Comparing AI Art Platforms

AI Comparative Analysis: MidJourney vs. Adobe Firefly

In the realm of digital art creation, artists are continually seeking innovative tools that enhance their creative processes. MidJourney and Adobe Firefly are two such AI tools that cater to the needs of digital artists, albeit with distinct approaches and features. This article aims to compare and contrast these platforms to help artists make informed decisions based on their specific requirements and preferences.

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NaNoWriMo 2023 Kickoff

November 1, 2023

The beginning has come, time to write and write and write some more! This year, I have made some goals to ensure that I am staying on track and on target. In addition to buckling down and focusing on the writing itself, I will be working to keep myself accountable to sticking to the daily milestones and targets that will lead to a successful book. The focus that we put into Preptober this year has built up some much-needed confidence to go after this target like I never have had before.

So to all of those who are participating this year in NaNoWriMo, I wish you all the best in staying focused and keeping the words flowing out onto the page. May your creativity shine and that we all reach our goals.

Preptober 2023 Final Report

And NOW, the end is near… With the final 2 days of Preptober coming to a close, and NaNoWriMo about to begin, where did we land? Are you Ready? Let’s check out our final Preptober details and then get ready to move into our full writing mode, or as close as we can get.

The leaves have started to change color and more fall as I contemplate the changes to come. They pile upon the ground as the words flow out of my mind and into the twisting avenues of my story world. We are making progress, I tell myself, and I can almost make myself believe it. Preptober led us to some interesting places, and we were able to get much of the prep work done ahead of our NaNoWriMo journey which will begin tomorrow.

The Progress

The work area has been prepared and a clean and clear desk is waiting to start the writing activities. We have updated Campfire with our story details and added in more of the world-building details to help shape the environment. Campfire is now linked with the NaNoWriMo portal and the project is ready to be tracked.

Our scene list spreadsheet has been updated and we have a map of where we want to go. Our characters are being shaped and molded by the milestone events that we have planned and we will spend most of the month figuring out the intricacies involved in shaping them into dynamic personalities that come alive off the page.

Being Creative

Leveraging the new AI concept generation for imagery, like MidJourney and other services, helps bring some words and ideas into a visual design. While this will not be material to our story development, it will help to continue to spark ideas for scenery and character design as I work through how to build the story around the rest of the world I envision.

Dark night in the forest
Following the night wisp

Let’s get started…

While I sit tonight waiting on entertainingly dressed families wandering through the neighborhood seeking free candy, I am excited to have some time to focus on the shaping of the story. The ideas are starting to flow and the excitement is building. Let the writing begin! Follow our progress and the story.

Preptober Week 2-4, 2023

Preptober 2023 Progress Week 2-4

The last several weeks have been very hectic with work and the writing schedule, so I am condensing the previous 3 weeks into a single update as we are working to close out Preptober. As I have stated before, I am expanding most of the work that has been completed to this point, focusing on shoring up my main character and working to better define support characters so that they fully enrich the story progression.

It just goes to illustrate that even when an idea is already in progress, there is always more we can do to help improve our writing process and the details of our stories.

Week 2:

  • Make a list of Research Topics

  • Visualize a breathtaking story setting

  • Start Developing your character

  • Brainstorm on how to get unstuck

  • Outline your Top Ten Scenes

  • Make plans to attend a Write-In

Week 2 has come to a close…

Closing out Week 2, I am considering what my ideal November writing experience would look like, this step is very important. Just with training for world-class athletes, visualizing how the process should flow and what to do when things are not in that ideal state helps you to find ways to overcome challenges and reach your Goals.

As for me, I have seen that the end of the year is hectic, work, kids’ events, and family obligations are always demanding time, so when would I write? In the past, I have tried to do this in the evenings, but the lack of motivation and the desire to stop making decisions does not make that time well spent. Moving it to first thing in the morning has some merit and may be part of the answer.

It essentially boils down to the ability to focus for a set amount of time. In short, I will be leveraging the Pomodoro technique and using some time during the day to nail out as much detail into the story as I can, using the off hours as a planning period or buffer if I am trying to complete an idea.

Week 3:

  • Make a List of Character Names

  • Visualize your Characters at 3 points in the story

  • Work on your Character’s Development Arc

  • Collect some inspirational prompts, images, and quotations

  • Expand you synopsis outline

  • Plan ways to get more time in November

Wrapping up Week 3, Some Thoughts

The end of Week 3, brings a lot of focus to your main characters. You have to have quite a bit of interest in your characters for them to develop well on the page, you must care about them in some way and essentially form a relationship with your invisible friend that no one else can imagine until you share your work.

