Monday, February 15, 2010


Frothing at the Mouth has moved. Find the continuing saga here:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Some Changes Coming

Over the past week, motivated by the problems I had with Zen Cart, I have been experimenting with using WordPress for not only the online e-fiction store, but also my entire web site. I posted links inside Codex Writers Group to elicit some feedback and the response was unanimous toward favoring the Wordpress site.

If you would like to compare the two sites, you can see them by following the below links. First, some caveats:

1. The WordPress site is still under construction and the text color on many of the pages is still a dull gray that will be changing.
2. The Wordpress link will change eventually, so if you are reading this well after it is posted, the links might not work the way they work today.

Current web site:

Proposed new Wordpress site:

If I do make the move, which now seems likely, my blogging will probably move away from Blogger onto Wordpress unless I can find some way to cross-post.

Regardless, I am interested in feedback comparing the two sites.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Zen Cart Roadblock

I hit a brick wall with Zen Cart today. Fellow writer Eric James Stone develops web sites for his day job. We were on the phone discussing the Zen Cart install that I had going and discovered it to be very cumbersome to set a file up for download. While I'm not completely decided on removing the zen Cart install, I am going to give some serious consideration to another alternative he suggested that uses a Wordpress plugin.

While I like poking around in html and I'm comfortable in it for my home page, there are a few things I'd like to do with the web site that I haven't done yet. One of those is incorporating this blog into the web site itself rather than making people go to Blogger to find it. Wordpress makes that easy, but I think blogger can be embedded into my home page as well. Research time.

On the other hand, I haven't really found a Wordpress web site that I am all gaga over. So, I have a few alternatives. Move completely to Wordpress, move the store only to Wordpress, or migrate gradually. I think I'll sleep on it and ponder the problem more tomorrow.

On the other hand, I did generate my very first e-format short story as a pdf file. That's the first step. I know there are other formats, but I think it looks pretty good. Here is the cover image.

Zen Cart Progress

I have tried twice in the past to install Zen Cart. During yesterday's install, I remembered why it was unsuccessful in the past. At one point, there are files that need to be made read-only. I know how to do that, but I could never access the UNIX command line to do it. Yesterday, I managed to get into an ugly and clumsy GUI interface that allowed me to do the same thing. Not my preferred way of handling it, but it worked.

Now, I'm faced with the daunting task of setting up the store. It is not intuitive, and there are literally scores of settings. I installed with the demo merchandise, which I soon regretted. It houses a lot of crap, none of which I plan to sell. I managed to clean out all but five items, which I kept to study later.

One task to complete before too long will be creating a pdf version of at least one of my stories so I have something to put into the store. That has a a couple of implications. First, I have to use open office because Word won't save in pdf. Second, I need cover art, which shouldn't be an issue other than being time-consuming. I don't have any graphics software, but I have used Aviary before--an online graphics package that so far has done everything I need. I don't draw or paint, so my covers will of necessity be photographic. Hopefully they look decent.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Digitized Future

Since my meeting with Michael A. Stackpole last friday, digital publishing has been more and more on my mind. I'm in the planning stages of setting up a storefront on Since there seems to be growing interest in this area, I'll be documenting the experience here for other writers who want to do the same thing. It will leave a trail of bread crumbs for anyone interested in following.
Today's task: Install Zen Cart.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

RiNoWriMo a Bust

Bad bad weekend for productivity. Weekends are very difficult to use for writing. Distractions, tasks, and more distractions abound. So, not surprisingly, I have totally fallen off the RiNoWriMo wagon. I'm now hopelessly behind.

So, how to go forward? Actually, it isn't as bad as it seems. Although I haven't put any new words down since I finished the short story for the Aether Age anthology, I have been thinking about a lot of writing-related activity. Much of that is on the reinvention side.

I've been formulating a plan to digitally self-publish all my previously-released short fiction and sell from my own web site in the Michael A. Stackpole model. Following the meeting I had with him on friday, I've been pondering this a lot.

The main barrier is the construction of my online store with Zen Cart. My web host does have an automatic install for both the cart and the database. I've installed it twice before, then my install stayed fallow. So, the big thing now is to reinstall (old installs have been deleted) and then figure out how to get it running. I suspect that mainly involves butt-in-chair time, which will happen soon.

Prior to that, however, I need to create some professional-looking product. Appearance here is of utmost importance, including cover art for even the shortest of stories. I plan to handle pretty much all of that photographically because I have the tools and ability to handle that method, where I have less drawing or painting ability than a chipmunk stoned on catnip.

