Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm All Worded Out


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNo Writing Buddies

jus letz meh sits onit...datll wurk
d art uv wrytng whyl u sweeps let meh shoz u cownt dez wurdz ai darz u
funny pictures of cats with captions

Less than 24 hours to feed my words into the verifier.


Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
This week, after the NaNo finish, I will be busy finishing up the reading of and prepping reviews for the three virtual book tours. that I will be participating in in December  And in each one I'm honored to be offering a giveaway of an ebook copy of the book. 

The drawings are open internationally.  The dates of the tour for each are listed below above each book's  cover.  The links in the image captions take you to the book's page and the author's web page.

Mark your calenders and join the tours.

 December 6
Delayed Flight
by John J. Smith
They were childhood sweethearts.  Then a father's command command separated them.  20 years later they meet in an airport awaiting their delayed flights.

Laughing Through Life
by Connie C. Wilson
Personal essays ala Erma Bombeck.

December 14
Youth and Other Fiction
by Jonathan M. Cook
The first half is a lead up to a terrible school shooting  in the POV of the  shooter.  The n the story jumps ahead some years as the shooter's best friend returns as a teacher.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Serenity #255

The First Stitch by Francis Day
I got a brief visit from my mom and sister today.  They were traveling through Phoenix on their way back to Longview from Gerber CA where my Mom grew up and where they spent Thanksgiving.  I wish my camera had batteries and I could have gotten a pic of the three of us for this post.  Instead I went looking on for images to reflect family, mothers, sisters etc.  Found a bunch and tried to pick just one but I couldn't choose among these three.

The sewing theme was major during our visit as I shared with them several of the new crochet projects I've started since I was there last summer.

I will be going up New Year's weekend to celebrate Mom's 80th birthday on January 3 with my family.
Sister by Karen Tribett

Young Mother Sewing by Mary Cassatt
I just adore Mary Cassatt's art!!.  I used to have a poster of one of her Mother and infant portraits.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Starting To Look Doable

Iz gunna mayk it  ai fink so

Four more days of NaNo and I'm at 42288 which leaves me 7700 or so to go or 1900--well closer to 2000 word days.  Doable but I'm so ready for this to be over.

As for quality? UGH. I had to change my font to white on a white background so I couldn't look and be tempted to constantly backspace and second guess.

Pardon me if my posts are little more than LOLcats or YouTube over the next several days.  Unless i get batteries for the camera so I can post pics of the crochet.    My point is more pics less words here so more words there.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Calibre--ebook Library Manager. Free!

Every since I got the Kindle for PC I've been going crazy downloading free ebooks.  If I'd limited myself to Kindle format only I might have been OK with the managing system on the Kindle ap but I started collecting from other sites than Amazon and in other formats.  The formats included TXT, HTML  PDF and  EPUB but I had a problem with EPUB in that my computer had no application able to open the files and there were books I could find only in EPUB format and besides downloading an EPUB was a matter of seconds to have the book on my computer and ready to read whereas there was issues with all of the other formats.  

TXT format was OK as I could read in any text ap.  My preference being Whiz of course.  I would always copy/paste the text out of Notepad into a WhizFolder document which I could turn into a hyperlinked file with a table of contents and have plenty of space to make my own notes.  But that was time consuming and I had to hunt down the metadata myself if I wanted it--bookcovers, author, title, publisher, tags, etc.

HTML limited me to reading online unless I wanted to copy/paste the text into Whiz.  But HTML books were split up into chapters and thus there could be anywhere from 5 to 50 separate open-copy-paste-fix format issues tasks to get the whole book.  I did this for the complete plays of Shakespeare and for Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and both took me hours.  It was worth it as I enjoy reading and annotating ebooks in Whiz but the tedious chore that was had me hesitant to do it very often.  

PDF is nice in many ways but it won't allow me to word wrap to a narrow column which is essential for me for faster reading as due to my lack of peripheral vision my eyes tend to get lost traversing back to the beginning of the next line when those lines are longer than five words.

One of the things I discovered the week I started reading in the Kindle for PC was the by enlarging the font and narrowing the line I could more than double my current reading speed with tree books of regular font for which my speed has fallen to 20 pages an hour at my peak before eyestrain drops it even further.  On the very first day with the Kindle for PC I found myself reading forvan hour without noticing any eyestrain and when I checked how far I read I found it to be 25% of a 255 page book.  Which works out to 63 pages.  

It has been over 15 years since I averaged above 60 pages an hour.  Ten years ago I was at 50.  20 years ago at 60 to 70.  In highschool and through my early to mid 20s I pushed 100 pages an hour for most fiction.  It has been very frustrating to loose the speed and the ability to read for long hours without eyestrain.  Reading on the computer screen has given that back to me.  That is probably why I found myself spending more and more time on the computer and reading news and blogs online.

So when I encountered a EPUB I couldn't get in other formats I decided it was time to figure out what I needed on my computer in order to read EPUB documents.  A quick Google search brought me to Calibre.

Not only could it open EPUB documents in its viewer it could convert them to the Kindle format, PDF, HTML, and many others.  And if that wasn't enough it can manage a large ebook library, sync with reader of your choice, and download news from around the world.

