October 10

No longer landed gentry!

I suck so bad at this blogging thing lately, I completely failed to post this update this week.

We sold the house in Virginia!

It wasn’t the easiest road. We had more than one occasion to be within days of closing only to have a buyer fall through and pull out. But in the end, and after an extension and a lot of hemming and hawing, we went to closing this week! Many thanks to our agent, Alex, for his patience with us (and at a distance), and the notaries we had to keep bogging down with mountains of papers as we tried to go to closing more than once.

Now that it’s all over, I’m actually of mixed feelings. I made a horrible homeowner, the pressure of knowing that if anything went wrong it was on me to take care of it was more overwhelming than I had originally expected.

Only. Only it was the home we brought each of our girls home to after they were born. We grew as a family in that house (some would argue, justifiably, to the point where we had outgrown the house years ago). Fourteen years in a home is a long time, and there are a lot of really, really good memories in that house. And towards the very end, I think we had finally found an equilibrium, a balance of lifestyle and interests and space.

I have no regrets on our move west, and I’m beyond thrilled that we were able to sell it, but I miss it a little too. Jut not snow, hurricanes, or any of the other extreme weather.

October 10

Checking in

Well, if nothing else, this blog has accomplished one thing, and that’s not to overwhelm you with the frequency of updates and posts.

As I write this, I’m home with our two youngest girls, alone for the weekend. Invariably, this will mean a lot of junk food, writing, and horrible parenting skills will be on display while my wife and oldest daughter are out in Seattle, enjoying their first con, Geek Girl Con.

As is customary with these check ins, a brief update on writing. I’m just shy of 20k on the current novel project. My official goal is to make it to 20k this weekend. My unofficial goal is to write so much my fingers bleed, my eyes melt, and the grey goo that oozes out afterwards melds with the computer to finish the task of putting words down. So, roughly 21-22k all said and done.

The good news is that in an uncharacteristic display of Autumness (in our experience so far), it’s a grey and drizzly day outside so far. Maybe not the ideal California weather, but a perfect day to sit back, read an issue of Doctor Strange, write some fiction, and just gel.

And I’ve already read the new issue of Doctor Strange. (Side note – the new #1 of Strange was surprisingly awesome. I expected a rehash of 70s style Strange. Expectations were dwarfed by how spectacular reality was. Potential Marvel fans that enjoy a little paranormal on occasion should read it.)

Current word count is 17,666, so I need to get moving before the sun comes out and ruins my vibe. Plus, coffee is ready.

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September 19

Clearing the cobwebs

So, a funny thing happened while I was clearing out the cobwebs in my last post. I was in a low place as far as writing was concerned, full of self doubts. To be honest, I still am, and yet somehow I’m feeling a little more upbeat about it all. Part of that, I think, is because I have begun to go back to basics.

When some people refer to going back to the basics, they invoke images of pens and paper pads. Alas, not so much here, at least not for the bulk of my writing (I do that occasionally, but not often.).

First, some context. We’re doing the homeschool thing again with the kids, which means a lot of home projects and time spent online. The program we began with initially required each of the kids to be able to get online for video conferences multiple times a day. That meant a lot of bandwidth in use, but even worse, that there were times when each of the girls needed a computer of her own.

And so, my aging iMac went to the youngest. The decision wasn’t an easy one, but there were other contributing factors. While still a good computer, it needs more RAM to continue to be usable for my work when I’m home. Not for writing, but for the actual day to day work from home stuff. Because of the model, it has to be sent out to get more memory added, which means it’s going to cost hundreds just for the maintenance. Money that could better be spent towards a new computer for me.

That’s when I realized I didn’t want a Mac for my next computer. It’s been a great run, but I’m ready to go back to using something I’m more comfortable with, namely Linux. I’ve picked out the model and brand, but that started raising other questions.

The software I’ve used for the last few years to write is Scrivener. It’s an amazing, flexible application, that someday will have an iPad version. But as I find myself moving away from Apple and their products, that tie just isn’t enough.

A month or so ago, I tried out Ulysses, another writing app for Macs. This one is based on the simplicity of using (muti)markdown for formatting. I’ve extolled the virtues of (muti)markdown before, but althought I wasn’t enamored with Ulysses itself, I was intrigued by the idea of writing in markdown.

You see, using markdown gives me freedom. I can use any editor, on any platform. Until it comes time to render it, all my editor has to support is plain text. For someone looking for cross platform writing tools, that’s like a magic formula.

I might post some links to some helpful resources (or, egads, become one myself), but I’m still feeling the waters on this. I have a novel project (or two) I’m working on right now that are doing well. Simpler writing tools means less distraction, more focussing on just getting the words out of my head. Well see how well that translates in the final product. I will say that I’ve written every day for 75 days now (a modest number), but it’s only been in the last week that I’ve seen my word counts start to jump again. Some of that may be the length I’m writing to – I find that short stories are harder to get write and take longer than an equal number of words in a novel length project. But we’ll see.