I found an old promotional postcard from my father’s video store for Flashdance. On the back, it says “On videodisc” for $29.95. 

Bruce Lee Eve

Posted: 27 March 2017 in Uncategorized

I attended a Bruce Lee Eve film festival back in 1987. Here are some flyers from it. It was the first time I saw two of his movies at the proper aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Until then, I had only seen the pan-and-scan versions on Beta and VHS. The 35mm prints were really bad though. Lots of splices and scratches. 

Of note is George Dillman. My initial impression of him wasn’t good. He struck me as a man who’d had his picture taken with Bruce Lee and then claimed to be a close friend (see flyer below).  He was cocky and standoffish. Flash forward 30 years and a quick Google or YouTube search reveals just the type of “martial artist” he is.

High School Art

Posted: 22 March 2017 in Arts, Personal History, Retro

I found this drawing I did in high school. It was from a step-by-step how-to draw. I actually have zero artistic ability. I wish I had put more effort into drawing. There are a lot of ideas I’d like to put to paper.

I happened to be in Korea in 1997 when Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition was released. This is a handout I got from the theater when I went to see it. Just in case you’re wondering, the film was in English with Korean subtitles. 

Star Wars Novelization

Posted: 28 February 2017 in Information, Movies, Retro

I ran across this pre-movie release novelization of Star Wars (note back cover “Soon to be a spectacular motion picture…”, the understatement of the year). December 1976, five months before Star Wars was released. I wonder how many people read the book before seeing the movie. 

I love the artwork on the front, obviously not how Vader appeared in the movie. I think he looks more sinister here. 

Comic Books

Posted: 28 February 2017 in Arts, Information, Literature, Personal History, Retro

Just going through some old comic books. These date back mostly to the late 70s and early 80s, but there are some newer ones, too. Not worth much, but great for nostalgia. 

I own the Marvel Comics movie adaptations of Star Wars. Mine are the 35¢ Reprint versions, worth very little. 

I also have the rerelease of these by Dark Horse Comics. Despite being the same artwork, there is one huge difference I noticed–the lightsaber coloring. 

In the originals, both Luke’s and Ben’s lightsabers were red. 

In the rerelease, they are the proper color–blue. As far as I can tell, all else is the same aside from more vibrant colors and higher quality paper stock. 

I also have a smaller Marvel comic in black and white, presumably the template for the color versions. 

Commodore 64 Programming

Posted: 5 May 2015 in Computing, Retro

This is a sample of my first serious attempt at programming the Commodore 64.  It’s a game that I started (at least conceptually) 25 years ago.  I was finally able to display a sprite and animate it over a scrolling map background.  Lots more work to do though…

A program that a friend of mine wrote on the Commodore 64 to promote my father’s expanding video store business. This would often play on a TV in his main store to attract potential partners. He also used a printed version of it when he met with people. This is screen capture of the program running in VICE, an emulator for Mac OS X (et al). I pulled the program from the original disk I had with a device called the ZoomFloppy that interfaces modern computers with the Commodore 1541 disk drive.

A gallery of sprites I made on the Commodore 64 circa 1984. I used “Sprite Magic”, a type-in program which was featured in a magazine called Compute!’s Gazette, to create the sprites. These were to be used in an adventure game, but I never did finish it. This gallery is taken from an actual 5 1/4″ Commodore 1541 floppy disk that I copied to .d64 format for use on an emulator on my MacBook.

Ninja Fight – 1985

Posted: 23 September 2014 in Arts, Movies, Music, Personal History, Retro

When I was in high school, one of my dreams was to become a film maker. I had made some stop-motion animation tests in Eighth Grade, mostly with a black-and-white video camera and Betamax machine but also some 8mm film (which never got developed). I’m not sure if the videotapes still exist or not, but I did find one tape a few years back that contained a martial arts (ninja) movie I made in high school circa 1985. The tape had deteriorated so bad that it was barely salvagable. The in-camera edits caused many dropouts and glitches because the Beta VCR we used didn’t have a flying erase head.

I edited it a bit with some sound effects and slow motion just to play around with iMovie and get it down to a tolerable length. I also added the original soundtrack (also salvaged from an old audio tape) back in since the copy I had was an older edit. No amount of editing or digital restoration can help the content though.

Anyway, here it is…

The Frame – Jamin Winans

Posted: 23 September 2014 in Arts, Movies, News

Just watched the trailer for “The Frame”, an upcoming movie by Jamin Winans. It’s hard to tell much about the movie from the trailer, but if this movie is anything like Winans’ previous films, then it will certainly be worth seeing.

Jamin Winans is known for the movie “Ink”, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. The only reason I don’t rank it number one is because that spot is reserved for “Star Wars”. I first saw Star Wars (now Episode IV) during its premiere run in 1977 when I was in Fourth Grade. No matter how much critics berate it or how bad it really is, I’ll always remember it through a Fourth Grader’s eyes and the excitement I had watching it again and again.

But “Ink” is far better in terms of storytelling, an intellectual movie for the adult mind. The music and cinematography are also wonderful. What’s sad is that no major movie studio would pick up Ink (opting for lower quality crap IMO), so Jamin Winans and his wife, Kiowa, distributed it on DVD, Blu-Ray, and online themselves. Ink’s popularity is due in part to its release onto Torrent sites. Here’s what the Winans had to say about it:

Dear Fans and Friends,

Over the weekend something pretty extraordinary happened. Ink got ripped off. Someone bit torrented the movie (we knew this would happen) and they posted it on every pirate site out there. What we didn’t expect was that within 24 hours Ink would blow up. Ink became the number 1 most downloaded movie on several sites having been downloaded somewhere between 150,000 to 200,000 times as far as we can tell. Knowing there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it, we’ve embraced the piracy and are just happy Ink is getting unprecedented exposure.

