Saturday, July 06, 2013

Dealing with sociopathy

While working on my new version of Double Edged Sword (I really need a new title for that) I realized that one of my main characters is a sociopath.

I've always known he was unrepentantly "evil", but as I've written him, and researched, I've discovered it's a bit more than that. He's not so much evil as... practical. He does what he must, and doesn't fret over guilt or self-flagellation.

In short: A sociopath.

This provides interesting opportunities. I recently came upon the blog for a diagnosed sociopath who often talks about love, and sociopathy. She says that while it's commonly thought that sociopaths can't love, in fact, they can. The intensity she describes is what I think is going on with my MMC; he is consumed by it. To the point of obsession.

So I'm going to continue to research this line of reasoning, and see where it leads me. It's certainly  already providing interesting insights. And a more nuanced character who isn't so blunt-force trauma.

I'm really enjoying my rewrite; it's slow going, but I'm letting myself take my time and think. The result is already feeling more polished. I swear, reading back over the original, there were so many colloquialisms and such that it was painful.

I may even hit my camp word count goal for the first time!

Monday, June 24, 2013

How McAfee is like Prison Sex

"Just do your shit and go away!"

~My Husband

So today, I spied an unwelcome logo on my husband's computer.

Now, for those of you who are unaware, McAfee is pretty well universally panned by anyone with even a modicum of technical sense, because it's little more than bloated malware with a corporate logo on the box. There's dozens of better, cheaper options. It's awful stuff, nearly impossible to uninstall, and so awful that even the guy who created it hates the damn thing.

Umm... not safe for work.

So I told my husband to move, and started figuring this stupid thing out. He says it came with an automatic update. Whether or not that's true, I dunno. He's not one of those wild downloader types. Probably came from Adobe or something.

Anyway, McAfee is an insidious thing. It's like that unexpected prison rape that happens when you drop the soap.

You didn't ask for it, you didn't want it, but you presented yourself in such an attractive fashion that they couldn't resist.

This "security scan tool" is like the anal spreader that prepares you for the unpleasant things about to happen to your backside. Or like that creepy plant in Seymour's back room, but instead of people it's asking for credit card information.

That's right. It doesn't even DO anything; it's just a "clever" marketing gimmick to convince people that their computer is at risk, and they should download something quick to prevent it.

Sound familiar?


McAfee has gone from a pretty decent virus scanner that had better, cheaper competitors to predatory bloatware that behaves an awful lot like malware. Half the time you can't uninstall it, it's so bad the company itself had to release a tool to remove stuff that a regular install can't.

It sneaks upon you when you don't want it, it doesn't want to leave you alone no matter how much you ask, and if you let it stick around, it's going to ask for more, and more.

I was able to finally remove that scan tool from my husband's computer. But I'll tell you one thing: My butt was clenched firmly shut the entire time...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: Turned by Morgan Rice

Before we begin, I will state that there are many spoilers in this review. If you really feel absolutely compelled to read this book, I suggest you close this page and read no further, because we're letting it all hang out here. :)

I read this book on a dare, honestly; it was free for the Kindle, and I read it together with RJ Blain  - it's a good thing I did, because honestly? I'm going to need therapy after this. Having a support group to get through this is a must. If you haven't already, I also invite you to read her review of the same novel.

The Protagonist

I have never read a character I have hated as much as this protagonist. Caitlin is hands-down the must unlikable, self-centered, disgusting "human being" I've ever had the displeasure of reading. She is intended to be a "good" character, some kind of Messianic savior, "The One", but there is nothing about this person who even comes close to that label. In fact, if I had to label her with anything, she's a sociopathic nitwit who is so stupid that it takes her 114 pages to even wonder if there are such things as vampires, and that she might be one of them.

Keep in mind that this is after experiencing superhuman strength, blood lust, and killing a guy by biting him on the neck. She spends half the book all but slavering over people's jugulars, but it never actually occurs to her that this behavior is anything other than mildly interesting and a bit weird.

She's the least reactive, most bland character I've ever read about. At one point, after nearly dying, all it takes for her to wish for a day never to end is being carried around by a hot dude. Never mind that she's an orphaned outcast wanted for murder, homeless, and has half the city's supernatural and mundane authorities out to get her, this day should never end. Because love!

When her would-be love interest is brutally assaulted into unconsciousness, she has her first truly vampiric experience. She fights off the thugs, and then somehow teleports to her home, unharmed.  She never even has a moment of concern about her friend, Jonah, who should by rights be in the hospital. She just has a nice fight with her mom, and pouts in her room.

