Friday, March 28, 2008

New Witch Hunt Installment!

There's a new installment of my serial novel, Witch Hunt, up on my main blog!

Check it out here.


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Monday, March 10, 2008

Yeah, I Know ...

... I said I was shutting this one down. I am. Really.

But this cool new template was enough to make me wanna play with it. So, I sort of like it and now I'm wondering if I'll keep it. I don't know what I'll do with it, but still ... hmm.

On the other hand, you can still see what I'm up to (and it ain't much) over at my main blog.

God bless, y'all.

Yes, it's still shut down. For now, anyway.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shutting It Down

Well, for those of you that read this blog, I have some bad news:  In a couple of days, I'll be shutting it down.

I'll probably be deleting it, too.  I don't really know why I've kept my blogger page as long as I have, except that it was my very first blog, and I had sentimental attachment to it.  But I far prefer the flexibility of my Wordpress page, so I'll mostly be updating there.

I'll be doing that over the weekend, and this will probably be my last update.

It's been fun, and thanks for following along.  Update your links, if you will, and you can continue to watch me over at if you're interested.

God bless, all, and if I don't see you again, please know I'm grateful for whatever time you spent with me.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Update-ish Things

Okay, first off: I have to tell you, those of you that played the Flash-Fiction 2-paragraph game did an outstanding job!  Am-AZING work, y'all!  Thanks for playing!  And if you had fun, the LOML has a site just for this kind of thing.  She wants it to be a fun, creative place for writers to go when they need to loosen their writing muscles, slap their muse around, or just take a break from their projects.  That site is:

The Writers Nesst

She's going to work hard to make it fun, so stop by and get involved.  Tell people about it, too; if you know writers that aren't hanging around in other places and doing those sorts of things, let 'em know they're welcome and can come by.  They can make suggestions, too, if they have a favorite game or a good idea they want to share.  All are welcome, so spread the word!

Again, thanks for taking the time to play, everyone.  I'm going to repost what we've got so far and then, if anyone is still interested, they can add two more paragraphs to it in the comments section of the new post.  The old post will be closed to comments, but I'll add an update link to the new post.

If you didn't get a chance to play, don't worry -- like I said, it's still open, and of course, the Writers Nesst will be available too.  Make your presence known!

Now, as for me -- I've no more software to review.  I really don't.  Most of what I have to say about software has been said, but if you guys know about a cool piece of freeware that you want to find out about, let me know.  I'll check into it for as long as I have the Internet.  Drop me an email, or leave me a comment here.

I've added a contact block to my ever-growing sidebar with a new email address.  Reach me there if the mood strikes you.

My precious wife and I are still hacking through the edits of Ghost Hunters.  Most nights we do one or two chapters, but we've got a ways to go yet.  I think we just finished Chapter 29, so ... only 17 left to go.  Some of the chapters need more ... help, let's say ... than others, so it's hard to do a set number of chapters per day.  We try to do at least two, but lately, we haven't gotten more than just one.  Ahem.  That's a testament to my poor post-writing editing skills, unfortunately, but it's coming along.  When it's finished, it's going to be time to start putting query letters together.  Sherri, if you're still willing to critique and assist with the rest of the process, I'd be very grateful; but if not, that's cool, I know you've got your own stuff hap'ning.  Just let me know.  :)  Like I said, I'm not there yet, but it's coming.

While we're on the topic, I'll need critics and beta readers for the new, updated version.  Raga?  Interested?  Bryce, do you have time or interest?  Anyone?  I'll be looking for help with it soon.

Of course,  Witch Hunt isn't going as well as I wanted.  It's a harder story to write from the get-go.  There's a lot of plotting I have to do, and outlining isn't taking the priority it should.  Bryce's Text Tree program has been a Godsend though; if you're an outliner and haven't tried, it I recommend it.  Highly.

The good news is, I have some idea where the story's going for the immediate future.  I can probably (!) pen more of it before the end of the week.  Now, I've made that promise before, and you all see how it turns out, so I'm not saying I will pen more by the end of the week.  But I have a little path to walk before I run out of rope.

That's for those of you that care about Witch Hunt, of course.  All three of you.  :)

As for our personal situation -- nothing's changed.  Nothing.  We sure can use all the prayers and PPT you can spare us.  Please know we love and appreciate you all, and thank you for your support in our hard time.  It means more than we can say.

God bless, everyone.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Software Review - FireShot

Technically, FireShot's not software.  Well, it's not stand-alone software.  It's a FireFox add-in.

As a semi-regular blogger (for as long as I can be, at least), I often find myself blogging about things in the blogosphere or on the web.  It's not unique; I think most of us do that.  But when I'm blogging about things like weird search terms (which are some of the most popular posts I do) or doing software reviews, having tools at my disposal for the task makes it much easier, more enjoyable, and faster.

You may have noticed lately that some of my posts have included screen shots of portions of my Wordpress dashboard.  Those screen shots were taken with FireShot.

FireShot is one of those tools.  For blogging, it's amazing.  Once it's downloaded, the installer prompts you for choices.  One of which is whether to include FireShot as a context-menu item.  For the less geeky, that means when you right-click on your browser somewhere, FireShot is able to be among the choices you're presented with.  This is a cool feature, and one I use a great deal.

What happens is this: you have an icon on your browser's toolbar.  It's a big red square with an "S" in it.  There's a drop-down arrow next to the icon.   When you click on the icon, there's a list of things that FireShot can do.  Those items are Resume Editing (grayed out unless you're editing a shot), Take  Screen Shot (Entire Page) and ..., Take a Screen Shot (Visible Area) and ..., Preferences, View Demo, Write a Review, Support, Donate and About.  Most of these are self-explanatory, but some of them aren't as intuitive.

Take a Screen Shot (Entire Page) and ... does just that: it takes a shot of the entire page you're visiting.  That's great if there are multiple things you want to include in whatever you're writing, or you want the unedited content as it is, or you're showing the entire page for any reason.  Be aware, this feature will create quite a big image file in pixels, depending on the page you're visiting when you take the shot.

Take a Screen Shot (Visible Area) and ... again does just as it indicates: it takes a shot of the portion of the page visible within your browser.  The smaller your brower window, the smaller the area snapped will be.  This is the one I use the most; and from there, I do more editing still.

I won't really discuss the rest of the options.  Support is where you get tech support on the product.  About tells you about the version and such.  View Demo -- 'nuff said there.  Et cetera, et cetera.

Now, once you've captured the screen shot, you can do a few things with it.  That's the "and ..." part of the menu entries.  FireShot prompts you for the next step.  You can edit within the built-in editor (very cool), upload the image to your image storage location, save the image to your local drive, copy the image to the Windows clipboard, email the shot and open in an external editor.  Lots of choices.

The FireShot image editor lets you drag and drop the image size (don't expect the resolution to adjust, though; it gets pretty grainy very quickly), crop the image, and manipulate it just as you would in any simple image editor.  It also allows you the opportunity to upload, save or copy the image once you've done the editing, so those buttons are available too.  There's a Select button that makes choosing the portion of the shot you want a snap with either an ellipse or a rectangular call-out.  And there's a nifty Shapes button that allows you to highlight certain parts of the shot for annotation.  You can also do annotation outside the Shapes menu with the Pointer and Text buttons.  There's a Drawing button, too, which enables freehand drawing of lines, shapes and probably note-writing too.  Very slick.  While it's not Adobe Photoshop, it's a nice little image hacker, and it lets you stitch an image together cleanly and neatly, without having to get a graphic designer's degree to use the program.

I've used it on a couple of occasions, to create images of the portions of the screen I want to use in my blog post.  I capture the image, then I select the portion I'm interested in with the Selection tool of choice.  That brings up a sub-menu in the sidebar to the right of the screen, and I can crop the image there.  (You can do a lot of other things, too, including blur, invert, grayscale convert, annotate, add glow effects, fill ... nice).   Then I add the call-out shape I want and type in any text, which you can control (font and size).  I can move the call-out and the pointer will automatically be adjusted.  I like it a lot.

