Back to Scrivener

So My Old Linux Computer is on its last legs. I also use Citrix to login to a remote desktop at work, and the linux client hasn’t been updated for years. Every few months, I have to reconfigure it when some other update to Linux crashes a dependency or something.

Long story short, I’ve been using Lorie’s computer for work, and recently, kinda took it over after fixing a newer, faster computer that had a crashed hard drive. Both run WIN8, and I’m not ready to go back to Linux until Citrix becomes usable again (Or I retire on my writing, whichever comes first).

In the meantime, I was experimenting with Leanpub and published a short story to see if I could get it working. I really enjoyed the process of working with plain text, markdown and Dropbox, and still think Leanpub is a fantastic tool and an interesting platform. It allows a very minimalist approach, and setting up the metadata and marketing for your book is very intuitive, while allowing robust customization.

But I’m writing the next story, and setting up my other WIP in Scrivener and am leaving Leanpub behind. I really couldn’t give you a rational reason. There’s nothing WRONG with leanpub: it just feels better to draft in Scrivener.

So I bought a copy for Windows, and I’ve really been enjoying it so far. I’ve downloaded my own Templates from the Google Drive, and been playing with them. Eventually I’ll figure out how to host them here as I’ve gotten a few comments that people are having trouble with Drive. I also see a couple errors I want to correct- The Erotic Template was thrown up and the folders don’t compile as they nee moved under the title page. Oh well, more work.

I’ve also imported the .TXT files from Leanpub/Dropbox  into Scrivener and saved the projects into Spideroak. The Import Function on Scrivener is pretty amazing, actually. I know it was handling simple plain txt, but it imported them in order into a single folder , allowing me to organize them.

And while Dropbox is integrated with outside apps, I like the security of the Zero Knowledge Encryption of SpiderOak. That’s just the Paranoid Radical in me.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on Entomophilia, The Bismark and Teddy Roosevelt and the Lost World. I keep going back to TRNLW, and kinda want to have it out in time For Jurassic World, but want it to be perfect.

Reading White Guys and #LastManOnEarth

 

I’m pretty liberal, and I consider myself at least an ally to most of the so-called Glittery Hooha SJW crowd. I’ve followed #Gamergate and the Sad puppies with horror, subscribe to We Hunted The Mammoth and follow @Scalzi and @JimCHines.

But I don’t talk about it too often. Even though it informs the decisions I’v made on my WIPs, I don’t feel comfortable taking up a microphone and mansplaining those decisions, or why I feel they’re important. The conversation interests me and concerns me, but I am not a part of the conversation.

But in the last two weeks, I’ve seen two things That have changed my mind, and I’ve decided to speak out.

The first was Tempest Bradford’s challenge to  NOT read any CIS White Males for a year, and the reactions from the usual suspects.

What’s in Your Wallet?

OK. So, I’m an ally right? I can be expected to have diverse reading habits and many female authors and authors of color on my shelves, right?

To my left I have a little wire rack of Paperbacks. On that, from top to bottom, I have Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Jack Kerouac, Strunk and White, Joel Osteen, Charles Stross, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett ( And Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett), Roger Zelazny, Arthur C. Clarke, James Rollins, Edward Lee, Brian Jacques, Jim Thompson, Joe Lansdale, Charles Grant, Robert McCammon, Brandon Sanderson, Alan Dean Foster and Ray Bradbury. I have Clive Barker, not Straight. And I have a single Nora Roberts thriller. Jane Austen is represented by the Seth Graham-Smith parodies.

To my right, I have a case of random Hardbacks, with many of the same writers represented. I have Patricia Highsmith, represented in the Library of America Crime novel anthology, and the same publishers HP edited by Joyce Carol Oates.

On My collectible shelf, I have Andrew Vachss, Joe Lansdale, Mick Garris, Ray Bradbury, Christopher Golden, Dan Simmons, and Neal Stephenson.

In my writing books I have Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat”, Bradbury and King again, as well as Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg and Vicki King’s “How to Write a Screenplay in 21 Days.”

My Kindle is better. Besides the free-seeking books, I have “Ancillary Justice” and Cherie Priest’s “Maplecroft” among my most recent purchases ( Along with King’s “Revival”).