As a result, Ink is now ranked #16 on IMDb’s movie meter and is currently one of the top 20 most popular movies in the world.

This all started as a result of the completely underground buzz that you’ve each helped us create. We’ve had no distributor, no real advertising and yet the word of mouth that you’ve generated has made the film blow up as soon as it became available worldwide. So many of you came to see the movie multiple times, bringing friends and family and many of you have bought the DVD and Blu-ray from us. All of this built up and built up and suddenly it exploded.

We don’t know exactly where this will all lead, but the exposure is unquestionably a positive thing.

Ink hits Netflix, Blockbuster, iTunes and many more tomorrow! Remember to get your signed copies, t-shirts and posters at the Ink Store.

Thank you so much for the constant love and support.

Jamin and Kiowa
Double Edge Films

Here is the full story.

Here’s the trailer for Ink:

Winans has also made numerous shorts, including “Uncle Jack”, which is my favorite from him.

Retro, Retro – Metropolis

Posted: 21 September 2014 in Information, Movies, Music, Retro

Just finished watching the 1984 Giorgio Moroder version of Fritz Lang’s 1927 futuristic dystopian classic “Metropolis”.  I had seen the original years ago, but never the 1984 Moroder version.  I have to admit, I quite enjoyed the 80s soundtrack – a double dose of retro – though the version was panned by many critics.  I’ve always enjoyed Moroder’s work, especially his movie soundtracks — Scarface, Midnight Express, Electric Dreams, Flashdance, Top Gun, just to name a few.

Many scenes from the original were lost over time, but have been rediscovered.  Moroder’s version from 1984 did an admirable job of reconstructing the film from what was available, but was still very incomplete.  According to Wikipedia the run times are:  153 minutes (1927 premiere, lost); 82 minutes (1984 restoration); 118 minutes (2002 restoration); and 148 minutes (2010 restoration).  The 2010 restoration is the most complete to date after a 16mm negative was discovered in Argentina containing footage previously thought lost forever.

I ran across this the other day and wanted to repost it.

Making a C64/C65 compatible computer in an FPGA

It’s a project by Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen to develop a Commodore 64 / Commodore 65 compatible system in a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). There have been other similar projects for the Commodore 64, but not a hardware version of the Commodore 65 (a successor to the C64, but was unreleased to the mass market, with only a few of the prototypes being sold) that I know of.

What I like about this is that Dr. Gardner-Stephen (in his own words) “purposely used an off-the-shelf FPGA board, so no one has to wait for a PCB production run. Just buy yourself a Nexys4 board and get a spare SD card 2GB or less in size.”

Specs for the board are here (on the Digilent website – not an advertisement, just the first site I ran across).

I’m looking forward to seeing a completed version of a hardware (FPGA) Commodore 64.


VNC ViewerScreenSnapz009

The Annelid Project – Coming Soon

Posted: 16 September 2014 in Writing

Hoping to finish our first novel soon.

Chronology Protection Conjecture

Introducing 80 Days

Posted: 10 September 2014 in Uncategorized

As a follow-up to my last post, I thought I’d post the authors’ video introduction to their interactive book 80 Days. Looks interesting. Kind of like choose-your-own-adventure books.

I just read an article on CNN.com about “superbooks” (CNN’s term), interactive books that let you participate in the story.

The full article is here.

It’s an interesting concept, but is really nothing new.

Interactive Fiction as a computer medium has been around since the 70s when Will Crowther made Colossal Cave Adventure (also known as ADVENT, Colossal Cave, or Adventure) circa 1975-76 for the PDP-10 system. Crowther was a programmer and caving enthusiast who based the layout on part of the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky. He later collaborated in 1976–1977 with Don Woods, who made significant expansions and improvements with Crowther’s blessing. A big fan of Tolkien, Woods introduced additional fantasy elements, such as elves and a troll. (Wikipedia)

Another well-known interactive fiction work was Zork: The Great Underground Empire, also created on a PDP-10 in 1977-1979 by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling, MIT students at the time.

Zork was my first experience with interactive fiction. My father gave me the only copy he had for sale in his video store, the Commodore 64 version.

Zork I C-64 Folio

I was surprised that the article mentioned nothing about the previous interactive fiction games and companies, especially popular through the 80s. Not to mention Graham Nelson’s fantastic (my opinion) interactive fiction authoring system Inform 7.

After reading the article from CNN, I explored the inkle studios website (here) and found that Emily Short is a contributor to their work. Emily is well known in the interactive fiction community, working on the Inform 7 project and authoring several works of her own. Her WordPress blog can be found here. Very interesting reading.

I’m curious to see how “superbooks” catch on with readers.

I still enjoy the Infocom-style (et al) interactive fiction games.

A letter dated August 26, 1952 we found in the projection booth of the old Ritz Theatre in Ansted, WV when my father was preparing to reopen it as Cinema 63 in 1978.


More information at Cinema Treasures http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/44697/photos

The 1863 Cinema flyer advertising the opening of Cinema 63:


Flyer advertising an Atari game tournament at my father’s video and computer store, Computavid, on Saturday November 6th, 1982.


Screenshots of the competition games…



Cosmic Ark (space)


Cosmic Ark (surface)




Various pictures of the 1863 Cinema circa 1979 and 2000.

