Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rejected

"Rejected" - Photo by Oppet2

Well, 50 Days have come and gone, and I'm still not rich or famous. However, I am a little closer to fulfilling my dream. As many of you know, back on June 19th, Father’s Day, I made my first official submission to a publishing company – Black Library – in honor of my father. Black Library has a policy that they don’t send out rejection letters, instead, you have to wait 8 weeks after the submission deadline – in this case June 30th - and if you haven’t heard from them during that time period, then you can consider your submission rejected.

Today marks the end of that particular quest for me. Rejected.

Surprisingly, I feel pretty good, despite the rejection. Obviously, if given the choice, I would much rather they had accepted my submission, but not all is lost. The process of getting material ready for submission was a great learning experience. For one, I learned how to write with a deadline looming over my head. Granted, I had experienced this many times before in college, but its one thing to be under pressure to write for a good grade, it’s quite another when the future of your career is on the line. I also learned the importance of having a solid Synopsis and Summary, required elements by most publishers.

Most importantly, in the end, I have over 8,000 words of science fiction written that I feel very proud of, and while Hawk Rancore may never grace the pages of Black Library, he will always hold a special place in my memory banks. Writing is never a waist, published or not. The process of developing interesting characters, a solid story arc, and a seamless plot lend themselves to good practice. Like many other aspects of our lives, sometimes we learn and grow much more from failing than succeeding.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Interview: Author & Mega Blogger Dan Pearce

Dan and Noah of Single Dad Laughing

Sometimes you come across people who are truly inspiring, and Dan Pearce, of Single Dad Laughing is one of them. Dan was able to take a tragic event in his personal life and change it into something beautiful - a blog for us Dad's (parents of all types really). Looking for a place to vent (and cry), Dan started Single Dad Laughing back in the summer of 2010. Within a year's time, Dan's blog had skyrocketed to the outer internet stratosphere! Now with over 65,000 Facebook fans, over 100,000 subscribers, and MILLIONS of page views every month, Dan has become a blogging superstar.


On Single Dad Laughing, Dan shares his experiences of being a single father and stories about his AWESOME adopted son, Noah. Seeing that he is such a mega-star these days, I'm extremely grateful that Dan was able to take some time to share his thoughts on self-publishing with me. Dan inspired me to start my own blog, Defying Procrastination, and also helped me design it. For that, I am truly grateful. Thanks Dan!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Interview: Author, Publisher, and Game Designer Monte Cook

Author, Publisher, Game Designer - Monte Cook

You don’t have to be a “gamer” to be a fan of Monte Cook’s work, although, if you are, he certainly needs no introduction from me. For those of you who aren’t gamers, however, a brief history of Monte Cook might be in order.

Monte has been authoring and editing books and game systems professionally for more than 20 years, and has compiled an impressive resume of published works. He got his start writing, editing, and designing for Rolemaster and Champions back in 1988. From there, he took those key roles to TSR (now Wizards of the Coast), which led to one of his greatest contributions to role-players abroad - the complete redesign of Dungeons & Dragons that gave us 3rd Edition D&D.

As part of that redesign, Monte Cook wrote the 3rd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, which ushered in a new age in the role-playing that has had a long lasting and positive effect on gamers around the world. 3rd Edition introduced us to a much more streamlined and manageable set of role-plying rules – the D20 System. This open-licensened system crashed open the doors for both new players and new game designers alike.

Monte now owns and operates his own publishing company, Malhavoc Press, with his wife Sue. Under the Malhavoc Press banner they have produced several impressive titles including: The Book of Eldritch Might, Arcana Unearthed, and the campaign setting, Ptolus.

Being a fan of his work, and a geek in general, I contacted Monte to see if he would allow me the opportunity to pick his brain on publishing in the field of role-playing games. I’ve often thought it would be an amazing experience to be able to design and write fiction for role-playing games, and what better person to ask than Monte Cook? I was both honored and excited when Monte graciously said, “Yes... thanks for thinking of me.” 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Some Things are Sacred

"Money Rules Man" by Ben Heine
To possess the wisdom and forethought when I was young that I do now would surely have been a sacred blessing. As I have gotten older my priorities in life have changed drastically. Instead of looking into the future as an endless and boundless journey, I have come to realize just how finite the road that lies ahead of me really is. Time is running out; I have nearly reached the middle of my expedition (at least I hope so) and what motivates me now in my career choice has not differed than it did twenty years ago: money. I must make a lot of money, but not for the same reasons as when I was a young man.