All of that and it is FREE!

Here's a few of my free ebook sources:


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Me, senior year high school, November. This was a senior Home Ec project in which I prepared a whole Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd. My teacher came to evaluate. We combined the event with a housewarming as we had just moved here in September and with a church potluck as the construction at the church precluded it being held there. The potluck part was desserts and salads and beverages. It looks so serene but there was a frantic fuss below my feet as a busted pipe was flooding the basement where several long tables had been set up for the expected crowd.

Mom made the outfit I'm wearing for an 11th grade project in Colonial American History in which my cousin's 2 yr old Sarah dressed in a nearly identical outfit joined me in demonstrating children's interactive nursery rhymes from the era.  There was also a big white sunbonnet to go with both or our outfits.

And yes, for those of you who have seen this over there, I totally cribbed this from what I wrote in my Facebook album.  Was just too beat to try to say it all again fresh.  We just got home from our family Thanksgiving get together and since festivities began at 2pm I had to get up at 11:30 after only three hours of sleep. (Ed's swingshift messes with my sleep schedule) I woke with a headache, had to jump right into getting ready to go without my zone over coffee while waiting for my Focus taabs to kick in hour.  Then a major social occasion in a crowded poorly lit (for my RP eyes) room.  My nerves are as frayed as the first several feet of that thread I've been practicing hairpin lace work with.

Arrgh that sounded whiny.  And ungrateful.  In spite of everything I listed above I enjoyed myself, enjoyed the visits with my niece, nephew (the one who lived with us his last two years of high school in the late 90s) and grand nephew (9 years old and another reader in the family).  The food was excellent and I am grateful to all of the cooks and grocery shoppers and kitchen cleaners.  None of which I contributed to--the shopping and clean up because of my eyesight (lack thereof) and the food mostly because I don't have my own kitchen and my MIL's kitchen is not organized or lit to accommodate my eyes.  Ed shopped for and made his savory bread pudding which has been a hit at every family thing for five or six years now so we didn't just mooch off the rest of the family.

Well I need to either get busy with something (NaNo novel, review book reading, Xmas crocheting) or better yet just crash and get a good sleep before starting fresh in the morning.  Sleep is the best cure for the whiny whether it manifests in a 50 week or 50 year old.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

United States of Tara

Well I just discovered another TV series to binge on.  I've had Season 1 of The United States of Tara in my Netflix DVD queue for a year and finally sent for them.

I watched all eight 20+ minute episodes on disc 1 today.  I was blown away.  It was difficult not to put in disc 2 but I had to be firm with myself as I discovered I can't crochet while watching this.  I can't take my eyes off the screen for two reasons--there is too much info in facial expression and body language and they talk too fast for me to catch everything so I have to have the captions on.

I did  a little research before starting this post and discovered the series has already had its finale. Apparently this Showtime original Emmy winning hit series lasted only three seasons.

I put it in my Netflix queue because I've liked John Corbin ever since he played the DJ in Northern Exposure.  He plays the husband of Tara who has multiple personalities.  They are parents of two teens and live a fairly sterotypical suburban middle class lifestyle--except for Tara's inner menagerie that is.  And though I am still entralled by John Corbin, it is Toni Collete as Tara who keeps my eyes glued to the TV.  The talent she displays in portraying multiple fully embodied characters is astounding.  But she could not WOW us with the acting if the writing wasn't astonishing.

When I saw Stephen Spielberg's name in the title credits on the second or third episode I was at first surprised as this isn't the kind of thing I'd associated with him but surprise morphed instantly into 'Ah, no wonder it's so good.'  I do believe if i'd known of his involvement it wouldn't have taken me a year to send for the discs.

Two of Tara's alers--the teenage T and the dude Buck--have potty mouths.  As does Tara's own teenaged daughter.  It is difficult for me to listen when the languages get nasty. I still have a bit of tthe sensibility of the fundamentalist I once was--my inner Alice.  Alice is a Tara alter who is an uptight, prissy 50's style housewife (shades of Brie from Desperate Housewives) and in one of the mother/daughter encounters between Alice and Tara's daughter Alice literally washed the girl's mouth out with soap, slapping a palm full of restroom dispensor liquid soap into her mouth.  I was both horrified and applauding.

With two more discs at home and a forth one on the way I'm going to be seeing a lot of Tara over the next several days.  But I will also be rationing it to those times I can't crochet like over my wake-up coffee while I wait for my eyes and brain to focus and my motor skills to return and after a few hours of crochet or typing when my eyes and motor skills have gone on strike.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Measure of Blues

eyz mayzureen mai bluz *sigh* dey Rz wyd nd deep

So, that pretty cruise blue bamboo hairpin lace project pictured in yesterday's post?  All gone baby.

I got it off the loom and worked one whole side of the loops crocheting together bunches of four and got a quarter of the way up the second side when I realized two things:  the apparent mess was not apparent, it was not going to smooth out and tighten up and look like this once both sides were finished; and I had half a layer of thread on the tube--not enough to finish the side.

