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Saturday, March 30, 2013

3rd Novel Unveiling Soon!

The editing on the new book is done, and I'm just awaiting a final cover image now.  I'll be ordering the print draft copy very soon, possibly tomorrow.  We've started talking about doing a book launch party, as we did with No Brother of Mine last May.  The date being bandied about right now is Sunday, April 28th, but it's not confirmed just yet.

Within the next few days, I'll post the cover here (with title) and provide the description of the story, for all to see.  We're really, really close now.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 Biking Season Is On!

I've been itching to get on the bike ever since we got back from summer-in-Australia in the middle of February, but today was the first real chance I've had to do so.  There had been a bit of snow recently, but not enough to stick.  And the 3 degree temperature just after noon today was more than warm enough for me with several layers on.  So off I went to the comic store to pick up three weeks' haul.

I do love riding my bike when it's so cool out that it's just about impossible to overheat, even on a 20-km round trip!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

HeLa Update

Almost exactly three years ago, I blogged about Henrietta Lacks, calling her tale one of the greatest stories ever told.  Here's an interesting update on the HeLa line of cells, Henrietta's surviving family members, and the ethical questions surrounding the future of cell mapping in general.  Definitely worth reading.  

Better Late Than Never

In all the activity of the last week or so, I completely forgot to post these pictures from the birthday party for Vicki and I that Richard and Meena came over for on the 17th:


That's the front of the gift/art object for my 50th. It had 14 items on it, each of them somehow related to the number 50.  One example: the Kit Kat bars have 2 quarters glued to them, making a "50 cent (w)rapper"!  That's the genius of my sister-in-law Meena right there! And here's the back of it, as well as Vicki's slightly less ostentatious basket of goodies:


We had a great time trying to guess how the 14 objects related to 50, and even Emma got into the act.  I think we got about half or two-thirds of them right, though some definitely eluded us. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Getting Closer On Novel # 3

I'm almost halfway through the 4th (and hopefully final) draft, and should be done it sometime this week.  We also had our cover photographer for this book over to the house yesterday, and she took about a million shots of the objects that we'd picked out for the cover image.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with, as that's the last piece of the puzzle for getting this project into the home stretch.

Once we've got the cover sorted out, I'll post it here and provide the first few details about the new book.  Shouldn't be long now!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gaiman Goodness

This story really has it all, for me: Neil Gaiman producing new comic work, stabbing Todd McFarlane in the eye by using the Angela character Gaiman created for Spawn when he guest-wrote an issue of it (and was subsequently awarded ownership of the character in a much-publicized trial last year), and potentially getting ready to write some new Marvelman stories for Disney/Marvel.  Wow!

Khaaaaaan!

I'm assuming that's who Benedict Cumberbatch (aka Sherlock) is playing in this year's Star Trek flick:


Oh, and if that didn't pique your interest in Star Trek Into Darkness, there's always this:


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

AgileMan Back On Campus Tomorrow

After missing my last opportunity to give an Agile lecture because I was too sick in November, I'm especially looking forward to tomorrow's talk.  I've trimmed the presentation quite a bit and added in some new material, which should make it fresher for the class's regular instructor and me, if nothing else.

I was hoping Emma might be able to attend, but she has a conflict this time around.  One of these days before she graduates I'll get her there...

Draft 3 Now Complete

I've gotten all of the edits from my three early proofreaders, and have incorporated their feedback into the 3rd draft of novel # 3.  (That's three threes!)  My thanks go out to Vicki, Richard and my friend Ernesto, all of whom did amazing work making me look so much better than I really am!

Now I just need to make one more pass, start to finish, and then it should be ready to go.  I'm doing this turn through the novel in iBooks, on my new iPad (courtesy of Vicki, for my 50th!).  So far, I'm less than a chapter in, but I'm loving the note-taking ease of this application.

Once the 4th draft is done, I imagine it'll be time to print a proof copy and see what this sucker looks like on paper.  Right now I'd estimate the book will be coming out late next month, but we'll see.

Still, the light at the end of the tunnel is definitely visible now!

Monday, March 18, 2013

R.I.P. Jason Molina

In and out of rehab for the past several years, the lead singer and main songwriter of Magnolia Electric Company died on Saturday "as a result of organ failure related to alcoholism," as noted on Wikipedia.  Molina was an amazing artist, responsible for several of my favourite songs of the past decade.  He was incredibly talented, and much too young to die, but addiction tends to be indifferent to factors like that.

I guess now we'll soon find out What Comes After the Blues:



"Now Noah must've had a lot of room on the ark
 For all of them broken hearts..."

 I know there are a ton of broken hearts today, across Magnolia fandom.

[Update later that same day: A friend put it best over e-mail this aft - "I’m fucking devastated".  That about sums it up.  I've been listening to MEC all afternoon.]  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Never Underestimate The Power Of Lobbyists

On this, St. Patrick's Day, here's a very un-green story out of Australia about one lobbying group's unfortunate success in trying to undermine the wind industry. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Random Cat Photos

I went looking for the cats the other day, as there's usually at least one of them in plain sight but on this occasion they were nowhere to be seen. It didn't take me long to find them, but I wasn't expecting them to be lined up like buses (behind a couch, yet!):


When our new bed for the upstairs bedroom was delivered, I locked both cats in the master bedroom so that they wouldn't be too freaked out by all the commotion. Considering how I found them after the delivery men left, I don't think I actually succeeded in that goal very well:


Those two lumps are, left to right, Jonesy and Lucy.

