Morning Cuppa: Grigory’s Gadget

I’m so happy you enjoyed Grigory’s Gadget!

The Curious Adventures Of Messrs Smith And Skarry

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s delightfully diluvian parlour located within the splendidly slippery-when-wet city of Lancaster!

True some have called it a soggy slop house full of wet blankets but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find me this morning balancing precariously on lemonade crates and sheltering under parasols whilst Max attempts to plug the holes in the roof, walls, widows and doors with histrionic napkins. Yes that’s right, the frost is thawing all over the parlour, the biscuits are soggy and the tea set is afloat… on the plus side Montmorency is unable to get in and terrorise us into paying rent because scarecrows and water don’t get on apparently.

You may be wondering why an octopus like me is desperately trying to keep his tentacles dry during this deluge  but please take…

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Meet the Characters: Snezhana Krupina

(Image source: Already Pretty)

For this series, I’m going to delve into the characters of Grigory’s Gadget in the style of those fun/silly surveys that pop-up on social media from time-to-time. I’ll also include name pronunciation, because I know a lot of people have been asking about that! (That being said, you can pronounce the names of my characters however you like, I’ll just be listing the “official” pronunciation) This post will be about Snezhana Krupina.

WARNING: Mild spoilers for Grigory’s Gadget contained in this post!

Name: Snezhana Krupina (sneh-ZHAH-nah KROO-pee-nah) née Sokoll (soh-KOHL)

Name Meaning: Snezhana – from the Slavic word for “snowy”; Krupina – from the West Slavic word for “barley”; Sokoll – Slavic word for “falcon”

Age: in her 50s

Physical Appearance: Light skin, short brown hair, blue eyes, wears an eyepatch

Hometown: Unknown

Family: Her brother is the pirate Captain Edmund Sokoll of the Ocean’s Legend; her nephew is Alexi Sokoll

Relationship Status: she is married; her husband was not discussed in Grigory’s Gadget

Education: unknown

Religion: None

Greatest Strengths: great fighter and leader, keeps her sights on the larger picture

Greatest Weaknesses: her morality has become skewed after living as a pirate and being betrayed by her own brother

Favorite Color: Blue

Hobbies: reading up on mystical artifacts, helping to start revolutions

Biggest Goal in Life: Destroy the Bronnerush and get revenge on her brother

The Importance of Copyrighting Your Work

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

United States Copyright Office

Copyright is very important for authors. It’s what protects us from having our work stolen. In the United States, all work is “under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device” (US Copyright Office).

This, however, has gotten quite a few authors into some trouble.

Lately, I’ve read a good number of “horror stories” about authors who’ve had their works removed from Amazon and other retailers because they – the authors – were accused of copyright infringement of their own work. Someone – a former publisher, a rival, a scammer – flagged their work as copyright infringement, and because of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Amazon has to respond by removing that work. The author is contacted and prompted to supply proof that they are the copyright holder.

But how the heck do you do that?

I read about authors sending Amazon their original, date-stamped manuscript, screen shots of the upload process, confirmation of their email address, their identity, etc.

But the best way to prove you hold the copyright to your own work is to register that copyright with the Copyright Office.

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law.

-United States Copyright Office

If you’re an author with a traditional publishing company, the publisher usually deals with the copyright registration. However, if you’re a self-published author, you need to register yourself. The process is relatively simple. You fill out a form with the details of your book, pay $35, and send a copy (physical or digital) to the Copyright Office.

That $35 fee is annoying, but it is worth it. Self-published authors are more often the target of DMCA attacks like those described above. The reason for that is so many self-published authors have not registered their copyright, and therefore lack the solid legal standing to fight back. Sure, you can hire a lawyer to fight your case, and maybe you’ll win, but that lawyer will cost a whole lot more than $35.

So, please, writer friends, copyright your work!

And Now for Something Completely Different…My Workout Routine

*DISCLAIMER* I am not a professional trainer or athlete or anything of the sort. I’m just a regular person trying to be healthy. If you read anything in the post that is inaccurate/misleading/etc, PLEASE let me know and I will correct it ASAP!

