2022 Update: Audiobooks, Book 4 Progress, and Writer Updates

Hello readers! Been a while since I’ve posted, so here’s an update on how things are going.

Coming Soon: Audiobooks Through Audible

I’m joining Audible! This means my collection will eventually be available in audiobook format, narrated by myself. Rescue at Waverly is fully narrated and uploaded to Audible, and I’m waiting for some beta listener feedback before I click the publish button. It’s around 8 hours in length. In addition, I have about a third of Rebellion at Ailon recorded, but it (as well as most later titles) will be around 15 hours in length so I’m going to wait on feedback for Waverly before I do too much work on these.

Here I am, recording in my home studio.

Progress Update on Mercenary Ascent

To put it bluntly, I am way, way behind on my fourth novel, Mercenary Ascent. My existing manuscript had become a disorganized collection of short stories, and it wasn’t driving forward the story I need to tell. As a result, I’m doing a “do-over” of it. I came up with a new outline, I’m copying in old things from the manuscript that are still usable, and I’m trying to create a more focused, driven story.

One hard part is I’m dealing with a large amount of general burnout in almost everything, and it’s been difficult to find motivation to work on this project. I finally found an environment where I can be productive (sitting outside at one of my city’s lakes) but the “spring” weather has been so terrible (cold, rainy, and sometimes snowy) that that hasn’t been much of an option. I hope I can make significant progress this summer. As an aside, I know I’m not the only person dealing with burnout these days, and I’m finding just how important it is to change up your environment and surroundings in order to make yourself productive again.

My Writer Application Is Coming To Linux And Mac, Finally!

Lastly, I am finally taking efforts to make my writer application cross-platform, because I am primarily a Linux Mint user and I’d like this to work on that OS. Currently, it is Windows-only because it uses the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) as the UI toolkit. I have a branch in git where I am porting the project over to .NET 6 and a UI framework called Avalonia UI, which is supported on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Avalonia is extremely similar to WPF (still uses XAML and databinding, and the syntax is around 90% compatible), so most of my existing code is porting over with only minor changes. Performance has improved a lot, too! I really don’t know what the state of WPF/.NET on Windows is these days, but it seems to have some significant performance issues. Mostly the mouse hitches around a lot, there’s stuttering and microfreezes, and sometimes lost keystrokes. I thought it was a problem with my application, but I’ve noticed all WPF applications (including some versions of Microsoft Visual Studio) act this way on my Windows 10 machine, so there’s a deeper issue there.

Avalonia does not have that stuttering at all. So even if I didn’t care about cross-platform support, it would be worth the switch just to fix the performance issues and reduce frustration. In any case, it’ll help me migrate more fully into Linux as my primary OS, and in theory the application will also work on Macs although I will not be able to test or officially support Apple. Officially, this app will be supported on Windows 10 and Linux Mint. Unofficially, it should run on anything that supports .NET 6.0.

There is one big problem with Avalonia, however: it doesn’t have an implementation of FlowDocument or a rich text editor. My documents are completely based upon the FlowDocument type, so that part is still Windows-only. There are tickets and chatter on Avalonia’s GitHub page regarding this issue, so I believe they’ll have a solution eventually. So, my plan is to port as much of my application over to Avalonia as possible, which should be pretty much everything except the actual document editor. At that point I’ll have to re-evaluate things. Maybe by then Avalonia will have a rich text editor, and then the final porting will be easy.

There are other options, none of which I’m too enthused about. I could migrate my data to some other format and do something weird like embed a GTK or Qt rich text view into the app. I did look into AvaloniaEdit because a lot of people recommend it, and while it’s a cool project, it’s meant for coding and not document creation. It would take some significant hacking to make it fit my purposes, but I haven’t ruled it out yet. Lastly, I could do something completely custom, which I really don’t want to do. This app was only possible because the FlowDocument/RichTextEditor in WPF did all the document editing for me, allowing me to focus development efforts on all the supporting features outside of the document editor.

An early build of TJ Mott’s Writer running on Linux Mint. Progress!

Anyways, that’s all I have to share at the moment. Thanks for reading!

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