Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNo Nerves?

Just who here has the scoop on water anyway?


I awoke from a dream last night in which I overheard two voices arguing.  One saying in a voice dripping with scorn that the story didn't hold any water.  The other saying with belligerence that it did so and in fact it held enough for a pelican's suicide.

I woke up giggling.

The puns my mind makes in my dreams crack me up sometimes.

NaNo starts for me in less than six hours now and I haven't been back to sleep and that in spite of spending most of the night and morning feeling like I was coming down with the flu.  Maybe it was just a case of the nerves.  Tho it felt a lot like the mumps and mono rolled into one. And stomach flu too.

Even if it was just nerves it would behoove me to get some sleep before the midnight start.  A nap at least.  And then plan on laying down again as soon as I get my 1667 words.

As much as I'm loving Scrivener.  In concept anyway.  I don't think I've got enough familiarity with the features yet that the ap can fade into the background while I focus on the story.  I keep fiddling, fudging and fumbling my way around and I know that will interrupt the storydream state that I must maintain to write the story.  So for a few days at least I'm going to stick with Whiz and on days when I make my 1667 words in plenty of time I can move them over to Scrivener and keep fumbling my way around it until I am comfortable.

Time for a NaNo nap now.  And even if nerves keep me awake a few hours with the lights out and netbook lid closed (if not eyelids) while I daydream my story will be more helpful than all the frantic research, fiddling with aps and fretting.

BTW if you're a WriMo my username is joywrite.  Buddy me.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Serenity #251

My Kindle for PC Library
 showing the end of my Jane Austen and
the first of my L. Frank Baum collections
enlarge pic to read name of my collections and
the number in them on sidebar

In the last couple of weeks I've been invited onto three blog tours for newly released books to include giveaways.  They are to take place in December but I've received all of my copies already because I chose Kindle editions.

I'd known about Kindle for PC for nearly a year but never got around to downloading it until I decided to ask for Kindle editions of the review copies.  I chose digital copies for two reasons: my room is already overflowing with books and my eyes are rebelling at reading regular sized text--my reading speed has slipped below 20 pages an hour again.  I need size 14 to 16 font and very narrow line widths to be comfortable and maintain a speed that at least approaches normal talking speed.  In high school I read three times normal talking speed at nearly 1000wds per minute so it has really been a come down to have to slog through text at three minutes per page instead of two pages per minute.  I need the narrow lines because my vision radius is now so narrow I tend to get lost scanning from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.

The first of the review copies arrived in my email the day after the Dewey read-a-thon and since then I've downloaded over 100 free Kindle editions.  about 60% are classics or public domain, a few are free shorts or 1st book in series from established authors about to release a new book, a few are self published.

The ones I'm most excited about are probably the entire Jane Austen set, the entire L. Frank Baum set, War and Peace and a large collection of Myth/Fable/Fairytale anthologies.

I've never read any of Baum besides The Wizard Oz and one other whose title I can't remember.  Neither my school nor public library had more than that when I was a kid.

My Kindle for PC showing my Review Copy collection
on book isn't showing its cover.  Possibly because it
was an email download instead of an Amazon gift
The three giveaways I'll be hosting with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours in December:

Laughing Through Life by Connie Corcoran Wilson  December 8
Youth and Other Fictions by Jonathan M. Cook  December 14
Delayed Flight by John J. Smith  December 6 (tentative--will update this if it changes)

So here I show that book opened to its cover image

My Kindle PC showing my text size and line width and page height preferences
I set my prefs similarly on word processors as seen in Saturdays post re setting pref for Scrivener as I prep for NaNo
which BTW starts in 18 hours as I publish this very late Sunday post.  I slept from noon to five and then seven to midnight Sunday as I knew I needed to do something about the sleep deprivation before NaNo starts at midnight Monday night..  I started feeling like I might be coming down with something Sunday morning and am still feeling it and am going to panic if I have to start NaNo out sick.  So will probably sleep extra again today, Monday (its already 6am Monday tho the post stamp is set for 11:55pm Sunday.  I started working on it at 2am and got sidetracked by the third email containing a review copy.)

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scrivener for NaNo


I finally finished the interactive tutorial for my special NaNoWriMo edition of Scrivener, a trial version that lasts through December 7 even if you download it in October so it won't time out in the middle of Nano.  Now I have begun to set up my NaNo novel using the special NaNoWriMo template they provided.  Really its a bare bones novel template with a few tweaks like providing a template for Daily Target pages that have the counter pre-set at 1667 words.  And templates for Character and Setting forms with basic questions to fill in regarding each character and setting and their role in the story.

Above you see the whole work area with all three panes showing.  The pane on the left is the Binder where all the work and supporting files for you project are kept organized in an expanding tree.  In the middle is the work are and on the right is the Inspector where notes and other info associated with the page or folder you are working with are accessed.


Here you see the full screen option where you can blot out as much distraction as possible.  You can change the colors of the background, the page and the text.  I played around and set it all to shades of blue.  A bit of a nostalgia thing as I used dark blue on light blue for my preferences on my first computer--my Tandy 1000EX.  A long time ago. 1986.  Windows 3 I think.  You could still see the separate pixels.  We upgraded straight into Windows 95 in 96 and once I started using Word on that computer I stayed with the black on white that looked enough like a real piece of paper I began to feel like I was actually filling real pages and  that felt kinda good.

The background opacity can be adjusted from full transparent to full opaque.  I had it set there so it was too dark to see most of what was behind but I could still read the time on the analog clock gadget on my desktop.  I have also made my typing area quite narrow as my visual impairment requires I keep my focus on as small an area as possible when doing close work so I don't have to scan as my eyes tend to loose their way--like from the end of one line to the beginning of the other.

