The Longevity Thesis Book Video

Friday, June 22, 2007

Good Things Come From Finland

Well, Finland and surrounding area. I know Jeremy Hotz was traumatized by his last trip to IKEA, but I would be quite content to be trapped in the showroom for an extended period of time. And, yes, it's OK to admit we all love ABBA. Nobody needs to know what's loaded on our MP3 players.

I guess it has to do with the patterns of conquest in the Middle Ages that has resulted in modern age trends, but I do find it odd that while you can easily find a Qiang, or a Hamid or a Benoit around, rarely do you come across someone with a purely Scandinavian name outside of the NHL. Yet within Finland, it seems that 48% of them are named Juha, and another 48% Ville. Common enough monikers, that don't seem to cross the border. Is it that these people don't want to leave home? It must be very nice there. Thank goodness they export things.

Here are some of my favourite Finnish items, in no particular order:

1) Linux. It's open source. It's high quality. It's amazing. Anything you could possibly want to do, all shared freely with the entire planet. It's very fitting that the name of a recent, and very popular distro is Ubuntu, which translates from an African language as "we are one" or "humanity towards others". It also is *not* a memory hog, as it can run the OS and a full featured office suite and graphics editing program (the GIMP, my favourite) off a single CD (*not* DVD, CD). It's become so popular that Dell is starting to offer it on their machines.

2) Nokian Tyres. (They spell it that way.) @&#&^#% awesome! @&#&^#% expensive, but worth every penny. I got the WR's, which are "all conditions" tires. Not all seasons, but all conditions. And they're not kidding. Sure you slide around a bit on ice and you still have to be careful, but it's way less than with the crappy Continentals that came with my Toyota. And hydroplaning? Doesn't happen. I renamed my car "Tank" after I bought these things. I no longer have nightmares of snow storms in July. I no longer consider staying home on the first snow of the year.

3) Nokia Cell Phones. One of my earliest cell phones was a Nokia and I thought all of them were that good. Then I had a Motorola. Maybe it was a lemon, but if I had it in my pocket, I couldn’t hear it ring. I now have another Nokia, since my last one could pick up a signal in the lowest level of a concrete parkade, no problem.

4) Jari Kurri. Ever wonder why Wayne Gretzky never won a Stanley Cup after leaving the Oilers? It's because he split from Kurri. Foolish mortal.

5) Music. Charon, Nightwish, Apocalyptica, Reflexion, Morian, HIM. These guys are all amazing musicians. Metal from elsewhere just seems to be noise, but these groups could compose for symphonies, and I think Tuomas from Nightwish actually does. Unfortunately, not all groups from Finland are good, so some discernment is required when buying CD's. I once watched a Children of Bodom video which featured a girl running away from some smacktard . . . OK. I tolerated it to the end, expecting girly to whip out a BFG and make herself a meat pie, but it never happened. I mean, come on! At least have her respawn and *then* get the BFG. It was so negative. (ChubbChubbs for you, bad guy!) Life has joy in it—be happy people!

6) Enviro-Housing. Finland seems to enthusiastically pursue ways of making things more energy efficient and finding ways to reduce pollution. I hope this attitude spreads world-wide before the ice caps melt.

Is Finland the only extremely cool country on the planet? Gosh, don't even get me started on Japan!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Houston, we have cover art!

Check it! YAY!
Painted by Fantasy Artist Micheal Leadingham. The link to his website is listed on the right.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Painting Caprio

Caprio, the God of Mischief in Jeanette Cottrell's novel The Shadebinder's Oath, is a little goat who "dips his cloven forehoof into serious affairs of mortals and stirs them up, just to see what happens." Jeanette is the lovely lady who puts out the Dragon Moon Press newsletter each month and promotes the rest of us, selflessly asking nothing in return. Because I'm very grateful to her, and because I really, really, really have fun using The GIMP (I love the GIMP, have I mentioned that? And consequently, I also have deep appreciation for all the open source programming Linux nerds out there), I made Jeanette a bookmark for inclusion in said newsletter (archives available).

I started out by Googling images of goats, and doing a composite sketch to make a mischievous looking prancing goat. The image I referenced the face from was a piebald little guy, however on seeing the base image, Jeanette told me Caprio was white, with a longer body and slightly shorter forelimbs.

I'm not a professional artist, so I have a little trouble with proportions. But using the GIMP (such a lovely program) I quickly made these adjustments by selecting parts of the image and moving them around. I also cleaned up the image a bit and got rid of the piebald face.

The next step was to add some light tones to the image. I overlayed a new transparent layer, and dotted on a few new colours with the paintbrush tool, opacity set to 30%, and smudged them along the angles I wanted them.

Another new transparent layer was added, and with the opacity set to around 60%, I dotted on some darker shades, again using the paintbrush, and also smudged them in where I wanted them. I finally flattened the image and erased the surrounding regions to transparency so that I could overlay the goat onto the background template with all the juicy Dragon Moon logos and book information, etc.

And here is the final product!!! Jeanette and I were both very happy with how it turned out.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

An Interview by E.A. Zefram

Rooster, In Memoriam.

These questions were posed to me by my long time friend and webmaster, E.A. Zefram:

Q: In the early stages of writing what is now The Longevity Thesis at what point did you know that it wasn't like other creative writing you have done? You must have realised "this is a novel" vs. a short story for example.

A: Actually, I've always been most interested in character development, and it's a major motivation for me to write. It's hard to get much of that done in the short story genre. I never really intended for The Longevity Thesis to be a short story for that reason.

Q: Have you felt sadness when a character has been killed or does the writing process where you revisit a scene many times over for revision minimize the intensity of your reaction to the death?

A: It's very strategic, when a character gets killed, and it's planned way in advance. I don't actually have any reaction at all, until I've finished the manuscript and come back to it much later. Then I think, "Was I actually so harsh?"

Q: After a session of writing, what do you feel is the most satisfying?

A: Finishing an entire chapter in one sitting!

Q: Now that The Longevity Thesis will be available soon, what kind of responses do you hope to receive from new readers? Do you think they'll enjoy it on purely a fantasy level or are there some deeper messages you hope they take to heart?

A: I sincerely hope that it isn't taken too seriously at all. No deeper messages, just pure escapism. I do hope people enjoy it, and feel like justice has been done by the end of it.

Q: Out of all the critiques and edits your book has gone through with various people over the years, what was the most surprising suggestion you received?

A: That would have been to merge the two characters of Ranull and Opalena into one. Ranull was a sweet, gentle girl, and Opalena was a waspish villain. The resulting character was much more interesting and useful to the plot.

Q: How different is Jennifer Rahn the scientist from Jennifer Rahn the writer?

A: Not much. I get pretty intense when engaging in either discipline, and I like to think I use creativity in both. Perhaps I'm more daring as a writer, because I can just make stuff up, and there are no consequences. (Certainly can't do that in science!)

Q: Do you have any current writing projects underway now that The Longevity Thesis is complete?

A: I'm about 2/3 done the prequel to The Longevity Thesis, which is tentatively titled Wicked Initiations, and I've sketched out what I currently intend to be a scifi whodunit called Trisomy.

Q: Have you ever experienced writers block and if so, how did you get back into writing?

A: This usually happens when I'm overtired, or when I'm too content with life. All I need to do to get writing again is to get worked up about something, and then the wordy venom just comes out. I think I write my best stuff when I'm mad about something. Doesn't matter what it is, could be an election gone in a way I didn't like, dropping my ice cream, just something that kicks up my emotions a bit.

Q: What writing tip would you like to have given yourself the writer of 10 years ago?

A: Join a critiquing group, and do it now.