After her beloved brother (someone we are told she loves very much, though there's little indication of that in the book) runs away, at her suggestion, she's more concerned with her first date with her love interest than the boy who has served as her protector, and the only stable aspect of her life for 15 years. Instead of trying to find him, or calling the cops, or even crying in guilt-ridden remorse that she's ruined her brother's life, she grabs her clothes, forgets her phone, and heads out for her date.

Her mother is abusive, but when she is violently murdered, all Caitlin does is experience a few sentences of mild discomfort before she's again swept up into her own self-absorbed naval-gazing.

Caitlin's pendulum of love, however, is the shining jewel of this entire book. We spend the first half of the book meeting gallant young Jonah, a promising musician and Barack Obama look-alike with glowing green eyes and olive skin. (Yes, olive. He's half black, part Puerto Rican, and part white. With olive skin and green eyes. Sure makes me think Barack Obama!) We know that his eyes glow, because we are told so several times. I actually kinda liked Jonah, and honestly, wanted him to be the vampire she loves. I actually kinda cared a bit when he gets assaulted and his viola is crudely smashed, along with his hopes and dreams.

Caitlin, however, in spite of their deep, instant connection, can't remember him unless he's right in front of her. The moment a new fellow appears on the scene, the dashing Caleb, she has a moment of regret, comparing him to Jonah, before instantly falling into pouting love with the newcomer. And then promptly reacts with a temper tantrum when this person she has known for about ten minutes proves to not be in love with her, and has an ex-wife to boot.

She is actually upset that he saved a complete stranger from certain death not because he was in love with her, but because she happened to be immune to holy water, and therefore might be The One. I actually found myself imagining her with her lip stuck out, stomping her foot.

Caitlin apparently possesses vast powers that she can't control. Except when she can. Her first kill is immaculate, leaving no trace of her presence aside from two perfectly gender-appropriate holes in her victim's neck. A victim that she was watching perform on  stage moment before, and whom she passed up many other potential victims the entire length of Carnegie Hall to reach. Well, that, and the inconveniently dropped incriminating ticket stub stashed in her cocktail dress's pocket that conveniently fingers her as the killer to the cops. She can break bones, leap, roar, gnash her teeth, leap gracefully out of trash cans, exude an aura of "difference" and is an excellent speedometer.

Rank stupidity is a common vampire trait, however, so her complete and total idiocy is not out of place. A 3,000 year old vampire waltzes casually onto a crime scene swarming with humans, clamping annoying politicians' mouths shut at will, mind-raping alliterative cops willy-nilly, but it never actually occurs to him that this illegal vampire killing might be anything other than a vampire invading his territory to send his coven a message. Even after capturing her, not a single vampire he meets actually suggests that she might be a newly-turned vampire who doesn't know any of the laws. But hey, we have to assume that after 3,000 years or so, the brain cells are a bit mushy.

The entire vampire race (well, both of the individual "races" we've been presented with) appears to be little more than a squabbling nursery full of very old toddlers, so hidebound that they're unable to see even the most obvious of truths in front of their noses.

The Plot

I honestly searched for something good to say about this novel. The one positive plot point I found was in the very first chapter, when Caitlin finds her first love interest unconscious and being beaten by three thugs, that Jonah never leaps up and tries to save her. I expected him to be the enigmatic vampire, caught off guard, who then rises to defend her. It was actually a bit gratifying when no one saved her from the boys who were no doubt going to give her a very violent noogie.

Beyond that, however, the plot was formulaic, predictable. There was no rhyme nor reason for anything to happen; vampires acknowledge they must let the police find her, since they can't, but magically, they appear in the next scene in her living room. She simple appears next where she needs to be; unless she happens to be in yet another of the novel's endless, pointless chase scenes. She magically acquires her phone from a room no doubt swarming with cops, and is able to use it (even though the investigating police officers no doubt would have collected it when they investigated her house and found her dead mother.)

Caitlin is never truly in danger at any point in this book. In spite of being threatened with absolute death a number of times, or even grievous bodily harm, she never takes so much as a scratch. To be honest, I still have no idea what the point of this book was. As far as I can tell, it all exists simply to carry Caitlin around and how off what she can and can't do to who. She wakes up with no memory of how she arrived wherever she is so many times it starts to become a joke.

The only true relief is that the pointless, abrupt ending wasn't nearly as painfully awful as the rest of this book. It was simply stupid, contrived, and random.

The entire novel feels more like blunt-force trauma than skilled storytelling. Rice has a weak grasp of the English language, often misusing words, or repeating them clumsily as she echoes herself sentence to sentence unnecessarily. Her dialogue is stilted, unnatural, and does not change whether the speaker is a 15 year old boy or a 10,000 year old vampire. She shows no imagination at all in naming important entities. The "good" vampires are the "White Coven", and the "evil" ones "The Blacktide Coven." I use quotation marks because I honestly could not tell the difference between the two. there are no characteristics of these or any characters that distinguish them as good nor evil.

