The History of Digital Photography

posted in: About The Author | 0

You may have seen this already…

If you travel in the same tech circles on-line that I do, you probably have seen a lot of the same things I link to here on Fridays.  So, why do I still do it?  Well, for a couple reasons.
First, because maybe you missed it.  Or it didn’t seem like it was what it is so you didn’t actually look at it.
Secondly, because, well, I liked it, so I want to link to it so…
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Hemingway’s Birthday

Sounds like it should be a band.

But, no, today is Ernest Hemingway’s birthday.
I celebrate that because his work meant so much to me when I was just learning to really write.  [amazon_link id=”0743297334″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Sun Also Rises[/amazon_link] remains, I think, one of the most influential works of literature in my personal mythology.  His short stories still move me, on the odd occasion that I still re-read one.  Today, in celebration, I may read some of his work, though I haven’t for many years.  Don’t think, however, that a lack of current interest means that my admiration of Hemingway, as a writer and a man, has waned in the slightest.  His are the stories I still tell myself, that I still think of, when I think of what a story is and what it means to be a real writer, a good writer.  Just earlier this week I found myself watching [amazon_link id=”B0041SI7CK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Matador[/amazon_link] starring Pierce Brosnan and thinking of [amazon_link id=”068485922X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Death in the Afternoon[/amazon_link], Hemingway’s ode to the majesty and tragedy of the bullfight.  I find that I cannot help but think of Hemingway any time that bullfighting comes up, as rarely as it does these days.  In fact, I find that I tend to think of Hemingway any time the subject of American ex-patriots comes up at all.

I have always admired his tight, sparse prose.  And, somewhat more secretly, I have always admired the zest with which he approached life.  He may have been, by many accounts, a bit of a brutal man, but he was also courageous in adventurous in ways that, I think, most of us modern men cannot be.  Certainly, he was a product of his times, but, even then, I think, had a reputation that was bigger than life.
I always enjoyed the fact that he grew up not far from where I, in fact, grew up.  I believe that his approach to writing, and life, is something inherited from that region.  Midwesterners are often maligned as being plain and dull and overly conventional, but I see the simplicity and lack of pretension in Hemingway’s writing that I recognize from my own upbringing.  It’s an attitude, I think, that tends to get impressed on us as small children.  Certainly, we Midwesterners tend to be simple people, who just grind away at whatever work falls to hand, generally uncomplaining and accepting that hard work is the price one pays for any reasonable success.  And, it’s that workman-like quality of Hemingway’s work that I always enjoyed.

I have to admit, there was a time I thought I might emulate him, not only in writing, but in life.
That was, of course, until I realized the damage he did to those around him with his alcohol problems, his violent temper and uncompromising way.  Certainly, having been married and divorced once, I hope not to repeat that mistake as often as did Hemingway!
I also hope to end things better than he did, with a shotgun in the mouth.  Though it may have been an end fitting to one of Hemingway’s fictional heroes, I know it to be the coward’s way out.  Much harder to face the world and all the things which may pain us, cancer included, than to take our own life.  And, yes, as a cancer survivor, I do know just what that feels like, to want to just simply stop the pain.  I do.

Still, for all his flaws, Ernest Hemingway wrote the most magnificent literature I think America has ever known.  I will always admire his work and frequently wish I could emulate it.
Where ever he may be now, I hope he is finally at peace.  And, today, of all days, his birthday, I hope he is satisfied with his work and his life.
Thank you, sir, for the gifts you’ve given us and continue to give us.

Stolen Camera Finder

posted in: About The Author | 0

Regular readers may be familiar with my photography obsession.

A number of years ago, I spent some money I’d hoarded on an entry-level Canon DSLR, instead of some medical bills.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I worry that I should have spent the money on the medical bills, but, my shots are getting better.  I take great comfort in the idea that it’s the photographer, not the camera, that takes the photo.  Mostly because the majority of my gear is, well, let’s just…
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Excuses For Not Writing

I should be writing right now.