Zoom is also an option on full screen mode and with it I don't need the Window's magnifier as I do when working on the multiple paned work area whenever I'm using the side panes or the menu as the fonts on them are limited in size by the areas they inhabit.  Tho it does allow me to change fonts and I was able to find a more readable one, I didn't dare set it bigger than 12 and I need a minimum of 14 to read comfortably without the magnifier or putting my nose two inches from the screen.  But very few applications allow fonts bigger than 11 and tend to prefer 8 or 9 so I've been living with that for years and finding ways to adjust.  One of those ways is to just learn my way around the ap so well I don't need to read the labels anymore.  I can recognize them by their general shape and location on the list.


Here we see the corkboard view which is available for any page in the document that has sub-pages.  On the corkboard are visiblethe index cards representing each of the sub-pages in that 'folder'.  I put 'folder' in quotes because it isn't a folder like in the computer filing system which aren't documents themselves but only contain files which may be documents.  In this case all of the 'folders' and 'pages' are part of one single document held in the section called 'draft' which represents the whole project.  In this case the novel.  The idea is to break the big project down into chunks small enough to manage and work with them, rearrange them and finally collate them for export into a traditional word processor for the final edit as a single document.

In this way Scrivener works a bit like WhizFolders but with a much narrower focus and specific organizational capabilities targeted at writers.  And not just novel writers.  You can use the ones provided or create your own templates for any specific kind of writing from general NF, presentations, school essays and term papers, screenplays, poetry and and lyrics.  The templates provides for these already incorporate industry standard formatting in templates for many of these but you can also chose a blank template and start from scratch to create your own project.

 

This shot taken of the Interactive tutorial shows the corkboard view of a folder with several index cards representing the sub-pages and containing summaries of their content. You can drag and drop images onto these cards which comes in handy if you want to have an image representing your character or setting or some prop integral to the story. These cards can be moved around which changes their position in the binder tree.  This is one of the nice things about writing in chnnks when you aren't sure of the exact order you want things in yet.  That is why I've loved writing in WhizFolder for the last several years and its previous incarnation, WhizNote a for a few years before that. I have never gone back to regular word processors for rough draft work since I started using WhizNote in 2004.

I am actually questioning my motives for wanting Scrivener since I know how comfortable I already am in Whiz.  Whiz does most of what I really need--the ability to work in small chunks and rearrange them, the ability to have links to web pages, computer files and aps and the ability to collate and export.  What whiz doesn't have tho is the corkboard view, or the Inspector which allows you to have certain related info all visible at once. WhizNote had a feature that allowed me to create something similar to the corkboard by having each chunk open in separate windows that I could resize and spread out on a desktop that grew to accommodate them no matter how many or how big and I could scroll up, down, left and right to move from one chunk aka topic to another.  When they upgraded their software to WhizFolder they left that option behind.  I continued to use it on my XP for the very beginnings of projects but it doesn't support Windows 7.  Nor would I want to give up the many things Whiz does now it didn't then: active links, images and RTF text.

So why do I want Scrivener?  Cause it's pretty?

Well, yes.  It is pretty.

But I'm thinking it just might help with the issue I've had for the last several NaNos.  Every one I've 'won' in fact.  I made such a mess of my novel file in Whiz during each NaNo I seldom go back to look at them.  I have a feeling that, since I've already created Whiz NaNo 2011 and started the prep work in it, I will continue doing the prep and the roughest of the rough notes and musings in Whiz but when I have something resembling a scene I can move it into Scrivener where I can use the corkboard view and the Scrivening view (which gives you a view of a collated selection that you can read and work on inside a single window) and where I can go to full screen to shut out the world--but especially the mess--while writing a scene.







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Friday, October 28, 2011

Facebook friend tally is associated with differences in brain structure | Science | The Guardian


cotton candy pics on Sodahead


Facebook friend tally is associated with differences in brain structure | Science | The Guardian:

'via Blog this'


I suspect there are problems with this study--small sample, self selected, so forth--but it intuitively rings true for me as I always suspected the parts of my brain to do with social skills might have the density of cotton candy.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

How Do You Burn Boiled Hot Dogs?

Here ai halps u kleenz up teh burnd wunz u kin fanks meh lattr kthxbai


By forgetting to put water in the pan.

Ed fixed hot dogs for us after he got home from work tonight and the combination of fatigue and being anxious to get back on his RPG game City of Heroes where his star player had hit level 50 just before he signed off to head to work this afternoon was his excuse.

My excuse for not being in there to catch his mistake or maybe fixing them myself?  He had just woken me up and I was still fumble fingered enough I probably would have dropped the pan full of hot water and burned Merlin, our cat who thinks he's a puppy dog and keeps some part of his fur in contact with my leg at all times or nearly dies trying.  Or worse, I might have forgotten to light the gas and burned worse the the hot dogs.

I was still asleep when Ed got home because I did not lay down this afternoon until just as he was leaving for work.  About eight hours past my ideal bedtime for the schedule I'm trying to keep.

I was up eight hours past my bedtime because just as I was wrapping things up to lay down this morning I saw a tweet on the #nanowrimo at Twitter that Scrivener was offering a special free trial edition of their story writing software for NaNo participants that would not time out until December 7 even if you download it in October. Which gives you plenty of tie to export and backup in other formats before you loose access to your work if you don't intend to buy.

But that wasn't all.  For all NaNo participants there would be a 20% discount off the regular price and for all NaNo winners there would be a %50 discount.  WOW.

But I still wasn't going to click on the link because I'd been drooling over Scrivener for years but knew it was an Apple only product.  Then my eye fell on another tweet about it and this tweeter claimed to be using Windows.  So I did click the link and ended up downloading and playing with it for the next several hours.  I am still working my way through the interactive tutorial that came with it.  As soon as I finish that I will use the special NaNo template also included in this special NaNo download to set up my NaNo novel project.

I just love software for writers.  Some better than others but just the fact that lovers of writing are involved in designing their dream applications for making their writing life efficient, productive and creative means that every one of them has something special going for it.  I mix and match those special features to create my own dream machine that I wish I had the know how to create.  Instead I mix and match the uses of the aps.  Using one for one point in the process and another for the next and maybe back to the first or on to a third.

