Vacation

What I Did On My Holidays

THIS is more of a diary entry than anything else. Most pro writers agree you should write something every day. And so…

Dear diary…

I took extra days off work to bridge the gap between the Labor Day weekend and the next, so I have a nine day break, of which I have three and a half days left. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Writing Stuff

ON Sunday I went through a three-and-a-half hour editing marathon that finished the long-running first pass of The Artemis Device at long last. That went off to my editor the next day, so now it’s just a matter of waiting until she gets a chance to look at it from her side and start feeding back suggestions for improvements. Not holding my breath, as I know she has at least two other projects on her plate right now.

So the plan is to get started into my own self-editing pass of the next project, Smoke & Mirrors. I’ve deliberately taken a breather before I get on with that, but now I feel ready and I’ll probably get to it tomorrow or even (time permitting) later today.

I’ve also been writing a series of blog posts about Google Chrome. You might have seen them. I have a couple more written and scheduled to auto-publish over the next few days.

Bought a New Printer

OLD printer was old. It kept getting clogged print heads and was having problems feeding paper. So I took advantage of a Labor Day special at Office Depot, and got a nice new printer for $50. It’s wifi so we can set it up pretty much anywhere, and thanks to Google Cloud Print we can print stuff directly from phones and tablets from anywhere we have an Internet connection. Nice.

Watching TV

NO vacation would be complete without some actual rest, and in my case that means lying in bed and watching TV. I watch quite a bit on my tablet using the Netflix app. Recently I’ve been watching The 4400, which despite being more than ten years old, I’d never heard of until recently. I’ve also been re-watching Warehouse 13. Fun show, that. I actually wanted to watch The Dresden Files again, but it’s disappeared from Netflix (why? WHY?), so I’ll have to see about buying it on DVD, if it’s even available.

Reading

CHUCK Wendig’s Miriam Black books, a book about writing (The Snowflake Method), and Ian Watson’s God’s World (which is SF, by the way, not a bible tract).

Pest Control

THE warm weather brought with it an influx of insects. Earwigs (which seem to have died down without help from me), and tiny little red ants which (thank you, Internet) I was able to identify as grease ants. I bought some stuff from Home Depot that took care of that problem in two or three days, and they haven’t come back. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

That’s enough for now. Until next time . . .

Various Sundry Items

I haven’t written anything here for ages… Since March, apparently.

No excuses. Yes, I’ve been really, really busy at the day job, and that hasn’t left a lot of time for much else. But if I’m honest, I could have probably found a few minutes here and there to put a post or two together. I have most definitely been remiss. But anyway, things have slowed down a bit, so—at least for the time being—I do have a bit more time. And so…

Writing Progress

WORK on The Artemis Device was going very slowly until recently (same reasons—not enough free time) but the last week or so has seen a change in that. I finished a related set of new scenes that I’ve been bashing my head against for a while. I have notes in place for seven or eight more, yet to be written, and I’ll be getting into those soon. Under normal circumstances I’d be doing that over the weekend, but there are other things around the house that I really must take care of: there are boxes in the basement and garage that need to be unpacked and reorganised, and I’m planning a big push on that tomorrow. If I can hit my targets, I might be able to spend some time Sunday working on writing. Fingers crossed on that.

I also did find some time to do a little bit of editing work on the Smoke and Mirrors project. Mostly just reading it back through, looking for obvious mistakes. That one is on the back burner for the foreseeable future, though.

Well, it turns out this is going to be just a short post. It’s Friday afternoon, I’ve just finished the day job work, and now I have to go and run a few errands. But I will be making more of an effort to post here more often. I promise.

Until next time…

Resurrection

THE aftermath of the house move continues . . .

We’re still basically recovering from the move. (Yes, I know, it’s been well over a week. We’re taking our time, and in any case after several weeks of back breaking work followed by a killer weekend—see the previous post—I think we deserve to go at our own pace. That’s our excuse and we’re sticking with it.)

Bathrooms have been cleared of boxes and fully usable pretty much since day one, except for one that’s waiting for me to hang a new shower door. The kitchen is, as of last weekend, fully usable. The master bedroom is usable but still has a lot of boxes on the floor; much the same is true of the office. The living room is still a bit of a disaster area, although it’s not as bad as it looks because there’s a sofa and love seat hidden under the boxes—so there aren’t as many boxes as it appears.

As a result of all that, writing is still suffering some. I’ve managed a couple of hundred words on the Gunn & Bohemia sequel, and that’s all. The problem isn’t really that the house thing is taking time away from writing (it is, but not too badly) so much as that it’s been really, really hard to get my writing momentum back. I need to just write—any old thing at all will do, whether it’s a blog post or a throw-away few hundred words of fiction or an idea for a story. Hence this blog post.

A while ago I mentioned that I need to write something every day. The house move killed that. I need to resurrect it.

Until next time . . .

Is This Thing On?

Back On The Air

I haven’t had time to catch my breath, let alone write even a short blog post, for a couple of weeks. I haven’t even found time for Twitter. My laptop was packed up, and there were some problems getting Internet up and running in the new place (but that’s nothing next to the problems I had getting the phone working; I won’t go into that here). However . . .

