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: http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/2015/09/18/taking-the-inner-basin-off-of-my-bucket-list/

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.”

http://rpgr.org/news/scott-thorne-on-future-of-rpg

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.

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/19/441459103/when-it-comes-to-book-sales-what-counts-as-success-might-surprise-you

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

http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-cold-publishing-equations-books-sold-marketability-love/

Now You Know.

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Only shoulders can be shrugged

For those new here, this blog occasionally experiences long droughts, and I do not apologize or explain such things. It’s not because I stop learning. It’s because I stop blogging.

Yet having been a while, and in hopes of more regular updates in the future, let me re-introduce myself a little bit.

I am the second most famous Padegimas on the internet.

I am a lot of things in my spare time:

I also maintain a house, marriage, full time job, two kids, two dogs, two cats, two chickens and rabbit and a fish.

And sometimes, I just need to drink beer and watch baseball.

A few things I have learned recently:

A quick writing to to cut a few needless words: never write that a person shrugged their shoulders. Redundant.

Only shoulders can be shrugged.

Most of the electrical professionals assume that electricity goes from the positive pole to the negative pole, except for the US Navy, which has always operated on the opposite assumption – and there stuff also works.

Arizona still has a big steam punk community, and tea-dueling is a real thing.

Blog posts are easier to just do when they are short.

Now you know.

Writing down goals about writing

What follows is mostly for my reference, though you are welcome to read it, of course.

 

They say the first step to meeting goals is to write them down. In an ideal world, I’d have 200-500 words of blogging every night. This would do a few things:

q      More blogs = more exposure. Regular blogs have higher readership.

q      Cross referencing = cross marketing.

q      Writing regular blogs makes you better at … writing blogs.

 

So I’m going to start doing that. There. I wrote it down, thus doubling my chance of success (from 7% to 14%!)

I’m not proposing this is the key to success and happiness here. In the final accounting a blog is still just a blog – somewhere between a newspaper column and a diary entry. There’s a limit to the audience interested in the details of my life and how that colors my perceptions.

This is the schedule I have in my head:

 

Monday: Fiction marketing or WHWL. There may come a day – ideally by the end of the year, when there is a blog or two relevant to my published fiction. Right now I have no product ready to go – so this day is still open.

Tuesday:  Non-fiction proposal day. That means query letters – so on that day my regular readers can take a break.

Wednesday: Are We Lost Yet?

Thursday: Writing Made Visible

Friday: Who the hell reads a blog on a Friday night? I’m taking that night off.

Weekend: Silly Penguin

 

My day job still comes first. If I work more than 10 hours in a day – I ain’t likely to blog when I get home. So it goes.

The goal for this blog, then, is shorter and more frequent posts – daily, but at least 3x/week.

That’s the goal.

 

 

Now you know.

It finally happened…

A moment to breath, and the will to blog coincide.

Holidays, the aftermath of holidays, work, other blogs, marketing initiatives and fiction have pushed ahead of this project for the past few weeks. So it goes.

My wife may have a marketng client, and we are cobbling together a business/marketing plan/site to help him (and presumably other self-published authors) get a little more exposure. There aren’tenough for-sure details yet to expound,but if you want to follow the thought process online, the dummy-test site is here: Writing Made Visible

For my Thursday night folk – I don’t have any good notes, but I do have this:

Writing: You're doing it wrong.

I discovered how far you can drive in a 2006 Equinox between the time the low-gas light comes on, and the time you actually run it out of gas – and that’s about 60 miles. Happily, I ran out of gas less than a block from my house, but that never makes for a good morning.

There’s really no good place in an Equinox, or any SUV, to put a gas can that has just been emptied.

Don’t even look at TV Tropes, or its kissing cousin Speculative Fiction Tropes unless you have several of hours of your life that you won’t need back. (A contributor to lack of production on this blog and many others).

Speaking of wastes of perfectly good space/time:

From Tor.com – and exchange of lunatic letters concerning our friends the octopi.

Werewolves are literary orphans

Have a few seconds? Need a comic-book or pup novel premise? They Fight Crime

Having failed to learn from previous attempts, I am thinking of putting together yet another RPG gaming group. Input welcome. In person (probably at my house in Phoenix) – I’m over gaming via e-mail.

Now You Know

Writer’s Group notes 3 December 2009

If you trust the reader to keep track of information, you can avoid a lot of repetition in your manuscript.

