Bearding it Up

Hello again. I’m back for yet another blog post. I say this, or something like it every time. Sorry about that.

So anyway, today I’m going to talk about something a little different. This last year I wanted to try something out that I’d never done before. I grew out my beard. It has been around a year, I don’t remember exactly when I started, and now it’s fairly large. As a bonus, once it grew out a bit I started receiving complements on it, after I styled the beard of course. Waking up it’s a mess(heh).

So why did I do this? For a few reasons. The first one was while I had a beard for most of my adult life, I’d never grown it out. I’m a bit obsessed with being very neat with my appearance. Meaning I’d continually trim my beard and mustache constantly. And the mustache was a huge problem. As soon as a hair touched my lip I’d unconsciously chew it off, especially if I couldn’t find scissors in time. Not good, and certainly not a thing I’m proud of, but everything had to be perfect in my mind. As a challenge to myself I made sure I wouldn’t constantly pull at or cut the beard.

The next reason was I wanted to see how it looked. Well, I like it most days, but it does make eating harder, or at least messier. Straws are a requirement for most drinks, and anything that is a little messy will wind up in the beard. So constant washing/rinsing the facial hair is a thing. And yet I persevered.

Another thing, in the past I had attempted a handlebar mustache. It was thin, and not very impressive, to me at least, but I wanted to give it a go again. Now the thing is so long that it looks ridiculous to me if I don’t do it up properly. I’m still getting a handle(heh) on it. Mustache wax and or styling balm can only do so much, especially if they get wet while drinking anything.

All this has also been a learning experience. We each have our own type of hair. Some curlier than others, or thinner or thicker, and need to take care of them differently. I spent many… many hours watching tutorials about maintenance or styling, and while I’m no expert I can certainly point to a video that can help. There are a surprising amount of tools you’ll find you’ll need once your beard gets a bit long. For instance a comb, but not a plastic one. Those things are molded, and they leave behind little plastic bits that’ll pull out your hair. A nice wooden comb fixes that. And all the different types of hairbrushes that are recommended. I still don’t have a small round brush needed to properly round out a beard. However with having long hair myself, I had a number of brush options. And don’t forget a hairdryer. Nothing can manage your hair quite like a hairdryer.

Beard Oil. Oh yeah, that’s the stuff. If you are used to, like I am, to aftershave you might like this stuff. If you get the right one, they’ll smell heavenly. I’ve used aftershave as a type of cologne for years, but since I’ve limited my shaving to just straightening out my cheek line there isn’t much call for it. Also beard oil will help your skin, in fact that’s one of the main reasons to use it. If you are worried about dandruff and the like, this stuff can really help. Before I’d notice a bit of snow if I scratched my short beard, but now, even as long as it is, I don’t see any of that. Also it helps itchiness, as while you grow out a beard it can become almost intolerable without it.

In the end I’ve found growing out a beard a form of self control. It has helped me in other areas, perhaps, and I find that even more so now that if I set myself a task I will do it. It never was a huge problem, but there were times where I would slip and ignore my self imposed goals.

Thus ends my tangent into beards. At least for today. The edits progress, and my new book grows.

TTFN

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: The book is 19% edited. And I’m 11% into the new novel.

Steven Oaks

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Understanding your Characters

Howdy folks. I’m back again for the weekly post.

Well, the book is going well. We’re ready to start chapter seven as I write this. Editing has gone quickly, as things go. If we continue at this pace we’ll be ready somewhere in August, though there are things to consider then as well. Cover art is still needed, though there are ideas and rough outlines for such. Another would be the description. That’ll require a bit of work, at least for me, as I always find it difficult to give a summary without spoiling all the fun stuff.

To wet your palate, I can say this much without revealing everything. The book is about a drunk set in the world of Norse Mythology. A quest is given, and they stumble their way through. Serious and yet humorous, they meet many different types of people along the way. All the while basically making a nuisance of themselves.

That being said, my next book is coming along nicely. I’m already around 8% into the first draft, and I’m having fun. I’m not wholly sure how things in the middle are going to be, and I keep coming up with different notions before I realize they don’t fit in, but it keeps growing. And I think I can at least mention the co-author has started their own book as well. If things keep going this way we’ll both have our own books for you to read. I can’t say when, as we both have other commitments, but it appears as though the writing train keeps chugging along.