I think what happened was that I missestimated the width between the poles on the loom and set them half an inch too wide which made the loops too big to be filled by the called for eight stitches so the whole thing looked loose and sloppy.

I considered taking out the double crochet and going back over the loops with fewer and smaller stitches purposely making a lacier look but two things bothered me about that: I didn't have a pattern for a different stitch and I'm too new at this to improvise; and I was daunted by the thought of sorting out those loops again once I'd removed the stitches.  

After discussing it with Ed I was inclined to agree with his observation that I could probably remake the loops faster than I could sort them out.  Picture 3/4 inch loops sticking out of every stitch on both sides of a strip of single crochet and that's about what you have when you remove the strips from the loom.  It resembles a pole dancer's boa.

So when I returned to my workstation (urm bed) I took one more brief look at the mess and then picked up the nearly empty cardboard tube and started winding the thread off the strip back onto the tube while watching a video taking care not to watch what I was doing so I wouldn't feel too sad.

Hours and hours and hours of work down the tubes  Or rather, back on the tube while my eyes were glued to the boob tube.  Chalk it up to learning I guess.

Speaking of learning: I'm ready to admit that the learning curve for hairpin lace is too steep for me to expect to get proficient enough quick enough to do any of the larger sized projects I had in mind for Xmas and Bday gifts in the next couple of months.  If only I could have bought the loom and started practicing when I first started drooling over the images of hairpin lace on the crochet sites and blogs.  Want to see what I saw?  Try this: Google images: hairpin lace


Monday, November 21, 2011

Two Newest Crochet Tricks in My Bag

My first hairpin lace still on the loom

Watching the video tutorials yesterday cured my confusion.  I can now cast on and make the loops.  I still have to learn the various ways to connect the strips to make the stunning patterns I've see that motivated me to learn how.

And I'm still clumsy and slow.  May have to rethink one or both of the Xmas gift concepts.  Do only one or choose smaller projects.

Outline squares stitch--the newest trick in my trick bag.

And, tho I just learned hairpin casting and looping yesterday, I've even a newer trick in my fiber arts trick bag--the outline squares stitch.  This was from one of the cards in the Harmony Guides 101 stitches to crochet which I got for Xmas last year.

I almost didn't try it because it requires fastening off at the end of each row and starting the new row above the beginning of the previous row.  This means tails at each end of every row.  But I was fascinated by the bold look of the stitch in the photo and I reminded myself that the baby afghan required a tail at each end of each row as well because I had changed colors every row.

I am so glad I went ahead and gave it a try as I learn several new things by learning this stitch pattern:

  • to work the back loop only and how that affects the look of the fabric
  • to work right to left only and how that affects the look of the fabric
  • to  work a connected quad--that's the stitch forming the vertical lines of the outline square and is worked by inserting hook in the front loop of the four stitches below the row you are working YO each time and keeping the loops on the hook and then taking them off two at a time as in a quadruple stitch.

I was going to get a pic of the back side but my batteries didn't hold out.  I actually got only one shot with both projects in it and then cropped it twice so as to have separated images.

Working the rows right to left only and never turning creates a fabric that does not have the corrugated look of regular crochet.  Working back loop only creates a distinctive pattern on each side.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Serenity #254 Hairpin Lace Crochet

I've spent most of the day watching crochet tutorial vids on YouTube. I went there primarily to find one for hairpin lace as that is my latest interest in the realm of crochet.

 I've been reading patterns and looking at pictures all over the web for several months and a week ago I finally got my hairpin loom. I spent hours yesterday trying to figure it out from the pictures and instructions on a couple of different blogs and kept ending up with a mess. 

 So I went looking for videos and found a bunch. Several of them quite good. It was very helpful to see each step worked in motion. 

 I now have enough loops on my loom to make a bookmark of six to eight inches. But that is a guess so I'm going to add enough to insure eight to ten inches for the finished bookmark. 

 The bookmark is the practice project. I have two Xmas gift projects in mind that use hairpin lace as their foundation. 

 Meanwhile I learned two knew crochet stitches on the videos today. Rather one new one and a refresher of the other. I first learned broomstick lace in my late teens when taking a highschool home ec class. I made three afghans for that class--a broomstick lace, a shell stitch and a double crochet with two strands of yarn.

I was noting that some of the hairpin pattern steps looked a lot like the broomstick lace concept when I first got interested in hairpin last summer.  I've been meaning to refresh my memory of the broomstick lace technique and now I have. Now I need a large knitting needle to sub as a miniature broomstick as I work mostly in lace weight thread. 

The other new stitch I learned today was the Catherine Wheel and i can't wait to try it out.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Inner Tiger is On the Loose

oh noes may innur tygar haz gotz owt

It's five days later than usual but my NaNo novel is taking off.  I'm at approximately 22K which means I'll have to maintain a nearly 3K per day pace to win.  A bit more challenging than my typical last two weeks of NaNo which has tended to be a 2K to 2.5K per day pace.

I swear, it seems I always turn this into a 50K in two week challenge instead of the 30 days.  If only I would start prepping more intensely every October then maybe this breakout would happen in the first week.  But the point is that I have another story in process and words I wouldn't have if not for the motivation that NaNo gives me.

