Tag Archives: Blogs

[BTW] FAQ v.2014

As of today I’ve officially been writing this blog for two years. I thought it might be helpful for readers new and old alike to get the answers to some common questions about the blog, myself and anything else that might come up:

Who is “the little red-haired girl”?

Well aside from being Charlie Brown’s favorite obsession, it’s one of several affectionate nicknames for my beautiful wife. And yes, she does have red hair. She’s also my editor. I kinda got the whole package.

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What is your next book?

The book I’m currently working on (and yes I’m getting back to it shortly) is Surreality, a noir/technological murder mystery due to release sometime in the first half of this year.

What does “DM” stand for and what is it?

DM stands for Dark Matter and is the working title of another book in the pipeline, a science-fiction action adventure story. I finished the rough draft of this in 2011 at 200K words, though I plan to significantly rewrite it when I have the opportunity. Dark Matter is the working title in part because as it turns out there are a number of books and even a video game or two with that title, so I will likely change it, but maybe not.

What is a fractal?

Well, for starters my masthead is a fractal. Your brain is a fractal. Every tree is a fractal. It’s all fractals man!

A lot of you came to my site from this post, so you may at least have an idea or curiosity about fractals.

A fractal is a category of mathematical shapes or objects, with a variety of methods for drawing or defining those shapes. All fractals have two main properties: self-similarity and infinite complexity. Infinite complexity means the fractal is, well, infinite. You can zoom in to smaller and smaller portions of the fractal and it will still look as complex or craggy as it does at a higher level. Self-similarity means that one part of a fractal looks a lot like another part (they may even be identical). Here’s a good demonstration of both concepts working together:

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Fractals can be used to model nature, or create mathematical art. It’s the art bit I probably like the most, and drawing them is a fun programming challenge (probably why I wrote a book about it 🙂 ).

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How do you pronounce your name?

True-bee. NOT Troob. Trube or not trube.

How long is your beard?

Beards cannot be measured only in inches (or feet) but in the memories they carry. So about 7 inches from my chin to the tip.

What is AGFV?

A Game Forever Voyaging was a brief recurring feature in the first year of the blog. Due to a reduced interest and the amount of work that tended to go into each post these are on semi-permanent hiatus. Getting old games to work on modern systems is still a favorite hobby of mine, and if something particularly interesting comes along I might share it (or if you have any requests). I still do quite a bit of technical posts, but these tend to center more on the creation and formatting of eBooks, which is a little more germane to my self-publishing audience.

What happened to CFML?

The Consumers for Fariness in Manufacturing and Labor was another early hallmark of the blog, and one I’m proud of. I still think from time to time about the ways to think about where our products come from and what we can do to encourage fair wages for those who make them. It’s a complex problem and one that needs highlighting so you may see me back in this space again. You can still read all the posts here.

What’s up with all the acronyms BTW?

Blame IVCF. Seriously.

What is your day job?

I am a developer for [a mid to big engineering company]. I work largely in Java, Javascript and C# development for a particular software product or other utilities our team needs. I learned programming with Visual Basic and C++ and still have a strong fondness for both of those languages.

Where are you?

I live in Columbus, OH. I work in Delaware, OH. Both are at about the middle of the state (Columbus is the capital). My state is spelled O-H-I-O!

Who’s this Brian person I keep hearing about?

Don’t bother with him, he’s bad news. Actually he’s my good friend and fellow writer (and occasional anime fakesub partner). He blogs over at BrianDBuckley.com.

Do you do guest posts?

Maybe, but realistically probably not. I’d like to sometime, but each writing year only seems to get busier with projects.

Do you take requests?

Absolutely, in fact if you have any more questions and want to write them in the comments, I might just answer them.

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Personal Writing Quirks

It’s been an off month for the writing, and the first week of January didn’t shape up too well either, what with the being sick and all. A few days of sitting on the couch reading comic books (mostly Y: The Last Man) and watching The Cosby Show on Hulu+ set me on the path to the mend, so here I am, your thrice weekly voice in your inbox, or wherever you read this blog.

Thursday is the two-year anniversary of the blog. If you’re interested we’re registered at Amazon, Bundle Dragon and B&N if you want to buy gifts (just kidding). Believe it or not, the blog was not really a New Year’s resolution back in 2012, which probably explains why I’m actually still doing it. It was, and still is, a great place for me to write about things I normally don’t make the time for, whether it’s thoughts on writing, little short story ideas, experiments, or the occasional techno-babble tirade.