Currently I’m having a hard time finding a book to read. Yes, there are tons out there that I want to read, but I’ve limited myself to those that you can get with just the subscription fee for the kindle unlimited plan. I’ve read many a good book this last year doing this, though I’ve occasionally fell back to well known authors. Those tend to not be available without additional costs, and though I’ve enjoyed those as well, I’m trying to expand my horizons.

I’ve started a few recently, and had to set them aside. I’m trying not to be too picky, but there is one thing that gets me more than spelling errors, or confusing writing, and that is not being able to write people. This is a thing I think some writers struggle with.

What I mean by this simply is that while you might be able to write a single viewpoint, one which is presumably like your own, at times it’s difficult to view the world through another’s perspective. They won’t have the same information as your protagonist, nor the all seeing eye of the narrator. You must understand where they come from first, and write to that.

I find it frustrating when characters come to the right conclusion with limited information. Just because it’s true, in the story, doesn’t mean they’ll know that, or even guess it. Often times people refuse to see the world as it is, and are limited in their understanding based upon their life experiences. One won’t say, oh of course it’s aliens if they don’t have the right information. And even if they do have that information, people often times refuse to believe things based upon what they already think they know.

Humans are pattern seekers. If something doesn’t fit the pattern, they’ll force it, one way or another. This often times leads to the wrong conclusion. As a writer you have to understand that it takes a unique mind to see the truth. Especially if that truth is something out of the ordinary. But to even begin to see the truth, they’ll need the right information. Again, saying something is, is not enough for your character to think it’s the truth. There needs to be a reason they believe it.

With that I’ll leave you. I hope you all have a good week. TTFN

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: The book is 16% edited. And I’m 8% into the new novel.

Steven Oaks

Follow me on the things below.

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Truth on the day of Lies

Welcome one and all. I’ve returned again.

So here we are on the day that is filled with false rumors and silly japes. Now I’m not one to fault those who wish to tell a little fib for the sake of humor, but it does bring a bit of falseness to the world today. Hopefully it’ll all go away soon.

Anyway, I’ll first of all state plainly that what I’m telling today is not a lie. The book is coming along nicely, and the co-author and I are editing at a decent pace. I say this, but perhaps you’d think it slow if I tell you that we’ve made it through the first chapter and are already halfway through the second. That might not seem quick, but when I edited it was a week per chapter, so I think it’s going well by comparison.

Now to what I’m doing in the time that I’m not with the co-author. I’ve begun writing another book. Before we started our book I was writing a couple by myself. One was about a third finished, but I’d lost the narrative somewhere before then. I’ll likely go back to it eventually, but I had another I’d started that I felt compelled to complete. This one is fantasy, as opposed to the sci-fi I generally write when by myself. I’d say this offers more freedom, but it also forces a writer to write their own world instead of relying on the real one. Luckily I have ideas about how to flesh it out. Shoving together ideas from things I’ve read, and offering new twists that others may have thought of before. It’s going very well.

It’s been awhile since I wrote anything, not just editing. It feels good. I spent most of the weekend thinking of new things, and getting excited. There’s nothing like that energy you get when you are making something new. I felt that way as I was getting back into drawing, and now it’s burning inside me for writing. Again I know this is what I want to do with my life.

A bonus would be to get paid for it. I think that’s a dream for most of us who love creating. So fingers crossed. I hope that as more books that I write come out more people will read them. Perhaps then I’ll be able to write more often. As it is I’ll write anyway, though limited in time to do so currently. But I have high hopes for the book the co-author and I’ve written.

In the end, I’m happy. Happy to have written, and happily writing. I’m glad I live in a world where it’s vastly easier to write(word-processor) and publish(online). The tools we are granted these days allow any one of us to write and bring a vast collection of ideas into the world, whereas before they would just reside in one persons head. I attempt to read as much as I can, even of those who are like myself and are not well-known instead of just those already famous. And while sometimes they have flaws that might have been smoothed out if they were attached to a publishing house, I’m quite fond of the stories they have to tell.

