I finished the long awaited first round of edits for the novella I wrote earlier this year, Knowing Mars, this morning. I've sent out a draft (after some failures of my email sending ability) to 6 initial readers. Some or all of whom read this website. (Thanks folks, and sorry for the mess of emails).

If you wanted to read an early copy of the novella and haven't drop me an email and I'll get you a copy of it. I should warn you that reading such an early draft could potentially be arduous, and there's no real reason rush into reading this version. There will be other drafts.

One part of the project after I got the edits done, was to recompile the files into LaTeX (a markup langauge for making pretty documents with the TeX typesetting engine.) I've gotten pretty into LaTeX these last few months, because it means I don't have to use Microsoft products (it's a pragmatic issue, they don't run well on Zoe and the interfaces don't work well), the documents look better, and thanks to some templates I've come up with I can write papers and letters (and so forth) in consistent, easy to read forms much more quickly than I ever did when I was a word user.

I mean LaTeX isn't the end all and be all. I've still not exactly figured out how to insert images into documents, nor have I figured out how to use the beamer class to do presentations (but I hate doing presentations with slides, so it's not a big loss,) but I think I'm making progress, and some day I'll be a master of LaTeX.

One of the nifty things about LaTeX is that, I have yet to come across a document format that someone else hasn't already created a class for. APA papers? Check! Every other Academic Style? Check [1]! Letters? Check! And my latest discovery? The manuscript format demanded by the Science Fiction Writers of America (and many of its varriants)sffms Check! The issue is that I had to spend a little bit of time reformatting how I did section headers so that it would all play nice. That's really my fault for writing in markdown to start with and then using maruku to convert to LaTeX. This leads me to my next non-geek-speak topic below the fold:

The Point

I'm thinking about switching the formating of some of my files away from doing everything in Markdown, and just going full boar into LaTeX particularly since the next book is in it's beginning stage. The main reason for doing this is that Maruku, translates a few things oddly, particularly in places where quote marks precede italics. In terms of just writing the main difference (other than bolds and italics) are in quotation marks. It's not a big deal, and actually as I'm thinking about it, there are some good reasons to keep things in markdown, but the thought lingers.

One thing that would be generally nice is if any of you out there in geekland know where I might learn to write a script (either in ruby/python/perl/etc or in bash with sed) that can string together a series of standard find and replaces? It shouldn't be that hard, but I'm that much of a beginner.

Anyway. That's what's I'm thinking about. Also, I did like 10 subversion commits this morning, which is way more than I'd done in a long time. I'm going to get going. Thanks for reading. More coming later.

[1]Actually, I think the fact that it's mostly academic and publishing geeks who write LaTeX styles, is a great thing for the format/language.