I’m currently reading (actually listening to the audio book) Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and it reminded me of “Nightfall”, one of his short stories. It also reminded me of Robert Reed’s short story “Night Calls”, which apparently pays homage to “Nightfall”. I read Reed’s story in Asimov Magazine a couple of times, but didn’t really get the point of it. I thought the author would appreciate an inquiry, so I sent this to him:

Hi Bob,

I read “Night Calls” a while back (twice actually) in Asimov’s, and I’m hesitant to ask this because I’m probably missing the obvious, but could you explain to me what it was about? I’m sure there’s something deeper, but I just didn’t get it.

Thanks (and I hope I’m not coming across as implying something was wrong with the story).


I was quite surprised when I got the following snarky reply:

Hello Kevin,

Nope, I’m not helping. You’re on your own.


Bob R.

Not sure what his problem was. My reply:

I thought you’d appreciate the inquiry. You didn’t have to be a d*** about it even if you do think it’s beneath you to explain what it was about. Sorry I f****** asked.

Probably not very professional of me I know, but I included my response in this post in the spirit of full disclosure. I’m sure Reed and/or his fans will have issue with my comments regarding his attitude, but I dont care. It was rude and uncalled for.

Short Stories Published

Posted: 25 July 2014 in News, Writing

My short story “Lost Time” has been published in the Dark Mountains anthology.


And my story “Eternal Memories” has been reprinted in the What Lies Beneath anthology.

The anthology contains mostly dark horror, so the cover doesn’t really represent the content of my story. Nevertheless, I’m happy to see it in print again.



The 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition doesn’t officially open until July, but in the meantime check out their new website. Going on 20 years now, IFComp is (according to their website):

The 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition doesn’t officially open until July, but in the meantime check out their new website. Going on 20 years now, IFComp is (according to their website):

The Interactive Fiction Competition is an annual event begun by passionate hobbyists in 1995 to encourage both the creation and the discussion of new interactive fiction works (also known as IF). While the definition of IF has evolved in the years since then, the IFComp’s format and schedule have remained stable since the 1990s. Anyone can judge the entries on a one-to-ten scale, and the laurels go to the entries receiving the best average rating.

Inform 7, an interactive fiction authoring language/suite, has a new release. 



Eternal Memories Cover

Cover for my upcoming anthology of previously published short stories, written with Thomas C. Johnson (together as Patrick Christian).

Image  —  Posted: 15 October 2013 in Information, News, Writing

1863 Cinema

Posted: 17 July 2013 in Personal History, Retro

A video tour taken 21 years after the closing of the “1863 Cinema”, my father’s theater in 1977-1979. We wrote the names of all the movies on the projection booth walls (the first part of the video).

A friend of mine sent me this link about a 21-year-old author, Samantha Shannon, who has an upcoming novel The Bone Season, the first of a seven-part series.

Is Samantha Shannon the Next J.K. Rowling?


My 3rd Place ribbon from a county writing tournament in grade school (circa 1980-1981).

Image  —  Posted: 30 March 2013 in Personal History, Retro, Writing


Another playbill from 1978.

Image  —  Posted: 30 March 2013 in Personal History, Retro


An original playbill from my father’s theater in 1978.

Image  —  Posted: 30 March 2013 in Personal History, Retro

I just found my 3rd Place certificate from grade school (6th or 7th Grade) for the county WREECH tournament. It was for my short story “The Scientist, Mad?” circa 1980-1981.


Image  —  Posted: 30 March 2013 in Personal History, Retro, Writing

A very late post, but the 18th Annual IFComp voting ends today. Once again, I’ve missed the opportunity to enter a game into the competition (something that I’ve wanted to do since around 2001 when a friend and I started writing it).

From the official site:


For the last seventeen years, the readers of the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.int-fiction have held a yearly interactive fiction competition. For fans of the old Infocom games as well as for newcomers to the genre, the competition is a chance to enjoy some of the best short adventure games available anywhere.

Maybe next year.

E-Book Formatting for Novelists

Posted: 15 November 2012 in News

I just discovered on Amazon that K.C. May, author of Venom of Vipers and The Kinshield Saga, has released a free Kindle book on how to format e-books. The process is a bit cumbersome, but her book is helpful in getting first-timers through the process. The only drawback is that it’s for Windows users only, but many of the programs referenced are in fact available for Mac (or a suitable alternative is available).

Synaptic Void, the anthology with my story, is finally out at Amazon. Unfortunately, it’s already sold out. I wasn’t expecting it out so soon and forgot to check for the past couple of week.


Synaptic Void Update

Posted: 29 April 2012 in Uncategorized, Writing

One of my short stories (Graceful Exit) will appear in the upcoming Synaptic Void anthology along with a collaborative effort with Thomas C. Johnson (Binary).

Here’s what the editor posted on his blog:

This anthology is now officially closed, and with some great stories, I might add. I just sent everything off to Chris, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer until its out!

Now on to the winner of best story… Congratulations to Ran Cartwright for his story “The Last Singularity.”

Close runners up were “Graceful Exit” by Kevin P. Kilburn and “Pupils” by Wol-viery

Many thanks to everyone who submitted. It’s going to be a great anthology!

Buy the book…please

Posted: 12 February 2012 in Uncategorized, Writing

Stories in the Ether Issue 3 is available for only $2.99 from Amazon. The authors get royalties from the sales.


