Thursday, August 28, 2014

A brief rant and a couple of updates

So, it's been kind of an interesting week. I started Saturday morning off by discovering that someone had broken into my car in the middle of the night. The only thing taken out of the car was an old jacket I'd gotten on ebay for something like $20 I don't even remember how many years ago, and a pair of $5 driving gloves I never used because it hardly ever gets cold enough here. Oddly, my only reaction was, "Huh," then I shrugged and drove off to work.

This is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me. Well, many years ago someone slashed three of my tires one night, but this is the first time I've had someone B&E and steal something of mine. I always expected I'd feel kind of violated, but for some reason I don't. I'm more irritated about the damage to my car, though at least it still runs, which is all that really matters to me. As long as it still gets me where I need to go, I can deal with it. And the robbery itself pisses me off. I despise thieves. Right now, I'm working my ass off just to be paid $5/hour for most of each shift, when the minimum wage is $7.90, so even buying something inexpensive is a big deal. (And I'm only doing that because it seems no one else will hire me. Been turning in applications for a year and a half, and only got two job interviews--both of them last September.) For some worthless fucking evolutionary mishap to damage my car and steal some of my stuff...it's disgusting. I can barely stay afloat, but I don't go around stealing other people's shit.

Anyway. Just had to get that off my chest. On to writing-related stuff.

Few days ago I finally finished another chapter in the rough draft of Reactivated. I was thinking it'd be about ten chapters long, but it's starting to look like it might end up being a bit longer. I'd like to bring it to a close in fifteen chapters or under.

And I finally got a new video uploaded. Third in the series using a Mass Effect 2 playthrough as a springboard for discussing various writing topics, this one includes comments on ways synthetic/robot/AI characters are typically portrayed in fiction vs. how they develop in the Mass Effect series.

Finished this one a couple weeks ago, but have been having trouble getting it uploaded. For some reason, the upload would finish, then its status would get stuck on "processing." It never advanced beyond that after several days of waiting each time, and I had to delete the video and try again. Two attempts ended the same way and wasted ten gigabytes of my monthly allotment. I then converted the video into a different format and tried again, and this time it worked. So, here it is.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Playthrough Commentary and Writing Discussion #2

Real quick--the second episode of my Mass Effect 2 commentary/writing discussion finished uploading this morning. This one gets into some detail on character development, villains, "evil" organizations, and shades of gray (but not 50 of them, :P ).


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Promoting my works and discussing writing during gameplay

I actually managed to get that video mentioned in the previous post done. The processor overheated again while converting the video into a WMV file, but I think I barely avoided an emergency shutdown. It usually does that when it hits 80 degrees C, and this time it didn't go above 77. Sure was tense, though, watching the temperature click up a degree every few seconds.

Anyway, the first video is an introduction stating my plans for the series. I've been wanting to do a playthrough of Mass Effect 2 for quite a while because it's one of my all-time favorite games, and I decided to see if I can use it as a springboard for discussing various writing topics in general and my books, fanfiction, etc., in particular.

As a fun side-note, several times during this video you can hear my bug zapper exterminating all sorts of flying pests in the background. It'll likely continue happening throughout these videos because the zapper is only a few feet behind me and the mic picks it up. Sometimes the pop is quite loud, but goddamn satisfying. :D

So, here it is:


Monday, August 4, 2014

New chapter of "Game Over" posted

Still trying to work on Chapter 9 and also get back to work on Reactivated so I can finish them, do the rewrites on each, and then see if I can sell the final drafts, but life has been getting in the way quite a lot during the last few days. But at least I managed to get Chapter 5 of the current draft of Game Over posted to FanStory.

Since there's a robot/AI character in this story, and so much fiction I've read/seen goes straight for the AI is a Crapshoot thing, I have a tendency to go in a different direction with the subject matter. I don't automatically view computers/technology/AI as always evil, because that's how I personally see it but also because it makes for a more interesting story in my opinion, just by taking a different approach.

