(This post went to Patronizers at the beginning of August, and the public at the beginning of September.)
The most exciting thing this month is probably the Writing Chariot.
I have written at a standing desk since about 2010. I find it much more sustainable than a standard desk, and it lets me pace more easily when my brain logjams. I have no idea when I started using split keyboards, but it’s been many years. Split keyboards let me open my shoulders naturally and keep my wrists straight, which relieves a great deal of my tendinitis and my mild-but-annoying nerve damage.
Ideally, though, I would write with my arms hanging limp at my sides. I’ve been contemplating some sort of belt arrangement where I could wear keyboards at my hips, gunslinger-style. I don’t have experience working with cloth, however, and stabilizing the keyboards is an obvious challenge. I discussed the issue with my father-in-law, and he promptly whipped up this… thing.
I attach each half of the keyboard to one of the arms and stand between them. In theory, my hands can dangle at my sides as I type. It’s not exactly neutral position, but it’s pretty close. The arms can be adjusted up and down, and there’s a peg to hold them in place. I’m not using the Writing Chariot yet—it needs another adjustment, so I need a second person to drill the hole. But my initial tests show that it’s usable. Time will tell if it fubars my shoulders even further, or if it relieves the stress. If this doesn’t work, the next step is the Keyboard Gunslinger.
In other excitement, my next Kickstarter is live. Apocalypse Moi is a collection of my short fiction, all with the theme of “doom.” The video features my missus, She Who Must Be Obeyed, as well as the inimitable Zig Zag Claybourne. Many of you will get the book for free as a Patronizer benefit. There is no need for you to back the Kickstarter. As you might guess, though, I’d still appreciate if you told folks that they should back it.
Before you ask: no, this book doesn’t have a leather-cased edition. The cased Prohibition Orcs did well, but the cased Devotion and Corrosion, not so much. More than one person told me that they were not allowed to buy two $200 books from me in the same year, and I can’t blame them. This will be my last fiction Kickstarter for 2023, I’m sure, and it will clean up my short story inventory. This has already changed the cash flow of running a Kickstarter, though. Prohibition Orcs funded in under fifteen minutes, because two folks bought leather-cased editions. That money was, in some ways, bogus. The leather cases bring in the most revenue, but they’re also the most expensive to fulfill. Apocalypse Moi took about ten hours to fund, but the profit/expense ratio is better.
Previous Kickstarters demanded excessive mental energy, because I loathe asking for money. Even with you folks, I’ve taken pains to declare that the Patronizer program is a terrible deal. This time, I’m trying a few techniques to lessen the mental load. First, there are no complicated rewards. I’ll deliver ebooks, order books from printer, and ship signed books—done. Second, with every promotional post I’m including a link to my free stuff. Balancing asking for money with an offer of freebies relieves some of my discomfort. Last, I’ve figured out a theme for my promotion. This is an apocalypse-themed collection, so I’m doing a “Thirty Days of Doom” social media promotion. It’s much easier for me to say “here’s this cool doomsday some other artist created, and by the way please support my little apocalypses” than to come up with a naked plea for money every day. Look for the hashtag #30DaysOfDoom on Facebook and the Fediverse.
I had hoped to have Run Your Own Mail Server finished by now. That’s obviously not happening. Once Apocalypse Moi arrives, I will bundle it up with Devotion and Corrosion and ship to print-level Patronizers. I probably need to ship fiction on its own, rather than bundling with tech books. In theory, tech books should not take this long to write—but they do, dammit.
A couple folks asked about my decision to publish short stories only on my website. Years ago, I said that I could publish a short story and make a few hundred bucks pretty quickly. Last month, I said that short stories are not worth my time to publish. These are contradictory, but only because they’re separated by time. My short story buyers are overwhelmingly my Patronizers. The stories are included in your so-called “rewards.” I traded those occasional bursts of cash for a steady trickle of income, and I thank you for it.
The flunky I hired to polish my web site is working out so far. I’m kind of surprised, but only because I always expect everything to fail unpredictably. He’s just under the $600 “I have to file tax paperwork on you” limit, so before long we’ll have to discuss if he wants to continue or not.
Run Your Own Mail Server is coming along, generally several hundred words a day. This is the most difficult book I’ve ever written. I’d say “the next book will be easier,” except I know better than to promise myself that. They make nipple clamps for people like me. But today I’m writing about SPF and MX records, so the book has achieved “functioning mail server!” (Of course, you can’t tell people to mail you at that domain yet. There’s no spam protection, you’ll drown.) Once I get these basics down, though, it’s basically “configure rspamd” and the related DNS records for DKIM and DMARC, plus a DMARC aggregator. Oh, and postfixadmin. I have to configure things the hard way before setting up postfixadmin, though, because without that understanding you can’t troubleshoot failures. But still, most of that is either straightforward procedure or small concepts that aren’t tightly integrated with the rest of the ecosystem. You can run email without DMARC or DKIM. Nobody will accept your messages, but you can run it.
Anyway, I’ve got to get to work. The Writing Chariot isn’t going to adjust itself.