June Revisions Now Available

The Young Hieronymus series of short stories have been revised (June 2017) and released for your enjoyment. They include:

Storms on an Opal Sea cover

Since their release in 2013 I’d like to think I’ve learned and improved my craft in this fiction writing business and so going back to improve the originals seemed like a good idea. Updated the stories, gave them new edits, and generally had fun expanding on the originals in several minor ways. All for the good I hope.

I’ve already posted them to Smashwords and Amazon, so look for Apple’s iBooks soon. If you’ve already bought the stories then getting the updates should just require a new download. If you haven’t purchased them, now would be a good time to give them a look.

UPDATE: Work is progressing on Storms on an Opal Sea and Alexiandrölarn novella as well. I hope to kick them into shape by the fall.

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ProWritingAid is Improving My Process

I’ve been busy lately on several improvement projects.

The first project involved releasing revised versions of the Young Hieronymus series; The Huntress, A Lesson in Power, and Amaranthine Dreams. I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons, 1) Since releasing those early stories I think I’ve become a better fiction writer, and 2) I wanted to use an editing tool, specifically ProWritingAid, as part of my process to improving my manuscripts.

I’m liking the results too.

If ProWritingAid doesn’t ring a bell, it’s an online service that accepts your manuscripts and using one or more analytical tools (your choice), shows you where your writing can use some improvement. You can run one or more tools like: Style, Grammar, Diction, Repeats, Transitions, Pronouns, etc. to isolate a specific weakness, or just run Combo to use all the tools.

ProWritingAid also includes a downloadable Java version that works with several popular writing apps including Scrivener, text, html, rtf, MS Word,  markdown, and open document (odt) file formats. Using the Java app is much faster than using the online version as you don’t have to manually upload your files, run the tests, then download the results. With the app you just open the file on disk and start analyzing.

It’s not free, but $40 a year for Premium access to all these writing tools is reasonable.

So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been revising the YH short stories. They’re now complete and being uploaded this week. I think they read and flow much better than the originals. Take a look and let me know what you think.

I’ve seen some nice improvements in my writing these last few weeks. I’ve noticed the number of common issues ProWritingAid pointed out are being reduced, sometimes by a significant amount. That tells me that I’ve started to resolve those errors in my writing before ProWritingAid can count them. My process is simple, write a scene to the best of my ability and then run it through ProWritingAid for revision. The result is a much stronger scene or chapter for the first draft.

The second project is Alexiandrölarn, my fantasy novella that comprises part 1 of The Forgotten Empire. I’m redoing Chapter 5 right now, finally know how it will end, and been having fun adding new twists and turns along the way.

Third project is Storms on an Opal Sea, the fourth incarnation is back on the table. Using the same process I’ve been rewriting SOS, chopping off scenes I didn’t need and hopefully writing a much better story after its long gestation. It was actually my 2nd short story idea, right after The Missing Wizard. The idea is old but now I may be able to complete it. Cross your fingers.

Also, a couple of other shorts in the process. They’re experimental and not likely to be released but who knows, I’m having fun again.

So, lots of activity, stay tuned for some new stories releases RSN.

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Apple Delivers at WWDC 2017

Finally, a new iMac to purchase. I’ve been waiting for about a year to purchase a new one, so once the keynote was over I rushed to the Apple Store and ordered one. The iMac 27-inch with Retina 5K display, 4.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 2400MHz DDR4, and Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB RAM.

Then, I ordered a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, 256GB, in Space Gray, with a Charcoal Cover and an Apple Pencil. It will replace my 2+ year old iPad that doesn’t support the Pencil for graphics work directly on the screen. Am looking forward to seeing if the old muscle memory is there for creating graphic images. Would be nice to create my own custom covers for stories that reflected them more closely then the images I’m forced to ‘shop’ into something suitable.

Besides the hardware released (new MacBooks, MacBook Pros) or announced (beefy iMac Pro and HomePod) there was a slew of software updates and improvements as well.

Looks like macOS is going on an alternating releases. Last year Sierra was introduced with new features while this year we get High Sierra, a refinement pass on those base technologies. Previous refinement passes (Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion)  allowed for core technologies to be revised, improved, and stabilized for future new releases. One example of a refinement this year is moving the windowing API over to Metal, Apple’s low level graphics engine that enables faster graphic and video operations. Their favorite term used was “smooth as butter”.

One new feature in macOS I’m looking forward to is the new Apple File System (APFS) which replaces the 30+ year old Hierarchical File System (HFS+). Designed for today’s computers, its more nimble when supporting today’s memory and storage requirements, fully encrypts your files and data for security, and supports hardware like SSDs which didn’t even exist when HFS+ was designed. APFS became the default file system for the iPhone and iPad with the 10.3 iOS release and unless you were a developer you probably didn’t realize the huge file system improvements that were added to your iPhone or iPad.

Lots of other software announcements for iOS, tvOS, and watchOS, but those weren’t that interesting to me. Nice, but not what I was waiting for.

Both are being delivered next week, so I’ve got some prep to do in backing up my current machines and getting ready to enjoy my new tools.

IMHO, a great WWDC.

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Wonder Woman Rocks

Wonder Woman

Just returned from watching the new DC superhero film Wonder Woman (2017) featuring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. In my opinion it may be the best DC film since Superman (1978) with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder.

I’m going to ignore all the Batman films over the years as none have really been acceptable to me as a true representation of the character. Too many lead actors with different impressions, too many silly villains to count, and just plain too many of them offering weak stories buoyed by too many unnecessary explosive set pieces at the end.

But Gal Gadot knocked it out of the park as Wonder Woman, a woman experiencing the truths of the real world for the first time. She lived one life in the benign sanctuary of her island home but that is shattered when the outside world interrupts with WW1, The War to End All Wars. Once that occurs, she takes charge of herself and seeks to aid those on the outside who need help. Her naivety is used well early on as she learns more about this warring world and by the end of the film she comes full circle and finds her purpose.

Chris Pine also impressed me, foregoing the Captain Kirk vibe for something more realistic and natural, showing just enough confusion and compassion to make Steve Trevor feel realistic. I had a lot of concerns when I watched the trailers but in the film’s context he came off much better than I expected.

Also, for the first time in a long time, this DC super-heroine had a great color palette on screen, not the dreary and dark, undersaturated colors found in most of the DC films over the last 10 years. A nice change of pace and one that made this a standout film. The screenplay by Allan Heinberg achieved its goal in giving us a strong story that made us really believe in and cheer for the character. Director Patty Jenkins did a great job overall as well. Maybe a little less special effects at the end but lets face it, you can’t have a summer blockbuster without a lot of explosions and gratuitous violence.

This is a film to watch for now. If the upcoming Justice League film has some of the same flavor, it too might show that DC finally understands both its characters and what the audience wants to see.

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