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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Progress Report: Week Ending November 26, 2016


Last week’s progress report. Late again, as usually happens when I try to increase one or another part of my routine. I focussed on completing the NaNoWriMo quota this week, after a fairly rough and inconsistent start. Finally, seemed to put it together this week, so it was done.
Anyway, that happened, and I got some gardening done.

Overview



  • New words produced: 24,863
  • Old words revised: 0
  • Outlines and Notes: 912
  • Works completed: 0
  • Works revised: 1
  • Covers created: 1
  • Works published: 0
  • Works submitted: 0
  • Competitions Entered: 0
  • Bloggery: 1,164
  • University Prep and Assignments: 0

Stepping Up Challenge Update

  • Languages: Nil progress
  • Non-Fiction Reading: Nil

Ingress Updates

  • No new challenges for me.

PokemonGo Updates

  • Nothing new to report

Publishing Tasks

  • Created 4 blog posts for this blog;
  • Updated royalty records;
  • Created the cover for The Sevarine Sidestep

New Arrivals


The following pieces arrived last week and are awaiting completion:

  • Horror2—Horror Story Untitled 21/11/2016: about vampires and other stuff;
  • UF4B—Tamerlain’s Werewolf: an urban fantasy novel in the Aggie and Tams urban fantasy series in which there are werewolves
  • YANovel30—Home Run: about a mother and daughter starting anew.


The following older pieces of writing were rediscovered and assigned a project code:

  • UF4A—Shades of Memory: an urban fantasy novel in the Aggie and Tams urban fantasy series, in which the two meet, and explore rumours of a secret Australian research centre on aliens, while Aggie finalises her art commission for the Australian War Memorial.
  • UF3A—Appleby’s Tale: an urban fantasy story set in the pixie dust setting from the flash fiction and poems.

Ingriess: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Playing


I started playing just over 12 months ago, three days before Niantic’s birthday celebrations for the third year of the game ended. I reached level 4 by the end of November, 2015, and level 13 by the same time this year. I enjoy the game, and I’m fitter for it, but there are a few things I wish I’d known when I started:

The Sojourner’s Medal

The sojourner’s badge is awarded for hacking portals during consecutive 24-hour periods. Like all the other badges, it has five levels, the highest being black, or onyx. If I’d known about the sojourner’s badge when I started, I would have made it onyx by today. As it is, I didn’t cotton on to this fact, until I’d spent my first 15 days hacking and the badge lit up on the Agent’s screen… that took me almost two months, and I still have 49 days to go.

The Importance of Medals in General

In Ingris, you can level up by earning points known as AP, right up until Level 8. After Level 8, you need a certain number of badges as well as AP in order to progress. You can find this information at: http://decodeingress.me/ingress-manual/leveling/. Knowing this early is a good way to start playing in a way that helps you achieve these before you need them, and reduces any stress involved in getting there. Reduced stress is important for enjoying the game.

About the DeCode Ingress and Ingress Support sites

These sites are very helpful in explaining the game, and understanding how to play—even after you’ve been playing for a while:


About Missions

I’ll make no bones about it; I love the missions. I didn’t understand at all how they worked, or how to find them, but, when I did, they very quickly became a part of my regular walking routine. Missions can be found on the scanner, by going into ‘Ops’, and then scrolling through the options at the top, until you find the Missions tab. Opening that will show you the missions closest to you. If you want to plan where to go before you leave home, go to the Ingress intel map at www.ingress.com/intel, log in, and highlight the area of the map you’re thinking of visiting. Click the ‘missions’ tab in the bottom right-hand corner and then click on the missions to see what portals are involved. Oh, and there is a medal for the number of missions you complete. Also, if you choose missions that only require hacking portals, they are achievable even when you are at a low level. Missions that require linking, fielding or capturing can be difficult to complete at low levels where you might not have the firepower to take down a higher level portal.

About Mission Series

Sometimes you’ll see a mission that has numbers or Roman numerals as part of its title. The medals earned for these missions sit beside each other and form a mosaic picture. They need to be done in order for the picture to form properly, and you should only start them when the next mission medal you earn will be at the start of a new line, otherwise the picture won’t work properly. Knowing this means you won’t have to move mission medals around until the picture works.

How to Move Mission Medals

Basically – you can’t. The only way to shift the position of a medal is to re-do the mission. As I discovered when I found I’d started a series mission before the end of a line. I’ll blog about that later.

About Guardians and Guardian Hunters

There is a medal called the guardian medal. You earn it by capturing and controlling a portal for a certain number of days. To get to black, you have to keep that portal under your control for 180 days, which is a very long time in Ingress terms. There are also players on the opposing team who look for long-lived portals and capture them, while leaving other, less long-lived portals in the area alone. I’m not sure why this happens, but it does. Guardian is a badge that requires a certain amount of skill by way of selecting a portal and maintaining it, and then you need a lot of luck to keep it. It’s not a reflection on how well you play if you cannot keep a portal until you earn the black medal. Remember, no one ‘owns’ or can claim a portal as their own in Ingress, and it’s kinda obligatory for the other team to capture as many portals as they can. If the portal you are a guardian of is captured, just start again. Many players capture and maintain several portals at once in an attempt to gain this badge.

