Archive for June 2013

Concept Art, Concept Art

(Still not the ebook formatting post. Whoops.)

I was just fairly happy with this doodle. It's completely done in Paint Tool SAI, the first of my scribblings to be done in this way, and I'm pleased with the results!
This is a character from my series, the Light Age, and it's the first concept art I have of her. She's one of the less pleasant characters, but just about my favourite regardless. ♥‿♥ In the early books she appears as a straight-up antagonist, but in the later books the lines are going to blur somewhat. She's got her own agenda, wants power and recognition as well as revenge, and isn't fond of people trying to be heroes and getting in her way.
Ever so much fun to write about. ;v

 The reason that she is a floating head and shoulders is sheer laziness, but I'm pleased with her nonetheless! I'll be using SAI for future pieces.

In Support of Edward Snowden

Publishing this one now because I'm profoundly off-pissed by pretty much everything.

 Unless you've been living under a bit of a rock, you'll know who Edward Snowden is and what he's done, so I won't rehash it in great detail. He effectively blew the whistle on the NSA and the GCHQ, who have been merrily spying on everyone's online activity. NSA is American, and GCHQ is British.
That's my country, yo.

What these charming institutions have been doing is, of course, mass-monitoring global transmissions. The NSA were using the Prism scheme to spy on people - in Hong Kong, China, their own country, and who knows where else. The GCHQ has been accused of being involved with Prism too, and circumventing UK law to spy on people including the Germans, and God knows who else. If America wasn't spying on us, GCHQ probably was.

The thing that makes me laugh is that the US expected Hong Kong to hand Snowden back to them, after its spying activities on the people of Hong Kong were revealed.
You're not used to having people say no to you, are you, America? If I'd found out someone was spying me, no way would I ever hand the person who warned me about it back to them! Now America is accusing Hong Kong of supporting a fugitive when actually, it acted in accordance to international law. What do you mean, America isn't the world?

And I'm so, so angry that Britain's been getting its fingers in the pie too. Why do we always do this? Our country is a goddamn lapdog. I think this just about sums up our Government's relationship with the US.

UK: Oh, such fun! Jolly good, tally-ho! America's doing it so we definitely ought to! Leeroy Jenkins!!!
UK: Sure, have this one on us. It's not like the supposed crime they've committed isn't a crime in the UK, and this person has never set foot in the US before! Take the plebian away!
UK: Oh, do please let us join in! It's not like this is 100% unethical and will backfire badly as soon as anyone finds out! We're the good guys, everyone! Boo, hiss, China and Russia and everyone else the US doesn't like and accuses of doing exactly the same thing!
(To be fair, they probably do.)

But that's why I cannot stand this country. We're wet blankets. We're pansies. When we aren't happily going along with what America says, we're whinging about how stupid their Government and foreign policy is. Hate to break it to you, fellow Brits, but WE DO EXACTLY THE SAME AS THEM. We are just as bad, and I actually think we're worse because from the amount of people complaining about 'stupid America' we clearly think we know better, but we don't do better.

We even have drones now, which is something I staunchly stand against. I was disgusted by the Obama administration continuing to use them, and I'm even more disgusted that the UK has decided to start using them on Pakistan too.
And yet the poor old Pakistanis are the terrorists. Want to tell that to the innocent civilians and their children who keep getting blown sky-high by drone strikes that they cannot control, predict and don't have the chance to escape, just because they happen to live sort-of-near someone who's cross with the USA? Oh, I forgot, they're collateral damage. They don't count because they aren't American.
It disgusts me that our country adopts the same attitude.

Then, we complain about a rise in insurgency in these countries we attack. I don't know about you, but if someone had drones primed to kill hovering above my country and kept blowing up hundreds of random civilians 'by mistake', just to get to a handful of meanies, I'd start feeling pretty sympathetic to those meanies. I'd probably start feeling pretty fanatical about things myself.

But, I digress. Edward Snowden. Prism.

NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO INVADE INNOCENT PEOPLE'S PRIVACY.  America & Britain, you don't get the right to spy on the populace of other countries while complaining that they might be spying on you. You also do not get to spy on the activities of your OWN countries' populace. Big brother is watching us, and we were stupid enough to vote him in. George Orwell saw the future, and he was basically right. Every day I find new articles about truly horrible things that are being created - adverts for in cities that lock onto you and follow you and track where you're going. A TV box with a camera in it that watches what you are doing (the official spiel is that this is so that ads can be tailored to what you're doing - say, a romance ad if you're cuddling with someone, toy ads if children are playing, but anyone with a brain can see how bad an idea that is and how easily it could go wrong.)
 Even the good old XBoner was going to have a camera in the kinect that couldn't be turned off or disconnected from the internet - because if you didn't connect to the internet once per 24 hours you could no longer play games. I think that's been changed now though, which is good. Thought it was some horrific joke.

Do none of these people read? Do they not read anything at all?

1984 was NOT an instruction manual. 
Run, Snowden, run.

I personally feel as though there's only one thing to do to make them stop watching us. It's been rumoured for a long while that governments filter through everyone's emails, search for keywords such as bombs and terrorists and allahu akbar and when they find them, put these people on a nifty little to-watch list so they can see if they're terrorists. This practice is definitely not islamophobic, what are you saying??
They want to watch us, put us on lists? Fine. I say that everyone in this country - no, everyone in the world - should send a bunch of emails to themselves and everyone they know containing nothing but buzzwords in them - guns ak-47 attack terrorists fanaticism al-qaeda how2makebombs hi David Cameron! They wanted to spy on us, under the guise of protecting us? They can have their cake, and eat it too. Good luck sorting through the rubbish to get to the good stuff. That'll learn ya.

Oh, and for the record, Snowden's not a traitor. He's a hero, and he'll be remembered as standing on the right side of history. I said this blog would get political. 

Reckon they watch blogger, too? Am I on their list? Hi in advance, NSA. Pinky-promise that I'm not a terrorist. 
This is why I write the genre I do. Because it's true.

Ebook Cover: Take Two

Okay, so! I've successfully got my head around the formatting of my ebook, and I'm really proud of what I have so far! I'm actually going to do one last-minute edit of the stories before I post it, but right now I'm waiting on the ISBN number to come through. It's all very exciting! I've got it working on my Kindle, and it all looked great -
Except for the cover.

I already posted the old cover I made for the ebook. Unfortunately, I hadn't really considered how it would look on the Kindle, and it was just too dark. The text was too thin and didn't show up, and it was so dark that the designs couldn't be seen. So, it was back to the drawing board! Eurgh.

I worked on it for some time, and then came up with this.

The resolution of it isn't that great uploaded to this blog, it's a little blurry, but in real life it's huge, and all the lines are crisp. I swear! And it now actually looks rather good on a Kindle!

I made this ebook cover in GIMP, and it took me about an hour of messing around. The background is a soft grey, and a free paper texture from bashcorpo on deviantart gives it a bit more life at full-res especially. I pasted this in as another layer over the base, and turned the opacity down extremely low.

The fonts are the same as last time; Infinity and Jura. If you look at most books, you'll find that they have two fonts on them from different font families, and that's what I've tried to replicate. The cogs are free brushes, obtained from coolestbrushes. The spider image is from a photo on freerangestock, by Danilo, and I cut it out from the background and turned it into a silhouette. Everything I've used is free for personal and commercial use, and has been really useful to me. You always gotta check the terms of use e____e It's quite a chore to find good resources for free. Either of these sites, I can recommend.

Let this be a lesson to all wannabe-ebook-cover designers! If it doesn't display well on an ebook reader, you haven't done your job.

Next post will be an actual tutorial of how to format an ebook the way I did, because it was so profoundly stupid and took so long and turned me into this:

Seriously, there was no decent guide as to how to do it with a word document anywhere on the internet! My heyday as a master of google-fu seems to be over. It will be explained.

In other (hopefully more interesting) news; the rewrite of number 5 is going well. I'm actually quite enjoying it now! The Ministers get to be their creepy, diabolical selves in it, and it's all fabulously disturbing. Here's to a life of crime for Carina! And hopefully a less boring post next time.

