Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Coming To a Close

Not the season, of course, which still has a month to go. But the vacation will be over right after Labor Day, which means that there are a lot of things to do to prepare the boys to go back to school. So I don’t have as much time for creative work.

I’m working on a non-fiction book, finishing up my final project for Music Theory, and noodling with songs, but that’s about it. I find myself with no short story in the works, and no novel that I’m really making any progress on. And I haven’t edited any video in weeks, although I have a fair amount of raw footage.

I hope that will change soon after the boys are back in school. My wife has a vacation that week, and we’re planning a couple of inspiration trips, to inspire her painting and my writing. With luck, I’ll be able to put my head down in the second week of September and make some real progress.

I’m trying not to make excuses, though; I am still doing my best to sit at the keyboard and write (or do it on my phone while boys are at the beach), and I’ve been at the piano daily playing around with chord progressions (between head-spinning sessions of analysis of the score that the Music Theory class gave me to work on). So even while I am not making much in the way of word counts, I am cooking up a few things, letting them simmer—or ferment as the case may be—so that I can turn them into something delicious when the time comes.

You’ll have to let me know if they are to your taste. Don’t forget to check out my existing work and comment, rate, review, and email me with feedback. Positive or negative, I want to hear from you!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Playing With Panorama

During our vacation, we went up to the Kancamagus Highway between Conway and Lincoln, New Hampshire. Our usual swimming hole up there is closed for renovations, so we drove further up to Otter Rocks. While my two youngest sons played in the water (it's not deep enough for swimming), my lovely and talented wife painted the scenery. And I, left with nothing else to do, did some experimenting with my iPhone.

The camera application on the iPhone has a panorama setting, which I've used before, but never to this extent. There just seemed to be more scenery at Otter Rocks that was suitable for extended width, and height. Or maybe it was just the mood I was in.

In any case, here are some of the better results:

Here is the lady herself, Karen Hardenbergh, painting. She doesn't use an easel most of the time; she just hold the canvas in her hand, or sets it down on the bench in front of her.

Here is a section of the river. Exposure is an interesting problem with the panoramas unless you are shooting somewhere that has fairly consistent lighting, which almost never happens outdoors. There are probably digital manipulations I could do to alleviate some of the dark areas, and I may try when I have the time.

Panorama mode on the iPhone works in vertical mode as well as horizontal. It's a little trickier to keep the guide arrow lined up to prevent too much choppiness, but the results are worth the effort, I think.

Another vertical shot. Distortion is always present in close objects in a panorama. But I rather like the effect here.

My vacation may be over, but my sons' is not, and so I suspect that I will find myself having time to play around more with this feature. And, on occasion, I'll probably post the results for you to see.

But meanwhile, it's back to work for me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Something Coming Up

When I released my latest short story, Doors, I mentioned that there might be a free promotion coming up, not only for Doors, but for some of my other stories, as well. I also said that I wouldn’t announce the date anywhere but Twitter.

But I didn’t say that I wouldn’t hint that, if you were looking for such an announcement, it might be coming up in a couple of days, and so this would be a good time to start following me.

Or at least taking a daily look at my Amazon author page. Just in case, you know.

And if you should happen to stumble upon free copies of my stories, and download and read them, I wouldn’t be at all upset if you were to rate and review them.

Even if the review isn’t stellar. Really. I don’t live and die by the sales of these stories. I can’t even buy an extra bottle of Dr. Pepper with the royalties from these stories. But as a writer I do appreciate honest feedback and the chance to make the next story better.

By the way, “I don’t own a Kindle” is not an excuse for missing out on a good read (and I talking about the many titles available on the Kindle store, including countless of free versions of classic works, not just my humble stories); free reading applications are available for all smart phones, tablets, and Mac and Windows computers. You can even read it from your Web browser with the Cloud Reader.

So keep an eye out. In the next couple of days. In case something happens.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Week Off, Kind Of

Family vacation week, so I’m busy with, well, family vacation stuff. But I still will find the time to write and work on music, because it’s hard to get through a week without coming up with something I want to add to a story or a song that I’m working on.

That and the fact that I’m still in the middle of my music theory class, which has been very good at getting my harmonic juices flowing.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Neat Trick

I was reading a book recently by a writer who does a lot of non-fiction, and she was talking about how, in addition to keeping outlines in a mind-mapping app (something I've yet to try), she uses a recording app on her cell phone to dictate portions of the book she's writing at the time. To be transcribed, I presume, at a later date.

When I read this, I wondered. You know, the Mac OS, at least recently, has built-in speech-to-text translation. I know that you can dictate into a microphone and have the words come out on the screen. But what about something you've already recorded?

Well, a little Google searching and before you know it, I've found that there is a way. Something I already had called SoundFlower. It's a virtual audio device that lets you route audio signals on the Mac. You can set up the dictation system to take sound input from SoundFlower. Then you set up the playback of the sound file to output to SoundFlower, and suddenly, you can translate the speech in the sound file to text in any program that accepts text.

You playback program has to support output selection (I use ocenaudio, which I use for all sorts of things anyway), and you have to start the playback before you start the dictation feature (so I paste about ten seconds of blank audio to the beginning of the file at the start), but the results are pretty impressive.

Planning to add this to my arsenal of tools for writing on the go.