Faces

The SamuraiWhen I was eight, I’d race home from school so I could watch a Japanese TV show called The Samurai.

It was about a noble Samurai called Shintaro and his lovable but slightly daft side-kick/friend the good ninja.That’s them on the left.

Needless to say, I loved them both, and I loved the beauty of the minimalist Japanese decor and the moral values each episode upheld. In a way it was a Japanese version of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. And it had a profound effect upon me. Fast forward ten years and it influenced my decision to study Japanese at university.

But what does any of this have to do with faces?

Well, I wanted to explain why I have always loved Asian faces. Some women go for Jocks; I like short, dark and inscrutable. And the other day I found the face that sings ‘Kenneth!’ to me.[Kenneth is one of the main characters in Innerscape].

I don’t normally attach real faces to fictional characters but this face was just so perfect I could not resist. Kenneth is not meant to be Eurasian but this face reminds me of a cross between say Jet Li and John Cusack:

maybe kenneth 1

I think I may have found my Miira as well, but she is Eurasian so finding the right balance has not been easy. This is how I imagine her when she’s being the Lady of Dhurai.

maybe miira 3

Let me know what you think. Do these faces enhance your enjoyment of the story, or do they hobble your imagination and put you off?

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


Future tech – the ‘Dragonfly’

I discovered the concept of quadcopters this morning via a blog post on my reader. That led me to the video clip below:

From there I looked at a couple of other video clips on Youtube until I was lucky enough to stumble on this one:

The geek in me is thrilled by both the quadcopter and the Dragonfly, but the sci-fi writer sees a darker use for both these technologies. They may look like toys now, but the Dragonfly, in particular, is already being promoted as a serious tool for both offense and defence.

Can you imagine police procedurals in the future? How will the cops catch murderers when the murder weapon could be a weaponized Dragonfly?

I hope this lovely bit of technology is never used for such dark purposes, but the pragmatist in me can’t see how it would not be misused. Human beings never change. Give us a rock and we’ll use it to beat each other’s brains out. Give us a Dragonfly and heaven knows what we’ll do with it.

Definitely tech for thought.

Happy Sunday,

Meeks


Watch a real exoskeleton at work!

Sci-fi movie buffs will be familiar with this scene from the movie Aliens 2 where the heroine [yes, a woman] uses an exoskeleton to try to save a child from the baddie.

And if aliens are not your cup of tea, how about Iron Man from the Avengers movies? That pretty red suit he wears is not just a fashion statement, or yummy body armour, it’s actually an exoskeleton as well.

But now, for the first time, real exoskeletons are making an appearance in the hospitals of Japan. Designed to aid both patients and carers, this amazing, robotic invention is set to become commonplace in the real world.

And that, my friends, means that at least one, small part of my Innerscape story is no longer sci-fi! If you’re curious, my protagonist, Miira, wears an exoskeleton in the very first scene to give her a degree of mobility and independence. [You can read the most recent version on Wattpad here]

Ironically, I snuck the concept of an exoskeleton into the beginning of the story to provide a subtle clue that Innerscape was, in fact, a science fiction story. Now I’ve been foiled by the rate of technological advancement. It makes me wonder what else will be out of date by the end of the year, let alone the end of the century.

I’m not complaining, but this incredible technological advance does highlight one of the major drawbacks of writing in the ‘near future’ – no one can accurately forecast what that future will look like. Still, it’s fun to try. :)

cheers

Meeks


Canva for ebook covers

Never heard of Canva? Don’t worry, neither had I until this morning. Canva is a [free-ish] online graphics program? facility? that allows us cash-strapped writers to design our own ebook covers. It also allows us to do a lot of other things, but I only needed an ebook cover so that’s what I played with.

