BSDCan 2019 Auction Items, and next Beaks novel

Last night, I finished the first draft of Terrapin Sky tango, aka Butterfly Stomp Waltz #2. At 117K words it’s my longest novel to date. It’s a first draft, so I’ll be sending this to first readers and fine-tuning it for a while before release.

In weirdly related news–Every year, I donate something to the BSDCan charity auction. This year it’s

1) a copy of the Bail Bond Denied edition of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails.

2) The mostly complete first draft of Terrapin Sky Tango, This is mostly an excuse to separate nerds from their cash for a good cause. As this is a specialty item, not of general interest to the con attendees, I’ll do this auction silently during the con. See me for the bid sheet.

"terrapin sky tango" manuscript

My draft of TST is almost 700 pages long. I printed it in slightly smaller type, with reduced spaces between lines, and got it down to under 500 pages. So I printed it double-sided, because this is mostly a novelty (or, for the person who thinks I’ll be a Collectible Big Name one day, an investment).

Please accept this totally non-faked photographic evidence that the manuscript is a real thing.

And I will see each and every one of you at BSDCan!

My Penguicon 2019 Schedule

I’ll be at Penguicon this year, doing a few talks and panels and such. It’s only fair to warn you where I’ll be.

Friday, 3 May

  • 18:00 – LN2 Ice Cream (I’ll be simultaneously presenting “Debauchery as a Service”)

Saturday, 4 May

Sunday, 5 May

I’m pretty sure that adding three more events will allow me to reach Penguicon Transcendence. I shall become omnipresent, simultaneously attending and giving every single presentation. I recommend you attend Penguicon before that ghastly, inevitable development.

Or maybe they’ll just assign me a room and put a sign on the door: “The Lucas Show! Different Lunacy Every Hour!” So long as they shove LN2 ice cream under the door every few hours, that’ll work.

FreeBSD Mastery: Jails – Bail Bond Denied Edition

I had a brilliant, hideous idea: to produce a charity edition of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails featuring the cover art I would use if I was imprisoned and did not have access to a real cover artist. (Never mind that I wouldn’t be permitted to release books while in jail: we creative sorts scoff at mere legal and cultural details.)

I originally wanted to produce my own take on the book’s cover art. My first attempt failed spectacularly.

I downgraded my expectations and tried again. And again. And again.

I’m pleased to reveal the final cover for FreeBSD Mastery: Jails–Bail Bond Edition!

This cover represents the very pinnacle of my artistic talents, and is the result of literally hours of effort.
But, as this book is available only to the winner of charity fund-raisers, purchase of this tome represents moral supremacy. I recommend flaunting it to your family, coworkers, and all those of lesser character.

Get your copy by winning the BSDCan 2019 charity auction… or any other other auction-type event I deem worthwhile.

As far as my moral fiber goes: I have learned that art is hard, and that artists are not paid enough.

And if I am ever imprisoned, I do hope that you’ll contribute to my bail fund. Otherwise, you’ll get more covers like this one.

End-of-February Update

Yeah, we’re a third of the way into March. I spent the first week of March at a writing workshop, which I might blog about separately. My writing workshops are basically 14-hour days, because if you’re not working why did you leave the house? Anyway, how did February measure up?

10,000 words.

Yep. That’s it.

I spent the first third of the month finishing the first complete draft of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails and sending it for ready for tech edit. That’s where most of the words came from.

The middle third of the month was spent dismantling the first edition of Sudo Mastery, crying reading sudoers, and assembling the outline of the new edition. This is a little tricky, as I need to retain what made the first edition so amusing but update it for 2019. Words were made, but none of them are saleable so they don’t count–like this blog post.

The last third went to collecting FMJ tech edits and integrating them into the completed manuscript. FMJ is at the copyeditor now, and is due back by the end of the week. I expect to have print copies for Penguicon or, at worst, BSDCan. With any luck I’ll have hardcovers by then too.

That leaves me this week to do creative crap. I have a story due for Boundary Shock, so that needs to get drafted and out to first readers. I also have an absolutely business-critical task that I must finish this week. Can’t say what it is yet, but here’s a hint.

It involves crayons.

No, wait–“oil pastels.”

So, adult crayons.

So if you excuse me, I better pour a glass of milk and get scribbling.

Cutting My Throat at Last

So many people over the decades have volunteered to slash my neck for free, but I’ve decided to have a professional do it.

My long-time stalkers followers have probably noticed my declining output. In 2016 I released six big books. Last year, two. This year, I’m pushing hard to get three, and I probably won’t succeed.

I’ve been plagued by weird, seemingly unrelated health problems. I’ll spare you the tedious details, but the real problem is that my writing speed hasn’t been where it needs to be.

I’ve been going to quite a few doctors trying to figure out the root problem. Thought it was anemia. Got that patched over, sort of, but there’s other symptoms. Also, what caused the anemia?

On 10 December, they’re cutting me open to yank out the right side of my thyroid and the accompanying 22-centimeter cyst. At least, that’s the plan. The surgeon might open me up and realize that the whole thing has to go, as some problems aren’t visible until you lay eyes on them. MRIs and ultrasounds are miraculous, but nothing replaces the squishy cameras mounted at the front of your head.