No matter how well you summarize the map with written description, you are still better off showing the map.

A quick summary of Stargate Atlantis episodes with Todd. (because nerds keep count…)

Now for links:

Jeanne Cavelos on searching for reputable agents

Developing writers often have a very hard time finding a competent, reputable literary agent.

Info on the Flat Man Crooked poetry contest

Info on submitting to Glimmer Train

Word Count tackles the business and politics of working for content mills aggregators such as Demand Studios.

I’ve called it the race to the bottom, and maintain there are better ways to break into the freelance business, and better business models for building a successful freelance writing career.

Genreality discloses the true financial numbers behind a NYT bestseller.

And forwarded from our siblings in the North Phoenix Writer’s Group,

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

[Thanks to organizer Dharma Kelleher ]

Now You Know

After the Holidays

Thanksgiving in the USA. I was busy. Learned a few things.

When re-roping a fly system, someone is going to have to get on top of the head-block and feed the rope through – unless you’re a lot smarter than we were.

There is no biography of Alvin Gentry on line that I found useful – so I wrote one.

A timely, topical entry for Examiner, such as this one on Phx camping stores Black Friday specials, earns me about $0.40 for an hour’s work. So I stick to relatively evergreen stuff like campground profiles.

At the in-laws, I have to seize control of the TV or it will be stuck on game show re-runs from the 70’s. Not kidding. There are two things I can put on the TV that will not generate controversy from the wide confluenec of family in attendence: Sports or science documentaries.

From Nova, I learned that there are two different dream cycles: REM and non-REM. REM cycles ted to be more creative, but also involve more negative emotions. Non-REM dreams are more positive, but more limited to actual memories.

From Scientific American Frontiers, I learned one of the few useful things to coem out of Biosphere was the Biosphere Diet, a high vitamin, low calorie diet born of desperation (their gardening scheme yielded a fraction of expected results), but which actually left the participants leaner and healthier than when they went in.

Oh, and when the Detroit Lions have lost, its time to serve the turkey.

A backlog of [writer] links:

Book Marketing Maven: blog ideas for your fiction-writing blog

Caren Gussoff shares 5 Truths about Editors

And some more opinion of the Demand Studios and ilk dillema:

Carol Tice’s 7 reasons not to write a $15 blog (a numbered list – just like a non-fic freelancer…)

Now You Know

 

 

 

Agents, taxes and oddities – Thurs Nite notes for 11/5/09

Quick & Dirty guide to finding agents

I have a list of twelve agents or agencies that I plan to submit Beanstalk and Beyond to. I assembled that list mostly from Publisher’s Marketplace.

Here are the steps:

1) Finish the book. If you haven’t done that, stop here and go finish the book.

2) Go to Publisher’s Marketplace. You do not need to sign up for a membership. What you need to find is the “Search Members” link.

3) Search for the genre, and add the word “agent” unless you want to see the pages of a couple dozen writers who also write in that genre.

4) Click through their pages. Write down the names of those you would like to submit to. (We all have our own ways of weeding through that list) Make sure you spelled the name correctly.

5) Onec you have your list of names, Google each name – and find out something about them. Check out their agencies’ actual website. read their blog if they have one. Get a vibe.

6) You’ll come across a lot of links for QueryTracker. This is worth joining at the free level.

7) Order your list in agents you wuld most like to represent you. Double-check the first one’s requirements. Send your query.

8) Wait.

There is a lot of conflictin onformation about te propriety of querying multiple agents at a time. I don’t – but that;s mostly because I can’t keep track of such things. Most of them have come to expect this practice, and the ones who want exclusives from the get-go are usually fairly specific in the submission guidelines.

If you don’t have at least a nibble after 12 queries – its time to look at your query letter. Hard.

OK – that’s what I know about that.

Agent Janet Reid shared her 20 nuggets of advice with Writer’s Digest. Worth reading.

Assuming you sell something (or even if you don’t) – Inkygirl has assembled a list of tax advice for freelance writers (so I don’t have to).

Inkygirl rocks – BTW.

I know less about Japanese poetry – but these guys know more.

The cloud at Chowhound considers fruitcake.

And if you draw a picture at Bored.com – they’ll tell you what sort of person you are. (I’m the sort that really doesn’t have time for that tonight.) (Can they predict whether you’ll like fruitcake?)

Now you know