In a few days I hope to have screenshots of my NaNo novel in Scrivener for Windows.  Meanwhile you can see some cool ones at Scrivener.

Apparently the Windows version is still in beta and isn't featured anywhere on the site except the page for the WriMos to download their special editions.

Ah, I just found this statement on the WriMos special edtion page:

Note to Windows users: At the time of writing, Scrivener for Windows isn't on sale yet, so the version for download here is a special pre-release version. Scrivener for Windows will be available for purchase on 31st October, though, so there will be plenty of time for you to use the 20% discount. 
I was expecting that discount to be all but meaningless to me as most writing software packages are well over $100 so even a %50 discount would not likely put it in range for me.  But I learned that their regular price is $45 for the Mac version and $40 for the Windows so that is very close to in range for me without the discount at this time of year when Ed is working full time.  But oh WOW if I make my 50K I can keep my edition for $20?  Woot.  I'm motivated now!

The one glaring thing on my wish list not yet included in Scrivener is a good interactive timeline and genealogical chart creator for creating the family trees of the characters and syncing them with the timeline of the plot and synching them with historical and current events from reality with those of the fictional world.  That is a dream I've had for over a decade and really I've yet to find program doing that.  At least not the ones I've been able to get free trials with.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chaos Manager

My Hard Drives are Filling Up
Chaos Manager:

'via Blog this'

I have begun to tackle a huge, looming, intimidating problem.  Taming the chaos in my computer files on both the netbook drive and the external drive that was once my laptop drive.  The old laptop drive will provide me with 37G of backup space once I get the stuff off of it that I want to salvage and reformat it.

I began that task today and while I was wading through the files on the ex-laptop drive I came across my Chaos Manager 2 program and files.  I was once so dependent on this I don't know what took me so long to get it figured out if/ho wot use it on the netbook and if/how to have all the data transferred from the laptop drive to the netbook drive in usable format.

I figured it out. And am so pleased with that development I'm not too disappointed that I made so little progress wading through the files deleting only 1G and salvaging three applications, a dozen or so files and several zip folders that were Ed's that can now be transferred to his laptop.

Below are a few screenshots of Chaos Manager.  It is freeware and so simple to use.  Will run on a thumb.  Can synch between computers (that's new with the update I just downloaded) it also has a pocket pc version.  It has a nice calender and calculator which I have really missed.
Chaos Manager 2 Calender
But what I missed the most was the quick way to drop links and short snippets of text I find while browsing--yes, WhizFolders does this too but Chaos Manager has a much smaller footprint and its quicker.  I used to put stuff in Chaos for later trasfer to Whiz when I had time to give thought to the best Whiz folder and topic for it.  I would also use the  notebook for pasting stuff I wished to rid of incompatible formatting so I could take the plain text into whatever text editing platform without having to clean up a mess.
Chaos Manager 2 Notebook with RTF
One of the great things about the notebook is that it automatically recognizes links and makes them active.  I used to use it for that a lot before I had Whiz and I still haven't rescued some of those links off Chaos and put them in my Whiz Web Map.

I also use the notebook for HTML tip sheets and I'm pleased to find those again.  I was having vague memories of having those code snippets available for quick copy/paste but could not place where.  That's probably because I have more in Word or Notepad text files on the laptop drive.

Chaos Manager 2 Transparent

Chaos Manager 2 has a setting that makes it go trasparent when not the focus.  It also comes packaged with skins so you can have your favorite color scheme.

I highly recommend this freeware ap.  I have loved it since 2004.  Before my laptop BTW.  I just remembered I had to go through transferring it from the PC to my new laptop in late 2005.  How did that slip my mind?  That would have alleviated the anxiety over getting it all transferred to the netbook and I'd probably have got it done the same time I transferred my other priority files.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

StoryWeaver--Storymind--NaNoWriMo

StoryWeaver Story Development Software
Yikes I forgot I still needed to post for Tuesday.  Sooooo much going on.  Reading for Bout of Books thon.  Prepping my NaNoWriMo Novel, Organizing and bringing up to date my to do lists and alerts.  Electronic file organizing and physical workstation organizing.  Email writing, reading and inbox organizing--oh man did I let that mess build up again. It went over 1K again. *blush*  I have really GOT to stop using my inbox as a to do list.  Stuff gets lost.

Well I'm working on it.

So OK the biggest news of the last 24 hours probably is the fact that I now have a rough draft--a very rough draft--of a synopsis for my NaNoWriMo novel and am now fairly confident I have chosen the right story.

I credit the story development software demo that I downloaded and tried out for that  Image at top is of the ap window superimposed over its website so you can also see the names of other pages on that site in its sidebars.

I have been exploring this site and reading the free writing tips essays and watching the free video lessons for nearly two years now.  Maybe more than that.  Am not placing my earliest memory of visiting the site but I know it was after I got me laptop in 2005 and before it died in 2009.

I find the story philosophy of the minds behind StoryWeaver and Dramatica (also found on storymind.com) to be very compatible with my own.  I found them articulating what I already understood better than I could myself. I'd been telling people for a long time now that I thought in story and to be more precise I thought in moving images that compose stories.  I always felt that my experience of that must be unique or rare or something because I have so much difficulty expressing myself in ways others can comprehend in regular dialog.  Conversation is very difficult for me.  And in spite of how fluent I seem with words they don't come as easy as it looks.  I struggle to translate the images I am seeing in my mind and am so seldom satisfied that I'm doing so well.

I have objective proof that my thoughts are being mistranslated by me when I get feedback in the form of statements like: stay on subject; what has that got to do with it?; that's apples and oranges; and on an on.

