Yeah, I’m a critter

I joined the critiques group at a while back. The idea is that you submit your stories to the queue, and other "critters" will volunteer to send you a written critique of your story. To be eligible to submit a critique, though, you have to be in "good standing," meaning the ratio of "critiques I've submitted" to "weeks I've been a member" has to be 75% or higher.

As a special incentive, each week the "critter" with the most critiques gets an award which entitles him/her to bump their story submission to the head of the line. It so happens I now have a story ready to submit, so I've been a crittin' fool today. I got about 10 critiques done, of which 7 or so are long enough to qualify for the competition. Past winners have had about 14 critiques or so, which means I'm about halfway there. I've got till next Tuesday, or thereabouts, so I'm optimistic. As a runner-up prize, people with 10 qualifying crits (or more) also get a "most productive critter" award, so I think I've got a good chance of seeing my crits soon.

First I need to revise that story and submit it, though.

Published in: on April 27, 2006 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s in…

My letter to the editor, that is.  The local paper published it today.  Pretty much the way I wrote it, except for some punctuation changes.  Oh well, I guess that's the way it goes in the newspaper biz.  One of the changes I wasn't too happy about, but I guess I can live with it.

Published in: on April 26, 2006 at 2:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

LTE time

I’m going to be published in the local newspaper sometime soon. Just a letter to the editor, but I’ve had good luck getting my letters published.

We’ve got a problem here in PA with this stupid “Marriage Protection” amendment, which does absolutely nothing about divorce, debt, adultery, abuse, or any other significant cause of divorce. Why can’t they be honest and call it “The Marriage Denial Amendment”? The whole point is to say that, in Pennsylvania, you can’t marry the person you love unless the government approves of your choice. Great law for the home of the Liberty Bell, eh?

Published in: on April 24, 2006 at 5:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

WIP–New article for RBLibrary

Time to make some money again, and put the programming on the back burner. I was doing pretty well with my program, until I decided to follow User Interface guidelines and save my preferences in the Windows registry. That meant (a) writing a preferences class that could save to a prefs file on the Mac and to the registry on Windows, and (b) learning how to use the registry.  That's enough to stall me, and since we're getting to the last half of the month, I need to generate some income. So back on the back burner it goes.

 My new article is going to be about programming (again), specifically about programming hierarchical listboxes. This means I first have to write a working program that demonstrates the concepts I'll be writing about .

I've got it about half finished, so it's going well. Should be able to get a few bucks by the end of the month.  🙂

Published in: on April 18, 2006 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Work day (ah, spring…)

 Got almost no writing/programming done today. The wife had a day off, and she likes to do yardwork on nice days (which today was).  I had a doctor's appointment in the morning, after I got back from grocery shopping, so there was half a day gone anyway. But that was nothing.  The Beautiful One won't be happy until we have a flower-lined sidewalk leading from the street to the house, so as soon as I got back from the doctor's, it was over to the local rental place to pick up a small rototiller.

I'd forgotten what a beast one of those things is. The smallest one we could find was a rear-tiller model.  Big mistake.  If the tines dig into the dirt, the machine starts clawing its way madly forward, causing the user to stretch out his arms and, inevitably, to push down on the handle, driving the tines even deeper into the dirt, and giving even more push to the runaway forward motion.

It wasn't too bad once I managed to cut through the turf. Except for the rocks.  I turned up two or three that were slightly smaller than nerf footballs, and one that I never did dig out, so I don't know how big it is.  Every one launched the rototiller into a mad leap forward. My chiropractor is going to be rich (or at least he would be if I went to chiropractors).

 Anyway, that was pretty much my whole day. I'm too wiped at this point to do much more than sit around.  Typing's not too bad, but I have to fight to stay awake.  I'm much too big a wimp to jump right into rototilling after a winter's worth of couch potatoing.

Published in: on April 11, 2006 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Life is never easy

Well, the good news is that kissing Cingular goodbye turned out to be much less hassle than I expected.  They're not turning off our phone until the end of the billing cycle, which is six days from now, but on the plus side they didn't give me any big spiel about trying to sell me some other kind of service.  So that went well.