If you like blogging on web sites or portions of pages, FireShot's a very nice little package that makes grabbing sections or portions easy and fun.  It's simple, powerful and very light-weight.

I declare, with all the great add-ons to FireFox, we won't need to use other programs at all pretty soon.

I recommend FireShot highly to bloggers and web0philes.  It's really nifty.

Try it and see.  Let me know what you think.


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Monday, February 18, 2008

Witch Hunt - Ch. 6

The next installment of Witch Hunt is up on my main blog!  Check it out!


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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Come and Play!

If there are any writers that visit here, I've got a little writer's game going on over at my main blog. Come and join in the fun! You don't have to register to play; just sign in with your email and have at it! All are welcome!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Still Not Much to Say ...

I still got nothin'. But I'm workin' on changing that.

I'm going to write something ... tonight. It will be up tomorrow. Shame on you if you don't follow your blogs over the weekend. What're you, a person? What, you think you gotta life or somethin'? Sheesh.

I may just do some flash fiction to warm up. How about a game? A two-paragraph game. I'll write two paragraphs. You follow in the comments with two more of your own. We'll see how many takers we have by Monday morning. I'll post the full story by Monday evening. Wanna play?

This is the sort of thing we'll do over at the Writer's Nesst when it's up and functional. LOML tells me it'll be soon, but she says we're gonna be rich and thin too. That magical "someday" never seems to arrive, does it?

Anyway, I'll have something for you. I promise. Something.

God bless, and keep praying for us, you all. We need it. We're praying for you too, just so you know. :)


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ever Have One of Those Blogs ... ?

Yeah.  This is one of those entries.  You know, the ones where the author clearly has nothing, whatever, to say, but goes ahead and posts anyway.

I got nothin'.

I should be writing ... or maybe editing ... but I'm not doing either.  I should be relaxed and taking advantage of this time I have while I have it, because I'll regret it later when I don't have it anymore.  I just can't.  I don't have the drive, the creative flow.  There's not much going on in my head.  I can't do anything except sit and think about my personal crap.

I want to do something, but I've got nothing.

I'm more than halfway through the edits of Ghost Hunters now.  I believe they're going well; I think it's a much stronger piece now than it was before we started.  My wonderful wife has done a phenomenal job pointing out the areas of weakness and helping me get it up to snuff.  But we've done nothing for several days now, and it's my fault.  She's offered to work on it, and I just ... ain't there.

Witch Hunt is going stale right before my eyes.  I have a few more chapters plotted out but I've not written a word.  I don't know why.  Worry has a tendency to kill your creativity.  I do a lot of that lately.

So, I figured I'd write something else.  I haven't.  Maybe it'll happen sometime soon.  Goodness knows, I need that bright spot, that release in my life.  Hopefully the throes of this agony will ease over the weekend so I can get something down.  I feel like a completely useless lump right now.  And I hate that.

Toldja it'd be one of those posts.

Anyone have any interesting software I can review?

Thanks to all our constant supporters for your constant support.  We love you and appreciate you.  Happy Valentines day to all the happy couples out there.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quick Update

My thing at 10:00 a.m. this morning went well, despite the hazardous driving conditions. My thanks to all of you that prayed and supported me during that time. I won’t know how it pans out, but that’s another matter all together.

As for me, I’ve been doodling around with Linux today for the most part. I’ve downloaded a bunch o’ LiveCDs and spent some time today burning them. Some of them actually failed, just DOA. I think those may have problems with the image. I’ll download it again when I can and give it a second try … maybe. They don’t give CDs away.

So far the only one that goes off without a hitch is Mandriva. Fedora worked too, but not as nicely. Nothing has detected my wireless card, either. I can’t get on the network via live CD, so hopefully the actual installation will give me a better chance to configure the Windows driver with NDISwrapper or something. I hope. I pray.

Pff. I should be writing. I’m sorry, but that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow, y’all. I hope that’s okay.

I might have new fiction by then, or I may have more Witch Hunt. I hope to edit a couple of more chapters of Ghost Hunters too.

Oh, and I’ll try and give you more detail on what happened with my Linux try-outs later this week. If I have time between all the running around and writing I’m going to do. (I’m trying to pressure myself into being productive.)

Anyway, thanks to all, and God bless.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Rising Tension

We're getting into some tense times, now. Things are very dicey for us at the moment. Those of you that know our situation, I'm afraid I have to call on you again to support us, if you will, in prayer.

Tomorrow is another glimmer of hope. It's a thin thread, and we really need it. Tomorrow at 10 a.m. if you have time to pray, please do. I want to thank you all in advance for your loving kindness and suffering through posts like this one.

Our situation has to change, really soon. Really soon.

Anyway, I hope to have something less cryptic and depressing later. For now, I have to try and prepare for tomorrow.

Thank you, everyone.


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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Software Review - ScribeFire

Well … I was going to give you an indepth look at ScribeFire, which is a browser plug-in blogging client for FireFox. I know a lot of you are using FireFox for your browser, and it starts becoming everything a blogger, researcher and general ‘Net junkie needs when you extend it with the add-ons available to it. (Get them here.)

ScribeFire turns your browser window into a split-screen blogging client. This is really great and it’s very easy to set up. It allows you to control what’s visible in a left-hand sidebar and shows you publishing options for your blog of choice in the right-hand sidebar. When you’ve selected your publishing options (like Technorati tags and TrackBack URLs), the options can be closed, restoring the right sidebar to the default tabbed layout. This allows addition of blog accounts, displays the tags for each blog account, the posts that ScribeFire finds for it (not exhaustive), the pages for the blog if any, and has a Notes tab.

A word of caution here: The Notes feature isn’t what it would appear to be! I found out the hard and painful way, selecting a note will populate your editor window with the note’s contents, replacing whatever you’ve typed into the editor. I lost a loooooooong, well-researched and fully image-enhanced post before the one you’re reading now (it was my original review of SF) by trying out the notes feature on the fly. You can, however, save your editor screen data as a note (it will allow formatted or plain text), but I don’t know about images. And I’m not willing to experiment again, sorry. Once bitten …

Anyway, ScribeFire does a lot of neat things. It’s a pretty well-featured editor, and adding blogs is pretty straight-forward too. That’s nice. Since it’s browser-based, it’s truly cross-platform (at least, it appears to be; there is no “Windows” or “Mac” or “Linux” segregation in the installation from FireFox’s add-on site). As you can see from the link in the sentence prior, it makes links easily enough. It may look a bit odd, sitting in your browser screen taking up about half of it (a bit more in my case), but you can have it consume either the top- or bottom half, to suit your preference.

Its image-handling capabilities leave a lot to be desired. I can insert images fine, but there are no settings to control where on the page it sits, the white space around it, whether the text wraps it or not, etc. My beloved WLW still sets the unattainable standard for this feature, in my estimation, despite the claims by several other blog clients that they are as good. For blogging in text, ScribeFire seems to be strong enough. Just type and go.

I didn’t notice a performance hit by installing it. Since it’s a browser plug-in and not a full-blown installation of software, it only requires a restart of FireFox to get it going. The screen is straight-forward and easy to use. But SF really shines when it comes to blogging about an interesting site or article online. A right-click on the page of interest and a context menu will pop-up allowing your to import the text into SF. You then edit to get to your point, and publish. This is especially intriguing to people like LOML, who loves to surf the ‘Net and is occasionally interested in talking about what she’s found in her blog. News hounds will probably love it too; you can blog right there on the site without having to navigate away, either to a separate blogging client or to your blog service’s editor. That’s a boon for a lot of folks.

But, losing all my work because I selected a note in the Notes tab gave me pause. It also ticked me off no end; I’d invested probably an hour or more in writing my initial review, and had mostly good things to say. That incident showed a major weakness in the software (it’s not really a notepad as the name implies if it’s not usable apart from the editor), and gives me something negative (very negative) to point out. I’m sorry to do that, ScribeFire, but if you’re going to provide a place for notes they should be separate and distinct from the main entry. Provide a cut/paste feature to move information from notes to posts. That’d make the feature usable and, in my opinion, better. And for Pete’s sake, please put some sort of warning about the text in the editing window being replaced by the note BEFORE it happens to another unsuspecting blogger.