And with that I’ll leave you with this. Go out and find a book in the genre you like. One written by someone unknown, or someone you haven’t heard of. Give it a chance, and maybe you’ll be surprised. Just look at my own Goodreads list if you happen to like sci-fi or fantasy. You’ll probably see someone you haven’t heard of before. Again, give them a chance.

TTFN

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: The book is being edited. 6% into the new novel.

Steven Oaks

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A Little Marketing, A Lot of Humor

Hello you. All of you. I’m again here to write this blog thing.

I’d like to thank those of you who replied to my previous post. You tended to agree it’s hard to make a splash at all out there. There seems to be a general consensus that you already need to be well known before you can expect any type of advertising to work. That and marketing your book will be the hardest part, because even though you can purchase eyes, it doesn’t translate to sales. Simply because there is a well circulated ad or something, that doesn’t mean anyone will click on it. Your name or brand already needs to be in the public consciousness before it’ll make a difference.

I suppose one way to get known would be to attach yourself to someone already famous, or at least well regarded as a trend setter. For me, not likely. I’m not the social type, though I suppose if there was any interest I’d make the rounds. Rounds being podcasts or any type of interview if there was interest. I can’t think there would be, but if there was, just get in touch. I think here or my twitter would be the easiest. I guess I’m just saying I’m willing, but I’m not out to force myself on anyone. That and talking for too long wears me out. I guess I really am the introverted type.

But I haven’t let this discourage me at all. I’m still writing. I’ve moved over to my next book, and have already written several thousand words. This isn’t to say the previous book is finished. I’ve talked with the co-author, and they agree it’s time for us to review the book together. This means we’re going to set aside time a few days a week to read through it jointly. I’m excited, as this means we’re nearly finished with this multiple year writing process. I think this has led to a better novel than otherwise, and I’m happy I’ve had the chance to work with someone so closely in creating this story.

It has really opened my eyes working with them. I’ve lost a bit of that self-doubt that I’m sure plagues us all. I’ve found that my first instinct is generally the best, and just write whatever I feel like. If it turns out that it wasn’t great, I just delete it and move on. Before I’d agonize for hours sometimes before I’d write anything because I wanted it to be as close to perfect before I’d write another sentence. Now, I know it just doesn’t matter. If it’s good, cool, if it’s not, there are other days when I’d write better. But it’s better to just push forward with the story than linger on a scene. Another day will show you the way, and you can fix anything after the fact.

The book that we’re editing started as a bit of a joke. Or at least we were just going to write all the silly stuff that we thought was funny, and try to make a story out of it. So yes, there were some really weird things in the beginning, but as the book progressed we began to drop some of those strange yet funny scenes. They had no place in the story we were creating. I at first lamented their loss, but now reading back through multiple times, I realize they didn’t add anything, and they slowed the story down. Or at least were out of place. I think the book still has some humorous elements, but it has really been toned down versus that first draft.

This is what has helped clear up some of that doubt. I’ll just write whatever dumb thing I’m thinking of, and move on. Yes it may not fit, but it’ll still have elements you can work with either then or later when editing. I think that’s the best lesson I wish to impart. Don’t worry about if it makes perfect sense at the time, keep writing. You’ll clean it up later. And who knows, maybe those funny little sentences and paragraphs can hang around with the other more serious parts. Or maybe they are hidden gems that’ll help the story along. Just have fun, it’ll be better than slogging away at something you can’t really connect with. Use your own humor to work. If you laugh, that means you are enjoying those characters you are writing. Don’t be afraid to be a bit silly.

And with that, I’ll leave you for the week. May you find inspiration, and have a little less doubt in those things you create. TTFN

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Started writing a new book. Editing in jointly with the co-author begins

Steven Oaks

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Marketing Self-Doubt

Hello all. I’m back again.

So, I have a problem. I’ve no idea how to advertise/market my books. Well, perhaps I have some ideas, but I don’t like the feeling of intruding upon others, even though I think some people would enjoy finding out about what I’ve made. Nor do I have sufficient funds for such promotion.