But, I’m not.
I’ve read an interview with Liam Neeson, tonight.  And read a bit in a book called [amazon_link id=”0892816716″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Christ the Yogi[/amazon_link], which I’ve been working my way through, slowly.  And checked e-mail, most of which I’ve already read.  And, of course, there’s comments on Facebook and Flickr to distract me for a minute.
I have laundry to fold and there are dishes in the machine that need to be taken out and put away.
There are more dishes in the sink to replace them.
There’s that letter I should write to the prisoner.  My prisoner, I suppose.  It’s writing, in a way, but it’s not writing writing, the way I should be writing.  Oh, and easy to rationalize, since, of course, I’m doing charitable or spiritual work by writing to him about how it is in prison.  Who he is and why he’s there don’t matter.  At least, not for my letter, or my excuse.  It’d be a good thing to do, a charitable thing, to write that letter.  To just finish it, really, since I’ve already started it.
And I need to eat, too.  Really, I do need to do that, sometime, tonight.  Granted I could stand to lose some weight, but, still I do need to eat something, eventually, tonight.

But, I should be writing.
I should be telling a story.  Maybe a true story or maybe some fictional adventure of an imaginary hero.  But, stories are what I want to tell, so I should be writing one.
Maybe the story of the carney I took photos of Saturday night.  I could fill in the blanks he left me, like his name and how he ended up in that life.  I imagine it would be a good story, based only a little in reality.  But, for me, those are the best kind.  I don’t suspect that he meant to start in that life.  I imagine it’s a hard life and grinds a man down after a bit.  Always traveling, never in one spot too long.  All the hotel rooms about the same.  Maybe even just sleeping on one of the trucks that hauls the rides from town to town, from state to state.

But, I’m not writing. not really.
I’m avoiding the work.  I’m hiding from it.
It’s hard work, creating the world on paper.  Reinventing it, over and over and over again.
So, instead, I’m going to go take care of the dishes.  And the laundry.  And get something to eat.

And, just that easy, I’ve told you a story, haven’t I?
So, I guess I’ve just written.

Get Rich Quick

posted in: Markets | 0

Self-publishing on Kindle!

Okay, I know that sounded cheesy and trashy, like a late-night TV sales pitch, but, apparently, it could be true, too!
The news has been all abuzz about relatively young author Amanda Hocking who’s sold thousands of ebooks via the Amazon Kindle store and the Barnes & Noble ebook store.  According to the article, “She gets to keep 70% of her book sales — and she sells around 100,000 copies per month.”  Even at her $0.99 to $3 price-point, that’s nothing to sneeze at!  I’m sure that the article is only showing the most optimistic measurements of her sales, but, even at that, she has to be making some great money.  I mean, let’s do the math on it; if she sold 100,000 copies in one *year* at $0.99 each, she’d make about $70,000 per year, before taxes and expenses.  And the article says that she does that in ONE MONTH.

Of course, the article goes on to explore the phenomena, explaining that it’s the low price which helps to fuel sales.
The basic speculation is that consumers are more willing to take a risk on a “book” which costs about as much as a candy bar or a soda, so they buy more of them as an impulse buy.  Even if they decide later that they don’t like the work, it doesn’t matter too much, because all they’ve risked is a tiny amount.  Minimal investment for a minimal expectation.
I’ve seen plenty of pundits complain about how this will damage the publishing market, but, will it really?  Or, will it simply change how that market functions?

Look, I’ll be honest; I find this very exciting.
One of the biggest barriers, real or perceived, for new writers is getting published.  Getting that first publication credit, and the check for the first paid publication, often seem like an unobtainable Holy Grail.  If some new authors started to follow this model, there might be more of us who can actually make a living at it.   Seriously!  But, I think, more importantly, struggling writers looking for motivation may find it in a couple of small payments.  I’m often surprised how quickly I can get motivated to make as little as a monthly $25.  Now, imagine that on a larger scale.  Granted, self-publishing, even digital self-publishing, is a bit of extra work, but the motivation of actual payment may be enough to keep a floundering writer inspired enough to continue on.

And, yes, I know that since the original article I linked to in the opening paragraph came out, Ms. Hocking has gotten a more traditional book deal with a traditional publisher, but, really, does that invalidate the system?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think she would have gotten that deal if not for publishing in a non-traditional way first.  And, hey, while waiting for the big publishing houses to find her, she was making money.  I think that’s pretty damn good, myself.

Inspiration, Motivation and Synchronicity

posted in: About The Author | 2

Can I call myself a writer, if I’m not writing?

Long-time readers of this blog will remember the days that I used to post virtually every day.  That was, it seems, a very long time ago.  That was before I got divorced and before I almost killed myself through self-neglect.  It was also before I met and dated a dear, sweet woman who will always have a special place in my heart and before I bought my camera.

