Only good news this time, or Where I’ve been the last two months

•January 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Thursday was a big day for science, in our house anyway.

After 5 years of graduate school, I’ve defended my dissertation and passed. This act was the last major hurdle between me and my PhD. It’s all very surreal and I’ve already lost track of how many times I’ve been called Dr. Seda. Perhaps it will sink in when I have the official documentation to go with the title. All I have left to do is edit the written dissertation, and that status will be mine.

What I didn’t expect was that the good news to keep coming in. Before starting the defense I found a package in my mailbox. I received the print copy of the science journal with my science article. I had no idea that I was going to be given a writer’s copy. After the whole thing was over, I learned my wife also received some good news yesterday. Her own article on her research was accepted for publication. These were the first articles in which we were the primary authors. Obviously we are both very proud of each other, and we took the evening to celebrate.

After having a day to recover and catch up on some much needed sleep I have allowed myself to delve back into a social life. I have been absent from all social media except the occasional tweet. I have not seen much of the goings on in the world of all my online friends. I have missed everyone, but it was the best course of action. The same goes for closing Port Iris.

The extra time has allowed me to finish what needed to get done without loosing out on too much time with my wife. As it turns out we will be having to live apart for a few months. I am fortunate enough to have a job lined up, but she won’t be able to leave her job just yet. This kind of situation is not uncommon in science, especially in academia, but we’re lucky for how brief we’ll need to be apart. We have friends that have had to live married but in different states for 3 years before being able to move together.

Still I’m still excited to work on some important research and live in Miami for the next couple years.

A Mixture of Dissapointment and Relief

•October 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This week has been met with a torrent of bad news that has oddly come with a sort of relief with each item and one really good news item with minimal strings attached. The reason is that a few stressful factors in my life have come to a head. Really, one of these things is the reason why the others have become not so manageable. That thing would be trying to finish my Ph.D. dissertation.

All this added stress and constraints on time culminated in my making the decision to close Port Iris Magazine a final one. I already talked about the reasons in the announcement, so I won’t go into them here.

Because delays in a trip to perform research at another University, a broken computer, and the need to repeat a few experiments that had gone wrong, I’ve been collecting data up to 2 weeks ago. After the mad dash to analyze statistic, digest what it means and write it down, I am now nearly done with my first draft with my first 3 of 4 chapters already  submitted for edits from my advisor. However, trying to wrangle 5 professors around very different schedules including my own week long trip next month and Thanksgiving has proven impossible and we have come to the conclusion that I can not defend in time to graduate in December.

The very shiny silver lining: although I still will won’t get the piece of paper that says it, I can still defend in December and officially become Dr. Seda this December, which allows me to pursue a job that I’ve been offered. (Yes, I have a job lined up already and still have applications out. I’ll wait to give details on this welcome outcome as things become more official.)

This has softened the blow of learning that it was going to cost $1250 to fix my computer, and the subsequent declaration of time of death. At least I can say that religious backing up of files saved nearly all my work. Even if working on a loaner from the IT departments relics closet has been a mind-bogglingly frustrating experience.

To finish this update on a high note, I also received final acceptance of a science article manuscript, and it will be published in January.


Progress Report: September 2011

•October 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I had high hopes going into the month of September. However, I can’t even accurately report on my progress because my laptop is lying gutted on a pile of other computers in someone’s office of the IT department at work. Since starting my graduate studies 5 years ago, I have gone through 6 computers. The first of these was one of those abysmal iMacs from the days when they came in different colors. It’s taken time, but I have come to appreciate Mac OSX over Windows. However, there is one big negative experience I’ve had with Apple products, or rather 3 closely related experiences: I’ve had the mother boards of 3 out of 4 laptops fail on me. This time is probably the most inopportune occasion.

The last month has been one of the most grueling times of my graduate career. Between delays, repeating failed experiments and the mad dash to finish my dissertation in time to defend it in November, I’ve had time for little else.

Below are the couple things writing/publishing related that have actually been completed.

Personal Writing

  • Practically nothing.


  • Crossed Genres Quarterly 3 eBook editions completed


  • 60% of my dissertation written (2 weeks to finish and submit for edits)

Progress Report: August 2011

•September 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In my last post I stated that I would start again with progress reports to create more of a sense of accountability. Bear with me as I find a structure to best present the information in the coming months. Rather than making excuses for things that kept productivity down I will list these things in with the accomplishments.

August 16-31, 2011

Personal Writing

  • 4263 Words written (Avg: 266 w/day | Best day: 1155)
  • 1 short story outline completed
  • 2 scenes edited
  • 1 blog post


  • 3x Port Iris story edits completed (1st round)
  • 1 Crossed Genres eBook compiled, formatted, and completed in 1 week (rush job)
  • 1 Crossed Genres eBook compiled (needs tweaking)


  • 5 Writing group critiques
  • Learned how to embed custom fonts in ePub files
  • 400 lines of code written (WordPress plugin–more on that later)

Serendipitous discovery

•August 16, 2011 • 2 Comments

One the things I have generally hated about handwriting my stories is keeping track of word count. When it comes to doing it, I easily lose thus making the practice more annoying than it’s worth. Today, I made a serendipitous discovery that I can kick myself for not noticing sooner. At work, I frequently use a hand-held tally counter to keep track of zooplankton populations (It sounds bad, and it’s actually much worse than you’d think.), and today it dawned on me that I could easily use one of these to record my word count. Better yet, I actually own one these at home though I’m not quite sure why. I’ll chock it up to the fact we tend to acquire nerdy things in our house.

