So far, 2014 has been a tech-y year for me. I got Photoshop CS6 up and running and am still ogling all the wonderful tools and enhancements. Adobe have really outdone themselves with new joys like Erodible Tips—brushes that work exactly how dry media does; they wear down gradually the more you use them, and you can resharpen the "nibs" digitally. I also bought a Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch
graphics tablet, which is taking a little getting used to (as expected) but is already proving an excellent addition to my PS adventures.
Me and Beth Stewart
are in the process of organising what I hope will be a regular annual trip to North Wales for the Sci-Fi Weekender
. 2014 includes a Theoretical Zombiologist, so pretty much all of my requirement boxes have already been ticked. I'm looking forwards to the panels again, and all the cosplayers! (Here
is my post from 2013's Weeknder.)
Did I mention before that I've been catching up with the latest Bleach
manga chapters, and also rewatching the anime? I stopped reading Bleach
a couple of years ago because I tend to go through binge phases when something I like is drawn out over a long period (and Bleach
has been going for, like, thirteen years now, so)—I'll leave it alone for big gaps then marathon it in a weekend or whatever. I do this a lot with TV shows, too. Anyway, I am catching up and rewatching and falling in love with it all over again. I want to write loads about it, but I think I'll save it for another post in the future. I have a lot of Bleach
thoughts. But there will be icons soon!
♫ In For the Kill
, by La Roux (Skream Remix).
I've been umming and ahing about this for weeks, but I finally decided to sign up for Winchester Writers' Conference
, taking place 21st—25th June 2013. While pricey, it's an amazing opportunity to have work seen by agents, editors and authors, and hopefully get some helpful feedback on the state of my novel. I've picked a single day pass, which entitles me to a host of talks and three one-on-one consultations with aforementioned agents, editors and authors. It's exciting and scary at the same time! Last year one of my friends went and an agent expressed interest in her novel, so it's definitely worth it. The talks look good, too, representing mainstream, genre, short story, crime fiction, commissioning agents and editors, poetry, publishing books, ebook publishing, marketing, writing for children and writing for the media. I will try and take notes so I can post anything of interest here.
There's also a History Festival taking place locally soon, and I'm trying to whittle down the number of talks I want to go to (mostly because I can't afford to do them all). So far I'm leaning towards: Victorian morals, prejudice, hypocrisy and women's rights; a history of the British Empire between 1850−1945; the drama of the 1832 reform bill; a history of writing seminar; and love in the world of Jane Austen. But realistically, I will probably only be able to do two or three of these. Argh, so difficult choosing!
And I've started reading number9dream
, slowly, very slowly. I find with David Mitchell I need to read it carefully and savour every single line. I'm always blown away by his stuff.
After many friend recommendations I finally succumbed to WhatsApp
on my iPhone, and OK, I see what all the fuss is about now. Since getting it I've been texting with a friend in Canada for free and it is awesome. :)Steampunk Weapons Useless Against Fists
- via one of my writing group friends. This is a short article on The Daily Mash, so not to be taken too seriously. Made me laugh.
♫ In the Middle (Nero Remix)
, by The Streets.
So I am eyeing Photoshop CS6 for the Mac again. For the gazillionth time. Apparently it's HD Retina compatible, which just excites me in ways I cannot describe. It's hefty on the coin purse at £630, but I use PS a lot—for my web design, and also the random designing I do for my own pleasure (icons, graphics, etc) and occasionally for the amusement of my friends
. I'm aware this is sounding very much like I'm trying to convince myself, and I guess I am, because like I said it's a lot of money. In fact, it's tempting to enrol on a short course somewhere, become an official student for a couple of months, and buy it at its student price of £190. Dudes, those price differences are crazy
Stepping away from monetary dilemmas for a moment, a friend recently told me about a new dark fantasy online action RPG called Path of Exile
. It's still in beta and it's free to play. I've frolicked in the game a little, though I'm still not sure if I'm a MMORPGer. There are elements that I love—it's visually beautiful, and the character class system not only offers the usual types (warrior, rogue and mage) but also the option to pick a character that combines two classes (a roguish mage, for example). It's designed and built by Grinding Gear Games, a passionate team who understand how complex games work. On the other hand, it's a steep learning curve if, like me, you're not so familiar with the mechanics of desktop roleplaying. And so far there's no support for Mac users. Still, I am recommending it, as I prefer it far more than I did my brief stint in World of Warcraft
. Check out the trailer here
Gradually chipping away at Final Fantasy XIII
again. Some of the battles are difficult, and some combat sequences with lower level baddies go on for way too long, but I still adore the characters and their progression, and my god, it's still so gorgeous. Who knows, I might get a bit further through it than chapter 8 this time!7 Grammatical Errors That Aren't
- from Daily Writing Tips. Breaking rules is fun, especially when the rules aren't really rules.25+ Pieces of Writing Software You Should Know About
- Again from Daily Writing Tips.