I have in earlier instances posted links to my books in places where I thought they might garner some interest. Though I don’t think I did enough to really get the ball rolling. I truly hate the feeling of annoying others, as I hate it when people do it to me. That and I’m only aware of so many places that might be accepting to such self-promotion. Mostly I used my own social media, though the number of followers is larger than when I started it doesn’t seem like there are enough who are truly interested. Mostly the followers I have are other writers who wish to promote their own things as well. While we all are likely readers, it doesn’t seem like it’ll do much to help promote.

Reddit and the like have helped, but mostly when I allowed them to receive a book for free. I don’t have an issue doing so if it helps sell books(hey, I gotta eat too), but while many did get a book, I didn’t see a spike in the sales for other books.

I’m not a tireless marketer, one who constantly promotes what they are selling. I can’t do it. It exhausts me, and I find it rude. If you are following me here or elsewhere on the Internet I hope to give some sort of entertainment or insight, not to just be there to constantly barrage you with statements about how you should buy my book(though I would appreciate more sales).

In the past I paid for a small ad campaign on Facebook, but again didn’t see much traffic to justify the cost. Perhaps there is something wrong with some part of my book descriptions, that seems to be one of the big three things when you can actually get someone to your book’s page. I’m confident in the covers, and the first part of the books that you can sample on such pages. So maybe I should work on that, but again, I can’t tell if I’m even getting people to look at those pages.

Honestly I’m worried that this latest book wont reach as many eyes as I think it should. I think it’s the best thing I’ve written so far, and I’d hate to think that because I’m so terrible at marketing that so few will read it. The co-author and I have been working on this book for years, and it would be terrible to think that so few will have a chance to read it, since maybe they won’t even know it exists.

Aside from all that, I did (omit) a bit of editing since last week. Editing being me re-reading several chapters, and swapping out only a few words here and there. I think it’s mostly done from my perspective, but of course the co-author will need to finish their own re-reading/editing. It reads well, and I really like reading it. Somehow between us we wrote a story I enjoy diving into each time, even if I have read it multiple times. Heh, we even discovered we wrote a meaning we didn’t intend to when we set off writing this book. It makes sense too, so that was neat.

Anyway, I think I’ll leave here. I hope you all enjoy this book when it comes out, but until then I have several other books I’ve written over the years, so take a look at those. Until next time, have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited, spending hours drawing.

Steven Oaks

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Books, Sleep, and Coffee

Hi. My name is Steven. I write books. At least that’s what I’ve done so far.

So this week I did a bit more work on the picture I’ve been putting together. Hair was giving me a bit of trouble, so I watched a few tutorials, and now I have something. It’s not great, but it’s fine as a place holder. I’ll have to work on it more to be satisfied.

As for writing I edited several chapters. Again just cleaning up language, as it’s decent at this point. It’s just waiting for a final review with the co-author when they finish up. I think the time we’ve spent polishing up this book will show.

Speaking of polish, I have to say there’s this book series I’ve read, and am reading, that while I like the story an awful lot, it has huge issues when it comes to writing. It’ll just force in a line that skips over events instead of letting the narrative flow naturally. Every time this happens it really takes me out of the book. I’m not sure if any of you have watched Harmon Quest, but it’s like when their DM says “You do that,” and then just moves on, instead of letting it play out. It’s weird. Perhaps other people don’t notice such things, but it’s so different from the way they write everything else I find it distracting. The strange thing is I’ve read other books they’ve written, and they aren’t like this at all. So I don’t know what happened. Perhaps a different group of people are editing their other series. Either way I’ll still read them, but I guess I’ll just expect less from them. 😦

Again to reading. I just finished a 16 book series. It’s titled “EarthCent Ambassador”, and it’s something special. There was only one book I wasn’t completely in love with, but even that one was good. It’s all about a species of alien AI that comes to Earth and forces humans into a galactic federation of different sentients. The aliens are distinct from humans, and have their own cultures. And how our diplomat interacts, and how the rest of humanity reacts to their forced inclusion is fascinating. While there are conflicts, they aren’t in the vein of militaristic. It was truly a wonderful read, and relaxing. I highly recommend reading it if you enjoyed the classic Star Trek feel. One in which it was about exploring alien cultures, and how humanity fits in with all our differences.

