Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be blogging…

Writing

After several months of colossal personal issues and a side order of upheaval, things are finally settling down. So I’m going to get back to work. Right in time for Camp NaNo, of course. Still haven’t decided if I want to do this blog weekly or monthly, but it will get done.

So look for a for-real post with actual substance to it sometime soon, as in within the next week or two. My original plan still stands: the main focus of the blog will be on writing, with side ventures into 3D art and occasional personal babbling.

The first topic, coming soon, will be about writing. Yes, I know I said that already. But I mean writing, not sitting around saying “I wish I could write” or “Someday I’ll write a book.” Actually sitting down and writing. Scary, ain’t it?

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3D artwork drives me bonkers.

3D

Nothing of substance here, just some whining.

The last couple weeks I’ve been slowly returning to my “real” life, the world of writing and 3D artwork, after my attempt to buy a business got thoroughly flattened.

(Side note: That’s probably a good thing. Had I succeeded in purchasing my van, I’d be utterly screwed right now, and most likely doomed to failure. Because the van is completely incapacitated. It’s been sitting at the mechanic’s place for three days now, unwilling to shift into gear, and they can’t figure out what’s wrong with it. Can we say massive relief? As in, I am massively relieved that I don’t have to pay for that shit. It’s likely to cost my boss thousands of dollars in repair bills, lost revenue, and a bit of vacation pay for yours truly. That would’ve sunk me right off the bat, as I’d planned on starting out with about a $1600 emergency reserve. Not $5K.)

And… I’ve rediscovered something. Poking around in image galleries, getting a feel for what’s going on in the 3D world, paying attention to all the 3D artwork on deviantArt, looking at what my friends have been up to… Yeah. That’s cool, and all, but it’s also about to drive me screaming bonkers.

Because, you see, it’s all about the boobs.

Now, I have nothing against boobs in general. I even have a pair of my own. They’re fine, part of life, an easy identifier of a female body. But I sure do get tired of the boob obsession! Everywhere I look in the 3D world, there they are. Covered, uncovered, the size of watermelons, or maybe even normal size, with lights shining on them or sparkly things to draw your attention to them… Come on, people. There’s more to life than boobs.

What’s that you say? There’s also revealing costumes and highly impractical so-called armor? Argh!

Not to mention women in high heels and sexy dresses doing highly impractical things, and porn thinly disguised as pseudo-art, and all those fetishy images…

Sheesh. Totally makes me want to go render half-naked men in impractical outfits getting rescued by strong women in full armor.

Okay, frustrated ranting over. I just felt the need to blow off a little steam. I love my hobby. I just don’t love all the hobbyists that feel the need to constantly sexualize women and post their inner fantasies for the world to see.

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.

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.

Updating Myself

Random

I always intend to be more active online. Well, today I finally started an account at Queeromance Ink, which included a place to put social media links on the author profile. Holy shit. I have a huge online presence… and it’s almost all terribly out of date.

So here I go again, dragging myself out of the shadows of anonymity I always retreat to, and making another effort to be active, and current, online.

And in case you’re wondering… the out of date places are:

WordPress

Twitter

Goodreads

Patreon

Behance

Vimeo

WattPad

Tablo

my own website (!!!)

Amazon (what ever happened to that author page I started ages ago, anyway?)

At least I’m active on deviantArt and Facebook. I’m not completely hopeless.

New Cover Art!

Writing

One of the best things about self-publishing is that I can change things I don’t like. And as my computer art skills improve, I’m going back and re-doing old, sucky covers. I finished a new one for With Honor today. And… re-read it, found a couple errors that snuck through my final edits, and repaired them. Also worked on improving my lousy blurb-writing skills.

Available through Smashwords and Amazon. Just don’t be surprised if the link takes you to an Amazon page with the crappy old blurb and title, because Amazon takes a few days sometimes to update changes.

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Promo: The Chains of Their Sins, by Anna Butler

Writing

I have an announcement today, here on my barely-started, mostly empty blog. Anna Butler, an amazing writer whom I’ve known and admired forever, has a new release out today! Check it out, Anna’s writing never, ever disappoints.

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Taking Shield 04 : The Chains Of Their Sins

PUBLICATION DATE : 13 February 2017

About the Taking Shield series

Earth’s a dead planet, dark for thousands of years; lost for so long no one even knows where the solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But its drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war that’s dragged on for generations.

Taking Shield charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Against the demands of his family’s ‘triple goddess’ of Duty, Honour and Service, is set Bennet’s relationships with lovers and family. When the series opens, Bennet is at odds with his long term partner, Joss, who wants him out of the military and back in an academic, archaeological career. He’s estranged from his father, Caeden, who is the commander of Fleet’s First Flotilla. Events of the first book, in which he is sent to his father’s ship to carry out an infiltration mission behind Maess lines, improve his relationship with Caeden, but bring with them the catalyst that will destroy the one with Joss: one Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, who, over the course of the series, develops into Bennet’s main love interest.

