Monday, May 30, 2011

Comment Posting Issues???

If anyone else is having commenting issues, try switching your comment settings from embedded to pop-up.  Blogs using pop up comments seem to be unaffected.

I heard somewhere that resetting your widgets to default might help as well but I haven't tried that.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Amazon Mechanical Turks

I somehow stumbled onto a mention of an Amazon program called Mechanical Turks. Sometimes companies need work done that they don't have the resources or personnel for. They outsource these little jobs to Amazon and Amazon pays you to do them, then takes a 10% cut. (You can get cash in $10 increments deposited into your checking account, or Amazon gift card credits for as little as $1) The higher paying work seems to be mostly outsourced transcription. I always thought that I would like to be a transcriptionist, so I tried it out. WOW is it hard. I had no idea how many uhs, ums, ya knows, and likes, Americans use in their speech. Plus, it's really hard to listen to a sentence and then transcribe it when it's sprinkled with enough non-word placeholders to double the word count. Did you also realize that people don't actually speak in whole sentences? Every thought is strung together by, and then um, so it's like, and that is... It took me hours to do a fifteen minute phone conversation. 

Honestly, I only looked into this because it seemed like a neat way to make a little cash while sitting at home on my computer, but I would need to be pretty hard pressed for cash to do this again ($7 is not worth 4 hours work). I did, however, learn an INVALUABLE lesson about the way people speak.  I think it's going to be interesting to see how this experience effects my writing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I went to a Seether concert last night. It was super awesome. I was in the very first row, center stage. During "Fine Again" the guy next to us proposed to his girlfriend, and at the end of the show John Humphrey's threw his drum sticks into the crowd and my husband caught one. Very cool night.

Less cool, I had to work at 6am. So I only got about 3 hours of sleep and there was not enough time to wash off my makeup. Normally I wear very little makeup at work. It seems like a wasted effort. When I go to concerts however, I get decked out; centimeter thick catty eyeliner, red eyeshadow, glitter on my eyelashes. I work in a gas station so I was expecting comments from customers. What I wasn't expecting was a sweet little old lady to give me a copy of "Awake" titled: The Truth About the Occult. Evidently, the JW church believes that watching movies and reading books with supernatural themes causes you to become susceptible to demons. Demons also, evidently go after those who use Ouija boards and/or check their horoscope in the Newspaper.

Seriously? People actually believe this?

I'm an atheist so I don't believe in demons at all but I understand why people believe in God. I get it, even if I don't share their views. Sometimes I wish that I could believe in a loving and benevolent universe. But thinking that demons are lurking about, waiting to tempt you over to the dark side if you go to see a twilight movie... is preposterous. IMHO.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Strengths and Weaknesses

For me, some parts of writing come much harder than others. Dialog, for instance, comes very easily, while subplots are the bane of my existence.

I overcome my trouble with subplots by looking over my outline and asking myself, "What else could go wrong?" for every scene. The best of the "what-elses" are the ones that add the most tension, have the most far reaching consequences, and tie back into the main plot most successfully. Those are the ones that make it into the rough draft.

As simple as it sounds, it took a lot of hair pulling to come up with that system and subplots still don't come easily to me.

 Reader Question: What are your strengths and weaknesses? What ways have you found  to overcome or work around your weaknesses?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Best of the Best - Writing Websites, Writing Books, Writer's Tools

One day I decided I wanted to write a book. I've read a lot of books. I've written a lot of essays, but I didn't have the first clue about how to create a my own novel length work. The first thing I did was google "How to write a novel". This approach led me down a circuitous path. Every time I learned something new that clicked on my metaphorical light bulb, I discovered new sets of questions. For every amazing website I found, there were ten stinkers. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of every tool that I found useful, it's a good place to start.


Richard Harlan's Writing Tips - This is a very hefty website. It gives advice on everything an aspiring writer could want to know. The author in question is very witty and I found the entire website engaging. This author is based out of Australia so unless you're an Aussie some of the region specific publishing information might be skipable.