Besides from work, it’s been a relaxing week. On my days off I got lots of sleep, or at least gave myself time to sleep more so than usual. Any time I was tired, I went to bed. While I may have rolled around, which is normal and frequent for me, I at least got a little sleep each time. I may have talked about this before, but I have a hard time shutting off my mind, and I can’t get comfortable. So I wind up staring at the ceiling, or just tossing and turning until I eventually fall asleep. Even then I generally only sleep for a few hours at a time.

This of course is not conducive to being well rested, but I tend to offset this before I go to work with coffee. Unfortunately I wound up drinking too much one day last week, and while I was alert, very alert, I grew anxious. Extremely so. I made a post several years ago, back when I think I was writing my second book, that I was drinking tons of coffee, and I would grow incredibly anxious. So it appears that is still in play. Too bad I enjoy the taste and energy that comes from coffee so much. I wish I could feel that invigoration constantly, and perhaps that is why I tend to over do it when I’m a bit more tired than usual.

I have heard others say that coffee is a terrible thing to rely on, and perhaps that’s another reason I have trouble sleeping. Though, I calculate the time before I plan to sleep. Meaning, I have heard that imbibing caffeine less than 12 hours before sleep will cause issues. So I tend to make sure that at least 12 hours pass before I attempt to sleep after drinking any amount of caffeine, either coffee or tea which is my usual concoction. Though on my days off I tend not to drink any, unless I have a big day planned, and I want to get some work done before I finally lie down for the day.

This hasn’t seemed to cause any issues, but I will note on the days that I don’t have any caffeine I will be a bit more groggy. Since I usually don’t have anything planned for those days it hasn’t been an issue. I get at least one nap in, usually for at least a couple of hours when off, and after such I do a bit of work either on editing, or now drawing. So it all seems to work out.

And now that I’ve bored you all with my random nonsense, I’ll let you go. I hope you all have an enjoyable week, and get some sleep.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited, spending hours drawing.

Steven Oaks

Follow me on the things below.

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Learning to Draw

Hello all. Steve is back, and he’s ready to attack.

What am I attacking? Um… uh… my free time? I dunno, I just wanted to rhyme something.

So this last week I not only did my usual editing, which is going very well, I continued practicing drawing. Mostly in GIMP still, but I played around with Krita as well. Mostly I’m working on the human form. This means I went about trying to break down the human structure into basic shapes.

Those of you who have been drawing for years know this is just about the first step. This is something I had always neglected, so it’s good practice for me. The co-author offered up several books and resources for me to look to for examples, and it helped immensely. I can’t say I’m good at drawing people… yet, but I’m getting better. I’d post examples, but I’ve not finalized anything. What I’ve made is mostly for myself. Though this last one I’ve been working on has some striking eyes, and the mouth looks real… though it also looks like I cut something out poorly and pasted it on a blank face. I need to work on shading I think, or at least rounding out the sharp lines I use to draw things currently.

The thing that has helped me in drawing people is thinking about bones. Besides the example shapes people have used to illustrate drawing bodies in tutorials, thinking about the skull really helps shape a head. A round top of the skull, and then the jaw bone underneath. Otherwise you might wind up with something too round. As for arms and legs, yes bones, but the muscle on top really brings out their form. Chests and hips are interesting, and having shoulders protrude is something I hadn’t thought of, and the ligaments that angle up to the neck from the shoulder is something to think of, otherwise you’d have a flat line running underneath the head. Bones are good, but hands are hard. Just saying.

I think I’ll try to do some backgrounds soon. I’ve always love landscapes, but I’ve never been able to do anything. While I’ve drawn people before, none of it good, I’ve not done any natural scenes before. So this’ll be a new thing for me. I’ll probably use Krita, though I’m more familiar with GIMP, simply because there are a ton more brushes and styles to utilize that come standard with that program. You can get as many as you want for GIMP, but I don’t feel like searching for them, though I did find a “hair brush” that I think is decent.

