boundless

A sadistic serial killer. A young girl. A quick read. The flash fiction story boundless is now free.

Repetition

The horror novelette Repetition is now available.

Introducing Derrick and Max

This is from the first illustration I did for the first Derrick and Max book. Derrick the Dog was released June, 2013.

My first ArtRage drawing

This was the first original drawing I completed with my Wacom Bamboo tablet and ArtRage, done almost entirely in pencil. Just a little practice drawing, not related to any of the stories I'm working on.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Fitbit Versa. It's Almost There.

Hello.  As any long-term reader of my blog knows, I usually talk about the arts, specifically writing, publishing, and illustrating.  But occasionally, I hang a sharp right and go off-topic.  This is one of those times.

I recently received an email from Fitbit showing off their new Versa smartwatch.  I've used a Fitbit One for years and love it, but I recently discovered that product has been discontinued (boo!).  With that being the case, I've been looking into their wrist-worn devices. Thus, I followed their link, and I read and watched their videos about the Versa.  I think that it's a pretty good-looking watch (much more so than the Ionic or Blaze), but it's not there yet.  It could be so much better.  So, Fitbit, here are my suggestions for what would make the Versa 2 an awesome, must-buy product.

  • Swap out that touchscreen for an extra button and an e-paper display.  This provides all kinds of benefits:
    • The screen would always be on, like a proper watch.
    • Throw in an ambient light sensor and a backlight that only kicks in when you need it, and you could read the screen under any lighting conditions, indoors or out.
    • You could operate it with gloves on.
    • You could also operate it without looking at the screen by memorizing button pushes, like launching or interacting with your music or podcasts, which depending on your activity (such as driving), would be a lot safer.
    • Increased battery life.  With that screen swap, you should be able to provide 10 days on a charge.  Maybe even more.  We're talking industry-leading battery life that blows away the competition.
  • A gently curved back that conforms to the shape of your wrist.  Major comfort boost.
  •  While still maintaining water resistance, throw on a microphone for voice responses and notes.
  • A "timeline" interface that shows your upcoming and past calendar events as well as other items of interest, like the weather or this day in history.  Now you need to pull out your phone even less, which is a good thing.  By opening that up to developers, who knows where that could lead?
Here's what I imagine such a watch could look like:

Pebble Time 2 from 3 angles

You're on the right track, Fitbit.  Make those few tweaks, and I'd buy one in a heartbeat.  In fact, I predict that priced the same and with the proper marketing push, you would sell tens of thousands of such devices on pre-order alone, equating to millions of dollars in sales, and could go on to sell a million or two more devices easily.  Heck, with your retail presence and brand recognition, I could be underestimating.

Or to put it another way, you're almost there Fitbit.  You're at like 80% of your step goal.  Push a little harder, and you can do it!  I have faith that you have the proper technology and people who can make that happen.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Hello 2018!

It's 2018!  I know, it has been for over a month, but I've been busy.  Sadly, that busy time has mostly been made up of real life and work.  I didn't have turnover at the day job this past year (yay, finally!), but I still stayed incredibly busy.  We spent a lot of 2017 fixing up the house.  So, at the end of the day, not much time or energy left for writing or illustrating.  So, what did my 2017 look like?
English: Christmas fairy tale, light show, Gra...
English: Christmas fairy tale, light show, Grabrovnica, Croatia Hrvatski: Božićna bajka na imanju obitelji Salaj u Grabrovnici kraj Čazme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

68.58 hours worked
15,134 words written
452 average words per hour
1 illustration finished
4 blog posts published
0 new books published

God, that's depressing.  I did make some progress, though.  I finished a rough of another illustration, and I'm almost done coloring a third.  That last is, so far, the most complex illustration in the upcoming Derrick and Max book, and it's taking quite awhile.

I also finished writing the 1st draft of A Christmas Tale.  I finished editing the 2nd draft of Bound, and I'm now working on the 2nd draft of A Christmas Tale (I like to give them some breathing room between drafts, so I work on another project).  Since editing tends to involve a lot of time with little progress in terms of words written, my words per hour were rather low last year.