Graceful Exit

Posted: 11 February 2012 in Uncategorized, Writing

My flash fiction work “Graceful Exit” has been accepted for publication. Not much to tell about it because it’s less than 1,000 words and “experimental” in that the format is part of the story telling. It will appear in the upcoming Synaptic Void anthology with “Binary” (writing as Patrick Christian – a collaborative effort with a friend of mine, Thomas Johnson).

The Synaptic Void anthology, which will feature Binary, a story by Patrick Christian (the pen name for collaborative efforts between me and Thomas C. Johnson – our middle names).

So far, the antho is up to 40K words.

The Last Singularity by Ran Cartwright
Dear Mom and If Buk Wrote Sci-fi by David S. Pointer
Invaders We by Martin Zeigler
The Death and Life of 14RR-E by Jake Johnson
Alpha and Omega by Voss Foster
Binary by Patrick Christian
Ego Trip by John H. Dromey
The Bachelor by Ron Koppelberger
Memories of Jonathan Lampedius by Howard Cincotta
As Nature Intended by Ken Goldman
Edge of Twilight by Matthew Wilson
Deejnoy 351c by Dene Bebbington
Ganglion Trains by Sean Monaghan
Rat Pack by Lee Clark Zumpe
Pupils by Wol-vriey
Snowbound, With Wolves by Dave Fragments
Death of Progression by Matthew Wilson
Dead Air by Matthew Wilson

Read more: http://staticmovement.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=bizarro&action=display&thread=689&page=2#ixzz1lwdJTemK

Stories in the Ether Issue 3

Posted: 10 February 2012 in Uncategorized, Writing

Stories in the Ether Issue 3 is out now as an eBook. One of my stories, “Eternal Memories”, is featured in it. Authors get royalties from the sales. These will later become a printed anthology to be published later this year.


Seems that A Glitch in the Continuum is not destined for publication. The new publisher (after the old one cancelled), Pill Hill Press, has also cancelled Glitch. Too many of the original authors bailed out making it unviable for Pill Hill to continue with it. When I get time, I’ll submit my story “The Healing Time” elsewhere (and now I have the opportunity to change the title, which was a reference to a part of the story that I eventually removed, making the title a bit obscure now).

Translated from Italian news via the Panorama military newspaper, Friday 16 December 2011 edition.

Wine bottle writing contest grows in popularity

According to Italy’s statistic agency ISTAT, more than half of Italians don’t read even a book a year that is not imposed by their work or study duties. One Italian family out of 10 doesn’t have a single book at home, the survey reported. Since people read very little in Italy, winemakers and a leading Italian bookstore decided six years ago to promote reading in a particular way. They set up a short story contest for amateur writers on a subject related to wine, and three winners would have had their works published on the backs of wine bottles. This year, winners will see their short stories published in the form of tiny booklets attached to the bottles of wine. This contest’s popularity grew over the years, to include about 1,000 short stories, and the organizers are now thinking about extending the contest in Europe, as well as in the United States and Canada.

Interesting concept. I haven’t yet seen the stories on the backs of wine bottles here in Italy, but I’ll be looking now that I’m aware of it. I hope this finds its way to the States.

When I was in grade school, I really enjoyed horror movies and comics. I had always thought I owned some horror comics in 5th Grade, but it could have been later, perhaps 6th or even 8th. I always had a memory of a particular one that had a graphic beheading as the title page (and again later in the story). I didn’t remember the name of the story or the magazine that contained it, but a few years ago I found a book called The Zombie Factory, and it contained the story “A Corpse for the Coffin” – the one I remembered from years ago.

There was another story I remembered reading around the same time. It was about a man visiting a castle in search of a tapestry. He encountered a vampire, whom he destroyed at the end in sunlight. After searching for some time, I found a website that listed all of the horror comics by Eerie Publications. “The Hungry Vampire” seemed like the story, so I ordered a DVD ROM of the comics and confirmed that it was in fact the story I remembered.

I found that both “The Hungry Vampire” and “A Corpse for the Coffin” were published many times over the years. Both were published in Weird Vampire Tales in subsequent issues, January 1981 and April 1981. This puts them in 7th Grade for me, which doesn’t seem right because I really (think) I remember reading them in 5th Grade.

It’s possible that both stories were published in some other magazine, but I haven’t yet found anything.

Anyway, listed below are all of the Eerie Publications that contained the stories from 1978 onward (taken from the website above). If anyone knows of other publications that contained these particular stories, please let me know.

Terror Tales v9n1, Jan 1978, 68pp, $1.50
Cover reprinted from Weird v8n4b

The Horror Doll – Reprinted from Tales From the Tomb v6n5
Living Corpse – Reprinted from Tales From the Tomb v6n5
The Witches Coven – Reprinted from Horror Tales v3n4
Dead Dummies – Reprinted from Weird v3n5
The Zombies Vault – Reprinted from Terror Tales v2n3
A Corpse For the Coffin – Reprinted from Witches Tales v2n4
Satan’s Demon – Reprinted from Horror Tales v2n5
The Transparent Ones – Reprinted from Tales of Voodoo v5n4
The Devil’s Machine – Reprinted from Tales of Voodoo v4n5
Mask of Horror – Reprinted from Weird v6n6

Weird Vampire Tales v5n2a, Apr 1981, 60pp, $2.50

Fangs of Horror – Reprinted from Witches Tales v6n2
The Flesh Eaters – Reprinted from Tales of Voodoo v5n5
Vampires Plague – Reprinted from Terror Tales v7n1
The Evil Trip – Reprinted from Weird Worlds v2n3
Vampire – Reprinted from Tales of Voodoo v7n2
The Demons Night – Reprinted from Terror Tales v4n1
A Corpse For the Coffin – Reprinted from Witches Tales v2n4
Dead Thing Among Us – Reprinted from Tales From the Tomb v6n6
Signed in Blood – Reprinted from Tales of Voodoo v3n1