With that said, part of what draws me to my main characters, is that I found myself curious to see how their pairing would evolve, the interactions, the dialogue. Strong personalities, I am very used to working with them, but putting those same patterns into the story form makes for an interesting writing experience, which I am hoping will translate well to the reader at the end.

Having such a duty-focused MC who is challenged constantly by his companion, helps them both to evolve their world perspectives. It forces me to consider many more aspects of the dynamic than is shown in the writing and has such a varied effect on how they make decisions and interact with those around them. To say I am fascinated would be quite an understatement.

Week 4:

  • Make a list of things you love in stories

  • Visualize an exciting plot twist

  • Create a rough timeline for your character

  • Ask a friend for a story dare

  • Outline your ending

  • Plan a writing routine and schedule

Do you feel ready, well, do ya?

As we draw near to the end of Preptober activities, I am left with the question, Am I Ready for this? I already know that I am not, though I do feel like I have a plan and a reasonable chance for success to close out this NaNoWriMo experience. What I have experienced in the past is the many varied ways that life can get in the way, not an excuse by any means. Its reality, there is always something that will need attention, and since this is not my only focus, there will be other demands on my very limited time.

I have put years into considering the aspects of my story world, how the different groups, ecosystems, and patterns will interact, and surprisingly that is not what concerns me about my story world. My concern lies in that I feel many authors rely on the external factors of the environment to push the story with a focus on many of the esoteric aspects of their creation. It is effective in many situations, however, I want my story to be able to stand alone without the need for those components, that they add flavor but are not the meat of the experience for my readers.

While I have planned and visualized different ways to ensure success, I know there will be challenges for me to agonize over, but at the same time… Why would I let that stop me?

Don’t be a stranger!

Hopefully, you are ready for your NaNoWriMo experience, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences as well!

Preptober Week 1

Preptober 2023 Progress Week 1

Something a little different:

This year my Preptober will take a different path than it has in previous years. I am not starting a new project during this period which feels a little off to me, though finishing an in-flight one is just as essential. Some of the normal milestones that I would typically be working through are already set, which alleviates part of the prep work, and with the time that is freed up, I will repurpose to expand and enhance the current project.

  • Announce Word Count Goal

    Going to stretch this year and aim for 60K words.

  • Genre Selection

    Decided that it was firmly in the realm of Science Fantasy, though definite leans towards the epic fantasy types.

  • Plot Formula

  • Chosen Story Idea

    Continuing on with the Mission Reports from Illium

  • Synopsis Written

  • POV is Set

With this week’s activities completed we will be moving more into the prep phase for the activity that is coming up in November, training if you will on how to handle the low motivation and writer’s block events that are sure to happen. Stay tuned!

Linville Caverns

Exploring Local Caves/Caverns

Adventure Series 2023

Have you ever experienced total darkness? Seen rocks that look like they have been melting for eons? Delved into the deep places of the earth to see what natural wonders exist beneath the surface on which we live? If not, you really should check out the many caves and caverns that are open to the public around the country. For our adventure series, we will kick off our experiences by taking our little ones on guided tools of several of our regional underground treasures. This was one of my favorite school trips when I was younger and it has always stuck with me, so getting to experience that wonder again through the eyes of my children really makes this worth the effort.

I know that many people may have an aversion to going underground, whether it is a mild case of claustrophobia or a general aversion to dark and potentially creature-filled places. That is understandable and this may not be an activity for you. For everyone else, I would challenge you to not have some fun wandering around and seeing the colorful and beautifully majestic scenery that you may find. 

From where we live we have a decent number of options available to us, and I have not been to most of the ones on my list so I am almost as excited as our girls are for this experience. 

  1. Linville Caverns, NC []
  2. Luray Caverns, VA []
  3. Forbidden Caverns, TN []
  4. Dixie’s Caverns,  VA []
  5. Bristol Caverns, TN []

While you should not expect to fight a Balrog during one of these excursions, you should keep a mind to safety, for yourself and the creatures that reside in the geological wonders.

Recommended Tips for your Excursion:

  • Dress for the temperatures, Going underground can get cold, even if it is hot outside, so dress appropriately. 
  • Leave no trace. What makes exploring these natural wonders routinely enjoyable for all is that they are kept as pristine as possible, meaning clean up after yourselves. Every little bit can add up over time so please do your part.
  • Don’t touch the walls, most guides will tell you the same advice, and many places have rules about it as well since the oils from our skin can impact the development of the caverns for years and decades in the future. Keeping your hands to yourself is imperative, even if that rock formation looks so smooth and soft you struggle with the impulse.
  • Remember that you are encroaching on other creatures’ homes, just as when you visit friends or family if there are things that the guides are asking you to do, please follow the instructions. For example, Bats in the area are highly susceptible to a fungus that causes white-nose syndrome (WNS), it is typically debilitating if not fatal for them. So when you are entering or leaving, you may be asked to clean your feet so as to not help the spread of the fungus spores. This will help protect the ecosystem, not just those tiny little bats hibernating deep in the caves.

New and exciting experiences tend to leave an impression on us and can shape many of our behaviors well into the future. As a parent, getting to share these adventures with my children and seeing their wonder and reactions to something I have long become accustomed to, makes me appreciate the novelness of the experience and I am only encouraged to do more with them.

Check out more of our ongoing adventures!

Adventure Series

The Adventure Series

Now that my children are getting to be of an age where we can start to do more active things outdoors, we have started to introduce them to all kinds of new experiences. While it is a learning curve for us as well, trying to remember the limitations that we started out with and how to address those, I have come up with a series of “Adventures” for us to embark upon. These adventures are geared towards sparking interest and love for the natural world around us and seeking out knowledge and experiences that can’t be found in the massive array of digital experience channels that many people get sucked into.

This series will outline some of the different adventures that we have taken and are planning to take throughout the year. After all, what better inspiration to fuel the development of a creative mind to see the wonders that nature has in abundance? Join us as we take this journey and share with us the adventures that you also are exploring.

You can find the evolving list of Adventures here!

2022 to 2023

2023 New Years Goals in Creativity

Goals are now set, we are getting ready to kick this year off in style and it is time to start working towards those first set of milestone targets. Ringing in the new year is always fun and I for one can say I don’t always make it to midnight. Still, the changing of the year is a time to celebrate both what has passed and what opportunities lay ahead.

Measuring Change

As a Developer, I have developed a fondness for data in all of its forms, from tracking the changes made, to tracking how far we have come on any and all aspects of a project. As an artist, I tend to leave that all by the wayside and try to take a “devil may care” attitude to my creative endeavors. This year I am changing that for two reasons:

  1. I want to actually make measurable progress and show visible improvement in my creative pursuits.
  2. I want to stop letting life and other things consume all of the free time I have that can be used to further number 1.

When I was defining the set of Goals that I wanted to work towards this year, I paid particular attention to how to measure the progress and what the end state of that goal would look like for 2023. As a byproduct of that focus, the goals that I have set are more concrete in definition and criteria for success, two things that have been very vague in the past, and I have worked to bring them closer to specifics.

Several of the Metrics I have settled on are:

  • Number of Occurrences during a set time period
  • Completion of a project during a set duration
  • Specific quantitative targets each quarter

Now, I know that seems vague and it can be when looking at it out of Context, which is why I am setting up a Goal Tracking page to help me keep track of each of the targets on my 2023 List.

Tracking Goals Visual Reports
Tracking Goal Progress

Tracking Goals Progress

As referenced above, progress will be posted on the Goal Tracking page and updated weekly or monthly as time allows. I have already set up a reminder to complete this task along with my regular review routines.

Why spend all of this effort to manage your goals?

I believe that for progress to be made, you need to know where you stand. Having a way to see where each of your efforts is at a given moment is extremely helpful in this regard. When I am unsure of where I need to prioritize my efforts, time, and energy I can look back here and see what needs to be addressed next.

Why am I putting it out on a public site?

One word, Accountability. While I am confident in my ability to make progress, adding the external layer of people that can be watching as well as positive pressure on the process makes it all more real to me.

Using Instagram and Etsy to get more content and products out there is already in the works so what is the harm in sharing more?

What success looks like…

It is easy to say that seeing all of my goals completed would be a measure of success, however, that seems too simplistic of a solution. I would consider myself successful in 2023 if I have made measurable progress toward my goals and see the requisite progress in my abilities and skills. I would expect that means that a significant number of the goals that are laid out would be completed, but that I would also be adjusting the list throughout the year to add more and adjust the vectors of the ones in flight to be conducive to my long-term plans.

The best place for me to be in a year is in a better position than I currently am. What am I willing to do and sacrifice to get there will be the deciding factor on where this leg of my journey will end up.

2022 to 2023

2022, A Year in Review

Each and every year, I sit down to do a final review of what happened and determine how I want to improve in the year to come. While I use this time to frame out some general goals, I do not hold any stock in New Year’s Resolutions, they are notoriously unreliable. This is a time of reflection, a chance to center yourself back onto the path you have been traveling, and should be taken with the seriousness that should entail. After all, we are all striving for something, moving from point A to B and figuring out all of the steps in between.

Previous Years:

What a Year, Let’s Review

This year has been very impactful for me, with the birth of our second child, significant changes in the professional arena, and also some remarkable strides in the development of my art. They say that one of the only constants in this world is change, and I have never heard anyone able to disprove that, so we must take that variability in life and circumstance into account for everything we do. The thought that anyone could ever become so complacent as to be comfortable is hard for me even to fathom.

The environment that we live in is too complex and dynamic with all of the different content sources and technologies working to grab and keep your attention it forces even the most stagnant of people to realize that change is constant all around us.

While I am sure you could choose to ignore it, which seems detrimental to your personal growth, the choice to lean into the changes and see what opportunities await is by far the more desirable choice. So it comes down to this, What are you going to choose to do?

Goal Time

2023 GOAL with notebook, black coffee cup and pen on wood table, Top view and copy space. Happy New Year, Resolution, To do list, Strategy and Plan concept

Personally, I am focusing my efforts in several different directions so as to take many small steps towards improvement in as a well-rounded approach as I can.

Starting with skill improvements, I am going to continue to develop my writing practices and abilities, improve my digital art skills and of course, use this as a medium to share my progress in all of those arenas.

Personal growth areas, finding new ways to connect with people is a goal of mine in the upcoming year, finding a way to deepen connections and work to further my cherished relationships.

I think almost everyone these days is looking to establish additional financial income streams and I am no different in that, so spending some additional time working on items/services to utilize will be a large focus item for me.

Shameless Plug: Check out the Etsy Store!

Faith has been a very important part of my life and deepening my understanding and keeping myself on the path will also get more focus in the upcoming year.

While I am sure there will be many more goals, large and small that organically develop throughout the upcoming year I will be working on these four main ones as a roadmap for my improvement activities.

Observations and Positive Intent

Most of the challenges this year have been external, though I can be sure that not all have started that way. Home repairs and maintenance are expected, the amount that we have had to do this year was excessive. We were fortunate enough to line up the work and get it all done, or at least all of the major items, and are now lined up for the next set of projects in the new year.

Personal creative efforts have been up and down this year. Sheer personal motivational challenges are where the fault lies here, I know that it is completely within my control to manage that part of the endeavor. All I can say to that is that I failed this year in this regard. I am going to strive to do better this upcoming year and am actively planning on how to improve my efforts in this regard, so I am marking where I am currently at this year and seeing what progressive milestones I can set for myself on a monthly basis.

Professionally, it seems that I have been slowly burning out with all that had been asked of me, so this recent change in role is going to be a time to reflect and improve on situations that I struggled with before. I feel the drive to be better and do better, which has not been this strong in years and I am excited for the new challenges ahead, even the political ones. No, I am really serious about that part.

I am typically an optimist at heart and lately I feel as if I have a cynical filter on the world. To that I am going to make a concerted effort to assume “positive intent” on the actions that I don’t have evidence of to the contrary, this is to not only lighten my personal outlook on the world, but hopefully also temper my responses that result.

Onward to 2023!

Making this another transformative year and working towards the goals I am setting for myself, leveraging the data and metrics to validate the progress as the year moved forward is what I am committing to, Time to Get Creative!

NaNoWriMo logo

National Novel Writing Month Kickoff

30 days …. What could you possibly do in thirty days? Quite a lot, it would seem. We have a goal of at least 50,000 words, which is about 1,667 words a day. It will take effort, it will take dedication and it will take resolve. The resolve to complete the task before you is what will carry you through. You have set your goals and prepared as best you can. Now it falls to each of you to go out and create the most amazing creative work that you can and have been dreaming about for some time.

NaNoWriMo logo
Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo

Motivational, no? I am spending the last of my Preptober time getting ready to go after this goal of mine and I am constantly trying to ensure that I have the drive to follow it through. I have completed some of these in the past and know that I could have done better. This year I want to end it with no regrets, that I have put forth the effort that I know I am able to bring to the project. There are challenges, since there are other very large projects that are taking up some of my attention, the daily goals alone seem quite daunting. That is all the more reason that I have to do this, to strive under the pressure to do more, be more. 

I challenge all of you to do the same, whether it is writing or some other creative pursuit, try to plan out behavior that you want to be more routine in your life and work on it consistently every day to make it better, to ingrain it into your routine. Strive to make it so effortless that you don’t even have to think about doing it. At that point, you have established a building block to create the long-lasting changes that you want to see in yourself.

Here we are, kicking off the month, I am starting off with quite a bit of prep work done and I still feel like it is not quite enough to be ready to continue writing all the way to the end goal, so there will be some additional leg work in between that will need to be addressed. I just hope that after this first week of November gets past and all of the stress of the other projects that I am beholden to will start to die down as we head toward the holiday season, and I will be able to keep more focus on the details of my story and hit my targets consistently. 

With all of that Let Us BEGIN!!! As I complete sections I will start posting excerpts on the project pages.