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Friday, April 20, 2018

Current Projects from 2015 [OLD]

Current Projects 2015

This is from my website. Since I am updating it, I've decided not to have a Current Projects page but post my progress on my blog.

Here's the OLD one:

I am currently uploading all of my finished books and stories, and working on covers. This will be ongoing as I write. I hope to keep the pages updated as I go.

My skills with 3D modeling are improving, but I still am having trouble with making modifications to the models in Poser 8, such as Zheien hands. For now, for many of my stories, the generic covers will have to do. I am now learning Poser 9 and Vue 11. I use Vue to make the backgrounds. So many venues! My progress is slow. And making characters in Poser, then trying to find the outfits I need for them is difficult.

I have redone my Access databases which contain my universe. I am trying to get it up and running again so I can refer to it. I have databases for characters, places, healing, and story plots, among others. Now I am having to rebuild my Access databases in Apache OpenOffice's Base. It is similar to Access, but I could not import my queries and forms. In plain English, I have the things I typed in, so the info is there. But I have to rewrite the code to make it easier to find that info when I need it, and add to it. Why the switch? Access is part of Microsoft's Office suite, but is not included with the package unless you pay extra. A LOT extra! I'm low-income. So I have to stay within the budget. DanniStories needs more readers to be profitable. Right now, it's a labor of love. 

Health problems are interfering with my typing and dry eye syndrome is bothering me constantly, so work is slow on my series. I still have many unpublished stories to upload to Kindle. 

Formatting these stories is a real pain! The normal procedures that Amazon recommends have not worked for me to remove old formatting from many versions of  Word. Once I go through all the old stories, I don't anticipate any problems with them. I know better about the technical side of word processing and how to set up my template for stories. It is a mystery to me why, when I have my font set for Georgia font, after I strip my file to vanilla print and upload to Kindle, augh! I see Courier New font, which I once used, and underlines instead of italics. This is how I was supposed to set up my manuscripts for submission to publishers. Right now, I can't see the old formatting when I bring up the file in OpenOffice, nor could I see it in Word. If I can't see it, I can't get rid of it. In plain English, I will have to go through my 500-plus page book and change every underline to italic. Repeat that for every one of my books, novels, novellas, novelettes and short stories. This is why I am taking so long to update those original 54 stories on Amazon! If you see these problems when you read one of my books, please email me at dannistories@gmail.com

See my blog and Twitter for latest updates! Posterous closed their site and I haven't been good about blogging. I will try to be more diligent on Twitter.

My plan is to add on-demand printing as I format my books. More about this in the future.

Book Cover Project: I want every story to have a cover, whether hand drawn or modeled with Vue 7 and Poser 8. Now using Vue 11 amd Poser 9. Maybe I should just say Vue and Poser! My hand-drawn covers look like cartoons. A fellow artist said my Home Is Not Home cover looked like a video game. I don't have the resources to hire actors :) Therefore, the 'video game' look will have to do. All the resources I have are because of my generous sister. Also, I am learning the legalities and niceties of including other talented artist's hard 3D work in my covers. I am now tracking every single piece of freebie clothing I download and who the artist is. I didn't know that when making my cover for Home Is Not Home. I created the Adia figure from DAZ's Victoria 4 figure, and made a series of comic renders from my blunders in Poser. I downloaded clothing from various sites, so I am retracing my steps to find the outfit I had Adia wearing. If I had to create this stuff from scratch, I could not do as good of a job on my covers! So, I want to credit all of them so other 3D artists can find their creations.

Book Trailer Project  Currently working on an animated trailer for Home Is series. I have the first few seconds of video for it. I am not sure of the legalities of posting it, the consequences of posting parts before the whole. I am doing a lot of Internet research to avoid common mistakes when moving from mere print to book covers and book trailers! My book trailers with me playing and singing are not that interesting. I am having to plan a trailer that I can narrate, because I don't have anyone else to do it for me :)

Series:   Here are the ones I'm working on, as I can. There are a lot of dovetails, and all of them tie into the Home Is... Series. Every book is standalone, and I include enough of the story from the previous book so the reader can catch up. I advise readers to start with Home Is... and maybe add Rainbow next, then Ishah Secrets, then Domino. There will be other dovetails. But, the reader may start anyplace in any series. The reading order is the way they are numbered, however.

   Home Is... Book 14 is a work in progress
   Rainbow   Book 3 is a work in progress
   Domino     Book 2 is a work in progress
   Ishah Secrets  Book 2 is a work in progress

Guide To Adia's Universe     This will be a guide to races, worlds, and stories with maps and artwork but I am still in the planning stages.

Artist Training    I am slowly working through tutorials on 3D Modeling so i can make better looking covers.

Software Used Currently    
[Note: I have no connection with any of these folks except to use their products! I highly recommend all of them to all.]

Vue is a software to help me create beautiful skies, mountains, fields, and cities! 
E-on Software makes Vue, which many film companies use for scenes they can't do in New Zealand, etc. You have probably seen many movies that incorporated scenes from it.
Interested in learning 3D? You can download a free copy of Vue to play with here!