It’s Not Mean to Take the Opposition’s Portal

Don’t laugh, okay, but it took me while before I stopped feeling guilty about capturing the other team’s portals. For a while I just took on the grey ones, and then the other team helped me get over the guilt, by taking them back. Now, I see it more like a game of chess. We all make a move—sometimes we even remember to take turns. It’s fun, okay?

It’s Okay to Build on Portals that Your Team has Already Captured

While it sometimes happens, you are not likely to fry anyone else’s plans to field or link, if you use a portal you haven’t captured yourself to field or link from. In fact, if you’re going to play this game successfully, you kind of have to. It’s also okay to replace resonators on a portal that’s been captured by another player, add modules to protect it, and link it to as much as you can link it to. No one ‘owns’ a portal. You are on a team. Helping that team earn points, or keep a portal longer, or capture mind units is what you’re meant to be doing. So, get out there and do it.

Recharging

The recharger medal is one of four medals completely in your control. The other medals include: trekker, spec ops, and sojourner. They’re not reliant on anything but your own efforts to achieve. Recharging can be done using portal keys wherever you are at. By recharging as much as you can, you not only make portals harder to capture, but you work towards the black level of this badge at a steady rate.

And that’s it, for now. Time to move.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Writing Life: Getting Published


In the last couple of weeks I’ve been asked about publishing options by a few different writers, and the first thing I’ve said to both is “don’t pay for publication”, followed quickly by “don’t give away your rights”, and “be careful of agents”. And it strikes me that writers are vulnerable to predation, and there are a lot of predators out there.

The problem is that the predators are often legitimate goals of the writers, or mimic them: agents, publishers, and competitions for example. These people prey on an author’s desire to be published and make a living from their work—and an author’s own insecurities, especially the one that haunts us all: am I good enough?, or the fear that saying our work is good enough will have us accused of being arrogant.

Now, while I will always recommend going independent and publishing your own work – and I’ll talk about why, next week – this isn’t the path some writers want, and I can’t offer a lot of help, there. I’ve been published by four different publishers, and I still have one book with one of them. Another publisher went under, one returned the rights of my book when it didn’t sell in sufficient numbers, and I asked for a return of the rights of the books I had with the fourth when I began to suspect creative accounting with my royalty statements.

So, if you’re considering publication these rules are a good baseline to work from:

NEVER pay for publication

Publishers make their money off selling books, but you knew that, right? This means they choose books that they think will make THEM money. This means they should pay the source of those books an agreed rate. There are plenty of publishers who pay their authors. You do not need to pay someone to publish your work. If you feel that is the only option you have left, then you have nothing to lose by publishing independently. Having a publisher you paid for does not carry an assurance your work is good enough; it merely means the publisher is making money from you, instead of relying on the books it selects for publication. It doesn’t have to worry about if they’re good enough; it only has to worry about whether or not the writer is desperate and foolish enough to pay to have a publisher’s name on their book. With this set up, the publisher does not even have to distribute your work, and you will probably never get paid. At this point, if you truly want to make a living from your writing, you are better off looking for another publisher – one who will pay you -  or publishing your work independently.

Don’t give away your rights

This includes selling your rights (any or all of them) to the publisher for the life of the copyright. I could go on about more preferable options to this clause, but not in this post. If you’re curious, check out what established and successful author, Kristine Kathryn Rusch has to say (http://kriswrites.com/2016/07/06/business-musings-long-term-thinking-rights-reversions-contractsdealbreakers/) – and then go read the rest of what she has learned, and shared, of the publishing industry.

It’s important to note that this purchase of rights for the lifetime of the copyright (which can be from the time of publication up to 50 or 75 years after the author’s death, but could vary further depending on the country of publication) is pretty standard in modern publishing contracts, and that most publishers have the attitude that there are plenty more authors in the sea, and you’ll sign if you really want to be published.

However, if you do sign, you lose all right to complain when your book falls out of print, or isn’t made into an e-book, or becomes unavailable to your readers for whatever reason. You also lose your ability to do anything about it, or to earn a living from that title. And regaining your rights after losing them, is no longer a simple matter of asking, since most publishers are reluctant to give up the rights to their assets, and say no, leaving you with limited options for recovery of your work.

Agents…

Agents are like publishers; they make money off the books they sell the rights to. While there are some very good agents out there, reports of these are outweighed by reports from authors who left everything with their agent, and who were later surprised to find their agent had not been honest in their dealings with them, or hadn’t taken advantage of an offer the author would have jumped at. Agents remove you one step away from the publisher, and one more step away from being in control of your work.

Independent Publishing

Independent publishing gives you control of, and responsibility for, your work. You decide when it’s released, where it’s distributed, how much it sells for, what the cover looks like, and how much promotion occurs. These are some of the reasons I prefer this method. It’s a bit more work than writing, sending, and editing as requested before someone else takes over the entire publishing process, but your book never goes out of print, can be updated if necessary, and can have its distribution expanded as new opportunities come along.

So, those are my initial thoughts. I’ll talk more on this, next week, but I have to warn you: most of my posts will be about what I have learned about independent publishing, as that is my chosen path.

Which brings me to my last point:

There is no right, or wrong, way of being published.

I’ll say it again.

THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY OF BEING PUBLISHED.

Choose the way that suits you best. Do your research before leaping in. And, most of all,

GOOD LUCK.