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Squarepressed

You might have noticed the site looks a little different. This is my old wordpress site, which I’ve moved back too after learning squarespace didn’t want my money any more.

I like to travel. I like to travel a lot. I try to keep up my other blog (www.traveling250.com) while on the road, and this single feature is probably the most important thing I need in a blog. Sitting on a beach or in a forest and writing down thoughts is actually nice (so long as it’s not all that happens in the beach or forest).

Squarespace frankly sucks at this. It seemed like it could, and there were reports that it could be done with the mobile app and other fixes. I spent some time trying to make it work. I liked how the website looked, and the eCommerce features were nice too, but I couldn’t manage to get posts done when on the road, and that made keep up the blog almost impossible.

I had made a frustrated comment on Twitter, and squarespace offered to help. I explained what I was trying to do, and included a comment that these features were ones I had gotten used too while using WordPress. The reply was essentially “good luck with your return to WordPress then.”

So, my writing and travel blogs (the travel blog never officially moved and posts were appearing in both places) are back on WordPress. After the (very) lovely design of the squarespace site I am going to have to redo this page so it’s less…drab.

In the mood of continued experimentation, I might try a third party host so I can keep the improved eCommerce options. That will have to wait a bit since I am trying to get the complete Pain, Curiosity, and a Bear finished and in print before the HU events in September. That isn’t much time, so I will have to spend a lot of time staring at text on a screen and formatting. I’m trying to be excited about that.

The weather is so nice too.

Migrations

I’ve had this site hosted on WordPress since I started it, back in 2012 (so long ago, I know). I fell in love with WordPress while I was traveling (www.traveling250.com), since it was so easy to update from the road, especially when I only occasionally had access to the internet (good offline blogging tools).

This site was always intended to be more concerned with my writing, rather than travel. For a while I was thinking my non-250 trips could go here, but in truth it has just never really worked out that way. Traveling250.com has become more than just my little bike travels, instead becoming something of a hub for minimalism on motorcycles. This has become all but my struggles (and occasional triumphs) as a writer.

So, some struggles. As much as I like WordPress, it isn’t the best for selling things. Now, I know I could use the WordPress software to host on a server somewhere, but I am not that technical. For the .PDF files it’s okay, but other formats (ebooks or stickers – I have stickers now) it just couldn’t easily handle. So, after hearing how much better it was I’ve decided to move this blog to Squarespace, sometime in the next couple weeks. The homepage will change and you will be able to buy stuff directly from me, if you are so inclined, and there will be more variety of content available (I hope).

I’ve been working on this for a few weeks, learning the new interface and trying to get the store set up (the blogging tools are straightforward enough). I had a problem at once with the Pain, Curiosity, and a Bear PDFs, since they are all over 200mb (usually not by much, but still over), and Squarespace has a 200mb limit to digital file size. This isn’t a limit for WordPress, and for a while I thought about skipping the move, but trying to sell through WordPress has just been a nightmare, so I am going to press on.

This blog is (obviously) still on WordPress, but expect the change in the next week or so. Once that is done, I’ll be posting shorts and character bios from Super City, as Under the Radar publication approaches. Exciting things! I am also working on my next motorcycle book, which I will talk about later.

Blockage of Writer’s

Well, it doesn’t happen often, but I am dealing with some serious writer’s block on my current project – another how-to motorcycle book. I have a fair number of notes and was super excited to start on it as I was wrapping up Under the Radar (currently still off with beta readers), but now that I’m sitting at the keys and ready to get cranking – nothing is cranking.

This is very unusual for me. My head usually doesn’t stop and I struggle to stop things from pouring out. I ‘m not having much difficulty with this blog, for example. And, when I am not at my computer I still have ideas and words bouncing around in my head. I just can’t get them out and still maintain any sort of cohesiveness.

Okay, so my writer’s block might be a little different. I can spew all kinds of stuff out, but it doesn’t hold together or even make much sense on re-reading. Not “no one will understand what I am trying to say,” but “I have no idea where I am going with this.” My notes and thoughts are all nice and clear, but the draft is neither.

Since I am not used to having this problem I struggle more than most with overcoming it. It’s been bitter cold here, the advisories only just lifted, so I’ve been inside a lot. That isn’t unusual in the winter and it wasn’t a problem for UtR, but there is such a thing as cumulative effects, so I’m planning to get outside for a while and see things that have nothing to do with writing. Hopefully I won’t be annoyed at myself for taking the time. That happens, sometimes.

I’ve heard good things about Under the Radar so far, but I haven’t heard back from everyone, and the more critical (as in, people I don’t know) haven’t gotten back yet. Jeanine Henning is again doing the cover. She did an amazing job with The Fall of Awesome so I’m already excited.

The sun is out, and the temperature has crawled, writhing and complaining, back into the positive side of the ledger, so I am going to try to capture some fresh air.

I Need a Flurry

Not a furry, that is something completely different.

Under the Radar is finished, well finished enough for beta readers. I am still looking for a couple, by the way, so if you’re interest post a comment and I’ll be in touch. It is off with some already, and I am going to get it sit for the month of January while their working on it and I am getting the cover sorted. Audio will have to wait until there’s a final draft, but I’m planning to use the same producer as I did for Fall of Awesome.

In the mean time it’s off to the next project, and outlining the next Super City book. The next book is non-fiction, and I’ll share more about it later. I’m thinking the Super City book will be an origins for the Super Squad – the interdimesional battle that stranded Incredi-Girl here. Mainly because I want to write about Rapid.

