Dog Ear
Failed Authors (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 25 July 2018 22:42

am a failed author.

I was commissioned for one book (Don’t Jettison Medicine) which made me a nice bit of money. Fire and Bronze, my masterpiece, fizzled when the publisher died and the company went bankrupt during its release. Early ReTyrement did okay at bookshows but I never got that traction that publicity-pumping, number-jumping authors who are more concerned at ranking inflation than actual writing have. But that’s fine. I still write a lot; these blogs, my interactive games, my various projects, and even a little commissioned erotic on the side. I write because I write.

In a way, it’s like my bike. I’m no speed demon on my bike. I enjoy the commutes, both longer ones on my touring bike and short public-transportation hops using my folding Brompton. Am I going to ever ride in the Tour de France? No (see my comments about publicity-pumping and think about all the doping scandals in the “industry” of bike racing – why bother?). But I love riding. I generally come in to work more satisfied, smiling, at peace after a ride. With a drive, that never happens. And over the years, I’ve gotten a number of people out on their bikes to ride in to work. In that, I am comfortable. I can look back on that and be pleased with myself.

While on the train platform last night, I rolled the Brompton up and got my ticket – the station attendant was there and we always have a nice evening chat. She’s told me about writing poetry – it’s what makes her soul sing. And she told me that she’s actually gotten into  on book. “It didn’t pay,” she confessed, smiling in confidence. “But I got in. I can always point to that.”

Yes, so good for her. She’s enjoying her time on this Earth, scratching her creative itch, getting her poignancies out to share with her world. And she’s happy with that. She’ll never be the Poet Laureate. Likely she won’t even stand up in a coffee house on some open mike night and read from her works. She just writes. And enjoys it.

So write. And enjoy it. And be happy with the success of happiness.

And don’t turn down any publisher offers.


Books as lives (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 18 July 2018 20:34

unny think about work – my team has shifted from being a collection of Indian moms to being a team of millennial boys. And with that comes all sorts of problems. Normally I’d not concern myself with the tribulations of the trophy crowd but I’m a scrummaster – I have to run a team. And I’ve got one little tyke who is particularly troublesome.

You’ll remember from an earlier Dog Ear how I mentioned pulling one of my dad’s old sea stories from his shelf while stuck in a family event with nobody to talk to? Well, I was just getting into the story – the young lieutenant comes aboard a ship and finds morale in the scuppers. Men will only do what is in their direct area of responsibility and they do it sullenly. And this lieutenant thinks that there is always one guy, one little hardcore, who brings morale down. And I’m reading this, nodding, thinking, “True, that.”

And that’s the thing about books. Even in our darkest times, when we are grieving a loss or feeling lonely and depressed, we can find someone sharing our same troubles, who we can identify with and smile when they overcome their adversities. Sure, we usually can’t win against our world, but they can and we can feel good about their success. In my case, I was told that this twirp had gotten “managerial counselling” and would be on “a year-long improvement program”. In my day, it would be called “a warning letter in your file and termination to follow”. And in the 1790s, our lieutenant just told the guy that sure, raising masts might not be in this guy’s “domain” but the heads were, so he could scrub them out until they shined (and it’s hard to make oak shine). So in my real life, I’m listening to “corrective plans” with complete disinterest, but sitting before my open book I’m smiling.

Another book I found a connection to, my recent enjoyment of A Man Called Ove. Yes, I’m cranky, and yes, my life is to be lived lived my way, according to the world I came up in and not the way of coddling and delays and empty promises. And with Ove, I could identify, even when he truly was an asshole.

Thinking back, I always liked Goshawk Squadron, and the in-for-the-kill squadron CO who has to teach his version of millennials (the 1900s variants, I suppose) how to be killers in order to survive. But I can’t put the squadron in the air and dump tin cans for them to weave about and shoot at while avoiding each other. I have to hope for a year-long improvement program.

Oh well. The characters in the novels I read have interesting lives that generally meet with success (unless you are a downer like Ensign Flandry, just holding off the “long night”). But then again, my characters get shot, lose family, undergo hardship, get shipped off to death camps and even see their homeworlds destroyed. So maybe I’ll stick with my comfortable reading chair and let them dodge Zulu spears.


Slate (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 12 July 2018 18:01

aw a curious thing yesterday. I was working on my StoreyMinus CYOA (choose your own adventure) text game. It takes place in the subterranean world beneath London and will be up for walkthroughs (so you can see what it’s like) in a week or two. I’ve talked about Squiffy before and even did a short game about it HERE. Now that I’ve been playing with this application as a hobbyist programmer/writing, I’m ready to go full out on my first full-scale game.

Anyway, I realized as I played that with flashlights and torches and rooms that are lit and ones that are not, it’s a little difficult to keep track of if you are actually in light or not. See, if you are in pitch darkness, you move a lot slower (and that means you’ll face hunger and thirst problems after a shorter number of moves (since each move takes longer to complete, right?)). Since the game’s basic background is a scene-setting black, I decide to make the part over the text a little lighter to indicate that you are under low light (rather than no light) conditions. To do this, I kicked over to a site discussing HTML (don’t ask) to see what colors were available.

For this, they had a color background and a name. And there was a different color for each row. It was pretty distinctive, all sorts of alternating colors, one per line, looking like a rainbow on steroids. But then I saw a double-thick band of gray, an oversized thickness. Looked at the color name. Wait, names? Two names for this:



I looked at this for a bit before I realize that what I was seeing was the spelling from either side of the Atlantic, Gray for the colonials, Grey for the Isles. And this is because both nations spell it differently. The rule here is “A”=American, “E”=English (this is Babelfish serendipity of the highest order). But it makes sense. Most people aren’t going to look up the specific names on the site. They’ll just know they need the basic color (or colour) name. And this would cause problems in one country or the other, depending on who is chosen to be “right”. So, interestingly, they decided to officially use both names so coders on either side of the heaving Atlantic would be able to find their hue.

Just interesting, how spelling changes across time and location.


Cold Dead Hands (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 04 July 2018 19:47

really wasn’t into the family gathering on the 4th – I’d have rather stayed home and done my own things. But family gatherings are like gravity wells; hard to escape. We drove out to the beach and went on in.

My siblings were tech-talking, swapping aps and gesturing to tiny videos on tiny screens. As far is inclusiveness goes, it’s like those times I walk into a workplace galley and the Indians huddling there switch from English to Hindi. So I’m not sure what to say and I foolishly didn’t bring a book.

But dad’s shelf is in the hall, and dad’s books are in its ranks.  There were a lot of nautical historical fictions, Hormblower and Aubry and the like. And there on the bottom, a single book all on its own, not part of any evident series (though the author wishes it were so). And as I pulled it out, I realize that my dad might have been the last to touch it. This was his book, and I know what goes into the thought on adding a novel to always limited shelf-space – the book earned its way in.

Settled down on the couch and started to read, ignoring the background noises.

A hard gale blew off the Atlantic at dusk, west by south, raising a steep, breaking sea. All through the first watch pale crests surged out of the darkness, lifted in ghostly rumblings, then boomed against the forward quarter, staggering the ship.

And thus I was transported to a beleaguered short-handed ship fighting for its life in the wet dark. There is death about, and worse. And it took me into my own place, not with my siblings but with my father. I just enjoyed my time with him. Happily, mom let me borrow it so I can finish it at my leisure (still have a huge Stephenson to knock off).

Books do that. They are our companions when none are about.


p.s. I’m going to catch shit for writing this.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 July 2018 21:19

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