This Is NOT The Time to Rebuild a Computer.

Maybe it’s all the giraffe videos, but right now, I can really hear the Computer of Theseus straining, lately. Forget jet engine taking off… the thing sounds like ice being fed through a garbage disposal. I think it’s the fan on the power supply, and I think I’m probably going to have to get another one before summer kicks in, and I actually need a fan on my power supply.

This is an old power supply. It may actually be the last component from the original build, or at least, the last one I’m using on a regular basis. I bought it cheap, back when I wasn’t sure I could make the thing work, and didn’t want to spend a lot of money, if it flopped.

It’s modular with UV reactive cables (there has never been a UV light in my computer, BTW) and it has more power than I could even slightly imagine using back when I started building the thing.

Since then, the machine has developed into a scrap-yard behemoth. Anything salvageable winds up there. Maybe not always plugged in and running, but… we don’t like to throw things out.

I repaired the thing once, when the fan grill came loose in shipping.

Very, very carefully, because a power supply can hold a charge for a long time, and opening it… well, it’s probably the only piece that can kill you.

Maybe I should have replaced it back then, and I know I should replace it, right now.

And maybe there are a couple of case fans I could switch out, too.

And you know… well, some of the new processors look pretty good.

Of course, that would mean a new motherboard….

Which would lead us to new memory.

I should probably just swap out the power supply and be done with it. Everything else can wait, at least until after I get through with the writing conference.

The Same Thing Twice

I started writing another missing scene for my revision, yesterday. It was… well, pretty damn similar to the scene I wrote the day before. Not identical, but very, very close. Close enough that I wound up stopping to write a blog post about Deja Vu, voice, and the difference between parallels and repetitions.

So, I guess we’ll find out just how much of this I understand, and how much I can make myself understand.

My characters are psychic–or something like that. There are details–and in both scenes, the psychic bond is being broken. One scene is a death, and in the second, a character has voluntarily given up that connection. Her sacrifice will be permanent.

The lead up to the bond being broken is okay. It’s different; the circumstances are different. But then… well, as I’m writing the break, itself, I happen to have the distinct feeling that I’m writing something basically identical to the last one I wrote.

Feeling? No. I know. It’s the same.

I’m trying to figure out what’s broken that makes the two scenes so similar. They really shouldn’t be the same thing twice, but somehow… well, they are. And until I figure out how they should be different, I can’t fix it.

I think I’ll work on something else, today.

Doing My Homework

I’m still working my way through that revision list, one scene at a time, and the good news is that–in the theory–it could actually be finished by the 27th of April. I have fewer than twenty scenes left… that’s about one scene every two days… it’s not even particularly faster than I’ve been going.

That’s optimism, of course. It is faster, but it’s not impossibly faster.

I don’t usually write like this–I’m not sure I could, if it were a first draft–but it does give me a solid sense of “Here’s the Finish Line.”

I’ve been focusing on one of the subplots, at least in part because it has more scenes that are completely missing from the manuscript. I may be reaching the end of “missing” and moving on to the horribly broken and damaged things that I’m still at least a little attached to. I hope that’s less time consuming, but it might wind up being more.

We’ll see if I can manage something that’s vaguely in the right word count range this time. I haven’t used up all my ‘safe’ index cards yet, so right now, I’m worried about being too short. In a couple weeks, I’ll be worried about being too long. I promise.

Love, Patient Zero

I’m giving up on calling this thing allergies and moving on to where I just admit that it’s a cold. The good news is that means it has a lifespan of a couple of weeks. The bad news is that by then, the farmers in Kansas will be burning their fields, so I’ll probably just transition smoothly into allergies.

I have pills that are supposed to help, and probably do, since I woke up at the stroke of “allowed to have another one” and a nifty OTC inhaler which smells like furniture polish, and works, if you’re actually able to… ya know… inhale.

Tea might be the answer.

I will be faking my way through work, pretending I feel fine because there’s just not an absence policy that lets me stay home that long.

After the next pandemic, I’m sure the survivors will all be sitting around, saying If only they’d just been allowed to stay home back when we thought it was a cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lagniappes, Giveaways, and Finding YOUR Fans

I love it when people give me free books.

Aside from the obvious–someone is giving you a free book–it’s a great way to get past all those unconscious biases and read something completely out of your comfort zone and find something you wouldn’t pick up on your own.