Overall, I like the speed and portability of ScribeFire. I think being able to blog on the fly about a site while you’re on it is a great feature. I think the flexibility of having it built into your browser is a nice idea, even if it’s not my cup of tea. It’s never going to be as cool and feature-rich as Windows Live Writer, but what is? (WLW is one that Microsoft got RIGHT.) If you can’t use WLW, or you want to be right on the web page you’re blogging about, or your system is sluggish and doesn’t handle big GUI-based programs too well, ScribeFire might be a very viable alternative for you. It’s plenty strong and capable.

Something from my perspective; my wife had a different one. Check both and decide for yourself.


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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sound Off: Mac vs. PC; YOU Tell ME

Yeah, we've all seen the cute commercials with the laid back comedian and the uptight comedian bantering about how much better a Mac is than a PC.  I've been contemplating this issue literally for years, and in doing some of my homework, I have some legitimate beefs with switching that I either don't hear about from other switchers, or that don't seem to come up with other people.  So, being that I well could be the odd man out again (as is so often the case), I present to you a few issues that spring to mind in the Mac vs. PC decision.

  1. First of all, a Mac is friggin' expensive.  Don't gimme a line o' crap about "What's cheaper, replacing your PC every two years and protecting it from Malware, Spyware, viruses and hackers, or buying a Mac?" either.  That's not gonna fly.  Initial outlay of capital is initial outlay of capital.  The cost of ownership isn't even a factor in this argument yet, so let's leave it alone.  Right now, the Mac costs a lot more than a PC, period.  I'd love to make the switch, really I would, but -- day-um, y'all, those prices are exorbitant.  Yes, you can get them on eBay and refurbished for less, but those still run more than an off-the-shelf PC.
  2. Lack of standardization between the two OSs for users.  I mean to tell ya, you have zero similarity between Macs and PCs functionally.  I'm not arguing one's better than the other here; you can do that if you want, but the fact of the matter is the number of PCs in the world far, far outweigh the number of Macs in the world.  Common shortcuts are different, the naming and location of commands is different, the interfaces are different (like menus and even the three buttons at the top of the screen for applications) , the input devices -- yes, keyboards and mice -- are different.  Hell, there's not one thing except the alpha-numeric keys they seem to share in common.

    That's not easy to get over one way or the other.  Give the advantage to Mac users here, because they most likely have to use a PC in their workplace, so they know both.  I had one user I supported years ago tell me, "I use a PC because I have to; I use a Mac because I want to."  Have to or want to, he had the best of both worlds.  He used a PC at work (the "have to" part) and a Mac at home (the "want to").  He knew a fair amount about how to get around in both worlds.  I think this will be true for most Mac users, since most commercial places of employment aren't willing to spend the extra money on Macs to fill their cubicles.  I've never been a Mac user; PC only am I.  Therefore, I have a steep learning curve ahead of me with a Mac, and I wonder what my frustration level and stress level will be in doing that. 

    I'm a writer too (just ask me), so I spend a lot of time working my keyboard shortcuts and avoiding my mouse when I can.  I like my keyboard layout; I'm familiar with it and know where to find almost everything without looking.  What about a Mac?  How much trouble amd I going to have with a Mac?  I've also heard that the shortcuts aren't always consistent from one software package to another.  Any truth to that?

    Any recent switchers from PC to Mac, please sound off here, because I'm legitimately interested.
  3. Shortage of USB ports.  I've read a couple of articles where users have complained that their Mac desktops only have 3 USB ports, and most Mac notebooks only have two.  Are you frickin' kidding me??  What the hell are you thinking over their, Jobs??  Get a clue!  Beef 'em up!  You're asking people to pay an arm and a leg and depending on what model they're getting a right lung too for a computer.  Put the things they need on it, jackass!!  Most PCs are coming with 4 ports on the back and at least 2 more on the front.  What's Apple's problem?  The iPhone cost them so much they can't afford USB ports on their computers?  Gimme a break.
  4. Shortage of software.  Okay, you want to talk about the overall cost of ownership with a Mac vs. a PC?  Take a look in this category.  There's a fair amount of premium to be paid off the shelf for Mac software, and there's not a lot of it.  I go to any computer specialty retailer and I can find hundreds of titles for PC.  I go to the Mac ghetto section of the same store, and I see a couple dozen titles.  And that's only the beginning.

    I personally have ... obtained, let's say, thousands and thousands of dollars worth of software.  I have it, I can install it and use it on any PC I buy running Microsoft Windows (so long as it's an appropriate compatible version of the OS, which would be true for any computing platform).  But, if I switch to a Mac, all those CDs and DVDs become coasters only suitable for protecting my table top from the condensation from my Long Island Iced Tea.  I can't use it anymore, unless I'm willing to work with some sort of emulator like VMWare (EXPENSIVE) or WINE (which claims it's NOT an emulator, but also doesn't have a 100% success rate with Windows software and doesn't have the same performance capability as Windows software running natively in Windows).  To get back all the capacity I currently have, I'd have to spend thousands of dollars to replace that software, some of which are high-cost suites.  Now, total cost of ownership?  You tell me.  I don't know about the "average" user, but for me, it's no contest.  Period.  (Incidentally, this is the primary reason if not the only one preventing me from switching to Linux, too.)
  5. Viruses and Spyware.  Mac users claim Macs are virus-proof and don't need antivirus software, but my beautiful and highly-intelligent wife read just scant months ago how a new spate of malicious code was being scripted lovingly just for the *nix crowd of OSs, including Macs.  I don't know how popular or widespread those infections are now, but give it time.  There will be no advantage to having a Mac in the security area before very long, because evil people are evil, and when Microsoft no longer presents a challenge to their abilities, they will seek others.  Mac is foremost among those challenges.  Unix-based OSs are next.  What's the advantage here, then?  I still need to get AV software, and with PCs it's readily available, even for free in some cases.
  6. And while we're discussing cost of ownership and free, what about freeware?  I have a good supply of programs I use, which are Windows-based, and is freeware.  I can download it from their site or others and run it without any problem.  Get a Mac, and I lose free programs.  I don't have a Mac, so I've never done a search for Mac-oriented freeware, but if the difference in commercial software availability is any indication, it will be no contest.  Again, this is a hesitation point for me in switching.  What does Mac offer that is the equivalent or at least comparable to the things I'm using on my PC?  How do I find out?  I mean, besides Google.  ;)
  7. Maintenance and repair.  I'm fully capable of diagnosing and repairing any problem I have with my PC.  I haven't had a problem yet that I couldn't find and fix.  After 12 years of technical support experience, I'd better be able to say that.  But with a Mac, despite the introduction of Intel chips, the guts of the machine are different.  How hard is it to figure out?  This is yet another learning curve; how steep of one?  Anyone who knows, sound off.  I'm sincerely interested.
  8. Cost of hardware.  My last exposure to Mac hardware was many, many years ago.  There was absolutely no comparison in pricing.  As cost of parts plummeted for PCs, Mac hardware was both difficult to find (without going directly to Apple somehow) or difficult to afford.  The premium on their proprietary innards was so ridiculously high it just wasn't worth it.  I personally know of at least one person that gave up on Macs when his broke and he couldn't afford the replacement part.  He switched to a PC and hasn't gone back.  At least, not that I know of.  Is this still true?  Does Apple continue to shoot itself in the market foot by pricing itself out of competitive play?
  9. I've heard a lot of good things about Macs, but their networking capabilities aren't among them.  I don't guess there's a definitive answer for this; my only experience with networking a Mac was pretty painless, but it only involved setting up a printer on a TCP/IP network so the Mac user could print while he was in the office.  What's the story with AirPort?  Is it reliable?  Do Macs come with built-in wireless cards like PCs, or do you need to add a third party one?  And if they are added, do the driver disks that come with the devices work with Mac?  Most of them will have a few generations of Windows drivers on the CDs (Win95/98, W2K, XP, maybe Vista now).  Does Mac use those drivers, or is it something completely different?  And if they don't use the standard drivers, where do you get the drivers?  If you can't get online, you can't very well download them, now can you?