Most communication via words seems to require linear thinking and I find that very hard to maintain.  I can't think in a straight line.  My thoughts branch off in the manner of fractals and five seconds after I start a sentence what I'm seeing in my mind looks like a Mandelbrot Set and my tongue tangles up on its branches.

specifications and history of this gif at Wikipedea Commons


The very first time I saw images of the Mandelbrot Set I was stunned and immediately recognized the very thing I'd been trying to describe to the few who had the patience to listen: That's what it looks like inside my head when I'm trying to explain something or tell a story.

What I understand the creators of StoryWeaver and Dramatica to be saying is that the underlying structure of hour mind is a story maker and everybody 'thinks in stories'.  I'm not quoting directly here just paraphrasing my own understanding of the philosophy behind their popular products.

I've often been teased, and only half in fun, that I have to write a 1000 page novel to answer the simplest question.

So.  Umm.  I very seldom as in never offer up something from my creative writing that is raw rough draft but in order to show what StoryWeaver helped me do in 1 HOUR!  I will make this one exception.  What the heck.  Today I'm living dangerously:

Before I opened the demo the concept I had was: Lucy, a teen experiencing bullying at school and unplugged in parents at home.  I knew that there was going to be a trauma tending toward tragedy involved. I knew its title was A Trick of Light and that light was a theme and operative metaphor hence Lucy's name.  At the end of an hour after completing a sequence of 7 exercises I had this:


a Trick of Light
Lucy a teen struggles with bullying at school and in cyber space and at home with the sense of abandonment by her two clueless parents each lost in another world--her dad is lost in role playing video games and her mother in endless hours of video watching.  She herself is keeps life at bay by looking at it with the screen of a digital camer or computer as she takes pictures, films and then edits her work on the computer.
[here i was asked to drop 3 random words and then make meaning from them in the story.  My words were: light altered cheese]
Lucy Bright with her video/photo taking and editing skills learns to recognize the cheesy componants of soe modern culture media as well as the cheesiness of most people's  stance toward their own lives.  First she learns to alter her own work with her editing skills and then apply it to her life.   Those around her are then affected by her new behaviors and the ripple effect . Maybe she takes candid photos and videos of friends, family and others and amplifies the cheesy in order to show them themselves.  The logo she creates to represent her work is of a knife reflecting bright flashes of light carving a brick of cheese into something meaningful--maybe a likenes of herself?
ok you've set a scene but what happens? there are no plot points or events. nobody wants to sit and watch a bunch of people sitting and watching screens with light flickering on their faces the only thing moving
at first Lucy was compliant at home and at school.  at home she is the one who runs the household.  she fetches food and videos for her mother and picks up her dad's dirty socks and dishes.  she watches videos with her mother and plays video games with her dad.
but then her own work takes center stage and she pulls back.  she refuses to bring her mother food or play games with her Dad on weekdays.
at school her surrepticious video and picture taking catch kids and faculty in the act of doing things that showcase their hypocrysy or their cruelty, their shallowness or their snobbiness
in the act of  filming an altercation between a gang of bullies and their victimshe is discovered.  maybe this outs her as the one repsonsible for putting videos and pictures like this online.  or maybe the violent response of the bullies--they destroy her camera?--motivates her to start putting the pics and vids online and promoting them til they go viril
at home her new attitude upset her parents who suddenly start to use the parental authority card but she won't have none of that now.  she flat out accuses them of not only not being her parent but of being her children and she plays a video representing several years of their homelife that prooves her point
at school she is suspended when evidence of what she put online comes to light.  the injustice of her one of the vicims of the bullies being the one punished and not the bullies in spite of the evidence on film infuriates her and she retaliates by creating a video featuring the behavior of the faculty in response to bullying or being bullies themselves.
i.e. scenes showing two teachers casually talking in the doorway of a classroom while a viscious altercation between the bullies and a vicim takes place at the end of the hall.  it is obious by the way the two adults stop talking briefly and glance at the scene that they have seen but they do not intervene.  many more such come to mind
she emails this video to every school board member, the school superintendent and the local newspaper and tv station

Apologies for the mess.  That is warts and all.  All typos and misspellings intact.  Nor did I fix the formatting differences between the application and Blogger platform.

So that is my NaNoWriMo novel for 2011.

The one thing I learned in the process that was the biggest surprise to me and thus possibly game changing was that avoiding the analytical does not protect creativity but rather is the key to breaking writer's block.  I fight hard to keep my critic in check as I'm writing rough drafts and I had been making the mistake of confusing all anylitical thinking with the editor harpies that sit on my shoulder.  But that random word exercise that combined right brained playfulness with left brained analysis opened my eyes to the power of allowing those two to feed off each other and amplify each other.

I have one dissatisfaction with StoryWeaver and it isn't with its function but with its editing software.  It gives no options for changing fonts or font size and the default size looks like 8 to me. And when I apply the Windows magnifying function for accessibility the font does not lend itself well to magnification with its mixture of think and thin lines. With my visual impairment I can't even read what I'm writing as I write.

I'm trying to decide if this would be a deal breaker as my husband is suggesting the full version as my birthday present which is November 13.  The part of me that argues that maybe not being able to see what I'm typing as I type might be a good thing faces off with the part that feel stressed by the limitations and threatens avoidance tactics if forced to use it. Good thing?  Keeps me from constantly backspacing to fix typos.  Similarly it is a good thing the red lines identifying misspellings are  not available.

The demo has nearly full functionality: the only thing it won't do is allow me to save my work so when I have to do a restart--real soon now--I'll loose my entries unless i either print them or copy/paste them over to my WhizFolder note ap where I've written my NaNo novels since my first NaNo.  Well back then I used WhizNote and have gone through several upgrades.

BTW A Trick of Light is, so far, not connected in any way with my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld.  I won't promise that will hold to the end of November as I keep breaking that promise.  Maybe by not making the promise I can actually keep it.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Oh No She Didn't!

Bout of Book Read-a-Thon

Oh yeah!  I just signed up for another read-a-thon!

