What’s in a name

Hi guys. Okay, so it’s been ages since I last updated this site, and yes, I’m still around, and I’m still writing. It’s just that I had little to say about my writing. There were no new releases, and I was afraid this blog was getting a little too disorganized.

Anyway right now I’m putting the finishing touches on a book that’s having a bit of an identity crisis. What happened was that I decided to write a sequel to The Shadow Walker, only writing a 16,000 word sequel to what was a 24,000 word novella to begin with felt wrong. In fact it felt almost like a scam, so in the end  I decided to rewrite The Shadow Walker outright, and incorporate the sequel into that one. Unfortunately that has caused a bit of an issue when it comes to the new book’s title, and I’m not sure whether I will stick with The Shadow Walker -a title I actually like- or come up with an alternative that combines both that title and the one I had originally intended for the sequel, even if that title feels kind of off. Oh yes, and as if that weren’t enough there is also the fact that while I will be taking the original version off the market once the new one is released, the Spanish translation is not being revised, a fact that may lead to some confusion.

As I said, I’m currently struggling with the whole naming thing. I also have a couple of additional projects in the work, but more about those in a future post (who knows? maybe that way I won’t go so long between updates).

Still alive

Sorry about the silence. This is just a quick note to let you know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. It’s just that the past couple of months have been kind of rough. Shadow, my dog (and our covergirl for this post) died in January. Yes, she was sixteen, the vet had told me to start saying my goodbyes over two years prior because her kidneys were failing, and so on, but it still hit me, and hit me hard. I’m getting back in the rhythm of things, but it’s been a struggle.

Religious fanatics making the world less friendly one encounter at a time

Okay, so this is about a rather silly encounter I had yesterday. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t even rate as ‘minor’, but it still bothered me: I was walking my dog when a woman approached me to ask for directions. I pointed her in the direction, but rather than leaving me alone, she told me she was an evangelist and started following me around. I tried to tell her that I really wasn’t interested, but no matter what I said I couldn’t shake her. From the outside I have to admit that the whole encounter was probably funny as hell, as I was basically going around in circles, but the last thing I wanted to do was to bring her home with me (a puppy would probably have had better luck). Anyway, in the end I told her that I respected her beliefs, but that I asked her to respect mine, and walked away (taking a rather long detour I could ill afford, as by then I really, really had to pee).

As I said, it was a trivial incident, but the thing is that the next time someone asks for directions I will probably be more inclined to keep going than to lend a hand. That was that woman’s ‘good deed’ for the day, her way of making the world a better place.

Firefox’s latest annoying ‘improvement’

ARGH! That about covers my reaction to the latest Firefox update that was forced on me and millions of others in the past couple of days (that would be the jump from 42 to 43). So what’s my problem with the blasted thing? Basically that in their infinite wisdom the developing team saw it fit to option to undo a feature redesign that had first been foisted upon us back in version 33. I’m talking about the search bar’s redesign that left us stuck with a different input mechanism -and a really annoying grid of icons- rather than a drop down list of search engines. As I said, while the redesign had been around for about a year, up until a few days ago you could fix that one by going to about:config, and setting browser.search.showOneOffButtons to false. That is no longer an option.

Now, that grid looks very pretty… provided that you don’t have any search engines that don’t have a custom icon, and that you don’t have any that share the same icon(you want to be able to search wikipedia in more than one language? Good luck trying to figure out which one is selected. You want to have the option to search Project Gutenberg by either author or title? Ditto), but if the grid is not working for you, well, that’s just too bad… or at least that would be the case if you were left at the tender mercies of the development team. The good news is that that’s not necessarily the case. The bad news is that the solution calls for the use of an extension. I’m talking about Classic Theme Restorer, whose only reason for being is to… undo the damage these frequent updates do to the user experience (look for this option in the ‘General UI’ tab).

Don’t get me wrong, while I hate bloat -and I’m not too keen on change for change’s sake- I don’t want my user interface to be stuck in the last millennium, and there are plenty of new features I am actually grateful for. It’s just that there are some instances in which designers should realize that reversing the old ‘it’s not a bug, it’s a feature’ to read ‘it’s not a feature is a bug’ is not the best way to make a better product.

Walking a fine line

I admit I sometimes enjoy reading fanfiction. In fact that’s where I first got the writing bug, and while I agree that some (most?) of it can be pretty awful, there are some hidden gems that are well worth taking the time to actually find them. Anyway, this post is about one thing that’s driving me crazy. No, it’s not restricted to fandom, but that’s one place in which it is particularly noticeable. I’m talking about the proliferation of trigger warnings.

Yes, I understand that there are things some people might find disturbing, and there are some instances in which a heads up can come in handy, but lately these have been taken to the extreme. What some authors don’t seem to realize is that there is a very fine line between a trigger warning and a spoiler… and the same goes for author’s notes. If you want to apologize for not updating in a couple of years, fair enough, but if you want to go into detail about the intricacies of your writing process, or something else related to the story in question please, please, please  put your author’s note at the end of the chapter, where it’s easier for your readers to skip it (and where chances are that they’ve already read the chapter in question and they’ll know what you are talking about) not at the beginning… and also, call me old-fashioned, but while there are a few warnings that are customary (major character death, rape/non-con, slash [i.e. same-sex pairing], and maybe explicit violence and child abuse), I believe that anything beyond that is bound to do more harm than good.

Okay, getting down from my soapbox now, it’s just that trigger warnings are a great way to trigger my rage. Just a warning.

Easier isn’t always better

Yesterday I was doing a bit of housecleaning in my bookmarks, and in addition to a million dead links I found a few old favorites that predate the advent of social media. Most of these have long since been abandoned (and in their pages too broken links are legion), but one thing that struck me was the care that went into putting them together, the depth of knowledge they contained… and the fact that they are ad free. Granted, many of these were/are maintained by universities, but the thing is that back when maintaining a site meant learning html, and an update was a major undertaking. It was something to be proud of, and it showed. That gave rise to sites such as:

Bibliotheca Augustana (world literature in the original language)

Visualizing Chaucer (one of a number of Robbins Library Digital Projects)

The Camden House (Sherlock Holmes)

The thing is that visiting those sites reminded me of what the web was like in the early days, and while there is no denying that social media has some advantages, the fact that pretty much anyone can post anything without giving it much thought hasn’t come cheaply. In fact my little trip down memory lane was a rather painful reminder of the web we lost as a result… and of the fact that easier isn’t always better.