Well, those are a few of the off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts regarding switching to a Mac.  Some of these are common to my concerns about switching to a Unix-based OS, too, but at least those don't run on proprietary hardware platforms.

What have you got for me, Mac world?  Answers?  I truly want to know.  I'm not planning on making this switch soon, and I can tell you that it's a shame if I'm told I have to attend some stupid workshop taught by an "Apple Genius" at an Apple store to make this happen, but if that's the truth, I want to know.  Sound off, tell me how it is.  Don't tell me how great Macs are and once I go Mac I'll never go back (for the money I'll shell out to "go Mac" I damn well better not have to go back!).  I can get that kind of "Rah-Rah" anywhere Macs are sold or used.  I want the guts, the internals, the workings of switching from a PC to a Mac.  I'm especially interested in hearing from any of you that only recently switched.

So ... whattaya got for me?


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Witch Hunt - Ch. 5

A new chapter in the Witch Hunt saga is available! Go here to read it!

To start at the beginning, go here!


Monday, February 04, 2008

Okay ... 24 Hours and a LOT of Tears Later ...

... my computer is back up and running again.

I had a major issue that occurred when I tried to upload a post to my Wordpress blog.  I got an error stating there was a problem logging in due to an RPC-XML issue.  I'd been testing some blogging clients and wanted to do a software review of them (which never happened, by the bye), but when I tried to post, nothing.

Being a technical support person, I did what came naturally to me.  I got pissed off, then acted rashly.  I assumed the blogging clients I'd sampled created the problem, that it was a local problem to my PC, and that I had to re-do everything.  I uninstalled Windows Live Writer and the other blogging clients.  Then I "cleaned" the Windows registry.  Then I rebooted, and tried to reinstall Windows Live Writer.

And it promptly failed.

I got even pisseder.  Yes, pisseder.

So, the error messages (or lack thereof) led me on a wild goose chase that had me doing everything from trying to recover my system through the Windows System Recovery utility to contemplating creating my own registry entries to address and re-acquire my lost beloved Live Writer.  Nothing worked, however, because like any good tech support person, I wasn't prepared for a catastrophic failure.  I tried reinstalling Windows (which left all my programs and data intact, supposedly).  It didn't, of course.  I wound up trampling roughshod over my programs and settings, and one after another things started snowballing.  Somewhere around this point, my beautiful and much more intelligent wife discovered it wasn't Windows Live Writer having the problem, it was Wordpress.  They'd disabled the RPC-XML apparatus on their servers for some reason.  But by then, it was far too late.  I was on a commit path toward having to do something both drastic and unwelcome.

After about three and a half hours of wrestling with the PC, I decided it was time to reformat the drive.

That meant moving my many gigabyte data storage to my wife's computer.  That also meant having to update, patch and secure Windows all over again, just like I did when I got it.  And it meant having to reinstall, reconfigure and worst of all find all my programs.

Well, it turned out to be a good exercise.  I had a virus issue a couple of months ago that left me drained, ticked and with a PC that was ... well, less than trustworthy in some respect.  The recovery process allowed me the luxury of leaving off the things I didn't want, knew I wasn't using, couldn't use and didn't like.  In the end, I recovered about 9% of my hard drive, and only have the things I really love installed now.  The recovery process from one of my writing programs (Page Four) was more tricky than I imagined, but it finally worked, albeit differently than it said it would.  After battling it out with this thing for about 28 hours, I've got my PC back up to snuff, my Windows files and Windows Live Writer are functional, all my beloved writing software is working, and now I just need the finishing touches to make it perfect.

On the downside the Patriots lost the Super Bowl, and that was more being pissed.  I do. Not. Want. To. Talk. About. It.

It's a long, long offseason.  But my computer is fixed.

That also means I didn't get any writing done.  Neither any editing.  I'm sorry all, I'll try and get back on the horse soon, but for now, it's ... well, I have other pressing matters to address right now, so I'll take care of it when I can.  I have Chapter 5 of Witch Hunt started, and should be able to finish that pretty soon.  I'll advise as events warrant.

It's been a nightmare weekend.  Please pray that things go better for us this coming week.  We need a break in our situation really soon.

God bless.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Inconsiderate Clod

When my mother opened the door, her jaw dropped and her eyes bulged just like she'd been slapped across the face.

There wasn't much to do in the crappy little town where I grew up most of the time.  When we moved out of our established neighborhood into a new development things got even more boring.  There weren't any kids my age around, but my brother Ryan had more luck.  A young couple with a kid just about his age lived on the cross street directly facing our cul-de-sac, and they became buds.  Me, I had to stick with people I knew, or worse still, hang around with the two of them.  Life could be pretty boring.

Since sticking with kids I knew from the old neighborhood wasn't possible very often, I spent more time than I'd liked with Ryan.

My best friend Bill was my salvation from it.  He lived about an hour away, but every summer he came out to visit us.  He'd stay a couple of weeks, and we'd do all sorts of fun things, most of which involved trying to ditch my loud mouth brother and his whiny, pants-pissing friend.  The rest of the time we tried to get spending money for the trek to the little candy store in the older part of town bordering our new subdivision.

Some days, though, there just wasn't anything to do.

Those hot, dusty days we'd spend in our neighborhood were made of bike rides in the blistering desert-like air, finding adventures in ragweed hillsides and romping through the cracked yellow clay exposed by scraping and scaling house lots.  We were kids, and the heat didn't bother us too much.  We had a centrally air conditioned house to retreat to when it was too much.  But that almost never happened.

When the developer laid out the cul-de-sac we lived in, my parents were told the area behind it would be a park.  My dad had big ideas about building a gate leading to that park, so my brother and I could go out there and play.  He thought it'd make their lot more valuable later, since there would never be houses butting up against our yard.

The day they started clearing the yellow seed-topped wild grass and breaking open the ochre clay beneath, he knew he'd been screwed.  The developer wasn't planning on turning that area into anything but another street packed with cookie-cutter tract homes and the single olive sapling dropped square in the middle of the front yards.

Against the side yard of our pie-slice property facing the cross street, a young couple moved in not long after we did.  They were pretty and fit and firm.  He was a tall, bearded guy that always seemed to be working.  I can't remember his name to save my life, but I don't know if I'll ever forget her name: Sue.

She was a vision, all leggy and lean, with perfect curves and sassy brown hair.  She had a smile that made me all awkward and nerdy -- not that I needed any help with that -- and she was nice, to boot.  She'd always say hello to us as we puttered around the neighborhood.  My friend Bill, much more precocious than I, used to say spicy things about her that made me blush and giggle.  He'd say she was "fine", but I guess now that'd be "phine" or something.  He'd make sexual inuendos about her, at the ripe old age of 11 or 12.  I smiled and nodded in agreement even though I had no clue what the hell he was saying half the time.

That particular hot dusty day of yellow dirt and sweat we were in our back yard.  The fences were new enough to still be straight and rigid, but old enough to weather to that dirty brownish-gray.  To ease the cost of the fences, a lot of knotty pressure-treated pine was used, and when the wood dried beneath that solar beating and whipping dry winds blowing in from the delta, it shrank.  Big gaps would open between the fence boards, and knots would drop out leaving perfect peep holes.

Sue and her husband were young, tight-bodied twenty-somethings.  Bill was a precocious boy full of hormones.  I was a sheep following along behind him.  So when he heard her come out of her house and recline in a creaking tattle-tale chaise of vinyl straps and aluminum tubing, his face beamed with a mischievous grin.

"Hey," he said, "let's go see what she's doin'."

I shrugged.  "Probably layin' out.  She does that a lot."

"Layin' out??  She does??  Why didn't you say that before??"

"I guess I didn't think it ..."


He was soft-stepping through the dirt, trying to hide the crunching his generic grocery store sneakers made on the cracked clay.  We went past the patch of zucchini, jalapeno peppers and tomatoes my mother insisted on having, and got low and stealthy for the final approach to the fence.