Weird Vampire Tales v5n1, Jan 1981, 60pp, $1.95

The Strange Vampire – Reprinted from Horror Tales v4n4
Snakepit – Reprinted from Weird v7n7
The Fleshrippers – Reprinted from Weird v7n6
Drowned in Sand- Reprinted from Weird v7n6
The Hungry Vampire- Reprinted from Weird v6n3
The Invaders – Reprinted from Weird Worlds v2n4
[When They Meet the] Vampire – Reprinted from Witches Tales v6n1
Werewolf – Reprinted from Weird v4n4
Fangs of Terror – Reprinted from Terror Tales v6n2

Terrors of Dracula v1n5, Nov 1979, 68pp, $1.75
Cover reprinted from Horror Tales v5n4

Inside Front Cover – Reprints art from cover of Weird v7n5
The Evil Black Cats – Reprinted from Witches Tales v3n2
The Hungry Vampire- Reprinted from Weird v6n3
Where the Flesheaters Dwell – Reprinted from Tales From the Tomb v6n2
The Spider – Reprinted from Tales From the Tomb v6n1
Swamp Monsters – Reprinted from Tales From the Tomb v2n2
Fangs of Terror – Reprinted from Terror Tales v6n2
The Hungry Ghoul – Reprinted from Tales of Voodoo v3n4
The Deadly Corpse – Reprinted from Tales of Voodoo v5n2
The Blind Monsters – Reprinted from Weird v9n1
Satan’s Cat – Reprinted from Horror Tales v2n2
Back Cover – Reprints art from cover of Weird v7n3

If I had to pinpoint when I became a writer, I’d probably say “Fifth Grade”. That’s a long time ago, 1978-1979 to be exact, but I believe it’s when I took my first step to becoming an author. Of course, at that time, my knowledge of writing was limited. One of the first stories I wrote was about Santa Claus getting sick and Mrs. Claus having to dress up as him and deliver the presents. Sound familiar? It should. I plagiarized The Year Without a Santa Claus.


It wasn’t intentional plagiarism. I just didn’t have an understanding of writing and that you couldn’t simply retell a story and call it your own. Mrs. Boggs was nice enough not to call me out on it (I’m quite certain she and everyone else in the class had seen the special on TV before) and even read it to the class. For some reason I missed school that day and they had lost the second sheet of paper (which had two lines on it). She said that she was able to read the last two lines that I had erased (written on the half-line at the bottom) though.

My memory is a bit vague on exactly when I wrote my first “Mad Scientist” story, but it was definitely in Middle School (6th – 8th Grade). (For accuracy, my school had grades 1 – 8 all in the same building and was called Elementary School.) Because we switched classes, I have memories of writing stories in each classroom, but I think it was 6th Grade because I used to give my stories to Mr. Walker, our homeroom teacher, to read. He was very accommodating and actually read my stories week to week.

I patterned my stories after the 1940s serials where each chapter would end with the hero (or one of the good guys) in peril and the viewers would have to see the next chapter the following week. When I was in 5th Grade, there was a short-lived TV series called Cliffhangers that tired to revive the serials, but the series never finished.

Each week, I’d write a new chapter of “The Mad Scientist” and would draw the cover art to go with it. Around this time, I was also dreaming of becoming a comic book artist/writer, though I lacked any talent in drawing. I had several “covers” for stories, though never really wrote any of them. “Iceberg” comes to mind, though I can’t imagine now what type of story I had in mind when I made the title. “The Iron Soldier” was a comic (Sgt. Rock copy) I was trying to do, but it died a quick death also.

In 7th or 8th Grade, we had county-wide writing tournaments. The first I remember was called WREECH (Writing/Speech), the latter called SPRITE (Speech/Writing). I won Third Place for my story “The Scientist, Mad?” This was a revision of my Mad Scientist serials, condensed into just two chapters with the first ending in a car-crash cliffhanger where, Allen, the main character barely escaped.

It was Mrs. Arthur’s insistence that I rename my story from “The Mad Scientist” to “The Scientist, Mad?”. I never liked it at the time, but I thought she knew best and went with it. In retrospect, it was probably a better title, though I’m not sure anything could have helped the content.

This was my first attempt at dialogue (believe it or not, my previous stories had NONE). I can imagine if the phrase “epic fail” existed back then, it would have been used to describe the dialogue in my story.

The exchange went something like this:

Allen and John opened the box in the warehouse.

“Oh my gosh, it’s a bomb,” Allen said.

“You got a dime, bud,” John replied.

Allen handed John the dime and they went to call the police.

As they went outside, the warehouse exploded.

Ugh, I know. I unfortunately have a really good memory, so sadly that’s an almost exact copy of my original story dialogue. I’m sure there was more, but belaboring the point would most certainly be too painful for anyone reading this.

Remarkably, I did win Third Place (I’m hoping that there were at least FOUR participants so I can claim not to have come in dead last). The comment on my paper was “A young Hemingway…” though I don’t recall the rest of it. I’m sure the judges were just being nice.

