Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My name, up in lights...

Just wanted to share... I'm being featured on the front page of White Wolf's main site right now...


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Christmas Eve 2006

One of the hardest things about being out here is spending the holidays without our extended family. We miss you guys all so much.

Topher, who works for Pat, and his wife, Lisa, and their girls invited us to spend Christmas Eve with them... little did we know what an adventure it would be!

It seems that they get together with a whole circle of extended family and friends (some of whom Topher and Lisa didn't even know) so we didn't end up feeling out of place at all.

One of the neat things they had set up was a table with a whole bunch of craft projects for the kids to tinker with. It really gave them not only something to do, but something to visit with each other about and break the ice, which was very nice.

Autumn is a bit older than Topher and Lisa's girls. Marissa is 9, Anne Marie is 7ish and Lily must be around 5.

This is Lilly, Autumn and Anne Marie.

The girls hard at work crafting... something.

Autumn as a Christmas cat

I kept trying to catch Autumn unaware, as her clown nature comes out as soon as she realizes the camera is on her. Proof below...

Before she notices the camera.

Oooh, there's the camera!


Lisa and I commiserated about our girls' hair issues. Marissa's is longer and more wavy than Autumn's but they both have that very very thick hair that makes brushing a hassle, and both want to wear it long.

I took a lot of pictures... I mean... a lot... I think this was well into the evening, and Topher was incredulous that I was /still/ shooting pictures.

It was a really fun afternoon/evening. We laughed a lot. Especially Pat.

Along with her own three girls, Lisa babysits James, who is just adorable.

Lisa and James say "Are you /still/ taking pictures?"

I don't know why, but inevitably when we are somewhere with a group of people with silverware, spoons must be hung on noses.

I think Pat starts it.

Skye, a friend of Topher and Lisa's is a very good nose-spoon hanger.

We may very well be a bad influence on James...

Did I mention the food was incredible? Topher's brother is a chef down in Hartford. We had brisket to die for, two kinds of stuffing, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes... and way more stuff that I can't even remember. It was amazing.

Topher's Mom brought out her laptop so that the kids could track Santa's progress across the night sky on Santa Radar.

We had a Yankee Gift Exchange (which is apparently like a Chinese Gift Exchange except... New Englandish.)

Note in the background how Shana is contemplating bonking Topher on the head and stealing his gift...

I'd seen one of these at the store last summer and thought it was really cool. I traded something for it (movies, cocoa and popcorn, I think...)

It's a head massager!

It was a big hit with folks at the party.

Topher watches as his best friend, Jenn, tries it out.

All in all, it was a really nice Christmas eve!

Wish y'all would have been there!

Career News for Me

Well, I got some exciting stuff in the mail yesterday... My first contract as a freelance developer for White Wolf.

Which, of course, means absolutely nothing to anyone who'd be reading this post. :)

Let me explain. :)

Basically, the process for creating a new game book for White Wolf is this. Someone (could be virtually anyone along the hierarchy, from gamer to owner of the company) has an idea for a book. If it is a Good Idea, and if they write up a proposal for it, it may get approved to be made into a book. At this point, someone (sometimes the person who proposed it, sometimes the person who will be in charge of developing it from Good Idea to Book) writes up an outline. This contains things like what will be in the book, and how long it will be, and a rough idea of how the chapters might be organized.

Once the outline is done up, they figure out which developer it should be given to. There are a number of in-house developers. Some are in charge of a particular game line like Werewolf or Mage and are called line developers. While they may not personally develop every game in that line on their own, they are the person ultimately responsible for it.

Since a line developer can't give each book in their line the individual attention it requires (especially since sometimes there are 4-5 books in a line being worked on at the same time), they use other developers. Some are there in Atlanta where the main office is, and may be on staff (salary/hourly wage) with the company. Others, like my friend Matt in Ohio and Joseph in Portland (and now me!) are "freelance developers". We're folks who've proven our reliability as freelance writers, and are now given the chance to be the developer of a book that the line developers don't have time to handle themselves.

The developer then fleshes out the outline into a real working outline that the writers will base their material on. He (or she, although as far as I know I'm the only female developer White Wolf is using right now) then hires the writers, assigns them sections of the book, fills out their contracts, and supervises the rough draft of the book being created. When the authors are done with the rough draft, the developer edits it (a process called "redlining").

Redlines can be as simple as "fix these spelling/grammar errors" or as complicated as "you're going in the wrong direction with this, try to give it more of this kind of a feel" or "this violates what the other writer wrote about this same topic, change it to be like this." With a good team, redlines are just fine tuning - making sure the final draft is as good a product as possible.

Redlines go back to the writers, who then make the requested changes and send their final copy back to the developer. At this point, the writers' job is pretty much done, and it's all in the hands of the developer. They combine all the bits and pieces from each writer into one complete document and then give it another edit to make sure that not only is the information in it accurate, well written and doesn't contradict itself, but also that it's formatted correctly and that there are no spelling, grammar, punctuation errors, etc.

Then the developer sends it off to the editor, who (ideally) has nothing to do (but that never happens...) The editor is the last set of eyes to see the work before it goes to lay out (the people who determine how it will look on the page, adding text and art, etc. I think the developer gets to see it one more time, post-lay out, but by then making changes is a big pain in the neck, so it's vital that any errors get fixed earlier in the process.

In the case of Reliquary, I pitched the idea to the folks at the main office a few months ago. They not only thought it was a good idea, they were already working on a very similar concept, and so I was assured I'd be called in to work on the book as a writer. (They even ended up using the name, Reliquary, from my proposal, as it was cooler than the one they'd been using for the similar project.)

I found out, in December, that they'd approached my friend, Joseph, wanting him to be the developer for it. Joe was too busy, however, so when I heard he had turned them down, I went insane and decided to write and ask to be hired as the developer for it. And... to my shock and delight... they agreed.

So, at this point, I've constructed a team of writers for the book, revised the outline and am ready to send it out to them, and then I'll basically just be in supervisor mode for the next month while they write the rough drafts. After that, it gets hard. :)

I'm very excited, and wanted to share a little insight into what my current job duties are like... I'm still writing as well (I've got about 11K of word count in Reliquary, plus two other books I'm writing on between now and March) but it's neat to be spreading my wings a little into a new direction as well.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Jonathan Coulton Concert 12/12/06

For my birthday, Pat sent me with some friends out to Boston to see Jonathan Coulton in concert... twice! He was doing a small mini-concert in the basement of Pandemonium Books, and then a larger concert at Johnny D's (a restaurant/night club).

Robert was kind enough to drive us, as he'd just gotten his new car. It was nice to be able to just enjoy the scenery and company for the 2 hour drive to Boston, rather than have to worry about traffic.

It was really interesting going on a trip with people who actually knew the area, since Pat and I are totally unfamiliar with it.

Mike rode up front to give "directions" to Robert. This was, we discovered later, not necessarily the wisest idea, as Mike hadn't navigated around Boston in quite some time, and apparently the roads had been moved around quite a bit since his heyday.

Smile, Mike! :)

Lisa and I rode in the back seat, which was cool, because I /never/ get to ride in the back. I'm always either driving or navigating.
Lisa is a sweetheart. She's bold and outspoken and I adore her to bits. She's Mike's significant other, and mom to not only only her own kids, but to many of the strays who end up hanging out or even living with her and Mike at their place in Chicopee.

The first concert was held at Pandemonium Books, a book and game store in Cambridge (which is kind of a suburb of Boston, kind of in the same fashion that Tacoma is a suburb of Seattle.)
The mini-concert was short and small, but fun. And since Pandemonium stocks my books, it was neat to go in and talk with the owner about game stuff as well.

Jonathan sings.

I realized that, unlike a rock show, taking pictures of an acoustic guitar player singing gets a bit tedious at times. No matter how interesting the music, photos pretty much all look like some guy standing there with his mouth open and a guitar in his hands. So, while I took hundreds (literally) pictures of the two concerts, I'll only be posting a few.

Jonathan's compatriots for the event were Paul and Storm. They were his opening act at Johnny D's, but also came out to do a number or two with him at Pandemonium.

Storm, Jonathan and Paul sing Code Monkey.

Jonathan sings some more.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, Jonathan is the creator of such fun songs as Code Monkey and re: your brains (aka All We Want To Do Is Eat Your Brains.)

Both were written as a part of "A Thing A Week," where Jonathan wrote... 52 songs... in the course of the year. You can listen to all of them for free (and buy his albums, when you fall in love with them like I did) here.

Jonathan proves that not only can he walk and play guitar at the same time, but that it's /fun/!

Me and Jonathan!

One down, 51 to go...

I can't believe it's already into January and we've had no snow to speak of this winter. It's funny that, after thirty*mumble* years in the Pacific Northwest where snow was a rarity at best, I've gotten so enamoured of the idea of snow = winter. It doesn't /feel/ like winter here without it.

I checked the forecast for the rest of the month. No snow scheduled out past the 10 day forecast, which is as far as they do "real" predictions. Beyond that, it's just the almanac forecast, with nothing more than highs and lows, but I noticed something interesting in contrasting the "real" with the "almanac".

The highs are.. reasonably close. We're running 10-12 degrees higher than the scheduled high, which is significant when that means the difference between "mid 30s" and "mid 40s" in the middle of January. However, where things get really wonky is the low temperatures.

Schedules lows via the almanac for the mid to late part of January? 11ish degrees.
Scheduled lows via the "real" forecast for the early to mid part of January? In the 30s. The mid 30s.

We're a good 20-25 degrees warmer at night here than it's "supposed" to be this time of year. And that's just...weird.

Pat and I are still sleeping with the window wide open at night and the fan going (albeit for noise/air circulation rather than coolness... it points at the wall, not at us.) But to be able to turn off the heat at night and open the window... in New England? In January? That's insane.

Anyway, I promised some pictures from Christmas, and they'll be coming soon. I'm still figuring out how to move the pictures around in the post, etc. (Any advice is sorely welcome.)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Family Blog

I realized I was juggling too many needs on my LiveJournal Account, using it for friends, work, family, etc. So I've created this blog just for family and close personal friends with whom I don't need to hide names or worry about posting pictures of the kids or personal information.

It'll be a way for me to share pictures of our family and daily news with those who care more about that than my work announcements and the like.

That being said, here are some pictures from my birthday dinner last month. Pat and Autumn took me out to a lovely Italian restaurant where they had pasta and I had gorgonzola encrusted steak. It was a lovely evening.
Autumn, being charming. I love her hair back like this, with the long tendrils. I wish I could convince her to wear it like this more often!

Pat looking very serious (boy, that's unusual!)

and then pointing to... something... What can I say, the camera was new and I was still getting used to it.

Autumn and I. Doesn't she look sweet? Pay no attention to the spaghetti sauce on her shirt. That's why /I/ wore red to the Italian restaurant!

Apparently the picture on the wall may be what Pat was pointing at in the earlier photo. Autumn couldn't resist mugging for the camera here.

That's my girl! What a grin!