We hunkered down next to him, Ryan being amazingly quiet.  Bill put his eye up to a splintering knothole and squinted through.

"Holy shit, man," he muttered, his face dropping in disbelief.  "Oh my God.  She's out there in a bikini.  Christ, you oughtta see 'er tits!"

Truth was, I had seen them, a couple of times.  At least, as much of them as he was seeing.  I'd seen Sue plenty of times outside in a halter top, or bikini top with cut-offs, puttering in her yard.  I didn't need to look through that knothole to see it again.

But I pushed him aside just the same.

"Lemme see!"

He eased aside to let me look.  I could see some of her, lying in the sun, basted in Coppertone, sunglasses over her eyes.  She looked so serene, so calm.  But I couldn't see much of her prone body, so I quickly lost interest.  But Bill had other ideas.

"Wonder how close I can get to beaning her with this?"

I looked over, suddenly interested.  He was pulling a fist-sized dirt clod up, and hefted it in his hand like a baseball.

I shook my head.  He grinned.  "Don't think I can?"

"No, don't ... she's nice, man.  We have to live here."

He considered.  "Yeah, you're right."  He absently tossed the clod into the air.

Somehow it sailed over the fence.  His eyes bulged in horror as we watched it sail over the tops of the dog-earred boards.

We hunkered down and covered our ears, waiting for the cry of pain.

There was none.

Bill looked at me, and I stared back.  He shrugged, and put his eye to the peephole again.

Sue was sleeping peacefully on her chaise.  The spattered remnant of the projectile was sprayed over the concrete of their patio like spin art.  He looked back at me and shrugged again.

Ryan giggled wildly.  We both looked simultaneously.

Four or five dirt clods, all bigger than the one Bill threw, were arching fast over the fence like a miniature meteor shower.

"NO! ..."  The voice was Bill's blended with mine.

It was too late.

There were the sounds of dirt clods dying in explosions of scattering clay and crumbling earth.  One after the other they crashed.  Bill didn't wait to see what else would happen; he lunged for Ryan.  But the butterball was quick enough and just out of reach, so he scrabbled out of the way.  We couldn't react fast enough to stop another volley from lobbing over the fence.  We tried to shout whispers through gritted teeth at him, but he laughed his hideous, evil cackle and ran toward the house, sending yet another sortie of missiles across.

We bolted then, giving up on trying to stop the idiot maniac.  We dove through the sliding glass door and slammed it shut behind us, hopefully sealing Ryan outside to die in the baking heat.  We stumbled toward our room when my mother's stern shout of "Stop!" froze us.

"What is going on?" she demanded, hands on hips in her "I'm pissed and want answers" stance.  She'd been in the kitchen beside the slider we used for our escape.  It was a miracle she hadn't seen the entire event unfold, but she seemed ignorant enough.

"Nothing ... we're just ... havin' fun," Bill said calmly.  I was always astounded by the ease and smoothness of his parent handling.  His silken tongue always soothed them and left us out of trouble.  Well, usually anyway.

"Well, quit running through the house.  You're tracking dirt!"  My mother wasn't slurring her words yet, so I knew the binge hadn't started.

"Okay, mom, we will," I said, and we walked as fast as we could down that long hallway toward our room.

It was impossibly long that day ... miraculously long.  So long that just as we passed the entry way of chocolate brown ceramic tiles and dark-stained double doors, the doorbell rang.

My mother was still at the end of the hall when it chimed.  Both Bill and I jumped at the sound and froze.  Mom was able to make the trip to answer the door in about six steps, and we didn't have the brains to run out that same slider when she passed us.

So she opened that door, and her face dropped in shock.  Just like she'd been slapped.

Sue was standing at the door.  She held her arms out away from her sides slight, barefoot and bikini-clad.  But there was no joy in seeing her sleek tanned body for us this time.

She was covered in tiny little dirt chunks, shrapnel and remains of the large ones that flew over the fence and erupted all over her patio when they hit.  The dry, crumbling dirt mixed with her suntan oil and became a sludgy goo that ran down her legs, her stomach, her arms ...

... and her face.

She stood there, fingers combing dirt from her hair, pulled up and held in a barrett.  She looked dead in my mother's eye.

"Sue!  Oh my God ..."

"Will you please tell your kids to stop throwing dirt in our yard?  Please?"

Bill and I made a hasty retreat for the bedroom.  We should have gone out that slider in the back of the house, because it wasn't pleasant after my mom closed that door.


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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Couple of Things (Random)

Boy, I tell ya -- folks sure like reading what other people think about software.  My blog receives a fair number of hits based on people searching out reviews about some software or other.  Hopefully, the few things I've jotted down here have been helpful to them in making their decision.  I try to stick to reviews of software that's specifically for writing and the writing process, because I want to be a writer if I grow up.  But, I'm not opposed to doing other types of software reviews, either.

What kind of software interests you most?  What kind of reviews do you like to see?  I made at least one friend through a review of Windows Live Writer.  You never know what's going to bring people together.  What do you want to see reviewed?  It'd have to be something I can either download a free demo of or freeware, of course, but if you have any requests, let me know.  I'm okay with doing them.

On a different note, I didn't do squat today with either editing or writing.  That's bad.  I hope to have something for you before Monday next week in terms of new fiction, and if God is willing, I'll get back on a regular posting schedule with that.  If I get enough requests for it, maybe the software reviews will be a weekly feature I can do.  If there's enough software to warrant it, of course.

Other than that, nothing new is happening.  Still dealing with our crappy, scary situation, and I'm still calling for all the prayers and PPT things you can throw our way.  Thank you one and all for all your wonderful support, for sticking by us, for being friends and loving people.  We adore you.  I hope you know that.

I'm off to try and get something accomplished.  Maybe sleep. Woo!

God bless, all.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Witch Hunt - Ch. 4

A new chapter in the Witch Hunt saga is available! Go here to read it!

To start at the beginning, go here!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Well, All Done

Today went better than yesterday in some respects.  I found out some things that were less than encouraging, but it did go better than yesterday.  Overall.

Tomorrow the process starts again.  *Sigh.*

Okay, for those who care, I'm about 1000 words into Witch Hunt chapter 4.  I'm not feelin' it right now, but I'm pluggin' along just the same.  Sorry for the long delay, and I hope to have something kicked out by the end of the week.  At this pace I can't promise anything, but I'd like to.

Back on my head.  Thanks to all for the outpouring of support, love and prayers.  If I had words to tell you how grateful we are, I'd write them.  I just don't.  Please know we love you all and are grateful for you.

Peace, all.


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Monday, January 28, 2008

One Down, One to Go ...

Well, one super-huge event is passed.  It was okay.  Not as bad as I imagined it could be, but I probably could've done better than I did.  I just believe in honesty first, and sometimes that philosophy costs me.  I guess time will tell; I should have a definitive answer by week's end on this one.

In the meantime, I have one more to get through tomorrow.  A lot to do yet to prepare for it.  I have to try and figure out who it is I'm going to see.  It's also a long haul and after today, I'm not looking as much forward to it as I thought.  But I'm trying to go in with head and spirits held high and do the best I can.

For all of you praying and pouring yourselves out in support of us, please know we love you and appreciate all you're doing.  I really mean that.  We're so grateful to have such wonderful friends around us to get us through, no matter how things turn out.

I'll try to update again tomorrow when I get back.  By then I should have two things in the hopper; I won't know about either of them until the middle of next month or later, though.

Thank you so much, gracious people.  Maybe someday I'll have the honor of supporting you in  your hour of need.  I pray your hour of need never comes, though, and you'll have to suffice with my friendship.

God bless you all.


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Sunday, January 27, 2008


In about 14 hours, something huge is going to happen for me, and I'm scared to death.  Actually, the next two days are huge for me, perhaps the entire week.  I know for sure about Monday and Tuesday, but I don't know yet about what else may come.  But, tomorrow's big.

I don't know if it's good or bad; it's just ... there.  I don't know what I can do to calm myself down, but I had every intention of just writing today away.  I don't think that's going to happen, but I probably will edit some more of Ghost Hunters before I go to bed.  Trying to sleep should be fun.