I couldn’t tell you…
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Future Military

posted in: Speculation | 0

I find myself wondering the strangest things…

It is, I suppose, a hazard of possessing an inquisitive mind and, of course, being a writer, even if I haven’t written much lately.  But, I find my mind lingering on the certain ideas.  One of those ideas is what the military will look like in the future.  And, I don’t mean in the future a dozen years from now, but in the far future, when we are a regularly space-faring race.
Oh, yes, I’m an optimist, too.

It is my sincerest hope that we eventually make use of our entire solar system, not just the one planet on which we were born.  Obviously, to do that will mean that we, humankind, will need to get off this planet and into space.  And, we’ll need to do it with the regularity that we travel from continent to continent now.  Whether we’re mining the asteroid belt or Mars or the Moon or even the moons of our gas giants, we’ll have to get there via space and, naturally, space ships.
I don’t suppose we will have become a world government by then, mainly because so many people seem opposed to that.  So, I would assume that we will take our militaries into space with us, to protect our various nationalistic interests.  But how will that change things?

In the future, will it be the Navy or the Air Force that is our “space fleet”?  Certainly, the majority of science-fiction writers seem to agree that it will be a Naval force of some kind that protects our interests in space, but I can see it going other ways, too.  Will the Army, as such, continue to exist?  Or, extending the idea of the Navy being our space carriers and pilots, will all our ground forces become Marines?  By definition, Marines are a kind of extension of the Navy, after all.  At least, the United States Marine Corps is, according to Wikipedia, “responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly.”  And, it is considered “a component of the United States Department of the Navy”, by civilian leadership “often working closely with U.S. naval forces for training, transportation, and logistic purposes”, even if they are a separate branch in the actual military leadership structure.
So, following that train of thought, if our space-based military becomes, essentially, a “space Navy”, would that make all ground troops “space Marines”?  Certainly, there are authors and movie-makers who would seem to think so.

But, would the Army and the Air Force go so quietly to their demise?  What would become of them?  Would they get absorbed in some way by the other two branches?  And, what would become of the Coast Guard or the Department of Homeland Security?  How would those areas change?

These are the things that keep me occupied when I’m in meetings I find boring or traffic or waiting in lines
What about you?  What sorts of speculations keep your mind occupied during “down time”?  And how many have made it into your writing?

Fiction by Ted Chiang

posted in: The Infinite Library | 0

Not sure what you’re up to on this last day of the year, but I have a suggestion.

If you’re at work, you probably aren’t getting anything done and, frankly, if you’re reading this blog, you probably aren’t going to get much done no matter where you are, so you might as well check out some of the best damn science-fiction of this decade.  And, no, I don’t think that’s exaggerating.  At all.
So, go read Ted Chiang’s The Life Cycle of Software Objects at Subterranean Press.
Seriously.  Go read it while it’s still up and free!

Oh, and be safe in the New Year celebrations, okay?

Character and Plot Worksheets

I’m a nut for forms.

I think I should have been a Soviet bureaucrat sometimes. I really do love filling out things like character sheets for role-playing games. And, naturally, I think that having the right form might just help me out of a writer’s block jam.

So, toward that end, I’ve found more writer’s worksheets than you can shake a stick at!

First, there’s the Character Profile from Rick Riordan.

Then, there’s the Character Builder – Sketch from the Scriptorium.

Or, for more detail, there’s the Character Builder – Biography from the Scriptorium.

And, if that’s not enough, there’s the Fiction Writer’s Character Chart from to help you flesh out your characters.

Now, if plot is your problem, you can try the Plot Planner from the Scriptorium.

Or, if you’re just having trouble getting all the scenes organized, you can try the Scene List Worksheet also from the Scriptorium. (In fact, the Writer’s Toolbox at the Scriptorium all looks like fun.)

Of course, these are all tools to help you build your fiction, not an end in and of themselves.  That, I think, is a trap that many would-be writers fall into; doing research and “preparing” to write forever, never actually starting.  I know, it’s been a danger for me.  So, use these tools, but don’t fall into the trap!

Advice for Writers

Lavie Tidhar offers Advice for Writers.

This advice appeared on Jeff Vandermeer’s blog, in the form of a guest post, but was so in tune with his writing voice, I thought he’d actually written it.  Do yourself a favor, especially if you are, like me, a frustrated writer.  It’s funny, but, well, some of it is a little too ironic to not be true.  Read it carefully to see if you can find the very good advice in the comedy.

It’s there, trust me.

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