After doing the 2 minute tutorial, I spent about an hour playing with the graphics and, I have to say, I am very impressed. The image below is a draft of the cover I came up with for Innerscape:

innerscape cover draft

The cross hatching is part of the watermark [along with the name CANVA in the middle of the image]. The reason for the watermark is that I chose 2 non-free images for the cover – the landscape and the picture frame. Each image costs $1 – yes, that was not a typo, just one solitary dollar – for both personal and commercial use. So all up, my costs would have been $2.

I was very tempted to just pay my money and be done with it, but they have a special deal whereby you can buy 11 images for ten dollars, and I thought ‘oh, parts 3 & 4, and 5 & 6….’.

-cough-

Anyway, a bit about the design. The final, ‘real’ cover will have a different graphic on it, but for the moment I like the idea of mirror images and worlds within worlds and the visual tension of seeing the title as a not-so-subtle price tag. Paradise is only for the rich, after all.

Of course that could all be a bit of BS – there is a reason why I’m a writer not a graphics designer. -sigh-

Once you are ready to download your newly created image/cover, you are given the option of either paying for any non-free images you have used, or downloading a draft. I haven’t tried the paid option but assume it is the same as the draft one – you get to choose between downloading a 70 DPI resolution image or a 300 DPI pdf file.

DPI stands for dots per inch so 70 DPI would give you a reasonable resolution [as in my cover image] but nothing great. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t chew up your bandwidth. My image weighs in at about 75 kb, which is next to nothing. When I downloaded the 300 DPI pdf however, it took quite a while to download and was HUGE. Well over a megabyte of data.

I would use the 300 DPI for actual print covers but not for ebook covers. Finding the right balance for the cover image will require a bit of trial and error so that it looks good but doesn’t take half an hour to download.

Oh and one last thing. I converted the 300 DPI pdf file to a more reasonably sized jpg file but discovered that my version of the software didn’t include the fonts used by CANVA. My app substituted similar fonts but you can see that they do not look quite right. Next time I’ll either use fonts that I know I have, or I won’t mess with the image. :)

And for those who might like to play with CANVA themselves, here’s the link to a great Indies Unlimited tutorial on how to use it.

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2015/05/11/canva-for-free-ebook-covers-and-more/

Comments? Please feel free to let rip. I haven’t paid for anything so you’re not going to hurt my feelings or my wallet. :)

cheers

Meeks


Grumpy Old Gardening

acflory:

I have alpacas to ‘mow’ the grass so this literally made me roar with laughter!

Originally posted on Facing 50 with humour.:

DSC00535Here’s a little something for all of you who like Mister Grumpy have been battling with weeds, cutting endless grass and wishing you owned a low-maintenance patio and a pot of flowers:

GOD to ST. FRANCIS

GOD: You know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

St. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: 

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Chris Medina – What are Words

You may say I’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, but I really had not heard of Chris Medina until today. Now I can’t seem to stop playing his song ‘What are words’. He has a glorious voice, but it’s the lyrics…

We all dream of that one person who will love us through thick and thin, sickness and health, till death do us part. That is why those words still form the core of every marriage vow. Because they mean something. They’re not just words. I guess that dream is also why the romance genre is so huge. We all want to be loved that much.

Cynical, divorced lady with pink eyes signing off.

Meeks


Instructions to Infinite Hell

acflory:

If you’ve never been to IKEA, or wrestled with flat-pack furniture, look away now. For everyone else, this is my happy-making discovery of the day. Brilliant, brilliant and more brilliant!

Originally posted on Problems With Infinity:

About a month ago I was having a super power day.  One of those days where I feel like I can do anything, be anyone, and achieve everything!  Greatness is just outside my door!

Looking around my room at the piles of clothing, dirty dishes, infinite matchless socks, and inflatable mattress, I decided that the first step to greatness should be getting furniture like a real true to life normal human.

I don’t need to live in this hovel anymore, I decided.  I will have the coolest home ever made!

IMG_8245

I tromped out the door, full of excitement and pride for my wicked cool new room, picked up my friend, and headed over to Ikea, the ultimate utopia for identity reconstruction and real person capitalist normalcy.

