Monday, August 29, 2011

Today's Early Game Over Feedback

Via e-mail from someone who purchased a copy earlier today:

"2 chapters done. Loving it so far"

That's what I like to hear!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Walking Goal: Week 12 Report - GOAL REACHED!

Yup, with 20 kms over the last 2 days alone, I really pushed myself to the limit this week and brought my total up to:

501.1 kms (100.2% of my goal for the summer!!!)

I'll still keep at it through the end of September, as planned, but now at least the pressure's off. It's all gravy from here on in...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Game Over Teases: The Chapter List

Here's the chapter list for my first novel. And yes, Chapter 2 is really called that!

Chapter 1: Flight Risks
Chapter 2: Shit Happens
Chapter 3: Ghosts
Chapter 4: Secrets and Lies
Chapter 5: The Course of True Love
Chapter 6: Friends and Other Strangers
Chapter 7: Mothers and Sons
Chapter 8: Apocalypse Now and Then
Chapter 9: Into the Abyss
Chapter 10: Strange Bedfellows
Chapter 11: Arrivals and Departures
Chapter 12: Teachable Moments
Chapter 13: Flight Risks Redux
Epilogue: Another Story

Like pretty much everything else about Game Over, I'm extremely pleased with the chapter titles and how much they add to the overall package.

First Early Reaction To Game Over In Printed Form

This came to me via e-mail last night, from a rather discerning individual who's reading Game Over for the first time (i.e. not one of the early reviewers):

"I just finished chapter 1, and I have to say I'm very impressed. Two thumbs up so far!"

That sort of thing does wonders for my confidence! Julie, Vicki and I all worried a lot, early on, that Chapter 1 (entitled Flight Risks) wasn't as strong as the rest of the book, although we did work on it quite a bit in subsequent revisions. Sounds like maybe some of that effort paid off. Yay!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Christmas Comes 4 Months Early

OK, so I didn't exactly follow my own game plan, as I decided on Monday to take a risk and order 50 copies of Game Over without first getting a print draft copy of the current version. I know: kind of crazy, eh? (Especially for someone as famously cautious as me!)

Well, those 50 copies took less than 72 hours to print and ship, and they're now sitting on our kitchen table! As far as Vicki and I can tell, they look great! I'm leaning toward distributing them piecemeal, on an adhoc basis rather than doing a big "Book Launch Event", which means that I'll be notifying the pre-order people by e-mail shortly that their book is now ready. Then I'll figure out how to get them handed out.

Should be fun. I can't wait to see how people respond to this, my first ever novel (and yes, I realize it might not be positively.... gulp!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Game Over Teases: The Front Cover

How's that for awesome???

The Movie Of Roger Ebert's Life

Ebert has a memoir coming out soon, and the first chapter of it is available online right now. As fans of his movie reviews know, he has a uniquely-engaging voice in his writing and that comes across big time in that first chapter. I think I'll greatly enjoy reading Life Itself: A Memoir when I receive a copy of it for Christmas this year (hint, hint).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Walking Goal: Week 11 Report

I may now be within a week of my target, although I'll need to post a big number this week to make it. As of right now, I'm at:

453 kms (90.7% of the way to my target of 500 km)

If I don't hit the mark by next Sunday (end of Week 12), I should be able to get there by the following Wednesday, which would be the end of August. So either way, I'll be about a month ahead of schedule... if I don't break a leg or get hit by a car in the meantime!

Very Moving Jack Layton Letter

If only every politician could go out with this much class: Jack Layton's last letter to Canadians.

I find it particularly moving that Mr. Layton thought to include the following:

"To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer."

That he was thinking of others in similar situations, even at the end, says a lot about the type of man Jack Layton was.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another Game Over Update

So the print draft copies (I ordered one each for Vicki, Julie and I) arrived on Tuesday, and I started reviewing it, looking for things that should be fixed. There were relatively few typos or grammar errors that I could see, but lots of things like the same word unintentionally being used several times in quick succession. I made a list of those, which ran to almost 50 items. I've now corrected all of them, and will give Vicki and Julie another couple days to see if they come up with anything else that needs addressing. Then I'll order one copy of the updated version, in order to check it out before placing the big order. My expectation is that we'll have copies available for all the eager readers out there by around the middle of September. I'm still considering whether or not to do a Book Launch event of some sort, but it looks like I've got a few weeks yet before I have to make that decision.