The House Move Thing

THE house move is OVER.

Or at least, the worst part—the actual moving of all our stuff from the old place to the new—is all done. We still have piles of boxes cluttering up just about every room, closet, and hallway, waiting to be opened and emptied into cabinets and onto shelves, but that can be done at a relatively leisurely pace.

Relative to what? The answer to that centres on the fact that the last week has been a nightmare. It became obvious that going the way we were, trying to pack and move just about everything on our own just using a car, was going to take weeks. So we called around and found a moving company that could help at short notice, and with their help we got all the larger things and a lot of the packed up stuff moved over. (I’d already loaded a three-seater sofa and matching two-seater love seat onto our rented truck single-handed; not bad for someone as out of shape as I am. I really need to get more exercise.)

That still left a LOT of smaller things. We worked—and I mean worked, hard—for forty, count’em, forty, hours, with only the shortest breaks for food and drinks. By around the thirty hour mark I was so tired I was hallucinating; my eyes made people out of shadows, I kept thinking I could see men in the corners of the rooms and under the truck. In my whackedness I managed to cause a shelf unit to overbalance and fall on Kate’s shoulder, then I couldn’t get a grip on the damned thing to lift it off her.

I finally got the last things out, and locked up the old place, just before midnight Sunday. Then I went to the new place, climbed into the bed, and died. (I truly expected to sleep for at least twelve hours, but woke up after about six. I still don’t feel like I’ve had enough sleep the last couple of days.)

And now, as I mentioned, we have a lot of unpacking ahead of us. The kitchen and living room are basically unusable because the floors are covered with boxes. My office desk was that way, too, until circumstances this morning forced me to do a rush job of clearing enough space to set up the work laptop. But I have to say that, even with the remaining clutter around me, working at this desk (I’m sitting behind it right now) is a dream. A few more days of organising things, then I think I should be able to allow myself some time to get back to writing. And about time, too.

One good thing for now is that I have some time for blogging, Twitter, and so on, so expect to see more activity there.

Until next time, gentle reader . . .

Overdue

Now Is The Time . . .

IT has been far too long since I posted here. Basically the house move—which I thought would be behind us by now—has taken every spare moment. Today I’m taking a rest break from the moving, because frankly I’ve had enough of it today, on top of day job work. And I need to write something, before I die of writing withdrawal, and a blog post is just the thing.

The House Move Thing

AS noted, we are STILL moving house, but the end is in sight. I could go ahead right here, right now, and say we’ll be in the new place by this time next week . . . but that would probably be the kiss of death, tempting providence, and things of that nature. So I’ll just say that I hope we’ll be in by this time next week. There’s still a chunk of work to take care of, but it’s really not so bad.

The floors were done some time ago, and a whole bunch of cleaning and fixing up has been done. Desks have been built. Clean, new appliances have been installed, and dirty old appliances have been removed. Bookcases are in place and books are on shelves. And three quarters of the basement in the old place has been cleared—some of the stuff having been moved to the new place, some stacked up as trash to be disposed of, and some items marked for donation to our local Habitat For Humanity place. (No, I don’t donate to Goodwill since I read that every penny they make from sales of items given to them for nothing is pure profit—they don’t actually give anything to charity.) One more room in the basement to take care of, then three rooms on the ground floor. Then the final step—call in professional movers to take care of the big stuff I can’t manage myself, such as sofas and beds and the fridge, etc.

Why has it taken so long? Simple: we’re doing most of it ourselves. In other moves we’ve done, we’ve had professionals to load our stuff onto trucks at one end and unload at the other, and everything’s been done in a matter of hours or maybe a couple of days. This time, the old place and the new one are but minutes apart, so I’ve been able to shift a lot of stuff just using my car. But that’s meant I’ve had to do it after work and at weekends, and time is limited—as are other things, such as the number of arms I have, the amount of space in my car, and the number of hours in a day.

The Writing Thing

ALL of this has meant that everything not related to house moving or the day job has been pushed to a back burner that’s so far to the back, it’s actually over the hills and far away. That includes blogging (until now, of course), writing, gaming, and even Twitter (which might seem insane—you’d think I’d be able to find time for the odd tweet, but honestly I’ve been so absorbed with everything else that most times it hasn’t even occurred to me to tweet anything at all).

So I’m behind schedule with writing work on the Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia sequel. But once we’re in the new place, I have a brand new (and might I say, awesome) desk in a room that’s our dedicated office, and working in there is going to be a dream. I can’t wait.

The Day Job Thing

ACTUALLY, I was going to say a few words about what I’ve been up to at work. Frankly, I can’t be bothered. Admit it: you don’t really care anyway, and unless you’re a Java web application developer I might as well be writing in Swahili. So enough said about that.

The Smoking/Vaping Thing

THE last time I lit a real cigarette was June 10, so if my arithmetic is correct, today marks thirty-six days without burning tobacco. Hoorays and cheers are in order, I think.

