Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A wasted week

I'm still sick.  I haven't done anything writing-related at all.

I thought I was getting over it on Sunday, but then I must have relapsed or something.  I threw up a couple times today.  :(

I'm not going to die or anything, but it still sucks.  With the various medicines I've been taking, I simply don't trust my brain to make good writing decisions right now.  I really hope this bug goes away soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

And... I'm sick. :(

I've got a fever or a cold or something.  I don't know.  Right now I've got a bloodstream full of pseudoephedrine.  I haven't done anything productive all day.  I'm in danger of dozing off before I can publish this blog post.

Ah, well.  Such is life, I guess.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The sword is not yet obsolete

Even in the age of firearms, there's nothing quite like a good blade:

Cashier defends his store with a sword

The only thing that would have made this video better is if there had actually been a sword fight.  I guess criminals don't have the guts to stand their ground when it looks like they might get sliced up by a guy wielding a scimitar.

Can't really say I blame them.

Soviet superheroes

The Russian movie Guardians comes out next year.  Here's the trailer:

I like the bear-man with the gatling gun.  :D

Monday, August 22, 2016

Practice map is done

I've finished my fantasy practice map.  I didn't bother labeling any cities or rivers or anything since this is just a proof-of-concept experiment to see if I can do it.  I think it turned out pretty good, though.  Better than I expected, actually.

I learned a few things along the way:

1.)  Take note of the codes for whatever colors you use.  For example, the dark green is 016e04, the brown of the mountains is 775504, and so on.  Then you can just copy and paste the codes into the Photoshop palette field.

2.)  Use separate layers for each feature.  Absolutely essential.

3.)  Using separate layers allows you to use adjustment layers for each feature.  For example, I altered the brightness and contrast of the mountains without changing anything else.

4.)  Rivers go on top of all other layers.  On this map, the rivers were made by deleting the base layer of land so that the water layer showed through.  This was a mistake.  If you zoom in and look closely, you can see places where the green (or whatever) shading spilled over onto the rivers.  Next time, I'll just draw the rivers on with the paintbrush.

5.)  Take note of pixel size for whatever you're doing.  You want uniformity.  You don't want one city to be 29 pixels and another to be 43 pixels.  (Or whatever.)

6.)  Adjust the opacity to about 50% for the shaded areas.  That gives it a more organic look.  I didn't use the blur tool, but I might try that next time, too, in places where one color of shade meets another.

7.)  The upper-right continent ended up resembling an upside-down vagina.  That was unintentional, but an important lesson to learn, I suppose.  Next time, I'll be on the lookout for unfortunate resemblances throughout the process.

8.)  Make the file large so that the cities and towns don't look pixelated when you zoom in.  In order to make specific areas visible on a Kindle, you'll have to have zoomed-in maps of those specific regions, and that means you need a large file to start with if you want those maps to be crisp.

Anyway, I'm calling it a success.  As the features take shape, my imagination starts to conjure up stories of the land and its people.  The history doesn't quite write itself, but making the map first definitely gives one a solid foundation.

And it was fun, too. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Designing a space navy

I'm working on it.  :D

Not much space action in Hostile Planet.  That story mostly takes place on the surface.  That's probably obvious from the book's title.  But there will be plenty of space battles in the series, and that means I need navies.

For the Commonwealth, I've got this so far:

Patrol craft are named for the counties of the worlds they patrol, commanded by Lieutenants
Corvettes are named for men, commanded by Lt. Commanders
Destroyers and frigates are named for weapons and tools, commanded by Commanders
Battlecruisers are named for planets, commanded by Captains

I'm going with a mix of American and British conventions.  And some things aren't based on anything other than the needs of the story. 

I'm still on the fence about drones, but I'm leaning towards not having them.  Machines breaking other machines just seems dull.  It's more fun when people fight one another--when lives are at stake on both sides.

I'm revising the outline for the second book in the series, Neutral Ground.  Once it's done, I'll finish whatever revisions need finishing, send stuff out for beta reading, and then get started on the first draft.

I hope September turns out to be more productive.  I feel like I've wasted August.  Too much going on.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wrestling with the gray planet and other distractions

I'm trying to whip Mercury into shape.

I'm at about the halfway point and am struggling to figure out what to do with a fight scene.  As a result, my progress has been slow.  I really, really want to put this trilogy behind me and get back to the Wheel of Fire.  Writing Hostile Planet was the most fun I've had writing in a long time.  Probably due to the battle scenes.  I don't think I've ever written battle scenes before.  Which sounds crazy, because I love that stuff.  :S

I've been playing around at cartography in Photoshop.  I've always loved fantasy maps.  I use to draw my own when I was a kid.  Now I can use the computer.  Yay, technology!  Here's a practice map:

I haven't gotten around to the smaller land masses--just the main one.  But this is just for practice anyway, so it doesn't matter.  The point was to see how the brushes I downloaded would look and if I could make something that didn't look terrible.  I've still got more features to add, but I think it's coming along so far.  *shrug*

Just to be clear, I intend to write an epic fantasy series someday, but that day is far in the future.  I'm putting the finishing touches on the Free Space trilogy and I've started the Wheel of Fire series.  That one is planned for eight books.  After that, I intend to delve into urban fantasy--modern day, first-person point-of-view, etc.  The usual tropes.  Only after that would I think about starting an epic fantasy.

But making maps is fun, so I'm doing it.  :D

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Olympic distractions

Yeah, I've been watching.  *sigh*

I really shouldn't, since I've got better things to do.  It's cutting into my productivity.  But at least it only lasts a couple of weeks.

Anyway, good luck to all the athletes.  I hope you all do your best, and may the best of you win.  :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

R.I.P., Jerry Doyle

Just found out about this.  Mr. Garibaldi has joined the First Ones beyond the Rim:

Renowned talk show host and actor Jerry Doyle passed away at the age of 60, wherein his family reported that he was found unresponsive in his home in Las Vegas.

I actually met him once at a Babylon 5 fan event.  He seemed like a down-to-earth fellow and was very patient considering the long line of people waiting to meet him.

We'll miss you, Chief.  :(