Simon Haynes Writing Tips - This is another good site for beginning writers. It touches briefly on every subject that a beginning writer could need. He's also a programmer with several VERY useful tools for plotting and drafting.

J. A. Konrath's Writing Tips - This is one I'm sure most people reading this post will have already seen. It's very witty and informative. It contains much more information about marketing than any of the other websites I've listed. This is definitely the best website for what to do after you've published your novel.

Jim Butcher's Writing Tips - This one is my favorite, hands down. I actually printed the whole blog. Every post. It's a fun and fascinating look into the process and every post has meaningful content. This was the blog that really clicked it for me. This was the one where I stopped reading about how to write and started writing.


"On Writing"  by Stephen King - Fascinating book but not extraordinarily useful.

"The Elements of Style" by William Strunk - Every how-to-write book and blog cites this little book as one of its sources. While full of useful content, it is EXTREMELY dry.

"Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure" by James Scott Bell - I have mixed feelings on this one. I found it very motivational but I also thought it could have been more succinct.

"Writing Fiction: Step by Step" by Josip Novakovich - This one is my favorite. It is a little dry and it reads like a text book but it also has exercises at the end of each chapter. I found it to be very useful practice.

"HTML for Dummies" - This was instrumental in setting up my website.  It allowed me to save a bundle of cash since I didn't need to pay someone else to do it for me. It will be equally helpful when my novel is ready to be formatted for the kindle, as kindle formatting uses HTML.

"The Bedford Handbook" - I'm pretty sure this is standard reading for college comp classes. This book has every single grammar and punctuation rule in the English language, even the really obscure ones. It is an invaluable tool. Used bookstores should have older copies at a large discount.

Freeware Tools

yWriter - One of Simon Haynes programs. It's very useful for organizing outlines, and plotting.

Google Docs - This program allows you to edit your manuscript from anywhere you have access to your email. I frequently use it to write quick scenes while I'm at work and then transfer it to my rough draft once I get home.

iGoogle - Let's me see my email inbox, my rss feed, post to my blog, edit my google docs, and keep track of my daily to-do list... all from the same page.

WinSCP - Freeware program that lets me keep my website updated.

I don't like floundering. I find indecision frustrating. I like to weigh all of my options, make a logical decision, and work towards a clearly defined goal. These are the websites and products that helped me figure out where to start.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Philosophies for a Peaceful Life Part 2

*Don't hate your job*

Let's play a game of pretend. My name is John and I hate my job. I wake up at 6am and I dread going to work. I eat my breakfast, take my shower, and brush my teeth while simultaneously wishing that I could catch strep throat so I would have a valid reason to stay home. I get in my car and spend an hour in rush hour traffic wishing that a semi-truck would t-bone my SUV so I can call off. I get to work and spend 4 hours staring at the clock willing it to be lunch time. When noon finally arrives, I breathe a sigh of relief then start dreading the end of my lunch hour. By 5pm I'm so exhausted from my long day of loathing that I don't have the energy to be grateful that I'm finally going home. As soon as I walk in the door to my house I start dreading work the next day. Yes, John's life sucks, but here's the secret. This is pretty much everyone's life. So leave your work at work. Every hour you spend dreading going to work is another hour you're miserable. You are working to finance your playing, so try to enjoy every leisure moment available to you. If you expended as much effort trying to LIKE your job as you do hating it, it would be like going to the circus everyday.

*Never Complain*

No one likes listening to others whine. I would go even further with this. Not only should you not complain to others, you should also stop complaining to yourself. It is difficult to be pleasant company while you're annoyed. No one ever died wishing they'd spent more time bitching.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Make goals with me!

The lack of any organization to my life frequently leaves me with no concrete way to measure my writing progress. This month I'm going to set myself milestones to work towards. So here are my...

*Goals for May*

  •    Keep my word counts at 14-21k a week ((80k for the month))
  •    Finish the first draft of Out of the Shadows
  •    Finish the outline for Echoes of Death
  •    Start editing Out of the Shadows in 5k chunks... to be completed in June.
  •    Organize my writing space and my writing bag.
  •    Do at least one thing to reach each of these goals every single day.