Bout of Books runs all week from midnight this morning to midnight next Sunday night.  That's 23 hours before NaNo begins for me.  And I got lots of prep stuff left to do for my NaNo novel.

So why?  What has got into me?

Reading that's what.

For one thing, though I don't intend to stop altogether, my reading will slow down in November and probably not pick up again until January.  Writing will have to move to front in November and Xmas gifts take second place to that.  Then the holidays themselves.

So why not go out with a blast?

Besides I have several unfished novels sitting here that I simply hate the thought of still hanging over me as NaNo begins.

Also its not like part of the challenge for this thon is reading around the clock like Dewey's was this past weekend.  For this one it is read whatever you can whenever you can and participate in the reading community via blogs, twitter, fb, good reads etc.  There are challenge and prizes for this one too of course.

Part of the motivation for me is that I just pulled out of a reading slump in September that began during Nano last year.  That was the longest reading slump of my life and so totally mystified me.  I credit all the reading community things I participated in in the last two months for that: BBAW, BBW, and all the challenges you see in the side bar to your right.  Because of them I've read more in the last 8 weeks than in the previous 8 months combined.

So, the books I hope to finish this week?  The list is similar to the one I made for Wonderfully Wicked and Dewey thon because I only managed to finish one off those lists--Breaking Dawn.  So for now the list includes the unfinished novels only, books I had to set aside because of commitments or library due dates:

The Child Thief by Bron
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (I also need to get my review for this written and posted this week if I want to be included in the Wordshaker bookclub for which I sent for this book from the library for in the first place.
East of Eden
And several fairy tale/fable/myth anthologies

Oh, and my review copy for Youth and Other Fictions by Jonathan M. Cook which I'll begin with tonight because I'm slated to join its blog tour with a review and giveaway in early October.  Watch for the announcement.

Youth and Other Fictions is billed as a literary YA thriller.  Set in a highs school the story is witnessed through two character's eyes.  One of them a student and the other a teacher.  I've already read ten percent and I can't be certain yet but it looks like it is headed toward a major school tragedy preceded by months or years of adult apathy regarding a severe bullying problem at the school.

I was hesitant to accept this commitment coming at this time and not because of the NaNo commitment coming up next Tuesday and the following 30 days but because my planned NaNo novel also deals with a bullying problem in a high school and it is my first YA attempt.  The risk of this possibly being too close to my own concept had me anxious that I would either 1) allow my own work to be too influenced or 2) allow myself to be too intimidated by another author's work so that I second guess myself.  Or both.  But I decided to trust myself.

I'd been immersing myself in YA novels, movies and TV series set in high school for several months now  but have started to taper off and planned to quit completely half a week before November 1.  My purpose was to soak of the ambiance and drag up submerged memories and emotions to infuse my story in November but once I seriously begin the writing I probably need to switch my own reading and watching fare to a genre as different as possible from what I'm trying to do.

I don't know exactly how much time I will get to devote to reading put it will be at least several hours per day.

That's all I'm putting in the list for now but that doesn't mean I'm limiting myself to the list.  There will be a little bit of go with the flow. Because of visual impairment I am a slow reader and I like chunky books and books that make me stop and savor words like chocolates with mystery flavor centers.  So I'm not into keeping a tally of number of books or pages read/finished.  Instead I will occasionally tweet about what I have been reading and what its impact on me is.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Serenity #250 Drums & Read-a-Thons







Nothing like drums to keep you awake and turning the pages to the beat. Oh and these drums! Sublime.

Drats but I had this draft prepped and meant to add a line or two regarding the thons and post it in the final hours of Dewey's thon as a wake up and hang in there offering.  ah well

Dewey's has been over for an hour and a half already and i'm still awake.  Maybe i should pick up the next book and keep reading for Wonderfully Wicked until the next nap attack hits.  when it does I won't fight it and will probably sleep 12hrs so I may not get the sleep out of my eyes in time this evening to do anymore reading for WW.

UPDATE 9PM That's a wrap for WW.  I managed another thirty minutes this morning after Dewey thon and another hour or so this evening.  All those minutes scattered across more titles than I care to list here.  Part of it was in prepping library books to go back and browsing in the unfinished ones with no little regret..  My main accomplishment for both thons was to finish Breaking Dawn begun as WW started and finished as Dewey ended.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Brain on Books IX

<-- click the pic to learn about the Read-a-thon







I am reading for Script Frenzy and NaNoWriMo today as I am currently participating in my third Script Frenzy and have done NaNo 7 times. I don't have a sponsor but I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. If you would like to sponsor me the link above takes you to the page that tells you how. My Script Frenzy username is joywrite


This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones.
I may be posting some updates on Twitter and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Also mini-challenges.   Be sure to scroll to bottom of this post for advice on how to ward off those scary nap attacks. You won't be sorry.


5AM -- The end of thon meme:
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  2pm Pacific or the hour preceding it for I suffered a 2hr nap attack shortly after 2.  But I'd already been awake 20 hours at that point.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? The Night Circus.  The Child Thief.  Geek Love.  The River Why.  The Tiger's Wife.  
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? no
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I liked the variety of personality and the high energy of those manning the hub.
  5. How many books did you read? one.  and I'd already reached the halfway point before this thon's kickoff having started it for the other thon Thursday night.  but i read nearly 400p plus participated in several minichallenges checked out some blogs and followed the twitter and fb conversation and stuck in my 2 cents a few times.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Breaking Dawn
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? see above and below in the update previous to this one
  8. Which did you enjoy least? ditto
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? NA
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? very.  reader of course but I'm thinking i'd like to cheer again.  was wishing today I'd signed up


4:44AM --  I finished Breaking Dawn with minutes to spare.  753pages since late Thursday evening when I joined the Wonderfully Wicked read-a-thon that is to last thru Sunday night.  That is the first time in a long long time I've read a 700 plus page book in regular print in under a week.  but i wish now that I had set BD aside as the Dewey thon began and switched to large print, audio, or ebook and been willing as I have before to include variety.  One of my best thon experiences was the 2008 October one which I dedicated to short stories and updated with a mini review of ea story I finished.