I also attended the first four Brandon Sanderson lectures.  I can't believe they're free.  If you've not watched them, you should.  It's time well spent.  Here’s the first one:


So, that was my 2017.  In looking back, I didn't hit a single one of my resolutions, but I made some progress.  I didn't achieve what I'd hoped to, but it's a new year.  Just because I didn't hit my targets doesn't mean I'm going to give up.  So, here's what I hope to achieve this year:

Stop reading news stories about Trump

They're so depressing.  I don't want to hear anything else about that man unless it's about a successful impeachment.

Get a book published

I'm making slow progress on Bound and A Christmas Tale.  Maybe I'll get one of them finished.  Fingers crossed.

Make a major life change

I don't want to jinx it, so you'll have to wait.  If I pull it off, you'll hear about it here.

Read 24 books

I usually hit that, but I didn't last year.  It's my Goodreads goal again this year.

Log at least 80 hours

Like I said, I'm in an editing phase, so I don't expect a high word count this year.  But I think I can manage to invest more hours in the craft than I did in 2017.  I broke 80 hours in 2015, and I almost hit 80 hours in 2016.  I'm shooting to get back above that point in 2018.

Finish the Sanderson course

I'm caught up on Fear the Walking Dead, so I plan to get back to Sanderson on my lunch breaks.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Quotes I Like

Fall is here!  Fall is here!  I thought it might be fun to kick off my favorite season by gathering some of my favorite quotes together.  Some of these I find funny, others are inspirational, and some give pause.  They’re in no particular order.  Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and most tend toward art.  I've given credit where I've known the source.  Anyway, hope you enjoy.  And happy Friday!  Let’s party like we’re Lacey!
English: Oscar Wilde, photographic print on ca...
English: Oscar Wilde, photographic print on card mount: albumen.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. It's later than you think.
  2. Perfection is the enemy of done.
  3. Let's eat Grandpa!  Let's eat, Grandpa!  Commas save lives!
  4. Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us. ~ Calvin and Hobbes
  5. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. ~Oscar Wilde
  6. You know you're a writer when you have more half-finished novels and ideas for stories than friends.
  7. If you hear a voice within you say that you cannot write, then write.  Silence that voice.
  8. What you are now is not all you have the potential to be. ~ Brian Rathbone (Twitter)
  9. It's Friday, and I like to party!  And by party, I mean read books until I fall asleep... ~Lacey London (Twitter)
  10. Writing is good for the soul; editing is good for the audience. ~ Brian Rathbone (Twitter)
  11. Writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. ~E.L. Doctorow
  12. Never argue with fools, as this makes it impossible for others to tell you apart. ~ Brian Rathbone (Twitter)
  13. Be generous when you can, and when you can't, be kind. ~ Brian Rathbone (Twitter)
You may notice Brian Rathbone earned several spots on this list.  I don’t know him personally, but I’ve been following him for awhile online.  Besides having a pretty awesome first name, he’s quite an entertaining fellow.  If you’re not following him on Twitter, let me encourage you to do so.  You should also pick up one of his books and give him a try.  After you’ve finished reading all of mine, of course.  Winking smile

Monday, July 24, 2017

ArtRage 5 Review

As any reader of the blog knows, I’ve been an ArtRage user for years.  I started off with 3.x and moved onto 4.x when it came out.  It’s not the only tool in my tool belt (I also have Manga Studio, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Paint.NET), but it’s the one that I use almost exclusively for illustration work.  I noticed a few weeks ago that it had been awhile since I’d gotten an update to my 4.5 install, and I thought that perhaps the next version was out or would be soon.  So, I went over to the ArtRage site and found my suspicions confirmed.  Version 5 was newly available.  I was all ready to plop down my money for an upgrade (once you’re a user, you get new versions for 50% off, or so it has been since I’ve been using it) when I noticed that they were offering review copies.  Oh, ho ho.  I could get something I was prepared to pay for – not that they needed to know that – for the cost of a review?  Something I would have chatted about anyway?  Yes, please.  So, I threw my hat in the ring, and a few days later, the lovely Hannah from Ambient Design got back to me with a code for a free review copy.  Yes, score!  I’ve been putting it through its paces for the past few weeks, looking for new features, bugs, whatever little tidbits I could find that struck a chord with me.  Here’s what I’ve found.