The bad news is that our freezer is acting up again: not freezing.  I tore it apart and found the cooling coils all frosted up again.  It's got to be either the thermostat or the defroster, I'm thinking, and the defroster is easier to reach, so I'm replacing the defroster.  The part was $36 from the GE web site, but with shipping and tax it was closer to $50 😦 by the time I got it shipped.  Now I have to cross my fingers and hope that replacing it will fix the problem!

If it doesn't, I have to explain why I wasted $50 on a part we didn't actually need.  Anybody know any good excuses?  😉

Published in: on April 10, 2006 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  

New cell phones!

My wife and I each got new cell phones today. The old Cingular cells were showing their age, and I needed a newer flip phone so that I could carry it without accidentally pushing buttons.

(Did I ever mention the time I was sitting on my bed and I got a really weird call? I answered the phone beside the bed, but there was no one there. I could hear breathing, and somebody moving around, but no one was talking. I don’t talk, in case it’s a telemarketing machine, but this was clearly no machine. I could hear background noises, etc. Really spooky. Finally I realized that in reclining on my bed, I leaned on one of my speed-dial buttons. I’d called myself without knowing it!)

Anyway, we got a prepay plan from T-Mobile. If we pay $100, we get 1000 minutes that don’t expire for a whole year, which is probably plenty for as much as we use cell phones, and is cheaper than our current phone, even factoring in the cost of the new phones. We’re happy. 🙂

I may end up using this for my business phone once I get into the full-blown freelance business. If so, I think we may need a third phone for the kids to use. But they’re getting old enough that they can pay for their own minutes, so maybe that’s a good thing. For now, the wife and I are happy with our new service.

Now I have to call Cingular and say goodbye. Gulp.

Published in: on April 9, 2006 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Conversion blues

I spent most of the day today (literally–I just now decided to bag it for the night) working on converting one of my current programming projects over to use my new Undo system. I was previously using an Undo toolkit I licensed from another programmer, but I felt like I needed a system with a little more flexibility than the licensed toolkit gave me. Plus my naturally independent spirit rebels a little at the admin overhead of having to re-register the toolkit every time I release a new app/version. So I rolled my own Undo framework.

It took me a while, but I finally got it working to my satisfaction in the demo I made for it, but this is the first time I've tried large-scale conversion from old Undo to new Undo in a major application. It definitely is shaking some bugs out.Well, not bugs exactly, but I'm seeing some design considerations in a new light. This is actually the second day I've spent trying to finish the conversion (though yesterday had several interruptions), and I'm pretty well woofed right now.

Tomorrow's going to be a mixed day again–need to do some yard work etc, so that's going to cut into my day. But I'll be thinking about the issues that came up today, and hopefully I'll have some solutions soon. I may to some (text) writing, too, just to give my brain a break.

 Now for some zzzzzz…

Published in: on April 5, 2006 at 8:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

New article for RBLibrary: Optimizing with Shark

I submitted my latest article to the folks, and they loved it. 6K words at $.03 per word worked out to $180, which I received via PayPal this weekend, so that's good. Not the highest paying site in the world, but two hundred bucks give-or-take isn't bad.

I've proposed another article to send them, and they've given me the green light, so this should be another bit of income. Right now, though, I'm focusing mainly on my freelance programming, so I'll be splitting off some of my programming time to work on the article. Some people might find that confusing, but I enjoy having multiple projects going at the same time. It gives me a chance to vary my workday somewhat.

Published in: on April 3, 2006 at 9:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Logging in…

Welcome to my new blog. My name is Mark Nutter, and I’m a freelance programmer and erstwhile writer. I’m trying to get started in the freelance writing business, and have made a few sales to, but I’d like to branch out into more commercial (read: profitable) branches of freelancing. I’ve been reading through The Well-Fed Writer and Back For Seconds, hoping to get some insights into the world of commercial writing.

I’m also working on a fiction novel for middle-grade/young adult readers. So far I have 21 chapters written–all of which desperately need re-writing! But that will come later.

This blog won’t be taking up too much of my time, but I’ll check in every so often. See y’uns around…

Published in: on April 1, 2006 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment