The Moments of my Balls in the Air

When something spins around an axis, engineers measure it by its moments. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned studying for my ETCP Theatrical Rigging certification. Because we have a client that wants to see one. I’ve been doing this ore than 20 years, but its still a big, complex, convoluted technical discipline, and I learn a lot every damn day.

  • The top channel in a pulley, where the rope goes in, is called the “swallow, and the bottom part, where it plays out is called the breech.
  • Manila rope is graded by something called the Becker Value. It measured with photoelectric reflectrometry (so by color) and is obscure enough that you may know more about it right now than most rope dealers.
  • Manila rope is also stronger than hemp rope , so it is no real loss than you can’t readily find hemp rope in the US. Theaters would buy manila anyway.
  • Calculating the forces on three point bridles is insanely convoluted. Like skip that question and come back if you have time because there are literally 17 steps.

So my approach to studying, after flailing around a bit, is to alternate between three textbooks:

I try to read a chapter a day in each book, and do the problems in Rigging Math.

So that’s one ball in the air.

I still try to market my hiking guides and still contribute to the blog my publisher set up for that purpose.

The latest is here:

In writing that I learned that it takes about 3 hours to put together an 800 word article with pictures. But I couldn’t hike inner basin without telling someone about it, could I?

Another ball far from my hand but not forgotten is Go Action Fun Time

It turns out that marketing a new Role-playing system has an extreme degree of difficulty.  The trouble is the learning curve vs the plethora of established systems that people are already familiar with.

Scott Thorne, of Mongoose Publishing cites: “Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Towerreference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new PathfinderDark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore.”

My quest for game masters to play test this thing remains at zero hits.

And I just sent the complete manuscript to  Beanstalk and Beyond to my publisher. That’s right, they signed a contract for a book they had yet to actually read. Good thing they signed it with me, huh?

Some reasonably relevant links:

NPR on how book sale numbers are lower than you imagine, and perhaps generated by voodoo.

and author Kameron Hurley has some cold facts on that same subject:

Now You Know.


The lead is beneath the mead

This is the second day in a row here in Phoenix where the high temperature did not exceed 100 deg F. The worst is finally over, and I think I can start thinking in terms of progress rather than damage control.

So there’s some good news in my life:

I finally bottled last year’s mead.

24 bottles of mead on the ... oh never mind.

24 bottles of mead on the … oh never mind.

If you can’t read it, I call the batch “Haboob” – the Arabic term for a dust storm that has somehow replaced the previous term for dust storm in these parts, which was “dust storm”.

Mead made be better for us than we thought, according to this article from Modern Notion.

And I have signed an honest-to-God book deal for a work of fiction. The Beanstalk and Beyond was accepted by New Link Publishers, and imprint Mystic Publishing.  The terms were fairly low-ball, but they’re fairly new at this, as am I. So I have added a page just for that project, and cleaned up this website because we’re back to being an author’s site now.

Yeah – I buried the lead beneath the mead. Before you chide me, I do no have an editorial deadline yet, much less a release date. I’ll start pushing heavy when I have something to push.

Now you know.

The future is still wide open

This is normally the slot where I’d post writer’s meet-up notes, but nothing came out of last night that lent itself to further investigation on-line.

So, we’ll get through a little backlog of writing tidbits. First general writing, then my writing in particular.

Patrick Nelson-Hayden (of whom I’ve written much re Westercon) on the future of e-books and science fiction.

C. Hope Clark’s Funds For Writers site with free newsletters (I subscribe to two) lots of advice and a shining example of how to promote yourself on the web. She also has a blog.

I just finished a little thing for Demand Studios. Took maybe 2 hours to crank out a 200 word article, but that’s because I had to keep tabbing over to the style guide. I get the format down, it would be an hour. Plus research. Plus re-writes. IF it all works out, I get $5 in pay-pal.

I’m not at all convinced I need the work that badly.

But I’ll update as we go.

Speaking of writing that may never make money, Agent #8 requested a synopsis along with a full manuscript.

It took me 4.5 hours to write a 2000 word synopsis.

It took the agent 2.5 days to reply.

“I’m going to pass.  This is much better than what I usually see, but I think it would be hard to sell as a middle grade book–too cynical and dark–and the young narrator makes an adult sale tricky.  It’s also too episodic to have as much suspense as the market likes.”

I could bump Jack up to age 14, and keep most of the plot intact.

But the tone and the episodic nature are deep structural things. I think the tone is a matter of opinion though. Not that its cynical -even though this is the brightest, most positive, least violent fiction I have ever written, the underlying cynicism is undeniable. How much cynicism is palatable to middle-grade readers?

A lot. My son’s bookshelf is full of horrible events and grim battle versus overwhelming darkness and so forth.

Now, how much cynicism will a middle-grade publisher tolerate from a first-time novelist?

Let’s just go ahead and see what agent #9 thinks.

We Shall See.

(Now you know…)

Trust your stuff. Throw Strikes.

So with the Beanstalk project, the agent score is now 1-1. The second agent I queried requested a full manuscript.

There’s still a LOT of steps, some of which are fairly improbable, between this landmark and publication, but it is nice to have real evidence that I can pitch in this league.

The value of Facebook? Two things: I posted 25 photos in about 10 minutes. That would have taken the better part of an hour on WordPress. Also, at least +6 hits to a page every time I announce its been updated on Fb.

For the writers: Jeremiah Tolbert on getting started writing SF.

As far as starting? Open a word processing program and type words together to form sentences, and sentences to form paragraphs.   You will probably be terrible at first.  99% of writers are.  But the truth of it is, you get better through the act of writing.

Can’t wait for my SF game to be finished (because that could be a year out…), check out Orion’s Arm.

Now You Know

Deep Nerd Round-up

The NBA Playoffs have started and … I don’t care. The Eastern Conference playoffs is really the LeBron James exhibition tour, and with San Antonio and Utah hollowed out with injuries, there’s nothing substantive between the Lakers and the Finals. Wake me up when Cavs/Lakers hits Game 4.

Cool archive of modern art: DirJournal

Need a glimmer of hope in these tough economic times? Gun makers – in this case Glock – are dealing with a boom market.

Notice the new page? Beyond the Beanstalk Query count: 0-1

More to come on that page, but not before I finish this page.

Further evidence the – right now – E-publishers are their own worst enemy: Amazon Kindle DRM vs paying customers.

I haven’t sent them money yet, but the demo alone is fun to play with:

Universe Sandbox

Now some game stuff. Non-nerds can just move on if they want…

Power Points, whether using magic or technology, equates to Joules/10. It’s not quite that simple. You still have to account for range and duration separately, but the core of the SFX can be measured in Joules.

I haven’t figured out the ratios yet, but the base development cost behind technology is based upon energy, mass of the fuel required to get that energy, and the cost of that fuel.

Now you know

Jack Novel Finished! 12/31/08

For the record: I have just met my self-imposed deadline and completed a pass-around draft of The Prince of Bandits (Volume One of the Autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer).

To meet that deadline, I have blown off several things over the past few days, including this blog. I have a backlog of notes but I’m going to let this announcement stand alone.

The numbers: 25 chapters, 170 pages (single space, 12pt Times Roman via Word) 84,445 words and about six years on and off – though really since fall of 2006 as a serious pursuit.

Having met the first goal – Finish the Damn Book! – I go forth on the second goal – Interest an Agent.

The third goal is getting published. We shall see.

At this point, I’m the only one who’s read the entire thing. If you are interested in reading it for me ( and giving some fedback) post a comment. We’ll find a way to get you a copy.

Now you know.