So What Happened?

Now, I can make excuses. Looking at that list, you can tell I enjoy a lot of 80s horror and thriller. And I have read Melanie Tem and Kathy Koja and Kaitlin Keirnan. I’ve read Andre Norton and Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany. I just don’t keep those books. The books on my shelves are favorites I buy instead of borrow, and keep instead of donate.

Like a lot of the critics of Bradford’s piece, I read those stories that catch my eye without worrying about who wrote them. And because of this, I read the same old same old that is pushed at me. I don’t take a look at the food on the end of the fork, as William Burroughs would say. I consume without thinking of it.

And that’s the problem with not being mindful of the entertainment we consume. For falling into the same old ruts. For not challenging ourselves in any way, and not expecting more from ourselves.

#LastManOnEarth

So we get to TV. “Last man on Earth” is a heavily promoted post-apocalypse comedy that recently premiered. the ads showed Weill Forte acting out everyone’s favorite destructive end-o-the-world fantasies, and I was intrigued enough to watch it. the writer part of me wanted to know if it was just going to be a series of sketches, or if there was going to be a story there. I wanted to see how they took this slight premise and turn it into a series.

SO I tune in. In the first part of the two part premier, we see Will going through a classic five stages of grief: Denial: traveling around the country, collecting treasures and searching for other survivors. No dice, he returns home. Anger: The destructive vandalism from the previews. Bargaining with God. Depression as he gets drunk and trashes his mansion. Finally acceptance as he plans to end his life.

But wait! there’s smoke in the sky! He’s not alone! He hurries over to see a bra drying on a line! A woman! After a quick fantasy involving a supermodel, it’s Kristen Schaal!

There was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Sure enough, there’s a reason It’s called “Last Man on Earth” and not “Last People on Earth”, “Last Couple on Earth” or, heaven Forbid, “Last Woman on Earth.” It’s because Kristen Schaal doesn’t play a character. She plays a plot device.

She Nags. She’s concerned with Rules. See cleans.  Things have to be just right. Will has to bend to her demands.

It’s annoying and sexist.

And people love it. It won it’s time slot. The Hashtag is full of bros high fiving the way Will puts the “fugly” Carol in her place. Ha! Isn’t it Funny? The #LastManOnEarth needs to deal with a nagging Woman. Hilarious!

And it’s critically acclaimed. People love it. Sure, there’s some critics noting that Kristen Schaal’s character is a one-note sitcom trope. But most give it a thumbs up for being unusual and different. So long as you don’t think about it, it’s an enjoyable ride.

So long as you don’t think about. So long as you don’t challenge yourself. So long as you don’t look at the end of the fork, at what they’re serving you.

Just sit back and enjoy, and don’t think about it. I only consume entertainment that interests me. I don’t like to challenge myself. I’m just interested in the story., not any Social Justice Activism that might possibly change anything.

 

 

 

Pulled the Trigger

I’ve been working hard on my daily writing practice, drafting “The Bismark”  on Wattpad and Writeon, and working on various little projects. Trying to just build the habit and momentum.

Somehow, this one got done. Well, done enough that it was staring me in the face all last weekend. So, just for kicks, I posted it.

And for most of the week, I just watched it sit there. I wasn’t going to do any marketing, wasn’t going to post or blog or tweet it. But something funny happened. As it sat there, I wanted people to discover it. I wanted people to read this.

I know, right? Funny that. After all these years, to have a story that I published (quietly, on a whim, on the sly), and to want it read after all? Cathartic. My counselor would be proud.

So here it is. It’ll be free Sat. January 24th to the 30th or so.

#Amwriting

My Amazon Echo: I Have Seen the Future

Amazon Echo
The Echo in Its Natural Habitat: The Future

I got my Echo Invite the day after Christmas, which means with the 2-day prime shipping, I’ve had a few days to play around with it. And boy, is it a pretty impressive device with a lot of potential. Forget the Kindle or Fire TV, amazon has released a real disruptive force on the market that’s going to change media.