♫ Walkin' On The Sun
, by Smash Mouth.
A little belated, but Happy New Year, everyone! I hope January is treating you kindly so far.
My January is all about writing, writing, writing. I'm learning I write more regularly on a long project than on a series of short projects. I realised that I wrote a bunch of short stories in 2011 that I never edited, and therefore never sent out on submission—this, I shall remedy in 2012. (Wait, that sounded dangerously like a Resolution!) ( Some blather about the steampunk novel-in-progress, cut for the sake of the uninterested )getyourwordsout
has kicked off and I'm already well over my target word count. The community itself is so organised
and has the most dedicated mods—I love it! And I'm meeting all these cool new peeps, too. Peeps I can't wait to get to know better!
The other night at my writing group one of our members gave a presentation on Concordance
software, which is for analysing language and studying electronic texts closely. There are a load of key features, like word counters, the ability to make wordlists, word frequency lists, indexes, and you can do proximity searches. My favourite thing is that you can check which words occur most often in a document (a bit like a word cloud), a handy way of weeding out those wicked crutch words you're not even aware are sneaking into your stories ("very," anyone?). Nifty. More about the software here
Also, I mentioned the new TV series Eternal Law
a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say so far it's not grabbing me. I'm saddened, as I had high expectations. But I'll stick with it for now and see how things unfold.
, by Nero. Dubsteppy goodness. Nero was probably my favourite emerging music act from 2010/2011.
I had no idea until recently that you can download the Kindle software for your PC from Amazon—here
(UK) or here
(US)—enabling you to buy and read Kindle books even if you don't own a Kindle. That's fabulous! Though now I feel like I'm totally late to the party.
This is especially cool because I've been able to read the latest releases from Darwin's Evolutions
, without having to wait until the anthology comes out!
The first story, Big-T
by Jakob Drud (jakobdrud
), illustrated by Karl A. Nordman
, is a sci-fi mystery with a strong, compelling female protagonist. Well-written and intriguing, with a building pace that kept me interested throughout.
The second story, The Last Arrow of Liang Xi
by Brian Dolton (tchernabyelo
), illustrated by John Dotegowski
, is a beautiful, fable-like story set in an alternate orient, about the price you sometimes have to pay for the choices you make, whether those choices are for good or evil.
The third story, Year of the Mountain Lion
by Maria E. Schneider (bearmountain
), illustrated by John Dotegowski
, is a story about exile, survival, and walking your own path. From the DE site: An alternate American southwest wherein legends are both real and unreal, curses true and false, and a young woman betrayed finds herself the object of a hunt by the very tribe who cast her out into the desert to die.
I'm enjoying the stories, and still can't quite believe I'm going to be published alongside these terrific authors. I'll do another link post as soon as the next batch of stories make their way into the world.
You'd think upgrading software would improve a program's performance, but this hasn't been the case with OpenOffice
3.2. I've just downgraded
to the previous version I'd been running (2.4), because I was finding so many issues and bugs with 3.2. The program had countless formatting problems when transferring text from other documents, it crashed on me, and some of the features seemed more clunky than in older versions, which, y'know, defeats the whole point of an upgrade.
The annoying thing is, I haven't seen anyone else complaining about it, so it's likely the program I downloaded was buggy or there was a problem with the download itself (although I don't recall any error messages), and a simple reinstall is needed. But to be honest, this has put me off using newer versions. Sometimes, jam-packing your program with special features hampers the performance, and I didn't need half of the stuff they'd included in the upgrade.
Anyway. *cuddles OO 2.4* I feel like I can write in safety again!