The main antagonist, the debonair, ancient Kyle, is a Deputy Leader.

I am reminded of the evil bunny Boingo from Hoodwinked as he pans one of his minion's lackluster evil name:

"Dolph, tie up the brat; Liesel, hold the book; Vincent, get the truck; and Keith... darn it change your name, please. That's not scary and I'm embarrassed to say it. Boris, try that. Keith, ya know, OOOO Watch out for Keith!"

I wonder if, while witnessing the crucifixion of Christ, someone nudged this evil fellow and said, "Hey Kyle, check out that Jew up there!"

I understand that this is a novel written for teenagers, but surely you could come up with a better Evil Council name than... The Assembly.

My one true solace that clumsiness aside, the simple language makes this blessedly short novel a very quick read. I was able to finish it in about an hour.

My final verdict: Trash the whole thing. Hire an editor. Because this shit is unsalvageable.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I need your help for my daughter

Thank you to each and every one of you who poured out your generosity on my family. Elisabeth has enough for her medicine this month, as well as some to cover the bill for her checkup next week to adjust her meds. The generosity of my friends, family, and just plain old-fashioned strangers will never cease to amaze me. And thank you from my little girl, who doesn't have to go without her medicine, thanks to you! 

I'm not one to ask for help often; I believe firmly in doing what needs to be done, and taking care of your family.

But sometimes, pride has to take a back seat to necessity.

On June 1, Elisabeth's Medicaid expired. Because I had the audacity to make $200 extra a month, we exceeded the income limit for the children over 6 medicaid program. By $1. Because of this, Elisabeth was summarily booted from the Medicaid program, and left uninsured. We can still get her on Peachcare for Kids (a state run program for uninsured children) but that's going to take time... up to 30 days. The earliest we could conceivably have coverage for her is July 1.

The problem? Her much-needed prescription for Concerta, an ADHD medication that keeps her sane, happy, and able to focus, costs $168 out of pocket. And she has one left.

That is a LOT of money, and frankly? We don't have it. We have the cash, but if we spend it, that leaves us with no money for food for the rest of the month. We won't talk about things like gas, etc.

Now comes the part where I swallow my pride, and ask for help.

I'm not asking for much, just what you're willing to spare. Every dime will go to Elisabeth's medication. This should be the only time I need to ask for help, because hopefully by the time her next prescription is up for refill, she'll be on the state healthcare plan, and we won't have to worry about it. Even if she isn't, I will be able to plan for it out of my next paycheck. We were given no notice of this... our review was on the 25th. I received her rejection letter telling us that she would no longer qualify on the 2nd. Copays I can handle. Out-of-pocket, with no warning, I can't.

If you're willing to help my little girl, then please, consider doing so. Even $1, or $5, or $10 will help. In the unlikely event that we receive more than we need, all money will be used to pay the doctor's visit next week (where she has a checkup to change her existing evening med from Adderall to something that doesn't make her sick.)

I have a Paypal account. If you're willing, send a paypal payment to - and if you're willing to include an address, Elisabeth and I will send you a thank you card for any donation over $10, customized by her. She makes adorable cards, as anyone who received a Christmas card from us this year knows!

And thank you, either way. Whether you do or don't, we love you, and thank you for the time you took to read this.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Organizing my World

After following a fabulous blog series on creating Story Bibles by Rebecca Blain, I decided that I could stand to organize the world of mine. I have a lot of details floating around in my head, but they tend to change, and I don't have them written down anywhere, so it can be hard to keep things consistent. I have at least two books planned in this series, perhaps more.

I have a few sparing notes in Scrivener, but otherwise, this is just a very basic sketch. So today, after some abortive attempts to find office supply stores to buy the things I needed, I found what I was after. (Click images for closeup view)

I am using a 1 inch 3-ring binder, with nice tabbed folder dividers for each section. I used a sheet of my daughters' colored construction paper for a cover to make it nice, since I haven't drawn anything worth using in years. Lots of construction paper. :) I have sections tabbed out, so I can start filling them. When I feel like it, I'll add to it, and start building on it. I even sketched out a rudimentary continental map that I've had floating in my head for a while. It's rough, and half of the countries aren't named yet, but it gives me some spacial references.

So yay for productivity! My transcription challenge is going well. In spite of one day of under 1,000 words, I'm still well ahead of my target right now for words. 6,338, and I haven't written yet today.

