Tag Archives: Maker Space

Maker Space (Nanowhatever Update)

5 Nov

Guys. Guys!

Another Nanothingy post: my goal for this month isn’t to make word count, it’s to make word count (very doable) plus edit the draft so the story is in good enough shape to send to the beta readers (high-pitched not-so-doable scream).*  So I’m crunching on the MAKER SPACE edits and I’ve got this part over here, and that part over there, and they do not want to go together. I’ve done everything I can to them short of grinding down the edges and using a welding torch, and they just will not align. We’re talking magnets with polar opposites here, guys.

And then I remembered a very, very rough first draft of the third Rachel Peng novel I wrote several years ago. I dug it out, dusted it off, and there were about 1000 words that flipped entire thing around and locked the pieces together. I’m working with a whole now, and that is much better than working with parts that maybe-sort-of belong together because the characters have the same names.

I suppose if any writers read this blog, I actually have one piece of advice for you and it is: NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY. It’s not dead! It’s just on life support until you return it to its native home and then it leaps out of the spring trap, wild and free.

* And after I get the feedback from the beta readers, I do some more editing, then copy-edit the entire thing (which is what I do for a living and I am GOOD at it), and then I send it to my own copy editor, who then destroys it because you cannot copy-edit your own work. So I guess I have two pieces of writing advice for you, and the second is “HIRE A COPY EDITOR”.


20 Oct
My hastily-Photoshopped Leela says it all.  And now I'll write a thousand-word post!

My hastily-Photoshopped Leela says it all. And now I’ll write a thousand-word post!

So, November.  How is it almost November?

I recently had a nice email exchange with a long-time reader where he introduced me to Patreon. I had never heard of this service before he clued me in; the nutshell version is a creator of a media project can set up an account, and their readers/fanbase/immediate family can become patrons. Sort of a subscription-based tip jar.  I looked it over, checked around to see who else in Webcomicdom or SelfPublishingtopia is using this service, and said: Nope.

Here’s my reason: Patreon might catch on and be exactly what creator-types need to get a reliable source of income, but it also might sputter and fail. Remember Flattr? Same sort of patron-based tip jar service as Patreon, but it’s been out for several years and has never really caught on. The handful of hours it would take for me to read up on Patreon’s history, learn how to use its services, integrate it into my site, and push it on the readership? These would certainly pay off if Patreon attained Kickstarter levels of brand awareness among the community.  If not? I’ve thrown those handful of hours away.

(There’s the valid argument that Patreon will only catch on if creators support it and push it as a welcomed form of support. Yes, yes, I get that, and every time Amanda Palmer or someone else with a bajillion followers signs up, this is another reason for me to join. I’m nobody’s tipping point. People may use this service to support me, true, but they aren’t going to join to support me. If the big guys go charging in and carry the crowds with them, I will happily sweep up after them. If not? Goodbye, handful of hours.)

I’m dying from death by a thousand timecuts over here, guys.  I’m very, very lucky to have Brown, who is everything from my tech support to my prepress service, but I handle the rest. Comics, writing, product development, order fulfillment… and then I work on the stuff that actually pays the bills. And In my spare time, I paint my house. Guys, I am painting my house to relax.

And it’s NaNoWriMo time again.  Oh lord.

There is a very good chance I can get a feasible draft of MAKER SPACE done by the end of November. I’m within word count, and it’s not like I have to do the whole 50,000 words or bust! but I do have some serious edits to do. NaNoWriMo is a great motivational technique, and if I edit and write 50,000 words within 30 days, I’m done.

But the hours, guys?  Where am I going to find those hours? It’s not as though I have problems with time management, it’s that I have no more time to manage.


More research for MAKER SPACE

21 Sep

The plot for MAKER SPACE is starting to get away from me.  The synopsis is: (a) bombs go off; (b) Rachel & co. must find out who, what, why, and how (they’re good on “when”); and (c) red herrings abound to confuse this process. So, ya know, like any other procedural mystery starring cyborgs.

When I roughed out the plot for this book several years ago, the maker community was getting its feet under them and the role they’d play in this book was plausible. Now, just a few years later, I’ve had to up the complexity because holy schnitzels they are doing things you would not believe. You know that old joke about MacGyver blowing up a room with a bag of potato chips and a paperclip? These guys don’t need the paperclip. They would point and laugh at someone who needed the crutch of the paperclip.

Also, the Boston Marathon bombings hadn’t occurred. Also-also, same with the Edward Snowden/Chelsea Manning scandals.

Everything is spiders. Worse, everything is plot-spiders, and they are getting their damned webs all up in this nice little mystery novel I need to have finished by December.

