Raven

I just finished writing my 110th book – Raven: Sequel to Zuper Zed. This is the 4th book in my Zuper Zero series. I’d say that it’s the last book, but I thought that the 3rd book was the last one.

In order to tell you what Raven is about, let me start with the first book in the series: Zuper Zero. Zuper Zero is a superhero who has no superpowers. But, he’s just the last person to find out that he really does have a superpower. And once he does, he realizes that everybody’s a superhero, you just may not know it yet.

Zuper Zero, Electrion, Green, and Red start helping other superheroes be rescued from their captors. Zuper Zero is known for his naps. And he always says how much he hates meetings. But everyone knows otherwise. (He secretly likes meetings.)

Electrion can shoot electricity out of his hands. Green has a green flying machine. And Red has a red one. Red and Zuper Zero fall in love, get married, and have a son – little Zuper Zero.

Little Zuper Zero finds that his superpower is stopping and going so fast that it confuses villains. So, he changes his name to Stop-N-Go. But then, he gets tired of that name, so he changes his name to Zuper Zed.

Zuper Zed becomes friends with another young superhero named Raven. His folks tease him that Raven is his girlfriend. Eventually, he admits that she is.

Raven’s superpower, is putting villains to sleep. But now, her superpower is getting stronger and she can’t control it. Now, it’s threatening to put everyone to sleep!

P.S. Grab a pizza while you read this story! I’m sure Zuper Zero’s family will be enjoying one too!

The Language of Communication

I was dreaming some story about a guy who wouldn’t say or acknowledge hearing words which ended in S, unless they were plurals. His first name ended in S, so he wouldn’t respond unless you called him by his middle or last name. Somehow he had a following.

That sounded strange until I remember that I wouldn’t say my Rs correctly when I was young. This got me into speech class which was way more interesting than my regular class. The reason I wouldn’t say them is that I learned how to speak near Boston, where they pronounce Rs as Ws and vice-versa. I just did the vice and not the versa.

In spite of strange self-imposed rules like that, language is important. I’m somewhat of a language expert. I pick up other languages quickly, and often use words or phrases from foreign languages (and sometimes made up languages) in my books. I created a meta-language for computers (and for programmers and non-programmers to communicate) called Hi5ive. A metalanguage is a language to describe other languages. Hi5ive does this by reducing computer languages to their common elements. It has very few commands or statements. I guess Hi5ive is really more of a universal computer language than a metalanguage. Esperanto is another universal language.

English is theoretically a Universal Language. I can go almost anywhere and somebody will speak English. I have been places where no one spoke English. And once in Mexico, somebody tried to speak English to me, very poorly. We could have understood each other much better speaking Spanish, even though I spoke Spanish from Spain, rather than Mexico at the time. Still, he was trying. And I appreciated that. A question on Twitter today was whether “you Americans would understand the term chav”. I know some British terms, but had to look that one up. In my opinion, if you’re writing a British book or are a Brit writing a book, use British terms. There are plenty of dictionaries on the web. If you know that a term might throw readers off or that they won’t get the story if they don’t look it up, put it in context. That’s my answer.

Speaking of terms one might not understand, consider trade languages. If you work in a certain trade – computers, for example, there are terms that you use which are only understood by those in the trade. And that’s ok, within the trade. It can form a camaraderie. It can let you know that this person understands the work – though they may only know the terms and not what they really mean.

Somebody once asked me what technology platforms I use. Even though I work with computers, I had no idea what she meant. I asked her to put it in other terms, no response. If she was trying to get new customers, it didn’t work. But it often happens that people speak to those outside their trade, using terms of their trade, expecting them to know what they’re talking about. I’m probably guilty of the same, but I try to explain things in terms that others will understand while not talking down to them. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to put it in simple terms of a trade language. The other person may not understand those, but when they ask, it will be easier for me to think of other terms that they might understand. I try not to spout off acronyms that I forget (or never knew) the meaning of.

When I write, I often look up words, especially if they’re slang. I want to make sure they’re not racist or otherwise derogatory. If they are, I find another term which is not.

Documentation – Good, Bad, and Don’t Go There

Documentation applies to lots of things – programming, writing books, financial records, and conversations (but I won’t go there). It’s a good thing that we are more than what’s documented about us. And sometimes, it’s good that we’re nothing like what’s documented about us.

If programming, and this applies to other areas, there are various types of documentation. There are comments in the program. Yet, comments are not always updated. So, if they’re documentation, they may not be current.

A friend of mine would use function names to tell a story. Some books do this with chapter headings. While creative, those types of comments are usually not documentation.

There are high-level and low-level comments in a program. High-level tell what each function does. Low-level gets into the details of how that function does what it does.

