How to Write a Book in Two Simple Steps

News: 07/08/14 at 02:59:15 MDT by SafePit

News “[2014Well, just past a week and I'm over a quarter of the way into the second half of my novel. I'm not sure this is the best way to write a book, but so far Camp NaNoWriMo has been a perfect excuse to scratch a long time itch. I'm no longer just reading about writing or scratching out silly blog entries, but putting thousands of words into Scrivener that I hope one day to publish for all to ridicule. Okay, I'm hoping the ridicule part isn't true, but I do want to get this book to a state that I can publish and hopefully entertain someone other than myself.

If you find your self in the same place as me, let me offer some advice. Just do it! I know, it sounds cheesy and too easy, but it really is that simple. You just need to find what motivates use and use that as a form of encouragement. For me, deadlines, reminders, and short-term targets help me focus on my long-term goals. Maybe it is the programmer in me, but breaking problems into smaller parts has always helped me to focus. In many ways, writing a novel is similar to writing a program. To start a program, I often write high level pseudocode that maps out how the program will work. This is very similar to writing an outline that guides how your story will flow. I would then flesh out each function, interactively improving them until the program is complete. When writing, I'm fleshing out each scene, iteratively improving them until I finish my story. Sure, the The syntax is a different (English Language vs. Perl or C), but both follow rules that help your audience reach a goal. Sure, a program's results are more dynamic versus the static prose of writing, but the process is very similar. I'm not assuming you are a coder, I'm just urging to look at what you have been succesful at and use those same techniques to help you write. For me, having an outline and working on scenes is similar enough to how I program. I can focus on a smaller scene of a few hundred words without worrying about how I'll write 50,000. If you find a task too big, find a way to break it down.

For the May Camp NaNoWriMo, I set reminders each day to tell me to write. It was silly, but by having them pop up on my phone as I arrived home it helped me build the habit of just writing. It worked very well, so well in fact that I don't even need the reminders this time around. My book is always in my mind and I'm thinking about how to fit it into my schedule, and push other things off. Not work mind you, I still have a day job. Not family, I still have to find time for the wife and kids. Nope, my other hobbies get shoved to the side. I still have my monthly ZX81 program, so it really means I'm not spending much time in POV-Ray or gaming. I still had to make sacrifices, but I'm enjoying the rewards from my new habit.

Which leads me back to July's Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm doing better this time around, keeping my focus on writing. Like I said, I'm not having to force or remind myself to write as much this time around. The outline I created before Camp started is much broader this time, focused at the chapter level. This gives me more flexibility when writing scenes. I can add or cut them on a whim and not feel constrained. I may not always know what I'm going to write each day, but I always get something down on paper. Hey, it's a first draft. Don't worry too much if things don't always add up just right.

One other thing I'm realizing is that I don't have to write every scene from beginning to end. Since I have a general outline I can actually work on a scene in any chapter. For example, yesterday I actually wrote most of the ending scene of my novel. I had a good idea in my head about how I wanted to end the book and decided I better get it down before I forget it. I think we often get hung up on how we should do things, when we should be challenging our norms. Like my structure problem, I found that once I shook myself from having to write linearly I was free to write what came to mind. Now, I could meet my daily targets and write down interesting scenes as they came to me.

Since Camp NaNoWriMo has a set goal in a set time period, it is pretty easy to chunk that out into a daily goal. Camp is a bit more flexible than the NaNoWriMo in November, but I stuck with the default 50,000 words. I used Scrivener to set my target and it automatically sets your daily target to reach your goal. If you use the NaNoWriMo demo version, it includes a template with the target already set for you. Now you can now track how well you're doing while writing. I found this very helpful in ensuring that I didn't quit too early. Sometimes I didn't need it, but it helped on days when I was struggling to write and needed a bit of encouragement to get me through it. Your mileage may vary, but it worked for me. You can also just count your words and enter it on the NaNoWriMo site to track your daily progress. Or, like me, do both.