So what’s with the sudden interest in this topic? Well, I’ve been in a writing slump lately but have been invigorated by my writing group meeting yesterday and switched to handwriting, which I do sometimes when I get stuck. Aside from critiques we discussed accountability and blogs. As is evident by the frequency of posts here, I do not hold my self accountable to the blog sometimes due to the time constraints of running Port Iris, research/work and writing the impending dissertation.

I’m not going to make an empty promise to post as much as possible, because I really don’t see that as a possibility until the January, when I–fingers crossed–will be done with school. However, I will make a valiant effort to post updates on progress of things. In line with the opening subject of this post, I am now diligently tracking my word count. I am setting a goal of >500 w/d and sticking to it. I haven’t decided on attributing my dissertation and journal article writing towards my daily goal yet. If so, I’ll bump up to account for that.

On the topic of my day job writing: my third journal publication, my first as the primary author, had its edits finalized and will be published later this year. Also coming this year is a text-book chapter I helped write.

With this post, I’m now at 936 words for day one.

Joined a Writing Group

•July 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Although I now live in a much less rural area than where I grew up, finding fellow writers no less like-minded people to discuss speculative fiction in person is a little difficult. I could barely contain myself last week when I stumbled upon a brand new writing group that not only  would be meeting in the next town over but also focused in specfic.

The first meeting will be tonight, and even though we’ll only be talking over our goals and organization, I feel that I’m already meeting one of my personal goals. The excitement of presenting my work to new people and the accountability of needing more work done by a deadline have led to more words to page and series of brainstorms that have knocked me off my feet.

I’m really looking forward to a good experience.

For those of you not aware of, you can use it to search for local groups of all kinds of interests, and I’d been keeping an eye out there for a while, which worked for me.

Broken Slate Release

•July 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m now officially the eBook assistant for Crossed Genres Publications. My first project was creating the eBook versions for Broken Slate by Kelly Jennings. Broken Slate was released yesterday through Amazon (print and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), and Smashwords (multiple electronic formats).

Big News

•June 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Big news day.

The long awaited new version of the website is up and running. You can find out more information at the official news post.

Today it was finally announced (here) that I will be the eBook assistant for Crossed Genres in addition to everything else.

If you’d like to talk to me about these new developments, anything publishing related or whatever comes to mind. I will be the on twitter tonight at 9pm EDT as @caseysays, where I will be the guest for #sffwrtchat.

May so far

•May 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s the end of another semester, and the undergraduate students have started clearing out of town, leaving a quieter, more peaceful place to live and more parking for the rest of us. Likewise, for 3 wonderful months, the campus gym will be lacking the swarm of people that normally fill it to capacity during the reasonable hours of the school year. Since my lab is 5 miles off campus, access is much more convenient during the off-season.

Today marked the first time in months my friends and I have been able to take advantage of the rock wall on campus together in months. I was fully expecting to have a little difficulty with the climbing. However, a healthy dose of house/yard work and foregoing most sweets has contributed to me having to pull up 10 pounds less than last time I’d gone. My belayer (friend holding the rope and my life in his hands) even noticed I was lighter.

So today, like yesterday, has been filled with a few ups and downs. May will be too busy of a month to keep undulating this much.

I started the month in the wee hours before bed, with good news that my offer to work with another publisher was accepted for a test run. I’ll keep the details to myself until things are a little more final. I’ll be sure to post more information as the project develops.

I spent the daytime of Sunday in the creating our new hanging garden and planting our veggies for the year as well as other yard work. Pros to having a big yard: plenty of room to play with the dogs. Cons: more grass to deal with when it gets to the point that mowing every week and a half is required for decency’s sake. Portions of the yard easily grow 2 inches in height in this time.

The highlight of the weekend was learning that my research article was accepted for publication. This is the first paper of mine to be published in which I am the lead author, so I’m pretty stoked about the whole thing.

However, I can’t rightly talk about big news of yesterday without touching upon the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. I will keep most of my opinions on this news to myself for now except to say it was a surreal and somber moment, which certainly dampened my joy. I came across two quotes so far that adequately sum up my feelings towards the overwhelming response to the announcement.

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.”–Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I merely hope that those people that have been most affected by the events of a decade ago will have some sense of solace which they can use in the ongoing struggle to overcome what had happened.

In the light of such things, the worst thing that happened to me today—receiving a rejection letter for the post-doctorial lab position at a dream job—doesn’t seem too bad. I’ve decided that I can take the optimist’s view of things. Things are going pretty well, and I have another chance to rewrite the grant proposal for the lost position.

Growing up

•March 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

I’d assume it’s safe to say that all people to have reached even an early stage of adulthood have had those moments in which they halt and recognize that they reached a point they equate with growing up. Or ‘getting old.’ I’ve been comfortable with getting old, so little things about age generally don’t phase me. I’ve been getting white hairs since high school, and as long as I have a decent amount of them hanging on, they could all turn at once for all I care.

What can come more unsuspected, however, are the moments of realizing that one has matured as a professional. Today, I had the surreal experience of sitting down with a scientist who’s been doing work for longer than I’ve been alive, and I realized she’s looking to me as an equal for advice in a new line of research. Even more, she’d read the article on my first graduate research project. No matter what kind of work you publish, the feeling of finding out a complete stranger has read your work is exhilarating.