Archive for April 9, 2010

I can buy stuff again!

No, I haven’t quite gotten my first novel advance yet, but I had a small certificate of deposit that matured today and is more than enough to tide me over until the advance arrives.  I’ve scrimped and saved to get by until this day, since withdrawing the money early would’ve incurred a substantial penalty (though honestly I don’t know if it would’ve been more than the credit card fees I’ve been accumulating), but now it’s in the clear.  So I went on sort of  a shopping spree today — not a huge one, but enough to get some things I’ve needed and a few luxuries too.

First I went to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy a new set of tumblers (after a quick stop at the eyeglasses place to get my screws tightened, which is free).  As I mentioned back in January, the last set of four I got there is down to one.  So I got another set, not exactly the same, but as close as they had.  I tried looking for some lunch plates too, but they didn’t have any cheap ones except for some made of melamine, which isn’t really microwave-safe.

After that, I was going to go have lunch at Roly Poly, a chain I like that specializes in wraps.  But I belatedly remembered that the one in that area was closed.  Oh, well.  So after a quick stop at the local library, I decided to go up to the Half Price Books in Kenwood and see what kind of dining options they had in the area.  I was already heading for the freeway when I remembered I’d been planning to go to the Kroger in the same vicinity where I was, but I figured I’d come back later if I didn’t find a Kroger up in Kenwood.  Naturally groceries would have to come last for the sake of the frozen foods.

Anyway, at Half Price Books I picked up several old Trek books that might be useful for researching ideas for my new novel, so I can write those off as business expenses, yay.  Then I couldn’t find the way out of the store until I completely circumnavigated it and found that it had been just to the right of where I’d been (imagine that, putting the exit right next to the checkout counter!).  Then I saw a Panera across the street, and thought I’d have lunch there.  But the parking lot for that entire sub-mall area was completely full.  I thought, “Oh well, there’s a Panera near the Kroger, I’ll have lunch there.”  So I took the freeway back down toward where I’d been.

Here’s the thing, though — I’m not familiar with navigating that area by freeway, and I chose the wrong exit.  Worse, it was an exit that transferred me to a different highway, the Norwood Lateral.  So when I got off the highway, I was in the wrong part of town, though eventually I ended up in familiar enough territory that I’d be able to navigate back to my intended destination, though by a much more roundabout route than I’d intended.

But then I saw there was a Kroger in the mall I was passing and I decided to save gas and go shopping there.  The problem was that there weren’t any good lunch options in the area, just fast-food joints and one place that was too pricey.  But it was getting too late and I had to eat something.  I had a modest and disappointing meal at KFC and then I went grocery shopping.  I got a number of things I haven’t had in a while, some new things I’ve been curious to try, and a few Corelle lunch plates.  Then I came home.

And in a bit of great timing, my credit card bill came in the mail this afternoon, so I can start paying it off right away.  I’m only paying half of it this month, but I should be able to pay off the rest next month.

And all this left me comfortable enough to finally commit to buying a couple of luxury items — ones I’d normally hold off on but can’t really since they’re limited editions.  Back in February, La-La Land Records, which specializes in film scores, notified me of a limited release of Shirley Walker’s score to the 1990 The Flash TV series, which predated her Batman: The Animated Series work by a couple of years and presaged its style.  I couldn’t stand to miss my chance at that, but I couldn’t afford to buy it, so I’ve been on tenterhooks hoping they didn’t sell out before I could get one.  Luckily, they still have copies available.  Also, just recently they announced a limited-edition re-release of a soundtrack I’ve always wanted but didn’t know had ever been released at all: Nelson Riddle’s score to the 1966 Adam West Batman feature film (source of the classic line, “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”).  Naturally I was dying to grab that too, and now I’ve finally been able to buy them both.  It’s such a relief not to be broke anymore.

And there’s a Panera right up the street from me, so I guess I’ll go have dinner there to compensate for missing my lunch opportunity.

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I’m too disorganized

Since Star Trek DTI is such a blank slate of a concept, I’m seeing it as an opportunity to explore some ideas I haven’t had a chance to do anything with before.  For instance, there’s a certain established Trek species that I’ve long wanted to do some serious worldbuilding for.  They haven’t been featured much onscreen, and what little has been done with them in prose either plays up a certain attribute of their species to the point of caricature or avoids it to the point that they’re rendered generic.  And a lot of the behind-the-scenes worldbuilding that was developed for them has never really been built on in prose.  Now I finally have a chance to feature a major character of that species and get my ideas about them on paper.

One of those ideas I came up with was identifying their fictional home star with a real star.  The way I did this was, I think, rather obsessive but rather clever.  The book Star Trek Star Charts by Geoffrey Mandel, which is generally treated as authoritative by the novelists, includes that star but doesn’t identify it with a real star.  So what I did was to use the Celestia space simulator, which lets you see the known stars in 3D from any position in space, and find an angle that matched the positions of the major stars as featured in the STSC maps (i.e. which is more or less looking directly “down” on the plane of the galaxy).  Then I highlighted various stars which were roughly in the same position, as seen from that angle, as the fictional star in question was in STSC.  With them highlighted, I changed my angle to see where they were along the Z axis (the axis perpendicular to the galactic plane) and thus how far they were from Earth and other major stars.  Based on position, spectral type, and so on, I settled on one of them as the most reasonable candidate for this species’ home system.

And I wrote it down.


The thing is, I did this sometime last year, as part of development for a pitch that didn’t go anywhere, or maybe for a subplot I considered while developing a novel but decided not to use.  When I decided to use this species for DTI, I opened the file containing that unused pitch and I found a reference to the species’ home star having periodic x-ray flares, a property of the real star I had picked for them.  That reminded me of the work I’d done to select that star.  But there was nothing in that proposal that named the star.  And when I looked through all my other possibly relevant notes files on my computer, I couldn’t find it anywhere.

So I thought maybe I’d done it as part of a technical discussion on the TrekBBS.  So I searched there for posts by “Christopher” that contained the name of the planet in question, and found nothing.

So I was stumped.  But I had a memory of writing something down somewhere.  Maybe it was on a piece of paper somewhere, but my desk, table, etc. are very cluttered and it’s hard to find any stray piece of paper.

Then I remembered this 8 1/2 x 11 spiral notebook I use for various things.  I looked through it, but there was nothing.  Finally I remembered my 3 x 5 notepads.  I have a couple of these which I’ve used alternately for various things, one of which was completely filled up a while ago.  I haven’t used them much lately, so I guess I kind of forgot about them.  Anyway, I spotted the filled-up one under the mess on my table, I looked through it, and after just a few pages I finally found what I’d written down about the star I’d chosen.  Yay!

This time, I hastened to transcribe the information from the notepad into my story notes file for DTI.  That way I won’t lose it again (unless something disastrous happens to both my laptop and my thumb drive).

It goes to show that a writer shouldn’t throw anything away.  You never know when an old idea or bit of research might come in handy.  But it also shows the importance of a decent filing system so you can find stuff again.  That’s the part I need to work on.