It’s a strange time, as it usually is when I move from an active part of a project to a passive one (waiting for readers to get back to me). I have a huge emotional drop and getting motivated to move on is hard. I sleep more, don’t want to go to the the gym, drink more soda. Of course, the sudden dumping of snow and frigid temps (5f as I type this) might also have something to do with it.

This will be my last blog for the year, and I haven’t thought much about resolutions. I guess I can list those later, once I actually have some. I am also moving from WordPress to Squarespace, mostly to improve my ability to sell copies of my books here. I am new to Squarespace, so it’s going to take some time. And, well, I have a lot to learn to make it work like I want – I’m already having issues to be honest.

Reading over what I’ve written it’s clear I haven’t actually done much since last week. Clearly I need to improve, to find a flurry of energy and production this week and get myself back on track.

Book Review–The Leaning Tower by Lawrence Wright

 

I picked up this audio book from Audible because I enjoyed Going Clear so much. This book covered the events leading to the attack on the Twin Towers. Both books are by Lawrence Wright, and I expected another detailed history of the events before the worst terror attack on American soil.

One thing that was different between the two audiobooks was the Narrator. Going Clear was narrated by Morton Sellers and The Leaning Tower by Alan Sklar. This difference led to a much different experience with the content, as I had a tendency to tune Sklar out. I don’t know why, but listening to him reminded me of boring lectures from college and high school, and reminded me of the potential weakness of audio books.

I did get through the content, going back over parts when I found I had stopped listening, and Wright again gave a richly detailed description of the hows and whys 9/11 happened, and they way that it did. It managed this in an impressively neutral tone, or as close to neutral it could be when there was so much information finding fault. Not faults on the US side, or not just faults in the US side anyway. It also does an excellent job separating the jihadists from the rest of Islam, who (like most of the world) finds terror attack abhorrent. This is rarely covered in most media, where all of the religion is viewed as out to get us – something that is clearly untrue.

Wright also stops his book just as the attacks are executed. He foreshadows, and talks about some of the aftereffects earlier in the book, but his history ends with the attack. Since so much coverage of the event has been on all that came after – the pain and loss – I liked his choice to end there. This book is about the events leading up to the attack, not what came after.

So, if you are interested in learning more about 9/11, and want to hear both sides of the story (as it were), then I would suggest The Leaning Tower, though I would also probably recommend the text over audio. That is just my preference, though, and there are a lot of positive reviews on the job Sklar did.

It’s not prostitution.

Since I have been trying to refocus myself on the whole “earn a living as a writer” thing, I have once more started looking for freelance writing jobs. It’s something I’ve never been all that good at, and I can honestly say my skills haven’t improved much over the years. Year. Okay, I don’t really know.

Another part of this is trying to get into print magazines. This was something I should have really done after OX13, and didn’t. But that doesn’t mean I can’t now, and I like to think I have a few useful things to write about. Of course, this means contact the magazines in question and running the risk – the all to likely risk – of rejection. Like any healthy male, I am not a fan of rejection and would prefer to avoid it.

On the editing front, I’ve managed to get the first edit of Under the Radar almost done, and will soon be looking for beta readers (comment if you’re interested, I will have things to sweeten the deal). I always have mixed feelings about beta readers. I tend to get a lot of positive feedback, which is good, but I worry that they are just being nice and, in truth, the book sucks. As part of the freelancing thing I have recently been exposed to some other peoples’ writing which was – hard to get through. One thing about my stories is I like to re-read them.

Of course, they are mine.

So, back to my grindstone, well editing stone. I hope everyone has a good holiday of your choice and excellent writing/reading.

Book Review–Great North Road by Peter Hamilton

I picked up Great North Road after hearing it mentioned on a podcast. Dead Robots, I think, I didn’t write it down. I’d read another of Peter Hamilton’s books, Pandora’s Star, and had been disappointed by it. This meant, even though I’d heard good things about Great North Road I delayed actually picking up.

When I did, I worked through it with constant anxiety of the “left hanging” feeling I had at the end of Pandora’s Star. I am pleased to report, this didn’t happen, but there were some similarities between the two.

In the story, mankind has expanded to other worlds by use of worm-hole type portals. In Great North Road, the Norths are a family of clones, based on the founder. The first three clones, after a period of working together (they were also genetically programmed to age one year for every 10 that passed – so they aged slowly), they split into separate endeavors. One worked on earning month through a corporation dealing in bio fuels, another focused on bioengineering (on what amounted to the North’s private planet, on the other side of their wormhole and where they keep the algae beds they used to produce the bio fuel). The third brother took a group of like minded people (along with his descendant clones) to a space station near Jupiter where they worked on developing advanced technology.

The story starts when one of the North clones is found murdered, not of the first three but a descendant clone. There is concerns over alien attacks or gang activity, and the plot is complicated by a similar attack on the Norths, while had killed the founder of the Bio-engineering clan, twenty years earlier. While the police treat it like a homicide other factions worry about alien attack or corporate infighting.

Despite all the different things going on, the plot functionally follows two paths, one following the officer in charge of the investigation and the other a woman accused of killing the North twenty years earlier. The various plot threads are tied up nicely, foreshadowed well enough to make sense and yet with enough of a twist to feel satisfying.

It’s long, and epic is scope despite dealing with only a few characters. While I am still not sure I am a fan of Hamilton, since now I’m one for one on his books, this one was worth the read.

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