Category Archives: What’s New?

Book Cover Concept for ‘All You See is Light’

This may, or may not, end up being the cover to my upcoming book.

Promotion & Relocation

Progress on the current manuscript is stalled because I’ve been promoted and am being relocated. I’m now a digital marketing manager at one of the top 50 “most innovative companies” as listed by Forbes (for the forth year in a row). So now my day job is filled with creativity and fun, and when I get home … I lack the energy to work on my fiction.

I’m okay with that, at least for the time being. My day job is rewarding enough. If someone offered a deal where I could give up my day job and write on my novels full time, I’d turn them down. Fiction writing is fun and all, but it’s not really that rewarding, and it’s a lonely process. There’s seldom if any immediate gratification to be had.

Day job: daily gratification. Constantly. And it pays really well.

I’ll continue plodding away on my current book, and I have two more I want to complete sometime within the next few years, and then… I’m good. I’m done.

At least that’s how I feel right now.

It Was One Of Those Days

So my daughter and I drove to Costco, which is not a small distance, and we get there only to find that I had forgotten my Costco card. No worries, I think — we’ll come back tomorrow.

So we drive to the optometrist place where the big sign always says something about walk-ins welcome and no appointment necessary. Well it turns out that an appointment was necessary, because they’re completely booked up until this evening. No worries, we’ll just walk around the mall for a while and then go do something else.

Then we go to get my car’s oil changed, and arrive to find the place closed five minutes before we got there. Whatever. I’ll do it this coming week.

Dragonball Z CharacterWe then go to the hairstylist, so my daughter can get her haircut. No problems there, except that it ended up costing twice as much as I’d expected.

Then we go to the store so I can get vegetables and lemon pepper.

Vegetables, and lemon pepper.

That’s all I was going there for.

By the time we go through check out and are heading to the car with the basket full of stuff, it was $120.

Vegetables, and lemon pepper.

It’s been one of those days.

What does this have to do with the picture of the Dragonball Z character? Absolutely nothing. It’s just the picture I took while I was wandering around the mall.

I’ve actually made an appointment to go back to the optometrist at 7:15 PM, but of course it’s snowing like crazy right now, and I almost got run over by a white SUV that I didn’t see coming because it so perfectly blended in with the snow.

I took that as an omen. Time to go home and stay there. I called the optometrists and canceled the appointment.

The Citadel in Winter

The Citadel in Winter

I’m doing two things here:

  1. I’m complaining about the weather.
  2. I’m testing out MarsEdit, the offline blogging software.

Ever since leaving Microsoft Windows behind, I’ve been searching for a replacement for what is, to me, the best piece of software Microsoft ever produced — and gives away for free, to boot! — Windows Live Writer. It is as close to a perfect software app that I have ever used.

Sadly, and startlingly weird, is that it has no equal at all in the Mac world. Just about every other piece of software available for the Mac blows Windows software counterparts away, but in this one small niche, blogging, there is a vacuum.

Even weirder, there are a plethora of wonderful blogging apps available for the iPad. I know, I own most of them, but as much as I love my iPad — I’ve abandoned using it for most creative endeavors. It’s a media consumption device. I watch movies and read on it. In fact I found I read on it so much that I finally gave my beloved — and better for reading — Kindle Paperwhite away. The iPad is what is constantly in my hands.

I have a keyboard for it. But that means you have to carry two things around with you. And no, I don’t like the tiny keyboards that fit into a lid on the iPad — my fingers are too big. So it boils down to, if I’m out and about and want to write, I write on a laptop. If I’m at home, and can write on any device that’s lying around, it’s not going to be the iPad. The novelty has worn off. The iPad has settled into what it is: something without a keyboard.

So, yes, I could simply log into WordPress or Tumbler and write a blog, but what if I’m offline? Yes, I can bring up a word processor and write, then cut and paste it in later, and then format it, and then arrange the pictures.

Old hooky

But that’s why I miss Windows Live Writer so much. Not only did it do a perfectly good job as a word processor, but it handled graphics with perfection, and in fact had features that still dazzle me today. I could, for instance, simply click a button and erase the background of a picture, leaving only the subject … and it somehow always knew exactly what the subject was, and pixel-perfectly extract it from the rest of the picture. This beer bottle is an example.