But wait, doesn't that title say two simple steps? Why yes. Yes it does. Those two steps were May and July. Confused? Don't be. Let me tell you that 50K isn't much. For a first book, it may seem very daunting. It was for me. But as I got closer and closer to the that target, I came to realize that 50K words isn't enough. My plot had outgrown my original outline and I realized that I had a lot more to tell. Plus, 50K is a pretty short book, about 120 pages. 100K words is realistic, about 240 pages. That is a good novel size, especially for Sci-Fi. Since Camp is two months, separated by a month in between, I realized that I was actually writing two halves of my novel. Having that month in between really helped me take a breath. I stopped writing, allowing myself to think about what went right, what went wrong, and what changes I could make. This resulted in my writing becoming two: May and July. See, easy pease.

Okay, one last thing. You don't have to wait for Camp NaNoWriMo. Find your own cadence, create your own targets or even split your writing up over a couple of years. Whatever works for you. The trick is starting. Just do it!
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Tags: book  camp  NaNoWriMo  novel  programming  Scrivener  writing 

How to Write a Book in Two Simple Steps

News: 07/08/14 at 02:59:15 MDT by SafePit

News “[2014Well, just past a week and I'm over a quarter of the way into the second half of my novel. I'm not sure this is the best way to write a book, but so far Camp NaNoWriMo has been a perfect excuse to scratch a long time itch. I'm no longer just reading about writing or scratching out silly blog entries, but putting thousands of words into Scrivener that I hope one day to publish for all to ridicule. Okay, I'm hoping the ridicule part isn't true, but I do want to get this book to a state that I can publish and hopefully entertain someone other than myself.

If you find your self in the same place as me, let me offer some advice. Just do it! I know, it sounds cheesy and too easy, but it really is that simple. You just need to find what motivates use and use that as a form of encouragement. For me, deadlines, reminders, and short-term targets help me focus on my long-term goals. Maybe it is the programmer in me, but breaking problems into smaller parts has always helped me to focus. In many ways, writing a novel is similar to writing a program. To start a program, I often write high level pseudocode that maps out how the program will work. This is very similar to writing an outline that guides how your story will flow. I would then flesh out each function, interactively improving them until the program is complete. When writing, I'm fleshing out each scene, iteratively improving them until I finish my story. Sure, the The syntax is a different (English Language vs. Perl or C), but both follow rules that help your audience reach a goal. Sure, a program's results are more dynamic versus the static prose of writing, but the process is very similar. I'm not assuming you are a coder, I'm just urging to look at what you have been succesful at and use those same techniques to help you write. For me, having an outline and working on scenes is similar enough to how I program. I can focus on a smaller scene of a few hundred words without worrying about how I'll write 50,000. If you find a task too big, find a way to break it down.

For the May Camp NaNoWriMo, I set reminders each day to tell me to write. It was silly, but by having them pop up on my phone as I arrived home it helped me build the habit of just writing. It worked very well, so well in fact that I don't even need the reminders this time around. My book is always in my mind and I'm thinking about how to fit it into my schedule, and push other things off. Not work mind you, I still have a day job. Not family, I still have to find time for the wife and kids. Nope, my other hobbies get shoved to the side. I still have my monthly ZX81 program, so it really means I'm not spending much time in POV-Ray or gaming. I still had to make sacrifices, but I'm enjoying the rewards from my new habit.

Which leads me back to July's Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm doing better this time around, keeping my focus on writing. Like I said, I'm not having to force or remind myself to write as much this time around. The outline I created before Camp started is much broader this time, focused at the chapter level. This gives me more flexibility when writing scenes. I can add or cut them on a whim and not feel constrained. I may not always know what I'm going to write each day, but I always get something down on paper. Hey, it's a first draft. Don't worry too much if things don't always add up just right.

One other thing I'm realizing is that I don't have to write every scene from beginning to end. Since I have a general outline I can actually work on a scene in any chapter. For example, yesterday I actually wrote most of the ending scene of my novel. I had a good idea in my head about how I wanted to end the book and decided I better get it down before I forget it. I think we often get hung up on how we should do things, when we should be challenging our norms. Like my structure problem, I found that once I shook myself from having to write linearly I was free to write what came to mind. Now, I could meet my daily targets and write down interesting scenes as they came to me.

Since Camp NaNoWriMo has a set goal in a set time period, it is pretty easy to chunk that out into a daily goal. Camp is a bit more flexible than the NaNoWriMo in November, but I stuck with the default 50,000 words. I used Scrivener to set my target and it automatically sets your daily target to reach your goal. If you use the NaNoWriMo demo version, it includes a template with the target already set for you. Now you can now track how well you're doing while writing. I found this very helpful in ensuring that I didn't quit too early. Sometimes I didn't need it, but it helped on days when I was struggling to write and needed a bit of encouragement to get me through it. Your mileage may vary, but it worked for me. You can also just count your words and enter it on the NaNoWriMo site to track your daily progress. Or, like me, do both.

But wait, doesn't that title say two simple steps? Why yes. Yes it does. Those two steps were May and July. Confused? Don't be. Let me tell you that 50K isn't much. For a first book, it may seem very daunting. It was for me. But as I got closer and closer to the that target, I came to realize that 50K words isn't enough. My plot had outgrown my original outline and I realized that I had a lot more to tell. Plus, 50K is a pretty short book, about 120 pages. 100K words is realistic, about 240 pages. That is a good novel size, especially for Sci-Fi. Since Camp is two months, separated by a month in between, I realized that I was actually writing two halves of my novel. Having that month in between really helped me take a breath. I stopped writing, allowing myself to think about what went right, what went wrong, and what changes I could make. This resulted in my writing becoming two: May and July. See, easy pease.

Okay, one last thing. You don't have to wait for Camp NaNoWriMo. Find your own cadence, create your own targets or even split your writing up over a couple of years. Whatever works for you. The trick is starting. Just do it!
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Tags: book  camp  NaNoWriMo  novel  programming  Scrivener  writing 

June's Program: Monster Maker

Programming: 06/08/14 at 20:53:19 MDT by SafePit

Programming [Monster Maker, 1983]Okay I haven’t finished my remake of Joust yet, nor did I want to wait until the last week of the month to get an article out. Instead, I offer you Monster Maker as June’s monthly program. It’s pretty straight forward and anti-climatic against the power of today’s programs. Once you load it, enter in five numbers and type your monster’s name. That’s it. The program will then display a nicely formatted monster description based on your input.

You can read more of this article or head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: maker  monster  monthly  program  zx81 

May's Program: Joust

Programming: 05/28/14 at 21:08:15 MDT by SafePit

Programming [Joust, 1984]I actually started working on May’s program of the month, Joust, about three weeks ago. My goal was to update the program to a faster and more fluid MCODER version. Sadly, things haven’t gone so well. Pressed for time, I will leave you instead with my original take on this popular arcade from the 80s. This version, I created several, was pulled from one of my cassette tapes. Given this is a 9K program, loading it on a real ZX81 would take several minutes. Due to the magic of modern technology, you can now load this in seconds. Use the “Z” key to move left, the “.” key to move up and the “N” key to flap up. Since this is a ZX81, you can’t hold down multiple keys simultaneously. This shouldn’t be much of a problem as this BASIC program is pretty slow. Given the limitations of the ZX81, it doesn’t look too bad. Overall, however, the game pretty much sucks.

Head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: joust  monthly  program  zx81 

April's ZX81 Program: Flywheel

Programming: 04/27/14 at 01:32:49 MDT by SafePit

Programming “[Flywheel,April has been a crazy month. I decided to try something new, pushed along by an unexpected event. I'm writing a book.

Not wanting to skip a month, I dug into my past for April's program of the month. From my first ZX81 site, I present Flywheel. It is an easy to play racing game. Just dodge the oncoming tail lights using the "Z" and "." keys to move left and right. Take off from the starting line, pass the cars, avoid the curves, and have fun! You'll rack up about 500 to 1000 points per round. How high a score can you achieve?

