Tag Archives: books

More Horrors Await You

IMG_0015Yet another new frontier awaits!

If it wasn’t bad enough that we invaded local television with the TV program Fusion Patrol many years ago, and now we’ve launched the almost-totally-unrelated Fusion Patrol Podcast for your Internet and iPod entertainment, now it looks like Apple is opening the iBookstore to self-published books.

I had this idea for a yet-even-more-totally-unrelated Fusion Patrol book… perhaps I should finish writing it while I’m in Taiwan.

According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog:

You don’t need a publisher, distributor, agent or anything else for that matter. You can decide how much to charge and which countries (that have an iBook store) to sell into. You also get the same deal as the app publishers, meaning that Apple takes 30% and you keep 70% of the revenue.

I’m there! Well… writing and finishing a book is probably the easiest part. I’m sure any author will agree…. ;-)

Book Recommendation – iPhone Development

Since I started programming computers a scant 31 years ago, I’ve had to learn many different programming languages – from ancients like COBOL, FORTRAN and RPG to more modern languages like Java. It’s all part of the game, but undeniably the programming paradigm has shifted beyond all recognition since I wrote that first TRS-80 Basic program all those years ago. They are increasingly more complex.

What I’ve found is that, with each language, there’s usually a key concept or concepts that “flips the light switch” to understanding. My latest endeavor, iPhone programming, involves learning both XCode development methods and Objective C. Objective C being an extension of C and a cousin of C++ – neither language is one that I’ve had much call to use. So, I’m really starting from scratch on this one.

Now, this “flip the switch” concept is probably different from one person to another, and, of course, it reflects certain cognitive biases towards certain forms of language and means of explanation – in short, your mileage may vary.

I was struggling trying to use Apple’s documentation, and even some of the other books on the market were not doing whatever it was that I needed. My latest acquisition, though, Dave Mark and Jeff LaMarche’s “Beginning iPhone Development – Exploring the iPhone SDK” has finally done what I needed to do, and the light has finally dawned.

Therefore I’d recommend this book to others looking to get their start with iPhone development. They do a nice job of explaining the (frankly bizarre) drag and drop use of Interface Builder to link the nib files to the Objective C code, which was one concept that was really giving me grief. (It all seems almost logical, now.)

Pity my plans for an iPhone Duckworth-Lewis calculator were scuttled to trade secrets. It’d be a handy tool for non-professional teams for use back in the pavilion.

Novel Writing without Thomas Hardy

It’s been a long time coming.

Ten years, in fact, since I first formulated the idea for Fusion Patrol: 1999 as a Public Access TV series.

Sadly, due to significant logistical problems that proved to be our undoing, we only got as far as producing the pilot episode, The Last Pizza and about 60% of principal photography on the second episode, Feng Shui.

Nonetheless, I have a significant pile (that’s the technical term) of material associated with it. Scripts, scraps of ideas and snippets of dialog all litter (that’s also the technical term) my hard drives. From time to time I dust them off and say, “I really need to do something with this.” I re-adapted them as radio plays, tried to storyboard them as comic books and even toyed with the idea of generating them in a CGI form, but all to no avail.

Two weeks ago, I undertook my latest effort, the novelization.

This is quite an interesting project. I’ve set a target of about 75,000-85,000 words, which is typical of the accepted publishing size of a new author, and am currently seven chapters into the book at about the 16,000 word mark. What’s interesting is the discipline of writing.

Writers are funny birds.

I used to know this guy who owned a bookstore, and then he decided to write novels. I certainly don’t claim him as more than an acquaintance, and although he’s a nice guy, he’s not the type I’d hang out with. (He’s the chain-smoking, hard-drinking, hard-liquor type.) Anyway, I was talking to him one day before his first book was published, and we came across the topic of writer’s discipline. He explained his system to me.

Every day I get up, I go to my typewriter and I write one chapter of my book before I allow myself a cigarette or a bourbon.

Now, neither of those appeals to me, so they wouldn’t work for me, but I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s one way to force yourself to write.” Then his book came out and I was comped a copy. I sat down to read the first chapter, hearing his words in my mind, as I read the first page. I turned the page and I was now reading Chapter 2. So much for discipline. :-)

On the other hand, I’ve read of the habits of other authors, such as Leslie Charteris and Ian Flemming, both had disciplined systems, treating their writing as (shock and awe) their job. They had set routines that they stuck to each day.

I’m afraid that doesn’t work for me, I find my writing to be very similar to the way I program. I’m a very fast programmer when I’m in the zone as it were, but I’m easily distracted. It helps when I turn up music really loud to drown out the rest of the world (Often, 007 or Star Trek soundtracks, or the Beatles or Herb Alpert). I can’t sleep with music on, it keeps my mind too active, but I can write because it seems to keep me on track. I never had understood that.

Still, I find myself plowing through a certain portion of the novel or a program and then, I must get up, pace dramatically around the room and go over in mind where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Any other writers out there have their quirky systems to share?