The site went down a while back after running some automated updates; I ended up having to manually remove all my WordPress plugins and add them back one at a time until I found out which one was breaking the page. It turned out to be WordPress’ own JetPack plugin suite, which I’ve now re-installed from scratch, and the site seems to be mostly functional again. There’s some kind of issue with the social buttons possibly not working correctly; hopefully I’ll have time to get that resolved this weekend.
In addition, between this and another older site I manage on the same server, I’ve been getting e-mails about multiple failed administrator login attempts on a fairly regular basis – not a massive bot attack, but once or twice a day. So I’ve gone into both sites and added more internal security features, malware scanners, etc.
Going into the new year, with luck I’ll be able to get past the tech issues and get back to the updates and changes I’ve been wanting to finish for a while now.
New books are coming soon (yes, I know, I’ve said that before) and in preparation I’m going to be doing some minor restructuring of this site. Over the next few weeks expect to see shifting menus, new pages in various stages of blankness, and possibly some tinkering with the overall theme of the site. All of the existing links should continue to work (or to not work, in a few cases…).
The whole family is home sick today, and Kate, my youngest, decided on a whim to watch Fellowship of the Ring. Immediately Aeryn, my oldest, and I launched into a verbal rewrite of Galadriel’s opening monologue, and it became crucially important that we write it down:
The world is changed. I see it on Pinterest. I read it on Twitter. It’s trending on Facebook. Much that once was is archived, for none now live with the attention span to remember. It began with the posting of the Great Memes. Three were shared by the Elves, fairest and most selfie-obsessed of all beings. Seven by the Dwarf-Lords, great Instagrammers of meal-pictures and senders of Farmville invites. And nine, nine Memes were posted by the race of Man, who above all else desire likes and shares. For within these memes was bound a brief distraction from their sad and miserable lives.
But they were all of them deceived, for another Meme was made. In the land of Dotcom, in the vast wasteland of Google+, xxDarkL0rdSaur0n69xx Photoshopped in secret a master Meme to control all the others, and into this meme he poured his cute animals, his political satire, and his will to amass enough views to collect advertising revenue on his YouTube account.
One meme to rule them all,
One search to find them,
One click to invite them all,
and with a EULA bind them.
I’d known for a while that he was fighting early-onset Alzheimer’s, but I didn’t realize it had progressed so far; so I was surprised to learn of the death today of one of my favorite writers. I’m in the process of spending my evening remembering his words by reading through this huge list of quotes I found on GoodReads.
“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”
– Terry Pratchett
I’ve decided to give a try at NaNoWriMo this year – writing a 50,000-word novel draft during the month of November. There’s a story that’s been percolating in the back of my mind for over a year now and I’ve been anxious to start letting it spill out, so NaNo seems like the perfect opportunity to get it written down and challenge myself to crank out a draft in a short time.
I’d hoped to log on this morning and post a short update which communicated the above and ended with a short list something like what follows:
Coffee: Fresh and hot!
… but instead, I’ve had to revise it a bit:
Home Despot Visits: 2!
Original kitchen sink faucet: In the trash! The builders must have gotten in as part of a clearance sale when it was discontinued for it’s poor, near-unrepairable internal design.
Hands: Sore and bruised from trying to tighten & loosen hose fittings amid a twisting maze of PVC pipe in a cramped space!
Coffee: 5th cup is in need of its 3rd reheat!
New kitchen faucet: Installed and (so far) functional!
Writing: About to commence anyway – screw you, nap! I’ll sleep when I’m SNORT ZZZzzzzz…
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on a two-book work of traditional, not-deliberately-funny fantasy. At this point the text is close enough to done that I need to put some serious thought into what the covers are going to look like. I’m not entirely sure how it will all come together, but for now I’m just trying to brainstorm ideas and maybe toss together some mock-ups of possibilities using stock images from the web (since any efforts of mine to create visual art would end up looking like an in-game screenshot from Kingdom of Loathing).
There’s a dramatic moment in the first book where the action and scenery would make an excellent attention-grabbing image… and which just happens to feature, as this post title suggests, a naked guy. On my cover I’d only show him from the waist up, of course, because I don’t want Amazon’s butt-finder software to auto-push my book into the “Adult” category, but I’d like to try doing something with this scene.
I have some very specific ideas about the look, pose, and physique* of Mister Naked Guy, and I’ve been trying to find some images that are at least close to what I’m looking for. So in short, I, as a heterosexual male, have just spent several uncomfortable hours painstakingly scanning through the search results on various stock photo sites for the key phrase “shirtless man”. And I’ve just gotten started.
It did seem to me that my 15 year old daughter walked by a little more often during my search than she normally does when I’m sitting at the computer, but that could be my imagination.
* Muscular but not bulky – leaning a little more toward Bruce Lee than Bruce Banner
I’m in the process of switching to a different hosting company for this site. If all goes well the move should be transparent – i.e. nobody but me will notice anything different and the site won’t change at all. There may, however be some disruptions over the next couple of days as the domain name gets re-pointed to the new host.
I needed a good dose of Tolkien quotes today.
“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
I’m hard(ish) at work on my next pair of e-books, which involves some modifications to and editing of a mostly-finished five-part story that’s been languishing on my hard drive for years. I seem to have lost the crudely drawn map I’d thrown together way back around 2006 or 2007, so I’m in the process of re-creating a (hopefully nicer) new one. After playing around with a few demos of fantasy map-making software and tinkering with a number of tutorials involving procedurally-generated map outlines, I ran across this excellent set of tutorials and ended up mostly following the advice contained there. Since I already had a vague idea of the shape of my continents and needed a few prominent features to be at specific places, this option gave me the most flexibility but relied heavily on my mostly non-existent artistic talent.
This is very much a work in progress: I haven’t placed any cities yet or added place names or added any textures to the land or water, and I need to do some tinkering with the forested areas as I’m not satisfied with their look yet. Should I make them denser? Less variation in the tree types or just drop certain of the tree images? Maybe just replace them entirely – but with what? Should I keep the color scheme or turn it all into a sepia/antiqued look? Dots for the cities, or images – keeping in mind the eventual e-book pictures will be smaller than this example? I’m not a design guy in the slightest so any constructive advice would be appreciated.
In any case, here’s a preview of the world where these upcoming books are set. Click to view the full size image (I kept the master copy big just on the off chance there’s ever a need for a high resolution print out):
Of the BMW owners I’ve known over the years, enough of them have lived up to the negative stereotypes that I’ve long suspected those cars just might be machinations of Morgoth. Now an elf in Oregon has confirmed my suspicions and decided to do something about it!