I also did a “descriptive writing” entry that didn’t place at all. My original idea was to do “Dracula’s Castle”, but I got lazy and at crunch time wrote “Pac Man” instead. Even the best of authors would have a hard time making Pac Man interesting in text, so you can imagine my effort … “I guided my bright yellow dot around the maze gobbling up the smaller white dots while avoiding the red, pink, orange, and blue ghosts…” I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but it’s probably a memory best left forgotten. Mrs. Arthur reminded me afterward that I should have written Dracula’s Castle.

I didn’t pursue much writing after that, with the exception of some attempted game writing and script writing in high school and my first years of college. Maybe more on that later…

“Binary” Accepted

Posted: 27 November 2011 in Uncategorized, Writing

“Binary” was just accepted to the Synaptic Void anthology, edited by Joe Jablonski.


“Binary” is by Patrick Christian, my and my friend’s pen name for our joint projects.  (Patrick Christian is our middle names — Kevin P. Kilburn and Thomas C. Johnson).  Binary is flash fiction.  I originally had a self-imposed 750-word limit, but it wasn’t possible to tell the story with that limit. I increased it to 1,000 words, which allowed me and Thomas to finish it.

The story stemmed from a writing project (experiment) we did together.  We each wrote a scene without divulging to the other where we were headed with it.  We alternated back and forth over a period of a few weeks.  “Binary” features one of the characters and a refinement of a scene in our project.  I was really happy with it, so I decided to make it a stand-alone story and recruited Thomas to help polish it up.

Co-writing is difficult.  I can see why collaborators split even after several succesful screenplays/movies.  Sometimes the writers just want to go in different directions and if neither give, then there’s going to be some conflict, perhaps to the point where resolution is impossible.

Thomas and I started on an interactive fiction game, which turned into a sci-fi novel, but we never completed the project.  It got stuck in the conceptual phase because we never established a “good idea cutoff point”.  I hope that we can complete it someday because I think it’s a good story with solid characters and scientific background.

I have another story in the works which also comes from our writing project/experiment.  I’m not sure where this one will go in terms of length, but I think it will be at least a short story.  I’m thinking about a series of stories, all set in our world we created from our project.  There are lots of possibilities.


I just purchased the Index Card app for iPad.  It’s a notecard system for writing that synchs with Scrivener via the Dropbox service/app.


This tutorial explains it in detail:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoGevEX1SUM

In short, Index Card requires a “flat” structure, so if the Scrivener project contains folders with documents inside, Index Card won’t recognize it.  In order to use Index Card, the Scrivener project must be set up with Collections.  The documents are selected and added to a Collection (I named mine Index Card Synch).  The Collection is saved in the Dropbox folder through Scrivener’s menus (see the tutorial for more detail).  Now, the file can be opened on the iPad with Index Card and edited.

Looks really useful at this point, but I’m always a bit hesitant to synch things over a network because of the danger of file corruption.  There are several threads on the Literature and Latte site (creators of Scrivener).  http://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=22

This is important to note — how Index Card stores the text from Scrivener (it’s on the “back” of the index cards, something that wasn’t evident to me at first).


"Glitch" is a go!

Posted: 7 November 2011 in Uncategorized

A Glitch in the Continuum is being published by Pill Hill Press.

Hello, wonderful authors!

As the subject heading says, GLITCH is going ahead with Pill Hill Press! I have to reformat the manuscript to account for the couple of authors who’ve dropped out, and in the meantime Jessy’s going to draw up the author and editor contracts. I should have another update in a week or so! Cheers for sticking with this! 



“A Glitch in the Continuum” was put on indefinite hold a few weeks ago, but it looks like it may have another life and could possibly get published in both PDF and hardcopy in about three weeks.  Fingers crossed.

Here are the documents I’m reading to learn LaTeX and Multimarkdown (MMD).  They are scattered in various places and some I found only from a message board posting (didn’t show up in any search I did, even though it was exactly what I was looking for).

Please let me know if any of the links don’t work.

LaTeX Tutorials – A Primer by the Indian TeX Users Group

The LaTeX Tutorials document is about 155 pages and covers “The Basics” (Tutorial 1), bibliographies, tables of contents, typesetting mathematics, boxes, and cross references (to name a few).  I think this should be the first document you read if you’re unfamiliar with LaTeX.

The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX 2e

This is a comprehensive reference on LaTeX by Tobias Oetiker, Hubert Partl, Irene Hyna, and Elisabeth Schlegl written in 2011.   It’s 190 pages and it’s subtitle is “Or LaTeX in 174 minutes”.  I like the organization of the document and that the PDF version (not sure there is another version though) has hyperlinks from the table of contents and from within the document (to external URLs).

LaTeX 2e for Authors by the LaTeX3 Project Team

This is an “advanced” document for LaTeX 2e.  From the Introduction “LaTeX2e is the new standard of the LaTeX Document Preparation System.  This document describes how to take advantage of the new features of LaTeX, and how to process your old LaTeX documents with LaTeX2e.  However, this document is only a brief introduction to the new facilities, and is intended for authors who are already familiar with the old version of LaTeX.  It is not a reference manual for LaTeX2e nor is it a complete introduction to LaTeX.”

This document was published in 2001.

The Memoir Class for Configurable Typesetting (in LaTeX)

This is the 8th Edition of the User Guide for The Memoir Class.  It’s 547 pages, but many of the pages are examples of the various features of the Memoir Class.  (I capitalize memoir, but technically I guess it should not be because it’s written in all lowers in the text).

From the Remarks to the User page “memoir gives you many ways to change the appearance of your document, and also provides some ready-made styles that might be appropriate for your purposes.  As you can see, this manual is not slim and attempts to describe in some detail how the various aspects of memoir work and gives examples of how you can change these to better match your needs.”

