Stranger on a Train XXIX

Four days of Photoshop. Eight lessons with a few bonus skills added into the mix. I have to work a bit on Day One of Level 2; but once I took a lesson from Kacy Catanzaro and took a steadier pace, Day Two more than made up for my stumble.

Did you see this woman rock the American Ninja course? #MightyKacy indeed.

I’m digging Photoshop CC a lot. Good program. Now I need to take a serious look at Lightroom. I’d like to see if we (that’s Mike Witherall and I) can turn it into a class. I don’t see why not.
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So the people behind Snowpiercer‘s Facebook page put that image online this morning. It’s a stitch, especially when you consider the film. Lot of “in” jokes here, so kudos to the fan who created it. Inspired works like that just remind me of how incredibly talented people are everywhere, and I’m lucky enough to get to share my stories. I’m gearing up to do it again, too. The edits for The Diamond Conspiracy arrived today, so it’s time to level up and work on the next adventure of Books & Braun. We are dealing with a lot in this one, so I look forward to returning to that world…

…Monday.

First, I need a nap. A really big one. Photoshop is a demanding mistress.

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Hybrid Authors: The Best of Both Worlds

Depending on who you talk to, stepping into the publishing industry today is something akin to tap dancing in a mine field. There are the seasoned veterans who are struggling along with some publishers against changing technologies and market demands. Meanwhile, the independently published continue to rattle their sabers and proclaim without question “Our way is the only way!” in an militant fashion frighteningly similar to the traditionally published authors of less than a decade ago.

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As for myself, I have seen this “Us Vs. Them” nonsense back when “Social Media” was referred to as “New Media” and the ambitious creators behind this bold, cutting edge content were aiming to topple Old Media. I remember these days well as Apple had just opened the door to podcasters and it looked like these mavericks of media were going to fulfill their self-proclaimed prophecy as the featured podcasts were all people I knew, all shows either on my iPod or in my listening cue.

Within a year, the Featured Podcasts on iTunes were HBO, Discovery Channel, ESPN, and Oprah Winfrey. Oh, and those mavericks were either working for Old Media or contracting with them.

I look at what is happening now in publishing and think “Good Lord, here we go again.” Continue reading

Tales of a Shock Jockey: 6 Misconceptions about Electric Vehicles (and Those who Drive Them)

EV-carsI tend to get a lot of playful (and in some instances, not-so-playful) ribbing about investing in an electric car.  Potshots range from my overreaction to the state of planetary resources to my tree-hugging, liberal opinions. The joke of the night at my last family gathering was “The problem with Tee’s new car is the plug doesn’t reach all the way from D.C. to Richmond.”

That’s my brother. He’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip the wait staff. Try the veal.

My sister-in-law and teenage nephew, however, were asking legitimate questions about the range of the LEAF, how running other systems like climate control or the entertainment system affected the drive, and what I needed to recharge an electric car. These were questions that I really hadn’t considered when deciding to drive green. It wasn’t until I read this article about misconceptions around electric cars that I started to pay closer attention to what people were asking me, and started to notice the same questions and statements coming up, all centered around similar assumptions. Continue reading

Endless Possibilities Blog Tour 2014: Stacia D. Kelly on Setting Stages and Creating Worlds

If you are new to my blog, having discovered me following my Post Mortem on True Detective, welcome. You have a lot to read here, especially as I’m in the final week of the Endless Possibilities Blog Tour. This is the final week of featuring exciting, new voices in and out of this genre, all of whom are located here in Prince William County. Last week, you met my buddy, Nick Kelly

Now, meet his better half.

Stacia Kelly is very much like Nick, and you’ve already met her if you’re a listener to The Shared Desk. She is a bodybuilder, a health advocate and consultant, and a talented writer. Tonight, Stacia bring to you all her take on world building and setting the stage for your characters.

SDK_DarkHair_Jan2010Thank you, Tee, for letting me come share my love of world building with your readers. I write Urban Fantasy with my husband, Nick Kelly, and Paranormal Romance with the voices in my head. It can get a little crowded unless I get the words on the page.