Research for “Maker Space”

6 May

This past weekend, Brown and I went to New York.  The main reason for going was a rather spectacular 20th anniversary party, but we had ulterior motives: the Makerbot Store.  Thus far, all of the research I’ve been doing for Maker Space has been online, which is nice and all but there’s something lost there, something slightly intangible about hearing about ideas rather than holding the end result.   (Plus, Brown is actually trying to cultivate a literal maker space for his university’s library, so for him this was like visiting the Lamborghini dealership with the hope that his employers might let him drive the company car.)  We wandered around the store for a while, watching the printers spit out bangle bracelets and crude plastic squirrels.  There was a steady stream of store traffic, and most everybody seemed at least slightly knowledgeable about 3D-printer technologies; nobody wandered in off of the street to goggle at the fancy plastic doohickey squeak-machines.

Oh, and let’s throw the bit about the gun out here, just so we’re all on the same page: people have been trying to build 3D-printed guns since this technology was developed, but just this past week, a maker actually got one to work.  Guys, this is a big deal with scary implications.

Brown bought me a 3D printed plastic lizard stomping through a plastic city. Because of the pose, I have named him "Les Lizerables," or "Les Liz" for short.

Brown bought me a 3D printed plastic lizard stomping through a plastic city. Because of the pose, I have named him “Les Lizerables,” or “Les Liz” for short.

So while Brown’s speaking with various tech-clerks and discussing things like “grants” and “barrier-free printer access for community members, especially low-income minorities”, I’ve cornered a poor young fellow named Tristan and told him I was doing research for a novel where maker technologies were put to ill use.  I ended with: “And I heard about the gun.”

“We do not talk about the gun,” Tristan said.

Tristan was very helpful and pointed me towards several maker community websites.  Most of these I had poked to some extent, but some were new.  Almost all of them featured a link to an article about the gun, which I pointed out to Tristan.

“We do not click on links to the gun,” he said.

This is something I’ve come across throughout the maker community, which is that its members are critically aware of the potential for misuse of their technologies, but they aren’t going to hide away or stop experimenting because of this potential.  (It’ll have to be a minor theme in the novel, I think.)

But the main thing I came away with this weekend is that I’m going to have a hard time presenting maker technologies –any maker technologies, not just 3D printing- as realistic.  The speed of ingenuity and development is fantastic; guys, they have made an ear.  And while most of the lower-level 3D printed products look a lot like pixelated arcade graphics, the higher-end extruder products can potentially exceed the quality of engineered parts.  It’s a mad, mad race towards perfection, and if I write about what is happening, it will sound futuristic.  If I write about what will probably happen, it will sound insane.

Research! Or: WTF am I doing?

12 Apr

Edited to take out a paragraph that didn’t fit.


(Spoilers for Book 2, maybe, but if you’ve read Digital Divide then you’re good.  Moving on…)

Now that Digital Divide is done, I’m returning to the original outlines for Book 2.  Maker Space (working but very likely title) is grouped around the theme of “outing,” or personal and societal response to perceptions of ability and the self.  In Maker Space, the mental damage done to the cyborgs has been made public, and Rachel’s status as a person who does not have working eyes will be revealed.  Thus far, it’s been established that anyone who refers to Rachel as “blind” gets their butts handed to them on a pretty silver platter.  Rachel will shout far and wide that she’s not blind, but there’s a rather telling line on p.230 of Digital Divide which shows the lady doth protest too much.  In the back of her mind, Rachel knows she is blind, or at least her life has been irrevocably changed because of limitations on her visual senses.   For example, she was an avid reader who can no longer read or write without putting a lot of conscious effort into it, and that has altered her experiences when she encounters the written word.

I knew going into Maker Space that I’d have to do a lot of research to understand how members of the blind community perceive possible alterations to sight via new technologies.  This is absolutely necessary: I am not a member of their community and I shouldn’t go throwing assumptions around of how the blind community thinks or feels.  On that note, I also can’t group “the blind community” into a single lump sum; sharing a single physical characteristic does not result in homogenization of preferences or opinions.

So I’m sitting here on a Friday night and dreading the next few weeks of research.  I’m going to be spending a lot of time walking on that razor’s edge of “privilege,” which is the Internet’s way of telling you to shut up and sit down because you are not truly capable of understanding anything different from yourself.  That view concerns me, but I don’t think I should be restricted to writing specific characters because of it. If I did, I’d be drowning in a book full of carbon copies of myself.  I think Rachel Peng is more interesting than I am, more compelling than I am, and has more to say than I do. But since I’m the one behind her decision-making and her dialogue, I need to understand those parts of her life which are different from mine.  And as I go over these old outlines and realize how many blank spaces need to be filled out, I’m sort of scared I’m going to mess very big parts of her character up in a very big way.

Anyhow.  That’s what I’m up to.  Yippee.