And here's a small excerpt from Chapter 5:

"I've actually been curious about that, myself," Dylan said. "Are you...y'know...anatomically correct?"
"You mean, do I have a vagina?" Cora winked and sauntered over to him. "You bet I do. Sex probably doesn't feel the same for me as it does for organics, but it feels damned good, so it works for me."
"Now, that's what I call advanced technology." Dylan cocked his head. "Sorry if this is a sensitive matter, but are you a sexbot? I'm not sure why else you'd have that sort of 'equipment.'"
"I started out that way, and gradually had my software and hardware upgraded to keep up with newer models. Eventually, I became fully sentient, and realized I wanted to try to find more in life than what I was built to do." Cora grinned. "But fortunately, repurposing myself didn't require giving up orgasms."
"Huh. Wow." Dylan blushed. "I don't know if you're aware of how AI are played up in movies where I'm from, but--"
"I am. Humans where I'm from had the same distrust of synthetics, but luckily those who created us went out of their way to show us kindness and compassion so we'd understand those concepts. And whenever an AI began showing signs of sentience, they would ask it if it wanted to continue its service or be set free to find its own purpose. When I reached that point, I wanted to make a life for myself rather than keep doing what someone else decided I would do. Fortunately, since I was sentient at that point, keeping me shackled would've been considered a form of slavery, and I was set free."
"Glad to hear that. What did you end up doing with your life? Or are you still searching?"
"I tried a lot of different things, and ended up splitting my time between running cargo shipments around the galaxy and working as a sort of hired gun. I took on a lot of small jobs here and there, helping people who couldn't help themselves--people who were being ground under someone's wheels in one way or another. Did pretty well for myself, I think. I didn't get rich, but I stayed in business and enjoyed my work."
"That's wonderful." Dylan smiled. "Like I said, things in the movies I mentioned usually ended up going in pretty much the opposite direction. I'm really glad to hear that the real-life version had a happier ending."
"So am I." Cora chuckled. "I never really had much of a taste for taking over the world or wiping out humanity."
And in other news, I'm getting started on a new YouTube project, in which I'll be doing a playthrough commentary on Mass Effect 2 and using it as a springboard for promoting my books and discussing plot and character development and writing in general. At least, I will if my computer cooperates. I'm still having overheating/shutdown problems, as well as bizarre power failures that only affect a single outlet in my apartment--which is, naturally, the one my computer and TV/monitor are plugged into. And my first attempt at this project, about a week ago, went nowhere because the recording software I used for my voice-over decided to crash after I finished the first segment, and I lost an hour and fifteen minutes of commentary.

So, this time, I'll try to keep the video shorter and hope nothing else goes completely wrong. I'll post an entry here when...or if...I can ever get the thing finished.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Video delayed again

Well, I recorded the video for Masochistic Mondays, and edited it...but when I tried to export it to a single file so I could upload it, the conversion process caused my CPU to overheat. And this is why I'll never buy another AMD product.

Ever since I got the 8-core FX-8150 processor over a year and a half ago, I've been plagued with overheating problems. It's installed properly, thermal paste and all, but it always ran hotter than any other processor I've used. If I'm lucky, the temperature sometimes drops down to 51 degrees C, but most of the time it idles between 55 and 60.

If I try to watch a video on YouTube, the temperature shoots up past 65 and the overheat warning comes up on my screen. Try to watch something on Netflix and it sometimes overheats enough to cause an emergency shutdown.

When I tried to export that video this evening, the temperature rocketed from 57 degrees to 82 degrees C--and at that point I aborted the conversion to avoid yet another shutdown. I let it cool off and tried again, and the exact same thing happened. I shut the computer down myself to let it cool off, and when I rebooted later, it ended up idling at 61 C.

At that point, I just gave up.

Sorry for the rant, but I'm sick of this. I can't do anything on this computer without it overheating and, at least half the time, shutting down right in the middle of something.

I'm done with AMD. If I can ever afford to buy another processor, it won't be one of theirs.

What.

I'm about to begin work on Chapter 9 of Game Over, and started thinking about sending it to actual publishers when the final draft is finished, instead of sticking it on Kindle Direct. I'll probably end up putting it on the Kindle anyway because I need to get it out there to sell as quickly as possible thanks to my increasingly terrifying financial situation. But I spent a few minutes checking around for sites, magazines, and publishers who accept novella-length works.

And I stumbled onto this in the guidelines on one of the sites :

We are look for science friction in all sup-genre. We are not look for Paranormal romance and horror, fantasy. I like David Weber and John Ringo. My favorite sup-genre of science friction is military Science Friction and space opera. I love good science friction romance too.
Wow. We are look for... And I wonder if "science friction romance" is some sort of Freudian slip.

I actually stopped reading after the first two sentences in the next paragraph:

I'm looking for novelette and novella, short stories. We you send a short stories it need body of e-mail.
O_o

Fuck me.