Markdown Syntax Cheat Sheet

I had a hard time finding this (mostly because I was searching for Multimarkdown cheat sheet).  In any case, this is a nice quick reference for Markdown.

LaTeX for Word Processor Users version 1.0.8 by Guido Gonzato, Ph.D.

From the document:  “First of all, let me state that this is not a LaTeX primer!  If you’re reading this document, I assume that you have at least a basic understanding of LaTeX and of its basic commands.  In this guide, I’ll explain how to replace a word processor effectively using LaTeX.”

Using Imported Graphics in LaTeX and pdfLaTeX

“This document describes first how to import graphics into LaTeX documents and then covers a wide variety [of] issues about their use.”

This is a bit advanced and I haven’t read much of it yet.

The MultiMarkdown User’s Guide Version 3.2 by Fletcher T. Penney

The reference for MMD written by the creator himself.

A short manual for TeXworks

TeXworks comes as part of the MacTeX distribution.  This is the manual for it.  I prefer TeXshop, though that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with TeXworks.

I’ll post some more later if/when I find things that are useful.

LaTeX on Wikibooks

Posted: 31 October 2011 in Uncategorized

Here is a Wikibooks article on LaTeX.  Lots of good info for the beginner in it.



Posted: 31 October 2011 in Information, News, Writing

I recently discovered LaTeX, a typesetting program, while searching for book templates for Microsoft Word.  I began writing a retrocomputing book on the Commodore 64 using Word, but had a hard time formatting the text exactly like I wanted.  I search for various templates and even considered switching to a desktop publishing program, but nothing seemed to work.

I found a few articles on LaTeX.  The Wikipedia definition is:

LATEX (play /ˈltɛk//ˈltɛx//ˈlɑːtɛx/, or /ˈlɑːtɛk/) is a document markup language and document preparation system for the TEXtypesetting program. Within the typesetting system, its name is styled as \LaTeX. The term LATEX refers only to the language in which documents are written, not to the editor used to write those documents. In order to create a document in LATEX, a .tex file must be created using some form of text editor. While most text editors can be used to create a LATEX document, a number of editors have been created specifically for working with LATEX.
LATEX is widely used in academia.[1][2] As a primary or intermediate format, e.g., translating DocBook and other XML-based formats toPDF, LATEX is used because of the high quality of typesetting achievable by TEX. The typesetting system offers programmable desktop publishing features and extensive facilities for automating most aspects of typesetting and desktop publishing, including numbering and cross-referencing, tables and figures, page layout and bibliographies.
LATEX is intended to provide a high-level language that accesses the power of TEX. LATEX essentially comprises a collection of TEXmacros and a program to process LATEX documents. Because the TEX formatting commands are very low-level, it is usually much simpler for end-users to use LATEX.
LATEX was originally written in the early 1980s by Leslie Lamport at SRI International.[3] It has become an important method for using TEX.[citation needed] The current version is LATEX2e (styled \LaTeXe).
As it is distributed under the terms of the LATEX Project Public License (LPPL), LATEX is free software.

This turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.  In a single lunch hour, I was able to produce a document in LaTeX formatted very similarly to what I wanted.

The official website for LaTeX is here:


It says:

LaTeX is a document preparation system for high-quality typesetting. It is most often used for medium-to-large technical or scientific documents but it can be used for almost any form of publishing.
LaTeX is not a word processor! Instead, LaTeX encourages authors not to worry too much about the appearance of their documents but to concentrate on getting the right content. 

Here are some chapter style examples from the Memoir Class (a package available for LaTeX):


The learning curve is a bit steep for LaTeX (at least for me).  I’d liken it to learning HTML.  You could learn the basics pretty quickly, but to be good at it will take some time and effort.  For me, this effort is worth it because the LaTeX system 1) produces professional-quality documents and 2) allows me to focus on writing rather than messing around with the formatting (a pitfall for procrastinators like me).  I’ve decided to move forward with my book using LaTeX.

There are some other attractive aspects to this system:

1.  LaTeX is available in a Mac distribution called MacTeX.  MacTeX contains (from the MacTeX Wiki):

MacTeX is the official release of the MacTeX Technical Working Group. A very Mac-like installation using the Apple installer, so the installation process will be very familiar to Mac users.
MacTeX includes the most recent official standard distribution of TeX Live (the modern TeX distribution standard of TUG) for the Mac, a front end, documentation and extras.
MacTeX 2010 was released 2010-09-08 and is approximately 1.6Gb [1] .
MacTeX 2008 was released 2008-09-01 and includes:

  • selected GUI Applications including:
  • TeX Live
  •  fonts in formats suitable for system-wide use:

Go to MacTeX to download.
See TeX Live for details of installation set-up and administration.

2.  Scrivener will export to LaTeX.  Scrivener is a Mac-based writing program (now also available for Windows).  http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php?show=features

Scrivener is payware, but it’s a paltry $45 (US) for an excellent software program.  (And no, I’m not a compensated endorser for Scrivener — it’s just something I have found useful).

Below is from the Literature and Latte website (the creators/sellers of Scrivener) and shows some of the features of Scrivener…


The cork notice-board is one of the writer’s most familiar organisational tools. Before Scrivener, though, the index cards were not connected to anything; any alterations made to the sequence of cards on the corkboard would have to be replicated manually in the draft. In Scrivener, every document is attached to a virtual index card onto which you can jot a synopsis; moving the cards on Scrivener’s corkboard rearranges their associated text in your draft. Mark common themes or content using labels; stack cards, grouping related documents together; or place cards anywhere on the board using freeform mode. Scrivener’s corkboard gives you all the flexibility of a real notice-board while automatically reflecting any changes you make in your manuscript.