There are a lot of great sites out there to download 3D content [people, clothes, props, and sets]. I use the recommended sites from Vue and Poser. Vue's artist community is 3D Cornucopia, and there are links right in the software to purchase and download 3D models. Everything you download is covered under one license at Cornucopia 3D:

Poser is where I create my characters, though I am playing with MakeHuman
Smith-Micro Software creates Poser. You start with a male or female figure, change the face to your liking, put clothes on it, add props, and create a picture [You render it, which makes a picture you can print or display on your computer screen]. The actual process can seem daunting at first, but there is a well-written manual to teach you how to use it. If you don't like to read manuals, there are so many tutorials out there, it makes it easier to learn! Oh, what you can do with this! I am not good enough at drawing and painting to create what I see in my mind. This software, and Vue, makes me able to visualize what's in my mind, which is awesome!!

Poser's artist community is Content Paradise, and there is a ReadMe file with every model downloaded to explain what you can and can't do with this model, from the artist. If there is no ReadMe file, don't use the model in a commercial render or post a render including it to the Internet, without contacting the artist. The ReadMe should explain the legal terms for using the item.

A good starting place for tutorials is to subscribe to the Content Paradise channel on YouTube:

MakeHuman  This is an open-source, free software to create 3D peopleWith MakeHuman, I could make figures to sell; Poser figures are just for creating people for book covers, or to be used with the Poser software.
You can find MakeHuman here:
 It is a free software, a product of love from volunteers. They exist through donations. MakeHuman is a lot of fun to play with!

Blender is an open-source, free software to create a 3D model from scratch, layer by layer.

 Open-source means it is in the public domain, maybe with certain limitations. A program has source code, or source, as the programmers say. Open-source means anyone can copy it, add to it, and re-release it, as a free product. SourceForge is a great resource for free software.

Legal Stuff and You If you just want to print it out and hang it on your wall, you don't have to worry about this stuff. But, if it's going outside your home [on your blog, emailing to friends, etc] it's a good idea to wait and check the ReadMe or license info on the site you downloaded a 3D model from, first. If it goes viral, you might get sued for plagiarism, which is claiming someone else's work as yours. There's a lot of good info on Copyright.gov on what plagiarism is, and isn't. Look up Fair Rights here:

   As an author, I check this site whenever I have a legal question. Any prospective writer should check it out. If you have a manuscript that you want to publish yourself, I strongly recommend you take the trouble to copyright your work with Library of Congress. It is true that the moment you write something, you have legal rights to it under the law. But, if you are serious about publishing it yourself, you must be serious about protecting your work. If you plan to submit it to a publisher, keep a copy, and any revisions you do on it, ever. I've been able to prove my stuff to Amazon by submitting all those revisions. 

Word-Processing Software  I use OpenOffice for my writing. It is open-source and free, but sponsored by Oracle, which is a huge software company for big computers. They produce Java, which is on just about every device you have. So, I figured it would be good. It is! OpenOffice includes Base, a database program. I can't keep track of my writing universe without a database. My memory isn't good. You can get your very own copy here:

You can find out more about Microsoft Word, and the Office suite here:

Beware of other sites that advertise free Microsoft products; this software is so famous, there are bogus copies of it floating around. Every copy must have a valid code, and an internet connection to verify it. You don't want to buy a copy only to find your code doesn't work.

If a publisher accepts your work for print, you should be covered without going through Library of Congress. The publisher will get an ISBN number for you. This is the number assigned to your book so bookstores can distinguish your book from other books that might have the same title. It is expensive to buy your own ISBN number, but if you use a print on demand service, you can use the one they assign. It just won't have whatever name your Indie publishing house uses on it.

 I use CreateSpace to print my print books and make them available through Amazon, but there are others out there. I use Lulu for my hardcovers, because CreateSpace doesn't offer the format for huge books like mine. Personally, I love CreateSpace! I don't use their editing services because I feel I can edit my own books, but the services are available, for a fee. It didn't cost much to get started because I skipped most of the services except just to submit an already formatted file, use my created picture, and their nice cover making software to make my book available when someone clicks the button for that print copy of Home Is Not Home. They check my files for errors before they publish it. I love the quality of the finished book!

My experience with Lulu was good, but no hardcovers of my book sold yet so I can't comment on how they were with customers. The proof copy I received was library quality and beautiful! Paper is becoming more expensive, so the cost of one hardcover is probably a great deterrent to my possible readers! Most of that price is what goes to Lulu. Ditto CreateSpace.

For e-publishing your book, I use Kindle, Amazon's electronic bookshelf. You don't have to own a Kindle to publish Kindles! Kindle software is free to everyone, so if you have a computer, you can read Kindle books. There are many, many free ones [public domain books]. They even have a downloadable free guide on how to get started. Please, follow their instructions on how to set up your copy of Word!! Formatting is very important. If you don't have Word, you can download a free copy of OpenOffice.

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