Great Day at Salt City Steamfest

Salt City Steamfest was a blast. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been to a convention of any kind, and this was my first steampunk con. A lot of great people, and some truly fantastic costumes. I was able at last to get hold of some steampunk headgear combined with some paraphernalia to give it some character—it reminds me of Sam Elliott’s Texan aviator Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass:


(I didn’t get a great deal of use out of my camera—too busy looking around at stuff. Kate got the best pictures, and I’ll post some of those here when she’s got them off the memory cards.)

I also got to meet Xchyler staff and authors in person, and that on its own did more than anything to give the feeling of being part of a team.

The coolest part, and also the scariest, was the panel with those same Xchyler authors. YES, GUYS, I WAS ON A PANEL! And in case you’re saying Picture! Or It Didn’t Happen!, you can see one by clicking here; from left to right: Lissa Gilliland, Candace Thomas, McKenna Gardner, me, Anika Arrington, Scott Taylor.

I don’t do well when talking to crowds of strangers, but thankfully (1) I wasn’t the only one—because other Xchyler authors were there, there was a feeling of all being thrown into the deep end together, and (2) I wasn’t expected to speak for more than three or for minutes, which is good because if it had lasted any longer I would probably have lost it big time.

We were asked to introduce ourselves, and talk a little bit about our experiences as Xchyler authors, and also mention our current Works In Progress—which meant that I was able to say a little bit about Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia to about fifty people who were in the room, thereby raising a little bit of awareness. Since I went in with only a vague idea of what was expected, I had no script; I really did have to think on the run. I think I did ok—Kate said I did pretty good, and so did Scott Tarbet, Xchyler’s Man Of Marketing and Master Of Ceremonies.

All in all a fantastic day. Stay tuned for the next post, in which I hope to have a bunch of Kate’s photos of the event. Until then . . .

Getting Ready For The Off

Off to Salt City Steamfest, that is. Twenty-four hours from now, we’ll be . . . still here, actually, because we’re not planning on leaving until around midnight, give or take an hour or so.

Right now we’re sorting out dinner, then once we’re fed we’ll be gathering the stuff we’ll need for the trip. Usual stuff, of course—clothes, camera, laptop, maybe my tablet, boots in case  the weather turns wet. I wish I had some steampunk gear, but I may have to resort to buying some small items when we get there (there won’t be any $200 hats, though).

It’s exciting. We haven’t been on any trips anywhere recently, so this is going to be a nice break, even if it is short. I’ll be around the Xchyler stall/booth/table/whatever, most of the time, and I expect Kate will be wandering around the hall with her camera. I should be on a panel for a short while, too. I’ll be tweeting, and if there’s wi-fi I may be posting here or on Facebook.

I have to cut this short—time for dinner. More later.

What A Week

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted. It’s been a busy week; I haven’t had the time.

On the writing front, I’ve been trying to work on line edits for Chapter 2 of Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia. I had a few minutes here and there, but not enough time to really get into it until yesterday, when I was at last able to finish the first pass—that’s the one where I take care of the minor rewording and punctuation fixes; it helps built up some momentum for the second pass, where I deal with the bigger (but also, thankfully, far fewer) changes that require heavier rewriting.

So, right now, that’s where I am with Chapter 2: warming up with a blog post while I wait for tea to brew, then I’ll be getting into that second pass. I have every intention of getting that finished and back to my line editor today.

On the everyday stuff: Monday I took off sick (fever; no idea what brought that on), Tuesday we drove down to the INS in Denver to take care of some papers, then Wednesday it was back to day-job work—which is under a tight deadline, so I wasn’t able to get into the above-mentioned editing even during lunch breaks.

Today, we’d originally planned to go to the Colorado Renaissance Festival down in Larkspur—but we ended up watching Breaking Bad (for the first time) on Netflix until 2am. So now it’s coming up to 10:30am and I’m barely awake, and in any case the weather doesn’t look so good. So I think this is going to be an easy day at home. In a little while, once my eyes are properly open, I’ll get back into the editing.

Once that editing’s done and the chapter’s in shape, the next thing I have planned is an hour or so on the still-as-yet-untitled fantasy short story. On that one, I’d reached a scene in which the two central characters have just met, and there’s a certain amount of dialogue—but on reading it back, the conversation comes over as forced. That needs some work, then it’s on with the story. Submissions open in ten days, and it’s not likely that I’ll be finished in time to submit on day one, but I have all of August; it will be completed in time.

