Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First Draft Complete!

A few minutes before midnight last night, I wrote the final sentence of my second novel. It's still very rough, at this point, and I'll be spending the next few days doing a front-to-back pass on it, to see what parts of it don't agree with what other parts of it. The story is all there, though, which is a big relief. I wasn't sure it would all come together until I actually got the words down. Now I'm quite happy! Of course no one, not even Julie, has read the 2nd half of it yet, as I produced the last 7 chapters over the past week or so and wasn't sharing them with anyone (just too busy writing). So it could all be crap, unfortunately. But that's what editors and revisions are for!

[Update later that day: For the record, that was 74 days, from start to finish, for the first draft. Much, much faster than Game Over, which was nearly five months. There's still lots of work to do, but man, that was fast!]

Friday, January 27, 2012

R.I.P. Resistance From Insomniac Games

Not shocking news, or even really news at all, but sad, nevertheless. Insomniac Games, creators of Resistance: Fall of Man, Resistance 2 and Resistance 3, will not be producing any new additions to that particular franchise.

Boneman and I, among many other fans, will be wearing virtual black armbands for the foreseeable future...

The Perils Of Rotating Agile Leadership

For those readers who shared the "going Agile" experience with me back in 2006 through 2008, this blog post by Mike Cohn on why you shouldn't rotate the ScrumMaster role should bring back some memories. For me, a few of them are good memories, but most are either humourous or downright painful. Our early habit of rotating the "Feature Lead" role within some of our Agile teams resulted in pretty much all of the bad outcomes that Mike mentions, and more.

Oh, if only I'd known then what I know now! :-o

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State Of The Union

If only we lived in a universe where simply making sense, as President Obama did tonight in his State of the Union address, was enough to effect change.

I think it's going to take an alien invasion, real or faked, to end the insanity that's gripped America ever since Bush "won" the 2000 election.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why The American Middle Class Is Disappearing

There are actually a lot of reasons why the middle class, especially in the U.S., is currently being squeezed out of existence. Some of them stem from a concerted effort by corporations and their lobbyists to put all of the money into the wealthiest citizens' hands (through changes to the tax structure and attempts to drive working class wages down by, for example, breaking unions). But this New York Times article provides a glimpse into another reason: the migration of most of the manufacturing industry to Asia and parts of Europe.

Reading that piece, I kept coming back to the thought that we've become so obsessed with getting what we want for as little money as possible that we're well on our way to destroying the middle class through our own spending patterns. Anyone who lives in Canada, enjoying all of the safety, infrastructure and social equality that we're lucky enough to have around us, but who then shops in the States because "everything's so much cheaper there," as one example, is missing the point. If enough of us do that, Canada will simply become the U.S. eventually: we'll have high poverty rates, no middle class, lots of crime, little or no safety nets for the disadvantaged, and an abundance of cheap goods in our stores. Is that what we want? By the same token, as those of us in North America snap up products that are built by cheap foreign labour who live in dormitories and work for hundreds of dollars per week, we'll eventually transform this continent's socio-economic landscape to be just like what exists overseas. It's really inevitable, I think, as we're always going to do whatever selfish action appears to benefit us the most in the short term. But it's still very disheartening to think that we'll piss away so much for so little.

Nice Recap Of Disney's 'Progress' With Marvelman

For the select few out there interested in comic stuff, I recommend this recent blog post which does a nice job bringing together all of the 'news' out of Disney Comics regarding their progress to date on using the Marvelman set of characters (the rights to which they acquired, they say, in July of 2009).

It's amazing just how little progress has been made in 2.5 years, especially when you consider that the handful of reprints they've done of the quite-dreadful 50's/60's Marvelman material went over like lead balloons, both commercially and critically. Anyone who cares about the character is waiting impatiently for the Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman stories from the 80s and early 90s to be reprinted; most are hoping Gaiman will get a chance to finish his take on the character that was halted in 1994 when the American publisher, Eclipse Comics, went bankrupt; and some want Disney to then integrate the superhero into the Marvel Universe. I'm not optimistic about the quality or appeal of that last possibility, but the first two are quite thrilling. It's really too bad that Disney has done nothing but disappoint so far.

And if anyone wants to know more about the multi-decade, incredibly tangled publishing history of Miracleman/Marvelman, you can always check out my MM primer that I wrote up shortly after the 2009 announcement out of San Diego.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Insomnia Sucks!