Which brings me to another wish: that I would find a way to stay motivated year around and not depend on NaNo--a single 30 to 45 (counting October prep) days of intense focus and then nothing but piddling fiddling for the next ten months.  Well except for Script Frenzy in April but I've been treating that more like a tutorial in how to write scripts than as a serious story creating time. I've yet to win Script Frenzy and it doesn't bother me but it would bother me to not win NaNo now with 5 wins under my belt.

Well back to the word mill....rrrraaaaawrrr


Friday, November 18, 2011

Written? Kitten a Writer's Word Count Wooer

Written? Kitten Screenshot
There's a site called Written? Kitten which rewards the writer with a fresh picture of a cute kitten for every ____ words typed into the form.  You can change the number of words required to get rewarded.

If your browser supports local saving your work even gets saved though I'm sure I wouldn't depend on it for anything important.

Anyone who's visited Joystory and seen my obsession with LOLcats would recognize this as a good fit for me :)  I could see myself getting hooked on something like this but I'd prefer it to be  neither browser nor web dependent but rather a feature of my word processor.

I took the screenshot after earning my first kitten with 100 words.  It's not my NaNo novel.  Just a throwaway off the cuff ramble.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

So Did Mayor Bloomberg and Every NYCP Officer Play Hooky From Their History Classes?

Photo: The Occupy Wall Street library on Oct. 10.
Credit: Andrew Burton / Associated Press

One of the things that made it impossible for any of the attempted labeling of the Occupy Wall Street movement as a rabble of hippies, rioters, and bums was the existence of their library.  It began as a single box of books and grew through donations into over 5000. When the weather turned someone had donated a tent to keep them dry.

These books represented an attempt among the protesters to have a dialog on the issues affecting their lives and motivating their turnout, to educate themselves on some of the economic, political, historical and social roots of their various frustrations and sorrows.  The presence of the books represented the spirit of this movement as one grounded in rational thought, if also anger.  They symbolized their determined commitment to non-violence.

Monday night that library was raided and trashed by NYCP officers in the middle of the night in the rain.  They came in force of 100 or more and circled the library and proceeded fill a dumpster with the books.  Later a witness claimed to have seen them fed into a sanitation truck and crushed.

watch and listen as the crowd chants shame on you

This gives me the shivers.  It reaches deep into one of my earliest and most disturbing memories of watching WWII movies on TV as a preschooler and seeing men in uniform raiding homes in the middle of the night and throwing books out the windows onto a bonfire.

Scenes like this can only galvanize the movement, stiffen their motivation, grow their ranks.  I know that I'm feeling motivated and if there was some way I could join them, me and my white cane, we'd be there.

So that leaves me wondering What were they thinking?  Bloomberg et al.  All I can come up with as an explanation is that not one of them, from Bloomberg himself down to ever NYCP involved knows their history even as far back as their parents generation.  If they did, they would know, in their gut and very cells, how this play out once images of their thuggery were spread via the media--both the traditional and the social media.  They have entered the history books themselves now.

Won't their grandkids by proud?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jane Austen Was Poisoned?

According to crime novelist Lindsay Ashford,the symptoms Jane Austen experienced leading up to her death fit the criteria indicating arsenic poisoning

Very startling concept but how did it escape so many for so long?

There are going to be volumes written on this I imagine.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nano: Ain't It the Pits...

Ain't it the pits?
...when giving an angry cat a bath tempts you away from the keyboard? 


Monday, November 14, 2011

3 Virtual Book Tours with Giveaways in December

I'm excited to announce that I will be participating in three virtual book tours in December.  And in each one I'm honored to be offering a giveaway of an ebook copy of the book.  The drawing is open internationally.  The dates of the tour for each are listed below above each book's  cover.  The links in the image captions take you to the book's page and the author's web page.

Mark your calenders and join the tours.

 December 6
Delayed Flight
by John J. Smith

Laughing Through Life
by Connie C. Wilson

December 14
Youth and Other Fiction
by Jonathan M. Cook


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Serenity #253 Making a Wish


It's THAT day again.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaNo Nausea

The Tempter's Taunts

The taunting from my inner tormentor seems especially bad this year.

 But don't I feel much the same around this same stage every year?

 My official wordcount still stands at 555 from that first session but I probably ought to be counting most of the words I've invested in notes and sketches and various musings about the story and maybe even the exercises in which I let my characters rant at will on whatever is on their minds.

 I've been told before that I've got too strict of a definition for what constitutes 'rough draft' putting more emphasis on 'draft' and little on 'rough' as though the only difference between a final draft and the earliest draft is the rearrangement of a few paragraphs and the fixing of typos and fact faux pas.

So sometime in the next couple of days I'm going to collect all of those rough musings into one place in order to count the words and adjust my official word count accordingly.

But first I'm going to give myself a day off.  Maybe play hide and seek with my muse by pretending to ignore the story while I fiddle with this or that, read a novel, watch a movie, go thread shopping, wield a crochet hook, doodle...

