Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

The Annelid Project – Coming Soon

Posted: 16 September 2014 in Writing

Hoping to finish our first novel soon.

Chronology Protection Conjecture

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).

Kevin

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

Hello Kevin,

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

Thanks,

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.

Dark_Mountains

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.

What_Lies_Beneath

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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. 

http://inform7.com/download/

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Eternal Memories Book Cover

Posted: 15 October 2013 in Information, News, Writing

Eternal Memories Cover

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

20130330-161635.jpg

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

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.

20130330-161230.jpg

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.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1617061999/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&seller=

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.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0077BETIE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=nevermetpress-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0077BETIE

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.

http://nevermetpress.com/stories-in-the-ether-issue-3-available-now#.TzSJBZglLNk

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).

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.

http://staticmovement.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=bizarro&action=display&thread=689

“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.

 

LaTeX

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:

http://www.latex-project.org/

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):

http://ctan.mackichan.com/info/MemoirChapStyles/MemoirChapStyles.pdf

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…

Corkboard

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.

Outliner

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.

Scrivenings

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 ●

Scriptwriting

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.

Snapshots

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…