I want to thank you all for your support.  If you're the praying type, please pray for me tomorrow at about 9:00 a.m. Central Standard Time (if you see this post before that, of course).  If you're not the praying type ... well, I'll pray for you then.  ;)

God bless, everyone.  Here's hoping something good happens really, really soon.


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Glimmer of Hope

I don't know if it's the light at the end of the tunnel or just the headlight of the oncoming train, but I see a glimmer in the distance.  I can only pray it's not too late for us.

Those of you who know our private situation know what I'm talking about.  Those of you that don't, well ... if you pray, please pray for us.  Things could be turning around, if God is willing.  There's a couple of things on the horizon, none of which involve being a famous and rich published author, but we're grateful just the same.  As with all things, there's always a catch, and it may yet come to naught, but at least there's a bright spot.

God bless, all, and thank you for all your support.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Dream Job

I found a blog today on WP which I found extremely interesting.  I didn't find it interesting for its content, because it was basically a log of someone's snacking habits, but I did like what she did for a living.

She was an editorial assistant and writer, working from home.

She occasionally had to go into the office, I'm sure, but she did most of her work from home.  She had time to get up, work out, blog like heck, and write.  She did her work.  She lives in New York, and because she's an editorial assistant, the hardest thing I've had to do in a long time was click away from her blog.  I wanted so bad to blogroll it, put it in the "Writer's Resources" listing I have in my sidebar, leave her a comment and ask her to check out my work ... I wanted to so bad.

In the end, I just ... clicked away.  I found someone online that has my dream job, that could have provided me (maybe, not that she could or would, but maybe) with a contact in the industry I'm trying desperately to get into (i.e., give me a short path to fame, fortune and laziness), or at least might have pointed me to someone she knows that could/would.  Instead, I clicked away, because, in part, I felt it was not my place to try and leverage that; she doesn't know me from Adam, and probably knows him better; her blog wasn't about writing and the industry or the craft; and I wouldn't like it if someone tried to leverage me without knowing me.  I clicked away.

Immediately, I regretted it.  I went as fast and my mouse would go back to the Dashboard where I'd seen the entry in the first place.  I frantically searched for her blog again, struggling to remember what it was called ...

Nothing.  Gone.  Poof.  I blew it.

I don't regret too much not bugging her, but I do regret not at least dropping a quick note to someone that does what I want to do, who has found a way to make a living writing from home.  I'd love to do it, and if she by chance finds this blog somehow (fat chance of that), then ... feel free to drop me a line.  Say hey.  Tell me how you did it.  Tell me what I could do to do it too.


Regrets ... I has dem.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Miscellany and Search Terms

Well, I don't have much else to report.  My beloved and I are hammering out the plot for Witch Hunt tonight -- not just the overview, which we completed last night, but the actual nitty gritty of the phases of the story.  Once that's completed the writing will commence.  Actually, I have enough to go on now.  I could probably write at least one more installment as it is, but I may wait because I don't feel terribly inspired.

That being said, I thought a search term leading someone to my blog was interesting and thought I'd share:

how to narrative write "stephen King

Isn't that an interesting search term?  I don't know what someone would be looking for unless they wanted to find a copy or excerpt from Stephen King's On Writing, which has come up a couple of times here in my blog.

To that person searching for Mr. King and his narrative: Hey, if I knew how to write narrative like he does, I wouldn't be sitting here blogging.  I'd be collecting my royalties checks and cranking out more stuff for you to read.  Sorry I can't help, but you might enjoy my writing.  I'm not Stephen King, but then, he's not J.K. Rowling, either, so we all have our shortcomings.  If you'd like to read some of it, check out the links at the top of the page.  I have a few different things there, but Ghost Hunters and Witch Hunt are sequential, just FYI.

Okay, shameless self-promotion now behind me, check out some of these other terms:

darkroom vs jdarkroom
"like pagefour"
what happened with cartoonsmart
Noterrific review
jdarkroom vs writeroom

First off, let me address the "darkroom vs jdarkroom" person: been there, done that.  If you're using Windows, I feel DarkRoom is better.  Others, like Bryce Beattie, disagrees; he likes JDarkRoom better, although he confesses he'd like to get the source code so he can tweak it.  You can download both for free, so why don't you just try them both yourself and see which you prefer?  I did a comparison here; hope that helps ya.

For the "like pagefour" person -- there's a lot of software "like" PageFour, but I really like it.  It's a notebook setup, with pages within the notebook, so you can keep track of a lot of stuff.  I like to keep a notebook for each of the writing projects I'm working on, and make each of my chapters a new page.  It will do some nifty back up and disaster recovery steps for you, and allows you to not only save but take a "snapshot" so that your editing isn't committed to stone.  It's a nice, feature rich package that does a lot, and I use it most often for my writing.  It's also really nice journaling software, and if you'd like, you can password protect it.  Very cool.  Check out their website here for more information and current pricing.

But, for something "like" PageFour, I would recommend WriteItNow.  WriteItNow is a great package with a lot of features, including a story and character generator built in, a word processor, character tracking, event tracking, a timeline tracker, and a whole lot more.  It's really cool, and if you have the spare change, it's one of the more complete writer's software tools I've seen.  You can pay hundreds of dollars for software that even tries to get you to write a particular way (can you say "Dramatica?" -- I knew ya could), but this one will just keep everything you need in one place.  It has a bunch of features missing from PageFour, but I can't fully recommend it just because their demo doesn't let you do any saving.  It was hard to test, but check it out.

As an alternative, try looking at Liquid Story Binder XE.  Another very complete, very cool package.  You might like it.  I sure did, but again -- I couldn't do a thorough test without having to buy it.  Just as an aside on both, I probably will buy them when I can and let them decide for me which one is better.  When I do, a complete (or as complete as I can get it) review will be done right here on this blog.

Hope that helps.

For the "what happened with cartoonsmart" person: Nothing, as far as I can tell.  I went to the website (here), which looks like it's operating just fine.  If you want some really good training in making pretty complex productions from web pages to cartoons to games in Flash, check them out.  It's a great resource.  Just make sure you've got Flash enabled on your browser (DAMHIKT).

For the person seeking a "Noterrific" review -- can I suggest you try Text Tree instead, by Bryce Beattie of Baby Katie Media?  It's a powerful note and outlining software, and it will export into Noterrific if you'd like.  It's inexpensive, and very nicely done.  A clean, easy-to-understand and streamlined interface makes for an intuitive note and outlining package that is second to none, really.  Check it out; there's even a free demo.

And finally, for the individual wondering about "jdarkroom vs. writeroom" -- I can't help ya.  Sorry, I'm not a Mac user, and WriteRoom is a Mac-only product, so ... *shrug*.  Good luck with all that.

Well, y'all, I'm off to do some writing.  I hope.  I think.  That's my intent, anyway.

God bless, all!


Monday, January 21, 2008

Progress Report

Well, LOML and I have finished the backstory portion of Witch Hunt. We can't tell yet how important that's going to be for the reader, but it's vital for us, as you writerly types know. So that's out of the way, and now we can move forward with the plotting of the events that take place in the book. My Beloved has committed to helping me get this thing done soon, so there ought to be some writing happening here pretty soon. (Please, God.)

My other situation hasn't changed at all. I don't know if or when it will. If you're the praying type, please do ... we need it.

I feel confident that I can't edit and write. I don't know which is going to take priority. I don't want it to take forever to do the edits on Ghost Hunters, but I don't want to take forever getting back to Witch Hunt either. How do you other wannabes handle this? What do you do with two projects up in the air? It was probably a mistake to embark on both. I really wanted to ignore Ghost Hunters for a while longer, but was feeling pressured to get it cleaned up, too. No one's fault but mine, but I kept having people tell me it needed this or that, and I felt obligated to act on those (very good, very helpful) suggestions. Now I feel I should've stuck to my guns and ignored this for a while longer, and maybe finished (or at least gotten well into) my second book before tackling this one. Or maybe I should just commit to getting GH finished.