Head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: flywheel  monthly  program  zx81 

March's ZX81 Program: The Ball Redux

Programming: 03/29/14 at 16:44:20 MDT by SafePit

Programming [The Ball, 1983/2012/2014]For March's program of the month, I drew inspiration from one of my older demo’s, The Ball. Like many young kids from the early eighties using BASIC, I took a stab at animating a bouncing ball. It is a a relatively easy program to write depending on how complex you want to make the math. In my case, it is very simple math, no physics involved here. I wanted something a little more interesting, however, and decided to add curtains. As the ball moves behind them them it changes colors. The Ball is still a very slow demo though, so in 2012 I sped it up by compiling it with MCODER II. This month’s program is based on both versions, merged together to show you the difference between them. The Ball Redux combines a little old with a little new, but at its core is still my original program.

Head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: ball  monthly  program  zx81 

40065 Blue Jay

Photography: 05/15/13 at 00:02:00 MDT by SafePit

Photography LEGO's May mini build was a Blue Jay. I thought he'd look better in a tree which I modeled in LDD. I rendered the scene with POV-Ray 3.7RC7.


40065 Blue Jay by SafePit, on Flickr [ View Article ]

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Tags: 40065  blue  build  jay  ldd  lego  mini  monthly  povray  render  tree 

Fixing for IE10 and Other Updates

Internet: 05/11/13 at 23:33:40 MDT by SafePit

Internet I happened to load my sites into IE10 the other day and noticed the reflections were broken. Generally, I wouldn’t care much as I don’t use IE except at work. However, I thought it best that things not continue to look different. I updated reflection.js to the latest version. I also updated jquery.js as it was a bit outdated as well. So far things are looking better. I did notice my site was loading a bit slower though. I’m not sure if this is the new code or something else. I’ll keep watch and update you if something else is amiss.

I also updated hyphenator today. I use it my site to enforce hyphenation in words which generally improves readability. I noticed a bug in IE10 that causes it not to search words correctly when using the hyphenation. There is an option in the new version of hyphenator to use CSS3 hyphenation. This fixes the problem in IE10 which supports it. However, it breaks hyphenation in Google Chrome. That doesn’t look good. I decided to just stay on the latest version of code but with the IE10 bug in place for now.

Lastly, I thought I'd try again to get ligatures working. I spent an evening last week applying new styles and trying to update my fonts to a version that did support them. Sadly, even fonts that said they supported ligatures failed. I really wanted to try to support better topography settings. For now I don’t feel the effort is worth the results.

Feedback, comments and other ideas are always welcome! [ View Article ]

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Tags: chrome  css  font  hypen  hyphenator  ie10  javascript  jquery  ligature  reflection  style  typography 

DISH CINEMA Userbar (Updated)

Programming: 05/05/13 at 21:57:01 MDT by SafePit

Programming As part of my periodic check of my userbar code, I found that DISH once again changed their pay-per-view (PPV) web page causing my DISH PPV userbar to break. I’ve fixed it again and it now displays a pretty good choice of featured movies. Although events are still included, I dropped them due to the number of movies returned. I probably should turn that into a separate userbar. I also didn’t included new releases as I found they were also listed in the featured movie section. Lastly, since DISH is now promoting “DISH CINEMA” as their PPV brand, I’ve also updated the text as well to note the change in branding.


 Put in image source or UUB tag: http://​3v.​reids4fun.​com/dishppv.cgiView Article ]

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Tags: animated  cinema  dish  event  featured  gif  new  ppv  ub  userbar 

6364 Paramedic Unit (Updated) and 40041 Moose

Photography: 05/04/13 at 17:36:23 MDT by SafePit

Photography I'm a little behind in sharing some of my recent LEGO renders. I have an updated version of 6364 that includes the flowers out front and tilted windows. I also fixed a few misplaced pieces. I also have tried to get all my Windows software moved over to my MAC. As such I rendered this image with POV-Ray 3.7RC6 MAC-Beta.


6364 Paramedic Unit by SafePit, on Flickr

I rendered the second image back in December, but apparently forgot to share here. LEGO 40041 Moose is the Monthly Mini Model Build for Dec '12. I rendered the moose with with POV-Ray 3.7RC6 for Windows. The telescope piece (legs) are from LDraw. I was too lazy to make them from scratch.


40041 Moose by SafePit, on Flickr [ View Article ]

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Tags: 3.7rc6  40041  6364  beta  build  december  lego  mac  mini  model  moose  paramedic  povray  render  unit  updated  windows 

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