I woke up shortly after 4:00, thoroughly disgusted that I was wide awake at such an ungodly hour. After almost an hour of trying to get back to sleep, I finally gave up and came out here to the living room to see what was going on in the rest of the world. Answer: not much!

I really wish I had that superpower that most people seem to have: to be able to sleep whenever I want to!

Oh well, maybe I'll do some writing. Chapter 7 of the 2nd novel is complete, so I guess it's time to start Chapter 8. I can hardly wait to find out what happens in it...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Busy Couple Of Days

Today, Vicki and I are visiting various family members of mine, all of whom live out of town, so that should keep us hopping from about noon until nearly bed time.

Then tomorrow is my second Agile 101 workshop for the local Project Management chapter, with Vicki alongside to help out, as usual. I've updated the presentation slightly since the previous session, removing a bit of material and adding in some more visuals, based on feedback we received after the last one. It should be interesting to see how those changes go over.

I'm working on Chapter 7 of the 2nd novel now, and am about halfway through it. This one's been the most fun to write of all of the chapters so far, and that's saying something. I look forward to seeing what kind of reaction it gets, all those many months from now when the book's finally been published and people have actually found the time to read it. That's probably the most frustrating part of this process: getting excited about something in this book or in Game Over but then having to wait so long before anyone beyond my little group of collaborators can provide any feedback. Oh well, that's just the nature of the beast, I suppose.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Tale Of Two Football Contests

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games...

Last night's two NFL Divisonal Playoff matches couldn't have been much more different. In the first one, New Orleans and San Fran went at it, tooth and nail, with 3 touchdowns in the final 2:11 of the game! The 49ers got 2 of those 3 TDs, the second of which came with 9 seconds left, to lift them to an unbelievable 36-32 victory! This was one of the most exciting finishes to a playoff game I've ever been lucky enough to watch.

Then, in the nightcap... we got a real snoozer. Phenom Tim Tebow, who less than a week earlier had played the game of his life in shocking the Pittsburgh Steelers, didn't have a whole lot left in the tank, apparently. New England ran roughshod over Tebow's Broncos, to a final score of 45-10. It was over early, to boot, as the Patriots were up 35-7 at halftime, I believe, and then put it into cruise control from there. The 4th quarter did have one highlight, though, as Patriots QB Tom Brady punted the ball off of a 3rd and 10 snap, prompting a little excitement when the Broncos took exception to it!

We had company over for the second game, however, which dulled the pain somewhat. Unfortunately, Julie was rooting for Tebow and didn't have a whole lot of fun watching him get smoked. Of course, considering that she's the chiropractor who told me I was forbidden from lying on the couch for two weeks (because of recurring back pain I'd been suffering from), her disappointment seems like karmic payback, if you ask me, given where she spent the evening:

And shortly after this photo was taken, she was completely horizontal on that damn couch! Some people just have no compassion for others at all....

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Followup Post On The 2nd Novel

I posted the following on Facebook this morning, but figure I should add it here, too:

A bit more on the book-writing progress, since a few lovely family members have asked...

I haven't done a plot chart for the 2nd novel yet (as I did for "Game Over") because I don't think I'll need it. Therefore it's a little tough to predict exactly how many chapters this one's going to be. I'd guess it'll be somewhere in the area of 12 to 15, just based on how much is left to cover. I have the first 5 chapters "in the can" right now, and I know what happens in the last 2 or 3 (even though I haven't written them yet). So that's 7 or 8. That represents the first and third acts of the book. There's a whole bunch of stuff that has to happen in the middle act, which I have the least amount of detail for in my brain right now. I know some of it, but not nearly all of it. I'm guessing it'll be somewhere around 5 chapters' worth of material by the time I get it done.

Even though I started writing this book about a month and a half ago, it really wasn't until the last several days that it's all come together for me. I now know the whole story, minus some of the lower-level details. More importantly, I know how it ends. Before I knew that, it was harder to write because I never knew if I was pushing things in the right direction or not. I could even potentially paint myself into a corner without realizing it, which is kind of very bad. That sort of thing leads to massive rewriting or even just throwing away large portions of what you've already written. Very bad.