It’s very rare I set my characters in a familiar environment; instead, I take delight in creating my own realms. I think that’s what really drew me to sci-fi/fantasy when I was a kid. You can lose yourself in the creation of a world all your own. I get to create the mountains, the valleys, oceans, and everything in between. Of course it took me years to understand that I had to include the laws of physics for my realms. Yes, I can include two moons I just have to make sure the explanation is accurate or plausible for the reader. And, as we learned during a brainstorming session with my 10-year-old son on his screenplay if we’re going to explode the Sun we can’t go to Jupiter as a new home, physics requires we jump solar systems. Continue reading

You Know I Can Hear You, Right? — Revelations about the Internet and the Lesson of St. Fu

“I think the Internet is a grand arena for poorly thought out words.” — Philippa Ballantine, 2/18/2014, on Facebook

1000px-Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895Presently, The Science Fiction Writers of America are at odds with one another once again, its members still in a brouhaha over the divide between men and women in the business. It’s hard to say when this rift started. I know this debate has raged for a long, long time as I remember people engaging in spirited conversations about this when I first entered the publishing game in 2002. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about feminism, misogyny, old guard mentality, new blood in SFWA, and the like, especially in the wake of the 200th issue of the SFWA Bulletin which attempted to harken back to nostalgic days of the Red Sonja-esque fantasy covers.

It all boiled to a fever pitch yesterday when John Scalzi posted this quote on his blog:

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.”

— (name withheld) on SFF.net, during the recent unpleasantness.

 Wow. Just…wow.

I have a lot of opinions about SFWA, about the Bulletin, SFF.net and LiveJournal (where a lot of this discussion has raged), and about women in the business; but that is not what is driving me bananas. What I find to be completely and utterly nuts is this fallback position “professionals” (and when you think comparing your experiences with a celebrated Science Fiction author to “your irrational fear of dogs” is a good analogy I use the term “professional” loosely.) are taking. These defensive crouches range from a First Amendment-“I have the right to freely express my opinion on this…” argument to “I’m calling my lawyer!” which, I bet, the lawyer is thrilled to know you’re pulling them up on speed dial.

I have a piece of free advice for these professionals: Please, for the love of God, shut the fuck up. You’re making asses of yourself on many levels, the highest of these being—and let’s be blunt—that you honestly don’t know how the Internet works. Continue reading

Tales of a Shock Jockey: A Decision to Drive Green

EV-carsWhen it comes to celebrating Earth Day and working towards green initiatives, Pip and I do what we can. I don’t think I’ve become completely and totally green, but I do think my carbon footprint has gone down a few sizes. We’ve got the dual trashcan for our recyclables. We’re turning off lights and conserving power when we can (although being the digital family that we are, that’s a challenge); but since a Plug-In Day event held in Manassas, I had been wanting to go all in. That was why when, back in November, it was time to seriously start shopping for a new car, I said “I want to go electric.”

At this alternative fuel event sponsored by Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and Electric Auto Association, I got a closer look at the rock stars of consumer electric vehicles (or EVs, as they are commonly known by) which included the Tesla Roadster and Coupe, the Chevrolet Volt (an EVs that had a nine-gallon gas tank as a “reserve” for when the battery is low), and the Mitsubishi MiEV. While I didn’t find the looks of Mitsubishi’s EV appealing, they were offering test drives so I took the MiEV for a spin. The first thing I noticed — the car truly sold itself, not just in how it handled but in how quiet it was. I mean, whisper silent! (A little unsettling, but in a really good way.) Continue reading

Untappd: A Social Network for Beer Snobs

I’ve been wanting to do app reviews on Imagine That! Studios alongside my bits of social media advice appearing there, but the first app I wanted to review really seemed more appropriate for my personal blog on account of the subject matter: beer. More to the point — living the lifestyle of a beer snob.

IMG_7501Untappd is a social network for those who love beer. It’s not just for beer snobs like me but for lovers of beer on all levels. Whether you are happy and content with your Budwiser or Miller Lite, or if you are an adventurer in sampling unique brews from across the country and around the world, Untappd connects beer lovers, breweries, and ice cold brewskis. At the core of the app are the reviews. When your first round arrives, you search for your beer in the Search bar across the top. Once you tap your beer, you select “Check-In” and are offered a field where you can type in a brief review (140 characters), add a photo of either what you are drinking (or who you are drinking with), rate your brew (and the slider allows for 1/2-star reviews), and add in your location. If you sync up your Twitter and Facebook feed with Untappd, you can send out your review and photos by tapping the Twitter and Facebook icons. On tapping “Confirm Your Brew” your review is shared online. The more reviews you share, the easier you can connect with friends on your respective social media networks.

UPDATE, 20 April, 2013: Untappd also recognizes cider and mead, so if you are more into those libations, you can find them in Untappd, or create your own custom entry. Continue reading

STEAMPUNK GOES MAINSTREAM…and other things for geeks to panic about. Again.