So that's where we stand on Game Over right now. I'll be providing another tease for it sometime this week, if all goes as planned.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Corner Has Been Turned On The R3 Beta

With Vicki out of town visiting Tammy, and Julie too busy for any walks at the moment, I've had unfettered access to the Resistance 3 beta over the past 24 hours. I think I probably logged about 5 hours on it yesterday, and went from generally sucking to actually finishing 1st in one Team Deathmatch! I was usually in the top 5 or 6 players at the end of the game (out of 16 total), which is about as high as I can get in most games. It's gone from being a frustrating experience to a fun one, making me even more excited about the official release that's now only 18 days away! I'm maxed out at level 20 (that's the limit in the beta) and am looking forward to finding out just how many more promotions I can get in the full game, as well as what loadout options are still to come. I've also pushed my KTD ratio well above 1.0 for the first time, which longtime followers of this blog know to be my favourite metric for how I'm doing in online game play!

In other words: fun!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Game Over Teases: The First Line

The very first thing I wrote for my then-untitled first novel back in January of this year, once I resumed work on it after a year and a half hiatus and with a completely different take on it in mind (in large part thanks to Julie), was the opening line. I'd discarded everything I'd written before, and started over from scratch. I remember telling Julie the line, just a few short hours after I'd come up with it, and I also recall trying to change it long after the first draft was complete and how she talked me out of it.

I just now compared what made it onto the printed page with what opened the first chapter that I sent Julie on Jan 19/11, and they're identical. Not even a single character changed between then and now, despite some fairly extensive revisions of the book in general over those intervening months.

Here, then, is a very brief taste of Game Over in the form of its opening line:

I’m haunted by a recurring image from a moment in my mother’s childhood that I’m pretty sure never actually happened.

How's that grab you?

Copy Of Game Over Now In Hand

Lulu was even faster than usual this time, as I placed the order on Thursday of last week (in the afternoon!) and had my print draft copy of Game Over in hand by noon today! Wow, that's quick!

We'll be checking it over for a bit and then placing the big order, possibly within a few days (assuming we don't find anything wrong that's drastic enough to require another print draft copy first). It's always a big thrill getting that first copy in the mail, but this was particularly exciting because I'm probably prouder of this book than I've been of any of the previous ones (and that's saying something). This is one great story, I think, and now I get to look at it wrapped up in a sweet little package! Fun!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Walking Goal: Week 10 Report

I don't know what was in her drinking water last week, but for some reason Julie invited me to join her for 5 - count 'em, 5! - walks, which was a very nice development indeed. I didn't actually have to do many solo treks, as a result, and yet still posted almost 40 kms for the week. I'm on the home stretch now for sure:

411 kms (82.2% of the way to the goal of 500 kms)

I expect I'll hit my target by the end of August at this pace, leaving me the entire month of September to pile on the gravy. It's been a lot of walking in hot temperatures but at least the worst of that should be behind me now (I hope).

And Now Some More Thoughts On The Resistance 3 Beta

This weekend, for the first time since I got access to the R3 multiplayer beta, the servers actually worked well! I had no disconnects, no trouble getting into games, and no problems with my stats. This was a very smooth experience in terms of the online infrastructure, so that bodes well for the Sep 6th launch, I guess.

As for the game itself, it's taking me a long time to get any good at it, as is often the case with a new title. Almost every match I've played in has seemed to include a few players on the other side who've really figured it out, and have levelled up enough to have access to the most powerful abilities. I'm now at level 12 and can use the Marksman, which was one of my favourite guns from Resistance 2. I'm still not killing more than I'm dying, but I suppose I'll get there eventually. I find the controls a bit 'sticky', especially when you're trying to keep your sight on an enemy while firing... either I'm doing something wrong, they've intentionally made that difficult, or there's a bug of some sort. It's really frustrating, and I swear it seems like some of the players are already 'glitching', as their avatars are moving too quickly and too erratically for me to be able to hit very well. Or maybe I just suck.

I also have the typical problem of pressing down too hard on the right thumbstick whenever I'm trying to spin and track an enemy. I've currently got that button press mapped to Crouch, which isn't bad most of the time, except when I'm standing behind a low wall trying to shoot snipe someone... inevitably, as I try to hit them, I crouch and can't see over the wall anymore! Of all the issues I have with controllers, this one is by far the most maddening... why we can't either dial down the sensitivity of the downward pressing or disable that button altogether, is beyond me. I swear I'd be at least a 5% better player without having to deal with that annoyance every frigging game!

