Thoughts, a Blog: 2003, 4th Quarter

A blog about my efforts at writing.

2003-12-23 (Tuesday) – Progress Report

Excellent progress on chapter 10, if I had another hour it would be done. I think I know now why this book is taking so long, I don't know two of the major characters. They are invented characters and I'm not quite sure how they will act or react.

2003-12-15 (Monday) – Progress Report

Now I'm disappointed in myself. Although I did publish chapter 8 last week (the first chapter of Book 2), I did not give you a progress report. Part of the reason is that I was hoping to finish a first pass on chapter 10—which is now going very slowly. The good news is that what gets written is pretty much ready to publish without a lot of editing necessary. I would have preferred to finish a first pass on chapter 10 before publishing chapter 8. This means the publishing of chapter 9 may be delayed.

I can leave you with this teaser (for chapter 10): Milliscent has just discovered the ancient remains of a giant, and wants the two visitors to help her dig it out from under a log.

2003-11-30 (Sunday) – Progress Report

Hey, I'm excited. Chapter 10 is coming along very well. Situations flow one into another and the dialog works itself out. It seems as if this happy state should last up through chapter 11 as well. Also, the rewrite of chapter 8 is looking pretty good, but I keep asking myself one question about chapter 8: can a bot's leg fall asleep?

Bottom line? Chapter 8 should be published by next weekend.

2003-11-25 (Tuesday) – Progress Report

Hurrah! The preliminary pass of chapter 9 is at long last complete. Much of it was written on the 17th after I'd written the progress report. I finished the last of chapter 9 tonight and got a tiny start on chapter 10. Needless to say, I'm on the Internet now (from the cabin), but I'm not very pleased with my new ISP….

I'd like to continue to refine chapter 8 and finish a first pass on chapter 10 before publishing chapter 8. By keeping several chapters "in the pipe" I will be a little less likely to write myself into a corner. I also hope that by refining the chapters several times I'll have fewer errors to correct later. Never fear, chapters will start flowing to this web site soon. I promise.

By the way, Book 3 wants to start writing itself already. So maybe the next book won't be so much like pulling teeth.

2003-11-17 (Monday) – Progress Report

The past two weeks I've spent every spare moment of each evening working on my ScottyDM web site. I've been teaching myself CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). It is coming along quite nicely (finally); unfortunately none of my other projects have moved ahead at all. I was using an evaluation copy of Dreamweaver MX 2004—which expired Sunday (the 16th). I will eventually buy a license, but for now I'll lay my CSS experiments aside and concentrate on other projects, such as Bot Story.

Meanwhile, I still do not have an Internet connection up at the cabin, but I almost got one tonight. I laid in the wire to get a telephone connection from the cabin to the mobile, stapled it up to keep it away from the chipmunks (who seem to gnaw on the weirdest stuff, such as the plastic door mat), got a dial tone and connected my new modem, checked all my modem settings and driver, and feeling ready I called my future ISP. I was on hold with the sales department about four minutes when a recording came on: "Normal hours for our sales department are from 6:00am to 6:00pm Pacific Standard Time." ARRRG! The hour just turned and I missed them. I'll have to try again tomorrow; meanwhile I'll listen to instrumental music on the musical suitcase (boom box) and cogitate on Bot Story.

2003-11-02 (Sunday) – Progress Report

I've got a new job, in Cripple Creek, so I'm staying at the cabin during the week. No Internet access (yet), but I do have my computer. I've been working on the story a bit and am about halfway through chapter 9. It is coming along well. I've also been refining chapter 8 and it is about ready to publish.

2003-10-27 (Monday) – Progress Report

I'm having an epic struggle with chapter 9. The words are coming slowly. I did about half a page this past weekend. However I was able to polish chapter 8 a bit more. Removed a whole page of fluff, and I may remove another 3 paragraphs or so.

2003-10-21 (Tuesday) – Progress Report

Another weekend at the cabin, coming home Monday night: Worked on the story and finished the preliminary pass on chapter 8. It was tough going, spent a lot of hours on finishing the chapter, not completely satisfied (maybe too wordy). Starting chapter 9…

2003-10-12 (Sunday) – Progress Report

Went up to the cabin this weekend and took the notebook computer, worked on chapter 8 and got about 2/3 of the chapter written. I plan on rewriting each chapter as I write the next, I won't release 8 until the first pass of 10 is complete. I'm trying to minimize typos and other errors.