The Gaming Thing

AGAIN, as noted above, I haven’t had time to play any games. And that, just like not having time to write, is getting me twitched-up. I long to spend a couple of hours playing Freelancer, or Sir, You Are Being Hunted, or Unreal, or Serious Sam, or Half-Life, or Portal, or any of a dozen other games. Maybe if I make some good progress with moving stuff to the new house over the next three or four days, I’ll reward myself with a game break. Got to get those priorities right . . . but then ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY. (For some reason I have an urge to write that again a few times.)

The Competition Thing

A few posts back I announced a contest in which readers had a chance to name a character in the Gunn & Bohemia sequel (see that post for details). Well, one or two new reviews popped up, but nobody contacted me so there’s no official winner. However, since I’ve no time to work on the book at all, I’ve decided to extend the deadline. You’ve got until July 31. Get yourself a copy of Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia, post a review on Amazon, and send me a note through the Contact page (link on the tabs at the top of this page), and you’ll get your chance. Go on, you know you want to.

Until next time . . .

I Don’t Always Write Blog Posts . . .

. . . BUT when I do, I try to make them interesting, and mention at least a little about what’s been going on since the last post. However, I’ve noticed that recently—according to my WordPress stats—I’ve gained more than a handful of new followers. If you’re one of the new followers then Welcome, gentle reader. For the new readers I’m going to put a little more background than usual into this post. And don’t forget to explore the other pages through the link tabs at the top. In particular, take a look at the Social page and consider following me on Twitter, too.

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The Day Job

BY profession I’m a Java web application developer. A few months ago the company I work for had a little bit of an unintentional downsizing, by which I mean that several of our other developers, by coincidence, all gave notice at about the same time—and as a result of that, my workload more than doubled as those other guys’ project work was dumped in my lap. So for several weeks I was working late nights and weekends, catching up with all the outstanding bug fixes.

Several weeks on, just about all of those bugs have been fixed, and so I’m back to regular maintenance on all those various applications. Which means I’m back to normal hours without the late nights and weekends. I’m even getting time in some of my lunch breaks to manage a little bit of writing.

Now that all the urgent work is done, I’ve also been spending some time evaluating some new software—web application frameworks, to be specific—to see what the next generation of our software should be using. For what it’s worth, we evaluated JSF (JavaServer Faces) and found it wanting; next up, I’m writing a small application using Apache Wicket to see how that goes, and so far it looks promising—at least, it gets away from JSPs (JavaServer Pages), which can only be a good thing.

Moving House

WE bought a new house, and we’ve been moving a few things in and getting the place ready to take the bigger furniture. Right now there’s not much we can do until some of the flooring has been replaced—but that’s just a few days away, now, and then we can get ourselves properly into the new place. And I can’t wait.

What I’m Writing

NOT that I should need to say, because it’s plastered all over this site, but I wrote Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia, a steampunk action adventure story that was published last year. Now I’m working on a sequel, which—with a little luck—should have a first draft complete by the end of August (at least, that’s the target I’ve set myself). The timeline, which is a scene-by-scene version of the story from beginning to end, is complete; that gives me a plan to work to. The first few scenes have been written, but progress has been slow. The good news is, the pace is picking up and I expect to get back to full momentum on that within a week or two, especially when the house move is behind us.

What I’m Reading

RIGHT now I’m reading Kingdom City by Ben Ireland. I’m only a couple of chapters in, so far.

What I’m Smoking

IF you’ve read back a few posts, you’ll have seen the post about how I’ve been switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. On that, just a quick update: it’s going very well. Thanks to the e-cig as a way to stave off the craving I was down to about three “real” cigs a day. Then came another milestone: I haven’t smoked even one “real” cigarette in the last three days. Very pleased with that.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted

LAST word: I play some computer games as relaxation. I used to play World of Warcraft a lot (although I haven’t played in months now), and I’m also a big fan of the Half-Life games and their close cousins, the Portal series. Recently I found out about a game called Sir, You Are Being Hunted, which is variously described as steampunk and tweedpunk (is that a new word?). It’s a survival-stealth game, which under normal circumstances would have put me off because I’m not a fan of that genre (I tried playing Thief once, and detested it), but I’m finding Sir to be more than a little bit addictive. I mean, killer robots wearing country tweeds and smoking pipes. What’s not to like?

Until next time . . .

We Bought A House . . .

. . . which is why I’ve been so lax on the writing, blogging, tweeting, facebooking, and google-plussing (are these even words?) front over the last few days. Since we closed the deal and got the keys last Friday, it’s been all hands to the pumps—mowing grass, cleaning, painting, and doing some small fix-ups like fixing a broken door handle and getting the sprinklers working. So this is just a brief note while I sip the last of my coffee before I head back to the new place and carry on painting the porch. But I’m planning on being a bit more active on the Twitter front at least, while I do some more odd-jobbing. There might even be photos! Follow @PeteFordWriter as I take on the second coat, and maybe even scrub the garage floor. Go on, you know you want to.