I could probably finish the first draft of this book in the next week, if I had to. OK, I probably shouldn't have said that, knowing that Amanda is listening!! What I mean is, if I had nothing else to do and wanted it done ASAP, I've now got everything I need to put it all down "on paper" (electronically, that is) and could do the physical writing part in about a week. Of course, I DO have other things and do, and I don't want to blow through it quite that quickly, as I really enjoy the writing process. I suspect I'll be done the first draft sometime in March, although it could conceivably be earlier, based on how well things are going currently. Then it's a couple months of getting feedback on it, making changes, and dealing with the tons of deails (cover design, for example) that have to happen before I can publish. Best case, maybe it's ready for general consumption in late May, or June.

As for details about the book, I'm not ready to let those cats out of the bag just yet. Even the title gives too much away at this point. I will say that, once the title and blurb for the book are revealed, several people around here are likely going to have a pretty strong reaction. That should be fun!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

That Update On The 2nd Novel You've All Been Waiting For

Well, Facebook friends of mine have been getting regular updates on it all along, but for the rest of you...

I've just finished the 4th chapter, with one more to go before the first part, or "act," of the story is complete. I've blocked it into three parts in my mind, and am quite excited about being nearly done the first of them. By the time Chapter 5 wraps up, all of the main characters will have been introduced, the central questions within the story will have all been presented, and the reader will hopefully be completely engaged and intrigued. That's the plan, anyway.

Julie's read through Chapter 3 so far, and has seemed to enjoy each new chapter more than the last. She emailed me the following after reading the 3rd installment:

"Love it, love it, love it!!!! Well done. Great writing. Can't wait for Chapter 4!!"

She's not usually one to gush, so either she was drunk when she typed that, or it's really growing on her.

My brother, Richard, has seen or heard all 4 chapters so far, and also seems quite enamored with it. But he's a pushover, so we can't read too much into that. :-)

Anyway, progress is continuing. I'm personally very happy with the results to date, much moreso than I was at this point in the creation of Game Over. Make of that what you will.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Doctors Don't Die Like The Rest Of Us

Thanks to Neil Gaiman on Twitter, I saw this fascinating article about the difference between how doctors face end-of-life situations and how most other people do. It may surprise you. It's definitely worth a read.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Tebow Mania Lives!

I would've bet money that the 8-8 Denver Broncos weren't going to beat the 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers in tonight's final Wildcard playoff game... but I would've lost my cash, if I had. Despite blowing a 14-point lead in the second half, the Broncos pulled it out in overtime. The first play, following the kickoff, was a long pass for the winning touchdown, ensuring that Denver quarterback Tim Tebow's fame will grow, at least a little more.

All I really care about is that the hated Steelers are now out, meaning that - as Vicki said just moments ago - "now we can watch the rest of the football playoffs!" Yes, dear... yes we can!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Less Than 4 Months To Go

May 4th cannot get here fast enough!

I really hope they keep Cap cowl-free, as he is in this great shot, for most of this movie! Joss Whedon's probably smart enough to realize that the good Captain's regular movie headgear just doesn't cut it in the live action world (even though it looks great in a comic book, and OK in an animated series).

Thursday, January 05, 2012

This Thing Is Awesome

It's no big secret around here that I love John Carpenter's The Thing, so how could I not enjoy this:

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Winter Arrives!

From yesterday's trek through the woods with Julie and Cooper:

It was actually a beautiful walk, and just the sort of thing that makes me appreciate winter more than I have since the days when I was kid tabogganing in it.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Twenty Twelve Or Two Thousand And Twelve?

I've watched this debate over the past decade or so with mostly just mild amusement and disinterest: should we be pronouncing our years as starting with "twenty" or with "two thousand"? Since we clearly started with "year two thousand", and then followed that up with "two thousand and one" (a space odyssey), it seemed from the get-go that it should really be "two thousand". Sure, that's an extra syllable, or really two extra syllables once you start adding the "and" in, but c'mon: it just sounds so cool and futuristic!

However, this year that we're now in may change everything. There's quite an appeal, to me anyway, in saying "twenty twelve." Why? Because of the repetition of the "tw" sound! And if "twenty twelve" sounds great, just imagine what "twenty twenty" will do for us!

Anyway, I reserve the right to regress back to "two thousand and thirteen" next year, but for the just-born yearling we're in, I'm definitely going to try to refer to it as "twenty twelve!" Let's just see how that goes.