I know as soon as I do that, I'm going to want to work on a query letter and things like that. I have no idea how to do things like a synopsis, query letter, or any of the other things that have to be done to get this in front of people that can do something about me being a wannabe.

Any thoughts, blogosphere? How do I balance this? Should I even try?

Holla, y'all.


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sweet Victory

The New England Patriots are now, officially, the best team that has ever played.  No other team in history has gone 18-0, INCLUDING THE 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS.

Hear that, Mercury Morris?  You're second-fiddle now.  Second seat.  The second best team ever, unless you factor in that ALL the teams you played had less than a 40% winning percentage.  ALL of them.  That must've made your trek to the 'Bowl a bit easier, eh?  But the Patriots won't rub your noses in that.  I will, but they won't.  Unlike you, they're proud champions, not arrogant jackasses.  At least, not yet ... time will tell, though.

Still, I think you're a jerk, and you've lost all your big-mouth rights.  You'll deny that, and say that until and unless the Patriots win the Super Bowl, they're not as good, but that's a load of crap.  They've won more games than you did in a single season, and you'll just have to choke that down and like it, punk.  Period.  They've outdone your achievement.  Should they win the big game in two weeks, that will only make you the more ridiculous in your ravings about "only matching" what you did.  That's stupidity itself, and you've already made a big enough ass of yourself, don't you think?

My hat is off to the New England Patriots.  You didn't play well, and were not impressive, but you did win.  (It might have been different if LaDainian Tomlinson were healthy, but hey, you gets what you gets, right?)  I'll be screaming my guts out in two weeks hoping you win the Super Bowl, and hope you don't make it such a nerve-wracking affair for your fans.

Great job, Mr. Belichick and company.  Brady, not so much, but ... you can still redeem yourself.

Nice job, gentlemen.

Let's celebrate, Massholes.  We did it.


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Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Search Terms and Traffic Whoring

Well, after having a huge spike in traffic last week, I let myself drop off the blogosphere. I guess being a traffic whore just don't pay, especially when you're in an emotionally-draining situation that doesn't allow a lot of room for being funny, creative or interesting. My hit count is back to where it was before I started counting them. I'll miss you, readers.

So, I'll check the search terms that bring people to my various blogs and find interesting ones and post those from time to time. I'll try to do some software reviews, IF I can get a free copy, and I'll write fiction. Really, I will. I'm poised now to be able to complete the plotting and start outlining the course of the much-requested Witch Hunt. That looms large in my future, but I can't guarantee how often I'll post. I just want to do some writing before I forget how.

Search terms? Well, on the upside, someone did a search for List of Six, I believe, the program for managing priorities and to-do lists, written by my buddy Bryce Beattie. I did a review on it recently, which you can check out here. That's good; anything I can do to help out Bryce means a lot to me, because he's been a good friend, is one of the most generous individuals I've ever met, is a fellow writer, a father and just a plain ol' nice guy. Oh, and he writes very good software, too, so if you aren't checking out Baby Katie Media, you should. I love Text Tree, and would love to see that go mainstream production, making him wealthy. I think every writer should use it.

Anyway, here's another search term:

i darcness

Okay, not sure about that. When I do the search myself, I find ... well, myself. A lot. I named every blog I had "DarcNess", which is a play on part of my wife's name and part of my name. I spelled it with a "c" instead of the standard "k" because when I originally requested the handle "Dark Knight" it wasn't available. I got creative, and ... that's why I'm the DarcKnyt. Why the affiliation with Batman? I don't really know, honestly. I identify with the character ... a lot. He's a product of tragedy in his life ... me too. He's brooding, dark and is about a quarter of a tick from being a psychopath. Me too. He's trying to do good in a world of evil and help those overwhelmed by it. Me not so much. He's a billionaire. Me not so much. He's tall, handsome, strong and tuned to physical human perfection. Me not so much. He's got a really kick-ass car. Me not so much. He has a plane. Me not so much. He has a boat. Me not so much. He ...

All right, I guess other than being psycho and a product of pain and anguish, we don't have that much in common. Still, he's my favorite comic book character. It used to be Spider-Man when I was a lad, but now, it's the Dark Knight. Why?

Because there's nothing superhuman or supernatural about Batman except his bank account. Other than that, everything he does is done within the realms of his human capabilities. I admired that he made the most of what he could be, and I always identified with that.

I guess I'm still more in-line and in-kind with Frankenstein's monster. More on that in another post ... maybe.

So, for that individual searching for "I, DarcNess," well ... you found me. If you meant "I, Darkness" -- Google should have helped you out with that. If not, then leave me a comment and say "hey". I'd love to hear from you. :)

Have fun over your remaining weekend, everyone.

God bless,


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Software Review and Strange Search Terms

In an interesting twist of fate, I noticed yesterday one of the search terms that brought someone to my blog also gave me opportunity to do another software review. I really like doing them, and you all seem to like them, so it was fortuitous for all concerned that a hapless individual was searching the Interweb yesterday for something that allows me to both help them, and give you a look at software you may or may not be familiar with. However, a caveat: This is not a comprehensive examination or test of the software in question. Just so you know, none of my reviews ever are. They're just things I found that I thought were cool, and that I thought you might like too. Okay, /disclaimer; onward.

More...The search term that brought the person to my blog:

what is riffling

First, let me help that person out. According to WordWeb:

rif·fle [ ríff'l ]

verb (past and past participle rif·fled, present participle rif·fling, 3rd person present singular rif·fles)


1. transitive and intransitive verb flick through pages: to flick through the pages of a book, magazine, or newspaper, glancing casually at the contents

2. transitive verb shuffle cards: to shuffle playing cards by halving the deck, lifting the corners, and flicking the cards so that they overlap as they fall

3. intransitive verb become choppy: to become rough and choppy when passing over submerged rocks ( refers to water )
Water riffles over the rocks.

noun (plural rif·fles)


1. quick look at book: a quick flick through the pages of a book, magazine, or newspaper

2. shuffling of cards: the shuffling of playing cards

3. U.S. submerged rocks or sandbar: an area of rocks or a sandbar lying just below the surface of the water

4. rough water: an area of rough water caused by submerged rocks or a sandbar

5. grooved part of sluice: the bottom part of a sluice that has grooves for collecting gold or other mineral particles

[Mid-18th century. < ?]

Okay, so that should take care of that. By the way, all you writer types: If you're not using WordWeb, you're missing out. It's a dictionary/thesaurus that has links to web definitions for words, it runs in the background of your system and can be used with almost any program, and best of all, it's free. There is a pro version, too, if you're interested. Check it out.

I like that it's typically stronger than the standard dictionary and thesaurus found in most programs. Sure, you can customize those, but you can do a lot of neat things with WordWeb too. It will automatically detect and use any additional dictionaries you have, so if you're writing a mystery romance about a French porn star who inadvertently sleeps with the Minister of Defense, you can use a French dictionary to look up the French words you want to use. You can also have it look over cross-references, select only a particular part of speech when a word can be more than one (like "riffling" above, both a noun and a verb), and it will automatically replace words you look up with the click of a button. Additionally, it links to any related Wikipedia articles on the word, can use Wiktionary, and has a direct link to the WordWeb dictionary online if you want more indepth analysis. It does stand alone, however, and runs locally on your computer. No Internet connection is required to use it, but it becomes more powerful if you have one available.

Since it's a tabbed layout, none of those things get in your way when you're using it, which is nice. You can also set up a keystroke look-up hotkey. Want to strike a single key to get your definitions? Just set the program up to respond to the key stroke or combination, and that's all there is to it. (Just make sure none of the programs where you'll use WordWeb are already using that combination natively.)

WordWeb's been a great help to me since I installed it, and I can't imagine writing without it now. I have it installed on both my local system and one of my flash drives, along with a lot of other portable applications, so when I travel or am away from my own computer, I can still use at least the local copy of WordWeb when I'm working. It's a boon, and something I think belongs in every writer's toolbox, unless you're still using a typewriter. Then you're on your own.

Check the WordWeb website for more details, and a free download. If you like it and are so inclined, you can also purchase the pro edition there. I'm sure you'll like it.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Work Habits in Writing and Editing

I discovered something last night that I didn't realize before.  I don't have as much editing work to do as I thought I did on my manuscript.