It's a simple start, but a pleasing one. I feel accomplished! Now to get back to my transcription.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Whips and chains may break my bones...

This year, as part of my New Year's Resolutions, which aren't really new because I've been working at them since last year, I have resolved to finish at least one novel. I have handwritten over 340 pages, and now it's time to transcribe them.  All of them. From my delightful chicken scratch.

Because Rebecca Blain is a vile, conniving wench who is entirely too good at manipulation, I have decided to set an actual schedule for this. See, I don't do self-motivation well, but as it turns out, I rather enjoy beta reading her current WIP, and well, she's promised that if I don't meet my goals, I can't read anymore.

I've never done a self-imposed schedule, but I've never done an outline either, and I have one of those, and since I have exactly zero finished drafts on my computer, the way I've done it in the past is not going to work.

So, I'm expected to maintain a pace of 1,000 words per day transcribed, minimum. That would mean that I would have the entire 80,000 or so handwritten words I have by. Weekly, I'll need to write 7,000 words. My goal is 2k total by the end of the night; since I'm at 1700 right now, that won't be an issue.

By January 31, I will have at least 27,000 words.
By February 28 I will have at least 55,000 words.
By March 25, I will reach 80,000 words.

That gives my deadline for complete transcription at March 25th.

If I manage to finish by my youngest child's birthday, March 17th (St Patrick's Day) I will expect an extra reward from my slavedriver. I will leave the choice of reward up to her.

Using Scrivener's project statistics, I have set up my deadlines, and it's autocalculating things. This is part of how I will reach my new self-imposed schedule.

See, this is why I bought this program. Well, one among many things.

So, here we go. 80k or bust!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A series of unfortunate lectures...

As an early Christmas present, my as-yet-unpublished favorite author in the world gave me a little... errr... lecture. You see, I have a problem. I start novels... but don't finish them. In the entire time I've done NaNo (since 2002) I have only finished TWO novels to the end.

Ms. Rebecca Blain was not happy with me. So she lectured me. And then wrote me a story about lecturing me. The words out of my mouth in this story are actual words I said while being lectured. And this is almost word-for-word how she lectured me.

The unedited end result is hilarious. ;) Although it stung. Quite a bit.


It was so cold outside that the snow refused to fall. Heather hesitated at the door to the Creative Writers’ Fiction Association – Fantasy Branch Administration offices. The dragon carved on the frame glared at her as if knowing her sin.

Her knuckles scrapped against the rough-hewn wood. A splinter stuck out from her skin. The silence that followed was long enough for her to pick the sliver out and shuffle from foot to foot.

“Enter,” a muffled voice demanded.

Heather gripped the cold, bronze knob. The dragon continued to glare at her in rebuke. The door creaked open.

The woman behind the desk didn’t look any older than fourteen – maybe fifteen. Short-cropped hair shadowed the eyes of the superintendent, and Heather couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.

“Three minutes and forty-seven seconds,” Rebecca said, looking up from the stack of papers strewn over the large oak desk that dominated the cramped room. An expectant silence followed. When Heather said nothing, Rebecca let out a long sigh. “Late, that is.”

The woman’s sweet smile sent chills down her spine.

“That’s never good,” Heather replied, shuffling from foot to foot.

“No, ma’am, it isn’t. I’m so glad we didn’t have to talk very long about that part.” Rebecca leaned back and crossed her arms over her red sweater. “Why don’t you sit down, Heather.”

Heather hurried to obey, taking the seat that Rebecca gestured to with an expedient dip of her head. “Oh no,” she whispered.

“It has come to my attention that you haven't been finishing projects. This is very, very concerning. Would you like to talk about what has been going on?” The sweet smile didn’t fade from Rebecca’s lips, and the serene quality to it sent another shiver racing down Heather’s spine.

She shifted on the chair and stared down at the edge of the desk. Another dragon carving glared at her. “Well, it all started in 2008.” Heather’s laugh was forced from her throat. She clasped her hands on her lap to keep from shaking. “Well, 2002, technically.” She paused and glanced through her red hair hopefully. Rebecca watched and waited, as unmoveable as stone. “I begin many novels…”

The serene mask cracked in favor of an arched brow, but the woman across the desk didn’t speak.

“…but I don’t finish them. This is why I rebelled this year.”

Rebecca sighed, a long, drawn out and theatrical, and Heather trembled at the sound. “Do you understand the consequences of your behavior, Heather?”

She jerked her head in a nod and stared down at her white-knuckled hands.

“It is really important that you finish what you start,” the superintendent of the Fantasy Branch office continued. Another pause. “This is why I pulled you into my office today. How are you planning on rectifying this situation?”