The first thing I noticed was how incredibly quickly version 5 opened.  4.5 was no slouch, but it would usually take 10-15 seconds to open on my desktop computer.  5 took 2 or 3 seconds.  I was seriously impressed.  The next thing I noticed was the toolbar at the top.  Here’s a screenshot of my latest WIP in 4.5, which is the look I’ve always known.

image

Now, here’s a pic of 5.

image

So, a couple of things right off.  Notice how the top toolbar stretches across the entire top of the screen.  It’s also a little narrower as far as height goes.  For me, the toolbar is a big improvement.  The old always felt like it was floating over the top of whatever I was working on.  The new feels like a proper toolbar that’s out of the way*.  I think this also opens up the top toolbar for future expansion, which is already what I’m seeing (a new tool was added to the lower left panel, and the tool it replaced was moved to the top).  The only downside I’ve found is due to muscle memory:  I’m used to the zoom controls being on the left, and I’ve several times clicked Undo when I meant to click zoom out.  At least there’s a redo button, so it’s easily fixed.  Still, I sort of wish you could customize what’s on that toolbar and its placement like you can with Scrivener.

As you can see from the second picture, things are a little darker.  The new version comes with a Lights Out mode, which cuts down a bit on the amount of white.  I love a good, dark theme, and this is especially appreciated for those early morning drawing sessions when the last thing you want to look at is a bunch of white light.  Not much you can do about the canvas, but at least the rest isn’t so white.

There are a bunch of new features that come along with 5, just as was the case with 4.  For me, the killer feature with 4 was paint symmetry.  Derrick has that classic soda bottle shape, the 2-liter variety.  Paint symmetry means I don’t have to redraw the one side multiple times to get it to match up with the other.  5’s killer feature is even better, which brings me to a confession:  coloring is probably my least favorite part of an illustration.  I use the fill tool whenever I can to speed through it.  But if there were gaps in the line work, and there frequently are with my illustrations, the paint would bleed out.  I’d have to undo and paint with the paintbrush tool.  It was very time consuming, and I’d frequently wind up getting a bit of paint mix along the edges, throwing off the color.  But now, 5 has a gap tolerance setting on the fill tool.  I can turn that up a bit and fill away without it escaping the intended area.  Brilliant!  That alone was worth the cost of the upgrade to me.  Or would have been.  If I hadn’t gotten it for free.  Squee!  There’s also a slow motion option for paint fills, so you can watch as it fills.  Useful if it’s going to bleed out, you can stop the process so that there’s less to undo.

I could go on and on about how great ArtRage is, but you should check it out for yourself.  Go grab a demo copy and get creative.



* I realize it’s still taking up space at the top of the screen, but it feels different.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Two Writing Contests

Two emails recently came through my inbox about writing contests that are under way and that carry monetary prizes.  I don’t know if these are legitimate, and I’m not endorsing them, but I wanted to share with my readers so that you had the opportunity to check them out.  If you have any feedback about them, please post in the comments below.  Without further ado, here are the details.

Shame Kills


Shame Kills and Swift River are sponsoring a spring essay contest titled, “My Mother, My Hero.”

Shame Kills is dedicated to eradicating the stigma associated with substance abuse disorder.

This contest is free and the winning essay receives a $200 cash prize. http://www.swiftriver.com/my-mother-my-hero/

The Lascaux Review


The Lascaux Prize in Flash Fiction is open for two more weeks. Stories may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in The 2018 Lascaux Prize Anthology.
mimi covers
Two copies of the anthology will be supplied to every writer appearing in it. Entry fee is $10. Writers may enter more than once, and as many as three stories may be submitted per entry. Maximum story length is 1,000 words. All genres and styles are welcome.
medallions combined 300
All contest participants receive free downloads of the prize anthologies published to date. Submissions close 31 Marchhttp://lascauxreview.com/contests/

