Monday, 6 September 2021

First Post in almost Four Years

I blow the dust off this blog, put the key into the account and get it to turn over, at least once, after a gap of almost four years. 

This blog has been quiet. The good news behind that is: I've been writing. Completed four more NaNoWriMo-equivalent drafts, each over 52,000 words, in the last three years and change. One in November 2018, one in June 2019, a third in November 2019 and a fourth in November 2020

Next step: getting much of that published.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Novel Accomplished

I've finished 50,100 words for my National Novel Writing Month entry.
I had a really good time. I thought hard about an outline, I made progress every day, and I have a completed first draft that I really enjoy. It was not easy, fitting the writing of a novel into working full time and raising a family. It was, however, truly rewarding. Now, to take a deep rest, then Christmas. After that: revising and producing the second draft while finding an agent and a publisher.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Why All The Silly

Why All The Silly

Recently I watched Thor: Ragnarok in the cinema with my family. I am a fan of the Marvel movies and I enjoyed this movie the best of them all.

I met a good friend of mine a few days later for dinner. He told me that while his wife and daughter went to the film, he decided to skip it because, as he put it, he "thought it looked too silly."

His comment surprised me in three directions. For one, I began to wonder what a Serious Super Hero Movie looked like. I guess that would be Batman: The Dark Knight by Christoper Nolan. Or the Daniel Craig set of James Bond movies, like Skyfall or Spectre.

For another direction, I wondered about the campaign style I run, and what this friend and the other participants must think of it. My campaign setting is called "County Playground." It is not called "The Suffering of Carlos the Grim on His Descent Into Hell." I'm trusting that at least one of the players will give feedback when I ask for it. I have asked for feedback, and no one has said, "Too Silly. Dial it back."

For a third, I am really enjoying the novel I am writing for National Novel Writing Month. It is not a "GrimDark" tale. It is an adventure comedy in a fantasy setting. When I have bad days, I wonder how it will sell. When I have good days, I ignore whether it will sell or not, and just write.

I can appreciate A Song Of Ice And Fire and the moody television it inspires. Myself, I like to use my free time to make stories and role playing game (RPG) campaign settings where the plot, tone, and characters promote laughter, not weeping. Although to be honest, some of the puns do evoke tears.

I read an interview with Taika Waititi, director of Thor: Ragnarok, and thought he said it best:

This film is so bold and colorful and vivid and bright. 
It’s a celebration of comic books. I think in this day and age, 
when cinema’s so dark and sad, and such a reminder of how 
dark and sad the world is, it’s so nice to have a ray of light, 
and a movie that makes you smile.

The directors words are on my mind, when I get inspired by Kings Of The Wyld and Galavant, and when I work on my own creative pursuits.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Four Books At A Time reviews Battle Stove Spectacular

I am very thankful to have received my first book review. Four books at a time was gracious enough to review Battle Stove Spectacular. Please enjoy the full review. I would like to know what you think.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

National Novel Writing Month

I've created my NaNoWriMo account and plan to write a novel in November, as part of National Novel Writing Month. A short post, this one. More time spent on the outline for the novel, code named EFALS. I hope your writing is going well!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Battle Stove Spectacular available through VPL

Battle Stove Spectacular available through VPL

My ebook accepted to Vancouver Indie Authors collection

It is my delight to announce that my novella Battle Stove Spectacular has been purchased by the Vancouver Public Library as part of the VPL's new Indie Authors collection.

Here is a direct link to Battle Stove Spectacular in the VPL Indie Authors collection.

I live in Vancouver, B.C. and I am an independent author. The VPL Indie Authors collection gives this mission statement on their site:

As part of our commitment to helping residents share their own stories, Vancouver Public Library is creating a collection of self-published books by local authors. The goal of this collection is to promote local books that might not be available through traditional channels, both to increase exposure for local writers and to increase the selection for local readers. We welcome both print books and ebooks.

I hope this encourages you to seek out more ebooks.