There is also (or should be) documentation about a program outside of the program. This might include the before and after. The before might be programmer specs, but sometimes those are kept up-to-date. This external documentation should have one easily findable final version. It should be obvious that that is the final version. This external documentation should speak to everybody who needs to know – CEO, Managers, Analysts, Programmers, Internal Users, and External Users, and Vendors, and Partners, and ….

In the case of a book, documentation might include a Table of Contents, an Index, Notes for the Reader (I sometimes include a who’s who of characters), About the Author, and Description. This documentation needs to be understandable by everybody who reads it. Sometimes for the description, I just include a section of the book. I probably should include a little more.

So, documentation needs to be organized (yikes). And it needs to be understandable by all the various parties. Often techies write documentation from the computer side of their brain. I don’t, but I might be a rarity in that respect. As a writer, I need to write the Description so that the reader can understand it. (I also need to write the book so that the reader can understand it. So, I try to make my computer and other reference books easy to understand.)

There are situations where you don’t need to make documentation understandable by all. Who’s going to read the comments in your program, other than another programmer? But even then, not all programmers understand coding at the level that you do.

I worked with three sets of documentation (not my own) recently. The first was with Paypal. It took me two months to get Paypal to work on my website. I didn’t spend 8 hours every day on it. But I did work on it most days. Some of that time was getting my page to work the way I wanted it to, which had nothing to do with Paypal. And I would have gotten done a lot sooner, if I had contacted support. But I wanted to keep track of what I had done and understand what I was doing and why I was doing it.

I blame the process taking so long on Paypal’s documentation. I just wanted to add the buttons – no programming involved, the documentation said. Paypal has a nice button generator. You just paste in the code they give you, and nope it didn’t work. The documentation about the button and how to set it up, didn’t explain it well to me. Me being somebody who didn’t have a good idea how I wanted the button to look and why I wanted it to look that way? The documentation wasn’t from a business point of view or a beginner’s point of view. It was more technical. It was left-brained. It was almost written for those who already knew what they were doing.

Also, the documentation kept taking me into how to program – when there wasn’t supposed to be any programming involved. And, several of the links in the documentation got 404 errors (page not found). These were links to other places in the documentation. I guess nobody checked when they renamed or removed a link, if it was referenced elsewhere.

The documentation talked about registering the app. It finally told me that the default app is the button. I hadn’t bothered registering because I wasn’t using an app. I was using a button. The apps in my mind were those things which took programming.

In the meantime, I decided to write some helper routines for Google Graphs. Google Graphs are nice and easy to understand. However, the data is mostly hardcoded – no real chance to change it. You can get the data from an external source. I just wanted to be able to change it. Since I was doing something abnormal (out of the ordinary), that documentation was harder to find. But, I found it without too much problem. And there were no 404 errors.

Sometimes, I found myself reading about something, only to find out after much more reading that it’s no longer done that way or this feature is only in beta (not really ready for production). Google Chart’s documentation is for programmers, so it didn’t get too generic and didn’t really need to.

Still, the documentation introduced a couple of programming techniques which were new to me, without really introducing them. They were just presented it with little or no explanation. It took some time for me to wrap my head around them. I would consider these advanced techniques. Maybe they should have had a separate section which explained these in more detail. Overall, Google Charts documentation was good.

I also recently added a Buy Me a Coffee button to my website, in case people want to make a donation. (hint, hint). Their documentation was also good. What was missing were some hidden features, that perhaps I shouldn’t be using. The default icon for the button is the Buy Me a Coffee logo. Buy Me a Coffee allows you to change this icon to an emoji. There are many choices for the emoji, but not all emojis are available. You can use those non-available emojis (cut and paste from Emojipedia), but only in certain situations. The default icon/logo is an image. You can place html where the icon goes to use your own image, in some situations. I did that. You can also use html to stylize the text.

Other things that are hidden, or harder to find than they should be: You can set how much you want each cup of coffee to represent. This can be $1 to $5. The person donating, can only choose 1, 3, or 5 cups of coffee. So, the maximum that can be donated is $25, unless I missed something. You should also set up your payment page, which can be different from your button. Still, they should go together thematically.

I would have liked to have those things explained up-front – before I signed up. I still would’ve ended up signing up. But I would’ve researched other options longer. I also wouldn’t have spent my time figuring out that the break-even point between Paypal and Buy Me a Coffee is $25. If it’s less I end up getting more when someone pays me through Buy Me a Coffee. If it’s $25 or more, Paypal takes less away. Oops, Buy Me a Coffee doesn’t allow donations of more than $25. And, I take it back. Yes, I would have done that analysis.