No longer am I driven to the single-minded pursuit of the stereotypical American Dream. No longer am I motivated by society’s standards that constantly tug, pull, and drive me as an American to “make more money,” which is peddled as the modern yellow brick road that promises to lead me to "Paradise." The root of happiness is nurtured and grows from within; a lesson I learned thanks in part to the quipping escapades that life has dragged me through. Happiness should be the pursuit of what cultivates the heart, not what grants us the ability to gather more inanimate objects that will soon, like us, rot and return to the earth. As author William Faulkner said in his Nobel Prize Award speech, we should, “help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Slide Rule: A Chick Magnet Plus Other Practical Uses

William Oughtred
If you were to place a modern calculator into the hands of famed mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, it is quite likely you would garner much the same quizzical reaction by placing a slide rule into the hands of a present day math student. While they both have the familiarity of numbers printed upon their surfaces and both can be used to multiply and divide large numbers, their mode of operation is quite different.

The invention of the slide rule has widely been accredited to English mathematician William Oughtred. It is believed that Oughtred came up with the idea of the slide rule in 1622 after leaving the University of Cambridge, formerly known as The King's College of Our Lady and St. Nicholas. In truth, had it not been for the prior works of John Napier and Edmund Gunter, the existence of the slide rule would have fallen into the same mind numbing dilemma of “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

In 1614 Scottish mathematician and physicist John Napier forged the idea of logarithms (Greek for "ratio-number") as a way to multiply and divide large numbers more easily. However, it was difficult to conceive and apply this new mathematical concept without some form of visual reference as a guide. In 1620, English astronomer Edmund Gunter took Napier’s logarithmic concept a step further by creating a two-foot long scale that mapped out these logs. Then two years later, William came up with the idea of placing two of Gunter’s scales together as a way to calculate large numbers even more quickly. Thus the concept of the slide rule was born. One could argue that English mathematician Henry Briggs also played a key role in the development of the slide rule since it was he who, in 1617, converted Napier’s original logarithmic concept into the base 10 system we know today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Robert E. Howard: 75 Years of Silence - Part 3

Me sitting in Robert E. Howard's room at his
writing table.
[PART 1] [PART 2]

After we left the dining room, our next stop was the kitchen. While the kitchen had been restored and decorated with period appliances and decorations, the main attraction was the large assortment of Robert E. Howard memorabilia displayed about the room. The first thing that caught my eye was the huge map of Hyboria hanging on the wall, which was donated to the museum by one of his fans. Some other interesting items of note were: a notebook containing the genealogy of the Howard Family, the original glass display case from the local drug store where Robert worked for a time as a soda jerk, a collection of books by fellow author and best friend Tevis Clyde Smith, a work table that was likely used by Robert to fold papers when he worked for the Cross Plains Review newspaper, a picture of Robert E. Howard taken outside of his house with his trusted canine friend Patches (framed with pieces from the original picket fence that was destroyed in a tornado in 1994), memorabilia from the filming of the movie about his life, “The Whole Wide World,” and finally, Robert’s high school annual from when he attended Brownwood High School his senior year.

While these items were certainly interesting in their own right, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the room across the hall – Robert E. Howard’s bedroom – where he tapped away at his typewriter and created the numerous worlds of fantasy and fiction that millions around the world still enjoy to this day.

One of the last checks Howard received for his work, nearly a month after his death. 

A rope draped across the entrance to his room kept anyone attempting to enter at bay. To my surprise Anne, our tour guide, asked, “Would you like to sit in his chair?” My mouth said, “I’d love to,” but my mind was screaming, HELL YES! She carefully removed the rope and I was in. There were many interesting items displayed throughout the room, but I couldn’t resist sitting at Howard’s writing desk first. As I sat down and placed my fingers on the old Underwood No. 5 typewriter – a similar one, but not the original owned by Howard – I began to imagine myself as Howard, and what it must have been like to tap away at this archaic piece of machinery for hours and days at a time in the hot Texas heat without air conditioning, error correction, or a spell checker. GASP!