I knew better and yet I allowed myself to set an obstinate focus on finishing BD.  I don't quite understand why other than that I was just determined to put that saga behind me.  It has been one of the most frustrating reads I've ever experienced.  My expectations had been raised by the glowing reverence two of YA nieces have for the series and I had quite enjoyed the movies, the first two of which I saw long before reading the books.  This was one of those rare times when the movie was better by a huge margin than the book when the book came first.  I still working at trying to figure out why.  It is the storyteller in me that is curious about this and can't let it rest.

I'd been aware of the controversy surrounding the saga and faintly amused by the jibes each side took on the other online over the last several years.  But I'd been confident that any story that had become that much of an enchantment for that many must have something going for it.  But by the time I was half way through Twilight I was already fighting the sense of disappointment and from that point on the analysis of the story and my experience of it accompanied my reading.  I had lost the immersion into the story and its world and could not get it back.  And yet I could not stop turning the pages or stop thinking about it when I wasn't.

I'm still cogitating on it all and don't have a clear reasoned explanation for my reaction. But I'm fairly certain that a part of the explanation lies in wordiness and redundancy.  I think what got published was still of the caliber of a rough draft with lots of potential but still very rough.  There were plot elements dropped on you suddenly without enough foreshadowing and that always yanks one out of the dream.  And well before the end of Twilight I'd started to be uber irritated with Bella and her voice and never did loose that irritation.  And since her voice was not so dominant in the movies that has to be one of the reasons why the movies did not irritate while reading did.

At this point I can say I was irritated but still can't say why to my satisfaction.  I think as I continue to puzzle on this it will be of great value to me as a fiction writer.  The storyteller in me needs to figure out just where and how Stephanie Meyer when wrong and where and how she went right.  And yes I do still believe there was much right about it else how to explain why I kept turning the pages.

well this musing thing probably doesn't belong in a thon update.  It's more the kind of thing my review rough drafts start out as.  I should move all but the first paragraph or two over to my note ap.  But I'm too tired to care and the easiest way to preserve it now is to just update this


1AM Sunday -- am so sorry I stopped updating.  I was focused on reading from 10AM to 2PM and then I was planning an update but I had to stretch a kink out of my back and neck before I dragged the netbook onto my lap and I made the mistake of laying down to do that instead of getting up and walking about.  And of course at 2pm I was 20 hours awake already so that was a BIG mistake.

After I woke I was disgusted with myself and disappointed that I was still so far from finishing Breaking Dawn.  I had so hoped to be done or very near done before 5AM Saturday so I could go on to other books for this thon.  I should have known better than to expect to finish a 750 page regular print book in less than two days.  It has been years since I have done so yet I continue to see myself as someone who does that.  It was something i was known for once upon a time. And not for a thon either but during regular school or work week schedules.

so when my husband woke me up by bringing me the haul of finger foods he'd promised me at 4 I determined at that moment to not open the netbook until I'd finished BD.  At 10pm I had 140 odd pages left but my pace was slowing and by midnight I'd only halfed that.  a 30pph pace or less.  My eyes were in flat out rebellion.  so i finally relented and allowed myself to get on the web to check out the happening on the two thons.  to fb and tweet and update this.   and now I'm going to return to BD and finish.  I'm still hoping to get to pick up another book for that last hour or so or maybe I'll spend what's left doing a challenge or cheering on whoever's still going those last couple of hourse


9:44AM -- I actually haven't been reading since 4AM when I stopped to put up this post.  After that I started doing challenges for both the Dewey and the Wonderfully Wicked thons.  Here is a Book Puzzle for the challenge hosted @ One Librarian's Book Reviews The challenge is to represent a book title graphically.


Anyone have a guess?

I think I'm going to return to reading as soon as I post my link for this at the challenge post.


5:22AM -- The intro meme questions:

1)Where are you reading from today?
Phoenix, OR USA
2)Three random facts about me…
  • I'm trying to teach myself to play drums with just the sticks and every available surface with an interesting sound
  • I'm trying to learn to use social networking as a promotional tool both of which concepts are totally foreign to me--social networking and promotion esp self promotion.  Any tips?
  • i like nightmares
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
I have 4 floating like cream at the top of a large variety of fiction, NF, large print, audio and ebooks to choose from as the whim strikes.  I listed them in the 5am opening below.

4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
My only goal is to enjoy. And in light of that to go with the flow.

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
  • don't forget to get up and move every once in awhile
  • don't forget to eat and drink. dehydration plays havoc with vision and concentration
  • have a variety of reading material to choose from in a variety of formats to accommodate moods and fatigue and eyestrain issues.


5AM -- and so it begins.  I've already been awake for 11 hours since that's where my sleep schedule has been lately.  I'd hoped to take a nap before 5 but when I passed 1am still not sleepy I gave up on that afraid I'd just wake up groggy and useless for an hour or more.

I've also been participating in another thon starting Thursday evening and lasting through Sunday night--Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon..  Twitter #WWReadathon.

So I started Book 4 of the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn Thursday night and in spite of many hours of reading since I just now passed the halfway point. The end of the Jacob POV section.  I had three more books in my TBR for the two thons but now I'm rather wondering if I'll even finish this one.  But if I do the one I'll pick up next will be one of these:

The Child Thief by Bron
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I had started all three at some point since late September and set them aside for various urgencies.  Like library due dates.








Fighting pose

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: Read-a-Thons!