Eat birthday cake


Friday, November 11, 2011

Of Net Galley, NaNo and Nerves

I joined Net Galley today.  I've had it in mind for a few months but planned on waiting until after the holidays. But my hand was forced.  One of the five review offers I've committed to in the last two weeks directed me to Net Galley when I asked for a digital copy so I could control font size.

On Net Galley I might be found by those looking for reviewers but I can also peruse the selection of titles and request those that interest me.  Those are exciting new concepts for me--to make the overture myself instead of waiting for something to show up in my inbox and to be able to choose titles that especially appeal to me.

I was enboldened to request an ebook format because since my download of the Kindle for PC (also in response to a review offer) I've rediscovered the joy in reading again. Over the last few years reading regular print books, though still possible with magnification, has become ever more difficult and fraught with frustrations--eyestrain limiting amount of time I can tolerate reading being just one.

While reading on the Kindle for PC I began to realize that it wasn't entirely lack of discipline that had me spending so much time reading blogs and news online and hanging out at various social sites instead of making time for the reading of the books so necessary for my various WIP as well as for participating in the book blog challenges and getting reviews posted.  I was gravitating to the screen because it was a reading environment I could control and which I could read comfortably on for many hours at a time.

I already confessed here how I spent hours that first week with my Kindle for PC exploring the free Kindle editions on Amazon and filling my Kindle library.  Soon that wasn't enough for I couldn't always find the public domain title I wanted on Amazon and I knew of several sites where I could but some of those sites gave only the option of reading online or downloading an ebub file which my computer could not open.

So I explored the whys and wherefores about opening epub documents on Windows and found I needed an epub reader.  Thus I found Calibre.  And have been filling its library as well.  But Calibre is much more than an epub file reading.  It can also convert files from one reader to another.  So ostensibly I could convert epub files into Kindle files.  Calibre is also a digital library organizer.  It can also download news from the web from hundreds of news sources world wide.

I might never have found Calibre if I'd gotten the email sending me to Net Galley one day sooner as once I was signed up there and had downloaded my review copy I learned I had to have Adobe Digital Reader to open the file.   Adobe Digital Reader reads epub as well as pdf and possibly others but I've not explored it very deeply yet as the need to get this post prepared was pressing.

I'm not always happy with pdf as I can't always control line width as well as font size and often to get the font big enough I am forced to scroll sideways which is nearly as irritating as reading regular print with a magnifying glass as both make it hard to track the lines.

I don't know where the nerve came from but somehow I've ended up committing to five reviews in the next two months.  For many months I got no offers and suddenly five inside of ten days.  How I'm going to read and write reviews for five books and still get my NaNo win again this year mystifies me at the moment but I'm not about to throw NaNo over for the reviews either.  Many NaNo participants have full time jobs or school or a houseful of small children and manage. I ought to be able to manage NaNo plus the reviews plus the fiber art Xmas gifts WIP.

Speaking of NaNo.  I essentially just took two days off from even pretending to work on A Trick of Light.  One day was lost to a six hour search for the lost crochet hook and the other to ebook collecting.  Maybe though that will turn out to be a good thing as I can feel a sort of lessening of the anxiety that had been building while my sole focus was on my NaNo novel and how much I wasn't writing.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mobius Strip Tease

Mobius Strip

I've got Mobius Strips on my mind this week.  They have popped into my awareness in several different contexts recently and it feels weirdly like I'm supposed to pay attention.

I would explain but in the last half hour while looking at images trying to select one for this post, tracing their surface and edges with my eyes, my eyelids began to to get very heavy and my eyes want to cross or roll into the back of my head.

I think someone should look into the effects of Mobius Strip gazing as a soporific.  Better than counting sheep.

It's been a long day for me.  I woke before dawn on Thursday and it is nearly dawn again.  Thursday afternoon I spent five hours looking for a lost crochet hook.  My special size 9 steel with the dip behind the hook.  It was one of the ones in Ed's Grandma's sewing basket when it was given to me in 2006.  The hooks and the thread in that basket were the seed that began this crochet craze for me.

I have half a dozen projects small to medium begun with that hook and it is my only siize 9.  I lost my only size 8 somewhere between the parkinglot and the waiting room on a Dr visit last spring.  So that would leave me the choice between 7 and 10 to finish those projects and I wasn't sure how much impact the size difference would make on the work.

Well one good thing that came out of the search was getting a whole lot of stuff sorted, organized and put away.  But all the holding up and shaking out of blankets and sheets wore my arms out to the point it feels like I'm lifting weights when lifting my hands.

Want to see ore amazing images?  Do a Google image search for Mobius strip.  Or just go to the Wikipedia article.  There are some good images there but also some links to more images and discussion elsewhere. 


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Kitteh Haz No Payshunz Wif NaNo Neglektshuns

ai jus sent ur storee 2 hevan.     nao feedz meh! or ai send u 2
Kitteh haz no payshunz wif NaNo neglektshuns.

My cat, Merlin, an Orange Tabby, has figured out a way to ge my attention and even get me to stop what I'mdoing to fix whatever he thinks needs fixing.  He rubs his wet nose on my right hand that is holding the mouse.  He nudges,  He nips. He reaches out and hooks on claw into the skin of a finger or under the ring and pulls it toward him.  He pulls on the lid of my netbook while I'm typing.  He digs and burrows in the blankets by my hip endlessly trying to make a blanket cave for sleeping in and jostling the bed too much for me to type.

