Tag Archives: writing

Two Things

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafb1. NaNoWriMo draws near. Pull yourself together and commit to writing a novel in 30 days along with thousands of others worldwide. There are still forty days to sign up, so head over to their site and check it out.

2. My wife has been away this week on business and our indoor cat is busy expressing his discontent under the piano. So far Penny has not joined in.

Day two:

William: 2

Penny: 0



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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


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ImageThe fifty word story challenge.

Thanks for the inspiration, Regina.

It Came From Under the Bed

His breath held painfully as fretful fingers climbed the bedstand lamp for the switch. Below, old homework papers crunched slowly. Ominously.

“Skipper…?” The dog’s name was little more than a slow exhale.

“Please be Skipper.”


He gagged on the warm, unlikely relief of dog fart.

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


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An open letter from NaNoWriMo

Thank you for opening this briefing. This message will self-destruct in five minutes.

You are receiving this transmission because we have a task only you can handle. Intelligence has it on good authority that there is a novel inside of you: a story so crucial it must be shared with the world. Your mission, if you choose to accept it: write your novel in 30 days. Code name? Operation: Power-Up.
As always, NaNo HQ is in the sky and on your shoulder, ready to guide you through.
Assemble Your Team: Get Sponsored
This mission is not a one-agent job. You are authorized to keep your friends and family apprised of your progress, and encouraged to establish an inner circle. Consider engaging that inner circle in your mission by asking them to sponsor your novel through StayClassy and support your march to success.
Establish Your Supply Lines: Help Earn $10,000 for NaNoWriMo and the YWP
Our partner agency, Goodsearch, has committed up to $10,000 to encourage the creative cause this November. How can you help?
  1. Download and install the Goodshop button for your browser.
  2. Make a purchase from their more than 3,000 online vendors, including, by December 31. November provisions such as caffeine and candy have full HQ approval.
  3. Goodsearch will donate $5 and 20% of your total purchases to NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program.
Get kitted out to ensure the success of your mission while supporting the creative mission of young writers in classrooms the world over. That’s the kind of team player that earns medals.
Meet Your Handlers: Seek Advice from Published, Veteran Authors
We’ve lined up a series of published authors to guide you through your trials, tribulations, and triumphs via our Twitter account. Beginning on Monday, October 28, authors like Teri Brown, Jason Hough, and Kristyn Kusek Lewis will take over @NaNoWriMo to provide the advice, inspiration, and intel you need.
You have our support, you have our faith, you have the fate of a world in your capable, authorly hands.
(Please pretend this email exploded with a small puff),
Tim Kim
Editorial Director



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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


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I must think I have too much time on my hands

ImageNational Novel Writing Month is November. Each year NaNoWriMo (pronounced nano-rye-mo) unites people who think it would be cool to write a novel but aren’t motivated, can’t spend years of their life on something – but can commit to some time for 30 days or need companionship to keep them going.

The goal is to start from scratch on Nov. 1 and write a 50,000 word novel by Nov. 30. Last year there was 256, 618 participants and 36, 843 winners (a winner is someone who meets the word count and has put together a coherent story, i.e. not writing nonsense). Broken down, it’s 1667 words a day over the period. I lasted about 17 days last time and wrote something on the order of 30,000 words. Let’s be honest – it was awful. But it was fun and I enjoyed being part of a larger community pursuing this goal. Every night after writing I would upload my word count and see how I was faring as compared to others in the region and across the globe.

I’m going to give it a go again this year. Maybe I’ll only make it 5 days, maybe I’ll ‘win’.

If it sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, start here. And remember, you’re supposed to try things and fail – otherwise you’re not really trying


Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Altering decorative letters for iBook manuscript


Ranulf Higden’s Polychronicon
England: c.1470

In the recently released iBook, The Thirteenth Labor, each chapter began with ornate lettering in the fashion of old illuminated texts. I adapted lettering from  Mara Pratt’s The Fairyland of Flowers, published in 1890 and also used this as the basis for decorative borders. The benefit of this was that at 120 years old, this text and it’s patterning have come into the public domain and can now be used freely. The downside was that this text contained only a few letters in the same style, and because the source I found had scanned them from the original, they still contained the background color that I would have to remove to match my own. Since I was doing this, I also decided to fill the letters with the same gold coloring that the border had. 


+ preserves sections in the image, – removes sections

So, how do you do this? Normally, you would use a graphics program like photoshop – but that’s a bit out of my price range, so I was stuck using powerpoint. Here’s a snapshot of my work identifying background for removal (the pink will be removed). I did this two times for each letter – once to remove the background to fill with gold using layer images. Then a second time to remove all the background so my ‘paper’ color would show through.

I recommend blowing up the image as large as possible and then trying to remove the background with as few +/- points as possible. The longer I worked on each letter, the more bogged down my processor got making a tedious task even more frustrating and time consuming.


