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Month: June 2010

Quite complex

Greetings and such things.

Animation Mentor starts in about a week! I was going to put the student "badge" on the side there, but the student login is closed for the week for a break before the summer term starts. I’m almost ready, just need to review my basic Maya skills and find a camera to record reference with (I’m also practicing becoming double-jointed so that my reference shots will be more fluid and cartoony). I’m nervously looking forward to it.

complexity Hmmm, what else? I’ve been reading this really interesting book on complexity called Complexity: A Guided Tour. It’s got some fascinating chapters on emergent properties and genetic algorithms. Really makes me want to start doing some programming again. And if you like the classic book Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, this book should please you as the author was heavily influenced by the book, seeking out Hofstadter to study under after reading it. (It’s been about 10 years since I read GEB; I need to reread it.) The book is just a wee boring at certain parts, especially in the beginning, but I suppose such chapters can be skipped, as some of them just give an overview of stuff you might already know. The book can also be a bit confusing at times, but overall, since it’s not very mathematically in-depth and only 300 pages, it’s great for more casual (yet fascinating) reading. I’ve still got a few more chapters to go, but it’s a great book.

Oh, I got Mass Effect 2 the other day from Amazon.com. I played through the prologue and it looks like it will be a really fun sequel. Too bad I won’t really have any time to play it.

masseffect

To self-publish or not to be?

Good tidings!

If you are an avid reader of this blog (and if you’re not, you should be, because my words are full of much beauty and wisdom), you will know that I have criticized e-books for their high prices, and predicted that they won’t become very popular until those prices go way down. However, I realized earlier this week that Amazon allows writers to self-publish their books on the Kindle (and other e-readers that can interface with Kindle books). It seems to me that if a writer were to price his self-published books nice and cheaply, at $1 or $2, he actually has a great opportunity to get some sales. Probably not nearly as many as he might get if he got professionally published and his book sat on physical book store shelves, but I think he’d have a much greater chance of making any money at all (since getting published in the first place is quite difficult).

So I’m quite tempted to try this out. I reckon my first novel, if I can finish it, would take years to try to convince a traditional publisher to publish it, and who knows if it’d ever get published or not? So I might just skip that step and go straight to self-publishing. There are already some print-on-demand services that allow writers to self-publish their work for free, such as Lulu and Amazon’s CreateSpace (I think it’s called), but print-on-demand books don’t attract a huge audience in and of themselves because they end up costing slightly more than regular books. With paperless e-books, readers can now try out new writers for $1 or $2 (or in some cases for free), so the risk is much lower. So I’d really like to try self-publishing on Amazon for the Kindle, and pricing my book at $1 or $2. It might allow me to get some reviews and make a little money. Most importantly, though: it would give people an easy and convenient way to access and read my work. Which is why any writer wants their work published in the first place, isn’t it? So that other people can experience it?

Of course, there’s one huge disadvantage with this self-publishing system, which is also it’s biggest advantage: anyone can do it. There’s a TON of competition, so you still might not attract any readers or make any money. But at least the opportunity is there, and to me it looks worth taking.

That said, time is of the essence here. Everyday, other writers are finishing their novels before me, and putting them up for sale. The longer it takes me to finish my novel, the more competition it will have.

I don’t want to rush, of course, that would obviously make the quality of the work suffer. But, as a commenter suggested a few posts back, I’ll have to at least try being more disciplined, and set some deadlines for myself. I won’t keep to them too strictly, since Animation Mentor is coming along, and I’ll be dedicating most of my time to that (the chance of Animation Mentor helping me find a full-time job afterwards is much greater than the prospect of being a full-time author, obviously). However, here are my suggested deadlines to myself to help myself make progress and self-publish a novel as soon as I can without sacrificing quality:

Firstly, I’d like to have the entire novel completed by Friday, September 10, 2010. (That is the day I’ll be seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King at Wolftrap with a live orchestra playing the score. It will be amazing. I might be crying at the end. And if I can have my first novel finished by that time, it will be even more amazing.)