I’ve also found that trying to trace things doesn’t help as much as you’d think. At least for me. I’m only using a mouse. Perhaps if I were to use a tablet and pen for such things they’d look better, but really if I personally want to draw something now it tends to look better if I draw it while looking at a picture as opposed to trying to trace it. I don’t know, maybe my hand isn’t steady enough, but things tend to look better if I draw it freehand. That and it’s better practice as I am better able to identify the best shapes to form different parts of a person. The eyes for example looked really bad when traced, so I deleted that and started over. Now I have a pair that look close to real, for me at least.

In the end, I’m enjoying trying to learn this new skill. I also have hopes that this will help me better describe things when I write. Before I usually would focus on dialogue, and let the descriptions of surroundings and people kind of vague, though I tried. But working with the co-author, and seeing how they depict things using words, has spurred me into more action when it comes to that. Now with both them as an example, and this new found hobby, I hope to become even better in the future.

That’s all for now. I hope you have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited, spending hours drawing.

Steven Oaks

Follow me on the things below.

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Do What You Love

Hello again. I’m back for another weekly update.

Last week’s post had me complaining about my own incompetence. But since then I was able to edit. The co-author got me a copy of their changes that night, and the following day I was able to catch up. This weekend they edited some more, and I was able to work on it today. All in all, things are going well on that front, even with me not getting to it one day.

Other than that, I’ve been playing around with GIMP again. Oh dear, I’m not good, but oh dear is it fun. I’m doing silly things I’ve never done before. And not to toot my own horn, but I made a couple of things that I think are at least interesting.

Again, I’m no artist, but being able to put together a few things, even if they are simple, is tons of fun. Now back in the day I used to draw now and again. Heck, there was one summer I really went hard. I was drawing everything, anime, friends, vistas. But I never considered it good. Though I think my Berserker skateboard looks neat, even if I used too much paint. But I dropped out of the habit for years at a time.

Those of you who have followed this blog, or those that go back and look at older posts, will see that I’ve played around with GIMP before. My owl phase I call it, though I did work on several other animals. Not that they are great or anything, but I’m proud I was able to do anything close to recognizable.

At one point in time I was really into drawing. I’m talking elementary and middle school, but for whatever reason I didn’t feel like I had the chance to grow this skill. I never had the time, or didn’t feel I did, so I just stopped drawing. Perhaps that’s why I tend to surround myself with artists.

I spent about five hours doodling and playing around this weekend. Listening to random music, I lost track of time completely. By the time I realized how late/early it was I had created a silly book cover. It doesn’t look great, but I did learn (omit) a lot just by playing around. It took me several hours to get to sleep after, as I kept thinking about what other things I could do to improve it. I spent another few hours the next day doing that, but I’m still not happy with it. I guess I’ll have to keep going.

Along with drawing, I like music. The art of creating, and singing. But again, I never had the opportunity, save rare occasions. I recall one time, in Spanish class of all places, a girl from the school’s top choir group started singing one of my favorite songs. I joined in, and as ridiculous as it sounds, received praise from everyone in the class, and was asked why I wasn’t in choir. I suppose singing along in the car maintained that skill, but else-wise I don’t really practice.

I guess what I’m trying to say with these stories is that we should do what we love. Even if others say it’s a waste of time. Even if you have to make the time for them. Even if we aren’t great, or even good at it. I’ll likely never be great at art or music, but it makes me happy. Since I have a bit of time now that I’m in between books, until editing is completed, I’ll play around with my artistic desires. Maybe I’ll even influence the final book cover. Unfortunately the trees I’m making look like nuclear explosions, so maybe I won’t, heh.

Until next time. Do what you love. Life is short, but the years are long. Don’t let the everyday hum-drum keep you from enjoying the little things that make life worth living. Skill comes with practice, but even though none of us will likely become as amazing as whatever idol we strive to be like, we can say we had fun trying. And you never know, maybe you will be amazing in your own right. Have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited, things are going well.

Steven Oaks

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Arg, I’m a fool

Howdy Folks. Here’s a little story. A precautionary tale.