Prefer a more traditional planning environment? View and edit the synopses and meta-data of your documents in Scrivener’s powerful outliner. Organise your ideas using as many or few levels as you want and drag and drop to restructure your work. Check word counts, see what’s left to do using the Status column and create custom columns to store any information you need. Scrivener’s outliner is easy on the eyes, too, making it ideal for reading and revising an overview of a section, chapter or even the whole draft.


Scrivener’s innovative “Scrivenings” mode allows you to move smoothly between editing your document one piece at a time or together as a whole. It’s up to you how small—or large—you want to make the individual sections of your manuscript: novelists can write each scene in a separate document or whole chapters as one; scriptwriters can work scene-by-scene or act-by-act; academics can break down their ideas into individual arguments. However finely you break up your work, Scrivenings mode allows you to collect the constituent components into a single editor, so that you can edit them as though they were all part of one document: in Scrivener, you’re only ever a click away from seeing the forest or the trees.

Text Editing

Who said WYSIWYG is always best?

Scrivener provides access to all the features of the OS X text system: add tables, bullet points and images and format your text however you want using the format bar at the top of the page. Add footnotes and comments in the inspector and choose how they should be laid out when you export or print. Enter page layout view to see your words on virtual pages, which can be set up to mimic your printer settings or the pages of a book. And because the font and style you find most comfortable for writing and editing may not be the same as those required in your final document, Scrivener’s advanced Compile settings optionally allow you to print or export your work in a completely different format.

Tools for Writing Non-Fiction

MathType equationsScrivener isn’t just for writing novels and other forms of fiction. You will find a number of useful academic templates for writing papers, essays, and dissertations in common style formats, including Chicago style essay format, APA & MLA papers, Undergraduate Humanities essay format, as well as general non-fiction, technical writing and research proposals. Integrate your preferred bibliography management software into Scrivener’s menu system for easy on-demand access to your library of references. Using MultiMarkdown, you can create LaTeX documents with a great degree of flexibility. As of version 2.1, you can include beautifully typeset editable MathType equations in your work. Those working with gigantic libraries of reference material in PDF and other formats will appreciate the ability to link to original files rather than importing them into the project, giving you the best of both worlds: Scrivener’s built-in split viewing and full Binder organisation, without the overhead of storing gigabytes of research data in your projects.
Watch the MathType video ●


Draft the next blockbuster

While Scrivener is not intended to replace dedicated screenplay software, its familiar scriptwriting features make formatting a script straightforward. So you can draft your script inside Scrivener using the unique research and structural tools and then export it to industry-standard scriptwriting software such as Final Draft. And because you can mix up script formatting with regular text, it makes writing treatments easier than ever.

Statistics and Targets

A live word and character count of the current section is always in view at the bottom of the screen, and you can set a word or character count target for each section. For a wider perspective, though, Scrivener’s Project Statistics panel allows you to check the word, character and page counts of your manuscript so far, and the Project Targets let you set the number of words, characters or pages you aim to achieve for the whole draft or just for the current session. Call up the targets panel to see your progress reflected in the coloured bars as you write.


Never be afraid to make mistakes. Scrivener’s “snapshot” feature makes it easy to return to an earlier version of your text. Before embarking on a major edit, take a snapshot and you’ll be able to return to the current version any time you want. Not sure about the changes you’ve made? Just call up your snapshots in the inspector to compare previous edits or restore an older version of the text.
Watch the video ●

Full Screen—Evolved

Because sometimes you want to blank out the rest of the world while you write—or at least the rest of the screen. One click in Scrivener’s toolbar and you can leave the rest of your desktop behind. Fade the background in and out, choose the width of the “paper” and get writing. Prefer an old-school green-text-on-black look or your favourite countryside scene as a backdrop? No problem. Flexible preferences mean you can set up the full-screen mode as you please. Change documents, refer to your notes, apply keywords—or most importantly, just write—in one of the most beautiful distraction-free modes available.

I’ve used Scrivner to author several short stories and I’m using it for my novel.  Now, I can use it to write my retro book also.

Within Scrivener, some of the formatting for LaTeX can be passed via Multimarkdown.

The Multimarkdown website at http://fletcherpenney.net/multimarkdown/ defines it as:

What is MultiMarkdown?
MultiMarkdown, or MMD, is a tool to help turn minimally marked-up plain text into well formatted documents, including HTML, PDF (by way of LaTeX),OPML, or OpenDocument (specifically, Flat OpenDocument or ‘.fodt’, which can in turn be converted into RTF, Microsoft Word, or virtually any other word-processing format).
MMD is a superset of the Markdown syntax, originally created by John Gruber. It adds multiple syntax features (tables, footnotes, and citations, to name a few), in addition to the various output formats listed above (Markdown only creates HTML). Additionally, it builds in “smart” typography for various languages (proper left- and right-sided quotes, for example).

3.  LaTeX is free.

Although Scrivener is payware, everything else I mentioned here is free — LaTeX (MacTeX distribution) and MMD3 (Scrivener ships with MMD2, but MMD3 can be installed so that Scrivener “sees” it).

I plan to document my journey into learning LaTeX / MMD / Scrivener as I write my book.  So far, I’ve been really pleased with the results I’ve obtained with the workflow, but it will be some time before I really learn how to use LaTeX to its fullest and ultimately format my book with it.

More to follow…