2020 Year End Progress Report

Ho-lee shit, what a year. I feel like we crash-skidded into 2021 shot full of holes with only one landing gear down and all engines on fire. I won’t rehash all the damage; you’re well familiar with it. Ugh, good riddance, but it’s not the number that matters, it’s the work ahead…

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October 2020 Progress Report

It’s been about three months, so this would be a good time to update you on my goals. Like a lot of creatives at the moment, my enthusiasm has, how to put this, “shit the bed”. That said, I’ve tried to move things along, even if it’s at a snail’s pace, driven if only by the Will Rogers’ quote, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” But enough thoughtful pondering. This is 2020 week 41, with roughly 79% of the year behind us. How’s my progress?

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Throughout this pandemic I’ve been passing the time playing video games with my daughters. Lately my eleven-year-old and I have been playing Obsidian Entertainment’s Grounded, where we each play one of four children who have been shrunk down to the size of bugs and have to survive in a vast backyard jungle rife with vicious insects.

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As I’m reviewing my beta reader feedback on AT4, some of the notes echo complaints readers have had with my past published novels. To break up sections within a chapter, I normally use an extra carriage return. It keeps the formatting simple, and most of the time when your eye jumps to the new section, you know the scene has changed. I also try to name the new point of view character in the first sentence as an extra cue.

If it were a printed novel, this break would be fixed and wherever it coincided with a page break, some typography magic could add an extra carriage return or editing magic would restructure the writing a little so that the break fell within the page and not at the beginning or end.

The problem with e-books is that there’s no way to predict this. Since every reader can set their own font type, font size, and/or orientation, there’s no way to tell when a scene break will overlap a page break and cause confusion. And despite my efforts and cues, I have caused confusion (and I apologize for that).

More than a couple folks have suggested putting in an asterisk or some other typographic symbol as a fixed cue that the scene is changing, and I think I’ll do this for AT4. I did some research, and learned a few things.

Any type of typography to denote a section break is called a dinkus (or lesser used dingus, although that can also mean a fool or a penis (because…why not)).

Three asterisks in a triangle is called an asterism. Other dinkuses can include three asterisks in a straight line, or three periods in a line (but not so close like an ellipsis), or a thing called a fleuron, which to me looks like a chili pepper.

I think I’ll use something, but the question is …what? Three asterisks centered in a line is pretty easy to format for .epub and .mobi, as is three periods (of the two, I favor the asterisks). An asterism, fleuron, or other widget will probably require a .gif, which looks weird if the reader switches from a white background to a black or beige one. I could do a custom .gif, like a pair of crossed pistols or something similar, but then I run into the same background contrast issue. I’d like to avoid a .gif if I can, but I need to think on this one.

What do you think? As readers, authors, and editors, what do you prefer to see?

Thanks, -Pete

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July 2020 Progress Report

I know, I know, I’m a few months behind in these monthly reports, but Q2 was a bus fire under the Prudential*, so let’s all cut one another some slack, all right? This is the 28th week for the year, or we’re roughly 54% of the way through the year. Here’s where I’m at for my 2020 goals.

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As I write this, we’re about eleven weeks into lockdown–nearly three months. At this point, I think we’ve all slipped into new routines. I don’t know about you, but the days and weeks seem to be moving faster now. Mentally, I’m prepared for this to last “a while”.

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April 2020 Progress Report

Holy crap, what a month it’s been. Technically six weeks, since I’m posting this 2/3 of the way through April, and five weeks into pandemic isolation. This is definitely an event we’ll talk about for generations, and a hundred years from now they’ll point at this period the same way we talk about the Spanish Flu. In an attempt at some semblance of normalcy, here are this month’s excuses progress on goals.

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March 2020 Progress Report

Another month gone, it’s time to check in with my goals and where things are at, for those who are keeping score at home. At this point we’re about 9 weeks into the new year (9/52 or 17% of the way through the year).

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February 2020 Progress Report

Well, we’re about six weeks into the new year (or 6/52, 11.5% of the way through the year), and I figured one of the ways to keep up with my goals was to report on them more often. Let’s see where I’m at with all of these.

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Where I’ll be at Boskone 57

Hey everyone! I’m excited to be participating in this year’s Boskone conference in downtown Boston from February 14-16. I’ve got a reading scheduled, and I’m moderating my first panel. If you’re in town, and love geeking out over speculative fiction, come out and say hi! There’s a lot of great content on this year’s program. Here’s where I’ll definitely be:

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