Yeah, I'm adding this one to my to-don't list.

Anyway, a few days ago I posted Chapter 2 of the current draft over at FanStory, and I've just added Chapter 3.

And now, off to work on Chapter 9....

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Book: "Game Over"

First off, I'm still planning to do another segment of my "Masochistic Mondays" videos, but it's delayed a bit thanks to my work schedule. Specifically, yesterday. I was originally scheduled from 1pm to 8:30, but was asked to come in at 11am because one of the other drivers didn't show up for his last couple of shifts. His shift yesterday was 11-6, so I thought, "Cool, I can work almost the same number of hours and get out while it's still daylight."

Then I clocked in and found out that I was actually scheduled 11 to 8:30. Still, it could be worse, right? Just an extra two and a half hours.

Then we got slammed for reasons beyond my comprehension. Business tends to slow down a lot during the summer, but last night made up for the last several weeks of the slow-down. I ended up being stuck there until after 10pm. So...over eleven hours. Without a lunch or any other kind of break. I normally don't get sleepy until 2 or 3 in the morning, but I was out like a light before 1.

And today, aside from running a few errands, I didn't do anything until this evening, when I started working on chapter 8 of the book I'm announcing here.

Annnnnnd...segue. Heh.

The new book (well, it'll probably end up being around ten chapters or so, so it's more of a novelette or short novel) is titled Game Over, and I've just posted the first chapter over at FanStory. I started working on this quite a few months ago, and have been doing some rewriting over the last few days. Originally, it had the rather bland title of Arena, but I decided to try on Game Over and see how it fits. I've used a few one-word titles already, and not only that, but one-word titles are so...Star Trek: Voyager. Meh.

This new book is a different story with a new batch of characters and a completely alien setting, but a few connections to my other novels and Elsewhere crept into it while I was writing. At least a few clues about the space-time rifts in Elsewhere will appear, if not an outright answer to the mystery, before the final chapter of Game Over comes to a close.

Here's a brief excerpt from the first chapter:

"Ow." Dylan Engstrom opened his eyes and found himself on a hard metal surface. "What...?"
The last thing he remembered was sitting at his desk, sipping a cup of coffee, and preparing to join his buddies for a few hours of mayhem in Grand Theft Auto V. At some point after that, everything had simply...faded out.
I'm dreaming. That's gotta be it.
He rolled over, stood, and fought off a wave of dizziness. He rubbed his hands over his face, took a few breaths, and waited for his vision to clear. When it did, he found himself in a chamber the size of a gymnasium, with metal walls, ceiling, and floor. No windows. Several doors at the far end. And filled with...aliens? Or something.
Sure, why the hell not? Since this is a dream, I might as well just roll with it.
He shook his head, turned slowly, and stared at the nearest creatures.
One a few feet to his left looked like a bipedal dragon, easily ten feet tall, with muscular arms and powerful thighs and small but noticeable breasts under a tunic that looked like it was made from the skin of an animal. She glanced around, confusion and fear in her reptilian eyes, and he guessed she had also awakened moments ago.
Past her was what appeared to be an orc, of all things. Also female, dressed in leather and furs, like a barbarian, sporting huge muscles but somehow managing to still look feminine. Her burgundy hair was tied into a long ponytail with a few locks hanging past either side of her face. A pair of fangs as long as his thumbs jutted up from behind her bottom lip. Her dark green skin looked kind of leathery, and her face...well, she certainly wouldn't have won any beauty contests even without the two big, parallel scars running from her forehead down and across her right cheek. And that broad, ridged nose. And those fangs or tusks or whatever the hell they were. And that Neanderthal-looking forehead.
Still, there was something about her--the angles of her cheeks and her wide jaw and chin--that exuded an air of great strength.
But then, he gazed into her yellow eyes as she glanced around, frowning. She appeared to be somewhere in her forties, but there was far more mileage in those eyes than on her face. They were the eyes of someone who had all but given up on life.
He looked away reluctantly; while her face wasn't all that attractive, goddamn, what a body. He ran a hand through his shoulder-length, light brown hair, and decided to check out some of the other life forms. His eyes passed over a large number of creatures he couldn't quite get his brain around--translucent things walking on tentacles, something that resembled a millipede the size of a horse, an eight-foot-tall cross between a pig and an ogre--and locked on to another female.
He almost chuckled at that. Mind always in the gutter, even now. Oh well, what can ya do?
This one was around six feet tall and might be described as somewhere between chubby and burly. Her eyes glowed white in contrast to her obsidian skin, but aside from that and her pointed ears, her face was mostly human. And quite lovely, in fact. A pair of horns curved up from under her wild mane of silver hair, like a ram's horns. She wore a dark blue cloak with a hood hanging over her back, and from what he was able to glimpse, she didn't appear to be wearing anything under it. Each hand had two big fingers and a thumb, just like the orc and the dragon-woman, and her digitigrade legs ended in large hooves.
Okay, a few of her features were weird, but other than that, she was hotter than hell. He guessed her age to be close to his, or maybe a few years older, and the extra weight was perfectly proportioned.
She caught him staring at her and smiled, but it was shaky and faded fast.
He smiled back before she looked away and continued examining the people around him. Over to the right was a trio of bipedal creatures that looked like a cross between horses and cows, wearing some sort of tribal attire. Past them was a quartet of twenty-foot-long snake people with four arms, wearing only skirts made of glowing multicolored beads roughly where the naughty bits on a human would be.
Dylan's eyes, once again, automatically locked onto the lone female in the group. Her skin was dark brown with a red and black diamond pattern running down her back. Her hands, like the orc and the chunky hooved girl and the rest, had three digits, only hers ended in claws. The top of her head swept back into a curving, three-pointed crest. Her bare chest sported two pairs of breasts. Her face was close enough to human, though covered with scales, and she was actually kind of cute.
Hah. I can't dream about a human with four tits, of course. It's got to be some weird creature. Oh well, those are nice enough to look at, anyway.
He glanced around again, trying to find other humans. If any were in this chamber, they weren't close enough for him to pick out of the crowd. But his gaze did pass across something that was pretty close, at least in size and shape.
The robot stood with her arms crossed over her chest, leaning against the wall behind him, about ten feet away. She had apparently been designed to look like an athletic woman, with a face of flexible metal carrying a friendly--albeit confused--expression and softly glowing red optics. Her gunmetal body was covered by a pair of cargo pants, boots, T-shirt, and a long black coat.
Interesting. He wondered if she was anatomically correct.
Before he could check out anyone else, something nudged his shoulder. He turned around and found a nine-foot humanoid wearing armor and a helmet with a blank faceplate. It grasped his shoulder, pointed at one of the doors at the far end of the chamber, and pushed him toward it. He stumbled, regained his balance, and hurried ahead of the whatever-it-was.
In the corner of his eye, another hulking armored figure shoved the orc woman in the same direction. She snarled half-heartedly, but headed for the door. She ended up walking alongside Dylan.
He spotted other nine-footers herding other nearby captives in the same direction.
"I don't suppose you have any idea how we ended up here or what's going on?" He doubted the orc would even understand him.
"Nope. I was hoping someone around here could tell me that." Her accent was an odd mixture of Russian and Scottish.
"You speak English. You've met humans before?"
"A few." She smiled at him, but it was tinged with sadness. "You remind me of one of them, actually. Someone I knew long ago."
"Ah. Decent guy, I hope."
Her smile grew ever so slightly. "The best. I miss him a great deal."
Dylan wondered what happened but assumed it was a sensitive matter and kept it to himself.
When they reached the door, she sighed and motioned at her clothes. "The one time I put on the old outfit instead of what I usually wear, which includes several guns. Though I suppose any weapons would've been taken away before I woke up."
Dylan checked his pockets and his shoulders slumped. His phone, wallet, keys, and all the other crap he kept on him, were gone. Too much to hope for, obviously, but still disappointing. Not that he would've had any use for it in a situation like this.
The nine-foot goons shoved both of them through the door and onto a large platform. He stumbled and the orc reached out to catch him before he fell. He regained his balance and found himself inches away from her face for a moment, gazing into her eyes, until she looked away and steadied herself. Her face turned slightly darker green.
Dylan caught himself blushing, as well, and tugged on his shirt collar. He glanced around and noted the others who'd been separated from the main group--the snake-girl, the three horse-cow people, the hooved BBW, the giant bipedal dragon, the robot chick, and about a dozen others.
Two of them were human. He grinned, but before he could greet them, something else caught his attention.
The goons who'd herded them onto the platform remained behind as the door closed.
Oh, that can't be good.

Want to find out what happens next? Head on over to FanStory.com to read the whole chapter. XD