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year’s Resolutions 2017

Well, another year is drawing to a close.  So, it's time to look back at the year nearly passed, as well as my resolutions from last year
English: New Year's Resolutions postcard
English: New Year's Resolutions postcard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2016, I was still dealing with turnover at work, which robbed me of a lot of illustration and writing time, but I managed to improve my habits this year.  I more consistently got up early to invest the time in the craft.  And it paid off.  As of the start of this blog post (which I began on 12/16/2016), I had logged 74.98 hours, wrote 21,144 words, completed 4 full-color illustrations (one of them just this morning), and have 2 more in progress.  I managed 669 words per hour, on average.  I published two blog articles with a third nearly complete.  I participated in NaNoWriMo this year, something I hadn't done in years, and managed 11,887 words on that new novel alone.  I stopped writing Bound to work on it, but I'm now back to Bound, and the first draft is done save for the epilogue.  I hope to have that finished by year's end [edit:  yep, I finished it].  Oh, and we've not had Internet at our house since late August because AT&T are incompetent, or at least uncooperative.  I hope to have that resolved soon, as it's greatly hampered my research abilities (thanks to the public library for having Wi-Fi).  All in all, 2016 was more productive than 2015.  I'm pleased at the increase, but hope to do even better in 2017.

Now, for last year's resolutions.

Read a bunch of books


Well, I didn't read as many as the previous year, and it looks like I won't meet my Goodreads goal of 24, but I still managed a respectable number.  A few of the books I read were quite large.  I read the first two books in the Song of Ice and Fire series and am working on the third.  You know how long those are.  I plan to set the same goal for myself for next year.

Lose some weight


Didn't happen.  Spent most of the year trying to get back on Paleo and not succeeding.  Just recently, we've had a pretty good go of it, about two weeks.  I feel much better.  And bad when I stray, so I know I'm getting back into the swing of it.  And like the last time, I'm seeing the weight start to creep down.

Master my email


Not much to report there.  I have a great handle on it at work, less so with Gmail, but it's still more efficient.  Google Tasks, GTasks, and Rainlendar Pro continue to be my go to solutions for tasks management, but I’m also incorporating Trello for larger projects.  I also use Thunderbird to get through large chunks of email at a time.

Write and draw more


As I discussed above, I've met both of those.

Finish what I start


Doing better.  I'm focusing more on one writing project at a time and not splitting my focus.  True, I broke off to participate in NaNoWriMo, but once it was done, I got back to work on Bound.  Which I then set aside to write this blog post, and I'm going to finish it before I get back to Bound.  And I continue to move forward with the illustrations for the next Derrick and Max book.  I'll finish those before I start on the next.


Alright, so now for 2017.  I'm going to go more specific for my goals this coming year since that's supposed to be more effective.  Here's what I have.

Read 24 books


True, I didn't meet that goal this year, but it seems like a good number and generally reachable.  However, I'm not going to fret if I don't reach it.

Write 25,000 words


My stretch goal is always 50,000, but I never hit that.  I think with the improved numbers I saw this year and by being a little more disciplined in the first half of the new year than I was this year, I can reach 25k.  Unless I spend a lot of time on editing and 2nd drafts, but I'm OK if that's what causes me to miss the mark.

Publish a book


I didn't publish anything in 2016, but I have a few things that are completed or nearly completed.  A bit of polish, and they'll be ready.  I want to get to where I've something new out every year.  Maybe even two somethings.

Spend more quality time with my family


Work has settled down.  I'm working on ways to make it more efficient so it doesn't take so much of my time in training when we must bring new people on.  I'm working on my sleep with the help of my Pebble Steel (*sniff* I'll miss you, Pebble) and Sleep as Android so that when I'm awake, I'm more alert, productive, efficient, and hopefully less irritable.  I'm keeping my writing and drawing hours to when the kids aren't around so that they're not competing for my attention.  And I'm trying to be more accessible and attentive.  I may not be able to increase the quantity of hours, but I can try to increase the quality.

Lose 20 pounds


I'm planning to stick with Paleo and will try to encourage my wife to stick with it, too.  We both lost weight when we were on it last time.  If we can stick with it, 20 pounds is well within reach.  Truthfully, I was losing 1-2 pounds per week before, so even 40 pounds wouldn't be unreasonable, but I'm shooting for 20.

So, those are mine.  Please let me know what you think in the comments, and share your resolutions, if you're of a mind to.  I hope you all have a safe, peaceful, and enjoyable holiday season!