Upon achieving this furniture ownership, I imagined all of the following changes would magically happen too!

IMG_8248

We arrived at Ikea and after parking and…

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How to link to your story on Wattpad

angryIn my last post about Wattpad, I talked about my failed attempts to link to Innerscape, Part 1, and the workaround I finally discovered. I was not particularly happy with the Wattpad interface, and said so.

Since then, Fernanda from Wattpad support replied to my email and explained how to link to my story properly. The following is a quick, pictorial version of what Fernanda told me.

Once you have created and published your story to Wattpad, you are ready to promote it beyond Wattpad.

Step 1 Click the tiny arrow next to your Wattpad name to display the drop down list as shown below:

 

Step 1

Step 1

From the drop down list, select the ‘My Profile’ option.

Step 2 The ‘My Profile’ page contains the About [you] as well as a list of stories you have published to Wattpad. In the screenshot below, you can see that I’ve only published one story [Innerscape].

Step 2

Step 2

To read [or link to] any of the stories you have published, click on the relevant link. For me, the link is for Innerscape.

You should now be looking at a sort of public page on which anyone can read your story.

Step 3 Click on the address bar for your story as shown in the screenshot below:

Step 3

Step 3

Once the URL of your story is highlighted in blue, simply copy and paste it into your tweet, FB post, blog post or other promotional site.

If you try to do any of this from within the ‘Works’ option [the obvious place to look for your story], the resultant URL will belong to your private Wattpad account and hence will not be accessible to other people – i.e. it won’t work!

I can see the programming logic behind all this but …a good interface would not hide such a common function in such a non-intuitive location. Or perhaps the Devs of Wattpad assume that anyone publishing material on Wattpad will not be interested in promoting their work anywhere else. -shrug- Or maybe they don’t want to clutter up the interface with all this unsightly and potentially technical stuff?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I believe most current user interfaces are hell bent on being innovative and different, and beggar the functionality. I’ve suffered through the latest, ongoing transformation of the WordPress.com interface, and it appears I shall have to suffer from the Wattpad one as well.

Perhaps I should be more diplomatic.

-thinks-

Nope. Poor design is poor design no matter what the intention of the developers may be.

-grump-

Meeks


Dip Happens—What Do We DO When Nothing Seems To Change?

acflory:

I’ve been lurking around Kirsten’s blog for over a year, nodding my head, laughing at her wry sense of humour, enjoying myself. Then BAM, this post. Could it be more appropriate? Love it. :)

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.30.15 AM

Often I blog about things I am going through. Sometimes just writing things down, sketching out a plan of action, recalibrating MY perspective helps a lot. Hey, if nothing else, I have a blog post :D .

Lately, I’ve been in what Seth Godin calls…The DIP. In fact, I am even talking about The Dip over on my Dojo Diva blog for those who want more (and also a better chance of winning my 20 Page Death Star Critique).

*dangles carrot*

What is THE DIP? The Dip is that span of suck before the breakthrough. The Dip is where character develops, where dreams grow, where WE grow. Bad news is this is also the place where most people give up.

I’d love to say I’ve never given up when faced with a particularly tenacious Dip, but I am a terrible liar. Dips are tough. Why are Dips so hard?

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Wattpad mark 2

Apologies for those who tried to have a look at Part 1 of Innerscape and found the link didn’t quite work. :( Since that post I’ve discovered that the only way to create a working link in Wattpad is to use their pre-made links to Twitter and/or Facebook.

The link below really does work this time, but you’ll notice that it refers to twitter somewhere in the middle. Don’t worry about that weirdness. Clicking the URL link will take you to the right place.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/38111538-innerscape-part-1-induction?utm_source=web&utm_medium=twitter4&utm_content=share_myworks_details&ref_id=18201582

I suppose there is some deep and meaningful reason for the way Wattpad functions, but I’m not particularly impressed at the moment. It took me a couple of hours of fruitless searching to work out how to do this one, simple thing. :/

Good night all,

Meeks


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