Heather drew in a hissing breath between her teeth and shook her head in denial of the truth. She wouldn’t crack. She wouldn’t break beneath the pressure of that woman! The words splipped out before she could control herself. “By fucking finishing a novel. Preferably two.”


Heather risked a glance upward. Rebecca was smiling.

That was never good.

“Yes, Heather, you are going to rectify this by 'fucking finishing a novel', as you so eloquently put in.
And, to ensure that you do, in fact, finish at least one novel, we're going to have to take some steps. Some important measures.” Now Rebecca was openly grinning, with blue eyes blazing with malicious delight.

A cold sweat dripped from Heather’s brow.

Rebecca made a trilling sound that reminded Heather of a cat’s purr. “It has come to our attention that you have a little... problem... with a certain story.”

The gasp came out unbidden. Tears burned in Heather’s eyes. She knew!  But how? She hadn’t told anyone – well, err, not that many people. It shouldn’t have gotten back to the superintendent. Who had betrayed her? Why? How?

The tips of Heather’s fingers tingled from the force that she clutched her hands together.

“We have spoken with the administrators that oversee this story and have made an arrangement with them to ensure that you maintain adequate productivity.  In short, if you wish to continue to have access to scenes as they are completed, you will need to display evidence of forward motion on the first project that you wish to finish,” Rebecca said. Another pause, and the woman’s grin widened further. “You will be required to hand in a status sheet upon the availability of each story piece so that we can determine if you have earned your privileges.”

Heather struggled against the urge to weep. Her one weakness, and that woman had found it.

Was the dragon grinning at her?! Heather glared at it, but the carving didn’t move.

“Do you understand, Heather? We really didn't want to have to go to such lengths, but we are very concerned about your recent progress and behavior.”

“Yes, ma’am,” she whispered.

Rebecca stood. “Very good. I expect to hear good things about you from now on, Heather….”

Heather squirmed and bobbed her head.

“… or else. You may go.”

Heather fled from the office.

Friday, December 07, 2012

So what about NaNoWriMo 2012?

This year has kicked my butt in SO many ways. It's the busiest, most successful year that NaNoWriMo has ever had. I didn't lose, unlike last year, but I did spend every waking moment working and/or writing.  Usually both.

I hit a nasty little bout of depression towards the end of the month, and didn't write at all for days, but I pulled a nice little heroic win out of it.

This year was different for me. It's the first year I've been proud of winning in a while. Before, it's been kinda rote; I did it because I've been doing it, and I'm staff, so I'm supposed to do it. But this year felt different somehow. I was more motivated. Though I was participating as a rebel, and adding 50k to Heaven's Bounty (from 2008), it felt like a greater challenge. Writing 50k in a month is easy for me; I've done it half a dozen times, with a record of 10 days one year. So this was harder; it's a step towards completion, and ultimately, publication.

I'm even getting a winner's shirt this year! I'm suffering from a bit of carpal tunnel, so I've been wearing my brace a lot.

So how was the 2012 event for you? Harder? Easier? Your first time?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nanotechnology (Or: what are you using to write?)

My NaNoTechnologies... Mac, Android Tablet, and good old fashioned pen and paper.
I'm a little bit disorganized, when it comes to my writing. I tend to write in multiple places, in multiple  devices, even multiple formats... it's not unusual to find multiple versions of the same stories in random folders on my computer!

I'm very fond of handwriting; I have at least one novel almost completely handwritten. But in reality, I have four major devices on which I write.
  1. My main computer, my iMac.  On this computer, I usually use Scrivener.
  2. My windows Laptop. I adore Liquid Story Binder on this computer. It's a lot like Scrivener, but has more features. A bit of a steep learning curve, but very powerful when you learn how to use it. I also use Scrivener on this one, synced with my iMac via Dropbox.
  3. My Android Tablet.  I haven't really found The App on this one. I tend to use Evernote, since it syncs with my iMac, and it has basic formatting tools. It lacks word count, though, and I want something a bit more NaNoWriMo friendly, y'know? 
  4. Good old fashioned pen and paper. I absolutely adore fancy journals. To the point if I get a too-nice one, I have a hard time finding the "right" story to go in it! I've found this is the best way to get distraction-free writing time in. It's slower, but the end result is usually better, and there's no NaNoWriMo forums to drag me away. 
This year I'm going to try writing my novel during write-ins on my tablet. In years past, I've lugged my increasingly enormous dinosaure of a laptop (it wasn't a dinosaur five years ago, but well, you know) to write ins for years, and now... I've gotten used to my tablet, and even composing blog posts on it! So I'm going to try and use it for actual competitive sprints. I may even take my mac's wireless keyboard to see if that'll work.