WWRAT
Hosts: Bex @ Kindle Fever and
April @ My Shelf Confessions
This is my opening post for Wonderfully Wicked and the place where comments from other participants will be appreciated.  I may duck in here to update occasionally but mostly I'll do so on Twitter #WWReadathon and on Joystory's Facebook fanpage

Tomorrow I'll have my traditional Dewey 24hr read-a-thon post which I always call My Brain on Books and which is updated like a blog within a blog.  But will continue to update for both thons via fb and twitter.

That's right, I'm participating in two read-a-thons this weekend. The Wonderfully Wicked thon began last evening at 9pm for me (midnight east coast time) and lasts until midnight Sunday night.. A little less than 24 hours from now as I type this line Dewey's 24hr Read-a-Thon begins for me.

I didn't actually get to start reading until shortly after midnight as my husband got home from his swing shift early and I waited until he was asleep to begin as I'm seeing so little of him already and it is only going to be less and less as the season wears on.  He works on the shipping docks of a major mail order gift company in the Rogue Valley

So.  I had spent the last ten days frantically reading books due at the library Monday actually keeping one two days past due to finish it.  I have more library due dates pressing down on me but I decided to ignore that pressure and return to the Twilight Saga for the final book.  I began the first book about thee weeks ago and read the first three back to back before I had to take a pause or loose my chance to read The Night Circus and The Tiger's Wife for months.  The four Twilight books don't have that problem since they are on loan from my niece.  But I am determined to finish with them soon in order to return them to her.  I was shocked to realize last month that it was nearly two years ago that she handed them over to me.

Earlier this week I ordered from the library and watched back to back inside of two days all three of the Twilight movies now out on DVD.  I'd seen the first two before but not Eclipse.  This is one of those rare occasions when I like the movies better than the books.  I may try to analyse why when I do my reviews for the books which I am planning to do as a set and not individually.

My tentative reading plans for this weekend:

Finish Twilight's Breaking Dawn
Finish The Child Thief by Brom a library book set aside last week when I discovered it would renew afterall while two others would not and had very long queues.
Finish A Prayer for Owen Meany begun for an online book club, The Word Shakers
Get as far as I can in East of Eden which I began during Banned Book Week

I may take breaks from the novels to dip into the mythology/fable/fairytale collections I've got checked out of the library.  I began a major binge on them in September and wish to return to them.

But it's all tentative as I said.  I've got 40 items out of the library another dozen or two loaned to me by my niece, several more that belong to my sisters and a couple of hundred books I own that seem to sit on the shelves neglected as borrowed books rotate in and out faster than an owl's blink.  I also have a growing library of ebooks and audio books on my netbook.  This weekend is all about going with the flow--reading what I want when I want without apology.  Due dates will not figure in my choice.  I will follow my bliss.

I've been devouring fiction both reading and watching videos for over a month now.  It was calculated as part of the prep for NaNowriMo in part. To feast on story until it oozes out of my pores. To bathe in words and images until I'm drowning in them.  But this weekend probably marks the end of the binge.

Next week I need to get very serious about prepping my notes and file for my own NaNo novel and begin to disengage myself from the voices and dreams of other writers to focus on my own.  It's not that I intend to stop reading altogether during NaNo but it will have to defer to the writing which gets my prime attention and time for the duration.  And the the holidays are upon us and another trip to my Mom's in Longview in January for her 80th birthday.  So you see why the thons are important to me this weekend.


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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why I Write: A Celebration of the National Day on Writing - National Writing Project

Worldscribe
thanx to earthunderheaven on flikr
Why I Write: A Celebration of the National Day on Writing - National Writing Project:

'via Blog this'

Why I Write

I write because otherwise
the words would collect in my throat
like moss in the shade choking off hope
and the stories that bloom from the soil of my soul would wither and rot their roots with despair. So

I write because it is the only way I know
to tell you who I am.
I write to spark wonder and bask in its glow.
I write in order to not feel alone.
I write because my life depends on it.I write in order to understand.
I write to discover what I know.
I write in order to empty my mind
I write because to write is to feel whole.

I write because story is my joy.
And Life IS story.

Join in on Twitter with hashtag  #whyiwrite
and'or post on facebook why do you write?

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flavorwire » Pic of the Day: A House Made Entirely of Vintage Books

Flavorwire » Pic of the Day: A House Made Entirely of Vintage Books:
'via Blog this'




I would like to have a writing space just like this.  To be enclosed by the soul of books and present for the spirit of story.  Not being able to open them might be a frustration but also a benefit as the temptation to distract and intimidate myself with another's words would be eliminated.  And frustration can be channeled into the writing giving its energy to the storytelling.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Arielle Ford: The Golden Age of Authors: Why Books Are Alive and Well

print for sale @ art.com
Arielle Ford: The Golden Age of Authors: Why Books Are Alive and Well:

'via Blog this'

The stats are in:
Americans, young and old, are reading actively in all print and digital formats
This makes a great follow up to yesterday's post regarding the, to my mind misguided, war between Amazon.com and similar online platforms for publishing and distribution of print media and the old vanguard of big publishing houses and big bookstore chains.

The truth is showing up in the numbers but why isn't it just plain intuitive that if you have more of something available in more formats more people will use it?  And if you have formats that can reach billions in seconds isn't it obvious more appetites will be whetted and sated?

One of the really amazing things about the web is the way those with similar tastes can find each other and in their digital fellowship know exactly how to provide the very thing that answers to their fellow fan's craving.

Once maybe a new author or artist needed the echelon of professional editors and promoters the big publishing houses provided because the tools required to do it well were expensive and often individually too large for the family garage let alone the family room.  Now all of those same tools and techniques are available to anyone from the fourteen year old Junior High geek to the frumpy granny in gingham.  All of them together fitting in junior's backpack or granny's handbag.  As long as they have web access, curiosity and the willingness to learn they can avail themselves of all the same techniques the old bastion used to generate hype and create desires only they could fulfill.

