Moving the Blog!

Yesterday I was hacking at some code, fixing a problem with the way the site looks on the Opera browser. I use iBlog right now, a platform with some cool features and some pretty obvious warts. It was designed to work on servers where the blogger had no control over the server at all (say, Apple’s .mac servers), and therefore the way it did some things was… unusual. Without going into too much detail, iBlog does some things that have unpredictable results on some browsers, including the latest Opera. In addition, the company that made it stopped working on it some time ago and even the discussion forums are gone now.

I fixed the most obvious problem, but there were others, and once again I was faced with the choice of spending my time cobbling together the old system or shifting to a more robust platform. Sooner or later I’m going to have to move, so I decided not to spend any more time tweaking this one.

I’ve been looking into various blogging and content management packages, without finding one that matched the features of iBlog. A couple came close, however, and that’s going to have to do. I will be moving to WordPress sometime this spring. I should be able to make it do what I want, as long as I don’t mind getting my hands dirty. Looks like I’ll be learning a bit of php.

Here’s where you come in: I’ve got a test blog up and running, and out of the box it looks… boring. Slick and professional and all that, but not really me. I Browsed through the bazillion other options people have already created and, well, they’re not very good either – either stodgy or designed by illiterates for illiterates. “Oh, you want to read the text? Dang, I never considered that…”

I takes only a glance around here for you to to see that my design skills are no better; but now I’m going to be doing a ground-up redesign of the site, even if I want to keep it looking the same. I have some thoughts about some fairly ambitious things I’d like to try, but before I get carried away I’d like to know what you guys think of the way things look right now. What do you like? What don’t you like? Layout? Colors? Content? Too much in the sidebar? Not enough whatnot?

One idea I just had: a page with links to all my stories, with a way for people to rate them. The favorites would rise to the top. Yeah, I suspect that feature’s not coming soon. But maybe your crazy idea will work! Leave a comment! Go nuts!

I met a guy once

I met a guy once

I met a guy once, a big guy his skin black his teeth white his eyes red his laugh came from deep in his belly, and “who the hell are you?” he asked me.

Relativity is Relative

So I’m writing a story that takes place in the Tincaniverse, a neighborhood of the Science Fiction world that suspends a couple of physical laws because they are inconvenient, while still maintaing a general feeling that science is real. Anyone who writes a story with faster-than-light travel or spaceships with gravity holding people to the decks is playing in this same universe. Everyone knows time travel is sci-fi hooey, but time travel and faster-than-light travel are pretty much the same thing as far as physics is concerned. This is the inconvenient bit that writers and readers would prefer to ignore.

Time travel stories are really tough to do, because the writer is obliged to create an elaborate set of rules to prevent paradoxes. Many writers go for the branching-universe model for time travel, that posits that when you change an event in the past you spawn a branch universe that reflects the change, while there’s still another copy of the universe crashing along as if nothing ever happened. Which means the catastrophe the protagonist went back in time to prevent still happens, just not on his new time line. He’s just blown off his friends to horrible suffering while he goes and has fun with copies of them. Selfish bastard.

Still, time travel makes a good story once in a while. (See “William Ashbless” and “Red Dorakeen”)

Anyway, here I am in the Tincaniverse, thinking about the most poetic way to wrap up a story, and suddenly selective relativity is attractive. Distance and time being synonymous really works in this case. The question is, am I brazen enough to go for it?

Kindle 2 Rocks?

kindle.png

Hmm… super-high resolution screen, and FREE unfettered internet access anywhere? Add to that books that cost a fraction of what they would on paper. Interesting. Very interesting. Is this one of those geat “writers don’t need stinking publishers anymore, they just need a bit of marketing and good word of mouth”, or is it “good writing will get buried in the noise because the traditional filters between the public and the host of really bad writers has been torn down” or is it “the era of the influential critic”?

Or is it all three?

By the way, the comic is xkcd, which will appeal to geeks of all stripes.

Important things you should know: I get a kickback if you use the link to buy a Kindle. I’ve never even seen a Kindle in real life. Make sure when you buy it that you’re getting a Kindle 2.