First off, I’m sorry everybody. It has been far too long. Where in the name of clocks, gears, and cogs have I been?

Let me drop a few quick teasers as to what has been going on in my life:

  • Got a new job. Social Media Coordinator. And the best part, it’s very close to home with telecommuting thrown in as a bonus.
  • After a month, got a promotion at the new job.
  • Then, conducted interviews for the job that I was originally hired to do. (Being on the other end of the interview table? Woah…)
  • Got a new car. I’m driving a Nissan LEAF right now. LOVE IT!
  • Jumped back on to the Medifast train. My weight was out of control again.
  • Christmas.

Some of these things I intend to talk about later on this blog. (Stop laughing. Seriously. I am!) I also have to keep in mind, though, I have a novel to finish. I’m still on board with a steampunk reboot of MOREVI, so Rafe Rafton will be returning to the oceans this year.

It is this very subject — something that, I’ll admit, people are coming to me more and more about for an opinion which feels pretty good — from where this rant finds its core. So let’s turn back the clock to January 15, Tuesday, 10 a.m. At my new day job, a friend sends me a link to AdAge about IBM’s fascination with steampunk. I ran the article on my Facebook page as this truly was the convergence between my day job and my writing career. IBM is tracking “steampunk” in order to find patterns between trends and fads. I also posted it on the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Facebook page and between the two, I got a whopping 6 shares. So maybe it wasn’t as cool as I thought.

Continue reading

Dragon*Con 2012: Booksignings, Parsecs, and Unabashed Geekgasms

Yep. It’s here. Dragon*Con.

Tomorrow morning, Pip and I hit the Interstate system of the Mid-Atlantic, heading to the grand event where tens of thousands of geeks of movies, television, books, costuming, and just about anything else you can think of descend on the unsuspecting city of Atlanta. We’re facing our busiest Dragon*Con ever (see what happens when you go a few years without hitting an event like this — they make you work!), and the breakdown is here:

Thursday

  • We check in. We see whatever we can. We party a bit with Alex White.

Friday

  • The Retro-Cast: Steampunk Podcasting & More – 8:30pm in Westin Int’l BC (Main Room)

Saturday

Sunday

  • Steampunk Author Roundtable (Part 1) – Sunday 1oam in Westin Int’l A (Roundtable Room)
  • Book Signing, Larry Smith Books, Sunday 12:00-1:00 in Marriott Booth 309
  • Book Signing, The Missing Volume, Sunday 1:30-2:30 in Marriott Booth 614

Monday

  • Social Steam: Steampunk, Social Media, and Making It Work – Monday 10am in Westin Int’l A (Roundtable Room)
  • Steampunk 101 — Monday, 11:30 a.m. at Hyatt Embassy D-F
  • How Do You Take Your Steampunk — Light or Dark? – Monday 1pm in Westin Int’l A (Roundtable Room)

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Let’s see exactly what kind of trouble the two of us can get into this weekend. Pictures to come…

Stranger on a Train XXIII

I was planning to nap, but my brain really won’t power down. I blame NASA and this incredible photo of Christina Hendricks I saw Facebook.

It still blows my mind that we are on Mars. Again. This time, using a means of entry that resembled something the Coyote (Eatibus Anythingibus) purchased from ACME in order to catch the Road Runner (Hotrodius Diggus-Outtus). When I saw the animation on how they were going to get Curiosity on the Red Planet, I thought “That’s nuts!”

Put one in the WIN column for Super-Geniuses.

This week Pip and I head for New Orleans. Not necessarily planned, this trip; but then again, 2012 hasn’t really gone to plan. I feel very much in transit, particularly with other friends hitting crossroads in life. Things could be worse, sure, but if you were to ask me to describe the year in a word: uncertain. I don’t know what it is about this year, but there it is in a nutshell.

NASA however taught me last night a whole new degree of uncertainty. Think about it: The reason (okay, ONE reason) they went nuts early this morning was on account of uncertainty. Beyond the insane amount of time and precision in the entry, there was the fact that Curiosity would get to Mars and fail hard. A camera could have jostled out of whack, a board could have failed on touchdown — even if you got redundancies in place, a thousand and one things could go wrong, and still you have to worry about that other variable that could make it one thousand and two. NASA faced their uncertainty with incredible resolve, and now we’re back on Mars with a probe that is state-of-the-art and ready to rumble in the Red.

This is what we all have to do: face it. Face it head on. We do that, and we will come out the other side. Stronger. Wiser. Ready for more.

If you were expecting the shot of Christina, that’s on my Facebook page. This one’s for NASA.

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