My Book Roundup 4/2/2020

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I’m going to post a roundup of them for interested parties!

My sites:

Fiction

I’ve been returning to fiction with a techno-fantasy setting of several planets orbiting a star called Avenoth.  Take a typical fantasy world of magic and gods, and let it evolve into the space age and internet age . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when you’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at www.WayWithWorlds.com

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:

Creativity

I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!

Careers

Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!

Culture

  • Her Eternal Moonlight – My co-author Bonnie and I analyze the impact Sailor Moon had on women’s lives when it first came to North America.  Based on a series of interviews, there’s a lot to analyze here, and surprisingly consistent themes . . .

Dispatches From The Bunker

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’m hunkered down at home, sheltering in place, like so many of you. At this rate I don’t expect to be going out like normal until the end of May. I’d like to blog more writing stuff, but it’s a bit challenging as my focus is different – getting through this.

The problem with “getting through this” is there is no going back to normal. Normal is gone and good riddance.

Normal led us to this mess. Poor planning, poor awareness, poor practice in too many areas led to suffering. Some countries have done well, but we’re seeing a lot haven’t.

Normal wasn’t as great as it seemed. We’re seeing these events rip the mask off of many flaws in America and other countries – underpaid but critical jobs, understaffed medical care and more.

Normal kept us from seeing better. How many of us realize we can work from home? That we could connect more efficiently? That delivery services could make life much easier (and save time, money, and maybe even pollution).

Normal can’t come back anyway. People will be dead, systems broken, new ideas present, problems revealed. There is no going back anyway.

The question is what we want to do next.

Look, we’ve found who we can rely on and who we can’t. We’ve seen the value of science over bullshit. We’ve seen that people really can rally to help out – and who will exploit the situation. We’re going to have a different world like it or not so damn well shape it.

And that’s overwhelming. It’s hard. It’s painful. We’re stressed, fearful, disrupted, and tired.

But know what? We might as well take what control that we can. We might as well take action when we can. We might as well do what we can. We can take our power ourselves and do something.

So here’s some thoughts for you – on an escalating scale.

  • Take a break. If you’re tired, take a break and rest. Recover your strength – that’s OK.
  • Check in with people regularly. Find out how they’re doing so you can rally.
  • Do something to help people – give a gift, make a meal, give a kind word. Even a minor action changes the world. One of my neighbors has a fruit tree and sets out the fruit for free.
  • Donate to a cause. Look there’s plenty of things out there to help with – your local city or state probably has some organizations to go to. Find one and give money. Its safe and remote.
  • Rally people. Introduce friends to each other. Connect people. Team people up.
  • Connect to a cause. Find a local or national org you can get involved in and DO IT. Start getting active now – and become empowered.

But through all of this? Keep up your creative work. Keep writing and drawing and cosplaying. Because that’s you, and you need to stay yourself.

We’ll get out of this bunker. Let’s make the world better.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 3/29/2020

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Hey everyone let’s catch up on my projects!

So what have I done since last time?

  • Way With Worlds: Back at it!  I’ve been burning through the Conspiracy book and this is going to be a good one.
  • A School Of Many Futures: The re-outline is done, and I’m in the midst of both re-writing and re-plotting.  There’s delays due to the Coronavirus, so I am not sure if the book is done in December of January.
  • Seventh Sanctum:  Continuing the rewrite of course and I think I cracked the data structure I need.  I’ve wanted to do new generators too, but there’s just a lot going on.

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: Writing as always.  I’m far enough that I figure this one is out end of April or so.
  • A School Of Many Futures: Just keep at it. I’d like something for prereaders end of April – but I might release that chapter by chapter.
  • Seventh Sanctum:  Continue the Python rewrite.  I hope to use the space I have to deep dive more.
  • More: I am not starting anything new, I’m trying to stick with “the basics” to stay focused.  I am tempted to do side things . . .

Steven Savage

Social Ruggedization

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

You didn’t see any blog posts from me last week as life was busy and disrupted due to the coronavirus. Don’t worry, I’m fine, its just that there were a lot of changes.

I, my girlfriend, and a lot of people we know are working from home, which is a huge schedule change. We’re in a shelter-in-place order here. Then there’s the collapsing economy and so on.

You’ll understand the lack of blog posts and the large amount of junk food consumed.

So now a lot of us find ourselves in a disease crisis, not leaving home, and worrying about the state of the world. We’re all working to stay connected, stick together and make it through. So I wanted to talk about “social ruggedization.”

I’ve heard people use the term “ruggedizing” to refer to dealing with climate change – we need to make our cities and supply chains rugged in the face of disruption. The same goes for our social systems, from our world to our countries to our own social groups.

This crisis has shown the need to build resilient social systems. That’s not just my job, or your job, it’s everyone’s job. So here’s what I’m doing and a few suggestions from what I’ve learned.

