Archive for October, 2013

Erin go bragh

Writing this post in Westport.  County Mayo.  Ireland.  The family is taking a tour or this very green and very wet land.

We have seen some awesome things.  The Guinness Brewery tour is a lot of fun, even though I can’t stand the stuff.  We had dinner and show at The Irish House Party and a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle.  We have seen the Cliffs of Moher – extremely windy on our day there – the Ring of Kerry, and the Dingle Peninsula.  Breathtaking scenery all around.  Got to see a sheep demonstration, complete with sheep dogs herding the flock.  We have eaten in a few pubs.  Beef and Guinness Stew is pretty damn good.

Yesterday, we met with about twenty of Brenda’s distant relations, all quite happy to take their Bank Holiday and spend it with us, for about seven hours in the hotel lobby.  Waiters from the bar kept the drinks and food flowing.  They were extremely happy to meet Chet, my father-in-law, who was first cousin to their parents, who have long since passed on.

We have a few more days here, followed by a trip back to JFK on the most uncomfortable plane known to man.  While a 757 is, I am sure, completely safe for intercontinental travel, it seems a little small on the inside, at least the way American Airlines has it laid out.

Administrative Note: I came up with some posting categories when I started this blog a year and a half ago.  I see the need for more of them now, starting with Travel.  Will work on that when I get home.


Categories: Oddities


Bought a Chromebook a few weeks ago.  In case you are not familiar with this, it is a laptop and a very cheap laptop to boot, from the mind of Google.  Mine was about $200.

The only thing you can do with it is browse the web over wi-fi.

This is fine for me.  Most of what I do I do on the web and most of that I do with Google.

To use a Chromebook, you see, you need a Google (Gmail) account.  Want to write a letter or make a spreadsheet?  Google Docs (Drive) is there to serve.  Want email, news, maps, or calendar?  All there, with your stuff, waiting for you, all stored out there in the over-mentioned cloud.

Naturally, you can go to any other website you want, even those other email providers.  Surf, browse, shop, make reservations, just like with any other PC.  If anyone else sends you a document, PDF, or spreadsheet, Chrome will open it for you with a pretty close approximation, if not dead on.  There is also, with a little prep, an offline capability for documents and email.

I haven’t tried a USB mouse with it yet, but the touchpad works pretty well, including a two-fingered drag that scrolls the window.  There is a printing capability that I haven’t tried – looks complicated.  No great loss – haven’t had a printer in the house in a couple of years and it is rarely an issue, I just print things at work on those rare occasions.

Oh, and the thing boots up in just a few seconds.

So, all in all, not a bad value.  If you are looking for a laptop to carry around with you, sit in the back yard with, take to the beach, sit on the toilet, or whatever, and not worry too much if it gets broken, then this is the thing.

We are taking a trip to Europe soon and I am taking the Chromebook with me, as my one and only web interface.  Most of the hotels are advertising free wi-fi, so I assume it is compatible, if I don’t blow it up trying to charge it, which shouldn’t happen.

Will let you know how it works.


Categories: Technology

The Vanguard

So, at long last, I published “The Vanguard” this morning, on both Amazon and Smashwords.  It may take some hours or days for it to show up on various sites.






The only technical problem I had was trying to make an interactive table of contents.  It was easy enough to create one in Word, but Smashwords balked at it and said that I should do something else with bookmarks and hyperlinks, which I tried, but could not make work.  In the end, I just used a simple text TOC that simply lists the chapters and does not link anywhere.  Honestly, I never use this feature while reading fiction anyhow – I simply read the story in a linear fashion.  Very handy in digital magazines, however.

Oh, and once again, I have selected a beginning of chapter symbol that does not translate properly on older Kindles, even though I specifically selected it from a simplified character set.  It is a sort of “V” symbol, forget what it was called.  Greek, maybe.  Anyhow, I left it as is – not going to change it on 27 chapters, only to find that the replacement does not work either.  The old Kindle readers (of which I am one) can just assume that the question mark symbol denotes the mystery aspect of the book.

Yes, I am lazy.  Why do you ask?

Already has about forty page views on Smashwords, because some people cruise the Newly Published screen – in fact, the default Smashwords homepage.  One sample download.  I do expect a little more action on this title, as it is more mainstream than my past efforts.  Time will tell.

Was waiting for help on my cover, which never appeared, so I finally slapped something together that seems to work and which I hope does not look too cheap.

Decided to publish this under my own name.  My original plan was to use a pseudonym for my youth adventure stories – as a sort of branding – but as it happens, it is not really necessary.  Kristine Rusch, whose blog I read religiously and who happens to have over a half-dozen pen names of her own, wrote last week that it was not really necessary for an “indie” writer.

Indeed, Heinlein – who I am not – only used pen names to disguise the fact that he was writing half the stories in a single issue of Astounding or to sell off his few clunkers without harming his reputation.  Everything I read of his I read under his byline, even if it was originally published under a pen name.  There has never been much confusion of readers buying the “wrong kind” of story from him.  That is, nobody who bought his juveniles would buy Stranger in a Strange Land thinking it was appropriate for children.  It is only necessary that the blurb and the cover connote the type of content being sold.

If I was ever able to write full time, I might want to revisit the pen name issue.  As it is, publishing one or two a year, I need all the synergy I can muster.  This way, any young readers I manage to snag with what I hope will be several Vanguard and Life on the School Bus books can “graduate” to my more adult trope as their tastes change.

And don’t worry.  While I am quite capable of using innuendo and being suggestive, I do not believe I could comfortably write anything, even in adult titles, that would mortally offend most parents, unless it was to show a weapon being used for the express purpose of self defense.

Will probably get the links to Amazon and Smashwords loaded on this site once they have solidified, probably in a couple of days.

Then, back to work, I suppose.  This work, not the job I actually get paid for.  I am writing, very slowly, what will one day be the second or third of the Life on the School Bus series, but I won’t publish that until I have the first story ready to go – and would prefer to have at least three in the series.  Yes, The Vanguard is also in a series (I hope), but it is actually meant to be the first and it is far larger and stands up all by itself.

Meanwhile, I can start putting the polish on my mother’s favorite, Sky Yukon, and get that published.  This will be more involved than The Vanguard, which I only needed to reformat.  Sky Yukon is going to need some rewriting.  Not story or structure, just word choice and flow.  It is, I think, just a tiny bit stilted.  Just like Lifeboats, I wrote it in 1995 and I have learned a fair bit since then, though not always noticeably.  Should keep me busy well into the new year.

Categories: Publishing, Writing