The 2019 Recap!

Much to my surprise, 2019 turned out to be a pretty good year on the writing front.

It certainly started on the right foot, with my creepy little dark horror story, The Innocent Sink, being published by Coffin Bell Journal on January 1st.  Coffin Bell was my first choice for that piece, so seeing it in print there was a great feeling.

After a strong start out of the gate, things could have seriously gone downhill from there.

But, no, they didn’t!  With some timely encouragement by an editor over at Penguin Random House (the words “gripping” and “strong writing” came up – nice!), I finished the first draft of The Blood March.  Clocking in at just over 85,000 words, writing the last sentence really felt like an accomplishment.

The plot is strong, but what really excites me about the story is how it studies the conflict between science and religion.  There’s a saying I tell my kids all the time, “The world is black and white and grey all over.  And most of it falls in the grey.”  Meaning, of course, that the majority of the world falls in between the two extremes, and that’s usually the healthy mixture.  It’s why we don’t really mean it when we say things like “always” and “never”, and how people are not 100% “good” or “evil.”

Grey, baby.

The Blood March explores the conflicting and extreme positions between science and religion, and is a strong character study on some really cool people who are simply trying to find their purpose and the meaning of life.  (Douglas Adams did it better, famously simplifying the answer to “42“, but for my money nobody did anything as good as Douglas.)  A novel should be fun to read, the saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” comes to mind.  The best “ideas” in the world fall flat because nobody is having fun along the way.  Avoiding that pitfall is exactly what I’m doing with this novel.  I think people will like it when it comes out.

As for now, The Blood March is in that all-important “cooking” phase, which is the time where I find other things to do for a while so I can put some distance between us.  As with any first draft, there’s the good, bad, and ugly, and TBM is no exception.  While I already have some great ideas, especially on character development, I want to take an objective look at it when I make the first pass of edits.  I’ll keep ya posted!

In the meantime, I’ve taken up a new hobby – 3D rendering with Blender.  It’s a graphics software package used by artists, animators, and game developers all over the world.  I’ve always had an interest in computer graphics, dating all the way back to the mid-80’s.  Back then, graphics were 8-bit (16-bit if you were fancy!) images, likely created with The Graphics Magician.  As a geeky teenager significantly lacking in the life department, I wrote a text parser and created countless images on my trusty Apple //e.  It began to look like a career in computer science was on the horizon until life took me in a different direction.

All of the years later, I got the bug again and decided to take another swing.  That’s when I found Blender and my new passion.

I had no idea what I was doing at first, of course, but two months later and I’m already creating “mostly” photo-realistic images:

Jazz Bass Final HDRI Full Shot
My first project – a 2008 Fender Jazz Bass.  Created with Blender 2.82 (this is not a photograph, btw.)

Pretty cool, and not bad for a beginner, huh?

Blender lets you sculpt, texture edit, design, and construct just about anything, but my interest is predominantly in photo-realism.  I want to create images that look like the real deal more than, say, character creation projects.  I’m building up a portfolio, mostly because I really enjoy creating art this way.  If you’re interested in keeping up with my progress, I’ll post the final renders that I feel are good enough on my ArtStation page.

Anyway, 2019 turned out pretty good.  Makes me hopeful about what’s in store for 2020.  If anything interesting comes up, I’ll post something again soon!

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