I have apps for outlining, storyboarding, notekeeping. I have looseleaf notebooks for random writing (And I'm always finding them lying around the house.)

Technology is a big part of our writing process... ever since the early days of whacking on a typewriter (oh, how I miss the feel, sound, and smell of my ancient, trusty typewriter), it's been part of the writer's mythos. As technology evolves, so does how we use it.

So what do you use to write? If you do NaNoWriMo (and if you don't, why not? Start with us!) does your process change? Do you do something differently than normal? Or is it business as usual? How has your technology changed as time has moved on?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Taking my pants off

I am a pantser. Every year I have ever tried to plan, I've failed NaNoWriMo.

Why? Well, I love my stories, and I love the journey. I love discovering where they're going. This approach occasionally backfires, though, and I'll get stuck.  I've tried a few times in the past to do outlines.

I like to blame my failures on the outlines themselves, but if I get really honest with myself; I don't think that was it!

So this year, I'm taking an old NaNo Novel, Heaven's Bounty, and reworking it.  I've been completely stuck on it... I had no idea where to go. I love these characters SO much!  But I couldn't figure out what to do with it.

I attended a writing conference last weekend, and had the pleasure of being dragged into into a mini-workshop for Joseph Campbell's "A Hero's Journey.

And in that 45 minutes, I knew what was missing. What to do with my story!

So today I'm writing up the madly written notes into something legible and at least peripherally understandable, and I'm going to start work on a real outline.

It's a little drafty in here, but I kinda like it on the planner's side.

Photo courtesy of Klara Kim

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

NaNoWriMo season starts today!

It may not seem like it yet, but today marks an important benchmark in the year for me. This is the official start of NaNoWriMo season. Once upon a time, NaNoWriMo started on November 1st.  Then, I realized you could plan... so I got involved around October 15. Now that I'm an OLL staffer, my true NaNoWriMo season starts September 1. That was a Saturday for me, so this is the first official day.

The past months have been filled with Camp NaNoWriMo, saying farewell to Script Frenzy, and getting settled in my new job as Lead Forums Moderator at OLL for all events. But now is when I have to get serious.

We've been beta testing fixes and improvements for the NaNoWriMo website thanks to the beta buggers program.  With the help of my intrepid Ticketmaster Rob (Lousy Writer 13) we have been stomping the HECK out of bugs and making things better. We hope to improve tons of things that haven't been working quite right, and add some features we've been promising for a while now.

This season is special for me. It's a shift in the paradigm of work. I'm not a contractor anymore; I'm a full employee of OLL. This means more responsibility, greater attention to detail, and more organization. Something I really, really suck at.

So I have to make a promise. I have to be committed to really doing the best for you guys, and for OLL.  I have to commit to a real schedule, and to working hard on my duties.

And this year, I can't fail at NaNoWriMo like I did last year. I have a great number of great ideas tugging at my brain, and I am going to schedule writing time in my day. I'm even putting it on my calendar!

This also means it's time for A Dragon Writes to start updating more often. :) I'm so seasonal, I swear.

And let me also introduce you to the newest member of the Dudley household, my wild and wonderful kitten, Buster. He'll be joining me as designated distractor this year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just who is this crazy redhead, anyway?

Obviously, I'm a mom and a wife. I have 2 kids, 3 cats, and a dog. I like to grow basil.  I have a cherry tomato plant in my yard that looks like it's drunk but makes the best tomatoes I've ever had. I have a disabled husband, and suffere from a severe case of Uber Lazy myself.

I am a writer, though lapsed. I love words, and have an above-average vocabulary and excel at communication through written means. I'm no slouch at public speaking, either. I'm a community moderator (not here on Sparkpeople, though I wouldn't turn down the job if offered.)

I'm a dilettante who knows a little about a lot of things, but a lot about very few things. Those things I know a lot about though, I tend to get a little obsessed with from time to time.

I am mercurial; I tend to be very positive as a general rule, but I have a mean bite, and can turn cranky at the drop of the hat. I'm always willing to admit when I'm wrong, though, and have apologized for many a foot-to-mouth insertion. I have made friends of enemies.

I love tea. A LOT. I am a regular at a local British tea room, and am trying to get as many friends as possible to join me. My favorite teas are white and herbal, particularly chamomile.