On an unrelated note my little brother just set off the fire alarm frying sausages. He offered to make me some too, and put them in some toast. The toast is sliced bigger than a doorstop and the house is full of smoke, but it's the thought that counts. The last time he tried to make food for us both he brought me back two bowls - one of plain pasta, and the other of plain rice (?). This is definitely an improvement.

Houses of Parliament

Hello! It's been a while, but I've been rather busier than expected. All my friends are back from university now, so we've gone hard - and not always gone home -  for the last few weeks. As I write this, I'm trying to format the first set of shorts into an ebook, but it's taking a while. And two days ago, I got home from my work experience at the Houses of Parliament, in London!
It was so cool.

I stayed with my uncle, who has a flat in the city, and that was really fun too. Ate Vietnamese cuisine for the first time with him, which I can 100% recommend to anyone. It's a little like Chinese food, but much spicier, and I actually prefer it! Unfortunately I have no photos of the food because I ate it before I could remember to take any. Also it turns out that I am absolutely abysmal at using chopsticks.
But, I digress.

I had to catch the bus to the Houses of Parliament each day (and get it back!) and as someone without a sense of direction to speak of who is used to a small city only, this was pretty daunting. However, my bus route took me past most of the big sights (St Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square etc) so it was still pretty cool. I had to keep asking for directions, and you can say what you like about Londoners being grumpy - everyone who I asked was really kind, especially two policemen who offered to actually show me the way themselves.
I'm such a tourist.

Maybe I'd get better at things if I actually lived in London - who knows? But I sort of want to live there now, at some point in the future. Also, London buses get the weirdest people on them. First day I was going back to my uncle's, I was treated to an hour-long, full-on sing-and-clap-along-to-Jesus-songs session, from a man who I suspect was profoundly drunk at this point. Unfortunately I could hear him through my iPod at max volume; and when Nine Inch Nails is being drowned out by something else there's a problem.

The first thing that I did was go on a tour of the houses, which was great - but unfortunately, you aren't allowed to photograph anything. The House of Commons is absolutely tiny, way smaller than you think it is from TV. The House of Lords is blinged up to the absolute max with gold. There's all kinds of funny, interesting and largely pointless traditions. And the architecture and artwork is awesome. Someone had to build all that. It's crazy!

After this, I went off to meet my MP. Then I was able to go into the public gallery at the Houses of Commons and watch some of the debates. It was about the EU Common Agriculture policy, which was pretty interesting. The one Labour MP got up and delivered an ever-so-pretty, extremely flowery speech that included comparisons to the 'charge of the Light Brigade' and speaking in French, but by the end of it he hadn't really said much at all. When pressed for an actual opinion he didn't give one, so effectively he thought the same thing as the Conservatives but couldn't possibly say this. This is always what frustrates me about our politicians - at the end of the day most of them are very much the same, and they'll u-turn as soon as they get into power and people just don't see it. People forget.

I also had to do some admin work, like going through my MP's post and filing things. I also had to sign something saying I wouldn't talk about it, so I won't in case I get arrested. What I can divulge is that MPs have some rather interesting people writing to them  - and that's probably about the kindest way I can put it.

The next day was the best, however, because I got to see Prime Minister's Questions. I saw Dave! Well, first of all I saw Ed Miliband (ugh), then Nick Clegg (UGH), a handful of other big names and then David Cameron (still mostly ugh.) The first part of PMQ's was effectively Ed and Dave getting bitchy at each other, which was quite funny - some of their comments just made me think meow! Politicians behaving badly. In the end the speaker told Dave off a bit, because I think he got a bit too personal. Shame, really.

The other thing I got to sit in on was a meeting of the Scottish Independence committee, which got rather dry towards the end but was still pretty interesting.

The view from the office window!~
At the end of the day, I'm not sure I could be a politician. High Overlord maybe, but first you have to be a politician. But London's an awesome city, and I could see myself living there in the future. As a lawyer, maybe - or, preferably, as a successful author. :v

London also has Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Does Cambridge have Krispy Kreme? I think not.

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