2003-10-10 (Friday) – The Next Book

Thus far I have a total of 13 books tentatively planned, with a synopsis paragraph for each. Because things can change quite radically as the story unfolds, I shall reveal only the very next book:

Book 2 – Milliscent Awakens

While on greeter duty with Fizzy, Milliscent meets Tedd Foxx and Trelane, a pair of high school sophomores. Tedd is a Fur and Trelane a Trekkie. She gives them a tour and finally Trelane must leave. Left alone with Millie, **** ***** **** *** ****** ***. (Sorry, the ending is classified.)

I have written a five page outline, which I'm very satisfied with. This might be good for another 60 pages (about the size of Book 1).

Oh yea, Tedd comes back again and again in future books (Book 5, Book 8, etc.)

2003-10-08 (Wednesday) – Changes to Milliscent's Appearance

I've kicked around ideas for Millie's appearance: currently she has double stripes on her back, which merge to a single stripe on her tail (see the end of chapter 1). I've been looking at photographs of skunks on the 'Net (mostly pets) and her appearance is starting to solidify in my mind: She'll keep her double white stripe going down her back, but then it will continue as a double stripe on her tail, rejoining at the tip. The black strip down the center of her back will continue unbroken from the base of her neck to the tip of her tail. The underside of her tail will be mostly black (with a few long white hairs showing at the sides except near the base, where white wraps partway around toward the underside). Finally, where the double white stripe comes down her back to join with her tail; it will continue a short way past her tail down onto her rump so that two small triangles of white are on her rump.

Her chest and belly will be mostly black, or I should say dark gray, as her glossy black guard hairs are shorter on her front and more of the lighter colored under-fur shows. It is not real common in black and white skunks of the species Mephitis mephitis, but she has a few white swirls on her belly and a white blaze on her upper chest. She also has a white spot on each knee. Skunk fanciers call these swirls and spots 'chips'. Her hands and feet will have all black fur, and the skin of her palms and soles will be a pinkish-black color. Her face will be black except for a narrow white stripe on the bridge of her nose. Of course the top of her head will be all white (except for black ears). And the end of her nose will be pinkish-black as well as her lips.

I'll see if I can get permission to publish some of the photos I found on those pet skunk web sites.

Finally, it looks to me (from all the small, low quality, fuzzy snapshots I've seen) that a skunk has a facial shape somewhat like that of a domestic ferret, but with smaller ears. Before I build a 3D model I should see if I could get good clean photos of some real adult female skunk faces.

2003-10-08 – Careful Reread of Book 1, and Possible Changes

Chapters 3 through 7 were kind of rushed, especially the higher numbered chapters. I was pushing to get the whole first book complete before I published it (I wrote those five chapters in two weeks), so I know there are problems that need to be fixed. I did look it over carefully too. I don't expect any of these issues to change the story.

In publishing future books I'll try releasing a chapter at a time, always staying two chapters behind what is being written. For example, I won't release the first chapter of Book 2 (chapter 8 overall) until I finish my first pass on the third chapter (chapter 10 overall). This should give me some time to read each chapter multiple times and find most bugs.

If someone sees a problem (misuse of a word, weird punctuation, confusing sentence structure, etc.) please drop me an e-mail. Let me know what chapter it was in and quote (exactly, if possible) the broken language and your suggested fix.

2003-10-08 – Millie's Warning to Nancy

In chapter 1 Millie is telling Nancy the rules that can get someone ejected from SkunkWks. She says, "And if you were a citizen, don't ever wear the bot avatars. Never, ever." Months after I originally wrote that, I wrote the Technical Background page. Millie and the rest of the bots are pulling their avatars from a bot server, for which they need the proper credentials. Therefore it is not possible for some random citizen to use the bot avatars (unless they are talented black hat). Millie does not need to give such a warning.

2003-10-08 – Comments in Technical Background

I mention a "peripheral tank" as if the human user must enter some kind of vat or tub to experience VR. This may be true in the latest research labs (in my 'storyverse' anyway), but most home users do not go to that much trouble. Most will have a head mounted display with headset and microphone and wear data-gloves (this is my future vision of man/machine interaction for any computer use). Those that have more money to spend specifically on VR will have a full body suit (not just the gloves) and a special chair (for walking, running, etc).

I should probably figure out how to say this and put it on that page.

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