Exercise-wise, I prefer group classes for motivation and camaraderie, and gravitate to boot-camp style classes. I can't stand Zumba, though I'm a big fan of kickboxing.  I hit harder than my husband, and no longer have trouble opening pickle jars. I will, however, fake it now and again to keep my husband feeling like he's needed. ;) I have rediscovered my age-old love of biking. In college, I would ride 20+ miles per day, since I had no car. I am an avid but terribile runner, and will probably never run more than a 5k now and again.

I'm a bit of a spendthrift, and love to drop silly money on microtransactions in worthless games on my computer. I love toys... I have an android tablet, an iPod touch (my second, I lost the first), and a prepaid dumbphone that I would very much like to replace with an iPhone. I'm a gadget-a-holic.

My favorite foods are lemon pepper chicken alfredo, everything bagels, and steak. I'm majorly addicted to cheese, although I'm mildly lactose intolerant.  At any given time, there will be 5+ types of cheese in my fridge. Right now I have Philadelphia 1/3 less fat cream cheese, sweet basil formaggio, mozzarella, Sargento colby jack ultra thin slices, sharp cheddar, and Laughing Cow swiss wedges, and I will eat every last bite of every one of them.  I drink 2% lactose free milk.

And last, but certainly not least, I love dragons.  I've used the handle "Dragonchilde" since 1997, when I discovered the world of online communities in college.  I plan to get a dragon tattooed on my shoulder. I used to be afraid of pain, but having two kids with no pain medications pretty much removed all fear of that.

And that's me. So who are you? Enquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Times, they are a changin'. Farewell, Script Frenzy

5 years. 1.4 MILLION pages. Over 85,000 scriptwriters served!  Script Frenzy has been an amazing experience for everyone involved!  For those who have participated in Script Frenzy, it’s been nothing short of magical, and the event has helped introduce the art of scripting to writers who otherwise never would have thought of trying.  

It is with great sadness that we must announce that in spite of this, we have experienced steadily declining participation for the past two years. From a peak of 21,000 writers in 2010, we have dropped each year to just 16,500 in 2012, and have never quite made our fundraising goals since the event’s inception.  Because of this, we have been running Script Frenzy at a loss, and it is no longer sustainable as a standalone event. As a result, the Office of Letters and Light’s board of directors has voted to retire the event.

We have decided to refocus our efforts on the NaNoWriMo and Young Writer’s Program events, to make them the absolute pinnacle of what we can achieve in providing motivation for writers worldwide! We served more than 350,000 writers in 2011, and the number of participants grows every year.

Script Frenzy is a labor of love, and one we are desperately sad to see retired. To that end, we are committed to preserving the community and resources we have amassed over the years. We will be creating a Script Frenzy forum on the NaNoWriMo website for those who have hung out here, so that you will continue to be able to gather and meet with your fellow scriptwriters year-round.  

We plan to use the time and resources this decision frees up to continue to improve and build the NaNoWriMo and YWP events. Our community grows significantly every year, so we feel that focusing our resources on these programs is the best way to carry out our mission to help children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. What does this mean for NaNoWriMo?

First, have no fear: this does not mean that NaNoWriMo is in any way at risk. Quite the contrary! We plan to pour all of our hearts, souls, and time into making it more amazing, more spectacular, and more... everything!  We want to continue to bring you the best events we possibly can.  We want to focus on motivating writers world-wide year-round!

Script Frenzy has been wildly successful; thousands of winners (9,455, to be exact) is testament to the impact this amazing event has had on you, your communities, and writers all over the world.  This is not a defeat, rather the next step in the evolution of OLL and the mission we have to bring the joy of writing to everyone who wants to tap into their creative potential!

I hope that you will join me in my heartfelt thanks for all of those who have made Script Frenzy possible.  From Chris Baty, who made the whole thing possible with his crazy idea, to the MLs who worked themselves to the bone to bring Script Frenzy to their communities, to Jennifer Arzt and Sandra Salas, along with their support staff and volunteers who have put everything they had into bringing the event to you.  

But most importantly, our greatest thanks go to you, the writers and artists of the Script Frenzy community. Without you, we wouldn’t have had the most exciting 5 years of scripting we’ve ever experienced!

If you'd like to leave a comment for the staff, you can do so on the SF forums, here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Flip flop

So I switched stories; I found myself at a bit of a wall on Spirit of the Hunt (the handwritten one) so I switched over to the sequel. It's a bit liberating to be able to just change stories when I get stuck, rather than being wedded to one and forced to keep writing on it.

I think that Spirit is stuck because I was writing past the ending; it was stuff I needed to write, I think, since it was important character development, but I don't know that it will end up being in the final piece.

It's fun to go back to the sequel; I love those characters so much. It has a bit of the feel of a YA novel, and I wonder if that's how I might market it. It might be a better first attempt than Spirit would! Who knows.