Connect Regularly: People need some kind of regular checkin to connect. This could be a regular event like a weekly call. It could be a regular tool people use for communication like Discord. Sync up.

Overcome Space: Right now we’ve got to overcome the space between us, but remember there’s always space between us. It may be the space of a schedule change, or someone is laid up, or simple distance. Be pre-emptively planning to connect with people.

Share Events: There’s doing things together, but you can also share events passively. A lot of my friends and I do viewing parties where we just hang out, watch TV and do our creative projects, and so on. We’ll move those online – and streaming and so on make it easier.

Check In: Reach out to people to see how they’re doing regularly. Right now I post a daily update to some social media and check in with a few people via text messages. It’s a way to let people know you’re OK, hear from them, and encourage them to do the same.

Pool Resources: Start getting ready to share resources now. It could be food, it could be technology, or something. Start getting into the habit of helping each other and covering each other. We need it and have always need it.

Built The Society You Want: Focus on building real connections and social structures you want. Have a vision. Make it work.

Share and Promote Ruggedization: Share and promote making serious, surviving social structures. Share tips like this. Share technology that works. You want a stable society, share what you learned in making your own little stable society.

Meet New People: Go on and meet new people. YOu might make new friends and make new connections. Sure, be selective and have standards, but see who else fits them.

Connect People: In these tough times, I’ve been working to introduce people to each other. This way folks make more social connections and find allies and resources.

I hope you’re doing well in surviving these crazy times. Reach out to me with your thoughts and your ideas – or just reach out.

Steven Savage

Remote Cons?

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

With the coronavirus again in the news, I was talking with fellow author Dianne Dotson about COVID-19 and conventions. Obviously some cons are threatened by this disease and it’s going to be with us awhile. This led to a further discussion of how could cons go remote?

That at first sounds kind of impossible for large cons. I mean, how do you replace a get-together for 20,000 people? I’m not saying we should (I may blog on that at another time), but let’s look at how we could do it.

Let me theorize.

General

In general you want the con “feel.” That would probably mean:

  • A central website.
  • Communications tools like chats and forums.
  • Scheduled events.
  • Guests.
  • So on.

Really, none of this is impossible to achieve. But we think of cons as geospecific gatherings – we need the internet equivalent. Besides, that’s a central clearing point for other things . . .

Dealer’s Rooms

Well that’s pretty easy if everyone has an online store or can set one up. You make a list of dealers and perhaps arrange some con discounts.

But you could do more. People might have their own chats or discord servers. You might even be able to route things through an app so you can literally browse and socialize.

There would obviously need to be pre-screaming and so on. On the plus side, it means there’s less physical limits.

Green Rooms/Host Rooms/Parties/Social Events

These can be done easily as well – there’s many social programs folks can use. It wouldn’t take much to have these simulated with chat rooms, etc.

Of course they’d need to be moderated, but that’s something you can do easily – and by holding people responsible of course.

I’d strongly encourage these kinds of socializings at “Remote cons” because that’s part of the point!

Panels and Events

A lot of these can be done, again, with social media programs and chats. There’s things like Zoom, Webex, and more. it’s not hard to do them at all – I know, I’ve done them. Plus you don’t have to have physical limits of space.

These would need schedules and so on – just like other cons.

Guests

Well meeting guests and getting autographs and the like is kind of out here. People can hear them speak and see them, but it’s not quite the same. They can have events, but yeah some stuff might not work.

Maybe autographed stuff can be done by mail or something.

Costume Contest

That’s tough, but it could be done by video or with pre-submitted video. It might be fun to at least try, but I think people would have to experiment to find the best way to get this to work.

Membership

This may be challenging. Cons need to be paid for, and that’s memberships – so how do you make sure con events are exclusive?

I suppose membership access, passwords, and the like could be made for various things. The tech has to be there, using it on the other hand . . .

And That’s It

Really, I can’t see any reason not to try a virtual con. The thing is, there would be challenges.

Even though I’ve enumerated the tech and methods, I think this would have to be tried out. Maybe a minicon could be done, or another con could be partially online. There would need to be experiments and so forth.

But perhaps it’s time we experiment

Steven Savage

The Benefits Of Work From Home

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

With COVID-19 being an obvious issue at the news, there’s stories of campuses, businesses, etc. doing work from home, study from home, etc. This has made me think more about working from home, and I wanted to share some insight.

This has long been a part of my life – I was doing telecommuting experimentally back in 2005. Over the years I’ve seen more and more telecommuting, and the latest health crisis has made people much more interested in it.