Over the Taking Shield story arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanity’s enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isn’t able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albion’s victory. And some days he isn’t sure, any longer, what victory looks like.

Taking Shield 01: Gyrfalcon

Taking Shield 02: Heart Scarab

Taking Shield 03: Makepeace

(2nd place winner, Rainbow Awards 2016)

About The Chains of Their Sins

Shield Captain Bennet arrives on the Gyrfalcon to take up his final year’s posting before returning to the Shield Regiment after his rotation out.

On the Gyrfalcon he faces up to the fallout from Makepeace—ethical, political and above all, personal. Will he be able to accept necessity: that knowing what the Maess are up to outweighs the humanitarian issues surrounding the prisoners he rescued from Makepeace? Can he ride out the political furore that follows the loss of the dreadnought Caliban? How will he cope with an entire year of serving under his father, Caeden? And worst of all, how in the name of every god in the Pantheon can he stand to see Flynn every single day, with the Fraternisation Regs standing between them and keeping them apart?

It will be an interesting year. Bennet can hardly wait for it to be over. Of course, things never really do go to plan…

Book Title: Chains of Their Sins

Series: Taking Shield

Publisher: Glass Hat Press

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Wordcount: c 98,000

Category: Sci Fi, Gay mainstream

(ARCs available)

Excerpt

More Hornets were out of the tubes, racing to catch up; almost everyone, now. Bennet had the Patroklus squadron on visual, little points of light on his left, speeding towards him. He held the Starboard and Port wings in position, waiting for Patroklus to join him, listening to the continuous stream of inter-ship Comms that gave him the intel he needed on everyone’s position. Captain Sergei reported he was in position.

Heads up, boys and girls,” Bennet said over the command line. “Bandits will be here in two minutes. Battlecode comm transmissions only.”

All chatter stopped. Everything around him fell silent. It took him a second to realise that the dull muffled thumping that he felt as much as heard, was his own quickening heartbeat. His eyes never stopped moving—to port, ahead, the scanner, to port, ahead, to starboard, ahead, the scanner, ahead, to port…

His gaze flickered to port-side most. His pilots were out there, tackling the outriders to the first wave of fighters. Nothing much to see. The fighters were drones, with no internal atmospheres to give even the briefest flash of light and heat when they were destroyed. If he saw a flash, it would be one of their own.

Port, ahead, the scanner, port, ahead, starboard…

All advance bandits accounted for,” Kyle said. “No survivors.”

Casualties?”

None. Clean strike.”

Good. Stand by.” Look to port, ahead, the scanner, ahead, to starboard, ahead, the scanner, ahead… “Kyle, you have their left flank. Sergei, their right. Starboard Wing, we’re punching right through these guys to take on the second wave.”

Yes!” The excitement in Kyle’s voice was unmistakable.

Ready.” Sergei was more subdued.

We’re ready,” Cruz said, steady as ever. “We’re all ready.”

Bennet took a split-second to watch them get into position, the usual cold clenching around his guts, knowing they wouldn’t all come back. He had the fighters on visual now, a close-packed phalanx of ships, blotting out stars. There had to be more than a hundred of them, with a second wave of at least another hundred, maybe more, behind. A full complement of a battleship’s fighters all stacked up against the little Hornets.

Bennet opened his private comline to the Gyrfalcon. “Ten seconds, bridge. We’re going in.” He only half-heard Quist’s acknowledgement. He’d already keyed into the battle code comline. A deep breath. “All Attack Wings, intercept attackers and engage the enemy. Go!”

Five seconds later the front ranks of Hornets and fighters smacked right into each other.

Buy Links

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZ9QQYQ/

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MZ9QQYQ/

Available for pre-order at Kobo.

Giveaway

$25 (or equivalent) Amazon voucher.
Signed copy “Gyrfalcon”, Taking Shield Book 01.

Rafflecoptor code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the author

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.

Website and Blog

Facebook

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Now that’s sad.

Random

Many years ago, I saw a car with a sheet of notebook paper taped up in the back window. On it someone had written George W. Bush does not speak for me. Now, that was back at the point when Americans were supposed to stop eating French fries and eat freedom fries instead. So I thought that was pretty damn neat, and put a modest little statement on my personal website, George W. Bush does not speak for me. I was really happy to take that down eight years ago.

Well, today my personal website has sprouted an innocuous little political statement, right up at the top. Donald J. Trump does not speak for me. It’s pretty sad that it came back, that little statement. And it’s not like my personal website gets massive amounts of traffic. But I feel a tiny little bit better having a disclaimer to show that I’m not an [insert favorite perjorative(s) here] idiot, nor do I like the future that appears to be looming over my poor country.

Seriously, people, is tolerance and hope really all that bad?