Visitor in the Night

I almost didn’t answer the door. There was no one I was interested in seeing on a night like that. When the bell rang I was sitting in front of a fire, contemplating the book I had just completed, while the storm raged outside. Occasionally the warm glow in the room would be interrupted by an electric flash, followed almost instantly by a bone-jarring crash of thunder. But the doorbell rang, and after a brief hesitation I answered.

I opened the door and there she was, a lock of her raven hair stuck to her pale face, glued there by the rain. She was wearing a long jacket but no hat; she was soaked.

“May I come in?” she asked. I stood aside and she brushed past me. “Do you have anything to drink?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said. She followed me into the den, loosening the belt on her coat while she walked. In the doorway she watched as I poured her a drink, then she let her coat slide to the floor. Beneath was lace and not very much of that.

We collided in the middle of the room, a four-legged beast fueled by lust, a tangle of flesh and sweat and breath. Finally we lay on the couch, intertwined, spent.

She got up at last and crossed to where her coat lay on the floor. She pulled out a compact pistol and pointed it at me. “I’m sorry Mr. Jones, but now you must die,” she said.

“My name is Thompkins,” I said. “Jones lives next door.”

“Huh,” she said. She glanced around the room before meeting my eye. “This is awkward.”

Rejected At Last!

I sent a story off to Wierd Tales, a venerable monthly magazine that publishes stories that fit under the broad category ‘horror’. It is the magazine that H.P. Lovecraft published most of his stories in, back in the 1930’s. When I sent off the story I thought publication in that magazine would count as a pro sale for the Science Fiction Writers of America, a group I would like to qualify for someday. Turns out it wouldn’t have counted.

On top of that, after I submitted I had a lot of thoughts about how to make the story better. The thing was, as long as there was a possibility that they would publish the story in its current state, it was a bit of a waste to go editing it.

Time passed. A lot of time. I began to assume that I had been rejected but had somehow missed the notification. Then I heard that the two magazines that publisher puts out (the other one named for Lovecraft) were consolidating into one. One less market for genre writers. Now that their reorganization and shrinkification is complete, I got the rejection I’d been waiting for. Hours later, I have a better story.

On the subject of shrinking markets, one and a half true pro publications have also bit the dust. One is gone completely, the other is going from twelve to six issues annually. That’s the publication that has been kind to me in the past. Tough times. I have a better story, and now I need to find the right place to send it.

A Change in Schedule

So there we were, careening toward our three days of shooting, which were scheduled to be next week. I had run some mildly distressing numbers, and despite some help from a corporate sponsor it looked like we were going to go over budget.

Yesterday I got one of those good news/bad news calls from fuego. The good news: he was going to have enough cash to pitch in enough to pay for the rental of a really good camera. That was encouraging. We’d spent the previous evening trying to figure a way to get one. fuego, it seems, felt even more strongly after reading my blog episode that it would be a real shame to miss the opportunity to look as good as possible on film festival screens. If we get everything else right, it would be a real shame to have a lower-quality product just to save a few bucks. We began planning how to raise a little more cash.

Note: If you or the company you work for would like to sponsor an independent short movie, it’s not too late! Product placement might be tricky, but a mention in the credits would not be a problem. You too can be a patron of the arts! And now back to our regularly scheduled ramble:

So, the call from fuego. The good news, if you will recall, was that he had found a source of money. The bad news was that he was going to have to work for it. He’d been offered a job that would take him from Belgrade to Milan to Monte Carlo over the next couple of weeks, planning and executing a show for Zepter, a company that markets high-end household crap. In typical Zepter fashion, they called him yesterday and asked him to be in Belgrade today. Also in typical Zepter fashion, they offered to fly MaK and Z-Dawg to Monte Carlo so the family could celebrate Z’s first birthday together.

Having the director on set during filming is fairly important, so we immediately began juggling the schedule. fuego gets back about the time Lenka leaves on a trip, and then when she gets back fuego is gone again, and that all adds up to push the schedule a month. Wow. fuego may cancel his second trip, but he’s already paid for it, so it comes down to finding someone to go in his place. Not something we can really plan around.

So, dang. That pushes editing into April. I think we don’t have to worry about the April 17th deadline for Karlovy Vary (which would be a sweet, sweet, place to premiere the film), since the handful of shorts they show seem to go through a different application process. No matter the date, getting it through post-production will be important, if only to let me see it before I head for the states.