Part of me hopes they take it all. It’s hard to say how long the thyroid’s been bad; “constantly feeling vaguely unwell” is a common side effect of a career in systems administration. The thyroid is your master gland and controls your whole body. It’s also a tricky bugger to diagnose, at least until it starts swelling.

I don’t know that my thyroid is the true root cause, but the list of standard thyroid symptoms includes most all of my non-personality problems.

What will happen next? Dunno. Maybe I’ll come out just fine. Maybe I’ll need hormone replacement therapy. The more extensive the surgery, the longer it’ll take to recover–perhaps as long as three months. If they take half, there’s a 30% chance they’ll go back a couple weeks later and take the other half. I do know that this is a common surgery (except for the whole twenty-two centimeter thing), and that it’s completely routine for everyone but me.

So, I’m doing the following.

  • All public appearances are canceled until further notice. I’ll still be at semibug, but I’m not talking at any more user groups or cons until I’m well. I’m not even doing any more bookstore readings. The people involved already know.
  • I’m not accepting any invitations for conferences until this is resolved. I usually get a flurry of invites at year end, but I’m deferring decisions until I’m stable.
  • Even if I come through this perfectly I’m planning to stay home afterwords, put my head down, and write some damn books. That’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted as a career. I’m ridiculously lucky in that people will buy almost anything I write. If I want to keep this career, I have to produce.

So, chances are I’ll turn down your con invite anyway. But hopefully it won’t be because I don’t feel well enough to travel; it’ll be because I feel finally healthy enough to disgorge the millions of words trapped in my brainstem.

I’m also looking forward to being able to routinely turn my head to the right without blacking myself out. That’ll be nice.

Also, if this leaves a big scar? Two words: zipper tattoo!

Web Empire Redesign

I just went through and switched all four of my personal web sites to WordPress’ 2017 theme, getting rid of Atahualpa and Evolve. They were fine for their time, but 2017 supports everything I need and most of what I want.

My sites still need help, though. And I’m reaching out for guidance from people who design web sites.

(I also have tiltedwindmillpress.com, but that needs to remain separate. It’s a company, not a personal site, even though the company exists only to handle my books. It needs some help and updates, but that’s a separate problem.)

I started with a blog. Once the blog seemed to work okay, I converted my old raw HTML site to a real web page for my books. When I split my fiction off under a slightly different name, it seemed to make sense to set up a separate site for that. When I found I was duplicating information between sites, I set up mwl.io to act as a central information/traffic direction point.

This is all annoyingly complex. People are having a terrible time finding information about me and my books. I really need to bring everything back together. Probably under mwl.io, because that’s nice and short and easy to type on a cellphone.

The question is, how to organize the information?

Today, both my fiction and nonfiction sites have genres across the top. The drop-down menu on the tech site leads to a page for each book. The fiction site has single pages, one per genre, with multiple books. Given how many books I have out, one page per genre seems more sustainable in the long run.

Ah, seems… a lovely word that means “I look so simple, but I’m going to come back and bite you.”

I’ve thought of hiring someone to do a web site reorg, but ultimately, I’m responsible for it. I have to understand what’s going on. Plus, people are fragile; whatever happens, I need to be able to either take it over or explain it to another contractor.

So I’m asking my esteemed readers. If you were responsible for this kind of information, how would you organize it? As a reader looking for information on books, how would you do it? I mean, if I had to handle this for an employer, I’d quit–but that’s not really an option here.

Suggestions? Ideas?

New Patreon rewards for $1 tier

Patreon looks like it works for me, much to my surprise. The $1 tier looked a little empty, though, so I’ve added a couple rewards there.

The fiction readers get a free short story. Right now it’s the first Prohibition Orcs tale. I’ll probably change that some time.

The nonfiction readers get what is possibly my most ludicrous reward: a MWL footnote fortune file. Install it on your Unixy host, add fortune mwlfortune to your .login, and you’ll get a random quote from one of my books. It’s mostly footnotes, with some body quotes thrown in, for a total of three hundred sixty-nine lumps of snark to start your SSH sessions. I’ll update this every so often.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled life.

New Patreon video

I’ve had a Patreon for a while, and it seems to be working okay.

So, with help from Lawrence Technology Services, I created a Patreon video. By “help,” of course, I mean that Tom and Marvin at LTS worked the camera, did the editing, provided the set, did the lighting, and probably dozens of other things I have no awareness of.

I did, however, write the script and blather in front of the camera.

If you have three minutes to waste, check it out.

I don’t know if this video is right for Patreon. I don’t know if it’s amusing. I have been assured, however, that it’s very me.

Book Fair, 23 June 2018

I’ll be at the Scriptorium Book Fest in Troy, Michigan this coming Saturday. No, my name’s not on the official list there at the bottom, but I’m a late addition.

The Book Fest features a few dozen local authors, all of us available for discussion, photos, and general abuse. We’ll all have copies of our books.

If you’re in Metro Detroit, come by and find your new favorite book.

Now, back to writing git sync murder and FreeBSD Mastery: Jails