Rachel Thompson

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Roland Hughes on How His Interesting in Writing Originated #Authors #AmWriting #AmReading

If you could do any job in the world what would you do?
Be a full time writer.
Are you a city slicker or a country lover?
I grew up on a family farm and my IT consulting has me traveling to cities large and small.  While there were aspects of city living I enjoyed during my younger years, I find the rural life provides benefits to writing city life simply cannot.  Out in the country you can leave your keyboard then do physical labor things which keeps your person occupied in a way that allows your mind to continue working on your story.  They may be physical tasks but they don’t require a significant amount of brain power to complete.
When you are in a city and leave your keyboard you go outside and find any number and type of distraction.  That is just what they are, distractions.  You meet people or see others doing things and your mind veers off in different directions.  A snippet of overheard conversation, someone who looks like their dog, etc.  These things pull you farther away from the work you left.  Perhaps it is because the work should not be done in the first place, but if the work is important to you then distractions like these can be fatal.  They can become a good base for a different story but they don’t tend to help you complete your current work.
Another “benefit” of living rural is the fact Internet service is horrible.  Even the “best” satellite packages are both limited and slow compared with what is available in metropolitan areas.  While email and a Web browser can be great tools for a writer, more often than not they tend to be the single greatest reason writing doesn’t get done.
What’s your next project?
I have a work out for editing now titled “Lesedi.”  I wrote it during the 2013 NaNoWriMo project and put it aside to simmer.  Recently I went back to it and began polishing.  It is the middle book for what has become the “Earth That Was” trilogy.  The first book was “Infinite Exposure” and the final book is “John Smith”.  I hadn’t set out to connect those works in a trilogy but Lesedi simply refused to leave me alone.  He wanted his story told.
At some point I will complete another work in my geek book series titled “The Phallus of Agile and Other Ruminations.”  I have snippets of it done now and many other topics for it working their way through that dangerous place known as my mind.
How do you feel about self-publishing?
I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My first geek books were done through a publisher.  I quite writing for a good number of years after that.  The one benefit of having gone that route is I learned what it really takes to be self-published.  Someone hurling an unedited, or worse, self-edited pile of gibberish into the Amazon Kindle marketing is not self-publishing though they will all claim it is.  There are a great many steps one must go through to honestly self-publish.  Quotes for print runs, contracting with professional editors and cover artists.  EPUB conversion services, and if the work is fiction, audio book creation.  Let us not forget purchasing ISBNs and registering with the Library of Congress and copyright office.  Many don’t bother with any of those steps and the last three are absolutely critical.
Do you know your neighbors?
Back on the family farm I know my neighbors.  I grew up with most of them.
Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.
“A Dance With Dragons” or something like that.  Part of the “Song of Ice and Fire” series.  I used to love that series, but I didn’t finish that book and have no intention of reading it further.  This is what happens when an author gets distracted by more lucrative ventures like a television series.  I couldn’t help but feel the writing was being padded to fill out a season.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
I suppose it has influenced my writing in ways I do not know.  The major influence was in teaching me  the value of physical labor with respect to writing.  Mental labor like that done in an office setting drains the writing desire or at least it does once you get older and you simply want to unwind at the end of the stress.  Physical labor like walking beans, mowing pastures, painting out buildings, etc. doesn’t require an immense amount of mental capacity.  This leaves your mind free to mull over your current writing project so when you return to the keyboard you have already explored that portion of the story and are ready to write it down.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Originally I was never going to write fiction or general interest type books.  I was only going to write geek books because I am an IT consultant.  This was a logical extension of my “day job.”  It kept my skills sharp and provided a bit of help obtaining contracts.  For a good number of years this satisfied my need to write.  Eventually, if you are going to become a writer, you will find out when that first story forces you to tell it.
How long have you been writing?
Over two decades I think, but I took quite a few years off after my first two books.
When did you first know you could be a writer?
It didn’t happen until one reviewer compared “John Smith” to “1984” and “A Brave New World”.  Then another reviewer compared it to some of Plato’s writing.  Up until that point I hadn’t really considered myself a writer.  I was just someone who wrote books on the side.  Now I believe I just might be one.
What inspired you to write your first book?
A lack of usable documentation.  Software companies, particularly those who develop large scale libraries for computer programmers, are very good at producing large volumes of detailed documentation and a pile of hokey little examples.  What I mean by that is the documentation tends to be expert friendly reference material.  They provide a lot of “call this function with these parameters and it does this” type of documentation.  Where they fail miserably is in providing complete examples.  There was no documentation out there which told someone new to the product/library “here is how you create a data entry screen which adds record to a database.”
Nearly everyone reading this has went to a Web site and filled out an order form, or has gotten some form of computer generated bill/invoice in the mail.  What most reading this won’t know is the “how” behind creating all of the less than sexy programs behind that isn’t really taught.  Designers, artists, and management simply say “We want these graphics with those fonts to have this look and feel while doing this.”  Developers are left twisting in the breeze when it comes to the “how” portion of actually achieving that.
“John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” is one big interview. It is a transcript of a dialogue between “John Smith” (who, as the title of the book implies is the last known survivor of the Microsoft wars) and the interviewer for a prominent news organization.
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Genre – Dystopian Fiction
Rating – PG
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Friday, September 5, 2014