Another thing I want to try to take care of today is a little bit of Twitter maintenance, spurred by a post on the Xchyler Publishing blog. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a follower-farmer; I don’t do the thing where you follow a boatload at random, hope they follow back, dump the ones who don’t, rinse and repeat. I don’t see the point. I follow people who have something interesting to say—or at least, that’s the intention—and I try to read all their tweets, so that limits the number I can follow (currently that’s about a hundred and forty). But it turns out that I’m following some people who really don’t say anything beyond marketing their book (or another person’s book), and perhaps retweeting in bursts (I’m talking about individuals here; I also follow publishers, and I expect them to be marketing—that’s their business—so that’s ok with me). There are also a few who I’m following purely because I followed them back in the days before I realised what was going on with the boatload system, and I never got round to cleaning that up. It’s past time to prune that particular bush, methinks.

Next weekend, we’ll be at Salt City Steamfest! The plan is to be there all day Saturday, so come and find me—I’ll be the one not wearing much in the way of Steampunk gear (I really don’t have any just yet, and I won’t have time to get any before the show). I’ll likely be at or near the Xchyler Publishing booth most of the time, and I’ll probably be on a panel to answer a few questions at some point. It promises to be great fun, and we’re looking forward to it.

Until next time . . .

The Peripatetic Programmer

A busy few days, one way and another, hence the shortage of blog posts.

At work, I am still The Peripatetic Programmer—moving stealthily from project to project, leaving behind no trace but a trail of fixed problems. Possibly, the other developers catch sight of me as I melt into the shadows, then they say, “Who was that masked man?”

Or not. It’s Friday, it’s been busy week, and I have to say I might be a little punchy.

On the writing/editing front, I sent back line edits for Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia, Chapter 1, a couple of days ago, and I just sent what I hope will be the last copy edits for Chapter 6 about half an hour ago. Which means, at this moment, it’s all in the hands of my editors; my line editor has Chapters 1-5 and 8, and my copy editor has the rest. I could get markups back at any time, of course, but it does leave me with some time to work on the as-yet-untitled fantasy short story I’m planning to enter in Xchyler’s next anthology contest. So that’s probably how I’ll be spending this weekend.

Right now though, time for a relaxing evening. A blog post, perhaps a little blog maintenance. We’re planning a quick trip out to the local bookstore in a little while. Later, crack a can of beer and watch an episode or three of Person Of Interest. Nice.

Have a great weekend, gentle reader. Until next time . . .


I finally got through editing Chapter 11 of Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia this morning—and then Chapter 12, being very short compared to the others (only about two thousand words—not much more than an epilogue, really) followed shortly after. Then I started, and finished, the polishing pass. Chapters 9, 10, 11 AND 12 of have all gone off to my copy editor. WOOT! And . . . rest.

That’s not the end of it yet, of course. The previous versions of Chapters 6 & 7 came back with some markup, and there’s still line editing to get through, and a bit more after that—but this is a major milestone. All the heavy lifting is done, after what seems like months. Actually, it HAS been months. Much as I’ve enjoyed working on G & B, I’m looking forward to putting it to bed and getting into something different.

The Tenth Day

Tuesday morning’s post was, shall we say, a little premature. At the time I thought I was in for an easy day and an early out. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There was a slow morning, then I helped interview a couple of people, and then there was a meeting about a new project.

And then the used food hit the ventilation; a system that’s been in production for a while had developed a problem, and the people who’d developed it are no longer with us. I got drafted.

It seems I am now the resident Developer Without Portfolio—able to move stealthily from project to project, jump tall buildings in a single bound, etc.

Well, I fixed the problem. Problems, actually—there were three, it turned out. It meant a working day of eleven and a half hours, but considering that I had to pull apart a web application that I’d never been involved with and knew nothing about (I don’t even know what it’s for, really, even now), dig into its guts and figure out what was suddenly wrong with it, I don’t consider that half bad.

On top of the work I’d done at the weekend, by Tuesday night I’d worked nine days with a few hours on Sunday afternoon as the only break.

Yesterday morning, which was Wednesday, I was ready to get back to editing work on Chapter 10 of Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia. Except that I wasn’t, really. I worked on it for an hour or so, then like a racehorse that’s decided it’s had enough, my brain started refusing fences. After nine days of brain-busting, I needed a proper rest. The Tenth Day ended up being a well-deserved day of rest.

One thing I’ve learned: when editing, if I reach a point where I know I should be able to see what’s needed, but I simply can’t, it’s time to stop. If I push it, all that happens is that I have to give up on it anyway, then when I start again the next day, it’s looking back at me with red eyes and yellow fangs, daring me to grapple.

So I stopped. I saved what I’d done, backed it up, then stretched out on the sofa with a coffee and watched The Ninth Gate, then Total Recall.

A night’s sleep, and this morning I got back to work, and things are much, much better. Chapter 10 is done, gentle reader, and I’m eight pages into Chapter 11 (which is forty pages long, so there’s a way to go yet).

I have four more days after today before I have to go back to the day job, so I’m going to take it easy; get the work done, but not push so hard that I burn out. Four hours a day, maybe five, then stop. And for now, for today, I’ve stopped.

And it’s time to stop blogging, too. I need a coffee, and another movie.

Until next time . . .