777 Writer’s Game

Thank you, Chance Maree, for including me in this game of tag. The prompt is to “post 7 lines from a page number ending in 7 from one of my works-in-progress, as well as tag 7 other authors to participate in the game.” Not a problem.

My novel-in-progress is THE SERAPHIM CONSPIRACY.

“Well, that’s hardly sporting,” said a new voice, rich with rolling Rs and cultured Latin vowels.

Shannon and Victor both watched in stunned amazement as Raúl Salazar snapped his fingers and dismissed the battling animal spirits. The broken wolf disappeared with a whimper. The pair of bears vanished with an anticlimactic roar. Shannon had promised them prey to feast upon and they had been denied. That would cost her later, but she would have to make it up to them.

“Victor, Victor. You were sloppy at the airport. You must have left blood or something behind for this crusader to collect. You told me that there were no survivors when you left. Now I have to clean up your mess. Again.”

“But, Raúl,” Victor whined.

Raúl waved a hand dismissively, and Victor never got to finish his excuses before he vanished. Her spirit wrenched painfully as Raúl severed her connection to Victor. Shannon had never experienced such a painful transition back into her own mind. She would never have believed that Raúl could follow her connection to Victor’s mind in the other direction.

“Now, my little occult vigilante. What are we going to do with you?”

Shannon had never felt more alone than she did now sharing her mind with the being who had once been Raúl Salazar.

In turn, I tag:

  1. @PhilAthans
  2. @howardtayler
  3. @fredhicks
  4. @JonAcuff
  5. @DarrenLaCroix
  6. @JASutherlandBks
  7. @Scarberryfields

Apologies to anybody who’s already been tagged. =P Not really.

Shannon O'Malley

Lesson Learned: Don’t rely on operating system fonts and plug-ins from tiny companies!

Pardon me while I vent (hypocritically) for a moment. [I’m a parent of teens. I’m qualified both to vent and be hypocritical. At the same time.]

As a software developer at a product company who shall remain nameless, I always pooh-poohed the lamentations of end-users about upgrade pain. It was much harder to write the software and ship it. What were they complaining about? Whiners.

Fast-forward to a new day. I’m not a developer (or employee of any type) at said company any longer and I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed at Windows 10. I’m annoyed at Adobe. I’m annoyed at the tiny little plug-in creator DTP Utils. Now it’s my turn to be the whiner. (I’m fully aware of the hypocrisy. . .and I don’t care.)


Let’s start with Microsoft. Everyone loves to hate Microsoft. They mostly get things right, but too many major decisions are delegated too far down the food chain. Individual developers are too far removed from the customer pain and impact that they cause by seemingly trivial feature decisions that they make inside the mythological “Redmond Reality Distortion Field” that wraps around King County. Today, I’m annoyed that two fonts that shipped with Windows 8.x got dropped for Windows 10. I’m sure that there was a “good” licensing or other reason to drop the fonts. . .but that’s why they should never have been been included in Windows in the first place. (And why I shouldn’t’ve relied upon them. Shame on me.) I only noticed because I have a “clean” install on my shiny new, self-assembled Frankenworkstation that never had Windows 8.x on it. Both Arabic Typesetting and MingLiU are gone. Microsoft.com confirms that those fonts are only available with prior versions. Zip. Zero. Do not pass go. Dammit. I need both for Starcrossed to ship print versions to Amazon. Grrr.

Next up the dynamic duo of Adobe and their partner, DTP Utils. I blame both. Adobe for stupidly breaking backward compatibility of their plug-in API. DTP Utils for being tiny, having a life (apparently), and not enough time to answer email or update their ParagraphBorder plug-in to the new InDesign 2015. I need both for Starcrossed to ship print versions to Amazon. Grrr. I really do hope that DTP will update their plug-in (or just sell me a new version. . .Take my monies!), but I’ve emailed, telephoned, and tweeted angrily at both of them for the past two months since the 2015 upgrade dropped for InDesign. Adobe politely blew me off by phone, email, and Twitter. DTP just ignored me without response. Next time, I’ll save my money and limp along with the built-in features and find a way to achieve the desired effect. That way I’ll only have Adobe (and myself) to blame when an upgrade breaks me.

Now, ultimately, it’s my fault for taking so damn long to get around to trying to assemble the print editions, but I haz goot excuses. Honest! /sigh

The biggest lesson learned for me affects the upcoming TOP SECRET project built in Unity 3D. Note to Self: Take dependencies carefully, even on toys produced by the big names. If it’s not a core part of the product, don’t count on it. Don’t bother buying plug-ins and other black box toys from no-name vendors in the marketplace. Even cheap ones. Write your own code. Draw your own art. Model your own assets.

Bit rot is real, people. It’s not just something that happens to coders! Whether it’s a novel project in Scrivener or Microsoft Word, a music project in Cubase, a game project in Unity, a mobile app or website in Visual Studio, or a PDF project in Adobe InDesign or Acrobat, if you haven’t cracked open your projects lately in whatever software you used to produce them, odds are good a patch or an upgrade has already broken your backward compatibility. All vendors are equally guilty. Your only defense is budget time to regularly update your work product and make sure you can [re]produce it as needed. You have been warned.

Which reminds me, I have to go rip all my Zune tunes to disc before support ends for the much maligned and ignored little player. Poor little Zune HD. It’s Gears of War logo is crying now.

Welcome home! Same as the old home. Except better.

Welcome home! Same as the old home. Except it’s in a different place, a better place, a happier place. Not quite as far as the last move or two, but still…

A month ago, I [apparently] decided that it would be a good idea to:

  • Buy a new home out in the Texas hill country.
  • Pack up a family of five.
  • Move them at least 30 minutes away from everything.
  • Start all the kids in a brand new science-and-technology charter school.
  • Quit my day job.
  • Start a new day job.
  • Without taking any vacation in between.

All at the same time!

I do not recommend this. Don’t try this at home folks.

But now it’s done! All the boxes are empty and gone. The house and my home office are mostly organized. The new day job is awesome and less time-consuming.

And now I can get back to cranking out all the overdue things for you.

Thanks for being patient.