This brings me to MarsEdit, which I’m testing now on a 30-Day trial. I would be more than willing to pay for a Mac version of Microsoft Live Writer, if they’d ever produce one. I’d pay $30 for it, easy. According to all reviews, this MarsEdit (which costs $30) is the closest thing there is. I’ve also heard good things lately about “PixelPumper” (which I recently deleted) but I’ve been thoroughly unimpressed with it over the last year or so it hung around on my computer.

So this is a test to see how much I decide I like MarsEdit.

Regarding the weather … I was all happy that we had a spurt of warm weather up here in Chicago, a break from the Polar Vortex which made my apartment building look like some sort of arctic circle citadel. Naively I thought that meant spring was on it’s way.

No, it’s not. The Polar Vortex is returning with a vengeance. Just as the snow had started melting it looks like we’re getting several days in a row with more of the white stuff dumping on us … and I’m sitting here in my apartment freezing my nads off because I thought it would be awesome to live in the top corner apartment facing the northwest.

Little did I know the Polar Vortex would aim directly at my apartment and turn it into an icebox no matter how many heaters I have running.

UPDATE: MarsEdit is a fail. I had to log into WordPress and fix the formatting and adjust the pictures. The best editor for WordPress on a Mac is… WordPress.

A few bits of news…

Henry J. Davis IIFirst, let me get the bad news out of the way. My father passed away last Monday. Fortunately I was able to see him before it happened, and since we both knew the writing was on the wall, I was able to say goodbye to him. He was ready to go, and he passed peacefully. He nearly made it to 94 years old.

It really didn’t hit me that it was, in fact, real, until yesterday, when I finally was able to bring myself to delete his contact from my iPhone.

It was like a sucker punch to the lower stomach.

Anyway, as a tribute to him, I posted a little true story about us searching for pirate treasure down in the Sea of Cortez over on my main website: Adventures with Henry J. Davis II »

On a lighter, happier note, my good friend and science fiction writer William Ledbetter just had one of his novelettes, “Stealing Arturo,” published on the Baen.com website. You can read it there for free. Clickity click click you way over there now »

Last bit of news… while I am pretty sure I qualified to join SFWA a long while ago, I’ve always hesitated because of the vortex of drama that seems to spin around it, and I still hesitate, even after my good buddy Mr. Ledbetter took the leap. Instead I decided to join EPIC (which I think I had joined once before, a long time ago) mainly because I am far more involved in electronic publishing than I am in dead tree publishing. My book Travels was, in fact, one of the first three eBooks mass published by a major publisher, AOL Time-Warner.

epic-new

WriterCam.com

I’ve done some revamping on my photoblog, which is now powered by Tumblr under the hood… Check it out!  www.writercam.com

“Anything Goes”

nurturing-daleksAbout two weeks ago I finished my first draft of All You See Is Light, and the very next day I started a new novel, this one a mystery set in a post-Singularity universe. The working title is: Anything Goes. I meant it to be a lighthearted comedy much in the spirit of a Douglas Adams novel, but I guess my humor runs a bit darker than I thought because it’s already started to take some turns I didn’t expect.

For my friends who aren’t familiar with “the Singularity,” it’s a predicted event that some people take very seriously (and some others not so much so) where humanity and our creations get so intertwined that we can’t tell where the line is between man and machine. But it’s also a theoretical point in the future where we lose control of — and can no longer even understand the inner workings of — the devices we’ve created, because they’ve gained control of themselves and their own destiny, and begin to design and build their own machines. Thinking machines creating new machines on their own.

The Terminator movies are a good example of this, but it’s an example of the process going horribly wrong. In my story, it goes in the other direction — we lose control of the artificial intelligences, but instead of them hating humanity and wanting to destroy us, they take over and become our over-protective guardians.

So the questions I’m relentlessly exploring in this book are these:

  1. If we lose control over an omnipotent technology, and it assumes control of everything and strives to keep us from killing ourselves and our environment … is that necessarily a bad thing? Even if it’s extremely annoying?
  2. Is an exact duplicate of you, actually you?