The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

This one is going to be long and picture heavy. I used to be an avid modeller, it’s how I met my wife (she was working at the hobby shop where I hung my models). I built models up until the point where we started to have kids and after that there really wasn’t time or money to keep going with it. I also realized at that time that as serious as I was about building the kits, I wasn’t as serious or as skilled as the majority of builders I was meeting. Could I have pushed myself to gain those skills? Sure, but I was just starting out my writing career and working a pretty intense day job while learning my trade as a TIG welder. Something had to give and as you can guess, it was the building of models.

This of course has never detracted from my love of all things miniature, which I hope has come across in these pictures. A little about the technical aspect of these shots. I had to shoot at ISO 2000. The light in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is good but it’s high and overhead. I never use a flash for macro work and like an idiot had left my fill light at home, though whether or not I’d have used it is up for debate. I was using a Sigma 10-20mm f4:5.6 but in order to fight some of my DOF issues, I set the lens to f7. Most of my exposures were between 1/15 and 1/60 depending on my zoom.

One of my favorite things about the Canon platforms is Canon’s noise suppression at high ISO settings, though as I get on a bit I’m starting to introduce more noise into my images to gain ‘tooth’. For the landscape stuff I still prefer to shoot low ISO with the camera mounted on a tripod and add the noise (if I want) in post with the DXo Film look software.

These shots are manipulated very little. I’ve merely corrected some contrast, color and exposure issues from the original RAW images.

I hope you enjoy them.

This cross section of the flagship HMS Victory was not in competition and I believe it was heading for a museum. The mast on top extended to its full height, this was an impressive piece.

This modeller does wonderful detail work and seems to have a thing for Bathyscaphes.

I love anything to do with the Arrow but ultimately, these dioramas make me deeply angry at the lost opportunity of what Canadian Aerospace could have been if Diefenbaker wasn’t such an idiot.

Again, note the modeller’s attention to the small details in this nice representation of an Aermachi Floatplane. Though that tail gun really looks like an engineer’s afterthought.

The kid who built this is 16. Way more skill than I ever had at that age.

A Model of the X-RV from the film ‘Marooned’ which was directed by my best friend’s Dad John Sturgess.

I believe this is out of Starblazers.

A really nice Snow Speeder.

Slave One – Front

And back, with lit engines.

A cool ship from a terrible movie


I hope you’ve enjoyed these and as always, I’ll be looking forward to next year’s show.

As there is with all model shows, there’s the science fiction and fantasy category. As time goes on it’s becoming obvious that this category needs a bit of expansion via sub classes as it was easily one of the most packed tables and some of the work like the one above were exquisite. In fact so exquisite that I’m going to dedicate this post to this one model not just because it was some of the finest work of the show but because as a writer, I could feel it stirring up stories in my head.

Some of the most prolific types of stories ever written seem to focus on that period around the years just before the Second World War. Where the Nazis were a convenient threat and enough of the world was still unexplored and even more so, hard to communicate with, which always adds to the mystery. Then you have a model like this that speaks to an alternative time line where anti gravity is common and probably rooted in steam or diesel power wrapped around a new element that can defy the Earth’s bonds.

There’s a story here and I really wish I’d met the modeller to ask him what his take on the scene was.

I love the monkey. I mean who doesn’t love a monkey?

In other news, I’m having a very good week with Devil’s Gambit, I’ve just passed 150 unit sold and the reviews have all been positive. I’m just in the final stages of setting up Devil’s Gambit for print on demand through Clear Reads and Amazon. Once it’s available in hardcopy, I’ll be sure to let everybody know.

I’m halfway through the rough draft of the new book and should have it out by the summer with the sequel to Devil’s Gambit, Devil’s Salary, hot on its heels. My producer is currently in LA meeting with a pretty major production house about my screenplay (sorry but I can’t name names yet) and that looks pretty positive too. Which if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know even I’m surprised by that. I even went so far as to pitch a story to my producer. I guess I’m not as done with screenwriting as I thought.

The other side of The Battle of the Bulge.

Here’s some more from Heritagecon 9.

A longer look at the T-1000

Call me old fashioned but those staples don’t look too solid.

To me it looks like his ship is sinking.

I believe this is a Polish Hussar.

A Zuaves minus his cap.

And one with, though I muffed the DOF in this shot.

Nice work on the feathers.

The gold work on this guy was very nicely done.

The next batch will have a few more ships in it.

I like the concept of adding different scales for forced perspective in this diorama.

This is the third Heritagecon I’ve attended. There was a huge dealer section this year and while there was a good turnout of modellers and their completed kits it wasn’t quite as good as last year, at least in the diorama categories. I’ll admit, I’m always more drawn to the strange, the scratchbuilt and the rare and there were some excellent examples of all of those this year.

As always this post is picture heavy.

I love the bird hanging from the crossbar. There’s a lot of really nice detail in this model.

Apparently this was an actual experiment carried out in the Pacific theater.

Keeping the Wermacht running.

Looking at broken armor from a more modern conflict.

When the Germans still had rolling stock. I love the number of different stories in this piece but what I really want to know is what’s the woman doing in the tall grass in the bottom left hand corner?

Why you shouldn’t drive about with the top down.

Not only a nice job on the figure but an especially nice job on the eye.

Well that’s the first bank of pictures. I’ll post the rest up in batches over the next few days.

I had every intention of going to the Motorcycle Spring Show early on Saturday but my Mini Cooper S decided to have an engine issue about five minutes from my house, which required me to turn around and limp it to my mechanic’s just round the corner. Then by the time I’d gotten my wife’s car and got to the venue, the lineup to get inside was well out into the parking lot. I had my son with me and the plan was to get in, run around for a couple of hours and then drop him off at his Saturday activity program. Well obviously, that didn’t happen, so we grabbed some lunch and I dropped him off at his thing and then picked him up later that day. Seeing as the show was going to run till 9pm, I decided to go in the afternoon.

This was the better choice.

This is the last show of the year before riding season starts and all of the usual suspects are there. I managed to pick up a copy of, “Road,” a documentary about the Dunlops and their Road Racing history narrated by Liam Neeson. It is both inspiring and tragic and I highly recommend you give it a watch if you can get your hands on it. Colin as he usually does, took off into the crowd. This time I wasn’t as worried about losing him as the Canadian Tire Motorsports Track pavillion was in the center of the venue and he would circle back to it about every twenty minutes.

As is the case with any bike show, you see things you like, thing’s you’d like to own and things that just sort of make you shake your head. I’ve always been a form follows function sort of guy. I can appreciate a street bike made into a cafe racer or a custom built off road bike. I can even appreciate cruisers kitted out for ultimate lounging travel. Choppers however have always left me a little confused. I’m not talking about the chop jobs where guys have cut the bike apart to try a new esthetic, I’m talking about the chrome and custom fitting monsters, the Tuttles were always struggling to complete. Because for me, at the end of the day. you still need to be able to ride the bike for more than a mile and not be reduced to tears by the brutality of the ride.

I get that they’re sort of an extreme art installation revolving around a bike motor but some do leave you scratching you head wondering what the inspiration was for the final form. Which is why this post is started with what used to be a Buell 1200. You’ll also note in the picture that the design won an award. I didn’t look to see for what. Maybe for best use of wood applique on a motorcycle?

Ultimately to me, there’s nothing offered on this bike that doesn’t make me sad for the loss of the Buell it came out from.

I’m not going to bore you with snap after snap of new bikes because for the most part they’re better covered in the bike mags and I’m still working with my 04 V-Strom so I’m not in the market for a new bike. Oh I’ll sit on this or that, just to see how the ergo’s feel but really to get a feel for a bike you need to ride it on the road and seeing as it’s still -11C outside, that’s going to have to wait for a few more weeks.

There was a very nice Triton in the British Bikes Display.

It did seem however that turnout was down this year to the venue, so not as many older bikes to see as there have been in past years.

On the way out we passed the Elklas booth. It looks like they sell an aftermarket body kit of the 250 and 300 Ninjas. Their kits, look to be made from fairly substantial aircraft grade anodized aluminum. The end result is part street fighter, part stealth look. Though I am a fan of mud guards.

I’m not going to say I’m a total fan of the look but it does give me ideas about doing some similar fairing work on my Strom to thin it out a bit.

With the last of the shows now behind me, I’m looking forward to finally getting some road time with me bike again, now it’s warming up.

Two weeks out from having to take a break from the day job. Every day I work on building up the writing muscle and get my word count down on the page, pushing towards the final scene of the rough draft and after that’s done, I put the work aside and start on the next rough draft to give myself distance from the manuscript for the rewrite. Sleep, eat, write repeat. That’s how you build a career, one word in front of the other. One book turns into the next book, turns into the next book.

But it’s very solitary and while I’ve always never minded working by myself, I find myself missing the guys and the work place, where we’d take drawings and bits of tube and metal and turn them into machines and systems that did something. But mostly I miss the general verbal bullshit that goes on day to day between the guys you work with, where bitching about stuff is raised to a fine art form.

As frustrating at times as trying to write and work a day job can be, it informed my dialogue and my characters. It gave me insight into how real people talk and think and react and it grounded my writing in oh so many ways, especially the screen writing. I know Hollywood likes to think it’s a young person’s game but lets be honest, the really deep scripts are coming out of people with more than a few grey hairs on their head (though you’ll never see them because that’s what hair dye is for).

The new manuscript is progressing well, though not fast enough for my taste but then that’s just the screenwriter talking. A screenplay is around twenty thousand words, a book is three to four times that or even more if you’re a Stephen King. I realized early on in this process how many screenwriting habits I’d have to bin, especially the whole idea of, “I don’t need to write that, the actor or director or DP will figure it out and it’s not up to me to tell them their job.”

Well it’s my job now, even though I still need to be as invisible as ever to the reader.

Maybe I’ll swing by the shop and grab a beer with the guys after work one day, just to shoot the shit.

I just heard about the Trans Mass. Trail and I’ve spent a bit of time looking at it on Google Maps and seen a few videos of it on Youtube. It looks interesting and picturesque with a pavement and dirt ratio that looks very doable for even those riders who don’t have a lot of comfort on gravel or dirt. Watkins Glen National Park is on the way there and I’m thinking that would also make for an interesting stop off as the photographs I’ve seen of the place look fantastic.

I’m thinking it would make a good chapter in another book. Because I’m looking after my son during the week, my only opportunity for extended riding this year will be three day trips, which of course means long weekends. I also thought that a lot of us are in a similar boat and that a usual trip takes place over two to seven days and that the ten day or longer trip is only open to a few for the most part due to income or commitments, be they job or family.

My main issue is that in order to get to good riding from Mississauga, it’s usually a day trip for me anyway. Though PA and NY state have been fun and educational when I’m just going down for a rideabout.

I’m always up for new things so if any of you have some three day trips in the vein of the Trans Mass. Trail, I’d be very interested in hearing about it in the comments section.

Spring is right round the corner and it’s time to get the bike road ready.

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