I’d say it’s about time. Of course I live in the Bay Area which is dense, has lousy traffic, and in my experience people love to infect each other. However the latter may be due to bitter past experiences – OK it is. I’ve heard “I/my kids were sick but I/they aren’t infectious,” and then two days later I’m curled up in bed because my body is a virus theme park.

So as we find working from home (WFH) may become very vital let’s talk about the positive sides. Let’s talk the benefits so you can pitch it!

Benefit One: Realizing we can do it.

Note how I just ran to discuss why WFH is good? That’s because the tools are already there and have been for years. So first of all realize this isn’t “how can we do it,” the how is there. Trust me.

Benefit Two: Disease Mitigation

Let’s get to the obvious at this time – when more people work from home they make each other less sick. If anything, I think near-mandatory or increased WFH during disease seasons would make people’s lives much easier.

But also there’s another benefit in that people have more time to work out, exercise, etc. Healthy meals can be there in the kitchen. It’s just good in many ways.

Plus, again, disease mitigation. I mean you may get sick, but you’re not spreading it

Benefit Three: Less Traffic

Again, I’m biased because I’m in the Bay Area. It may not be as bad as people think, but once when I was moving there I was in a hotel, reading about the slowest intersection at the time, and realized it was outside my window. That was memorable.

If we get less people commuting, we get less traffic. Any geographic area could probably engineer a decrease significant enough to make WFH pay off in better commutes.

This means more time, more sanity, and less stress. Plus, it may mean less crowding on public transit which means an easier time and less disease.

(BTW, I’m for free public transport as well to really benefit a community).

Benefit Four: More Time

Obviously WFH means people have more time. But I find it’s more than you think – this goes back to my old experiences in fact.

  • Working from home usually means more is at your fingertips and you spend less time walking around, going to the cafe, or trying to find the bathroom in a giant office (been there). Your house is a time-saver.
  • Working from home reduces your routines. Check your email while you eat breakfast. Start dinner and then go back to finishing a report. Shower while numbers crunch.
  • It’s easier to timeshift as you’re near important things like your doctor or a store. You can also be there for deliveries.
  • Working from home obviously saves you commute time. I saved that for last.

Benefit Five: Better Techniques

Working from home will require you to rethink things like how you do work, how you schedule meetings and so on.

Take it from the Agile Program Guy, a lot of our plans, meeting, techniques are just there. We don’t question them. We do this “because.” Work from home is a good shake up because it asks you to do whats important in better ways.

It also asks you just what is important. Trust me, there’s probably more pointless stuff than you realize (or you don’t want to admit it).

Benefit Six: Appreciate those who can’t

If you can WFH you might find others can’t. Good. That’s going to be a way you find who else should be paid more, treated better, and otherwise respected.

It may also mean you can figure how to give them the WFH benefits eventually.

Benefit Seven: Saving money

Office space is expensive. Tech is expensive. That automated coffee machine you got that is more advanced than your laptop is expensive. Maybe you’re overdoing it.

On the other hand, having people work at home, etc. saves money. Period.

However, let’s note that money should go somewhere. The savings should be spread around, people should benefit. Maybe that always-breaking coffee maker could be ditched so people got better computers.

Also, people should be reimbursed or supported for their new expenses from work from home. Keep that in mind.

Benefit Eight: Mental health

Commuting, being stuck in the workplace, etc. can be taxing. Having more time, less commute, and so on is often good for people. It might not be good with the isolation, so let’s get too . .

Benefit Nine: Thoughtful socialization

When there’s more work from home, you also think of how to connect with your co-workers better. Being in the same place a lot can really make socialization less fun – that’s one reason I and some people I know like to make fun events. You know the real kind like “eat a lot of food.”

So iif we work from home more, we find better, new, and appropriate ways to connect with our co-workers.

So What’s Next?

Well, what’s next? Let’s home we start working from home more, using the benefits, and learning how to lead our lives differently. Disease aside, there are lots of other benefits.

Let’s also keep in mind this doesn’t sove a lot of other career issues people have, from low pay to locations with few opportunities to college debt. There are many, many other issues to solve, this just solves some.

But maybe a change helps us think about other problems and solve them.

Steven Savage

Why I Wrote It: Resume Plus

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Resume Plus was a weird book to write. It takes a bit of explanation.

First, I began deciding to write more. The thing that struck me as a writer is that I could just do the occasional book or I could really dive into it. Diving into it meant I did more, could sell more books, and I dug the challenge.

But the question was what to write. I was still getting into this whole rythm of “writing all the time.”

(By the way, by now I have so many ideas for books that I’m fine. I’m always writing as you noticed.)

One idea came from my blog.

I’d done a series on really awesome resumes that stood out. Some were made of code. Others had neat formatting tricks. Yet others got wacky and outrageous like being printed on a candy bar. I called it 50 Shades of Resume because I figured It’d be funny and . . . well anyway, we can judge that later.