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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Returning from the reality holiday

I’ve been on a break from reality for … well, it depends on how you measure it… three years? nine years? 

In 2002 I got laid off from a biotech company where I had been making monoclonal antibodies that we used for delivering vaccines to the cells that kick-start the strongest immune response. Antibodies are the proteins that some immune cells (B cell) make to clog up, block and make tasty meals out of any foreign substance that gets into your body. The idea was that we could make antibodies that would home in on just the right cells, stick to them, and deliver a ‘package’ of vaccine target protein to these cells just as they were cranking up. It’s an idea that works fairly well and is being used by a company called Celldex to make vaccines against a variety of undesirable ailments (this trick is most suited for cancer, because that’s a condition that develops from your own cells, and the body has a tough time seeing it as a bad, foreign entity)

Anyway, I left that company and got a job at the university. This was a good move for me because I wanted to go back to school anyway and it gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with the people who would make the decision about admissions. About 9 months later I was starting grad school and working towards a PhD. That was the longest, most grueling process of my life. The only way to handle it is to focus on what’s in front of you and not get too distracted by all the years of your life you just signed away or talks and presentations that you might dread giving. Nevertheless, by late 2009, I was free and clear. The whole thing was over and I knew more about immunology and B cells than I ever thought I’d want to.

I’ve whined a lot about how this was a terrible time to come out of grad school – people were getting laid off again, not hired! I’d spent an entire economic cycle locked in the ivory tower and missed the good years in between. But, one door closes… right?

After school, and in a mighty difficult transition, our family moved to the midwest for a great opportunity my wife had. I also took the opportunity to re-invent myself and started teaching. I simply love teaching, it’s a great way to keep learning and (for blabbermouths like me) talk all day to a captive audience. I’ve been teaching as an adjunct for three years now and I feel like I’ve got things pretty much in hand, but adjunct means part time. And part-time means crappy salary and no real job you can sink your full-time working teeth into (you see, if nothing else, grad school teaches you that you can only be happy if you are working hard all the time). So, to speak plainly, it’s not enough work for me.

So, problem solved: start a company. Did that, produced a couple diddly little apps for the iPhone, but I have the creative ideas, not the programming talent. After almost a year of chasing that dream and not finding any partners to put as much into it as I have, my company has been morphing. That’s actually the story that this blog is supposed to be following, but often that’s not the case…

My latest idea has been to make iBooks – I’ve written about some of those ideas here too. And, to be fair, I think it’s come along really well. I have one and 3/4 books finished and only waiting on illustration before they will be published and a couple more on the way.

But, in the course of making this change and getting to the start of another school year, my wife and I had the talk. The talk that includes such phrases as “is this really what you want to do?” and “I think it’s great, but it’s not a job”. And, you know what, that’s spot on.  It’s about time that I take the bull by the horns and stop trying to ‘creative’ my way out of under-employment and start finding an honest 9-5 (or more).

Please cross your fingers for me. I’m hoping to be able to keep up with everything, but I know how that goes. And, if any of you know some good work for a motivated immunologist / teacher / writer / game designer in the Kansas City area (or anywhere, honestly), then point them my way.




Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Mythic Chemistry

I’m very excited that I have just finished writing my short book on the gas laws (something you learn when studying the states of matter in chemistry). This book is set in the world of Greek Mythology and teaches some simple concepts of introductory chemistry. This is the first in a series of books I am working on that will all use mythology as a backdrop for introducing a number of scientific principles. I have three more in progress (one dealing with the physics of gravity, one dealing with population genetics and another dealing with inheritance / breeding) that I am hoping to finish up at a rate of about one a week.

My work on this actually gets me back to my original purpose in setting up this blog, that is to walk through the steps of producing material for sale through Apple’s app store / iTunes.

Just like app production, making and selling iBooks requires an iTunes Connect account ( and several other hidden steps. One thing I was disappointed to find was that you can’t just use the iTunes connect account you may have set up to distribute apps. In fact, you can’t even use the same apple ID, email or address to set up this account (I believe that I mentioned this in a previous post).

You also need to download the ‘Book Proofer’ and ‘iTunes Producer’ programs to your computer. I confess, I have not used either of these programs yet, but I am anticipating problems – just because everything has baggage.

The last hidden issue I have found is that you need ISBN numbers for every book you produce. I expected this to be a free process through the library of congress, but instead, it’s a pay service through Bowker identifier service ( One ISBN costs $125, I bought ten for $250. If you are really producing a lot of books, you can get 1000 numbers for $1000 – certainly a great discount per number, but I’m definitely not going to be writing 1000 books no matter how easy it is!

by the way, I should give some recognition to my artist, Allyson Kelley, who has been a joy to work with. you can find samples of her art on her sketch blog



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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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