Blog

New ebook: fiction writing skills!

November 23rd, 2014 | Changelog, eBooks

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that there’s some new stuff around here, namely, pertaining to an ebook I have recently completed. The title is How to Write Fiction That Doesn’t Suck, and you can find out more about it on its own page. It’s already been available for a couple weeks now, but I’ve neglected mentioning it on the blog because I hadn’t yet provided any free samples for your perusal. Well, that has all changed now! Behold, you can click on these links to download a free sample in any of three popular formats: PDF ePUB Kindle

If you’re the kind of person who prefers to live on the edge, there’s also the option to just go ahead and buy it without reading the free samples. You can get it at Gumroad, where it costs $9.

This is also an opportune time to mention that I’ve set up a special page where writers can hire my book-design services. It’s called Bibliorama.

This is all pretty neat stuff. I think you’ll like it.

Store-y time!

September 1st, 2014 | Changelog

In a quixotic attempt to make this site turn a profit, I have added an homage to capitalism to the link bar. See it up there? It’s the link that says “Store.” You can’t miss it; it’s green, the color of a $100 bill.

Joking aside, there is now a convenient storefront here. I’m hoping to expand it further in the near future, but in the meantime you can buy ebook versions of Sunrise issues 8-10 and the Sunrise print edition that was available already. Ebooks of the rest of Sunrise (including a complete anthology) will follow soon. I’ll announce new products here on the blog and on Twitter.

Why aren’t you looking at the store yet? Look at the store.

Webcomics Time: Cute ‘n’ Creepy

August 29th, 2014 | Circuit Reader, Review

I’ve been getting back into reading webcomics again, so it seems only fitting that I also get back into the business of reviewing them. That said, my “Circuit Reader” series was a bit of a huge time investment, so instead I’m switching to a more reasonable length. Gone will be the extreme nitpicking, and in its place I will endeavor to provide a brief but entertaining look at many of the fine (and not so fine) examples of sequential art on the interwebs.

For this episode, we’ll be looking at two nice comics, one by a famous dude, and one by two not-so-famous dudes. The theme is “Cute ‘n’ Creepy” and the comics are Broodhollow and Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo.

Broodhollow

Broodhollow by Kristofer Straub
Kristofer Straub’s name should be familiar to anyone in the webcomics world, having created numerous popular features, most notably the spacefaring gag strip Starslip Crisis (later Starslip), which was probably the only science fiction series to make art history jokes. I never warmed up to post-reboot Starslip, so until recently I hadn’t read Straub’s work in quite a while. When I learned that he had returned with an all-new feature, I was eager to check it out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Convert rich text to Markdown

July 15th, 2014 | Tutorial

Here’s something that I never imagined would require over two hours to solve. Markdown is a nice simple markup language which you can use to format type in plain text. There are lots of programs which can interpret it and convert it to common rich-text formats. Ah, but what if you want to go the other direction, and convert rich-text to Markdown? What then? Well, down that path lies madness, my friend, but if you really must do it, here is one very convoluted way that it can be managed.

Edit: A new, easier method (we’ll call it Method Two) has been discovered! See below.

Method One:

  1. Get Pandoc. If you’re on Linux, it’s probably in your repository. If not, you can download Mac or Windows binaries here.
  2. Save your file as an HTML document. I used Open Office to do this, I’m guessing Word would work as well but I didn’t test it. I did test AbiWord, but the HTML documents it produces are formatted really stupidly and don’t work for our purposes. Note: Do not use Open Office’s “export” feature (use Save As instead), as it seems to cause problems too for some reason.
  3. Use Pandoc to convert the HTML to Markdown. Basic console use is outside the scope of this tutorial, so hopefully this part is self-explanatory. The command is structured thusly:

    pandoc inputfile.html -t markdown -o outputfile.txt

     

  4. Check your output file for excessive line breaks. This is the fault of the way that OpenOffice exports HTML files. For some idiotic reason it puts in tons of line breaks. If your text has no extra line breaks, congratulations! You’re done! If not, proceed to Step Five.
  5. Use this online tool to nix the excessive line breaks. I sure hope this tool is still around when you or I next need it, because it’s a godsend.
  6. Repeat as necessary.

Method Two:

This method is probably easier than Method One but I haven’t tested it much yet so I can’t vouch for its overall reliability. It’s inspired by these delightful instructions.

OpenOffice/LibreOffice:

  1. Open the find/replace box, drop down “More Options” and check Regular Expressions.
  2. In the Search For box, type: (.*)
  3. Click the “Format…” button and select Italics (don’t touch other options)
  4. Check “Including Styles”
  5. In the Replace With box, type: _$1_
  6. Click Replace All
  7. If you’re lucky, your italic text should now be wrapped _like so_
  8. As needed, adapt the instructions above for bold, underline, etc.
  9. Copy the resulting text into a plain-text document, and save. Voila!