The Other Side of the Ice by @TheobaldSprague #AmReading #Memoir #Adventure

As we rolled into the next day and the sun was illuminating the fog around us, Dominique saw an extremely large target that wasn’t moving, especially out of our way. The persistent, heavy fog that had settled in around 2 a.m. gave an ethereal feel to a light not quite twilight or dawn. Yet what was now showing up on the radar four miles to the north was so large neither fog nor low light could hide it; our first official sighting of an ice- berg was an amazingly impressive one in that this berg had to have been at least a thousand feet long and more than 100 feet high. The fog was playing tricks in that first this “thing” was there, then it wasn’t. When I could see it, my immediate impression of the massive hulk in the fog was that of an aircraft carrier. It had to be, nothing was that big and tall and actually moved.
As there wasn’t sufficient light to photograph it, Dominique and I went through every possibility we could so that we could define it for the others as they revolved into the watch schedule; there were no rectangular, steep-sided islands charted for the area and it was too irregular to be any sort of cargo ship. Looking at it through the glasses, we could see the jagged and rough outline it presented against the northern sky. There was no doubting that it was truly a mountain of ice. And, as the minutes ticked by, our sighting was confirmed by the presence of several others—albeit not half as large— mini-islands of ice. By now all were up and crammed into the pilothouse, all with cameras in hand and soft exclamations about the size and power of these giants. The first sighting of ice is one that I will never forget. It’s no exaggeration when I realized that the icebergs held power, strength, drive, and a presence that could truly not care less about who you are or where it is you
want to go. They travel along silently. Seas break against their frozen and rock-hard surfaces, exploding with furious impotence as this massive structure of blue-brown-white ice keeps its determined course. Yet, as we were to learn, their presence wasn’t always known. A few hours later, I’d rotated out of watch and was below cleaning up when I heard Dominique say from the pilothouse, “Jesus, that one didn’t even show up on radar.”
It was hard to ignore such a comment so I went up to join her and immediately saw that we were now in the company of many more of these floating, silent icy sentinels and, sure enough, a particularly large one about three miles off our bows failed to register even as much as a blip on the radars. Yet some smaller ones, perhaps the size of Volkswagen Beetles, stood out bright and conspicuous on the green electronic screens.
All through that foggy morning, as many sets of eyes that were available were glued to either one of the two radars as ice targets and bearings were called out to the helmsman of the hour.
No exaggeration to say there were five sets of nerves on a knife edge. As the hours ticked by and the heat of the morning sun started to cook off some of the fog, we became more accustomed to the ice and a bit emboldened. I asked Clinton to take us closer to a particularly large iceberg that had amazing shapes, ledges, tiny waterfalls, and brilliant deep, ice-blue colors glowing from within. Very capably and with great precision, Clinton all but driftedBagan up to this massive berg.
On the grand scale of things, it was far from massive but when you’re in a boat one-tenth its size, it fit the definition of “massive.”

A sailor and his family’s harrowing and inspiring story of their attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.
Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor with over 40,000 offshore miles under his belt, always considered the Northwest Passage–the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific–the ultimate uncharted territory. Since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906, only twenty-four pleasure craft have followed in his wake. Many more people have gone into space than have traversed the Passage, and a staggering number have died trying. From his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, through the Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, it would be an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.

What Theobald couldn’t have known was just how life-changing his journey through the Passage would be. Reuniting his children and stepchildren after a bad divorce more than fifteen years earlier, the family embarks with unanswered questions, untold hurts, and unspoken mistrusts hanging over their heads. Unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845, as well as personality clashes that threaten to tear the crew apart, make The Other Side of the Ice a harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, ultimately, redemption.

TO WATCH THE OFFICIAL HD TEASER FOR “The Other Side of The Ice” [book and documentary] PLEASE GO TO: VIMEO.COM/45526226) 

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Genre – Memoir, adventure, family, climate
Rating – PG
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