Anyway, it's nice to be able to actually play it now, but I hope they can make the online experience a little smoother in terms of movement and graphics. As it is, it's a fun game but not an amazing one. And with no 8-person coop mode of the style R2 had, it's hard to imagine that I'll end up spending the same hundreds of hours playing this one.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Game Over Update

After a flurry of activity this week, I've finally put in my initial print draft copy order with Lulu. I should have something in hand to check over within the next week or two, after which I'll be able to place the larger order. Pre-orders are right now sitting at about 2/3 of what I'd hoped for, which means I'll be doing a smaller print run than I'd planned unless a few more come in over the next week or so. I'm trying to decide the best way to get copies into the hands of people who pre-ordered, as 'meeting for lunch' a dozen or more times isn't going to work for a number of reasons (not the least of which is, I usually eat out about once a week at most!). I'm tempted to do a 'launch event' of some sort, either from a restaurant or out of our home, but I'm not sure the numbers really warrant that big a deal. So we'll see.

At any rate, my best guess right now is that Game Over should be available for purchase around the start of September. Then the fun can really start!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oh, Those Crazy French!

I knew there was another reason why I've hated the Habs all my life...

I've got Game Over pretty much ready to go, except that we can't seem to nail down the handful of French translations I need for two of the later chapters! Wouldn't you know it that the 99.95% of the book that's in English is ready to go, while the 0.05% that's in French is holding everything up.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Last Call For Game Over Pre-Orders

Progress has been so good on Game Over lately that I may actually be able to get copies printed later this month, instead of having to wait until September! Which is good news, but the pre-orders so far have been less than I was hoping for, making me think that maybe some potential readers haven't gotten around to letting me know just yet. If you're one of them, please get in touch with me sooner, rather than later.

Having just completed a final pass on the novel, I can tell you it's going to be quite the interesting read! It's now looking quite polished, I believe. All it needs is more readers!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Walking Goal: Week 9 Report

Progress continues to be made, and Week 9 was particularly successful. Julie helped out with two walks, one at either end of the week, and so I logged just shy of 40 km over the 7 days, bringing my total up to:

374 kms (74.8% of the way toward my 500 km total)

In other words, I'm now 3/4 of the way there, about 1/2 way through my 4 months. Yay!

Oh, And I've Played Resistance 3, By The Way...

If you want a measure of how crazy the last couple weeks have been for me, consider this:

Last Tuesday, I was invited to join the Resistance 3 Beta that was starting up. And yet, this post, almost a week later, is the first time I've thought to even blog about it! I've tried to play about 5 times so far, making it into games twice; the other times I was thwarted by a widespread matchmaking issue that Insomniac Games is currently looking into. In fact, they've now shut down matchmaking entirely and you can only play in private games, which means you need to know someone else in the Beta. There are forums set up to facilitate finding such people, but I've been too busy to devote any time to that.

My total playing time was maybe 20 minutes, so my impressions of the multiplayer component (the only thing in the Beta) are limited. I think the graphics are good but not great; I found the controls a bit clunky but that may just be an adjustment rather than a shortcoming. There seem to be a ton of perks available as you level up, meaning that it's going to be tough not to blow completely early on. I'm bracing myself for that when the game actually comes out in 29 days!

I'll post more once I've had a chance to get some significant playing time in. I'd say what I've seen so far has neither increased nor decreased my anticipation of Resistance 3.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Nearly There On Game Over

Julie sent me her edits on the final chapter of Game Over yesterday, leaving her only the (relatively short) Epilogue to work on now. Assuming I get those from her by tomorrow (which she thinks she can do), then I'll start my final pass on the book right afterward. That means I could be requesting a print draft copy from Lulu in as little as a week or two, which would be even earlier than planned! I've been playing around with the formatting this week, which is something I always leave until the final days of the editing stage, as prior to that it really doesn't matter what the book looks like. With my first three 'masterpieces', that was also when I introduced the comic strips at the start of each chapter. Just to set expectations: there are no comics in Game Over! Sorry if that's a disappointment to anyone out there... but shit happens!