Also a priority is getting the edits done for the Aether Age story. I expect that will be finished tomorrow, then on to creating the prototype digital story for the online store. Plus, I need to complete that novel I started during NaNoWriMo. Lots and lots to do.

So, consider RiNoWriMo a bust for me, at least by the numbers. However, it jump-started my working on the writing career. Since that was the original intention, I can hardly call it a failure.

News on progress will continue.

Friday, February 05, 2010

RiNoWriMo - Day 5

Despite this being RiNoWriMo day 5, I did not generate any new word count today. That doesn't mean that I didn't get anything meaningful in terms of writing accomplished. I spent a good hour or so with Michael A. Stackpole discussing digital publishing.

For those not familiar with his model, Stackpole uses digital self-publishing as a significant part of his writing distribution portfolio. This is in addition to anything he sells in the traditional manner, and it has provided very good returns for him. He is one of the vanguard authors in this respect and quickly becoming a recognized expert among genre writers. He says his being an expert speaks to the trouble the traditional publishers find themselves in. He's also a fairly polarizing figure, especially among those who have a lot invested in traditional publishing. Go read his own words if you want to know more, I linked to his web site above.

So, I have some plans to make that sort of online presence a part of my writing distribution portfolio and now have to work on the details, like adding Zen Cart to my web site and learning how to produce the different digital file formats.

I think at this point RiNoWriMo has already served its purpose. While I'm not hitting the targets, I am being productive again. However, I'll still track and try to get as close as possible to the target through the end of the month.

Day 5 / 0 words / 3861 total / -3639 from target / 5 pages edited, digital publishing meeting.
Day 4 / 682 words / 3861 total / -2139 from target / 1 short story completed
Day 3 / 810 words / 3179 total / -1321 from target
Day 2 / 1612 words / 2360 total / -631 from target
Day 1 / 757 words / 757 total / -743 from target

Thursday, February 04, 2010

RiNoWriMo - Day 4

Ok, so this is not going as well as I had hoped, but I am still making progress and that's a change over last month. Several unusual situations are competing for my time, but I did manage to complete the draft of the Aether Age story today. It finished up at around 4600 words. I'll go over it again tomorrow and do some touch-up.

In my defense, it's difficult for me to finish one project then jump immediately into another one. I usually have at least one down day between projects. That's one reason why I tend to write long fiction faster. For some reason, I have always worked faster on long projects. Maybe that's why my word count is 1/3 what it was in November for NaNoWriMo. Analysis doesn't excuse it, though.

Not sure if I'll get any word count at all tomorrow. I'm scheduled to meet with Michael A. Stackpole to discuss digital publishing strategy. He's got a lot of good ideas and uses digital self-publishing as part of his portfolio strategy. My own online fiction strategy has lagged behind the curve forever, and I finally figured out why. I don't have a clear objective. That's one thing I hope to figure out as a result of the meeting.

Okay, for the RiNoWriMo talley:

Day 4 / 682 words / 3861 total / -2139 from target / 1 short story completed
Day 3 / 810 words / 3179 total / -1321 from target
Day 2 / 1612 words / 2360 total / -631 from target
Day 1 / 757 words / 757 total / -743 from target

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

RiNoWriMo - Day 3

Not a solid day. Was interrupted by miscommunication on date/time for a meeting with Michael A. Stackpole, and that chewed up an hour. I managed to get about 800 words down today before being pulled away to help with 8th grade science homework. Fortunately, my day is wide open tomorrow. As it stands:

Day 3 / 810 words / 3179 total / -1321 from target
Day 2 / 1612 words / 2360 total / -631 from target
Day 1 / 757 words / 757 total / -743 from target

Not doing well compared to the goals, but I'm certainly making more progress than i did in January with many days of 0 words.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

RiNoWriMo - Day 2

Today, I managed to gut out about 1600 words by writing in fits and starts all day long. That hits the daily goal and makes up some ground for the deficit I left yesterday. The Aether Age story, now titled Goga's First Law, now stands at 3763 words, and will probably grow by another 1000 to 1500 before the dust settles. I should get it done by the end of the week. At that point, I'd like to hammer out a couple of other shorts, but if I don't get any brilliant ideas, I'll go back to the NaNoWriMo novel.

Day 2 / 1612 words / 2360 total / -631 from target
Day 1 / 757 words / 757 total / -743 from target


Looks like the Coyotes beat the Predators 1-0 in a shootout. I saw only about 1/3 of the game, mid second through the third until about 6:30 when I had to go back to the Netflix movie. (Sometimes being married means watching things when you'd rather be watching other things.) Good game, from what I saw. The Yotes were beating the Predators in Shots on Goal by a 2-1 margin. just great defensive play. Wish I could have seen the shootout.