Monday, July 30, 2012

Don't say no to the Panda.

I'm still buried under work and trying to finish a short story before the submission deadline. While I'm neck-deep in that...'s something completely different.

Can I just say, I love this Panda? I laughed so hard I was crying for the whole last two minutes. I had to watch it again. If I ever had to pick an animal that best represents me, this particular one would be it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All set to take over the world

...Now that my army of tiny NaNoBots is complete! Mwahahahaha

I really have to stop checking in on what the other NaNoWriMo MLs are up to, because it just leads to inspiration and that leads to projects that I really don't have time for. But they're fun!

They don't need to sleep. They just do. And do. And do. And some of them even smile about it.

So how does one go about raising an army of their own?

First, visit your local robot part outlet. Mine happened to be called Hobby Lobby.

You'll need two sizes of wooden blocks. I used 1 inch and 3/4 inch. There are smaller sizes, if you want really little bots, just keep in mind that you'll need to find hand and feet parts that are equally sized.

I picked dowel hole plugs for the head knobs, 1/8 dowels for the arms and legs, wooden balls for the hands and some little rounded dowel part for the feet.

I cut the dowels at 3/4 inch using a wire cutter. They snap off really easy. You will need to sand the cut edges to get a good base for the other parts to attach to.

Using hot glue (because I really didn't have time to sit around while stuff dried), I attached the head knobs on the smaller block and then glued the smaller block to the larger one.

Things got rather assembly line after that. Attach the arms to the hands and the legs to the feet.

Because I was doing thirteen of these (the max I could do with the pieces I had purchased), I assembled all the arms and legs before moving on.

The easiest way to assemble the feet is to set them both side by side and put a drop of glue on top of them. Set the block body on top of the feet and adjust as necessary until the bot stands up.

If the legs are mostly in the middle section of the block, it has a pretty good chance of standing on the first try. Making sure the legs are generally the same size would be a good idea too, if you're going for a uniform look. My army is a little haphazard. I'm okay with that.

Once my robots were assembled--all thirteen took about an hour from opening the supplies to figuring out the first one to gluing on the last leg.

Removing all the glue blobs and stringy bits would be a good idea at this point.

Then it's time to find some paint!

I could have opted for regular old acrylic paint, but I had this hammered silver spray paint in my closet and it begged to be used.

As you might notice in the pictures, some of my robots have different feet. I ran out of the nifty little bowl pieces. Boo! But, I had some craft sticks sitting around so I snapped off the rounded ends and darn it, they made cute feet too.

Behold my army of NaNoBots!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Percolator In Action

From my backyard: A cecropia moth visited our trampoline.
While I haven't had a change to write a darn thing lately, the time away from doing so has allowed my subconscious percolator to do its thing. Three things I've accomplished this week without physically accomplishing anything (writing related):

1. At long last, I've happened upon a title for the sequel to Trust. Now called: Chains of Gray. That only took several years...

2. I've discovered that I seem fond of two themes throughout several of my stories--which are otherwise unrelated. One is the color gray (or grey, as I prefer to see it) having some significance in various ways. The other is genetics - either the manipulation of, breaking down of or restrictions based upon them. It started with Trust, then went in another direction in A Broken Race and splintered into Devolution. Now its continuing on in the as yet untitled (Egads, yet another project to title. Let's hope that doesn't take years, shall we?) prequel to A Broken Race. Neither thing was intentional in its multiple manifestations. Giving the percolator time to wander through my stories while my body was busy allowed it to make these connections and point them out to me. At which point I profoundly said, "Huh. Weird."

3. I've had time to work on troubleshooting the aforementioned Devolution. That short story has been languishing in my 'rework' folder for well over a year. I've got the conflict down its just finding the right *bang* for the resolution that totally escapes me as of yet. It's not a twist kind of story and that might be what's tripping me up. At least this gives the percolator something to chew on while the rest of me is off in worker drone mode.

Have you noticed any unintentional repeating of things in your stories?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dragon myself through the week

From this side it looks angry.
It's been a crazy busy week. You'd think being down one kid (he's working at Boy Scout camp for two weeks) would make for a little extra time, but no. Work has continued to devour what would usually be my writing time. Which also is my critiquing time, so sadly, I've also fallen woefully behind there too. On the slightly brighter side, I have been able to devote some subconscious effort to percolating submission pieces for A Broken Race, which is nearly ready to head out into Queryland.

While I've been so busy, I have managed to carve out a little craft time with my daughter. She's been in a 'let's make dragons out of clay' mode lately. Who am I to argue? So I sat down with her and a ball of air dry clay and we made dragons.

At this angle its more friendly.
Admittedly, I made this dragon over a month ago (work has been at crazy level for quite awhile). I then moved it to the corner of my kitchen counter where stuff that sits around collects. I figured that if it sat there, I'd remember to make time to also sit with my daughter and paint it. Great intention.

It sat there for a week and got hit with some random something that I set on the counter. One wing, a foot and several back spines fell off. I swore. Profusely. Then I got my glue gun out and fixed it.

I moved my repaired and still unpainted dragon to my desk in an 'out of the way' place so it would be safe until I got around to painting it. While it was in this safe place, it seems that I managed to smash it with a tape gun in a flurry of shipping packages for work. All that stuff that broke before, fell off again. Only this time, the wing shattered. Again, I swore profusely. I didn't fix it.

The poor dragon and its broken bits sat in a pile of clay dust for several weeks. You might say it was daring me to fix it and I was ignoring it because I was still pissed that I'd broken it again before I had made time to paint the darn thing.

Finally, after a late dinner, I hauled out my box of paints and my glue gun. The dragon got fixed. Again. It also got a base coat. Then it sat on the table for two days until I stepped away from another twelve hour day and a late dinner to begin the brain numbing process of painting scales. Four days later, its finally done.

The dragon has now been placed in an actual safe place. And if fate has it's way with the dragon again, at least I have these photos.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Getting away from it all

From my pond: Suicidal stag beetles.
For the record, they suck at swimming,
but keep coming into the pond anyway. 
The juggling of submissions is still going on, as is an overwhelming work load. So what do I do? Leave.

I planned to be gone for most of four days, but only manged three thanks to the insane heat and deer flies. I hate deer flies. I hate mosquitoes too, but together, they are a force I'd rather not reckon with. So yes, my answer to the near triple digit heat and bugs? Leave.

It wasn't all bad though. I did get to relax a little. I swam a lot in a gorgeous little spring-fed lake. And I sweated. A lot. Probably lost a few pounds. The night sky was beautifully black as opposed to home with all the city lights interfering. And there was much reminiscing.

I hadn't been to that campground since 1989, the last year we went camping as a family when I still lived at home. After my mother's sudden death, all family camping ground to a halt. It was sad but fun to go back to visit a place where we'd all relaxed together. Now my own family has been there too. It was a peaceful sort of reclaiming happy memories, part of my ongoing twenty-three year and counting search for closure sort of thing.

Now that the camping supplies are put back in order and stored away until next month, laundry is done and the house is relatively cleaned, it's time to get back into the swing of things.

Sort of.

I'm still counting today as being on vacation. Which means I'm working as little as possible. I'm not editing. I'm not designing and I'm certainly not producing anything. I have answered all my emails and I did finally manage to read Steven Brust's Dragon this weekend. That's only been sitting in my TBR pile for a year now, along with far too many other books. Oh, free time, how I miss you. I enjoyed hanging out with Vlad again. It's been years, and he's one of my favorite characters to read.

Tomorrow, I'll get back to work, but today, darn it, I'm relaxing.