“And now for something completely different…” – John Cleese, Monty Python

This series of blog posts is for posts that don’t really match the rest of my blog (i.e. they aren’t related to writing, reading, steampunk, etc) but that I wanted to post anyway. In this edition, I’ll be discussing my current workout routine.

I’m an engineer by day and a writer by night. That translates to a lot of time sitting. I used to attend at least 2 dance classes each week, which would get some movement in my schedule, but more recently it’s become only 1 class per week. So, a few months ago, I decided to join a gym.

The gym I joined is nothing fancy. It’s one of those no-contract, $10 per month gyms. But, it has all the exercise equipment I need, and even during the booming month of January I’ve been able to get on *most* of the machines I want whenever I go.

I keep my routine pretty concise, since most days I don’t have a lot of free time. But I figure a short workout is better than no workout at all!

I start out on the treadmill for fifteen minutes. I walk for 5 minutes, jog for 5 minutes, and walk again for 5 minutes. I’m hoping to gradually work myself up to running instead of jogging. The fact that I can even jog for 5 minutes straight is already an improvement over where I started, though.

After the treadmill, I move on to strength training on machines. I generally like to do one ab machine, one arm/upper body machine, and one leg/lower body machine. Because of my busy schedule, it’s rare that I get to the gym 2 days in a row, so I don’t usually have to worry about building in a “rest” day. However, if I do get to the gym 2 days in a row, I’ll usually just use the treadmill one of those days.

After using the machines, I hop back on the treadmill. Typically I’ll just walk for 10 minutes. However, I do wear a FitBit, and if I can get myself to 10,000 steps without spending *too* much extra time on the treadmill, I’ll make that my goal instead.

Then I stretch. It’s actually way more beneficial to stretch *after* you work out, rather than before. That’s because after you work out, your muscles and nice and warmed-up. If you stretch cold, you risk injuring yourself. I do pretty simple stretches, usually focusing a lot on my legs (my hamstrings are super tight because of dance!).

And that’s it! If I follow this typical routine, I’ll be at the gym for about 45 minutes. Even with my busy schedule, I can usually work in that 45 minutes several times a week.

Do you see something in my gym routine that could be improved? I’m open to suggestions! I would love to hear your gym (or other workout) routines, and any tips and tricks you have to offer!

The Benefits of Taking a Break From Your Project

We’ve all been there. You start a passion project – you’re so excited! – and you make progress and make progress and – hit a wall. Your passion disappears and your project becomes a chore. You lose your vision and your motivation.

I have to keep going, you tell yourself. If I stop working on this project, it will never get done!

Sometimes that’s true. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes taking a break is warranted, and beneficial.

I participated in NaNoWriMo in November, working on Serafima’s Stone. By the end of November, I was sick of my story. I didn’t like my characters, I didn’t know where my plot was going, I hated my writing style. I felt boxed-in: I wrote Grigory’s Gadget with the intention of having this sequel. I have to write this sequel! But I hate this sequel and have no idea what I’m doing!

So, during the entire month of December, I didn’t touch my story. I didn’t open Scrivener once for the entire month. I didn’t force myself to ponder the story, to try to figure it out. I just left it sitting patiently on my hard drive.

And do you know what happened?

During the month of December I was inundated with ideas and inspiration. I’d be listening to music (namely, the Westworld soundtrack) while working on a report in the office when – BOOM – I’d get an idea! Yes – that’s what motivates that character! Yes – that’s what will happen next! Yes – I need to work that detail in! I have a chain of emails I sent to myself in December, jotting down the ideas so I wouldn’t forget them.

When January 1st rolled around, I was itching to get back to writing my story. I like my characters again. My plot has a direction, and even a discernible  ending! I’m still critical of my writing style, but so is every author ever. At least now it’s not in a self-defeating way.

So if you’re working on a project – a story, artwork, etc. – and you’re getting stuck in a rut like I was, know that it is okay to take a break. Give yourself a time limit that works for you – take off a day, a week, a month, or even a year (sorry, a year is probably too long, I just got the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. theme song stuck in my head…) – and then jump back into your project.

And I’ll be there for yooouuu….

…sorry…