Gotta finish one before I can start thinking about what order I want to try and publish them in!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tracking spreadsheet for #WIP500

Because I'm writing offline, I'm finding it difficult to keep up with my daily totals. I'm writing them down, sorta, in my notebook, but I've been bad about it. I'm marking which day is which, but I don't want to re-count each time.

So I made a simple spreadsheet on Google Docs. See, I love spreadsheets... I'm not GOOD at them, but I love them. Eventually, I hope to have progress charts, reports, all kinds of things to show off how I did month-to-month and such, but for now, it's just the basics. I have it tracking your best day, how many days you've entered a count for, average words per day, totals, and the percentage of the total you've got so far.

I also have it flagging days you wrote under 500 with red, and over 500 with green.

Here's the clean copy so you can download it for your own use if you'd like to. Feel free to redistribute, edit, do whatever to your own copy. :)

My personal progress (which is terribly inaccurate for the first 6 days, because I kinda guessed based on G+ posts and what my totals are on Cara's site) can be found here.

I plan to continue adding to it as I figure out how to make Docs display the data in a useful way. I like charts.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Updated the layout

As much as I loved my beautiful green background and rainbow plant life... I've been a little tired of looking at it, and it was just plain cluttered. So I switched to something cleaner and simpler, and a lot easier to read.

Fare thee well, beloved template... you've served me very well.

Good progress!

Last night I got into the zone. I hit a good place in the story, full of angst and drama, and blew the #WIP500 goal out of the water. The 4th, I wrote almost nothing. I was so tired I couldn't focus, and only ended up writing about 150 words... but yesterday? 1500. SMOKED the total. That's a good two-day buffer on my 365 day challenge.

This 500 a day goal is proving to be very motivating for me. I'm not limited to a new work. Which is what I think torpedoed my NaNo this year... I didn't want to write something new. I have too may good WIPs to start something new. Being able to write 500 words on anything has been awesome.

So I think I'm going to write some more, and see if I can't write my January 6 totals even higher. :)

Right now, my FMC is angsting over her lot in life, not wanting to be a vampire (boo hoo, existential crisis) and the MMC is about to tell her to grow up. And it's going to be fun.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Stop doing that!

Ready to tackle writerly things for the new year? Stop right there, and read this list. It's 25 things writers should stop doing, right fucking now. And these are things that are all over the NaNo forums, where people worry about this or that, anything to prevent themselves from actually writing.

I started #WIP500 last night. I hit right at 500 words, estimated, and finished before bed. The cool thing is I had a spot of inspiration, and thought of a spiffy plot twist that just might result in me being able to combine the two endings I'm battling in a way that's sensible and pleasing to me.

I wanted to write more today, but I've been so cold that my poor fingers couldn't hold a pen, and barely type. I spent most of the day snuggled under a sherpa throw and two cats, just trying to stay warm.

So what do you think... can I really write 500 words a day, every day?

Can I do it for the whole year?

I can... but will I?

Monday, January 02, 2012


Joining a new challenge for the new year. I seem to do better with concrete goals to aim for (even if I don't actually complete them totally. So in the interest of that, I've joined #WIP500... the goal being to write 500 words a day. Not at all a hard goal... I can church that out in less than 15 minutes if I try. It'll take longer handwriting, of course... but I think I can do this. I've got about four WIPs that I need to work on, so this is the perfect motivation to do that.

I'll also be tweeting about my progress (or lack thereof.)

Let's do this thing.

For personal reference: 126.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

So close, and so far away!

We're down to two days now. This is one of the best parts of NaNoWriMo, to me. The anticipation, the nerves. I love it. The buzz on the forums builds to a positively electric level, so that you can almost feel the excitement.

I've been having a good season, so far, and I've even done a little planning. I don't think I'm doing a true outline, as I'd planned. See, I've decided on a retelling of J. Sheridan Lefanu's classic pre-Dracula novel, Carmilla. I liked the story, but was deeply unsatisfied with the ending, and I really disliked the wimpy female main character. There were so many questions left unanswered that I'd like to answer them! SO I'm spinning it with Carmilla herself as the main character, and a sympathetic, tragic figure.

I have been going over the original novel, and making character lists, and making notes. I had a friend over Thursday morning for coffee and writing chat, and he had a GREAT idea for the central conflict.

See, I'm wanting to give an original spin to the old story, and I think I've gotten it.

Today's going to be a good day, too, because tonight's the local kickoff. I LOVE my local group... such a fun group of people. I'm hoping to have some new faces this year, too! I've seen a few new people posting in the forums.

So this is all rambly, but I wanted to let you know I'm still alive!