The difference being that for them the cost of such promotion was so prohibitive they could only do it for a few and in order to profit had to create huge mass audiences for their fair.  Not so for granny and junior. They can start reaping profit with only a few thousand fans/customers and yet if persistent can go on to create the tidal wave of want known as going viral that can put them on the map.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Amazon Rewrites the Rules of Book Publishing - NYTimes.com

iz jus selfpub mai mimwar, Naps, Noms and Nyan Nights.  soon i haz moar cheezeburgers dan ai kin eet in 10 lives.  what ai do wif xtras?


Amazon Rewrites the Rules of Book Publishing - NYTimes.com:

'via Blog this'


What Penguin did to Kiana Davenport as told in this article is proof of the lack of imagination and flexibility the old print industry has and those are what will bring it down not the existence of Amazon.com or any other forum that eliminates middlemen from between author and reader.

By canceling Davenport's contract for her upcoming novel due out next year because she used one of the well known, well tested self promoting techniques of publishing online some of her unpublished short stories and threatening to force her via legal action to return her $20K advance, Penguin has shot itself in the foot. Not only have they lost what even they must have thought was a potentially profitable relationship with a new author for this first and any following novels but the publicity of this case will likely lose them many future new authors if not many current ones.

I've been thinking for some time now that self-publish is the way to go for me. And the more I read about the arrogance of the big house publishers and their paranoia regarding the web, their elitist exclusivity, the difficulty breaking in--the no agent no submission acceptance/no publish credits no agent catch 22) the hit or miss promotional efforts for new authors and so forth, the more I am convinced I will have to get over my reluctance to self promote and just do it.

I've been holding back partly because of the stigma of the so called vanity press from the days before the web and electronic publishing.  But I'm beginning to see that as another artifact of the past.

I've also been holding back most of my best work off my blog and other web presences for fear of scaring off publishers and agents as I'd heard they frowned on that and would refuse to publish stuff previously published online.

It is my prediction that these old print publishing houses are going to find themselves unable to satisfy the readers and writers coming of age in this decade who have no memories of before electronic publishing and the web and will have no patience with waiting months for responses to submitted manuscripts and years to see an accepted one actually in print. And it will be there own fault not the fault of those with the vision to foresee the potential of the new technology and do something with it.

Whether publisher or bookstore I have no patience with those who see Amazon.com and their like as their enemy. I'm tempted to blame the age of those in the decision making positions for this tunnel vision but none of them can be more than half a decade older than me and even this ol fuddy duddy can imagine ways in which they could mutually profit so why can't they?

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Serenity #249

iz habbin a   fun wif string day


I spent the afternoon taking an inventory of my thread and putting together kits for several projects I'm about to start for the holidays.  I also looked at patterns and new stitches I want to learn.  And I did a little bit of crocheting as well.

My inventory showed me I am dangerously low on: Kelly Green, Frosty Green, Orange, Brown, Navy, and Burgundy in size 10 cotton.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Buttons and Bows



I was trying to get this set of bows finished for yesterday's 'I Love Yarn Day' post but had to go another way.  They are pictured here with the set of flowers I finished and posted pictures of last Sunday but since then I rummaged through my Mom's vintage buttons and found a set of pearl like buttons to set in their centers.

The bows are made from a rectangle about the size of the smaller bookmarks I've made--4"X1"-- which is then slip stitched end to end to form a ring that is folded with the seam on center of back and then the center is pinched together and something wrapped around it.  I chose to use two short chains wrapped around and slip stitched to the back.

I made these patterns up as I went based on a number of pictures I'd seen.  The blue one was my first and took me two days of experimenting to get right to my satisfaction.  I then wrote out the pattern and started to follow it exactly but as I reached the end of row 1 decided to mix it up by making each one different.  Three of them--the blue, lilac and yellow are each some variation of fillet alternating with HDC and SC rows.  The coral is rows of bobbles and the pale pink is two rounds of a version of the shell--2XDC + 2CH + 2XDC in single stich then CH 2 and skip 2 stitches.

One of the tricks I learned by accident when I discovered I'd made the blue one too short and then decided to add an extension by adding a row of quadruple crochet on the end before slip stitching to the other end.  When I then centered that quadruple row on the back and pinched it together I found the bow to be less bulky and easier to bind with the wrapped chain. So I made the rest too short with the QC row on purpose.

Both the bows and the flowers are made with Aunt Lydia's bamboo size 10.  I've placed the crochet hook on the right and the marble on the left as indicators of size.  The flowers might cover a 50 cent piece but I didn't have one to test that theory.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

I Love Yarn Day



In honor of I Love Yarn Day I thought I'd repost all the LOLcats I captioned over the last several years that featured yarn or string.

This exercise is also good for keeping me distracted from fretting and busy without too much thought as I await news on my sister who had surgery today.

And maybe it will entertain my sisters as Jamie recuperates in her room later this evening.

Did ya eveh looz trak a time?  Forget to eat?  Forget to sleep?
why puts me n kitteh hevenz
she no take me srsly
so it tru der such a ting  as 2 much a gud thing
so Mr Red Soot waz welcom gest... ...well dis embarassin.
u not jus b strinin  meh along i hopes
Tangled Yarnz!1!  it b mai birfday?
u haz nuf projex dis wun myn now k? thx
ai haz a ball
i b makn kissmiss pwezantz
well doan ax 4 mai halp den
dis mi fabrit ball cz it nebur getz lost cz i followz itz trayel wayrebur it goz
why u mad ai fine ur mistake ai fixd it
Invizbul yarn attak
Purrfesor Furgus demunstrates Entanglement Theory


dis no mess iz purreznt i b dun n tiem i purromiss
u can haz teh pot o gowld  i keeps teh raynbow. k?
Purrrrpul!!1! mai           faborit fanku fanku fanku
dis hear iz ower raynbo watsit u makes ur owin
Gotsa go  ketch u laterz

Good news.  Jamie is awake and talking.  There was some fear earlier that a trach might become necessary again due to swelling but that threat seems to have passed.

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