Here are the novel-writing steps I decided upon earlier (again, just a guide, not an overly strict plan), now with suggested completion dates by them:

1) Clear beginning and clear ending, with character motivations and plans figured out (almost finished now) Due Monday, June 7, 2010
2) List of important scenes (this is the step I usually stop at and just start writing, but not this time, I hope) Due Monday, June 14, 2010
3) Details of how each scene begins and ends, adding connecting scenes when necessary Due with step 4
4) Purpose of each scene – make sure each scene is important and accomplishes something plot-wise and theme wise (not just one or the other (but plot-wise is more important)) Step 3 and 4 due Monday, June 21, 2010
5) Details of all scenes Рdetails on what exactly happens between each scene’s beginning and end, including dialog (like writing each scene into a little screenplay) Due Monday, August 2, 2010

Complete rough draft due Friday, September 10, 2010

Complete final draft due Thursday, November 25, 2010 (Thanksgiving, and my birthday! Yay!)

And then it should be up on Amazon’s Kindle marketplace in no time! Yay!

OK, this probably won’t work at all; I’m bound to fail with lack of self-discipline, discover things take a lot more time than planned (especially since Animation Mentor will become my main focus), lose interest, etc., but it will be worth a try.

I think I finally have an outline for an ending though, so I need to start plotting, working backwards from the end, and forwards from the beginning. It will be fun! Especially with my new Piccadilly notebooks!

23 days left until Animation Mentor begins!

New glasses and other things that don’t matter

Got my new glasses today, and they’re awesome, the world is so much more clear now! I love it!

Also, my album is finally on iTunes! Just go to the iTunes store and search “Voyage of the Dream Maker” or “Sean Patrick Hannifin” and it should pop right up. It took them quite a while to get it up, about 8 weeks. But I’m glad it’s finally there.

Also, I guess I’m pretty ignorant and stupid, because I just recently realized you can self-publish on Kindle (and maybe iBooks, but I think Apple might require you to have a Mac for that, because Apple is kinda stupid). If I can actually finish writing something, that might actually be worth a try. I’ll have to meditate on it, so please excuse me… oohhmmmmmmmmmm…

Plans on planning to plan to write

Yo, word up! Whatever that means…

June already… soon the year will be half way over… and what have you got to show for it?

I finished reading a short science fiction novel called Mass Effect: Revelation … yeah, it’s based on a video game, so I guess I’m a dork. But it was a very easy read, and helps kinda flesh out some of the back story to the game (which I thought was great), so I enjoyed it, whether you like it or not, and maybe I’ll read more, haha!

I’m continuing to plan out another fantasy novel. I’m going to try to resist starting to write until my plans are as detailed as possible. So far, all my attempts at novel writing have failed. With The Game of Gynwig, I diverged too far from my outlines and ended up not knowing where to go next. With The Book of Harbringer, my outlines were too loose and vague, and I didn’t put enough thought into how scenes connected with each other. I could (and would like to someday) revisit the stories and try to get them right, but in the meantime, some new ideas are floating around in my mind. But I’m going to try to spend most of my time planning and planning and planning this time around, so that I won’t be having to figure out any plot whatsoever when it comes time to actually write. It might take years, decades, I might even give up, as I often do… anyway, right now I’m trying to get a sense of the overall idea: how it begins, how it ends, and what all the characters’ main motivations are… in fact, here’s my plan:

1) Clear beginning and clear ending, with character motivations and plans figured out (working on now)
2) List of important scenes (this is the step I usually stop at and just start writing, but not this time, I hope)
3) Details of how each scene begins and ends, adding connecting scenes when necessary
4) Purpose of each scene – make sure each scene is important and accomplishes something plot-wise and theme wise (not just one or the other (but plot-wise is more important))
5) Details of all scenes – details on what exactly happens between each scene’s beginning and end, including dialog (like writing each scene into a little screenplay)

Then flesh it all out with description and whatever, and I’ll be done!

Really, I hate to blog about my own future plans, because I hardly ever follow them, but I still think it’s good to have a goal in mind when working on something on the scope of a novel (a novel I’m personally satisfied with, that is; I could write a crappy novel any old day of the week).

My new glasses are waiting for me at Walmart, so I get to go pick them up tomorrow, woohoo! The world will be less blurry!

26 more days until Animation Mentor classes begin! Getting nervous!