Going offline for a while.

Random

Yes, I know. I just made a nicely public commitment to create a writing blog. But once again, real life has intruded.

I’m beginning the process of trying to buy a business. And by “business,” I mean my current job. If I can pull it off, life will be really, really good. But if I screw this up, I will most likely lose everything.

So in the interests of not effing up my entire life, I’m going to stay away from most social interactions for a while, and focus on scary things, such as market analysis and demographics. Things I became a dog groomer, 3D artist, and fiction writer to avoid, damn it. But if I want to continue living in this rather nice town, with a steady income and clients who love me (I mean this literally. I hear it a lot, usually from little older ladies with cute little dogs.), not to mention the ability to purchase food on a reasonably regular basis, well… I’m just going to have to suck it up, do the kind of work I dislike intensely, and put together a stellar business plan that makes me look like I’m so good there’s no risk at all in loaning me 60K. Ain’t no one going to do it for me, or help out. Even my sister the accountant answered one question for me, then told me to go find a financial adviser.

I’ll likely still be at deviantArt every day, but just lurking quietly, looking at a few bits of art in the mornings. And I’m still doing Camp NaNoWriMo, of course, but I’ve drastically reduced my word count. I love to write, but my only means of supporting myself is far more important. Everywhere else I’ll likely check once or twice a week if all goes well.

Wish me luck, because I really need it… Er, wait. Please wish me good luck. With this much on the line, I don’t want to take any chances.

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Born Of Frustration

Writing

A couple weeks ago, I was starting in on a new book I picked up from Instafreebie. This should have been a good thing. It’s a free book, right? Awesome! And it has a cool cover, and an intriguing title. I was all sorts of happy and excited to jump right in.

BUT.

The typos snuck in first. Just one, then another, then a few more. Then the misused words arrived. And then came the horrible, sloppy feel to the writing. I barely made it through the first chapter.

I checked the info at the front of the book, and sure enough, this sad little thing was self-published.

Now that tidbit of information simultaneously pissed me off and made me sad. Because, you see, I self-publish. So I tend to take a poorly edited self-published story as a personal insult. They give hard-working authors like me, that bust some serious butt on multiple revisions and heavy-duty editing, then have a beta reader or two go over things and find what we missed, a really bad name. Because people get hold of a self-published book like this freebie I tried to read and assume that all self-published writers don’t bother to edit their work.

This whole episode reminded me of a time when, long ago, I was a slash writer and reader. And then slash started getting popular, and everyone wanted to write it, and it got all crappy. And… in response, I created a website with slash writing tips and links to writing resources. It was moderately popular, too, judging by the traffic on my server. Then real life exploded and I had to abandon the project.

But I think I’m going to take up the “improve lazy writing” torch again, right here on this blog. *sigh* Just what I need, another project… But lack of time aside, I really feel the need to do something about the vast amount of lousy writing out there on the wild web. Yeah, it’s true, lazy writing makes mine look really good in comparison. But who the hell is going to bother checking out self-published books at all if they have to dig really hard to find a good one?

So writers, keep an eye out for future postings of writing resources, discussions of editing stuff, and so forth. And maybe, just maybe, someone who wants to improve their skills will stumble across this blog, and the world will be spared at least one poorly-edited, self-published story.

Volumetric Rays

3D

I ran across a post on deviantArt the other day, asking how to produce volumetric effects using the AtmoCam for Iray. That got me wondering why the hell I’d never done that myself, since I adore volumetric effects in all their forms. So I made an image of a big kitty laying in the light and shadows, and then explained what I did for the person with the question.

And then, like a doofus, I didn’t bother to do anything else with the information… at first. It took a couple hours, but I finally remembered I have a blog, and on this blog I sometimes post 3D stuff. So here it is, the image and the way I lit it, just in case anyone else out there is wondering how to get light rays in Daz Studio with the AtmoCam.

What I used:

Daz Studio 4.9

AtmoCam for Iray

Daz Big Cat 2

Sun Hall

iRadiance Light Probe Expansion 2

Iray Ghost Light Kit

What I did:

(no, this is not the only way to do this stuff. This is just the process I used to get this result.)

I set the Atmo Cam to “SunRise” and “MedHeavy.” I also used one of the iRadiance Light Probes and set the draw dome control to “off.” The HDRI happened to make two visible bright blobs that worked for suns. Then I took a spotlight, dragged it out beyond the mountains, and positioned it so it looked like it was coming from one of the HDRI light blobs, the larger one. I set the temperature to 10000K (super bright white) and the luminous flux to 10000000000.0. Yes, I know that’s an insane number, but that’s what got the sunlight effect. I tried a distant light, but it never did produce any kind of rays. The spotlight could be focused a bit, I put the spread angle at 90 and that kept the light where I wanted it. I also added a big, weak Ghost Light because the shadows were too thick around the throne area. I rendered in Iray with spectral rendering and caustics turned on, but I don’t think that affected anything. Sun Hall doesn’t have glass in the windows.

So, there you go. That’s one way to get a decent volumetric effect. (And yes, before anyone mentions it, I know the image is noisy in the shadowed areas. It was an experiment, not an attempt at perfection.)

Read An Ebook Week

Writing

It’s that time of year again!

What time?

Oh, you don’t know about it yet. Every year Smashwords has a big sale on most of the ebooks at their site. So if you’re bored and you need something to read, head on over to Smashwords and pick up a cheap ebook or three. All of mine are in the “dirt cheap” category, with the most expensive set at $2.50. So hurry up and go shopping!
Sale runs from March 5 through 11.