I went to edit the book today. I thought, huh, wouldn’t it be cool to try out a different program to take a look at what we’ve written? Maybe there’ll be features I’ve not utilized out there, or perhaps it’ll give me a different view on things.

So I loaded up a program called Manuskript. Since I’m in Linux, and because I wasn’t looking too closely at how to install, it took me a minute. My fault entirely, but once I figured out my mistake it was easy enough.

It’s an interesting looking program, one I’m not sold on yet, but it opened. I took a couple of minutes to look around, then decided I’d try to import my Libre Office document. Well, it didn’t work. I thought, huh, oh well. And played around with some things, but didn’t save.

I figured I’d work out how to use it later, and opened Libre Office again to get back to editing. Uh-oh, the book isn’t opening. What do I do? Will other documents open? Yes. So it isn’t Office, it’s the book’s file. Darn it, I guess trying out new things messed it up.

Now I’m stuck, and can’t work on the book until the co-author is able to give me their back up copy. They worked on it this weekend, so any changes they made I can’t see until I get that version. Perhaps it’s time for a different method of exchanging the file, but then again any way would be just as susceptible with my current work-flow. I suppose I’ll have to reevaluate the way I do things.

Making a local copy instead of trying to edit the version sent to me directly would be one way I could have avoided this. If I hadn’t tried to open the only file I had on hand, that would have been the smart thing. However, I’m apparently in too much of a hurry, and don’t save locally until I’m finishing editing. Yes, I save as I go along, but it’s only to that original copy.

Frustrated that I couldn’t work on the book, I played around with Manuskript a bit more. Starting a new book, or at least working with the little I had for a book, I input some information. I can’t say it works with how I write. I can’t even see how I can write with such small input area’s. Sure it’s fine enough for making an outline, which I’m interested in doing, but making the transition from it to a finished book doesn’t look appealing. Discouraged with writing, I decided to do something else.

Now I’m no artist. I can doodle a bit, but I’ve not done it in years, and what little I’ve done hasn’t been exactly what I wanted. But I figured, what the heck, I can at least sketch out a template for a cover and have the co-author take a look at it. They’re the real artist here, and we’ve discussed how we want the book’s cover to look. So using the little skill I have in Gimp I began.

I was going to just do a collage, and maybe a little background coloring. I started out fine enough, but cutting out things wasn’t going well. Then I discovered an auto cut feature I hadn’t used before. Basically you outline what you want cut out, and it’ll make a path. You can add more points to help clarify lines, and after failing a few times, I got what I wanted. I pasted it into my new image, and began cleaning it up. That was a mistake.

I’m a perfectionist. There were still bits that the cut tool hadn’t gotten rid of, so I started painting them out. Zooming in so close that I could see every pixel, I took my time. Too much time, and in the end I wasn’t happy. Dang it Steve, this was just supposed to be a rough collage of images to represent the vision I had. Instead I wasted way too much time on it, and in the end I just deleted everything.

Basically my productivity for the day is shot. I did this to myself. I hope I learn from this and just work with the tools I have on hand, and don’t try to do things I know I can’t really do. Sure I could take the time and become better at things, but these sessions I have are supposed to be for writing or editing. Instead I annoyed myself to such extremes I lost my ability to focus on anything.

Hopefully I’ll be in contact with the co-author tonight, and can get a copy of what they worked on. If so I’ll be able to work tomorrow, and that is what I need.

Let this be a lesson. Work with what functions. If you are starting something new there is no problem with finding different tools, but don’t think some new tool is going to just work out for you. Or conversely, make a back up on-site. That way at least you won’t ruin the only version you have. Also don’t bite off more than you can chew. I guess I’ll draw some stick figures now. I can do that at least.

That’s all for now. I hope your week is filled with less frustration.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited a bit, exercised a bit, watched some movies.

Steven Oaks

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Daylight Doesn’t Like Me

Greetings fellow beings. I’ve returned once more for the weekly blog post.

So, as is inherently obvious, another week has passed. And yet for me it feels as though nothing much happened. However, I shall try to compile what I may of my experiences.