The first strangers I remember handing out free books were the Gideons. Motel room Bibles, first–seems like I was always on a road trip of some kind as a kid–and later, the suit-and-tie men who stood outside schools and passed out teeny-tiny New Testaments in bright colors. One of my great-uncles was a Gideon, and you could always go over to his house and read the Bible. And since he was also kind of an ersatz missionary, you could “read” the Bible in more languages than I can count, some of which used a completely different alphabet.

Laugh, if you want, but it was one of my first introductions to foreign language.

Later on, when I was a Bookseller, we had a communal shelf for the Advance Copies publishers sent us, and the books rotated in and out fairly quickly. You’d read it, and then bring it back (most of the time) and add a post-it with a few notes on your thoughts. Obviously, the ones  with the most post-its were the most desirable.

Yes, there was a range. There were tech manuals in back that had probably been untouched since the dawn of the Epoch, and which were probably… just fine as that goes… and occasionally, you’d wind up with a note or two that shredded something.

But you still got that exposure to things you might not ordinarily buy or even read. Would I put out money for a History of the San Francisco Sewer system? Probably not, but if my friend liked it, and it was free…

And then, comes the world of e-books. When I got my first e-reader, it seemed like everything was free, and if it wasn’t… well, wait a week. People were fiddling around, trying to figure out the business model for e-books, and the first digital-only imprints were being born. And somehow, people still made money.

Just not the company that made that first reader. In time, their store wound up being swamped by “Free.” You could search, but you couldn’t find anything under the piles and piles of “Free.” The algorithm seemed to make no distinction between “real” books and the “books” some high school kid kicked out over the weekend. Probably because it didn’t make a distinction between giving away copies and selling them. It wound up closing.

Moral of That Story? There is a difference between attracting your own fans, and attracting the fans of Free.

So, moving right along…

The solution at least a couple of traditional publishers have come up with is offering “free” ebooks, but only through their newsletters, and off their own websites. That way, they’re focusing on people who care enough to know, instead of on the whole internet.

I get a couple of newsletters that have a regular Book of the Month type giveaway (and an associated discussion group, if you’re into that). I think they’re probably doing fairly well in terms of attracting “their” fans instead of a bunch of bargain hunters. One of them is Tor, and the other is a much smaller, University press that trades in non-fiction.

On the far end of things, I’ve heard the idea that you shouldn’t be afraid to give away all of your work (eventually) because your true fans won’t be able to wait and will wind up sending money, anyway. I’m not sure I totally believe that, but it does seem to work for some people.

So, what do you think? If you give away books, how do you make that work for you? If you don’t, what led to that decision? And if you’re in some other industry, how do you handle the giveaways?

Spring, Cleaning, and Strappy Sandals

My spring cleaning has kicked up a lot of dust, and my allergies are going haywire. My eyes are dry and itchy, and my neighbors are circulating a petition to have my nose removed entirely, as it’s now an unauthorized water feature.

I’m not doing anything completely insane. I’m not washing the soap or alphabetizing the rejection collection, but a little tidying here and there might not kill me.

The inescapable truth is… I have a lot of index cards. I use them for my writing, and for my programming, and probably for notes on half a dozen other things, when I happen to grab one. Recipes, too, although the last time I cooked was… uhm… well, I can cook. I think I made some fry bread a while back.

It’s the time of year when I realize that I own a pair of ice tongs shaped like dragon claws (Why?!!), and that sometime last summer, I hid a pair of strappy sandals from the cat, and they’re still in pristine condition. (Yay!)

I’m also going through a quick inventory of clothes in my closet. Spoiler alert: I’m going to need some new clothes. I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for, but something that makes it a little easier to pretend I’m an extrovert.

Other than that, back to typing up all those handwritten pages that have been building up in my purse, and maybe find some rubber bands for some of those index cards.

Sometimes, It Really IS the Journey.

Once upon a time, I decided to hike the Ocean-View trail out of Muir Woods. I can’t remember who, if anyone, I was with. Family, maybe, or possibly a friend or two. It’s not the most rigorous trail in the world, and it’s only about three and a half miles long, but if you make it to the end, you’re promised–you guessed it–a view of the Pacific Ocean in all its glory.

It’s a beautiful trail. Redwood country, with a little stream (the site I was just on called it a “river”) about halfway up. And a nice, steady rise in altitude.

Well worth the effort, if you  happen to get out there.