If you like what I've written here and want to help support future posts, please:

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Markdown All The Way

Markdown All The Way

Improvements to how I use Vimwiki

I changed the syntax of my Player Information wiki from VimWiki to Markdown.

Pandoc flavoured Markdown has support for Header Identifiers; this helps keep internal links working when converting a wiki of several files into one EPUB book.

Pandoc syntax also allows better support for naming a file with no spaces in the file name, yet allowing titles that have spaces in the file name.

Where I started out

I have two wikis for my one campaign. Both run within VimWiki. One for GM eyes only used the traditional VimWiki syntax. The other, the Public Wiki filled with details for the players (a.k.a. Player Information Wiki), used MediaWiki syntax. In the Public Wiki, I intended to use the VimWiki "diary" function to build and maintain Chronicle entries.

(As a side note, when I say "Chronicle" what I mean is a record of what happened during the campaign session).

There are a few problems with this approach:

  1. VimWiki has a "VimWiki to HTML" function. It only works with VimWiki native syntax. It does not work if you run your VimWiki with MediaWiki syntax. Since at the time that I started Pandoc did not have a VimWiki reader, this meant that for Pandoc to read wiki data, that "VimWiki to HTML" function was a hard requirement.
  2. Running one wiki in one syntax and one in another is a headache.
  3. The diary function creates a subdirectory for diary entries. Having some files in a subdirectory and others out is not an impossible issue. However dealing with links gets more complicated when your hierarchy is not flat.
  4. VimWiki and MediaWiki can handle files with spaces in the name (like "Joe") Shell scripting tools can, too, but it makes for an additional set of headaches.

While I love to create, edit, and delete data within VimWiki, it's not my final output. I have Vim but not VimWiki on my mobile phone. I wanted a way to review the Gamemaster notes on my phone.

I studied my use cases and decided there are three sets of output I want to create:

  1. I want to collect the individual wiki files into one single ePub electronic book, for reference when the Internet is not available. I might also sell that ePub one day.
  2. Most of the Public Wiki detail is going up to a MediaWiki site hosted on the Internet for my players. Maybe.
  3. For the Non-Player Characters in the campaign, I have an idea for how I can create paper miniatures (or "pogs") that match print (PDF) NPC reference sheets.

All three of those I intend to treat in more detail in future blog posts. For now, I'll detail what I've changed to.

Where I am now

Today, both wikis are in Markdown syntax, specifically the Pandoc flavour of Markdown.

From Pandoc Markdown, using Pandoc, I can create any type of output I can think of with a minimum of transitions. Yes, there is a thread within Vimwiki development to using Markdown as the base markup language of Vimwiki. My best estimate is that will be a long time coming. Several of the people who use Vimwiki like the To Do List toggles in Vimwiki native syntax. To the best of my knowledge, Pandoc does not provide such a thing.

Related: As of the last two weeks, there is now a Vimwiki reader in pandoc. This is great for getting data from VimWiki to Markdown. It doesn't solve the potential problem that I might one day have something in HTML or MediaWiki format and I want to put it in to VimWiki. If that source HTML has lots of links, I don't want to break all of those transitioning from one format to another.


  1. VimWiki supports using a VimWiki in Markdown syntax.
  2. Pandoc can read and write to Markdown
  3. Pandoc can create any other format I can think of.

I toyed with using Vimwiki native syntax to turn the entire wiki into HTML, then using Calibre to take a directory of HTML files and turn that into an EPUB. I prefer to use Pandoc and Markdown, because:

  1. Pandoc flavoured Markdown has great, straightforward support for internal links
  2. Pandoc has great support for metadata blocks in YAML format.
  3. Pandoc when creating an EPUB can create a Table of Contents with a --toc argument.
  4. Pandoc can build the EPUB from the command line. With Calibre, I was launching a GUI tool.

I have a script that will sync one-way the Public Wiki content from files in MediaWiki format up to the MediaWiki site on the Internet. To get the VimWiki details from Markdown to MediaWiki, I use Pandoc. No muss, no fuss.


If you like what I've written here and want to help support future posts, please: