The latter half of July finds me with a new laptop, another HP Pavilion, which is lighter than the old one, and more importantly, runs much less hot; no more lugging that huge, 6-inch cooling fan pad around! The new machine also has more RAM, always a boon to those working with powerful 3D modeling/animation/graphics programs. The cons? WINDOWS 8.1. U.G.H.. While it only took a few minutes for me to learn the ins and outs of the new OS, I find it to be a tremendous nuisance; every time I'm working near the margins that silly column of icons flies out. There's probably a way to disable it but I'm too lazy after having to download and customize all that software to go hunting for it. The long and the short of it is that despite this machine's being easier to work with (and yes, I could reconfigure Windows 8.1 to look like Windows 7) I still like my heavy old workhorse better; it's outperformed Dell, Apple, and Toshiba (not to mention a geriatric IBM), and I give kudos to HP for this, despite the fact that their printers are not my favorite peripherals (ink-greedy).
This having said, I won't even go into what it took me to update the near-dozen Adobe programs I'm running; at the same time I "upgraded" to 8.1 Adobe decided to revamp its CC software (which is the online-only step above CS 6 versions) to CC 2014, which converted all my legit copies to trial-only versions...there went another 2.5 hours down the drain, chatting with the thank-God-helpful Adobe tech. Anyway...new computer, big deal, it's cool now, I'm cool now.
Since the release of all three versions of The Shadow-Dogs Journeys, work has continued sporadically on Collin O'Daurc, and DOPS VI (Nightingale). I've also done something I normally don't do, which is start on the D6 illustrations! Usually, I have to be pinned down and threatened in order to get me to draw anything, but this time I actually dove right in with a frontpiece of Kanga (who is "the Nightingale" introduced in D5). This was followed by a double-page spread of the captain's quarters of the Claire du Monde, with Abel and Baron; and a bonzer-fine crib it is, too! Then came the title page spread, which for the first time shows the top two DOPS "power duos", Cass & Lawrie/Abel & Baron, together. And, the Claire herself fills the page, behind Baron. This is one of the "really big things" to happen in the series so far, as it of course brings the Cass/Abel storylines together, and they thereafter continue for the rest of the series as an interwoven braid rather than two parallel but separate storylines.
Abel, Lawrie and Cass in Cormorant Atoll
(Baron, who's on the left, is on the other page, which isn't visible in this inset. This detail of the right-hand page of the title spread also give you a glimpse of the Claire du Lac logo on Abel's uniform, which insignia and slogan--"Celebrate & Set Sail" in French--also appears on the bows of all the Claire liners. A tiny bit of the Claire herself is visible as what appears to be a white building behind and above Abel on the left border.)
Readers have asked about character developments, and what happens to whom, and if there will be more major characters introduced; that last part I can't answer, since I've not gone beyond a rough synopsis for D7 and D8. I can't tell you the major things, because that would entail huge spoilers, but I can reveal or elaborate on the "minor" things, since most readers have already begun to note the changes.
Ramon, as everyone has no doubt realized, has become a more important figure than originally planned, as has Caupoc; Caupoc is at least as important as the Calderons (Evito & Tia), and Ramon even more so. (Caupoc's name is, by the way, pronounced "CHAH-puk".) However, in D6 you don't hear as much about Coco or Tumac, though Marisco figures as prominently now as Ramon, whose sidekick he becomes as unlikely as that seems. Marisco has been an interesting one to "flesh out", as he always seemed rather 2D to me, and it's been a challenge to "un-flatten" him and make him seem real. Which brings me to remark that Baron as a major character came out of nowhere; as far as I was concerned, as recently as the end of D4 he was just a leg-in-a-cistern (when he wasn't scaring the wee out of Gus at the beach). Well, THAT sure changed, eh what? He's catapulted to the front row, so to speak, and is now as important as Abel, Cass and Lawrie!
Another character who's already been introduced but morphs later into a major player is Dr. John Birdee, the fiery Mohawk doc who can't resist piling into Lawrie every chance he gets. And, two important secondary characters who have yet to be introduced in person though I believe I've already referred to them (somewhere)--my guess is they'll become permanent in D7 though I'm not sure--are Marcus and Slate, an electrician and his apprentice who also turns out to be a talented welder/sculptor. Also, the Lawrie clan figures in the rest of the series, as does everybody's un-favorite pirate, Pilea. For other interesting folks like Auguste des Anges ("the Squire"), Pastor Musty and Captain Benjamin Silver ("Cap'n Ben") we can only wait and see. However, as you would imagine, Heidi and Lou Saperstein continue to appear as important "tertiary" characters (folks like Cato, Jon, Mario and Gus being "secondary" characters), and as the kids grow up, so do they, since adult-style tribulations loom...
So, that's the very latest in DOPS news, and as always, thanks for your interest and support, and God bless 'til the next time!