At its most basic, the Echo is little more than a nice Bluetooth speaker that wirelessly ties into your Amazon account ( And IHeartRadio and Tunein). It’s voice activated and uses Amazon cloud services to pull your music from your personal library and the Amazon Prime music service. It’s got a cool form factor, all slick matte tube and an animated ring of LEDs. It comes with a voice remote to use if you’re not in range of the Microphones, but It can recognize my commands from another room if no one else is home. It pulls weather reports, podcasts, and over-the-air (Actually IHeartRadio Internet Radio) broadcasts. It also allows you to buy music directly from Amazon.

We’ve spent most of the last couple of days saying, “Alexa, What’s the weather?”, “Alexa, Play Lou Reed.”, and “Alexa, please stop.” and it’s cool, but it’s not the future.

It links to an app on the phone to extend basic functionality. The app has a to-do-list and shopping list, but both are pretty barebones just a list and you can select each item and delete it when done. I hope Amazon develops a richer Calendar app to integrate with the Echo, or links it to Google or Evernote. The app also tracks your usage: Showing history and recording your commands for when the Echo messes them up. Ask a question the Echo can’t answer directly, and it casts a Bing search to the app, or to a Kindle fire or HDX. And that’s cool, but it does what your smart phone’s assistant already does, and it’s not the future.

So it’s fun and easy to use, and plays a lot of media out of the box. What makes it so impressive?

For one, it’s not doing hardly any of this. Amazon is. Most of the functionality of the Echo comes from its cloud connection.

Which means features can ( and most likely will) be added without having to update the device.

For example, the Echo already casts simple web pages to the kindle. The day it lets me say, “Alexa, I want to watch Battlestar” and have it cast to the FireTV is the day I finally upgrade my Roku. The shopping list feature is nice, but it really screams for integration with Amazon Prime. Why have toilet paper on my list unless I can buy it direct from Amazon with one click?

These features are undoubtedly coming: it just doesn’t make sense for amazon to release this device without planning to have them available at some point. And I can’t wait. Right now the product is a neat little addition to the living room. But add a few more features, and it’ll become the hub of a smart home. And that’s pretty cool. And the Future.

Steelers Black and Gold Hot Buttered Rum!

My Wife is the biggest Steelers Fan.

For the last couple years it’s been a tradition at Christmas to make Hot buttered Rum.

So Let’s put them together for Steelers Black and Gold Hot Buttered Rum!

 

A Few Years ago, we discovered the inky goodness that is Kraken Black Spiced Rum. We’ve refined the recipe and just realized that now’s the perfect time to release the Steelers Black and Gold Hot Buttered Rum recipe to warm you for the Playoffs!

Batter:

  • 2 Sticks Butter
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 pt. Golden Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Teaspoon Nutmeg

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and dissoolve. remove from heat. Add Ice Cream, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until blended. Pur batter into a freezer bag and re-freeze.

To make Black and Gold Hot Buttered Rum:

Take a mug- Pour a shot of Kraken Black spiced rum, add a dollop of Gold batter and fill mug with boiling water.

Now, If you’re wrong and not part of Steeler’s Nation, Yinz can always sub out the Kraken with Sailor Jerry’s.

Enjoy!

Homemade Winter Herbal Tea

Since the country seems to have started winter early and with a vengeance, here’s a little something recipe for Homemade Winter Herbal Tea to tide you over as I work on my daily writing practice.

Christmas Spread with TEa
Keep Warm Guys!

It’s a soothing and aromatic winter tea we’ve made for years. It’s great by itself, or sweeten with a little honey. Spike it with rum or whiskey if really, really needed. The original recipe was taken from a magazine, but I can’t give credit: it’s been lost to the ages. But the recipe is simple enough, I think I’m in the clear.

We use our own herbs, but dried herbs work. Go to your local health food store or co-op and get a couple sprigs to use.

OK? Ready? Here it goes:

1 part Dried Sage leaves ( Not rubbed, and only the leaves. Remove any sticks)

1 part Dried Rosemary Leaves (Same thing. Rosemary resembles Pine Needles)

1 part Dried Mint ( I prefer Spearmint, but any will work.)

Mix and store in an airtight jar. to Use, add to infuser or teabag and pour boiling water over. Steep to desired strength. I like it strong.

That’s it. Enjoy and keep warm.