I’d be concerned about the month gap in working on my novel were it not for the fact that this seems to be the way I work on every project. Observe:

1) My first finished novel draft, Atlantia, took four years to complete (back in highschool). At least 70% of the book was written in the last year.

2) Surreality’s initial draft and subsequent drafts were worked on steadily for a month or two, dropped then finished in a fit of productivity.

3) DM had about 30K words written before I set it aside for a while, then added another 170K words in about four months of straight work.

I wish I was the kind of writer who stuck to the X words a day every day way of working, and indeed I can keep it up for long periods. But something always seems to knock me off the rails for a bit. And when I get back on them it’s like I’ve thrown the third red log into the train to get it up to 88 MPH:

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Image Source: Futurepedia

I also seem to have a sinusoidal curve when it comes to ridiculous turns of phrase. My wife/editor tells me it’s every other chapter. I thought it had to do with my writing quickly, but even my slower 800 word per day pace has produced a few sentences that were upside-down and backwards, so to speak. This is after I’ve read the words out loud even.

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The trick to fixing it seems to be distance. No matter what my pace, if I’m looking at something I wrote today, I’m probably not going to find every flaw. Which admittedly is why some of these blog posts are a little imperfect, thank you again for your understanding of this. But put a week between me and the piece, and suddenly I am an editor again.

One more quirk. When I was shooting for 1600 words a day it took about an hour. Now that I’m shooting for 800 words a day it can take 30 minutes to two hours! I think some of this has to do with endurance training. If you write 1600 words a day for many days, it will seem normal and a reflex. My 800 word pace is a little more in flux because of trying to decide between rewriting, reworking or regurgitating existing text (okay not so much that last one but I could come up with another “re” word. Maybe reconstituting?). When I blog, 500-600 words comes easily in 25-40 minutes, as long as I’ve been consistent the last few weeks. Today for instance, it’s a little longer.

In other words writing every day makes writing every day easier. Who’d thought?

What are some quirks to your writing process? Are you pretty consistent, or a little more see-saw like me?

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Blog Will Return 10/28 (or 10/29)

Been a little inconsistent with whether the first post of the week is Monday or Tuesday, but regardless next week I am on vacation in the Smoky Mountains with the little red haired girl. In my absence here are a couple of images I’m tossing around for a new banner. What do you think?

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Have a great weekend and week!

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Current Events Blogging Criteria

There are a lot of current events issues going on right now that I will probably never write about. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, because like every American I usually do, it’s just that they’re not particularly worth sharing, or expounding on for 500 words.

When thinking about whether or not to write on a topic I use a variant of something I heard from Craig Ferguson:

1) Does this need to be said?

2) Does this need to be said by me?

3) Does this need to be said by me now?

For me these three statements boil down to three criteria: redundancy, authority and stakes.

Redundancy or “Am I adding anything to the conversation?”

I don’t expect to have a 100% unique opinion on anything. In fact I’m hoping there’s a segment of the population that thinks like I do, or can be convinced to do so with enough coaxing. That said I don’t want to be an echo chamber. If I’m basically regurgitating someone else’s argument without putting forth my own idea, then I’m better off saying nothing. That way, when I have something I actually want to say, it isn’t lost in a whole lot of rambling about things people have heard a million times.

Authority or “Do I know enough to comment intelligently?”

I think there are two kinds of authority: inherent and learned. Inherent authority is when I write knowledgeably about something that is part of my everyday life. I’m engaged professionally in Writing and Programming (Technology) so I feel comfortable writing on these topics frequently. Similarly, if there’s a subject I’ve done a lot of reading about, or have been following in the news, then I might be able to summarize what I’ve learned intelligently. But there are definitely gaps in my knowledge. For a while I was kind of avoiding the situation in Syria, and only in the last couple of months have I made more of an effort to at least be conversationally aware of what’s been going on for two years now. I think we all have these gaps, and when we’re thinking of what to write about, we need to be aware of them.

Stakes or “Do I sound like an outsider?”

I’ve been reading a lot about “Common Core” and STEM emphasis in education lately. As a technical professional, and as a writer I do have an opinion that’s forming in my brain on these topics, but I would feel a little disingenuous writing about them, since they are issues that largely pertain to parents of children in school. Kids might be in my future, but I need a little practical experience on the parent side of school before I will write on the subject. It’s not that I couldn’t put together a good argument, but there’s an intangible quality to actually being invested in the topic. Writing about the NSA leaks has stakes for me, as I work in this industry and I use the internet like just about everybody else. The border dispute between Georgia and Tennessee has no stakes for me, though it is a bit funny to think about changing state lines at this point.

What standards do you use to decide on what posts to write?

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