An outing of sorts was taken, and a lunch of Chinese was had. Fairly delicious, though perhaps noticeable only to me, the rice given was that of the instant variety. Flavor and texture-wise so similar to what can be purchased and cooked in mere minutes, yet delicious as such things go. If not for the meal being tasty, I would complain more upon the expense. Even if not from my own wallet it was purchased. Twas planned to be from my coffers, yet another insisted upon purchasing.

Of course while out I spun many a stop for Pokemon go, and even had my first raid. Easily won somehow, I even got the guardian Pokemon. One I hadn’t collected before, so that was nice. All together profitable for myself who doesn’t actively play any game other than certain ‘mobile’ ones.

While killing time, a couple of stores were perused. Ones which sell used video games. While I wasn’t tempted by the selection, the co-author spotted a couple they wanted. And while checking on-line pricing found a game they wished. Persona 5. An interesting game, though I found it played more like a light novel. However it looks beautiful, and I enjoyed watching the co-author play. Much like watching an anime, though I suppose I could just watch the adaptation if I wanted to instead.

Speaking of watching things, we watched the latest Power Ranger movie. It had fallen under my radar, and I only became aware of it when Movies with Mikey did a watch party for it. It seemed fun, so I had been wanting to watch it. So when there didn’t seem to be anything else to do late Sunday evening, I did.

Now I was never a huge fan. But back in the day, without cable and little else to kill time watching, I had watched several episodes. Perhaps even several seasons, though I never went out of my way to see everything. I had always found it silly, and perhaps that’s why I felt it was okay, even if it was marketed to a younger audience. But this movie, while silly in its own way, was more grown up. Even if it still took lines directly from the original run, they didn’t seem out of place in a more adult setting. Fans of the show from the 90’s should enjoy, though a new audience may not. Still, I did, and any who grew up with it in their lives won’t be displeased by the re-imagining of the universe.

Now I don’t know if it’s because I don’t venture out into the sun often, or if I was becoming sick, but I wasn’t feeling well Sunday. I had felt fine, in fact I felt pretty good since I had gone to bed early and got plenty of sleep. That combined with the coffee I filled myself with, when I stepped outside to join the day-walkers, I was ready for an amusing outing. However it became clear that I wasn’t going to last long. My speech suffered, as did my endurance, and I was left squinting and desiring a nap.

Perhaps because of my shunning of the day for my job at night my eyes have adapted to the low-light levels of the evening. It was tiring just keeping them open, and everything seemed too bright for me. Maybe I’ll have to invest in some sunglasses if I wish to go out during the day from now on. But I had to take a very long nap afterwards, and even then I didn’t feel totally well. Only now am I feeling better, but that may be due to the coffee I consume when editing and writing.

As to editing, last week the co-author and I had a disagreement on the way a chapter was written. They had updated it, making a few lines into a brand new chapter. I reviewed, and at the time I wasn’t completely sold on the changes. I spent several hours changing things, making it to my eyes readable and reasonable. I offered it back, but instead of reading the changes, the co-author took what I had complained about and made a new chapter. I was able to read it today, and make my own slight changes, and while I liked what was written before, after I edited, the new one flows better. But since it’s new I’ll have to take a look at it a few more times before I’m sure it meets the quality of the chapters that I’ve been editing up to this point.

An interesting thing came from all this. I noticed a change in the way I write, or at least what I’m able to write. Thanks to the co-author’s flair for depictions, I’ve been able to write more descriptive scenes. The new chapter was missing a bit of their usual shine, my fault of course since I had been grumpy about changes so they wrote quickly. But I was able to enhance in a way that I never felt I could before. My knack had always been dialogue, and I think that shows in my earlier books with the vague way I describe a scene, as each paragraph was mostly characters talking. However now I notice their lack, and am able to build a clearer picture using words, instead of just implying a world. This is something I’ve struggled with, and have been working on for years. I think I’m finally starting to show progress. We’ll see if I truly have overcome this weakness when I write my next book.

That’s about it. So until next time, have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited a bit, exercised a bit, watched some movies.

Steven Oaks

Follow me on the things below.

ce70Twitter-icon Connect-with-SDK-Welding-on-Google+ Tumblr-Iconurl goodreads_icon_256 YouTube-App-Icon