And finally, here's Jonesy as we most often see him:


Two Birthday Items Of Note

One of Vicki's gifts to me, on my 50th last Sunday, was the gem seen here under the watchful eye of a certain someone:

That's Batman # 42, from 1947, featuring the Catwoman (which may explain Jonesy's interest in it).  It's the perfect sort of thing to mark a milestone like the one that just passed, and it wasn't even the biggest thing Vicki gave me for the occasion!  It's true: I'm one lucky guy!!

I treated myself to a special present this year, as well.  I happened to see a link online to a British comic store that was selling a limited (250 numbered copies) print for the current League of Extraordinary Gentlemen hardcover, Nemo: Heart of Ice.  I quickly placed my order, and this week my prize arrived, # 220 of 250 (meaning, as Vicki pointed out, that I got in just under the wire):


While it's a lovely print, it's the little squiggles at the bottom right that made it well worth the not-insignificant amount of money I spent on it.  Yes, those are the signatures of Kevin O'Neill (the artist for all League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics) and its author, one Alan Moore.  The Alan Moore, writer of Swamp Thing, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Miracleman/Marvelman, Top Ten, etc!  Let me say that one more time: I now own a piece of artwork signed by Alan Moore!!  It's still kind of hard to believe, actually.  But once we get it framed and up on a wall, it should feel more real to me.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Extra Large Double Double

Today's the 22nd anniversary (double double, get it?) of the day Vicki and I got married, waaaaay back in 1991.  That was a Friday, just like today is.  We both took the day off work, and headed to the Justice of the Peace with Tammy in tow and a very small number of close friends as witnesses.  Afterward, it was photos in our backyard (in the cold), and later still, dinner with friends at the downtown Crock 'n' Block, now long gone. 

Today, we've got a new bed being delivered and dinner reservations for two at Tony Roma's.  Slightly more mundane, and yet it never feels that way when you're with the right person.  We were lucky enough to get three weeks of high-quality time with Tammy and Ryan last month in Australia, and thrilled to have Emma living with us for the past 6 months and on into the future.  All these years later, life is still good!

I can't even begin to imagine what the last 22 years would've been like if I hadn't spent them with Vicki, and I'm so glad I've never had to. 

Oh, and as a bonus, this is my 3600th blog post.  Nice day for it, I'd say!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A Blog Post For Future Reference

I just finished the 2nd draft of my 3rd novel, and Vicki was eager to get it onto her Kindle so that she could be the first person (other than me) to read the current version.  I mentally estimated that I'd need about 2 minutes to complete that task, and then... I realized that none of the software I've used for converting my books into ePub and Kindle format in the past is installed on this laptop!  Oh, the joys of having a compute die on you, even months after you've supposedly recovered from it.  Anyway, the news that there's a 2nd draft ready to go is the only thing that might interest non-Matt readers of this post, and you all can stop reading now.

The hardest part in completing the task, which stretched it out over an hour or more, was trying to find the names of the software I used before, as I simply didn't remember them.  So to make that easier in the future:

Mobipocket Creator is the app that takes in an HTML version of the book and converts it to Kindle (.prc) format.

KindlePreviewer allows you to see what the .prc file will look like on a Kindle.

Calibre will input the HTML version of the book and convert it to ePub format, and then give you a way to send that ePub file to a device such as Kobo.  I've actually made fairly detailed notes on how to do the Kobo install, and they're in the Books folder I have under "Documents" (which gets backed up daily).

Friday, March 01, 2013

Tired Of The Spambots

Lately, I've noticed that the spam-to-content ratio of comments on my blog has risen to about 20:1, which is by far the worst it's ever been.  I've obviously ended up on some spam-generation service's site list, which is really a shame. 

As a result, I've made two changes to the settings for comments.  I've turned on comment moderation, and I've introduced the often-annoying word-verification feature.  I expect the latter change will make more of a difference than the former, but we'll see.  I apologize for the hassle to the real commenters out there, but to be honest you're such a rare creature anymore that I doubt anyone will feel much pain. And if it stops me having to delete dozens of spam comments every week, it'll be worth it.

Amanda Palmer's TED Talk

In case you haven't seen this already.  Highly recommended if you're interested in art or humanity:


A Day Late But Not A Dollar Short

Around 2:00 p.m. today, I wrote the last line of the third novel.  (Which was, incidentally, "And that's good enough for me."  Who knows if it'll still be the closing line by the time the book gets published.)

I was tempted to go back to Chapter 1 and start editing it, immediately, but saner heads prevailed.  Instead, I listened to some music for a couple hours and then laid down for a nap until Vicki woke up for dinner, shortly after 6:00.  Tomorrow I'll begin the editing process, and hopefully produce a second draft by sometime next week.

As I mentioned to my brother over e-mail today, this is the time with each book where I experience the worst doubts about it.  I've written it all down, but no one else has read it yet (not even Julie, this time around).  So it could very well be total crap, and I just don't know it yet.  Months from now, it'll be done and published and I'll start getting lots of feedback to help me get a better sense of how it works, as a story.  But until then, this is such a cold and lonely vacuum to work in.

For the record, then: novel # 3's first draft was completed on March 1st, 2013.