And just one more note on my Editor Extraordinaire. While each of the people who've read early versions of the book have provided outstanding feedback to me in their own unique ways, no one else has managed to both go over it with a fine-toothed comb looking for mistakes and offer helpful suggestions for it quite like Julie. Her work on it over the past several months is going to make me look like a much better writer than I actually am, but let's just keep that to ourselves, shall we?

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Call Has Gone Out

I sent the e-mail last night, asking folks who'd like to get a copy of Game Over from me to please pre-order now. Chances are good that, if you're reading this now, you've already received that e-mail. However, if you didn't, there's still lots of time to let me know that you want one! I'm hoping to get at least 30 pre-orders for this, my first novel, but we're off to a bit of a slow start. That could reflect summer vacations, of course, which is always a risk this time of year. But we'll see how things go next week. And a very big THANK YOU to everyone who's reserved a copy so far... it's much appreciated!

I've come up with what I believe is a better back cover blurb for the book, which I included in the e-mail. For posterity, as well as for the benefit of anyone not receiving that message, here's the latest version:

"A teenager pushed in front of a bus; a dead body in a freezer; a sudden wave of suicides. These are just a few of the inexplicable events Malcolm Greene has to contend with as he struggles to solve a mystery that’s threatening to consume him. The closer he gets to the answer, though, the higher the stakes become and the more Malcolm begins to fear for his own safety… and possibly his sanity, too! Does this self-described flight risk really have what it takes to get to the bottom of this increasingly-dangerous puzzle, or will he decide to get out while the getting’s good?"

That seems a catchier description than what I posted last time.

I've also got a friend working on the front cover for Game Over, and I may show it here prior to the release of the book. Haven't made a firm decision on that front yet. I can say that his early mock ups have elicited a lot of oooh's and ahhh's out of Julie, Vicki and I! So that bodes well for having an eye-catching visual as the face of Game Over.

As of right now, I'm hoping to have copies in hand by the middle of September. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

AgileMan Rides Again (But Is Pooped Right Now)

I did another Agile 101 Workshop today, with my lovely helper Vicki alongside me once more, at the same local company that we'd been at in April. This was for another group there, and there's already talk about possibly going back toward the end of the month for yet another collection of folks. It's really hard to convey just how tired I am after a full day workshop like that, but suffice to say I've done almost nothing since getting home around 5:00 p.m. My brain's too fried to make changes to Game Over, for example, or to even watch anything on TV. In fact, I'll probably be in bed by 10:00 tonight, which is about 2 hrs earlier than normal.

But it was a good session, and so worth a little mental exhaustion afterwards. The Effectiveness Survey results weren't quite as impressive this time out - 8.3 / 10 for the presentation portion and 8.4 / 10 for the hands-on activity - but still very respectable, all things considered.

Tomorrow, however, I have to get back to work on Game Over. I'm still hoping to start the self-publishing process in a couple of weeks. Julie has kindly provided her edits for all but the final chapter and the epilogue, and once I have those and the final few chapters from one other reviewer, I should be on the home stretch. I'll do one more pass at that point, and then get it ready for printing. So exciting... I can hardly wait for more people to read this thing!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Walking Goal: Week 8 Report

I had a rather impressive 8th week, as I somehow managed to walk almost 50 km despite another wave of high temperatures and debilitating humidity. Vicki generously accompanied me for several walks in the heat, and Julie and Cooper helped out, too. I'm now right around the halfway mark for my 4 month sojourn, and am well ahead of schedule:

335.5 kms (67.1% of the way to my target)

I don't think I could've picked a hotter summer to try this in, but I guess the results to date just mean that I'm really committed to hitting my goal!

Happy Anniversary To Us

I'm a little late posting this, but "today" (August 1st, so technically yesterday now) was the 1-year anniversary of the first time Julie came over to hang out with Vicki and I. As regular readers of this blog probably realize, that was the start of a friendship that's blossomed pretty impressively over the past 12 months.

I can't imagine writing Game Over without Julie's help, for example, nor would I have wanted to miss the two and a half weeks in April during which we had Cooper and Finley staying with us while Julie vacationed in South Africa. And, of course, I probably wouldn't be in the shape I'm in - such as it is! - were it not for all those dozens of walks Julie, Cooper and I have gone on since last Fall.

In other words, we're lucky to have found such a good friend... and we know it!