Saturday, August 12, 2017

Working on the Dying Breeds outline

I needed a break from Clouds of Venus.  Line-editing that thing was getting tedious, and I was having a hard time staying focused.  So I decided to take a couple of days--or three--and work on the outline for book 4 of the Wheel of Fire series, which I'm calling Dying Breeds.

My preliminary outline--I've got one for each of the eight books in the series--was about 1800 words.  My goal for each book is to have an outline of at least 8000 words.  That's how I know I have enough material for a novel.  So I had some work to do.

The outline for Dying Breeds currently stands at 5295 words.  I'm getting there.  I'm adding in some gut-wrenching stuff that wasn't there before, too, and I think it'll help give the book more of an emotional punch.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Dolly had braces

I'm not normally a victim of the Mandela effect.  Even in cases where I don't remember correctly, like the whole "mirror, mirror" thing from Snow White, I'm not wedded to the version I remember.  I can view the actual (magic mirror) version, give a dispassionate shrug, and go on with my day.

I have The Empire Strikes Back on both VHS and DVD, and have seen the movie many times, and I've always known it was "No... I am your father" instead of "Luke, I am your father."

I never thought Mandela died in the 1980s.

Berenstain, Berenstein... who cares?


But there's one thing upon which I will absolutely not budge, and that's the matter of Dolly from Moonraker.  She had braces.  I don't care about all the evidence to the contrary.  The girl had braces.  And I'm not just inventing this memory ex post facto, because it dates back to the 1980s when I first saw the movie on TBS.  The whole "connection" between Dolly and Jaws was the fact that both had mouths full of metal.  Otherwise, the relationship makes no sense.  Well, it makes sense for Jaws, because Dolly was gorgeous, and it's easy for a man to be smitten with her.  But it doesn't make sense on Dolly's end.

So, assuming I'm correct, what's the explanation?

My theory: the version of the movie that aired on TBS--which is where a lot of us saw a lot of movies for the first time back in the day, because other channels didn't share Ted Turner's tastes--featured a braces-positive Dolly.  The braces were later edited out for VHS and DVD and whatnot, and for reasons I can only guess.  So perhaps Ted Turner has the answer.

This isn't the first time that I remember something from a movie from the 1980s that would later get edited out.  Throughout the 1990s, I distinctly remembered the sentry guns scene from Aliens, yet none of the videos or televised versions had that scene.  It wasn't until the Youtube era that I found that scene again.  It had been deleted, and was only reinstated for the director's cut.  When I first saw the movie back in the 1980s, it must have been on laser disc or something--some pre-edited version.  I remembered the sentry guns, and my memory was correct.  Same thing with Excalibur.  In the wedding scene, Merlin tells Morgana that she'll "have to do better than that" to convince him of her prophetic gift.  In the deleted scene, she goes on to predict that Guinevere will cheat on Arthur with Lancelot.  That line is missing from the movie now, and I can't find it anywhere.  But I know it was there once upon a time.

So Hollywood has a history of messing with us.  I think something like that's the explanation for Dolly's missing braces.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Another delay

I'm looking at the file for Clouds of Venus right now.  It's the first time I've looked at this book in about a year.  And it's not ready.  :(

So I'm going through it and doing a little line-editing.  I hate it, and I'm ready to put this trilogy behind me and move on with my life, but I'm not going to publish something until I'm convinced it's ready.

It's always something.  *eyeroll*

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Adventures in formatting

I've started formatting the Free Space books.  It's not hard, just a little tedious.  The tough part was trying to remember how to make hyperlinks in OpenOffice, but it eventually came back to me.  The trick is to make a chapter heading a bookmark first, and then go back to the table of contents and make the hyperlink.  You have to have an existing bookmark for the link to point to.

I also had to delete a lot of spaces.  I learned to type back in the day, and part of that meant putting two spaces between sentences.  I'm still in that habit, and it's something I still do because it's way too much trouble to try to break it, especially when we have tools like "find and replace."  I just tell OpenOffice to find two spaces and replace them with one.  I actually have to do this twice due to typos--in a few instances, I accidentally had three spaces between sentences.  But it's a quick and easy thing to fix.

I had to change the paragraph formatting.  I write in block paragraphs because that's the best way for me to "see" the story in a sort of big-picture sense.  I plan to publish using traditional indented paragraphs, though, so I had to change all that.  Adding those indentations knocked my chapter headings and asterisk breaks to the right a little, so I then had to go back and delete those indentations.

Page breaks between chapters had to be added, and the spacing made consistent throughout.

So there we are.  I've done two of the books.  One left.  Then I'll load them on the Kindle and go over them one last time.  Then the only thing left is setting up and testing a mailing list.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bluegrass and science fiction

In my short story Mr. Wilson, there's a part where the ship captain plays the song "Sittin' On Top of the World" over the cabin speakers.  In the story, it's an up-tempo bluegrass version of the song.  Historically, though, the song has been performed in a variety of styles.  Wikipedia gives credit for the first recorded version to the Mississippi Sheiks, a blues band.  Here's their version:

 Another blues version, this time by the wonderful B.B. King:

The grand old man of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, performed a bluegrass version featuring his usual "high & lonesome" singing voice.  This one's from a 1957 album.

Here's Earl Scruggs and friends.

 The always entertaining Jerry Reed:

Some big-name artists from the rock world have covered it, too.  Here's a slower-than-molasses version done by Eric Clapton and Cream:

Here's the one by the Grateful Dead:

Here's a recent version done for the movie Cold Mountain, but it sounds ancient.  Which is appropriate, given the movie's time period.

In my story, I envisioned the song sounding similar to this version, but a little faster, and in a lower key:

Those guys are playing it in C#, which seems insanely high to me.  I think B is the standard for bluegrass versions of this song.  (Not sure; could be wrong.)  Those fellows definitely did a nice job, though.

So, next time you re-read Mr. Wilson, you'll have an idea of what the ship's cabin sounds like.

Jeff Tanyard: putting the bluegrass back in science fiction.  :D

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I love it when a plot comes together

I've got a partially written short story on the hard drive that's been languishing in limbo for a few months.  It wasn't coming together, and I knew it subconsciously, but I couldn't put my finger on why.  Well, last night, I finally realized what I needed to do.  In about a half hour, I had about 700 new words cranked out.  It's still mostly unwritten, but at least now I know where the story's going and how to get there, more or less.  It's a good feeling.