Microsoft Word (tested in 2010 edition):

  1. Open the find and replace box, click the “More >>” button, and check Use Wildcards.
  2. In the “Find what:” box, type: (<*>)
  3. Click Format -> Font (at the bottom of the dialogue) and choose Italic from the menu (don’t touch the other options)
  4. In the “Replace With” box, type: _\1_
  5. Click Replace All
  6. If you’re lucky, your italic text should now be wrapped _like so_
  7. As needed, adapt the instructions above for bold, underline, etc.
  8. Copy the resulting text into a plain-text document, and save. Voila!

 

The Woodman’s Reward

May 18th, 2014 | Artwork

oz_final_sm

Illustration for the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference 2014. Linework: Hunt 100, Color: Krita

The Non-Seen: Debut!

March 30th, 2014 | Artwork, Comics, The Non-Seen

The Non-Seen: Logo

Hey, remember that teaser I posted back in December? Well, it turns out it’s not another abandoned project, because Chapter 1 of that comic, which will is called The Non-Seen, will be debuting in the Comic section on April 1. I’d hoped to post this announcement a lot earlier so that there could be a period of anticipation, but I was too preoccupied with the comic itself to get the announcement together. The Reader Orientation is available now, and the first few pages will all appear on Tuesday. For the first month there will be two pages a week, and after that it’s probable that I’ll have to go to one page per week, but we’ll see. Enjoy!

Unity Test

March 1st, 2014 | Artwork, Et Cetera, Process

I’ve been wanting to gain some familiarity with the Unity game engine, so I did a little test with some old assets from Into the Titan. This, as you may recall, is the darkroom and the hallway leading up to it. I baked some nice lightmaps, which makes it considerably prettier. Comparison images are below the jump.

Meteorite Research Center passageway in Unity

Darkroom in Unity

Read the rest of this entry »

Fix GRUB in two easy steps

February 17th, 2014 | Tutorial

A little mini-tutorial here, brought to you by the school of Learning Things the Hard Way. I don’t know about the rest of you, but lately I’ve been having a lot of trouble with Linux installs failing to set up GRUB properly (particularly Ubuntu-based distros, for some reason). So, the following mini-tutorial is the result of a couple hours of headaches today. I’m not promising that it will work in every case, but if you’re having issues involving GRUB either not existing or not including options to boot one of your OSes, you might as well give this a shot.

  1. Use Super Grub Disk to boot into your Linux install.
  2. Run sudo update-grub from a console.

If you’re lucky, that will fix GRUB very nicely. It should be noted that this does require you to have some semblance of a working grub installation, however. In the event that you do not, I’d suggest running the Ubuntu Boot-Repair utility. In some cases, in fact, that may be all you need to do. As for me, it didn’t detect my Windows install, but it did succeed in getting GRUB installed, which is more than I can say about the original OS installer. Good luck everyone!

And now: Bucephalus!

February 2nd, 2014 | Comics

Bucephalus teaserHello all! My new comic is in the works and will begin appearing in this space soon. Honest. In the meantime, however, I’m re-running a series of strips which most of you will not have seen before. In 2010 I drew a semester’s worth of comics for my college newspaper (The Daily Campus of the University of Connecticut). The comic was called Bucephalus and it was a silly space opera. Very un-Sunrise-like. In any case, while you wait for the new comic, I provide these strips for your enjoyment. Bucephalus will appear every weekday from February 3 through March 21, in the comic section (formerly known as the Sunrise section).

Will Bucephalus ever be remade, nicer and better? Well, let’s see how much you guys like it.

You Can’t Go Home Again

January 12th, 2014 | Review

Gone Home

There’s one thing I want to be clear on upfront: I expected to love Gone Home. It’s a game from the same traditions I hold in highest esteem: peril-free adventures, stories told through ephemera. Critical consensus was that it was phenomenal. So I was ready to explore the empty mansion; I was psyched to unravel the mystery of the family’s absence.

Suffice it to say, my high expectations were dashed and ultimately the game proved to be my greatest disappointment of the year.

Many people have played this game and enjoyed it greatly, and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from that opportunity. Indeed, if you have any interest in this type of experience, I’d encourage you to buy it, if only to encourage the creation of more projects in this vein. That being said, I do want to discuss some of the issues that led to my disappointment in the game, because I want the next adventure to be better. (To those of you who haven’t played it, be forewarned that this will contain spoilers. Scroll down to the bottom of the review if you want a quick summary of the story.)

Read the rest of this entry »