Still not cranking out the words.

But my plan, mentioned a post or two argo, to give my characters voices via long rant monologues, journals or dialog with each other has payed off some.  Odd thing is it was my protagonist Lucy's mother who spoke first.  I didn't know her name yet and she told me:

Call me Sin Thea, Goddess of Sin.  'Cynthia' is written on my birth certificate but everyone calls me Sin.  Of course they all spell it Cyn and so do I on official stuff but in my mind and sometimes on odd surfaces within reach I write, scratch, doodle or or draw 'Sin' and it seems to me to be my true and fitting name. 
Sometimes I think about sewing it on my shirt in big scarlet letters and watch the faces of the others  as they spot it and stare with unconflicted curiosity.  It seems to me that a public shame like that, like that of Hester Prin, would be so much easier to take than this slow churning, secret shame carried deep inside poisoning every thought, every relationship, every hope and dream.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Got Tude?

Photo Credit: Bill Stephens

Don't give me no lip no i no tude.  My cup runneth over with lippitude.


the new word I learned today on the Writer's Digest fan page.

It is the perfect word to take as a NaNoWriMo lexicon mascot.

It means bleary eyed.

I had ended up on WD's fan page after visiting Writer's Digest online via a link on Twitter regarding several free ebooks offered by WD in honor of NaNoWriMo.

The offer expires on the 12th so get on over there.

And while you are there sign up for the free news letters, free membership on the site and fan their fb page.

So guess what I was doing when I supposed to be writing today?


Monday, November 07, 2011

"Seasoned Writers Never Give Up."

Joyce Carol Oates is one of my top five favorite novelists. Here she is talking about characters being the starting place for most novelists and definitely for her. She also considers setting as the equivalent of a character. 

 I was startled to hear her say that the first six weeks of work on every new novel is pure hell for her. "Seasoned writers never give up." she adds. 

 This is heartening as I sit here one full week into NaNo with only that first 555 words. 

 One of her writing exercises as she begins writing a new story is to write dialog between two characters for several hours until there is a breakthrough and she feels a connection with the character, knows their voice and then lets them lead her into the story. 

 That reminds me of the exercises I did a couple of NaNos back in which I set up a rant sheet for each character and let them monologue at will until they ran out of steam. I think maybe I'll try that again. Maybe in conjunction with another suggestion I picked up on one of the blogs (sorry I've forgotten whose) and that is to have your characters keep a journal.  Liquid Story Binder actually provides a file format for the purpose and/or for keeping a writer's journal for the project.  But I'm not using LSB for NaNo as I'm still learning my way around it.

I will count the words in any of those three exercises. Of course.

But that's going to have to wait until I've slept a few hours.


Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday Serenity #252 Messes are not Monsters

Melancholy Astronautic Man
Video by Sam Kassirer & Liam Hurley

I was cleaning out my flooded email inbox today.  A dreaded task when it gets over 1400 as it had.  So I had just worked it down to 800 when I found an old email from Mishara Music  which had a link in it to a page on their site where there were free downloads of their artists' songs.  That must have been why the email was still in my inbox.

Now, I'd set myself a rule at the beginning of the task that I wasn't to open anything except to get any info I needed beyond the name and @ of the sender and the subject in order to assign a label or create a filter.  I most definitely was NOT to start reading the newsletters, blogposts and product pimping emails nor to do any task associated with them that would take longer than a few seconds.

I broke all the rules by clicking on this link:

  mishara music : free songs

And then clicking on one of the links--Allie Moss' Late Bloomer--listening to the song, downloading it, sharing on fb, starting this post, liking Allie Moss' band page on fb, subscribing to her youtube channel where I found the video heading this post and listening to it twice before starting to write this.

So much for the inbox task.

You might wonder, as did I, why I chose the one song in the bottom right corner of that page to click on first.  It was only moments of wondering though before I realized that the picture of Allie Moss on the album cover (which you see briefly at the end of this video) reminded me of one of the POV characters of my 2007 NaNo novel, Spring Fever.  Maia Robins.

If you are curious to see why that might be read a snippet in which she appears through the POV of another character here.

By reading that you might also understand why, after opening my Spring Fever file to find a description of Maia and reading that scene, I've been both further intimidated and reassured regarding the current NaNo novel.  I also got way behind in 2007 and made such a mess of the file I've seldom been back to look at it since.  I'd almost forgotten there were a few gems like that scene buried in it.  And all such gems that exist are nowhere near a first draft.

I need to stop fearing that mess so I can return and polish out a few more gems.

Likewise, I need to stop fearing the mess I'm about to make of this year's NaNo novel.  It will never exist at all let alone posses gems if I don't get something in the file I can return to polish after New Year's.

I'm thinking maybe it was a good thing I defied the taskmaster by reading that email, following the link trail which led to me paying a nostalgic visit to a previous NaNo file where I was reminded that messes are not monsters.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

No Intervention Needed--Just Invention

No one understands us Wrimos

This is the time during every NaNo when I am feeling like a fraud.

