revolves around the once-in-a-year occurrence of two nine-days happening within two days of one another.
The first one was on Thursday, April 29. 4+2+9+2+0+1+0 = 18 = 9
The second one is today, Saturday May 1. 5+1+2+0+1+0 = 9
What’s really cool about it this year is that they bracket my birthday. Yes, my birthday is smack dab in the middle of two nine-days! For a nine-freak like me–that is monumental!
So when I realized that, I had to (you know, that OCD thing) figure out when my birthday last was, or will be again, a nine-day.
Guess what? Just last year, my birthday fell on a nine-day (which was before I was aware of how important nine seems to be in my life). Now, that might not seem significant (in fact, I doubt that ANY of this is significant to anyone but me), but 2009 was the year I was sucked into the world of Sunny and Nicolas and wrote the novel Watcher and half of its sequel. 2009 was the year I discovered I love to write.
So I think it’s pretty fascinating that my birthday was on a nine-day in a year in which my life took a much-needed change in direction.
The interesting thing about a specific month and day combining with a year to equal nine is that it only occurs periodically. Like, every nine years (seriously!).
So my birthday won’t fall again on a nine-day until the year 2018…Sure hope I’m still around then.
But back to nine-days and assorted odd facts relating to them:
The new moon occurred twice this year on a nine-day: January 14 & February 13. And that’s it for the year.
The full moon will occur only once this year on a nine-day: December 21, which also happens to be winter solstice. This seems to me to be a day that should be paid close attention to.
The only other oddity that I’d like to highlight is one that occurs in the upcoming leap year, 2012. This is a year that already has a number of people a bit nervous.
So not only is 2012 a leap year, but Leap Day, February 29, has it’s own significance. It is a nine-day!
It is quite rare for a day that occurs only once every four years to also be a nine-day. So rare that it will happen only twice in this century: 2012 and 2048.
2+2+9+2+0+4+8 = 27 = 9.
Let’s all hope the world as we know it, or something similar, is around in 2048, and that someone can do the math to notice that Leap Day is also a nine-day.
The full moon was around 10:30pm last night (March 29), or 2:30am this morning (March 30), or sometime on either of those days, depending upon what website you look on.
All I know is that last night it was a big round full-looking moon to me. Which meant I was outside at moonrise with my new Nikon D5000 digital SLR fancier-than-I-handle camera.
Since I got this camera, I’ve made shooting the moon one of my new obsessions. In January we traveled up to the snow-covered mountains outside of Yosemite and shot the moon through the pines. As the moon rose, it encountered a spotty cloud cover that resulted in a stunning light show as the moon danced between the clouds. Unfortunately, we didn’t take the tripod with us, so not many of the shots came out clear. But a few did. I’ll be posting those on my website soon.
February was a crazy, buzy month for me and for the weather. It was overcast and rained a lot, but somewhere in there I managed to snag a few photos of the moon through the oaks around our house.
Last night we drove up the road to a hilltop just a few miles from the house. The moon came up a reddish orange and I was able to get some shots through the foothill pines before it disappeared into the heavy cloud cover that was just rolling in. Then later in the evening I shot it through the oaks. It was playing hide-n-go-seek with the clouds and I really hope some of those pictures came out.
I haven’t looked at the shots yet (there’s over a hundred) and I’m curious to see what I ended up with. I used both the tripod and a 200mm zoom. Hopefully there are a couple that are in some kind of clear focus.
The moon is so fascinating. It’s our constant companion, one that we tend to take for granted. But have you ever wondered what it would be like to have several moons? To have several round nightlights in the sky, and how bright it might be if they were all full at once?
I think if we did, we would be a much more astronomically-aware society. Well, maybe not these days. It’s hard to tear people way from their square boxes of light, whether it’s computer screens, TV’s, or iPhones attached to their hands.
But I love the moon and all its various phases. Waxing, waning, crescent, gibbous, bright, or dark – it’s always changing and yet, reasurringly, always the same. It’s one constant we can count on in these times of climatic, economical, and political upheaval.
Oh, and by the way, many societies across the earth have names for the moon each month which describe the season. According to The Farmer’s Almanac ( http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names), January is the Wolf Moon and October is the Harvest Moon. Here’s what they say about March:
“March – Full Worm Moon.As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.”
Worm Moon? Doesn’t sound too classy. Think I’ll go with Full Crow Moon. Wait – what are those black birds in the graphic at the top of this page? Could they be crows?
Well, enough mooning around over the moon. Check back to see what the photos turned out like.
Then you can say I mooned you!
PS – Today is March 30, 2010, or 3/30/2010. Which means – today is another 9 day!
Ah – today is a ‘nine’ day. For those of you who aware of numerology, today is very fortuitous, depending on your perspective.
Now I’m not a numerologist and don’t really know much about it. So to those of you who spot flaws in my methodology, I apologize. I approach it very simply and not very scientifically, and I’m okay with that.
My special numbers are 3 and 9. The number 9 especially, because it is…3 3s!
Today is March 21, 2010 or, 3/21/2010.
When you add those numbers:
So, today is a 9.
It’s very tempting to submit Watcher today. But it’s with an editor and I need to wait until it’s ready.
Speaking of Watcher, the number 9 figures very prominently in that story. Whether we’re talking about the Council of Nine, or Sunny is checking the time and sees that it’s 4:05, the number 9 is buried everywhere throughout.
The Forbidden Doorway series revolves around 3. There’s not as many references to 3 as there are to 9 in Watcher, but they are there.
Stay tuned for more posts on this topic. I have something special planned regarding the numbers in both series once they are published.
In the meantime, check out the dates and times of my posts. If you find any that don’t add up to 9 (date+time), let me know.