So, how do you ensure that your documentation is good, that it speaks to everybody, that there are no holes or at least no deep pits, other than the unavoidable ones like external links which no longer work (or which no longer work the way they did when you created them)? The best answer, is to get another set of eyes to look at it. But don’t just get any set of eyes, get a set of eyes who has the perspective of someone who’s looking at this from outside, who knows what they’re talking about. If this is technical documentation, IMHO it’s good to use a non-technical tech writer (documenter) or a technical techwriter who can write non-technical documentation, like myself. Get somebody who doesn’t know your business. If it’s a book, an editor is a good choice. However, if it’s the description, you may want to get a marketer’s opinion. After the documenter’s done, have other parties review that documentation to make sure they understand it from their viewpoint.

I don’t always do that. I’m good at writing technical documentation. I’m also good at writing books. I’m good at editing. However, one of my book edits is to have the computer read the book back to me.

I also use Word’s spell checker (now Editor) as my first edit. Even so, I don’t accept all of its corrections. Neither should you accept all the corrections / suggestions of that other set of eyes.

I have Editor set to show me the reading ease and grade level. If the ease is less than 70 or the grade is higher than 6, I often go back and make the book easier to understand. Usually this requires me to break up long sentences, but at least me long sentences don’t run on forever and ever, taking up several lines and getting convoluted while they’re at it. Oh, really?

Another reason that I don’t usually have someone else do documentation for me, is that there’s the question of having the money to pay them. But Paypal, Google, Buy Me a Coffee – they can probably afford this.

One Final Note: I wonder how many small business owners tried to put Paypal on their website. Maybe they were partially successful. However, they couldn’t understand how to make the transition from the button code to the testing platform (sandbox) to production (live – where the money actually gets to you or at least to your paypal account). How many of them gave up? How many of them switched to some other payment transaction platform? How many of them think that the button is making them money when it ain’t because they didn’t make it live? Is bad documentation costing you money, or time?

I thought about giving up and switching to a different platform, but all the other popular platforms which take credit cards, required a monthly fee. This includes Selz which I had used previously. Selz didn’t notify me or if they did, I missed that they changed to requiring a monthly fee. I wasn’t paying, so they dropped my account. I only found out because I happened to check it one day. I usually get paid outside of my websites, so I wasn’t too worried about it. Selz documentation was good. It was easy to add the button.

A non-functioning button, caused me to be more cautious about adding Paypal. And that caused delays – I wanted to get it right.

I did have a different payment processing something-or-other on one of my websites before Paypal became really well known. But let’s not go there.

Krennelin Berry

author

A shmaltzy Romance set in the far reaches of space. This is my 109th book.

Krennelin Berry could never reveal who she truly was. Yet, she was tempted to do so, for love.
That line alone from this story, should reveal to you what type of romance this is. If that doesn’t do it, read the first few lines of the first chapter. When he kissed her, she was a queen in her castle. Oh, was this ever nice. She could stay in this castle forever.

Or, you can read the last few lines of the story, if you want to spoil the ending. I’m not judging. You’re the one who’s reading the book. If you want to spoil the ending, that’s your business.

Yes, this is a schmaltzy romance. The shero, Krennelin Berry, can’t help that she has a crush on a Celeb named Tlotl Hsen. See, even her name lets you know the kind of story this is. It certainly informed me.
All I knew, in the beginning about this story, was its title. I also knew that the title was the main character’s name. It wasn’t too long until I knew the first few lines. And that confirmed where this story was going and how it was going to get there. Well, partially. This story also has it’s share of surprises.
Now you know just a little bit about Krennelin Berry. You should also know that she also goes by K.R. And she’s a Cadet aboard a Spaceship.
Tlotl Hsen, her crush, is a Celeb. He has his own secrets, which you’ll find out about soon enough.

Some terms in this story will be familiar to you, as it takes place in Earth’s future. Others, you’ll need to learn from the story itself, for the same reason. It takes place far enough into Earth’s future that some things have greatly changed.

If you don’t like shmaltzy romances, don’t worry. I have written several romances, each of them very different. You can find them all at Stubbart.com.

Also, just because this story is shmaltzy, doesn’t mean that the protagonist is weak. Krennelin Berry has several methods at her disposal to level the playing field, especially when it comes to relationships. And, she’s not hesitant to use them. Still, timing is everything.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09RB5GDLX

Hardwired: Staying Wired in a Wireless Age

I just published my 108th book. I like to work hardwired. It’s faster, more secure, and there’s fewer EMFs. Plus I just love seeing all those cords dangling all over the place. OK, call me “Stuck in a rut”. Call me “Resistant to change”. You might even call me “Weird”.

The reason I wrote this book, is perhaps a selfish one. If I tell the world how to stay hardwired, some of you will. And if enough of us are hardwired, that technology will never go away. And that will ensure that I can stay hardwired.

Who would want to have their computer hardwired? Gamer’s, for one.

You can even hardwire your cellphone, should you wish to do so.

Is it worth the hassle? What hassle? All depends on your frame of mind.

Idea Tree – Book 107

author

In this postapocalyptic, earthwise, get-rich, elemental, romance, I’ve combined several genres. I’m categorizing this book as a Romance, even though the romantic parties don’t meet each other until 3/5 of the way through the book.

I wrote Idea Tree in bits and pieces with several breaks in between writing. Wow! was it ever hard to make sure that the story was woven together correctly.

It’s the year 2052, the great cataclysm has happened and now people are trying to restore the Earth. OK, so I’m a little optimistic as to how soon we’ll start putting things back together. But then again, perhaps I’m a little pessimistic about how soon that cataclysm has happened. On the third hand, some say that cataclysm is already happening.

On to happier notes: Three friends form Idea Tree to get rich while saving the Earth. Idea Tree will generate ideas that companies and philanthropists will pay them for. These ideas will save the Earth. But, these three friends can’t do it all, so they hire three Idea Generators.

A poor hispanic woman works many long hours and figures out how to start investing what little she can. Eventually she becomes a multi-billionaire (there’s that optimism again). And starts using her money and influence to save the Earth.

She’s hesitant to ask Idea Tree for help for some reason. Yet eventually, she has nowhere else to turn to save the Earth. Ian Mossiman is the Idea Generator who is assigned to help Ultresa Milan create the next idea which will really turn the corner in restoring the Earth to vitality.

And sparks fly – both metaphorically and litterally.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NRH6VXT

Tongue Twisters or Knot

author

I recently decided to write a month’s worth of tongue-twisters. Why would I do something so maniacal?  That shouldn’t be too hard to do, I thought? But these tongue-twisters required more of me than writing 31 one-liner diction exercises. These had to be fun. Some had to be syncopated poems. Those which were one-liners insisted on being lists of one-liners. And once I got 31, they just wounded stop coming. Finally I had to shut off the faucet.

Enjoy such tongue-twisters as: Thin’s Shims; Path Cat’s on the Cat Path; Heathcliff’s Eclipse; Frog’s Frock; Swanson the Swan (below); Gargoyle Girl; Charles Chews Chocolate; Dr Jekyll Heckled Hyde’s Spectacular Side; Paradoxical Paradise; and Sasha Sashays.

Tongue Twisters or Knot

Swanson the swan swung
O’er the bolly belly billabong
Out o’er the water he flew
Making a heck of a swell hullabaloo

The lackadaisical lake lacked water
The faster he flew did he falter
And he barely missed three trees
By tucking in his knobby knees

Swanson the swan swung
O’er the bolly belly billabong
He missed a pilaster avoiding master disaster
Landing with haste in the past Pastor’s pasture

Why is my Enemy my Enemy

Here’s an age old question: Why is my enemy my enemy? That’s usually followed by: What did I do to them? (Or to offend them)?

I was prompted recently to look at a book that was in my Not to be Published stack. I wrote it in 2004, but didn’t like the ending. I was amazed as a reread what I had written. This book was very apropos for today. It asked these questions:

  • Why does evil always resurface?
  • Why is my enemy my enemy?
  • Who and what will save the day?

Aumanil’s: Three Paths – One History had lots of holes in the story – had to fix that. The reason I had put this book on the Do Not Publish heap was because I didn’t like the ending. As part of the rewrite, I ended up with more information at the end, twice.  So I guess there were holes there also. Now, I really like the ending, wasn’t what I had planned.

Aumanil’s doesn’t so much answer those questions, as it gives us insights into how those in another Cosmos wrestled with them. Their solutions probably aren’t our solutions. But there was one thing they did, which we will probably have to do. Somebody had to walk to where the sun was shining more brightly. For there lay their solution.

This is my 105th book.

Exploring Lost Territory

When I was young, I liked to explore the woods. Got lost a few times, Yet, that didn’t stop my love of the woods. However, I still love the ocean better.

In my 104th book, Criseilish and Bileander live on the tropical island of Vascandola. At five, they become pretend boyfriend/girlfriend so that they can play together all the time. They spend most of their time on the beach or playing together in the village. But one day, when they’re 9, they explore a place in the woods, that Bileander calls Lost Territory.

The woods are dangerous and not many people go into the woods. But Bileander is adventurous. And Criseilish is willing to go along for the fun.

But then she can’t remember what happened that day. She’s sure Bileander is responsible for her forgetting, so she dumps him.

Theirs is the relationship everyone else envies. Can she ever trust him again?

Another Romance, not TMI.

Exploring Lost Territory

 

SEA Spot Saver

Another secret about Seatac – one of the world’s most environmentally favorable airports – is the SEA Spot Saver. Don’t have TSA Precheck or Clear? You can sign up to get through security faster with the SEA Spot Saver. Best part, it’s currently free!

Yes, so, it’s only for morning flights as the spot saver is not available after 1pm. And there’s an interview required. But if you don’t have TSA Precheck or Clear and you’re traveling from SEA, check it out. Why not?

Speaking of secrets about Seatac, check out my book – Seatac Seacrets.