Those analyses were perfect for a book. Plus, let’s face it, you didn’t have to read a ton of blog posts, and got more than the summary I’d written up.

So I returned to my blog posts and began cataloguing the advice I could get out of them. Fortunately, I’d had written summaries and advice on each of the fifty posts, so I had a good starting point.

However, a book is a way different format than a bunch of blog posts. So I had to collate all the advice, extend some, cut out others, and in general fit as a book. I’d taken resumes, written blog posts about them, then turned it into a book.

Some of this meant I had to ask myself “hey just what matters here” and “what did I actually mean here.”

The result though, after much thought, was a pretty good book! It’s one I’m proud of, though I fear some of it hasn’t aged well. I’m happy I also managed to do more with the advice, because despite all the predictions, the resume hasn’t gone away . . .

Steven Savage

My Book Roundup 3/3/2020

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I’m going to post a roundup of them for interested parties!

My sites:

Fiction

I’ve been returning to fiction with a techno-fantasy setting of several planets orbiting a star called Avenoth.  Take a typical fantasy world of magic and gods, and let it evolve into the space age and internet age . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when you’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at www.WayWithWorlds.com

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:

Creativity

I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!

Careers

Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!

Culture

  • Her Eternal Moonlight – My co-author Bonnie and I analyze the impact Sailor Moon had on women’s lives when it first came to North America.  Based on a series of interviews, there’s a lot to analyze here, and surprisingly consistent themes . . .

Steve’s Update 3/1/2020

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Hey everyone let’s catch up on my projects!

So what have I done since last time?

  • A Giveaway:  I’m part of a giveaway of previews and entire books, and it focuses on interesting settings.  Check it out: https://claims.prolificworks.com/gg/o6UoQcWfmCQ8B0MR1eBM
  • Way With Worlds: I’ve started work on the Conspiracies and Secrets book, but got some delays due to a scrambled schedule.  It’s still in progress however.
  • A School Of Many Futures: I rewrote the first three chapters and outlined the book with the intent of re-organizing it.  It isn’t what I wanted, but it is a complete book, and has some great evolution – I’m really pleased with the deeper views of Reverend Beacon and Scintilla.
  • Seventh Sanctum: A friend helped me with the python coding, and I’m now designing the data structures for advanced generators.  Python is powerful, but having to learn new ways of organizing data is a challenge.
  • Bathroom Floor: The bathroom floor I groused about is fixed.  Thank goodness.  If you’re in the Bay Area I got a good flooring person for you.

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: Back to the Conspiracies and Secrets book with gusto!  It’s time to get back to my “regularly writing questions” approach.
  • A School Of Many Futures: I’m going to re-outline the book.  I’ll say even now I’ve got a better idea of how I want it to go and it’s going to lead to some intense stuff.  This is a techno-magical world, and The War left so much hidden and forgotten, including people . . .
  • Seventh Sanctum: Working to map out the advanced generator using the code a Python expert helped me with.  If I can get the data structure read, then I can work out the generator – and this means I’ll have figured out how to move my generators to Python.
  • More: I definitely put “Agile Darkside” on hold until a few months from now so I can focus.  I may also have a few potential half-written books I may finish for a lark that would be mentally easier in these busy times.

Steven Savage

Spread The Fun

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’ve written in praise of fun many times. Fun liberates, fun soothes, fun inspires, fun explores. Fun is a great thing, and I am totally behind it.

We also need fun as human beings. It can connect us to each other. Notice how we share fun, even if it’s just discussing cool things with each other?

So I want to encourage you to share fun with others. Buy people games and books that you enjoyed. Purchase art for them that fits their passions. Have viewing parties of great movies or television. You don’t even have to like what you share – as long as your loved ones enjoy it.

Spread the fun.

Now, why would you do this? I’d like to leave this “as is,” but analyzing it also helps us understand the value and think of better ways to do it.

Here’s why you spread the fun.

It makes people happy. That’s the obvious one, but it’s worth repeating. The world needs happiness and joy, and just one gift can make a different.

It connects you to people. A gift that brings joy connects you with the receiver. It’s a way to be closer to someone. We all need strong ties.

It teaches you about people. To learn what people enjoy and what they care about is to learn about them specifically and people in general. Giving the gift of fun teaches you deep things about people.

It exposes you to more. Giving gifts of games and shows and such that people enjoy exposes you to their tastes. You might just learn about the world and find new things to try.

It sets an example. Share with someone and they may be inspired to do the same. You become a role model or a source of ideas.

It puts money in the hands of creators. Help support creators with your money when you share fun. This is especially important in supporting innovative, small, interesting, and radical makers, writers, and more.

So the world needs more fun and more joy. One small gift can have a cascade effect.

Start spreading the fun.

Steven Savage