Still at 555 words from first 5 hours.  

Something happened to the story I spent most of October daydreaming about.  In Mid October I was straining at the reins to write THAT story.  Now I'm feeling like an alien exploring a strange new world, an anthropologist digging up dusty dreams.

The story I've set up, A Trick of Light, needs another month of prep work.  It went off an several tangents.

Something has to GIVE.

Can I go back to the original daydream?  Should I?  Would it even help?


Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: Reading for NaNo

Isn't NaNoWriMo  for writing not reading?

Well yes.  But even most WriMos don't write 24/7.

I meant to send for the writing books in September and read them though October as I did the prep work.  But I got on that mythology/fable/fairytale kick and filled up my card which just started to open up a little and will be opening up more and more over the next several weeks as books have to go back.

So last week I started doing searches related to my NaNo project.  Thursday most of the books related to the writing itself came home.  A few still haven't made it in from the outlying branches where they live.  Next week I'm expecting books on bullying, including cyber bullying, and books on RPG and the computer gaming community including players and developers.

There are a couple writing books still making their way to me, one of them specific to writing for YA, but here are the ones I have in hand now:

Make a scene : crafting a powerful story one scene at a time / Jordan E. Rosenfeld.

I have for many years already worked in scenes while writing fiction.  I don't remember how I learned to do that but now it seems as natural as breathing to see my story laid out in my mind like a series of scenes.  Sometimes they are still life, maybe with a line or two of audio associated with them but usually they are like mini-movies.

I am always eager to read the writing how-to books that speak to the scene and this is one I'd not seen before.  Jordan Rosenfeld explains the difference between a variety of scene types and what their purposes are and how to write them well.  I'm excited to read this.
The complete idiot's guide to writing a novel by Thomas F. Monteleone

I always look for The Complete Idot's Guides and the for Dummies books on any topic I'm looking for a good overview of and so when this one popped up in my search I sent for it.  Usually these books are more for browsing in than reading coer to cover.  Especially when the subject is one I'm already so familiar with so that there is lots of review of stuff I already know but I always learn something new and useful when perusing these type books.

The sincerest form : writing fiction by imitation / by Nicholas Delbanco

This one I've had home several times and is one I hope to own one day.  Being a college text and an anthology it is quite expensive new so it won't be soon.

This book will be more useful when I'm beginning the rewrites but I couldn't resist sending for it again when I saw it was on the shelf.  It belongs to the community college collection and is often checked out during semesters.

The writer's journey : mythic structure for writers / by Christopher Vogler.

This is another one I want to own tho I want the newest edition.  I've had this checked out several times in the last three years as well.  Volger is well known in the movie industry as one who can spot a good story concept and tell a good script from a so-so script with near infallibility.  When asked his secret he wrote the first paper--a long memo really--that circulated among industry insiders and made its way into classrooms.  The he expanded it into the first edition that sold to the public and it became a sensation.

The Writer's Journey describes the story as a hero's transformational journey ala Jung and Joseph Campbell.  For certain of my stories that seem to fall naturally into this Heroe's Journey form I actually outline them inside the steps of the Journey as described by Campbell and Volger.

This year's NaNo novel, A Trick of Light, was a natural fit being a YA about winning against bullies and having Role Playing Games a central feature.

I thought I had ordered Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces but I must have forgot so I will be rectifying that.  I used to own it and really miss it.

The Hero's Journey steps according to Volger:

  1. Ordinary World
  2. The Call
  3. Refusal of the Call
  4. Enter Mentor
  5. First Threshold/Guardian
  6. Tests/Allies/Enemies
  7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
  8. Ordeal
  9. The Reward
  10. The Road Back
  11. Resurrection
  12. Return with the Elixer

Awakening the heroes within : twelve archetypes to help us find ourselves and transform our world / Carol S. Pearson

I used to own this one too. And will again someday.  Although it deals with the hero's journey as a self transformation it can easily be translated into the character's journey.  Pearson's discussion of myth and archetype is full of rich insights into why certain stories and certain events in stories resonate so deeply.  We seem to be wired to organize information via a universal set of archetypes.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Flavorwire » Strange Day Jobs of Authors Before They Were Famous

Flavorwire » Strange Day Jobs of Authors Before They Were Famous  'via Blog this'

Do click on above link and read.  It's well worth it.  The ramblings below relate.

Really they do.

funny pictures - ~ NO KITTEH LABOR LAWS? ~
Weird Jobs for Writers
Oh, Right this is about Weird Jobs of Writers

My NaNo word count still sits at 555.  I've been fiddling with things that should have been done during prep before November 1.  *sigh*

And my hours have gotten so weird I forgot what day it was.  I slept from 7pm to 10:30 Thursday and didn't get started on my post until after Ed was in bed after midnight.  And then I spent over an hour prepping a Friday Forays in Fiction post before I realized I was supposed to be posting my Thursday post.

So I quickly checked my draft posts, currently a collection of 'blog this' links and chose this one as appropriate.  then did a quick search on for job themed LOLs an whala I have a quick post.