And the day was perfect. Not too hot, and not too cold. More or less Hollywood style hiing up a mountain weather. Despite being in Northern California, we only ran into one nudist the whole way, and it was a small nudist.

But.

Ocean view? Probably not what I’d call a teeny-tiny sliver of slightly not-sky blue peeking out from between two mountains. I think someone had to point it out to me, because I would have missed it.

You were looking down across a deep, green valley, and some of the oldest trees in the world, under a blue sky and a warm sun… Are you sure that’s the ocean? I wasn’t. I’m still not, except that the signs promise it is.

Actually, the most prominent features of the place I’d just spent an hour or two getting to… Were the convenient parking lot and picnic tables just off the main road.

Blogging Ahead

So, in order to get some blog posts queued up and ready to go on the days when I’ll be at the Fabulous Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference, I’m taking a quick peek at the A-to-Z Challenge schedule, and I find that if I include travel time, I’ll need posts V-Z while I’m there, and also one more post for the 1st of May.

April 26th also happens to be the StoryTime Blog hop, which means that letter V will have to be a short story in a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction vein. It doesn’t necessarily have to be aimed at children, but it probably does have to avoid sex, violence, and language.

And I believe the theme for my alphabet challenge would be the letter M.

I don’t have the faintest idea what I was thinking.

Oh, well. Too late for buyer’s remorse, now.

The thing is, If I start early and stay ahead of it, I may be able to cram just about anything into my letter M theme.  If I slip behind, it’s going to take more and more time to find today’s appropriate letter. (As opposed to “hey, I can throw that over here.”)

The process might get me ahead of schedule for good.

The Great Theme Reveal

Anybody who’s read this blog for long knows I’m not much of a “theme” person. I have to drag themes kicking and screaming out of my novels, and most of the time, I have no particular desire to build or work with a theme. I’m not someone your tenth-grade English teacher would like. My tenth-grade English teacher(s) spent the entire year hinting about ways to do drugs in class, on the premise that stoned might be an improvement, and ultimately wound up being sainted for not killing me in my sleep.

At any rate, my theme for last year’s A-to-Z Challenge was a Fly-By-The-Seat-of-Your-Pants stroke of brilliance: Whatever the hell happens to pop into my head. It worked well enough. I made it through.

This year, I thought about doing an upbeat complicated relationships thing, because that always seems to work its way into my stories, but let’s be honest, I’m not really sure all my readers are up for a recitation of A-to-Z relationships, and quite frankly, it would almost certainly devolve into a list of rare and exotic paraphilias. Why no… I just needed something that started with the letter U. Why do you ask?

That could sure get thorny fast.

Do I really need a theme?

Okay, so the one that finally popped into my head was…

Words that begin with the letter M.

That doesn’t seem so unreasonable. I’ll need to add words that don’t begin with the letter M to make it fit the challenge, but with some effort, I think I can make it work.

Words that begin with the letter M it is, then.

If you want to join in the challenge, all the details are here.  Let me know if you’re playing along.

Explaining the Self-Explanatory

Well, hell. Sometimes it just gets down to that choice of getting up or lying in bed counting down the moments that you could have been sleeping… if only you could sleep.

Good morning, world. Time to eat my English muffin and pretend to be awake.

I’m not really sure what got me up this early. It could be the scene I was writing last night. (Possibly I need more time between when I finish writing, and when my head hits the pillow.) Or it could be the fact that I’m having one of those “conversations” at work. You know the kind: I said something I figured was self-explanatory, and apparently, it’s not.

It’s going to need to be fixed.

I’m still vaguely hoping to have a manuscript by the time I leave for Colorado. That may be at least slightly optimistic, but my characters were cooperative last night (and probably any night where I have time and a little bit of discipline) So, it could happen.

I think about going to the library to work on things on my days off, and then, I realize the library opens roughly eight and a half hours after I wake up. That’s a whole work day! I’m not sure what is open, right now. Truck stop cafe might really be it.

In further small-town related news, the junk-yard burned last night. Thick black smoke everywhere. About two miles of road was closed down… not that the fire was that big. It’s just that two miles is the smallest section of road you can close, and still have a place for traffic to turn off without having a giant rut of u-turns.

I liked that junk yard. Meanest dogs in town. Nearly licked me to death, the last time I was there, and when that didn’t work, they tried drowning me in an ocean of slobber. I was lucky to escape with my life.