The punch came while I was reviewing the book Novelists Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld.  He's a prolific writer (claiming 35 novels) and a teacher at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA.  I read the last chapter of that book last night, and shut my eyes to give thanks.

I did all of the things that he recommends doing, saving the easiest step -- streamlining the narrative and descriptive passages for maximum effect -- for last.

Until last night, I was despairing of the amount of work left to do.  I wondered if I'd ever do it, or if I'd ever want to do it.  After reading that, I think I finally do.  I think I want to edit my manuscript, to cut it to shreds and strengthen it.  I haven't addressed any dialog; I've told all of you that, and why.  But I've edited the first six chapters.  It's 47 chapters long, and that's a bit daunting, but I think I finally have the enthusiasm for it to get as much done as I can.

There are other matters more pressing still, but when I do have free time, I think editing my manuscript is going to be something I truly enjoy.  Seeing it come to fruition is once again possible, and I don't have the vaunting tasks ahead of me I thought I did.  I have the blogosphere to thank for that, believe it or not.

Publishing the novel in blog format first forced me to write in sections, and to edit and clean-up each section, to demand of it its purpose in the whole.  I was able to have a brilliant beta reader go over it before you ever laid eyes on it.  I had the benefit of a proofreader that kept me inline.  I had someone help me make decisions on whether one version or another made the story work best.  I had a lot of help getting here, and quite accidentally, I am now doing the easiest part to finalize the document.

That's quite a relief.  It's a bit of joy, actually.  And I'm going to push forward doing it.  If I can do three or four chapters a night, it won't take all that long to finalize it.  Hopefully I can do more, but I'm not going to get too ambitious.  I will say, however, there is less work to do in the later chapters than in the first three.  The last three were far easier to do, require far less cutting and trimming, and if the subsequent chapters are like that one, it should be a piece o' cake ... mostly.

Just thought I'd share.  I hope you're all doing well.  God bless.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Status Update

I'm sorry I disappeared on you, blogosphere.  I really am.

I can't promise every day updates the way I've been doing them.  I can't promise I'll get new fiction up for you anytime soon (so please enjoy the existing stuff as much as you'd like while it's here), and I don't know what fate holds for us in the near future.  We have a situation, some of you are aware of it, and there's nothing on the horizon in that regard.  Updates on that as events warrant.

But in other news, I've edited 6 chapters of Ghost Hunters.  I've posted them on my deviantART page but not here, yet.  I've gotten a positive response on them so far, but ... I'm not really able to move forward.  I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt having that be a top priority right now.  Sorry.  Maybe I'll update the first six parts with their new iterations, but I can't say when.  And, because I'm in the middle of editing THAT document, I don't really have time to write anything on the OTHER document I have going, Witch Hunt.  I need to do the plotting and planning I was talking about before, but ... it's ... well, let's just say that I can't do it alone.

Anyway, I'm still ... here.  Mostly.  Thanks for sticking around.  I don't know how much longer I'll BE here, but while I am, I appreciate your continued support.  You've all been so wonderful, and I can't thank you enough.

God bless you, gang.  We're praying for you.


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Okay ... This Time I MEAN It!

Really ... seriously ... I'm going to do the things I need to do to get the new, revised plot for Witch Hunt fixed and outlined, at least partially, so I can start writing.

I really mean it.  Before the end of the week, I want to have a positive update on that front for all of you that care.  I really, really will.  I promise.

My wife and I have the problems worked out -- well, we think so -- but we haven't done the outlining part and gotten it on paper (electronically anyway).  Until I do that, I'm not comfortable getting stuff written.  I just don't want to proceed haphazardly and mess up a strong beginning.  Well ... by all accounts it's a strong beginning; YMMV.

So, don't give up, don't be disappointed, and don't let me off the hook.  Okay?

Love all over y'all.


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Monday, January 07, 2008

The Edge

My amazing and brilliant wife and I were up all night.

That's nothing new.  We've been doing that lately; pulling all-nighters.  With the baby's wonky sleeping schedule and my love's inability to simply lay her head on the pillow and drift off, she frequently doesn't get her sleep until the gray rays of dawn penetrate the shaded windows.

We were laughing -- I was hysterically so -- about things.  Lots of things.  Things I'd written about mostly, but some of her one-liners are astounding in their impact and sophistication.  I'm sure the line "Santa with rum dribbling down his beard" doesn't make you laugh, but had you been there with us, it'd bring tears to your eyes and a stitch to your side.

While we spoke, trying to keep the laughter to a dull roar so as not to wake the children, she told me something about some of my writing.  It was stuff I did a while back.  I was experimenting with a new style, a new voice.  I wanted a particular feel, a particular sensation, to come from the stories.  To give it an air of authenticity, I chose historical fiction as my subject matter.  My own history.  I pulled stories of my childhood out of my memory and tried to spin them as I recalled them, but of course, they were only loosely based on reality.  I augmented and just plain ol' spun yarns when I couldn't remember the outcome or details.  In the end, I had a collection of stories I thought were hysterical, told part of my life that I can remember well and fondly (mostly), and of which I was proud.

The one aspect of failure that crept into them was, I tried to make them humorous and lighthearted.  She told me they had an "edge" to them.

That was her word: "edge."  I asked for clarification.  She told me it was a blackness, a dark overtone which, while the stories were funny, hung over them and made them darkly funny, not lighthearted.

This morning, with those same gray rays of dawn creeping over the ceiling and walls, she said it again, but she elaborated.  She told me despite my best efforts, I'd not created Norman Rockwell-esque stories.  She pondered, and stated:

"It's more like Norman Rockwell with a Stephen King edge."

I thought that was a perfect description of my life.  I couldn't have, in a million attempts, said it any better.  (I hate that.  I'm supposed to be the writer, dammit.)

I pondered that, and have been ever since.  I think, despite the attempts, my family missed Rockwell when I was growing up.  We ended up just west of Addams Family instead, except without the campy humor.

I really haven't given those stories much thought since I wrote the last one some months ago.  I started, and finished, Ghost Hunters instead, and it took me in a new direction.  I'm not sorry, but I don't think I'm going to ignore those stories and yarns gleaned and inspired from my youth.  I may revisit them someday soon, if I can think of any new ones, and try to see if I can recapture that voice.  It was a lot of fun, and I thought it had potential.

The image of Santa, slurring and sloshing around in his red suit, bulbous red nose fairly aglow with alcoholic rush, dribbling rum down his nicotine-stained yellowing beard will always be with me.  If only I could paint images with my words as powerfully as my beautiful, dazzlingly sharp and articulate wife did, I'd probably already be on the NYT best-seller list.

Way to go, babe.  :)


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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Has the Muse ... Returned?

Oh, man.  What a night.

My beautiful, amazing, wondrous, brilliant wife stayed up with me until 9:30 this morning.  That's right, 9:30 a.m.  We were working together, exchanging ideas, brainstorming.  We discarded ideas, identified deal-breaking issues, found flaws, backed up, went forward ... changing directions, shifting focus, fluid, in motion.

We bantered.  We tried to defend our arguments, our notions.  We failed.  We backed up again.  Zigging, zagging, weaving, bobbing and turning.  We agreed, then tried to destroy it again.  It held up.  We searched for flaws, found them, went silent.  Then we solved them.  Things started falling into place, one after another, one discarded idea coming back into play to be the shoring factor for another idea.

As the dawn's light grew to the morning sun, we had it.  We had it, and we felt more sure of it than we did the last time this happened, only scant weeks ago.  It was exciting.  It was workable.  It was solid.

And it's something we can write.  We can write it now.

I think we finally solved our plot problem.  The best part of all is, we don't have to change a thing.

I think I can write again.  I think our Muse has returned.

Stupid late-arrival bitch.  'Bout time.

Look for more fiction from me soon.  Maybe next week soon.  Thanks for believing in me, friends.  I love you all.  And babe?  It's not my story.  It's our story.  I couldn't have done it without your help.  Thank you.  I love you.


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