Really, if you are either a reader or a writer you will find the article linked at top very entertaining.  Some of our best known authors had some really weird jobs to keep the body and soul in one piece.

The question asked of writers in the first paragraph is on the order of 'What will you be telling interviewers about your day job back when once your books hit the big time?'  Total paraphrase that but you get the gist.

My day jobs were:

used bookstore clerk
pear sorter
pear packer
college library aide (student work/study)

But I haven't had a workforce job since 1987 when my eyesight had deteriorated to the point I was a walking accident. Not waiting to happen either.  But happening with nearly every step.  In 1987 while walking across the dimly lit lounge in the rec room of the student center-- a room looking much like a bar with table for eating, pool tables, food ordering and big TV, and arcade-- I fell into the lap of a big hulking jock.  He had to be a linebacker.  OG  was he pissed.  And who could blame him.  I was ten years older than him at the time and weighed nearly as much as him.

Imagine if I'd been carrying the table's order?

I didn't know then that I was already legally blind due to Retinitis Pigmentosa aka RP aka tunnel vision. All I knew was that I was always sporting bruises on my shins and elbows and had begun contemplating that I needed to wear a shit that said: No he didn't do this to me.  I'm just clumsy.

Because I didn't know I had a legitimate excuse for this major social faux pas I was suffused with shame and its associated blush.  The memory still calls that up.

Ah, this was supposed to be about the day jobs writers had and I've turned it into 'Why I don't Have a Day Job'

Maybe it should be: 'I've Had No Day Job for Over 20 Years So Why Do I Still Have No Finished Manuscript?'

I remember all those jobs vividly and all the minutes and hours on the job that I spent longing to get back to my typewriter.

Yes typewriter--I didn't get my first computer until after the last semester I'd worked in the college library which was my last official paycheck job.

I have no good answer to that question.  Unfocused work habits and extreme reluctance to send my babies into the world are the two that come to mind first and with the strongest sense of good fit.

Well speaking of work habits,  Time to get back to work on my NaNo novel.  At least I now have until Saturday evening to worry about posting again. :)


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

NaNoWriMo -- National Noodle Wringing Month

ai luk all ober 4 ur plot... doan see it anywherz
Plots play hide and seek real good.
I'm already 2.5 days behind and that not counting today at all.

But I'm not too anxious about that yet.  I've been spending hours every day in the story files.  Making notes and organizing stuff.  Just no countable words since the wee hours of Tuesday.  So I still sit at 555


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Liquid Love

Liquid Story Binder Timeline and Sequence Window

I've done it again.  I've downloaded yet another story writing ap.  This time Liquid Story Binder.  How could I resist when I saw that they too were having a NaNoWriMo special.  50% off their regular $45 or so dollars.  And you don't even have to win NaNo first.  I swear I love test driving aps so much I wish I could get a job doing it.  With my unique accessibility issues I would have an extra plus to offer.

Ed says I have to choose between Scrivener and Liquid Story Binder.  As much as I'm loving working with Scrivener I have a feeling I will settle on LSB.  But I won't be using it for NaNo because its learning curve is steep and I can't be distracted from the writing while trying to learn my way around.

So then why do I think I will choose Liquid Story Binder in the end?

Because of these: Timeline, Sequence, Storyboard and Mindmap and the option of creating a Binder to hold a complete series of novels.  Now these are all things I've been wishing for for ages to help me organize my Fruits of the Spirit novels that sprawl over more than a century and more than 100 major characters lives.  The Mindmap among may other things can help me build family trees!  The Timeline viewer can juxtapose multiple character timelines with the story timeline and actual history timeline.  I can also imagine how helpful this wold be for world building for a fantasy or sci-fi novel.  And I have one of those too.

The screenshot at the top shows a timeline window above a sequence window and the image at the below shows a storyboard window.

There are so many other cool and unique features but I will wait until I've screeshots of my own work to feature them in posts.  As you can see you can do some interesting things with images.

I am going to be working through the tutorials as I create the Binder for my Fruits of the Spirit story world over the next couple of weeks.  But that does have to take a back seat to NaNo.  I did not get my quota for the first day of NaNo because I downloaded this as I was getting ready to quit my work session to sleep.  I should have woke in plenty of time to take my 555 words to the daily finish line if not for spending three hours playing with LSB.  I had hoped to wake by 8pm when I decided to take a break to sleep but then I didn't lay down until 6pm and then slept until Ed got home just before midnight.   Which is why this post is late again as well.  Tho the timestamp will show 11:55 pm I'm still working on this at 2:30am.

Liquid Story Binder Storyboard
I download the 30 day free trial shortly before noon when it was already several hours past my ideal lay down time. .  If I'd been thinking clearly I would have waited a day so that it wouldn't be timing out the day before NaNo ends.  But since I'm fairly sure I won't be using it for my NaNo novel this year that is moot anyway.  It is also moot if I make my final decision well before the end of November.  I'm thinking I will decide the week of my birthday (November 13) since Ed has been calling it my birthday present since he first suggested I look into which of the various story aps I might like to have for my birthday in early October as I started prep for NaNo.


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